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Birmingham ( , , locally ) is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands county of England. Birmingham is the largest of the British Core Cities and the second most populous British city, with a population of 1,006,500 (2006 estimate).

The City of Birmingham forms part of the larger West Midlands conurbationmarker, which has a population of 2,284,093 (2001 census) and includes several neighbouring towns and cities, such as Solihullmarker, Wolverhamptonmarker and the towns of the Black Countrymarker.

The city was a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution in England, a fact which led to Birmingham being known as "the workshop of the world" or the "city of a thousand trades". Although Birmingham's industrial importance has declined, it has developed into a national commercial centre, being named as the second-best place in the United Kingdom to locate a business, and the 14th best in Europe by Cushman & Wakefield in 2009. It is also the fourth-most visited city by foreign visitors in the UK. In 2007, Birmingham was ranked as the 55th-most livable city in the world and the second most livable in the UK, according to the Mercer Index of worldwide standards of living.. Birmingham was also one of the founding cities for the Eurocities group and is also sitting as chair. Birmingham has the second-largest city economy in the UK, and was ranked 72nd in the world in 2008.

People from Birmingham are known as 'Brummies', a term derived from the city's nickname of 'Brum'. This comes in turn from the city's dialect name, Brummagem, which may have been derived from one of the city's earlier names, 'Bromwicham'. There is a distinctive Brummie dialect and accent, both of which differ from the adjacent Black Countrymarker.


Some of the earliest evidence of settlement in Birmingham are artefacts dating back 10,400 years discovered near Curzon Street in the city centre.

In the early 7th century , Birmingham was an Anglo-Saxon farming hamlet on the banks of the River Reamarker. It is commonly believed that the name 'Birmingham' comes from "Beorma ingas ham", meaning home of the sons (or descendants) of Beorma. Birmingham was first recorded in written documents by the Domesday Book of 1086 as a small village, worth only 20 shillings. There were many variations on this name. Bermingeham is another version.

In 1166 the holder of the manor of Birmingham, Peter de Birmingham, was granted a royal charter to hold a market in his castle, which in time became known as the Bull Ringmarker, transforming Birmingham from a village to a market town. The de Birmingham family continued to be Lords of Birmingham until the 1530s when Edward de Birmingham was cheated out of its lordship by the traitor John Dudley.

As early as the 16th century, Birmingham's access to supplies of iron ore and coal meant that metalworking industries became established.

By the time of the English Civil War in the 17th century, Birmingham had become an important manufacturing town with a reputation for producing small arms. Arms manufacture in Birmingham became a staple trade and was concentrated in the area known as the Gun Quartermarker. During the Industrial Revolution (from the mid-18th century onwards), Birmingham grew rapidly into a major industrial centre and the town prospered. Birmingham’s population grew from 15,000 in the late 17th century to 70,000 a century later. During the 18th century, Birmingham was home to the Lunar Society, an important gathering of local thinkers and industrialists.
Birmingham rose to national political prominence in the campaign for political reform in the early nineteenth century, with Thomas Attwood's Birmingham Political Union bringing the country to the brink of civil war and back during the Days of May that preceded the passing of the Great Reform Act in 1832. The Union's meetings on Newhall Hillmarker in 1831 and 1832 were the largest political assemblies Britain had ever seen. Lord Durham, who drafted the act, wrote that "the country owed Reform to Birmingham, and its salvation from revolution".

By the 1820s, an extensive canal system had been constructed, giving greater access to natural resources to fuel to industries. Railways arrived in Birmingham in 1837 with the arrival of the Grand Junction Railway, and a year later, the London and Birmingham Railway. During the Victorian era, the population of Birmingham grew rapidly to well over half a million and Birmingham became the second largest population centre in England. Birmingham was granted city status in 1889 by Queen Victoria. The city established its own universitymarker in 1900.
Birmingham in 1886
Birmingham suffered heavy bomb damage during World War II's "Birmingham Blitz", and the city was extensively redeveloped during the 1950s and 1960s. This included the construction of large tower block estates, such as Castle Valemarker. The Bull Ringmarker reconstructed and New Street stationmarker was redeveloped. In recent years, Birmingham has been transformed, with the construction of new squares like Centenary Square and Millennium Place. Old streets, buildings and canals have been restored, the pedestrian subways have been removed, and the Bull Ringmarker shopping centre has been completely redeveloped.

In the decades following the Second World War, the ethnic makeup of Birmingham changed significantly, as it received waves of immigration from the Commonwealth of Nations and beyond. The city's population peaked in 1951 at 1,113,000 residents.


Birmingham City Council is the largest local authority in the UK and the largest council in Europe with 120 councillors representing 40 wards. Its headquarters are at the Council Housemarker in Victoria Squaremarker. No single party is in overall control and the council is run by a Conservative/ Liberal Democrat coalition.

The city is also the seat of regional government for the West Midlands region of England as the home of the region's Government Office, the regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, and the West Midlands Regional Assembly.

