Harborne has appeared with several variations throughout the centuries and the origin of its name has often been disputed. Probable suggestions include "boundary brook", "high brow" and "dirty brook".

Prior to the Victorian period Harborne was a small country village in a remote part of Staffordshire. Although it then developed into a bustling suburb it still manages to retain some of the charm of a village community. Its southern half voted to became part of Birmingham in 1891 and transferred into Warwickshire, and then subsequently the West Midlands.

Its most famous industry, the Chad Valley Company, is probably Britain's best known toy manufacturer and was based in the area for eighty years.

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