In November 2013 a survey run by the energy comparison firm Uswtich.com revealed that Solihull was the best place to live in the entire UK. The survey took into account factors including household disposable income, salaries, cost of living, employment rates, and life expectancy. Historically Solihull was part of Warwickshire, before the establishment of the West Midlands conurbation in the 1970s. It remains one of the most prosperous towns in the Midlands.
The town of Solihull had its origins in the 13th century as a centre of trade along what is now the High Street near to St Alphege Church in the town centre. By the start of the 20th century it was still only a small, rural town. By the year 2000, though, the population had increased more than ten-fold. In that time the area had seen more residents move from older parts of Birmingham and elsewhere, the establishment of the Land Rover plant, and the redevelopment of the centre of the town in the 1960s.
The suburbs of the town now include areas such as Olton, Elmdon, Chelmsley Wood, Kingshurst, Shirley, Silhill, St Alphege, Knowle and Dorridge, Hockley Heath, Knowle and Dorridge. The town is popular with those who work locally as well as those who commute to the centre of Birmingham. Much of the strength of the local economy was founded on the Land Rover factory. Birmingham Business Park was established in the borough in the 1990s, and the town is also home to law firms, recruitment agents, and an office of the advertising firm McCann-Erickson.
Solihull railway station is located in the centre of the town – from here it is a journey of 25 minutes to central Birmingham and Snow Hill station, and around 2 hours to London Marylebone. The M42 and the M40 motorways pass nearby, and the Coventry road enables motorists to reach Coventry within 20 minutes or so. Birmingham International Station offers connections to London Euston in an hour and 10 minutes.
The NEC and Birmingham International Airport are also within the bounds of Solihull. In the town centre is the Touchwood development, opened in 2002, and featuring cinemas, shops, and an arts centre.
The town is home to many sports clubs – Solihull Moors play semi-professional football, and Olton and West Warwickshire Hockey Club have enjoyed national success. There are many cricket and tennis clubs locally, a historic bowling green, and facilities for Gaelic Sports.
The town is also home to several leading schools – the historic Solihull School was founded in 1560 and is now co-educational, whilst Solihull Sixth Form College has achieved excellent academic results.