Sutton Coldfield Local History
August 2007 was the 50th anniversary of the World Scout Jubilee Jamboree, which was held in Sutton Park from the 1st to the 12th August 1957. Find out more about the Jamboree.
The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield is an ancient town, once forming part of the kingdom of Mercia. Before the Conquest its wood and chase provided sport for the Mercian Earls, as they did for the subsequent royal and noble owners until the time of Bishop Vesey in the Tudor period. The Domesday Book entry for Sutton Coldfield is the first known written mention of the town and it values the Manor, held by Edwin, Earl of Mercia, for the King, at four pounds.
This picture shows the Pepper Pot in the High Street, during the Trinity Monday Parade (Circa 1887).
Under the Earls of Warwick, Sutton Coldfield thrived. It held a weekly market and an annual fair, and for a time Sutton market was one of the most important in the district.
Sutton Coldfield became a Royal manor in 1489 and remained in the hands of the crown until 1528. Then, through Bishop Vesey, Henry VIII granted the town its first Charter of Incorporation. The Charter decreed that the own and village shall for ever here-after be accounted, named and called the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield. A Corporation of 25 men known as the Warden and Society was created with all manorial rights, powers and liberties.
Notwithstanding Bishop Vesey attempts to turn Sutton into a thriving town, it retained its rural character until the nineteenth century, when its popularity as a residential area for people working in the neighbouring industrial towns began to give it its present character.
Sutton Coldfield own attempt at industry took place in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when most of the pools in Sutton Park were formed by damming the streams, and mills were built on them. Their trades ranged from buttons, leather, bayonet and blade to cotton making. However, the development of new sources of power in the rapidly expanding towns of the area soon meant that water powered industry was unable to compete and the mills slowly went out of business.
This image is of Mill Street.
The Warden and Society carried on running Sutton until 1885 when a Royal Commission set up a new town Council. In 1886 a new Charter was granted which established the new Town Council, consisting of six wards, six Alderman and eighteen Councillors. The first Mayor of Sutton Coldfield was J. Benjamin Stone, a well known photographer of the time, and he and his fellow councillors represented the population of Sutton, which was still under 8,000.
The picture here is of the Sutton Coldfield Stocks in 1895
The administration of the Borough Council continued without serious challenge until the early 1970s when Local Government reorganisation saw Sutton Coldfield move from the County of Warwickshire to the Metropolitan District of Birmingham. On 1 April 1974 Sutton became the largest constituency in the new council, covering over one fifth of the Metropolitan Districts administrative area.
One of the major assets of Sutton Coldfield over many centuries is Sutton Park, a remnant of an extensive forest that once covered much of the Midlands.
The photograph here shows Powells Pool with the Old Slade Mill in the background
The survival of the Park was enshrined in the Charter of 1528 and, despite minor encroachments it has remained remarkably untouched ever since. It gained national and international attention in 1957 when the Scout movement held their World Jubilee Jamboree in the Park, attended by the Queen, many other Dignitaries, and thousands of scouts from around the globe.
Issues such as major developments, for example the Birmingham Northern Relief Road, continue to cause major debate in the area and will undoubtedly affect the character of Sutton Coldfield in the coming years.
Today Sutton Park is the largest Local Authority Park of its type within the United Kingdom. The Parks natural features, the richness and diversity of its wildlife together with a colourful history combine to make it a site of national importance.
Sutton today is also a thriving town, a mainly residential area with very little industry, but with a large shopping centre and suburban office area.
Here is the Town Sign, on the boundary with Birmingham in 1938.
Although incorporated into Birmingham in 1974, it still retains a strong sense of individuality, and, in spite of being a residential suburb still has significant areas of open countryside.
The image here is of Beggars Bush, complete with a model beggar.