The landscape of the valley was drastically altered in the 1930s by large-scale sand and gravel extraction.
Sand and gravel are used in the production of concrete. From the 1930s onwards, concrete became an increasingly popular building material. Huge quantities were used during the Second World War to construct airfield runways, gun emplacements, bunkers and air-raid shelters.
Demand continued to rise in the decades after the war, as Britain began an ambitious building programme. To meet demand, new quarries were dug across the Tame Valley, some covering many acres, destroying ancient riverside meadows, woodlands and hedgerows.
By the late 1970s, much of the sand and gravel had been removed, leaving behind a badly scarred landscape. Some of the empty pits were used to dispose of Pulverised Fuel Ash (‘PFA’), a waste product from the Hams Hall Power Station. Others began to naturally fill with water, creating a patchwork of lakes, pools and lagoons.