Encyclopedia  |   World Factbook  |   World Flags  |   Reference Tables  |   List of Lists     
   Academic Disciplines  |   Historical Timeline  |   Themed Timelines  |   Biographies  |   How-Tos     
Sponsor by The Tattoo Collection
Birmingham
Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Birmingham

This is about Birmingham, England. Were you looking for Birmingham, Alabama or other places called Birmingham?

Birmingham (pronounced BIRming'm) is a city in the West Midlands of England. Being the country's second largest and second most culturally diverse city, it is generally considered England's "second city", after London.


The city from near Alpha Tower, with the Rotunda in the centre

Table of contents
1 Introduction
2 History
3 Economy
4 Culture
5 Architecture
6 Media
7 Learning
8 Government
9 Other Places of interest
10 Towns, villages and other areas
11 Nearby places
12 Twin towns or partner cities
13 See also
14 External links

Introduction

The city of Birmingham has a population of 989,956 (2002 estimate); the Birmingham metropolitan area has a population of 2,575,768. Around four million people live within a 40 mile (65 km) radius of the city. The term 'Birmingham' is sometimes, erroneously, used in reference to the entire conurbation, rather than the city proper.


City of Birmingham

Shown within West Midlands
Geography
Status: Metropolitan borough, City (1889)
Region: West Midlands
Ceremonial County: West Midlands
Area:
- Total
Ranked 169th
267.77 km²
Admin. HQ: Birmingham
ONS code: 00CN
Demographics
Population:
- Total (2002 est.)
- Density
Ranked 1st
989,956
3,697 / km²
Ethnicity: 70.4% White
19.5% S.Asian
6.1% Afro-Carib.
Politics
Birmingham City Council
http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/
Leadership: Leader & Cabinet
Executive: Conservative + Liberal Democrats
MPs: Richard Burden, Roger Godsiff, Lynne Jones, Khalid Mahmood, Stephen McCabe, Andrew Mitchell, Estelle Morris, Clare Short, Sin Simon, Gisela Stuart.
In the By-election, 2004: Liam Byrne.
The city is commonly known as Brum (from the old name Brummagem) and its inhabitants as Brummies. Birmingham residents speak with a distinctive Brummie accent which is often confused with the Black Country accent. The people are generally regarded as hard working, and having a sense of humour that is quite unique.
Birmingham is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the UK, with a large population from the
Caribbean, Indian sub-continent and from Ireland: according to the 2001 census, 29.7% of the population of Birmingham is non-white. The city has one of the largest populations of Rastafarians outside Jamaica and the city hosts the third largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world, after Dublin and New York. Birmingham's balti restaurants produce some of the finest 'Indian' cuisine in the U.K.

About 22 million people visit Birmingham every year and the city was voted second best place to shop in England 2004 after the West End of London. Its top attractions include Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery;, Millennium Point, Bull Ring, Selfridges Building, Cadbury World, Tolkien Trail [1], Birmingham Royal Ballet, the National Sea Life Centre and 35 miles (60 km) of canals within the city boundaries, of which most are navigable.

The city centre has been transformed in recent years, with the construction of new squares, the restoration of old streets, buildings and canals, and the removal of much-derided pedestrian subwayss.

Birmingham is located at 5230" North, 150" West.

The Birmingham Coat of Arms was Granted to the City in April 1889 and shows two figures, representing Industry and The Arts

History

The main article is History of Birmingham the following is a summary

Birmingham was originally a small village, but by the 1300s had become the third largest town in Warwickshire, after Warwick and Coventry. The town grew rapidly during the industrial revolution, going from 75,000 inhabitants in 1800 to 650,000 inhabitants in 1900. Birmingham was granted city status in 1896.

Economy

The Industrial Revolution flourished in Birmingham and the surrounding Midlands towns, allowing many factories, foundries and businesses, including sword, gun and pistol manufacturers, watchmakers, jewellers, goldsmiths, attorneys, physicians, surgeons, apothecaries and chemists to prosper.

The city's workmen design and constructed railway carriages, steam engines, and even - unusually for somewhere so far from the sea - ships, which were made as pre-fabricated sections, then assembled at the coast.

The Midland Bank (now part of HSBC) opened for business in Union Street, Birmingham, in August 1836.

Until 2003, coins were manufactured at the Birmingham Mint, the oldest independent mint in the world.

Famous brands from the "city of a thousand trades" include Bird's Custard, Typhoo Tea, Brylcreem, Chad Valley Toys, BSA, Bakelite and the Birmingham wire gauge which was a main provider of musical instrument wire in Britain for many years.

Breweries Ansells, Davenports and Mitchells & Butlers; had their origins in Birmingham, as do Cadburys chocolate, HP Sauce and the MG Rover Group.

While manufacturing is still important to the city, the local economy is rapidly diversifying; in particular, professional and financial services and tourism are growing quickly. More details about the Birmingham economy.

