Erdington was very much a rural area until recent times. In the mid eighteenth century it had a population of under 700 and consisted of 40 farms, 96 cottages, 2 smithies and a shop. The arrival of the canals at the end of the century encouraged some industrial development but the nineteenth century introduction of the railways was the spur to Erdington's suburban growth, seeing the population increase to 9,262 by 1891.
In 1894 Erdington separated from the parish of Aston, to which it had belonged since ancient times, and became a self governing Urban District Council with its own administrative centre at Rookery House, the former home of Dorothy Spooner the wife of the anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce. The UDC was responsible for installing sewers and street lighting, building new houses, roads and footpaths. They were also responsible for building Erdington Library, improving the transport system with the introduction of Erdington's first tramway and establishing three public parks. They also built Moor End Lane School so that children did not have to cross the busy High Street to get to school.