For centuries a small rural community, Harborne began to grow rapidly in the late nineteenth century, following improved transport links with Birmingham. After becoming part of the city in 1891, the district saw a steady expansion of commuter housing on both sides of the High Street, the most notable development being J.S. Nettlefold's Moorpool Estate, a pioneering model village run on co-ownership principles. The closeness of Edgbaston helped Harborne to develop a `green', semi-rural character. This trend was further encouraged by the early establishment of neighbouring golf courses and cricket grounds, the gift of Grove Park to the city, and the retention for official use of two adjacent mansions in extensive grounds - Harborne House (now Bishop's Croft) and Harborne Hall.
Harborne has close associations with several nationally-known figures, including the artist David Cox, the parliamentary reformer Thomas Attwood and the poet W.H. Auden. Its name was for long known nationally as the home of the Chad Valley Toy Company.
Well known as an educational centre, Harborne also has a number of long-established cultural, sporting and social organizations. Its High Street has long been valued for its shopping and catering facilities, remaining a focal point for a wide area.
It is the aim of this book, the second selection of over 200 old Harborne photographs from Birmingham Library Services archives, to complement its predecessor in capturing something of the character of the area in the recent and more distant past.