We now cross the River Cole for the second time. There was reference to a bridge here in the fifteenth century, however there may have been one there earlier. There was, on the left beyond the bridge, one of the River Cole’s 16 mills – Stechford Mill. It was a corn mill belonging to the deErdington family and was in use until around 1830. Its last use was as a paper mill. There were still traces of the mill’s foundations as late as 1960, but all traces have now been cleared. Two pools in parkland to the northwest of the river are still there where the millpool was.
In fact, the area both sides of the river are a flood plain, which has been designated as green belt. The River Cole valley is known as the Kingfisher Country Park and along the river kingfishers and herons are a common sight, feeding on fish in the river. Water voles and mink are both associated with the river and, more recently, otters have been recorded at the lower reaches of the Cole.
ELO, or Electric Light Orchestra, was launched in 1970 and grew out of the 1960s Birmingham group The Move (as in Flowers in the Rain – the first record played on radio 1 in 1967). ELO used a mix of guitar & drums with a classical string section. ELO was formed by Roy Wood (he of the wild hair) and Jeff Lynne, who was born & bought up in a council house at 368 Shard End Crescent, about 1½ miles away to the east. As with many of our pop heroes, Jeff Lynne now lives in California.
It is worth noting that the ELO song “All Over the World” contains the words:
“London, Hamburg, Paris, Rome,
Rio, Hong Kong, Tokyo,
L.A., New York, Amsterdam,
Monte Carlo, Shard End and …..”
So – fame for Shard End at last!
The bus now takes us up Stechford Lane to the Fox & Goose – at long last another bit of dual carriageway that was actually completed.