Birmingham's eleven parliamentary constituencies are represented in the House of Commonsmarker by one Conservative, one Liberal Democrat, one Independent Labour and eight Labour MPs. In the European Parliamentmarker the city forms part of the West Midlands European Parliament constituency, which elects seven Members of the European Parliament.

Birmingham was originally part of Warwickshiremarker, but expanded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, absorbing parts of Worcestershire to the south and Staffordshire to the north and west. The city absorbed Sutton Coldfieldmarker in 1974 and became a metropolitan borough in the new West Midlands county. Up until 1986, the West Midlands County Council was based in Birmingham City Centremarker.

Law enforcement in Birmingham is carried out by West Midlands Police, fire and rescue by West Midlands Fire Service and emergency medical care by West Midlands Ambulance Service.


Birmingham is located in the centre of the West Midlands region of England on the Birmingham Plateau – an area of relatively high ground, ranging around 500 to 1,000 feet (150–300 m) above sea level and crossed by Britain's main north-south watershed between the basins of the Rivers Severn and Trent. To the south and west of the city lie the Lickey Hillsmarker, Clent Hillsmarker and Walton Hillmarker, which reach and have extensive views over the city.

Much of the area now occupied by the city was originally a northern reach of the ancient Forest of Arden, whose former presence can still be felt in the city's dense oak tree-cover and in the large number of districts such as Moseleymarker, Saltleymarker and Hockleymarker with names ending in "-ley": the Old English -lēah meaning "woodland clearing".


Geologically, Birmingham is dominated by the Birmingham Fault which runs diagonally through the city from the Lickey Hills in the south west, passing through Edgbastonmarker, the Bull Ringmarker to Erdingtonmarker and Sutton Coldfieldmarker in the north east. To the south and east of the fault the ground is largely softer Keuper Marl, interspersed with beds of Bunter pebbles and crossed by the valleys of the Rivers Tame, Reamarker and Cole along with their tributaries. Much of this would have been laid down during the Permian and Triassic eras. To the north and west of the fault, varying from 150 to 600 feet (45–180 m) higher than the surrounding area and underlying much of the city centre, lies a long ridge of harder Keuper Sandstone.


The climate in Birmingham is classified as a temperate maritime climate, like much of the British Isles, with average maximum temperatures in summer (July) being around ; and in winter (January) is around . Extreme weather is rare but the city has been known to experience tornados – the most recent being in July 2005 in the south of the city, damaging homes and businesses in the area.

Occasional summer heatwaves, such as the one experienced in July 2006 have become more common in recent years, and winters have become milder since the 1990s with snow becoming much less frequent. Similar to most other large cities, Birmingham has a considerable 'urban heat island' effect. During the coldest night recorded in Birmingham (14 January 1982), for example, the temperature fell to at Birmingham International Airportmarker on the city's eastern edge, but just at Edgbaston, near the city centre. Relative to other large UK conurbations, Birmingham is a snowy city, due to its inland location and comparatively high elevation. Snow showers often pass through the city via the Cheshire gapmarker on North Westerly airstreams, but can also come off the North Seamarker from North Easterly airstreams.

Nearby places


Religion Percentage of

Buddhist 0.3%
Christian 59.1%
Hindu 2%
Jewish 0.2%
Muslim 14.3%
Sikh 2.9%
No religion 12.4%
No answer 8.4%

Birmingham is an ethnically and culturally diverse city. In 2005 the ONS estimated that 67.8% of the population was White (including 2.7% Irish & 2.1% Other White), 20.4% Asian, 6.6% or Black, 1.1% Chinese, 3.1% of mixed race and 1.1% of other ethnic heritage. 57% of primary and 52% of secondary pupils are from non-white British families. 16.5% of the population was born outside the United Kingdom.

The population density is 9,451 inhabitants per square mile (3,649/km²) compared to the 976.9 inhabitants per square mile (377.2/km²) for England. Females represented 51.6% of the population whilst men represented 48.4%. More women were 70 or over. 60.4% of the population was aged between 16 and 74, compared to 66.7% in England as a whole.

60.3% of households were found to be owner occupied and 27.7% were rented from either the city council, housing association or other registered social landlord. The remaining 11.8% of households were rented privately or lived rent free.

The Bimingham Larger Urban Zone, a Eurostat measure of the functional city-region approximated to local government districts, has a population of 2,357,100 in 2004. In addition to Birmingham itself, the LUZ includes the Metropolitan Boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Solihullmarker and Walsallmarker, along with the districts of Lichfieldmarker, Tamworthmarker, North Warwickshiremarker and Bromsgrovemarker.

