Farm buildings, at the head of the Cotwall End valley, have probably marked this spot since at least 1650, although the present house is only C18th. Most likely the nearby spring or ‘spout’ gave rise to the name. This source delivered a steady 25 gallons every minute – a suitable flow, along with other springs, to fill a pond that in turn powered the corn grinding stones of the valley’s medieval watermill. Today it has become the Bottom Pond at Critters Farm, itself a reincarnation of Cotwall End Countryside & Craft Centre.

The farm, part of the Himley Estates until 1947, was worked by the Whitmore family from around 1900 through to the 1970s when eventually barley and potatoes gave way to the present day nine hole golf course and floodlit golf range.

The house fell into disrepair until restoration of the Grade ll shell was started in 2001. Now named Spring Grove House it is reborn as top class accommodation. A large barn, claimed to be over 300 years old, has also been carefully converted for residential use.

Spout House is an ideal starting point from which to explore the valley. In 1990 the area was designated as a Local Nature Reserve and Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.

Full details of walks and points of interest are set out in a leaflet produced by Dudley MBC and available from the usual council outlets.

The top photograph, taken in August 2000, shows the abandoned and roofless house. Below a similar shot, taken in July 2002, after extensive work had returned it to its former shape. The next two pictures show restoration of the barn during December 2002. Small openings in the walls once encouraged roosting birds - a supply of fresh meat in winters long past. Finally a view of the nearby Bottom Pond covered with autumn leaves in October 2000.

Farm House, August 2000
Farm House, July 2002
Barn, south side, December 2002
Barn, north side, December 2002
Critters Farm, Bottom Pond, October 2000