Meriden, West Midlands

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Coordinates: 52°26′16″N 1°38′59″W / 52.4379°N 1.6496°W / 52.4379; -1.6496

Meriden
Meriden cross winter.jpg
The traditional centre of England
West Midlands
Meriden
Meriden
 Meriden shown within the West Midlands
Population 2,734 (2001)
OS grid reference SP240824
Metropolitan borough Solihull
Metropolitan county West Midlands
Region West Midlands
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament Meriden
List of places
UK
England
West Midlands

Meriden is a village and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, West Midlands, England. It is located between Solihull and the city of Coventry, and is approximately 10 km (6.2 mi) from Birmingham International Airport.

The US city of Meriden, near the centre of Connecticut, is named after the village.

History and amenities[edit]

Church of St. Laurence

Until 1974, Meriden was part of Warwickshire. The surrounding countryside, known as the Meriden Gap, forms a green belt between the two urban areas of Birmingham and Coventry. It gives its name to the Meriden parliamentary constituency, which covers the Meriden Gap.

The A45 bypass opened in 1958.

In the United Kingdom Census 2001 the population of the Meriden parish was 2,734.

It is possibly the site of an Iron Age field system.

The parish church is dedicated to St. Laurence[disambiguation needed] and was apparently founded by Lady Godiva. It has a Norman chancel with gargoyles on its roof and a golden weathercock.[1]

Here the Heart of England Way long-distance path wends its way and brings the Staffordshire Heathlands together with the Cotswolds and Forest of Arden.

The 16th century Moat House[2]

Meriden is also home to a memorial to all the cyclists who died in the First World War. An annual event, at which thousands of cyclists pay their respects to their fallen colleagues and commemorate these deaths, is held in the village. The memorial was unveiled on 21 May 1921, in the presence of over 20,000 cyclists.

Some moated farmsteads and several timber-framed buildings can be seen in the village.

Triumph motorcycles[edit]

Commemorative plaque outside the former site of the Triumph factory at Meriden unveiled on 7 October 2005

From 1941 until 1983, Meriden was home to the large Triumph motorcycles production plant, whose original Priory Street factory in Coventry was earlier destroyed by the Luftwaffe during World War II.

As documented in the book, Forty Summers Ago, the factory was visited by Steve McQueen, Bud Ekins and the rest of the 1964 USA International Six Day Trials team to collect their specially prepared Triumphs. Richard Gere, in an interview promoting his 2002 film Chicago, also claimed to have picked up his Triumph motorcycle from the factory (misidentifying its location), too, albeit in the mid-1970s whilst touring with the Grease stage production.[3]

In 1973, Triumph workers blockaded the factory from the new owners, NVT, to prevent closure. The government loaned the subsequent Meriden Workers Co-Operative money to buy the factory and later to market the Triumph motorcycles they produced.[4] The sit-in and formation of the co-operative were the subject of much media interest including David Edgar's contemporary play, Events Following The Closure Of A Motorcycle Factory.[5] Trading later as Triumph Motorcycles (Meriden) Ltd., the co-operative eventually closed in August 1983,[4] the factory being demolished the following year.[6] The new company, Triumph Motorcycles Ltd was established in 1984, and moved to Hinckley, Leicestershire in 1988.

A housing estate has been built on the site of the Triumph motorcycle factory at Meriden. Road names on the estate include Triumph motorcycle model names such as Bonneville Close and Daytona Drive. A plaque commemorating the site's former use stands outside Bonneville Close.[4]

Traditional centre of England[edit]

Plaque on the sandstone cross which marks the traditional centre of England

The village has claimed to be at the very centre of England, and a sandstone pillar-shaped monument to that effect stands in the village green. This mediaeval village cross is a grade II listed artifact.[7]

In 2002, the Ordnance Survey defined the Geographical Centre of England to be on Lindley Hall Farm, approximately 18 kilometres (11 mi) north of Meriden at Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire.[8]

In 2003 the Ordnance Survey placed Church Flatts farm, approximately 35 kilometres (22 mi) north, at Coton in the Elms, southern Derbyshire, as the furthest point from the sea in Great Britain.[9][10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ English Heritage. "Church of St Lawrence (grade A) (218226)". Images of England. 
  2. ^ English Heritage. "Moat House (grade II) (218228)". Images of England. 
  3. ^ Pearce, Garth; Standard, Evening. "Richard Gere: 'I've finally grown up' | Mail Online". London: Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  4. ^ a b c Rosamond, John Save The Triumph Bonneville ! The Inside Story Of The Meriden Workers' Co-Op (Veloce 2009)
  5. ^ Wilson, Steve British Motorcycles Since 1950 (Vol 5) Triumph: The Company Patrick Stephens Limited (1991) ISBN 1-85260-021-7
  6. ^ "Triumph's Last Days" Motorcycle Classics, Sept/Oct 2008
  7. ^ English Heritage. "Medieval cross (grade II) (218231)". Images of England. 
  8. ^ A tale of two centres
  9. ^ BBC report centre of England
  10. ^ Ordnance Survey - MapZone

External links[edit]