Renamed Nature Reserve 'First Step to Tolkien Centre' -

Fans of JRR Tolkien today welcomed the renaming of a city nature reserve used by the author as inspiration for his Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Millstream Project in Birmingham was renamed The Shire Country Park at an official ceremony held this morning in the same week Tolkien would have celebrated his 113th birthday.

Richard Crawshaw, a trustee of the Tolkien Society, said he hoped renaming the park was the first step towards creating a centre dedicated to the author.

The local community and key groups in the Hall Green area have lobbied long and hard for formal recognition for Tolkien and his association with the district.

Mr Crawshaw said: "This is a significant milestone.

"We have been wanting to have a Tolkien centre for many, many years as a physical base and a way of promoting our work of promoting Tolkien.

"The Shire Country Park is basically the first step along that route."

He added: "Tolkien is one of the most significant authors certainly of the 20th Century and interest in Tolkien is still riding high.

"Being able to boast that sort of author as a one time resident of the city can only be good for Birmingham."

The park, which links a four-mile, wooded walk along the River Cole and the Chinn Brook, includes Moseley Bog, now a site of special scientific interest, which was one of the author's favourite childhood haunts.

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