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Birmingham- A City Guide

By Maria Williams


Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the English West Midlands. It is commonly considered to be England's "second city" and is the largest of England's core cities. The city's reputation was forged as the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, a fact which led to Birmingham being known as "the workshop of the world". To this day over a quarter of the UK's exports originate in the greater Birmingham area.


Birmingham has a recorded history going back 1000 years. In this time, it has grown from a tiny Anglo-Saxon farming village into a major industrial and commercial city.

The Birmingham area was occupied in Roman times, with several military roads and a large fort. Birmingham started life as a small Anglo-Saxon hamlet in the Early Middle Ages. It was first recorded in written documents by the Domesday Book of 1086 as a small village, worth only 20 shillings. In the 12th century, Birmingham was granted a charter to hold a market. By the 16th century, Birmingham's access to supplies of iron ore and coal meant that metalworking industries became established. In the 17th century, Birmingham became an important manufacturing town with a reputation for producing small arms. During the Industrial Revolution (from the mid 18th century onwards), Birmingham grew rapidly into a major industrial centre. Unlike many other English industrial cities such as Manchester, industry in Birmingham was based upon small workshops rather than large factories or mills.

the city expanded in the late 19th and early 20th century, absorbing parts of Worcestershire to the south and Staffordshire to the west. The city absorbed Sutton Coldfield in 1974, and at the same time became part of the new West Midlands County.

Places of Interests

The places of interests in Birmingham are as follows:

" Aston Hall

" Birmingham Botanical Gardens

" Birmingham Zoo

" Blakesley Hall

" Brindleyplace - Canalside development

" Cannon Hill Park

" Cadbury World

" Centenary Square

" Central Mosque

" Chamberlain Square featuring a BBC Big Screen

" Convention Quarter

" Gun Quarter - Once the foremost gun manufacturing community in the UK

" Jewellery Quarter - The largest concentration of dedicated jewellers in Europe


" National Sealife Centre

" Sarehole Mill

" St Philip's Cathedral

" Sutton Park

" Victoria Square

Museums and Art Galleries

In Birmingham one can find a number of museums and art galleries. Some of the famous museums and art galleries are:

" Barber Institute of Fine Arts

" Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery

" Birmingham Think tank - Science Museum

" Birmingham Railway Museum Trust

" Edgbaston Museum

" Lapworth Museum of Geology

" Soho House Museum

" The Transport Museum, Wythall

" Warwickshire County Cricket Club Museum

Birmingham has some theaters and groups, following are the famous of all:

" Alexandra Theatre ("the Alex")

" Birmingham Repertory Theatre ("The Rep")

" The Birmingham Hippodrome and the Old Rep


The city has a world famous jewelry quarter. In addition to exploring the Jewelry Quarter, Birmingham is a great town for shopping. There are more than 700 retail stores, and many people in the Midlands come here just to shop, especially along Cannon Street and New Street with its recently opened top-brand designer stores. The city's Mailbox complex at Wharfside Street was once used to sort the mail. But now it's becoming a big shopping center, with department stores like Harvey Nichols moving in. In the heart of town, The Bullring, near St. Martin's Square, is being developed into Europe's largest city-center retail area, based around the historic street patterns of the city and linking New Street and High Street. The reinvention of "Brum" (as Britain's much-maligned second city is nicknamed) is reflected by the opening of a grand department store, Selfridges, Bullring Centre. As a fashion emporium, its architecture was appropriately inspired by a dress. The curvaceous complex is adorned with 15,000 aluminum disks? la Paco Rabanne's 1960 chain-mail frocks.

Food and Drink

Birmingham based Breweries included Ansells, Davenports and Mitchells & Butlers. Aston Manor Brewery 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 Crown in Deritend. The Anchor Inn (1797), is also nearby in Digbeth. Famous food brands from Birmingham include Typhoo tea, Birds custard, Blue Bird Toffee, Bournville cocoa, Cadbury chocolate, and HP Sauce. Alum Rock Road, Alum Rock, contains the largest concentration of take-away businesses in Birmingham.