Places of interest

See also: Places of interest in Birmingham
The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallerymarker is the main art gallery and museum in Birmingham. It has renowned displays of artwork that include a leading collection of work by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the world's largest collection of works by Edward Burne-Jones. The council also owns other museums in the city such as Aston Hallmarker, Blakesley Hallmarker, the Museum of the Jewellery Quartermarker, Soho Housemarker, and Sarehole Millmarker, a popular attraction for fans of J. R. R. Tolkien. Thinktankmarker in the Eastside is one of the newest museums in the city, replacing the former Science & Industry Museum in Newhall Street. The Birmingham Back to Backsmarker are the last surviving court of back-to-back houses in the city.

Barber Institute of Fine Artsmarker is both an art gallery and concert hall. It also has one of the world's most detailed and largest coin collections. Cadbury World is a museum showing visitors the stages and steps of chocolate production and the history of chocolate and the company.

There are over 8,000 acres (3,200 ha) of parkland open spaces in Birmingham. The largest of the parks is Sutton Parkmarker covering 2,400 acres (970 ha) making it the largest urban nature reserve in Europe. Birmingham Botanical Gardensmarker are a Victorian creation, with a conservatory and bandstand, close to the city centre. The Winterbourne Botanic Gardenmarker, maintained by the University of Birminghammarker, is also located close to the city centre. Woodgate Valley Country Parkmarker is in Bartley Green and Quinton.

The city centre consists of numerous public squares including Centenary Squaremarker, Chamberlain Squaremarker and Victoria Squaremarker. The historic Old Squaremarker is located on Corporation Streetmarker. Rotunda Square and St Martin's Square are two of the newest squares in Birmingham, being located within the Bullring Shopping Centre. Brindleyplacemarker also consists of three squares and the National Sea Life Centremarker.

Places of worship

Birmingham's diverse population uses a wide variety of religious buildings in the city. St Philip'smarker was upgraded from church to cathedral status in 1905. There are two other cathedrals, St Chad'smarker, seat of the Roman Catholic Province of Birmingham, and the Greek Orthodox Dormition of the Mother of God and St Andrewmarker. The original parish church of Birmingham, St Martin in the Bull Ringmarker, is Grade II* listed.

The oldest surviving synagogue in Birmingham is the 1825 Greek Revival Severn Street Synagoguemarker, now a Freemason's Lodge hall. It was replaced in 1856 by the Grade II* listed Singers Hill Synagoguemarker. Birmingham Central Mosquemarker, one of the largest in Europe, was constructed in the 1960s. However, during the late 1990s a mosque in the Sparkhill area was re-developed in partnership with the City Council, to supersede the Central Mosque as the largest in the city.


Birmingham grew to prominence as a manufacturing and engineering centre, its economy today is dominated by the service sector, which in 2003 accounted for 78% of the city's economic output and 97% of its economic growth.

Data on sheet NUTS34, line 339

Two of Britain's largest banks were founded in Birmingham – Lloyds Bank (now Lloyds Banking Group) in 1765 and the Midland Bank (now HSBC Bank plc) in 1836 – and as of 2007 the city employed 108,300 in banking, finance and insurance. In 2009, Cushman & Wakefield stated that Birmingham was the second best place in the United Kingdom to locate a business, and the 14th best in Europe.

Tourism is also an increasingly important part of the local economy. With major facilities such as the International Convention Centremarker and National Exhibition Centremarker the Birmingham area accounts for 42% of the UK conference and exhibition trade. The city's sporting and cultural venues attract large numbers of visitors.

With an annual turnover of £2.2bn, Birmingham city centre is the UK's second largest retail centre, with the country's busiest shopping centre – the Bullringmarker – and the largest department store outside London – House of Fraser on Corporation Streetmarker. The City also has one of only four Selfridges department stores, and the second largest branch of Debenhams in the country. In 2004 the city was ranked as the third best place to shop in the United Kingdom, behind the West End of Londonmarker and Glasgowmarker, being described as a "world-class shopping centre".

Despite the decline of manufacturing in the city several significant industrial plants remain, including Jaguar Cars in Castle Bromwichmarker and Cadbury Trebor Bassett in Bournvillemarker.

Although the city has seen economic growth greater than the national average in the 21st century

Data on sheet NUTS33, line 102 the benefits have been uneven, with commuters from the surrounding area obtaining many of the more skilled jobs. The two parliamentary constituencies with the highest unemployment rates in the UK – Ladywoodmarker and Sparkbrook and Small Heathmarker – are both in inner-city Birmingham. Growth has also added to stresses on the city's transport. Many major roads and the central New Street railway stationmarker operate over capacity at peak times.


because of its inland central location, Birmingham is a major transport hub on the motorway, rail, and canal networks. The city is served by a number of major motorways and probably the best known motorway junction in the UK: Spaghetti Junctionmarker.

Over the coming months, National Express will be moving their UK headquarters to the city, alongside the newly developed Digbeth Coach Stationmarker, which forms the national hub of the company's coach network.

