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Facts about Birmingham

Birmingham, the second-largest city in the United Kingdom, is a diverse and vibrant place. It is located in the County of West Midlands and confusingly also in the Region of West Midlands.  Birmingham is about 140 kilometres north west of Central London and is considered the cultural, social and financial centre of the English Midlands. 

The city has a central location within the UK, and you can get to it within 4 hours from 90% of the United Kingdom.

Our home in the  UK is in  the beautiful town of Shrewsbury, just 40 minutes west of Birmingham so we often visit Birmingham with kids. We also often fly in and out of its Airport (one of the biggest airports in the UK) to explore the world.

This blog post highlights Interesting Facts about Birmingham that you may not have known!

Facts about Birmingham 
clock tower
Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Name Facts

Birmingham name comes from the Anglo-Saxon words, “Beorma” and “ingas”, meaning the settlement of Beorma’s people, a clan who settled on the River Rea.

Birmingham Facts about People

In the last census in 2011, Birmingham had a population of over 1.1 million and it is estimated that by 2026 its population will be up to two million people. Birmingham is one of the youngest cities in Europe as almost 40% of the residents are under 25 years of age.

The city’s residents are nicknamed “Brummies,” which comes from an old name for the city – Brummagem, This was a derogatory term, made popular by Londoners who saw Birmingham as industrial competition.  The word Brummagem became synonymous with spurious or shoddy, suggesting that the city’s products were inferior.

Birmingham is an educational centre.

Birmingham is home to two large universities: Birmingham City University and the University of Birmingham and three smaller universities: Aston University, Coventry University and Newman University

Birmingham and music

Almost everyone knows that the Beatles came from Liverpool, but did you know that Birmingham is the birthplace of heavy metal music bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest or pop stars like Duran Duran and UB40?

Half of Led Zeppelin came from Birmingham; the other half from London, so this is one band that can’t be labelled in the battle between London and the provinces.

Famous People from Birmingham

George Cadbury

Cadbury’s was established by George Cadburys in 1824. George’s father Richard and brother John were Quakers who believed that businesses should not open on a Sunday, so they learnt how to make chocolate bars from the Swiss inventor Mr Fry of Bristol

The Cadbury factory located in Birmingham was the world’s first-ever chocolate making plant. It is now a national heritage site, and visitors can take tours of the historic buildings.

Thanks to Cadburys, you can enjoy Drinking Chocolate.

Ozzy Osbourne

John Michael Osbourne is the lead vocalist and founding member of the rock band Black Sabbath. He is also a solo artist who has been honoured with the Ivor Novello Award for his songwriting skills.

Matthew Boulton 

In the 18th Century, Matthew Boulton and James Watt revolutionised technology with their steam engine design. The Soho House in Birmingham was one of the largest factories in Europe at that time, making the city of Birmingham during the industrial revolution the first manufacturing city in the world.

It employed nearly 2,000 people who manufactured a variety of products from metal goods to jewellery. Today’s travellers can still experience this unique piece of history by visiting the Soho Manufacture Museum, where they will learn about how these two visionaries changed our world forever! Birmingham is home to the industrial revolution.

Cluedo was invented in Birmingham

Anthony E. Pratt designed the detective’s card game which is played to solve a murder in Birmingham in 1943. Pratt lived in a little house up Brighton Road where he was involved with games there. A blue plaque on the wall commemorates the inventor of the whodunnit game.

 J. R Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of The Rings was written in Birmingham by J.R.R Tolkien. J. R Tolkien spent many hours at Moseley Bog as a child.

Lord of the Rings landscape and the map of Middle Earth were inspired by the landscapes of Birmingham and other Midlands towns like Sarehole Mill.

William Murdoch and the Gas Street lighting

The first street in Birmingham to be lit by gas was illuminated in 1818, thanks to William Murdoch, Thanks to his invention, it is now called Gas Street. Paris got its gas lighting in

Birmingham and food – Balti Houses Facts

Birmingham is the best place to try Balti food.

The word Balti originates from Punjabi, which means “bucket” or “pail”. It was this dish that inspired the word Balti. The first restaurant specialising in Balti opened in 1976 with a chef who had spent time in the area of Baltistan, which is located within Pakistan.

