67 Facts About Birmingham


Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England.

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Distinctively, Birmingham only has small rivers flowing through it, mainly the River Tame and its tributaries River Rea and River Cole – one of the closest main rivers is the Severn, approximately 20 miles west of the city centre.

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Principal governing institutions of medieval Birmingham – including the Guild of the Holy Cross and the lordship of the de Birmingham family – collapsed between 1536 and 1547, leaving the town with an unusually high degree of social and economic freedom and initiating a period of transition and growth.

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Importance of the manufacture of iron goods to Birmingham's economy was recognised as early as 1538, and grew rapidly as the century progressed.

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The town developed into a notable centre of literary, musical, artistic and theatrical activity; and its leading citizens – particularly the members of the Lunar Society of Birmingham – became influential participants in the circulation of philosophical and scientific ideas among Europe's intellectual elite.

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The close relationship between Enlightenment Birmingham's leading thinkers and its major manufacturers – in men like Matthew Boulton and James Keir they were often in fact the same people – made it particularly important for the exchange of knowledge between pure science and the practical world of manufacturing and technology.

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Demand for capital to feed rapid economic expansion saw Birmingham grow into a major financial centre with extensive international connections.

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Innovation in 18th-century Birmingham often took the form of incremental series of small-scale improvements to existing products or processes, but included major developments that lay at the heart of the emergence of industrial society.

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In 1709 the Birmingham-trained Abraham Darby I moved to Coalbrookdale in Shropshire and built the first blast furnace to successfully smelt iron ore with coke, transforming the quality, volume and scale on which it was possible to produce cast iron.

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Birmingham rose to national political prominence in the campaign for political reform in the early 19th century, with Thomas Attwood and the Birmingham Political Union bringing the country to the brink of civil war during the Days of May that preceded the passing of the Great Reform Act in 1832.

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Birmingham was the terminus for both of the world's first two long-distance railway lines: the 82-mile Grand Junction Railway of 1837 and the 112-mile London and Birmingham Railway of 1838.

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Birmingham remained by far Britain's most prosperous provincial city as late as the 1970s, with household incomes exceeding even those of London and the South East, but its economic diversity and capacity for regeneration declined in the decades that followed World War II as Central Government sought to restrict the city's growth and disperse industry and population to the stagnating areas of Wales and Northern England.

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Recently, many parts of Birmingham have been transformed, with the redevelopment of the Bullring Shopping Centre, the construction of the new Library of Birmingham and the regeneration of old industrial areas such as Brindleyplace, The Mailbox and the International Convention Centre.

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Originally part of Warwickshire, Birmingham expanded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, absorbing parts of Worcestershire to the south and Staffordshire to the north and west.

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Birmingham is drained only by minor rivers and brooks, primarily the River Tame and its tributaries the Cole and the Rea.

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Birmingham is dominated by the Birmingham Fault, which runs diagonally through the city from the Lickey Hills in the south west, passing through Edgbaston and the Bull Ring, to Erdington and Sutton Coldfield in the north east.

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The bedrock underlying Birmingham was mostly laid down during the Permian and Triassic periods.

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Birmingham has a temperate maritime climate, like much of the British Isles, with average maximum temperatures in summer being around 21.

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Birmingham is a snowy city relative to other large UK conurbations, due to its inland location and comparatively high elevation.

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Birmingham is the largest local Authority area and city in the UK outside of London.

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The city's religious profile is highly diverse: outside London, Birmingham has the United Kingdom's largest Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist communities; its second largest Hindu community; and its seventh largest Jewish community.

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Oldest surviving synagogue in Birmingham is the 1825 Greek Revival Severn Street Synagogue, now a Freemasons' Lodge hall.

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Birmingham grew to prominence as a centre of manufacturing and engineering.

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The first recorded gun maker in Birmingham was in 1630, and locally made muskets were used in the English Civil War.

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Birmingham is the largest centre in Great Britain for employment in public administration, education and health; and after Leeds the second-largest centre outside London for employment in financial and other business services.

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Birmingham was behind only London and Edinburgh for private sector job creation between 2010 and 2013.

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Economic inequality in Birmingham is greater than in any other major English city, exceeded only by Glasgow in the United Kingdom.

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Birmingham was the birthplace of modern bhangra in the 1960s, and by the 1980s had established itself as the global centre of bhangra culture, which has grown into a global phenomenon embraced by members of the Indian diaspora worldwide from Los Angeles to Singapore.

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Birmingham's associated ballet school – Elmhurst School for Dance in Edgbaston – is the oldest vocational dance school in the country.

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Literary figures associated with Birmingham include Samuel Johnson who stayed in Birmingham for a short period and was born in nearby Lichfield.