The nearest airport is Birmingham International Airportmarker, located in the Borough of Solihullmarker to the east of the city. As of 2008, the airport is the sixth busiest by passenger traffic in the United Kindgom.

public transport is by bus, local train and tram. The number 11A and 11C outer circle bus routes are the longest urban bus routes in Europe, being long with 272 bus stops. Bus routes are mainly operated by National Express West Midlands, which accounts for over 80% of all bus journeys in Birmingham, however, there are around 50 other, smaller registered bus companies. The extensive bus network allows passengers to travel to and from various districts of the city, while there are longer bus routes which take passengers to areas further afield such as Wolverhamptonmarker, Dudleymarker, Walsallmarker, West Bromwichmarker, Halesowenmarker, Stourbridgemarker and the Merry Hill Shopping Centremarker. The only towns in the West Midlands conurbationmarker that currently lack a direct public transport link with Birmingham are Sedgleymarker, Kingswinfordmarker, Wednesfieldmarker and Willenhallmarker.

The city's main railway station, Birmingham New Streetmarker, is at the centre of the national railway network. Birmingham Snow Hill stationmarker, another major railway station in the city centre, is also a terminus for the Midland Metro which operates between the station and Wolverhamptonmarker, also serving the nearby towns of Bilstonmarker, Wednesburymarker and West Bromwichmarker. There are plans to extend the Midland Metro route further into Birmingham city centre. Birmingham has a large rail-based park and ride network that feeds the city centre. see Birmingham Rail Stationsmarker

Birmingham is also notable for its expansive canal system, and the city is often noted for having more miles of canal than Venicemarker. The canals fed the industry in the city during the Industrial Revolution. Canalside regeneration schemes such as Brindleyplacemarker have turned the canals into tourist attractions.


 city council is England's largest local education authority, directly or indirectly responsible for 25 nursery schools, 328 primary schools, 77 secondary schools and 29 special schools. It also runs the library service, with 4 million visitors annually, and provides around 3,500 adult education courses throughout the year. The main library is Central Librarymarker and there are 41 local libraries in Birmingham, plus a regular mobile library service.

Most of Birmingham's state schools are community schools run directly by Birmingham City Council in its role as local education authority (LEA). However, there are a large number of voluntary aided schools within the state system. King Edward's Schoolmarker is perhaps the most prestigious independent school in the city. The seven schools of The King Edward VI Foundation are known nationally for setting very high academic standards and all the schools consistently achieve top positions in national league tables.
Sutton Coldfield Collegemarker merged with North Birmingham College in 2003 and Josiah Mason College in 2006 to form one of the largest further education colleges in the country. Matthew Boulton Collegemarker is also located in the city and in 2005, the Eastsidemarker branch of the college was completed and opened. Joseph Chamberlain College is the only sixth form college in Birmingham and Solihull to have been awarded both Beacon Status and an overall OFSTED grade 1 (Outstanding).

Birmingham is home to three universities: the University of Birminghammarker, Aston Universitymarker, Birmingham City Universitymarker; and two university colleges: Newman University Collegemarker and University College Birminghammarker. The Birmingham Conservatoiremarker and Birmingham School of Actingmarker, both now part of Birmingham City University, offer higher education in specific arts subjects. BCU opened the New Technology Institute facility in the Eastsidemarker area in 2006. The Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Towermarker is a campanile located in Chancellor's court at the University of Birmingham in the West Midlands of England. It is the tallest free-standing clock tower in the world.


The NIA has hosted many national and international sporting championships.
The city has played an important part in the history of sport. It was the first city to be named National City of Sport by the Sports Council. It was the place where William McGregor moved to in 1870 who was instrumental in forming the Football League.It is home of two of the country's oldest professional football teams: Aston Villa (1874) and Birmingham City (1875). The Second City derby is an event in which the two clubs: Aston Villa and Birmingham City F.C. play against each other. Aston Villa have won 50 matches as opposed to Birmingham City's 38 match wins.Both teams have won trophies,with Villa notably winning the European Cup in 1982.The following year saw Duran Duran's charity concert at Aston Villa football ground 1983 and on May 28 2005 Duran Duran staged a concert at Birmingham City`s St.Andrews football stadium.

The FA Cup Trophy was made in Birminghammarker by Messrs Vaughton.

Birmingham is home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club, whose Edgbastonmarker ground also hosts test matches. The venue was the scene of the highest ever score by a batsman, when Brian Lara scored 501 not out for Warwickshire. Edgbaston was also the venue of the famous 2nd test of the 2005 ashes series. Trailing Australia 1–0 in the series, England looked to have secured an easy test victory with the Aussies going into the final day the Australians needing 107 runs with only 2 wickets in hand. But a spirited fight from the Australian tailed enders got them within 2 runs of winning. However Steve Harmisons famous bouncer was gloved behind and caught by England wicket keeper Geriant Jones. It meant England won the test by the smallest margain ever in ashes history and ultimately went on to win the series, which was later proclaimed the greatest. Birmingham was the host for the first ever Cricket World Cup, a Women's Cricket World Cup in 1973.

