History

Chasewater Country Park consists of 360 hectares of water and open space.  The reservoir was first created in the eighteenth century as a canal feeder and to transport colliery produce and remains the largest canal feeder reservoir in use today.

In 1796 a site in the Crane Brook Valley was selected to be dammed in order to create a reservoir that would provide water for the extended Wryley and Essington Canal which served local mines and industry. Excavations of the valley floor commenced and were used to build the earthwork dams along the eastern and western edges of the reservoir. The Reservoir was opened on the 8th May 1797.

In 1799 following a heavy storm, the dam wall burst, flooding nearby villages, killing livestock and damaging properties up to four miles away. The dam was then rebuilt thicker and wider than previously with its inner faces lined with limestone and a watch house was built by the canal company, with a full-time watchman to safeguard against any similar incidents in the future.

In 1956 the reservoir was purchased by Brownhills Urban District Council from the British Transport Commission and the reservoir was renamed Chasewater. As mines closed, Chasewater became more popular for leisure purposes, a fun fair and restaurant opened on the south shore and sailing and speed boat clubs were formed and in 1961 the pier and castle were built along the south shore.

Over a period of time the spoil mounds  around the site were re-shaped through extensive reclamation schemes. The grassland and heath areas surrounding the reservoir became home to rare varieties of flora and fauna. In 1988 Chasewater Heaths was first designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and other aspects declared as Sites of Biological Interest SBI.

Following a local boundary change in 1994 Lichfield District Council inherited the site. By 1998 with the increasing importance of its countryside and environmental role Chasewater was renamed as a Country Park and in 2000 Chasewater Innovation Centre (formerly the Forest of Mercia Innovation Centre) was built

In 2006 following a routine dam inspection it was discovered that, after having stood for over 200 years, remedial works were needed to prevent a re-run of 1799.

Dam restoration work began in 2010; water levels in the reservoir were drastically reduced. Due to the scale of the works and escalating costs, Lichfield District Council approached Staffordshire County Council for assistance with the dam’s immediate and longer term liabilities. So in 2011 ownership of Chasewater Country Park and its reservoir were transferred to Staffordshire County Council to secure and strengthen the long-term future of this key regional resource.

By early 2012 repairs to the dam were completed, Chasewater fills from natural sources but fortunately due to a very rainy 2012 water levels returned to normal well ahead of predicated timescales.