V. J. Day in Solihull, 1945

V. J. Day, 15th August 1945, marked the day when the Second World War effectively came to an end as Japan surrendered and all hostilities ceased.

The Warwick County News, 18th August 1945, summarised local events with the headline “Neighbourly co-operation was the keynote of Solihull’s VJ-Day celebrations” and the observation that the day was marked by a “mood of quiet thanksgiving or in the exuberant relief of pent-up feelings according to age or nature.”

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6th January 1920

Captain Charles Murchison Bernays, formerly of the Royal Army Medical Corps, died on 6th January 1920 in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Dover, aged 39. His death was attributed to haemorrhage as a result of his having been badly gassed in 1917 whilst on active service. Prior to the outbreak of war, he had been practising as a doctor in Shirley but at the time of his death he was house surgeon at the hospital where he died.

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James Fern Webster – the “wizard of Warwickshire”

James Fern Webster was an engineer and prolific inventor who lived and worked in the High Street, Solihull Lodge in the 1870s/80s.

He developed a process for making the extraction of aluminium sufficiently cost effective for the metal to be used in the manufacture of everyday objects, patenting a process that enabled him to sell aluminium for £4 per pound instead of the £60 per pound that it had been previously. Prior to this, aluminium was considered a precious metal, and bars of aluminium were exhibited alongside the French Crown Jewels in the Paris Exhibition of 1855.

Webster’s process was described in The British Architect of 13th July 1883 as “one of the most important modern successes.” Its effect on the German-silver, brass and copper trades was likened to the effect of the Bessemer and Martin processes on the iron and steel industries.

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5th December 1918

Private William Henry Cooper, 2nd Aircraft Depot, Royal Air Force died in France of influenza and bronchial pneumonia. He was born in Shirley on 1st November 1873 and, in 1881, was living in Bills Lane with parents William (a metal roller) and Louisa Amelia (née Harrison) ,who had married in Moseley in 1866. Harry, as he was known, was the third of the couple’s four children (two sons, two daughters).

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