The history of Solihull town centre is being brought to life this summer through a unique postcard project that gives visitors an insight into the past.
‘A Postcard from Solihull’ features a trail of 23 images in shop and restaurant windows showing town centre scenes dating back to the 19th century.
The project is being led by Solihull BID, in partnership with Touchwood, The Core and Solihull Borough Council, and features history walks, old fashioned games and a memory zone in Touchwood, for people to share their tales of nostalgia, which will be preserved in the library.
McDonald’s visitors will learn they are eating burgers on the site of the old Post Office and Liv’s interiors store is on the site of the old Mill Lane Boys’ School. Alongside these is a full High Street image taken in 1894 which is being displayed in Touchwood.
Solihull Library researchers discovered a game called ‘Cuckoo in the Nest’ played by children in the borough many years ago. Children are encouraged to follow the town centre trail to find items in shop windows which do not belong there, hence the title ‘Cuckoo in the Nest’.
Meanwhile, a comfortable leather Chesterfield sofa is in Touchwood, where visitors can listen to stories of the past through a vintage dial-up telephone.
Melanie Palmer, CEO, Solihull BID, which is leading the project, said: “Who remembers cars driving around Mell Square, or the Public Hall on Poplar Road (now Yates) where Princess Margaret appeared in 1954? If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, then you are going to love the new summer project ‘A Postcard from Solihull’.
“This project has uncovered some incredible town centre links such as WH Auden, who lived on 13 Homer Road before going off to boarding school, and John Constable, who visited and painted Malvern Hall (which now hangs in Tate Britain).
“We have put together a programme of activity which will really start to ignite the flames of nostalgia for all. It all started when we met with Tracey Williams from the Core Library in Solihull who blew our minds with the array of images, audio tapes and sheer in depth knowledge of Solihull’s past. It simply had to be shared with the residents, businesses and visitors to the town hence the launch of ‘A Postcard from Solihull’.
“There are two guided tours with Tracey in August and we have produced in partnership with Touchwood and the council, a heritage trail map which includes fascinating details such as the sad tale of Jimmy Crump who sold water from the Streetsbrook for a halfpenny per bucket, but who died in the Solihull workhouse in 1882 at the age of 67.
“Drury Lane used to be called Dog Lane until a group of travelling players performed there and inspired the change of name. You may now be munching on a Big Mac on the High Street but that was the former site of the 19th century post office complete with horseback level postboxes!”
A Postcard from Solihull is on display until August 31. Visit www.solihullbid.co.uk for more information.
All images courtesy of The Core Library Solihull