PUBLISHED: 11:03 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 17:49 20 February 2013
Our county is disappearing before our very eyes, and we'd quite like it back, says Chris Mowbray.
There is worrying evidence that the wraith of Napoleon Bonaparte has been at large in Warwickshire and getting up to those old tricks of his which once made him the scourge of Europe, ie land grabbing. I base this theory on the fact that large tracts of the county keep disappearing.
Well, I mean, just look at the swathes of beautiful Warwickshire countryside which have been swallowed up by the expanding waistline of Birmingham. For example, I have a photo of a rustic stile in the middle of woodland which my parents once took when out on a country ramble. It was taken in Chelmsley Wood when it was still a wood, but it would be mighty difficult to find the same spot now. It is probably occupied by a fish and chip shop.
Then there was the isolated pub which my Auntie Maye and her friend, Pop, used to drive out to on summer evenings to get a bit of country air and enjoy the peace and tranquillity as they sipped their portand-lemons and gin-and-Its.
This hostelry now sways to the roar of 40-tonners on the adjacent M42 and of jets landing at Birmingham Airport. Thanks heavens Maye and Pop both passed on before their favourite watering hole was ruined like this. The shock would have killed them.
The most recent land grab, however, is even more insidious. Birmingham City Council officials have only tried to nick a complete road. It happened when the Highways Department built a new road between Selly Oak and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and decided to name it after the Roman road running through the area.
There was just one problem. Instead of naming it after Icknield Street, which is the Roman road in question, they named it after the Fosse Way which, of course, is miles away in the middle of Warwickshire. You see what I mean? Is there a conspiracy going on? It really does seem as if there is dirty work being done here by the spectral hand of that old French military goat who once tried to take over everything between the English Channel and Moscow.
But at least Birmingham planners did not have the brass neck to try and pull off the stunt achieved by neighbouring Staffordshire who did nothing less than annex our half of Tamworth. Yes, I didnt know that
Tamworth used to be half in Warwickshire either. Apparently, the county boundary actually ran right down the middle of the main street. It all came about because Warwickshire was once at the heart of the old kingdom of Mercia and Tamworth was made the capital.
This happened when Offa, he who built the famous dyke between England and Wales, came to the throne of Mercia in 757 AD, made Tamworth his chief residence and built a palace there. Amazingly, Warwickshires link with Tamworth was to continue for another 1,100 years, surviving the end of Mercia, the Norman conquest, the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War. It was only transferred entirely to Staffordshire in 1889 with the development of the modern local government system.
There is still one vestige of our county identity remaining there, however. Tamworth Football Club continues to use the towns original coat of arms and that includes the chained bear of Warwickshire.