International track and field meetings take place at Alexander Stadiummarker, the home of Birchfield Harriers which has many international athletes amongst its members. The GMAC Gymnastics and Martial Arts Centre, alongside Alexander Stadium, opened in 2008 and houses an international standard gymnastics hall and three martial arts dojos, including the headquarters of the Aikido Fellowship of Great Britain. The National Indoor Arenamarker (NIA), opened in 1991, is a major indoor athletics venue, hosting the 2007 European Athletics Indoor Championships and 2003 IAAF World Indoor Championships as well as many WWE wrestling events.

The first ever game of lawn tennis was played by Major Harry Gem and his friend Augurio Perera in Edgbaston between 1859 and 1865 and ATP international tennis is still played at Edgbaston's Priory Club.

Birmingham also has a professional Rugby Union side, Moseley RFC, who play at Billesley Commonmarker, and there is professional basketball team, Birmingham Panthers, as well as professional boxing, hockey, skateboarding, stock-car racing, greyhound racing and speedway in the city.

Food & drink

's development as a commercial town was originally based around its market for agricultural produce, established by royal charter in 1166. Despite the industrialisation of subsequent centuries this role has been retained, and the Birmingham Wholesale Marketsmarker remain the largest combined wholesale food markets in the country, selling meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and flowers and supplying fresh produce to restauranteurs and independent retailers as far as 100 miles away.

Birmingham is the only English city outside London to have three Michelin starred restaurants: Simpson's in Edgbastonmarker, Turners in Harbornemarker and Purnell's in the city centre.

Birmingham based breweries included Ansells, Davenports and Mitchells & Butlers. Aston Manor Brewerymarker is currently the only brewery of any significant size. Many fine Victorian pubs and bars can still be found across the city. The oldest inn in Birmingham is the Old Crownmarker in Deritendmarker (circa 1450 ). The city has a plethora of nightclubs and bars, notably along Broad Street.

The Wing Yip food empire first began in the city and now has its headquarters in the Chinese Quartermarker. The Balti, a type of curry, was invented in the city, which has received much acclaim for the 'Balti Belt' or 'Balti Trianglemarker'.

Culture and arts


Birmingham has had a vibrant and varied musical history over the last century. Birmingham bands have made a major contribution to the musical culture of the United Kingdom, with many contemporary bands citing Birmingham bands as a major influence. In the 1960s, the "Brum Beat" era featured blues and early progressive rock bands, such as The Moody Blues. In the 1980s the reggae band UB40 were formed in Moseley while boy band Musical Youth lived in the Nechells part of Birmingham. Europe's biggest music shop was in Birmingham called Woodroffes Musical Instruments. The city is often described as the birthplace of heavy metal music, with Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and two members of Led Zeppelin being local. Then later on during the 80s bands such as Napalm Death, joined the Birmingham heavy metal scene. In the 1970s, members of The Move and The Idle Race formed the Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard. The 1970s also saw the rise of reggae and ska in the city with such bands as Steel Pulse, UB40, and The Beat, expounding racial unity with politically leftist lyrics and multiracial lineups, mirroring social currents in Birmingham at that time. Seminal 1980s pop band Duran Duran are also from Birmingham.

Jazz has a following in the city, and the annual Birmingham International Jazz Festival is the largest of its kind in the UK. Venues for the festival are also located out of Birmingham in Solihullmarker. It was first held in 1984.

The internationally-renowned City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's home venue is Symphony Hallmarker. There is a City Organist; since 1834 only seven men have held this position. The current holder, Thomas Trotter, has been in post since 1983. Weekly recitals have been given since the organ in Birmingham Town Hallmarker was opened but are now held in St. Philip's Cathedral, until the Town Hall organ opens in October 2007, following restoration. The Birmingham Royal Ballet resides in the city as does the world's oldest vocational dance school, Elmhurst School for Dancemarker.

The Birmingham Triennial Music Festivals took place from 1784 to 1912. Music was specially composed, conducted or performed by Mendelssohn, Gounod, Sullivan, Dvořák, Bantock and Edward Elgar, who wrote four of his most famous choral pieces for Birmingham. Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius had its début performance there in 1900. Composers born in the city include Albert William Ketèlbey and Andrew Glover.

's other city-centre music venues include The National Indoor Arenamarker, which was opened in 1991, 02 Academymarker in Dale End which opened in 2000, The CBSO Centremarker, opened in 1997, Barfly in Digbeth and the Adrian Boult Hallmarker, which was built along with Paradise Forummarker and Birmingham Central Librarymarker, at Birmingham Conservatoiremarker.

Among the many theatres in Birmingham, the largest are the Alexandramarker ("the Alex"), The Repmarker, the Hippodromemarker and the Old Repmarker. The Crescent Theatremarker and Old Joint Stock Theatremarker are other city centre theatres. Outside of the city centre are the Drum Arts Centremarker (on the site of the former Aston Hippodromemarker) and macmarker. The Fierce! festival collaborates with The Rep to present an annual series of performances from local and national companies.

