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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January, 2005, 08:16 GMT
Nature reserve remembers Baggins
JRR Tolkien
Tolkien was inspired by local sights
A Birmingham nature reserve that provided JRR Tolkien with much of the inspiration for his classic fantasy novels is to be renamed in his honour.

The city's Millstream Project will now be called The Shire Country Park.

The park links a four-mile, wooded walk along the River Cole and the Chinn Brook. It includes Moseley Bog, one of Tolkien's favourite childhood haunts.

In his books, The Shire is the Middle Earth home of Bilbo Baggins and his fellow hobbits.

The name change results from consultations between environmental groups that look after the nature reserve, the Tolkien Society and members of Birmingham City Council.

John Alden, the local authority's cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, said: "It is appropriate that Birmingham should recognise JRR Tolkien and his writing in this way.

"Internationally acclaimed as a writer, he is an important part of the city's cultural heritage.

Bronze Age

"The Shire Country Park will help raise the awareness of Tolkien's close ties with the city and attract visitors from far and wide, keen to discover the places that were such an important influence on the writer."

Tolkien, who was born in South Africa on January 3, 1892 but moved to Birmingham at the age of three, is credited with using actual places for fictional locations in his books.

Moseley Bog, which dates back to the Bronze Age, is thought to have inspired the "Old Forest" in the Lord of the Rings, the last of the primeval woods in which Tom Bombadil lived.

Sarehole Mill, near the former family home on Wake Green Road and now a museum, is viewed as being the "great mill" of The Shire.

The 96ft-high Perrot's Folly and the nearby Waterworks Tower, in Edgbaston, are also seen by many as the real-life counterparts of the Two Towers of Gondor.

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