Solihull Virtual High Street 1948

The Solihull: Back to the Future event at the Core Theatre, Solihull on 17th September 2021 included the World Premiere of a short video showing Solihull High Street’s shops as you’ve never seen them before. That’s unless you were around in 1948…

The 3D animation was created by local designer, David Gascoigne, following a chance conversation with the Local Studies Librarian at the Core Library, Solihull.

Using a set of panorama photos that Solihull Council commissioned in 1948, together with detailed measurements from maps and the buildings themselves, David has created a most amazing video referencing some of the characters of the time.

This was created using free, open source software – Blender.

Originally planned for launch on 8th May 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the event was postponed owing to Covid. However, we hope that the Back to the Future event in 2021 was worth waiting for, and we’re really excited to launch a YouTube version for you to enjoy any time. Do let us know what you think of it!

Solihull Virtual High Street 1948: Phases

This is Phase 1 of Solihull Virtual High Street 1948 showing an animation of the 3D Virtual High Street. A cinematic version is also available by clicking on the image below.

still image of 3D buildings lining a high street.
Solihull Virtual High Street 1948

Solihull Virtual High Street 1948 Phase 2 is a viewer-controlled 360-degree panorama where you can pause the action and use your mouse or the on-screen arrows to take a look around. Have a look and do let us know what you think.

Phase 3 is a longer-term project and will be a fully immersive, interactive, virtual reality experience. For the first time in over 50 years, we may even be able to go inside Miss Deebank’s toy shop on the High Street.

Please get in touch if a Solihull-based virtual reality (or augmented reality) experience is something you may be interested in collaborating on.

There will also be a Solihull Virtual High Street 2080, travelling forwards in time and looking back to what has happened to the High Street. Is it fiction, fable, or food for thought for each of us as to how our actions affect the future…?

We received Archives Testbed funding from The National Archives for events related to the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2023, which enabled us to create a Virtual Reality version of Solihull Virtual High Street. A version is on our YouTube channel, although it’s not quite the same as the full VR experience.

Contact us

If you’re as excited as we are by the Solihull Virtual High Street projects, and would like to get in touch, please contact Tracey Williams at the Core Library (email:, tel.: 0121 704 6976)

Keep up-to-date

If you’d like to be informed about any local history-related news, then please sign up for Solihull Council’s Stay Connected bulletins – scroll down the list of topics and, under Libraries, click on Local History & Heritage. You won’t be inundated, we promise – you’ll only hear from us when we have something interesting to say!

Solihull in Wartime

The Solihull: Back to the Future event also included some cine film footage of wartime Solihull which was taken by Councillor H. T. Lavender (1900-1953).

This is also available to view online – see our Solihull in Wartime blog post for further details.

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