Town Centre Heritage Trail

In August 2019 staff at the Core Library researched and produced a new town centre heritage trail leaflet for Solihull town centre – the first time for 20 years that such a guide has been available.

The leaflet was printed thanks to support from Touchwood and Solihull BID. Once services resume at The Core (which is currently closed to visitors owing to Covid-19 restrictions) the free leaflet will be available to collect from there.

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Kingshurst Hall and the Townshends

By the time of its demolition in 1962, the grade II-listed Kingshurst Hall, believed to have been built in the early 18th century, was in a state of disrepair. It was surrounded by tower blocks on the new Kingshurst Hall Estate, which was built by Birmingham City Council as overspill housing.

The Council had compulsorily purchased Kingshurst Hall and its surrounding farmland, together with other land in Kingshurst,  under the Birmingham (Old Chester Road, Tile Cross &c) Compulsory Purchase Order 1939, which was dated 17th February 1939.

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Old Ordnance Survey maps

If you’ve ever wondered what was previously on the site of your house, or wanted to find out where your ancestors lived, then historic Ordnance Survey (OS) maps are often a good place to start.

Thanks to the freely available maps of England & Wales on the National Library of Scotland (NLS) website, it’s now possible to see some of the old OS maps overlaid onto a modern satellite image, making it much easier to get your bearings.

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A 1930s marriage of convenience

On 20th May 1936, what we would now call a sham marriage, or a marriage of convenience, took place at the office of Solihull’s Superintendent Registrar, which was then situated above shops on the corner of Warwick Road and Poplar Road in Solihull.

The groom was a gay writer living in Dorridge and the bride was a German-Jewish actress. The reason for the marriage was simply to enable the bride to obtain British citizenship. The couple hadn’t met each other before their wedding day and couldn’t actually speak the same language. As far as is known, they didn’t meet again after their wedding day, although they remained married for the rest of their lives.

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Ode for Solihull

On 21st May 2019, in a Poetry On Loan funded event, poet Giovanni Esposito –  a.k.a. “Spoz” – joined library staff and members of the public on a guided walk around the historic heart of the old Solihull village.

After the walk, the participants returned to the Core for a well-earned break and a chat about Solihull’s history, looking at some of the thousands of old photographs in the library’s Heritage & Local Studies collections. Spoz then wrote a poem incorporating people’s suggestions and his own reflections on the local history of Solihull.

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Coronation Day 1937

Wednesday 12th May 1937 saw the coronation at Westminster Abbey in London of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The date had been chosen for the coronation of King Edward VIII who had become king on the death of his father George V in January 1936. Although, Edward VIII’s abdication in December resulted in a new king and queen on the throne, the coronation date of 12th May was retained.

In Solihull, the event was marked by a three-day carnival, which ran into the Whitsuntide weekend, and many of the villages now in the borough held their own celebrations.

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Burleigh in Wartime, and beyond

“Burleigh in Wartime” was the title written in February 1940 by Clara Milburn on the first page of a soft-backed exercise book. After five months of war she had decided to write a day-to-day account of how she and her small part of the English countryside faced the trials and tribulations of a country at war. Extracts from what turned out to be 15 such exercise books were published in 1979 as Mrs Milburn’s Diaries: an Englishwoman’s day-to-day reflections 1939-45.

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Solihull in wartime – colour film

Harold Thomas Lavender (1900-1953) was a Walsall-born businessman, who was Managing Director of Proctor & Lavender brick manufacturers and merchants. He was in partnership with Arthur Herbert Proctor until 1st May 1928, after which he continued the business alone, still trading as Proctor and Lavender. He lived in Dorridge and was elected to Warwickshire County Council in 1942 as the represent of Solihull First district.

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