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Growth of Dorridge Village

Station Road, Dorridge

Joy Woodall and Mollie Varley, in their book Solihull Place Names (1979), note that the first known record of Dorridge was in about 1400 when the Werstminster Abbey Muniments record a place called Derrech, meaning 'clearing in a wood'. But this was by no means a village, nor was it so for a further 450 years.

Then in 1852, just 33 years after the debut of George Stephenson's Rocket, Knowle Station was built, in open countryside, at the bottom of a long hill down from Knowle village. This was to be a stop on the new Great Western Railway line from London Paddington to Birmingham Snow Hill, and one that had not originally been planned.

Mr Muntz of Umberslade Hall, then owner of land in Widney Manor had struck a deal with the GWR. They could build the railway across the estate, provided they included the station in the plan, at which certain trains would stop, for him to conveniently travel to London as he wished.

When the service began in October 1852, trains stopped at Knowle Station and Dorridge was born. Mr Muntz founded the Forest Hotel, adjacent to the station, so that he could stay there with friends prior to travelling to London and on his return. There were no cars, so people travelled on foot, on horseback or in horse drawn vehicles on poor quality roads.

Thus, the railway opened up the possibility of travelling in greater comfort and enabled people to commute between local areas, to relocate or just to take day trips into the countryside. Around the station commercial activity sprang up to serve the travellers. Soon Station Approach and Dorridge village had grown around the line.

By 1877 Dorridge had exploded to sufficient size to merit its own church and St Philips was built, only to be expanded a mere 17 years later to cope with further growth. By 1899 the station was renamed 'Knowle and Dorridge' to reflect the independent importance of Dorridge. By 1930 the 'Dorridge Triangle' had fully developed, roads populated with fine houses built mostly to accommodate those who could afford to move out from Birmingham to commute by rail but enjoy a life in the country village.

Steady growth continued and Dorridge converged with both Knowle and Bentley Heath. Then, in the 1980s, Dorridge was earmarked for massive expansion as the area known as the 'Four Ashes Triangle', roughly bounded by Four Ashes Road, Conker Lane and Rodborough Road, was released for development and Dorridge reached the size it is today.