Literary figures associated with Birmingham include Samuel Johnson who stayed in Birmingham for a short period and was born in nearby Lichfieldmarker. The Birmingham Central Library holds some two thousand volumes of his work. Arthur Conan Doyle worked in the Aston area of Birmingham whilst poet Louis MacNeice lived in Birmingham for six years. American author Washington Irving produced several of his most famous literary works whilst staying in Birmingham such as Bracebridge Hall and The Humorists, A Medley which are based on Aston Hall. Other authors who were born in or have resided in Birmingham include David Lodge, Jonathan Coe and J. R. R. Tolkien, who is said to have been inspired by areas and buildings in the city. Influential poets associated with Birmingham include Roi Kwabena, who was the city's sixth poet laureate, and Benjamin Zephaniah, who was born in the city.

Birmingham is the home of the UK's longest-established local science fiction group, launched in 1971 (although there were earlier incarnations in the 1940s and 1960s) and which organises the annual sf event Novacon.

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallerymarker has one of the largest collections of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world. Edward Burne-Jones was born in Birmingham, spent his first twenty years in the city, later becoming president of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artistsmarker. The Barber Institute of Fine Artsmarker was declared 'Gallery of the Year' by the 2004 Good Britain Guide. The Ikon Gallerymarker hosts displays of contemporary art. Notable local artists include David Cox, David Bomberg, Pogus Caesar, Keith Piper and Donald Rodney.OOM Gallerymarker a photographic archive has collaborated with organisations such as Fazeley Studios Three White Walls and Kinetic AIU.

Birmingham's role as a manufacturing and printing centre has supported strong local traditions of graphic design and product design. Iconic works by Birmingham designers include the Baskerville font, Ruskin Pottery, the Acme Thunderer whistle, the Art Deco branding of the Odeon Cinemas and the Mini.

Festivals and shows

Birmingham is home to many national, religious and spiritual festivals including a St. George's Day party. The Birmingham Tattoo is a long-standing military show. The Caribbeanmarker-style Birmingham International Carnival takes place in odd numbered years. Birmingham Pride takes place in the gay village and attracts up to 100,000 visitors each year. From 1997, the city hosted an annual arts festival ArtsFest, the largest free arts festival in the UK. In December 2006, the City Council announced that it would no longer hold Artsfest. The city's largest single-day event is its St. Patrick's Day parade (Europe's second largest, after the one in Dublinmarker). Other multicultural events include the Bangla Mela and the Vaisakhi Mela. The Birmingham Heritage Festival is a Mardi Gras style event in August. Caribbeanmarker and African culture are celebrated with parades and street performances by buskers. Other festivals in the city include Moseley Folk Festival (since 2006), which takes place in Moseley private park and mixes new with established folk acts, the Birmingham International Jazz Festival, and the Birmingham Comedy Festival (since 2001), which has been headlined by such acts as Peter Kay, The Fast Show, Jimmy Carr, Lee Evans and Lenny Henry. The festivals, shows and other activities make Birmingham are part of Birmingham's 2026 vision, publicised by Be Birmingham (a Local Strategic Partnership to Birmingham) which aims to improve the range of public festivals and activities in the city.


Birmingham has two local daily newspapers – the Birmingham Post and the Birmingham Mail – as well as the Sunday Mercury, all owned by the Trinity Mirror who also own What's On magazine, a fortnightly listings title which has been running for 30 years. Forward (formerly Birmingham Voice) is a freesheet produced by Birmingham City Council, which is distributed to homes in the city. Birmingham is also the hub for various national ethnic media and the base for two regional Metro editions (east and west Midlands).Birmingham has a long cinematic history. The Electric Cinemamarker on Station Street is the oldest working cinema in the UK, and Oscar Deutsch opened his first Odeon cinema in Perry Barrmarker during the 1920s. Birmingham-born architect Harry Weedon collaborated with Oscar Deutsch to design over 300 cinemas across the country, most in the distinctive Art Deco style. Star Citymarker is said to be Europe's largest leisure and cinema complex and is not far from the Britain's only permanent drive-in cinema; both are in Nechellsmarker. An IMAX cinema is located at Millennium Pointmarker in the Eastsidemarker. Birmingham has also been the location for films including Felicia's Journey of 1999, which used locations in Birmingham that were used in Take Me High of 1973 to contrast the changes in the city.
As well as being the location for television dramas, Birmingham is also a national hub for television broadcasting. The BBC has two facilities in the city. The Mailboxmarker, in the city centre, is the location for the national headquarters of BBC English Regions, the headquarters of BBC West Midlands and the BBC Birminghammarker network production centre, which were previously located at the Pebble Mill Studiosmarker in Edgbastonmarker. The BBC Drama Villagemarker, based in Selly Oakmarker, is a production facility specialising in television drama. It was announced in October 2007 that BBC Birmingham was to lose 43 out of 2,500 jobs nationwide.

