Pitts Wood, Quinton

Pitts Wood is a small ancient woodland in Quinton. With the support from various organisations the wood has been retrieved from the brink of desolation and has been dramatically transformed into a beautiful natural space hidden in the heart of the community.

Map showing the entrance in Overdale Road (about 100 metres from Ridgacre Road on the left), Quinton can be easily reached by the number 24 bus (from Birmingham or Harborne).

At a recent society meeting the speaker John Clews, from the RSPB Society met Roger Cobley. I just thought that although many locals were aware of the wood or “Spinney” (as it is known to school children from Woodhouse School), there may be many more who are unaware of its existence or in fact its history.

A few years ago I was given an article by A Lyczkowski, which I am sure you will all find most interesting. I am intrigued by his spelling as he only uses one ‘t’ and calls it Pit’s Wood, so perhaps at some time I may research why this was the case but for the time being here is the article in its original format. I am sure it was an oversight because on a map dated 1871 the area is called “Pitts Wood”.

1871 showing Pitts Wood

The first cartographic evidence of Pit’s Wood was in the 1820 Tithe Plan of the township of Warley Wigorn, it was much bigger than it is now. In 1820 it was 8 acres, 3 roods and 7 perches in size. William Penn who owned most of the land surrounding the wood also owned the wood.

1901 map of Quinton

William Penn let out most of the fields, surrounding the wood, to Joseph Pearman of Tennal Hall. The Pearmans had lived in Tennal Hall for at least 300 years. The hall itself was believed to have been built near the time of William Shakespeare and was, until 1936, to be found near the corner of Tennal Road and Tennal Lane.

William Penn did not, however, rent out any of his woodland. William Penn lived in Chadwick Grange, Bromsgrove, the property was described by the Victorian County History of Worcestershire as a “modern farmhouse of no particular interest”. Penn died in October 1875 leaving most of his estate to his nieces, his ancestor was the famous William Penn of Pennsylvania.

In 1887 Pit’s Wood was smaller but resembling more like the present shape of today’s Spinney. Towards the north end , near what is now the Community Centre/Library was a sand pit which probably gave the wood its name.

On October 1921, a portion of land at the junction of the present Court Oak Road and Tennal Lane (The doctor’s surgery) was sold to the City of Birmingham by Joseph’s son Michael. However Michael Pearman died in October 1927, the last of the Pearmans at Tennal Hall.

The Tennal Hall Estate was acquired by the City of Birmingham on 20th December 1928. Plans for 410 houses were drawn up by the city’s surveyor’s office in November of the same year.

It was then that it was realised that a school would be needed for the children of the new Tennal Hall Housing Estate. Land was handed over to the Education Department Sites and Buildings sub-committee, including the remnants of Pit’s Wood, now locally known as The Spinney.

The construction of the school canteen and the gardens of Woodhouse Road further reduced Pit’s Wood to its present size. Recent investigation in the Spinney has shown that it was in fact an oak coppice. At present the practice of Coppicing no longer occurs, it has instead become a haven for wildlife. Wood from the coppice might have been used for fuelwood or fencing by J Pearman.

The investigation has shown that out of a total of 139 trees (excluding saplings), 108 were oak. Other species of tree include maple, silver birch and lime. More trees were coppiced in the North Western corner than anywhere else in the Spinney. This is probably because of easier access from Ridgacre Road (which in 1820 was called Harborne Lane).

The shrub layer, in winter, consists mainly of holly, ivy and bramble. Barn Owls have been sighted and heard. Foxes and squirrels also live in the Spinney, upto seven squirrels have been seen at one time. There are also a wide range of bird species that use the Spinney as a home, a roost or as a feeding station.

The new gates and the official reopening of Pitts Wood

The wood had an open day following extensive work carried out by Woodgate Valley Parks department and many volunteers. A sizeable grant was also received from the City Council Community Chest. On the next page are a few photographs taken on that day.

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