Originally a smaller fish stock pool named Roach Pool in Rotton Park it was extensively enlarged by Thomas Telford between 1824-1829 to supply water to the Birmingham and Wolverhampton Levels of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) canal system via Icknield Port Loop. It was excavated to a depth of 40 feet (12 m) and covers an area of , holding 300 million gallons (1,136 million litres) of water. It is supplied by small streams and a feeder from Titford Reservoir (Titford Pools) in Oldbury. It was formed by damming a small stream. The dam is a 330 metre long earth embankment with a height of 10 metres near the centre.
The reservoir and gatehouse were designed by Thomas Telford and the latter is a listed building in corporate BCN octagonal style.
Edgbaston Reservoir is home to two rowing clubs, Birmingham Rowing Club and the University of Birmingham Boat Club. Both clubs are housed within the same boathouse. The site has also been chosen to house a new Birmingham Schools rowing initiative, with the two afore mentioned clubs assisting in the running of the scheme. A kayak club also use the boathouse grounds to store their kayaks.
The Midlands Sailing Club is also based at Edgbaston Reservoir, and often race around a marked course. Windsurfers also use the Reservoir. Further to this, TS Vernon Sea Cadets use the reservoir as a base.
The Reservoir is a good location for joggers, with a gravel and tarmac path all around its circumference. There are also work-out stations at various points providing frames for exercises such as pull-ups, or step-ups.