Central/ATV studios in Birmingham were the location for the recording of many programmes for ITV including Tiswas and Crossroads until the complex was closed. When Central TV moved to its current Gas Street studios, it was also the main hub for CITV until CITV was moved to Manchester in 2004. All of ITV Central's output from Birmingham now consists of the West and East editions of the regional news programme Central Tonight.

The city is served by numerous national and regional radio stations, as well as local radio stations. These include 96.4 BRMB, Galaxy, Heart FM, Kerrang! 105.2, New Style Radio 98.7FM, Smooth Radio 105.7FM and BBC WM. The Archers, the world's longest running radio soap, is recorded in Birmingham for BBC Radio 4.


Two major developments have regenerated two parts of the city in recent years. Brindleyplacemarker is a major canalside development with restaurants and office buildings along with the National Sea Life Centremarker. The other development was the Bullring Shopping Centremarker, which replaced a previous shopping centre. The Mailboxmarker, a canalside development, features designer stores as well as offices and apartments. The Cubemarker, designed by MAKE Architects is a 17 storey mixed-use development which is under construction as part of the Mailbox masterplan. The National Indoor Arenamarker is one of the busiest large scale sporting and entertainment venues in Europe. Outside of the city centre is Star Citymarker entertainment complex on the former site of Nechellsmarker Power Station.

The nightlife in Birmingham is concentrated mainly along Broad Streetmarker and into Brindleyplacemarker. However, in recent years, stylish clubs and bars have started to establish themselves outside the Broad Street area. The Medicine Barmarker in the Custard Factorymarker, The Sanctuarymarker, Rainbow Pub and Air are large clubs and bars in Digbethmarker. Near Digbeth, there are bars and club nights in areas such as the Arcadian and Hurst Streetmarker Gay Village by the Chinese Quartermarker. Summer Row, The Mailboxmarker, and St Philips/Colmore Row – where once a month there is a party night held for Polish residents in Birmingham – and Jewellery Quartermarker also feature clubs. There are number of late night pubs in the Irish Quartermarker.


[[File:Bell Edison Telephone Building.jpg|thumb|[[17 & 19 Newhall Street, Birmingham|17 & 19 Newhall Street]] in Birmingham's characteristic Victorian red brick and terracotta]]Birmingham is chiefly a product of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries; its growth began during the Industrial Revolution. Consequently, relatively few buildings survive from its earlier history, and those that do are protected. There are 1,946 listed buildings in Birmingham and thirteen scheduled ancient monuments. Birmingham City Council also operate a locally listing scheme for buildings that do not fully meet the criteria for statutorily listed status.

Traces of medieval Birmingham can be seen in the oldest churches, notably the original parish church, St Martin in the Bull Ringmarker. A few other buildings from the medieval and Tudor periods survive, among them the Lad in the Lanemarker and The Old Crownmarker, the 15th century Saracen's Headmarker public house and Old Grammar School in Kings Nortonmarker and Blakesley Hallmarker.

number of Georgian buildings survive, including St Philip's Cathedralmarker, Soho Housemarker, Perrott's Follymarker, the Town Hallmarker and much of St Paul's Squaremarker. The Victorian era saw extensive building across the city. Major civic buildings such as the Victoria Law Courtsmarker (in characteristic red brick and terracotta), the Council Housemarker and the Museum & Art Gallerymarker were constructed. St Chad's Cathedralmarker was the first Roman Catholic cathedral to be built in the UK since the Reformation. Across the city, the need to house the industrial workers gave rise to miles of redbrick streets and terraces, many of back-to-back houses, some of which were later to become inner-city slums.

Postwar redevelopment and anti-Victorianism resulted in the loss of dozens Victorian buildings like Birmingham New Street Stationmarker, and the old Central Library. In inner-city areas too, much Victorian housing was redeveloped. Existing communities were relocated to tower block estates like Castle Valemarker.

Birmingham City Council now has an extensive tower block demolition and renovation programme. There has been a lot of construction in the city centre in recent years, including the award-winning Future Systems' Selfridges building in the Bullring Shopping Centremarker, the Brindleyplacemarker regeneration project and the Millennium Pointmarker science and technology centre.

Highrise development has slowed since the 1970s and mainly in recent years due to enforcements imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority on the heights of buildings as they could affect aircraft from the International Airport, (e.g. Beetham Towermarker).


Birmingham has many corridors of wildlife that lie in both informal settings such as the Kingfisher Project and Woodgate Valley Country Park and in a selection of parks such as Handsworth Park and Small Heath Park. Wildlife is nurtured in a good many gardens and helped along by Birmingham City Council's dedication to replanting street trees when they die or are removed. The City's horticultural training facility at King's Heath Park is paired up with Pershore College.More traditional environmental concerns are constantly raised by volunteer pressure group Birmingham Friends of the Earth. That group advocate gentler travel such as through local rail revival, walking and cycling, reduction in energy demand and waste generally, and see a great future for environmental technologies in the city.

