While watching the recent Tolkien biopic, I was confused by a scene in which a young Tolkien is distraught at being told by his mother that they are moving, from their home near Sarehole mill, “to Birmingham”. I later worked out that, while the mill is now in Birmingham, it didn’t become that way until roughly ten years after the scene in question, and would have been part of Yardley Rural District Council at the time.
Birmingham’s borders have expanded a great deal over the years. In the early 1800’s the boundary of the Town of Birmingham didn’t even reach as far as Deritend.After the 1832 Reform Act Birmingham became a parliamentary constituency, represented by two MPs. As well as the original town the new constituency included Edgbaston, Bordesley, Deritend, Duddeston and Nechells.
In 1891 Saltley, Harborne and Balsall Heath became part of Birmingham. They also became part of Warwickshire, Harborne having previously been part of Staffordshire, and Balsall Heath of Worcestershire. Quinton was added in 1909.The most dramatic expansion of Birmingham came in 1911 thanks to the ‘Greater Birmingham Scheme’. Yardley, Acocks Green, Hall Green, Sparkhill, Moseley, Kings Heath, Bournville, King’s Norton, Selly Oak, Northfield, Handsworth, Aston Manor, all became part of Birmingham (and of Warwickshire). Perry Barr was ceded to Birmingham in 1928, and Sheldon and Shard End were added in 1931.
The final expansion came in 1974 when Sutton Coldfield joined Birmingham as part of the creation of the West Midlands.
Geoff Burns, Archives & Collections Assistant