Tucked away in the residential suburbs of South Birmingham is a hidden gem. Worth visiting in its own right, and linked to two of Birmingham’s most famous residents too – that’s Sarehole Mill. Starting life as a rural mill several centuries ago, it was used for rolling metal by Matthew Boulton’s family business before he became a giant of industry, then reverted to its original use and became the childhood playground and inspiration for local lad JRR Tolkien. These days, you can visit the mill to see for yourself how it works and learn more about the industrial heritage of the buildings and their famous connections. As well as the authentic and well-preserved mill buildings, Sarehole is the perfect starting point for a walk around the local area, following in the footsteps of Tolkien to discover what is left of the countryside in this part of the city – the meadows behind the mill, the tree-lined River Cole and the unspoilt English woodland of Moseley Bog nearby.
The film adaptations of Tolkien’s works may have been shot in New Zealand, but it was Sarehole and the other places he lived that our city’s most famous writer turned into The Shire, The Old Forest, Mirkwood and the rest of Middle Earth.
If you want to find out more, why not join our Tolkien Tour on 24th February, which includes the mill and its surroundings, as well as many other locations that inspired the young writer during his Birmingham childhood.