The type of food they serve includes meat, vegetables, rice & sauces. They are popular because they are quick and cheap to make. Best place to visit Balit houses you will find in Balti triangle, which is the area around Broad Street, Icknield Street and Steelhouse Lane, which has over 100 Balti Houses, some including Michelin Starred Restaurants

The Jewellery Quarter

The Jewellery Quarter is one of the largest jewellery centres in Europe, and it’s estimated that Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter produces over 40% of all UK’s jewellery and exports around 70% of all British manufactured gold.

Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter was built on the site of a former slum called “Little London”, which was full of polluted, disease-ridden houses.

Landmarks in Birmingham

The Birmingham Museum

Birmingham Museum has the world’s largest collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery have many famous works by artists such as William Holman Hunt, Edward Burne-Jones, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Birmingham Library

The Library of Birmingham is one of the largest public libraries in the UK outside of London. It has a collection of about six million books. It features an impressive design by Francine Houben and interactive media hubs that allow users to access information on subjects such as health or heritage.

The Library of Birmingham is considered to be one of the most modern libraries in Europe. It was designed by Francine Houben, who combined modern design with heritage features such as metalwork, woodwork and ceramics.

The Birmingham City Council wanted the new library to be a new British landmark, and they achieve it. The building is outstanding.

birmingham library - landmark in birmingham

Birmingham Hippodrome

Birmingham’s Hippodrome Theatre is one of the largest in Europe. It can accommodate an audience of more than 2000 people, and it hosts a range of theatre, music concerts, dance performances and other cultural events.

Yearly, the Hippodrome is visited by over 520,000 visitors making it the busiest theatre in the United Kingdom.

Symphony Hall in Birmingham 

Completed in 1991 Symphony Hall is considered to be one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in England. As we read in Wikipedia  during an acoustic test before opening the hall, a pin dropped in the middle of the stage could still be heard from anywhere. 

If you’re traveling through Birmingham, don’t forget to stop by this spot. You won’t regret it!

Bullring Building

The Bullring is one of the largest shopping malls in Europe. It has a total floor space of about 400,000 square meters, and it accommodates more than 300 stores from leading brands, including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Primark. The Bullring site was home to outdoor and indoor markets since the 12th Century.

Thinktank Museum

The Thinktank Museum is a science centre and museum that opened its doors in 1998. It has three floors of interactive exhibitions, laboratories to explore and an IMAX cinema. The museum’s exhibits are mostly aimed at children, but adults can also enjoy the space thanks to the many hands-on activities on offer. It is one of the best things to visit while visiting Birmingham with kids.

Birmingham Cathedral

Birmingham Cathedral is the oldest building in the city centre still in use. Inside, you can admire beautiful stained glass windows designed by famous pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones

Spaghetti Junction Facts

Spaghetti junction is the nickname of the Gravelly Hill Interchange where two motorways, two main roads all intersect, coincidentally also at the same point as the crossing of a canal and a railway line. It is just north of Birmingham, on the M6 Motorway. It was so named because it resembles entwined strands of spaghetti, and has lent its nickname to dozens of imitators worldwide.  It is notoriously difficult to navigate and quite counterintuitive to anyone used to either cloverleaf junctions or the more usual British motorway junction comprising a roundabout on top of a flyover.  To add to the difficulty, spaghetti junction is plagued with traffic jams which make it difficult to turn off one route onto another.

Birmingham – the Green City

Birmingham is the main river bank of Trent and the river Severn hence the abundance of waterways that line the metropole. The main river in Birmingham is Tame, with tributaries in Cole and Rec which drain to the city. 

Sutton Park (located in Sutton Coldfield) is the largest urban park in Europe. Its lakeways and waterways are popular for outdoor sports such as fishing, golf and bird viewing.

Birmingham, with 600 parks with an area of over 8,000 acres, is the greenest European City. 

Birmingham is one of the UK’s greenest cities.

Birmingham Canals

Birmingham has more canals than Venice. There are over 250 miles of waterway in the city giving access to Staffordshire and Wolverhampton. Canals were built in Victorian times to move heavy bulk materials between industrial and mining sites.  The logic was that so long as material was departing at one end and arriving at the other it didn’t really matter how slowly it went along.  The barges were drawn by horses, and are known as narrow boats.  Originally home to families, they are now popular holiday accommodation, although some of the canals are still used for the transportation of heavy goods.

Interesting Facts about Birmingham – Pin for later

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Ania James

photographer, traveller, mother of twin girls, wife, worldschooler, rulebreaker

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