Crime and policing

Digbeth Police Station
West Midlands Police serves Birmingham and the West Midlands county. The headquarters are located at Lloyd House in the city centre of Birmingham. Birmingham has been the location for many high profile incidents such as the 31 January 2007 Birmingham raid, New Year Murders, the 2005 Birmingham race riots and in 1974, the Birmingham pub bombings.

Crime figures for 2008/2009 (shown below) demonstrated that Birmingham was above the English average in most, but not all, fields. Of England's 'core cities' (Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Sheffield), Birmingham has the lowest crime rate.

In 2006, Birmingham city centre was identified as having the highest concentration of gun crimes in Britain, with three areas of Birmingham being in the top 10 worst gun crime affected areas of Britain. In 2008, gun crime continued to rise in Birmingham with locals and the West Midlands Police in fear of gang related shootings.

In an attempt to reduce crime in the city, a Crime and Disorder Partnership has been established in the city, the largest of its kind in the country. The partnerships work in developing five neighbourhood based community safety projects in Birmingham was recognised when it was awarded first prize at the European Community Safety Awards in December 2004. Crime rates are particularly high in areas such as Astonmarker, Handsworthmarker, Small Heathmarker and Bordesley Greenmarker.

Crime figures for 2008/2009 in Birmingham
Crime Birmingham average

(per 1,000 of the population)
English average

(per 1,000 of the population)
Total recorded offences 94.92 86
Violence against a person 21.55 16
Sexual offences 1.24 1
Robbery offences 3.88 2
Burglary 12.19 11
Offences against vehicles 14.34 11
Other theft offences 15.24 20
Criminal damage 15.9 17
Drug offences 5.22 4

Notable residents

Birmingham has a number of notable residents from various walks of life. Joseph Chamberlain, who was once mayor of Birmingham and later became an MP, and his son Neville Chamberlain, who was lord mayor Birmingham and later the British Prime Minister, are two of the most well-known political figures who have lived in Birmingham. Politician Enoch Powell was also born in Birmingham attending King Edward's Schoolmarker. Author J. R. R. Tolkien was brought up in Birmingham with many locations in the city such as Moseley bog, Sarehole Mill and Perrott's Follymarker supposedly being the inspiration for various scenes in The Lord of the Rings. Writer W. H. Auden grew up in the Harborne area of the city. The American author Washington Irving lived in Birmingham during the 1820s and wrote both Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow whilst living in the city. Entertainers who were born or who have lived in Birmingham include comedians Sid Field, Tony Hancock, and Jasper Carrott and the actors Trevor Eve, Kay Parker, and Martin Shaw. Birmingham has also produced a number of popular bands and musicians. The Streets, Steel Pulse, UB40, The Beat, Ocean Colour Scene, Moody Blues, The Move, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Napalm Death, Musical Youth, Electric Light Orchestra, Led Zeppelin, and Duran Duran have all been popular bands, whilst musicians Jeff Lynne, Ozzy Osbourne, Carl Palmer, John Lodge, Roy Wood, Ruby Turner, Toyah Willcox, Denny Laine and Steve Winwood all were very successful. Other famous residents include award winning political playwright David Edgar; and Booker Prize winning novelist David Lodge. Britain's Got Talent dancing star Aidan Davis was born here.

The 'Walk of Starsmarker', was unveiled on Broad Street in July 2007 to honour the famous residents of Birmingham.

See also: Blue Plaques erected by the Birmingham Civic Society.

Science and invention

Birmingham has been the location for some of the most important inventions and scientific breakthroughs. Local inventions and notable firsts include: gas lighting, custard powder, the magnetron, the first ever use of radiography in an operation, Lewis Paul and John Wyatt's first cotton Roller Spinning machine and the UK's first ever hole-in-the-heart operation, at Birmingham Children's Hospitalmarker.

Among the city's notable scientists and inventors are Matthew Boulton, proprietor of the Soho engineering worksmarker, Sir Francis Galton, originator of eugenics and important techniques in statistics, Joseph Priestley, chemist and radical and James Watt, engineer and inventor who is associated with the steam engine. Many of these scientists were members of the Lunar Society, which was based in the city.

Twin cities

Birmingham has seven partner or sister cities. They are:

There are also Treaties of Friendship between Birmingham and Guangzhoumarker in Chinamarker, and between Birmingham and Mirpurmarker in Azad Kashmir, Pakistanmarker from where about 90,000 Birmingham citizens originate.

Birmingham, Alabamamarker, USA, is named after the city and shares an industrial kinship.

See also


  3. Bassett, Anglo-Saxon Birmingham, 2000
  4. " Birmingham (England, United Kingdom)". Encyclopædia Britannica.

External links

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