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Mill Green and Hawks Green


This is Mill Green and Hawks Green Nature Reserve

Its areas of grassland, wetland and woodland are valuable habitats that provide a home for a wide variety of wildlife. The area also has an interesting agricultural history.


Part of Mill Green includes ancient pastures and a 0.9 hectare section of hay meadow, which provides a home for a number of rare species of invertebrates.
Botanical evidence suggests that the pastures have never been ploughed, re-seeded or heavily fertilised.

In recent years, traditional land management techniques have been reintroduced to the grassland areas of Mill Green. A small herd of Dexter cattle help maintain the pastures through periodic grazing. Once a year the meadows are cut and the hay that is produced is baled.

Wild meadowland flowers on Mill Green. The pink flowers are ragged robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi, the white are oxeye daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare.


The beech wood alongside the railway line was originally planted as a shelterbelt. Many of the trees are over 100 years old and are slowly dying, but a long-term programme to secure this woodland is under way. At the northern end of Mill Green is an ancient oak woodland – one of the few remaining examples in the district. The multi-stemmed trees show that this wood was once coppiced (which involved cutting a tree to just above ground level to encourage new growth).

Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes. You may spot a wren in low vegetation in search of insects. Despite being very small, it has a surprisingly loud song and a distinctive rattling alarm call.
Photography by Chris Blackburn

Bullfinch, Pyrrhula pyrrhula. This is a male bullfinch, which can be easily
recognised by its bright chest and black cap. The female has duller colours.
Bullfinches can be found in woodland scrub and hedgerows.
Photography by Chris Blackburn

Farming in the 17th century

During the creation of a new hay meadow and cattle refuges, archaeological works uncovered evidence of previous tree clearance for agriculture. The clay pipe fragments that were found dated the clearance to the 17th century.

The balancing reservoir

The body of water in the centre of Mill Green fulfils an important role as a balancing reservoir. Floodwater entering the site from Ridings Brook is contained by the large dam, which prevents flooding downstream.

The dam had a history of overflowing, but between 2005 and 2006 the Environment Agency carried out remedial work that included raising the height of the dam.

Bee orchid, Ophrys apifera, is so-called because when it flowers in June or July, it is said to resemble a bumblebee.


Ducks such as mallard feed in the shallow water, while in the deeper areas you may spot diving birds such as little and great crested grebes. Water fowl such as snipe and teal live on the mudflats and reedbeds, which are visited by other species during winter. Ridings Brook flows through the site. Its banks are
home to a small colony of water voles, a nationally-rare mammal that has recently suffered a dramatic decline in numbers.

Explore and discover
The mill and the farm

Records show that there was a mill in Cannock since at least 1247. Evidence from 1697 refers to Cannock Mill, which was probably nearby.

Next to the Mill Farm public house on the Lichfield Road is a mill house, built along Ridings Brook in around 1800. It had a water-wheel, and a two acre
pool at the rear. Although no longer a working mill, the building still contains the original machinery. The mill farmhouse stands nearby.

The discs that you can see in the wall in front of
the mill house are millstones.

Richard Hardware worked at the mill between 1949 and 1958. He recalls
helping with agricultural work such as milking cows and ploughing the land:

All the wheat etc. to be milled went up to the very top and was fed by gravity to the stones. In the early days we could grind at any time. However, after the canal [now the Eastern Bypass] had collapsed onto the stream beneath, the mill leat was filled by the canal and the mill pool topped up. The mill could only run for a couple of days a week. Every now and again the stones were opened and redressed, which was a tedious task spent with a chisel.

The flour was used by Taylor’s bakery, which was delivered by a horse-drawn cart every day. The driver used to take a break to have a drink in a pub on the way. He got away with this for ages until one day when he was sick and the farmer had to drive the cart. The horse stopped in the pub as usual.

Please note that the mill and farmhouse are private property and are not accessible to the public.

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