Tag Archives: local government


Solihull was the only former Rural District Council to become a Metropolitan Borough Council in its own right under the 1972 Local Government Act, which came into effect on 1st April 1974. A little more than 40 years before, workers were taking up the cobbles in Solihull’s High Street – a graphic illustration of the incredibly rapid growth of the Borough. The population had more than doubled in 7 years, from just over 25,000 in 1932 to 52,610 by 1939.

Taking up the cobblestones from the High Street in the 1930s.

Taking up the cobblestones from the High Street in the 1930s.

By 1974, Solihull was described as “the quickest growing town in Britain” and the then Minister of Housing and Local Government, Sir Keith Joseph, commented that:

Above all, Solihull is remarkable in its unparallelled rise in status and population over the past 30 or so years. It can claim to be unique in having such a success story

Original proposals for the reorganisation of local government in the 1970s (The Times, 17 Feb 1971, p.4) suggested that the new Metropolitan Borough covering the Solihull area (given the working title “District 15f”) would include Solihull County Borough, parts of four Birmingham wards, part of Meriden Rural District and part of Stratford-on-Avon Rural District. By the time the proposals got to Parliament in November 1971, the Birmingham wards were no longer part of the proposed District 15f, leaving just Solihull County Borough, about one-third of Meriden Rural District and the parish of Hockley Heath from Stratford-on-Avon Rural District.

Representatives of the 10 Meriden parishes were not keen on the name of the new Metropolitan Borough being ‘Solihull’, which was the preference of Solihull County Borough councillors. The representatives from the 10 affected Meriden parishes (Balsall, Barston, Berkswell, Bickenhill, Castle Bromwich, Chelmsley Wood, Fordbridge, Hampton-in-Arden, Kingshurst and Meriden) selected ‘Hemlingford’ as their preferred name, having also considered Arden, Bickenhill, Blythe Valley, and Elmdon.

The choice of Hemlingford wasn’t universally popular – the Marston Green writer of a letter to the Castle Bromwich, Chelmsley Wood and Castle Vale News on 17th November 1971 described the choice as open to mispellings and said it would be “the bane of stammerers and stutterers everywhere”. As Solihull and Meriden councils couldn’t agree, it was left to the Department of the Environment to arbitrate. Despite the department’s own official circular advising that merged authorities should take a new name rather than continuing with the name of one of the previous councils, the Department of the Environment ruled in favour of ‘Solihull’ as the new name.

The new Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council officially came into existence on 1st April 1974. Maybe we should declare 1st April every year to be Hemlingford Day…?

Heritage and Local Studies Librarian


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‘Elevation’ clock, 1964

'Elevation' clock, 1964

The clock in Brueton Gardens, which was set in motion on 5th May 1964.

The clock was erected in 1964 to mark Solihull’s elevation to a County Borough, meaning the council took over responsibility from Warwickshire County Council for running services in the Borough.

The clock was paid for by public subscription, including through the proceeds of a ‘teenage dance’ at Solihull Civic Hall. The dance featured local groups, including the Applejacks (Solihull’s Beatles).

Were you there? Do you remember the dance or have any photos of it? Please let us know – email or fill in a memory sheet.

Heritage and Local Studies Librarian


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Tell us your memories of 1954, 1964 or 1974

2014 marks the 40th/50th/60th anniversary of Solihull becoming a Municipal Borough (1954), County Borough (1964) and Metropolitan Borough (1974).

We’d love to hear your memories of those times – for example, did you see Princess Margaret visit Solihull on Charter Day? Did you attend the teenage dance at the Civic Hall in 1964 to raise funds for the ‘Elevation Day’ clock? Do you remember the creation of the present-day Metropolitan Borough in 1974?

Please tell us what you remember of events then, or let us have your thoughts on how life in the Borough has changed since those times. There’s a memory sheet (PDF) attached below for you to fill in and email back to us at

Solihull Borough memory sheet

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian


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First car registered in Solihull

Image of number plate

The first Solihull-registered vehicle number

When Solihull became a County Borough on 1st April 1964, it took over responsibility from Warwickshire County Council for driver and vehicle licensing in Solihull. From that day, Solihull drivers had to obtain their tax discs from the Local Taxation Officer at the Council House in Poplar Road. The Birmingham Post reported that the creation of a separate registration for Solihull would have a considerable effect on motor licensing statistics for Warwickshire. The Government took over vehicle licensing from 1974.

The Ministry of Transport allocated Solihull the registration marks A-Y, followed by XC , followed by a running number and a “year letter” denoting the year of registration (B for 1964, C for 1965 and so on). The XC registration was already in use by London County Council who promised not to use a year letter so that there wouldn’t be any confusion with the Solihull registrations.

The first vehicle registered in the County Borough was registered on ‘Elevation Day’ itself – 1st April. It was a grey and burgundy 3-litre Rover coupé, registered by the Rover Motor Co. Ltd and destined for the chairman of the company, Mr L. G. T. (later Sir George) Farmer and had the registration “AXC 1 B” .

If anyone has a photograph of the car, we’d be really grateful to have a copy for the heritage and local studies collection at Solihull Central Library (email:

Local Studies Librarian


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40th/50th/60th anniversary of Solihull Borough

Solihull is unique in being the only former Rural District (1894-1932) to have grown to the status of Metropolitan Borough in its own right.

2014 marks 60 years since HRH Princess Margaret visited Solihull to present the then Urban District (1932-54) with a Royal Charter of Incorporation as a Borough.

Solihull's Mace

The Mace is the symbol of Royal authority, delegated to the Mayor

Just ten years later, “the village”, as most Silhillians still called it, had grown to such an extent that the Municipal Borough served a population of 100,ooo. This was considered sufficient to become a County Borough in 1964, and take on responsibilities previously carried out for residents by the County Council.

Another ten years on, and 1974 saw the effect of the Local Government Act 1972, which re-organised local authorities and saw Solihull County Borough merge with Meriden Rural District and Hockley Heath Parish to form the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull we have today.

All this makes 2014 a special year for us: a 40th, 50th and 60th anniversary!

We’re hoping that you’ll be able to tell us your memories of the events in 1954, 1964, and 1974 that marked the rise of Solihull from an Urban District to a Metropolitan Borough.

Post your memories here, or e-mail



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