The River Rea (pronounced "ray") is a small river which passes through the heart of Birmingham. The name of the river derives from a root found in many Indo-European languages and means "to run" or "to flow".
The medieval hamlet of Birmingham was built on a crossing on the Rea in what is now Digbeth. It rises in Waseley Hills Country Park and is a tributary of the River Tame 14 miles downstream. The river drops about 70 meters in its first mile, but from then on has a very gentle slope. It frequently bursts its banks after heavy rain.
The river is now culverted for much of its course through Birmingham, during which it passes through Cannon Hill Park.
Wychall Reservoir, near the river at Cotteridge, was built in the early 1800s by the Worcester Canal Company after mill owners claimed that water was being taken from the river to fill the canal and reducing the working effectiveness of their mills.
There are proposals to include a riverside walk and new bridge over the Rea at Digbeth's Custard Factory media and arts complex. There are also proposals for the river to be uncovered at the Warwick Bar area of Digbeth.
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