William Dargue A History of BIRMINGHAM Places & Placenames from A to Y
B92 - Grid reference SP167829
Elmdon lies in the borough of Solihull on the Coventry Road just beyond the Birmingham boundary.
Elmdon Hall stood in an estate of nearly a thousand hectares west of the church. An earlier hall, built by John Bolelere in 1547, was demolished by Abraham Spooner of Rookery House, Erdington, who began rebuilding in contemporary classical style in 1783. He was never to see his project finished.
After his death five years later at the age of 100, his eldest son Isaac continued the work and the impressive new house was completed by 1795. Faced in stone and designed in typical Georgian style, this was a large three-storey mansion with fifteen bedrooms. There were extensive outbuildings and an icehouse which survives.
Measuring a hectare in area, the walled garden was reputedly in its day the largest in the country. Some of the walls and the ruins of greenhouses survive within what is now Elmdon Manor Local Nature Reserve.
After Isaac Spooner's death the estate was bought by William Alston whose son, also named William, died without issue in 1916. His sister sold the estate in 1930, after which it was bought by Solihull Borough Council. During World War 2 the house and grounds were used by the Home Guard. Immediately after the war much of the hall's parkland was set up as a public park, but the hall itself was neglected to dereliction and was finally demolished in 1956. The lodge still remains just off the busy Coventry Road immediately west of Damson Parkway and is now a private residence.
St Nicholas' Church nearby was first recorded in 1239. However in 1781 Abraham Spooner had the old dilapidated building pulled down and the present simple gothic church built in its place. In the south-east window of the nave are four 18th century medallions of stained glass from the old church which were re-placed here in memory of Canon Hayter, rector from 1892 to 1934, and of his wife Alice who died in 1937. One window represents the Last Supper and the others depict the figures of Faith, Hope and Charity.
Elmdon Rectory, now known as Elmdon Hall, was built by Isaac Spooner in 1803. His son William, the first occupant, was rector of Elmdon for over fifty years. In 1948 the building was converted and sold as private residences.
This placename is Old English elm dun meaning 'elm hill'. Old English has a number of different words for hills which describe their shape: a dun was whale-shaped. Until the devastation caused by Dutch elm disease from the mid-1960s, English elm was a widespread tree and is common in placenames. This small manor is known from 1256.
The hamlet of Elmdon lay west of the hall and church and was centred on the junction of the Coventry Road, Elmdon Lane and Old Damson Lane. Elmdon Farm lay near the north-western corner of the junction. The buildings of Village Farm, now in poor condition, still stand south-west of the junction.
Elmdon is best known for its airport now known as Birmingham International Airport. Opened in 1939 on land beyond the city limits, it was owned by Birmingham City Council as a municipal airport. Civil aviation ceased at the outbreak of World War 2 when the airport was requisitioned by the Air Ministry. Although the airport was reopened for civil flights in 1946, the City Council did not take responsibility for it again until 1960. In 1974, the new West Midlands County Council took over the airport.
Left: Birmingham International Airport.
Photograph by Martin Hartland/ hartlandmartin downloaded from flickr and reusable under Creative Commons Licence Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0.
Opened in 1939 and orginally owned by Birmingham City Council the art deco style terminal building is now grade II listed. One of the vaulted verandahs can be seen on the right of the picture, these were styled on Berlin's Templehof Airport. The three aircraft in the picture are the West Midlands Police Eurocopter ECP2i, West Air Europe's BAE ATP, and just about to land on runway 33 is Monarch's Airbus A321.
With increasing international flights, the terminal and the runway were expanded but passenger facilities proved increasingly inadequate and in 1984 a new main terminal was opened by the Queen with capacity for three million passengers. Built close to the recently built National Exhibition Centre, their proximity has proved beneficial each to the other.
After the West Midlands County Council was abolished in 1986, ownership was transferred to a joint committee of the seven West Midlands district councils. Subsequently the old terminal at Elmdon was turned over to cargo. The old terminal building is now protected with Listed status.
The old Excelsior Hotel on the Coventry Road is still very much in use, now as a Holiday Inn. In 1991 a second terminal opened, the first in the world to cater for both domestic and international passengers. Forty airlines now use the airport and some seven million passengers pass through it every year. (2010)
Click to enlarge the images below.
William Dargue 11.12.2008/ 02.08.2010
For 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps of Birmingham go to British History Online.
Map below reproduced from Andrew Rowbottom’s website of Old Ordnance Survey maps Popular Edition, Birmingham 1921. Click the map to link to that website.