Ladypool Road, Sparkhill contains the largest concentration of restaurants in Birmingham and possibly the UK. The Wing Yip food empire first began in the city and now has its headquarters in the Chinese Quarter. In 1945, Abdul Aziz opened a cafe shop selling curry and rice in Steelhouse Lane. This later became The Darjeeling, the first Indian restaurant in Birmingham. The Balti was invented in the city and has since received much gastronomic acclaim for the 'Balti Belt' of restaurants in the Sparkbrook, Balsall Heath and Ladywood areas.

The BBC Good Food Show takes place at The National Exhibition Centre, and is Britain's biggest food event.


Birmingham has three universities: the University of Birmingham, Aston University and the University of Central England (UCE). It also has two other higher education colleges (Newman College and the Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies). The Birmingham Conservatoire and Birmingham School of Acting, both now part of UCE, offer higher education in the arts.

The 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 4000 adult education courses throughout the year.


A cricket club was in existence in Birmingham as early as 1745, and today the city is home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club whose ground at Edgbaston is also a venue for international test matches. International athletics meetings take place at the open-air Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr, the home of Birchfield Harriers athletic club, which numbers many Olympic medallists among its past and present members. The National Indoor Arena (NIA) meanwhile is a major indoor athletics stadium and in 2003 hosted the 9th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics. The NIA also hosts events in many other sports, such as the World Indoor Badminton Championships.

The city is home to two of the UK's oldest professional football teams: Aston Villa (1874) and Birmingham City (1875), both of whom currently play in the Premier League. Birmingham also has a professional Rugby Union side, Moseley RFC, and there is professional basketball, boxing, hockey, skateboarding, and greyhound racing in the city.

Birmingham has been awarded the title National City of Sport by the Sports Council.

Tours and Sightseeing

There are a number of tour operators in Birmingham. The tourist information center is also very helpful to find out a way to enjoy the visit of Birmingham.

Hotels and Accommodations

Birmingham hosts a number of hotels, B&B, lodges in and around the city. They vary from price and features:

" City Inn Birmingham

" Novotel Birmingham Centre

" Jurys Inn Birmingham


" Hagley Court Hotel

" Birmingham Edgbaston

" Copthorne Hotel Birmingham

" Premier Apartments Birmingham

" Apollo Hotel

" Macdonald Burlington Hotel

" The Edgbaston Palace Hotel

" Britannia Hotel Birmingham

" The Norfolk Hotel

" Paragon Hotel

" Thistle Birmingham City

" Portland Hotel

" Campanile Hotel - Birmingham

" Days Inn Birmingham East

" Jonathans' Hotel and Restaurant

" Best Western The Westley Hotel

" Parkinn Birmingham/West Bromwich

" Bridge House Hotel

" Central Guest House

" Express by Holiday Inn Birmingham Oldbury M5, Jct

" Birmingham Great Barr Hotel

" Ramada Hotel & Resort Birmingham/Sutton Coldfield

" Express by Holiday Inn Birmingham Castle Bromwich

" Corus hotel Birmingham South

" Corus hotel Solihull

" Ramada Solihull/Birmingham


Due in part to its central location in England, Birmingham is a major transport hub on the motorway, rail, and canal networks. It is served by a number of major roads, including the M5, M6, M6 Toll, M40, and M42 motorways. Local 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. The city's main station, Birmingham New Street, is at the centre of the national rail network, whilst Birmingham International railway station serves Birmingham International Airport which has flights to cities across Europe and several Asian and North American destinations.

Birmingham is also notable for its canal system; formerly the lifeblood of the city's industries, their use is now mainly for pleasure. There are 35 miles (60 km) of canals in the city, most remaining navigable.

About The Author

Name: Maria Williams

Occupation: Traveller


Biography: Maria writes for Sleep UK - providers of discounted hotels to make your stay in the UK as comfortable as possible.


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