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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Schools at Malvern Hall

On 13th July 1990 the official opening took place of the new Sixth Form block at Saint Martin’s Girls’ School. The Sixth Form occupied the site of the former stables at Malvern Hall, adjacent to the former Solihull Lido in Malvern Park.

Saint Martin’s School had moved to Malvern Hall, Solihull in 1989 and was the third school to occupy the historic site – the previous two being Solihull High School for Girls (1931-1974) and Malvern Hall Comprehensive School (1974-1989).

On 1st September 2020, Saint Martin’s School merged with Solihull School, so Malvern Hall now houses its fourth educational establishment – Solihull Preparadtory School. It seems timely to look back at the schools that have occupied this stately home over the last 70 years. 

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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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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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H.M.S. Vivacious

This photograph shows Royal Navy crew members from H.M.S. Vivacious and members of the National Association of Local Government Officers (NALGO) who played a football match during the crew’s visit to Solihull in spring 1944. We think the sailors are on the right in the solid-coloured shirts and the NALGO union members are on the left in the light-sleeved tops, but do let us know if you have any further information. The man in the top hat is likely to be Councillor James Harold Malley (1891-1955), Chairman of Solihull Urban District Council 1943-45.

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“Monty” visits Solihull School

On 10th June 1949, Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery (1887-1976), 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, visited Solihull School, inspecting 250 cadets from the school’s Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and having lunch with the Headmaster and 15 senior cadets. “Monty’s” attendance at the school’s annual parade fulfilled a promise made to the school’s Headmaster, Mr Harry Butler Hitchens (1910-1963), ten months’ previously.

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