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Birmingham has a vibrant contemporary literary scene, with local authors including David Lodge, Jim Crace, Jonathan Coe, Joel Lane and Judith Cutler.

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Birmingham Surrealists were among the "harbingers of surrealism" in Britain in the 1930s and the movement's most active members in the 1940s, while more abstract artists associated with the city included Lee Bank-born David Bomberg and CoBrA member William Gear.

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Birmingham artists were prominent in several post-war developments in art: Peter Phillips was among the central figures in the birth of Pop Art; John Salt was the only major European figure among the pioneers of photo-realism; and the BLK Art Group used painting, collage and multimedia to examine the politics and culture of Black British identity.

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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.

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Nightlife in Birmingham is mainly concentrated along Broad Street and into Brindleyplace.

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Birmingham is home to many national, religious and cultural festivals, including a St George's Day party.

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Birmingham Tattoo is a long-standing military show held annually at the National Indoor Arena.

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Birmingham is the only city outside London to have five Michelin starred restaurants: Simpson's in Edgbaston, Carters of Moseley, and Purnell's, Opheem and Adam's in the city centre.

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Famous food brands that originated in Birmingham include Typhoo tea, Bird's Custard, Cadbury's chocolate and HP Sauce.

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Birmingham is home to many entertainment and leisure venues, including Europe's largest leisure and entertainment complex Star City as well as Europe's first out-of-city-centre entertainment and leisure complex Resorts World Birmingham owned by the Genting Group.

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Birmingham is chiefly a product of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries; its growth began during the Industrial Revolution.

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Traces of medieval Birmingham can be seen in the oldest churches, notably the original parish church, St Martin in the Bull Ring.

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People from Birmingham are called Brummies, a term derived from the city's nickname of "Brum", which originates from the city's old name, Brummagem, which in turn is thought to have derived from "Bromwich-ham".

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Partly due to its central location, Birmingham is a major transport hub on the motorway, railway and canal networks.

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Birmingham introduced a Clean Air Zone from 1 June 2021, which charges polluting vehicles to travel into the city centre.

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Birmingham's local public transport network is co-ordinated by Transport for West Midlands which is a branch of the West Midlands Combined Authority.

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Suburban railway lines in Birmingham include the Cross-City Line, the Chase Line, the Snow Hill Lines and the Birmingham loop.

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Until 1974, the other major bus operator in Birmingham was Midland Red who had a number of bus depots both in Birmingham and the wider metropolitan area.

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The city has more miles of canal than Venice, though the canals in Birmingham are a less prominent and essential feature due to the larger size of the city and the fact that few of its buildings are accessed by canal.

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King Edward's School, Birmingham, founded in 1552 by King Edward VI, is one of the oldest schools in the city, teaching GCSE and IB, with alumni including J R R Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings books and The Hobbit.

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Child protection services within Birmingham were rated "inadequate" by OFSTED for four years running between 2009 and 2013, with 20 child deaths since 2007 being investigated.

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Law enforcement in Birmingham is carried out by West Midlands Police, whose headquarters are at Lloyd House in the city centre.

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Fire and rescue services in Birmingham are provided by West Midlands Fire Service and emergency medical care by West Midlands Ambulance Service.

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Birmingham saw the first ever use of radiography in an operation, and the UK's first ever hole-in-the-heart operation was performed at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

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Birmingham has played an important part in the history of modern sport.

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Birmingham was the first city to be named National City of Sport by the Sports Council.

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Birmingham was selected ahead of London and Manchester to bid for the 1992 Summer Olympics, but was unsuccessful in the final selection process, which was won by Barcelona.

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West Bromwich Albion draw support within the Birmingham area, being located at The Hawthorns just outside the city boundaries in Sandwell.

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The Forest of Arden Hotel and Country Club near Birmingham Airport is a regular host of tournaments on the PGA European Tour, including the British Masters and the English Open.

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Since 1994 Birmingham has hosted the All England Open Badminton Championships at Arena Birmingham.

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Birmingham hosted the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which took place between 28 July and 8 August 2022.

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Birmingham has a wealth of existing sports venues, arenas and conference halls that proved ideal for hosting sport during the Games.

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The official handover to Birmingham took place at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony on 15 April 2018.

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Birmingham is the hub for various national ethnic media, lifestyle magazines, digital news platforms, and the base for two regional Metro editions .

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Birmingham has a long cinematic history; The Electric on Station Street is the oldest working cinema in the UK.

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Birmingham is the location for several British and international film productions 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.

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Birmingham was twinned with Zaporizhzhia, in Ukraine, in the late Soviet Union period.

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