The Motor Show takes place every other year, at the National Exhibition Centre, and in 2004 was moved to May from the usual October.

Culture

Sport

The city is home to two of the UK's oldest professional
Premier League football teams: Aston Villa (1874) and Birmingham City (1875) . Nearby West Bromwich Albion's ground The Hawthorns used to be divided by the Birmingham/ Smethwick border, but was moved completely into the latter by a minor rationalisation of local government borders in the 1960s and is now in Sandwell.

The first football league was invented, by William McGregor on 22 March 1885, in Aston.

Athletics takes place at the open-air Alexander Stadium on a national and international level. Recent development has seen addition of a High Performance Centre for indoor intense specialist training. The Stadium is also home to Birchfield Harriers, who have contributed towards Britain's National and International Athletics for many years. The National Indoor Arena is Britain's Premier Indoor Athletics stadium and in 2003 successfully hosted the 9th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics. The city has been chosen to host the European Athletic Association's European Indoor Championships in 2007.

Professional Golf is played at the Belfry (4km outside Birmingham) which sometimes hosts The Ryder Cup.

Rugby Union is played in Birmingham by Moseley in National League 2, while the more recently formed Birmingham & Solihull Pertemps Bees;, based in Solihull, are challenging for a place in the Zurich Premiership.

Basketball is played by the Birmingham Bullets, who are in the top UK basketball league.

Boxing is popular in the City with many clubs and famous professional boxers such as Pat Cowdell and Robert McKracken who have continued to support boxing in the UK by turning their skills to coaching new up- and- coming boxers.

County Cricket is played at the Edgbaston ground, home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club. International test matches are also held there.

Hockey is a popular sport with Harborne and Bournville competing at professional level.

The National Indoor Arena also hosts many other sporting events, such as the World Indoor Badminton Championships.

Arts

Music

Modern
In the late
1960s Heavy metal music first evolved in the city and its neighbouring districts with bands such as Black Sabbath, The Fortunes, The Move and Robert Plant (singer of Led Zeppelin).

Birmingham-based tape recorder company, Bradmatic Ltd helped develop and manufacture the mellotron. Over the next 15 years, the mellotron had a major impact on rock music and is a trademark sound of the era's progressive bands.

Early progressive rock and blues bands to evolve from the Brum Beat era include: The Rockin Berries, The Honeycombes, Wizzard, The Spencer Davis Group, Idle Race, The Moody Blues, Judas Priest, Traffic, and The Electric Light Orchestra.

Other successful Birmingham singer/songwriters and musicians include Joan Armatrading, Steve Gibbons, Mike Kellie (of Spooky Tooth), Jeff Lynne, Phil Lynott (who formed Thin Lizzy), Carl Palmer (of Emerson Lake and Palmer), Ruby Turner, Toyah Willcox, Steve Winwood and Roy Wood.

Mothers rock venue ran in Erdington from 1968 - 1971 and The list of bands who played there reads like a roll call of rock legends: Pink Floyd recorded part of Ummagumma, The Who performed Tommy and Traffic staged their debut gig. The club was voted number one rock venue in the world by America's Billboard magazine.

During the 1970s Birmingham's large West Indian population spawned what is arguably one of the earliest roots reggae bands in the UK, Steel Pulse. With their ground breaking 1970s album Handsworth Revolution they proved that English Reggae music could offer something more than just sound system. They were soon followed by the first truly mixed race UK dub reggae band, UB40. Other 1970s Reggae orientated groups were 2 tone band The Beat and Musical Youth who (along with UB40, Pablo Falconer and Pato Banton) were part responsible for bringing UK reggae into the homes of everyday 1980s Britain.

The city also plays host to one of oldest community radio (or pirate radio) stations in the UK, in the form of P.C.R.L, which began in the early 1980s and mainly plays reggae.

The early 1980s brought New Romantic pop group Duran Duran, who worked in Birmingham's famous Rum Runner nightclub in the 1970s.

Napalm Death and Stephen "Tintin" Duffy, also emanated from late 1970s/early 1980s Birmingham, as did Dexy's Midnight Runners.

Birmingham Hip Hop scene continuing developed in the early 1980s.

The late 1980s/1990s Indie music scene saw bands such as The Charlatans, Dodgy, WonderStuff, Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned's Atomic Dustbin who all eminated from the city and it's surrounding satelite towns.

Bhangra Rap evolved in Handsworth in the early 1990s with Apache Indian who later went on to host his own radio show on BBC Radio 1. Many other Bhangra bands are based in the city.

Jazz is popular in the city. The Birmingham International Jazz Festival takes place annually and is the largest of its kind in the UK. A branch of Ronnie Scotts opened in the 1990s but went bust within a decade. Some of the city's jazz musicians include Soweto Kinch and King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys.

Birmingham has embraced house music since the late 1980s. Acid House nights such as Spectrum took place at the Institute (now the Sanctuary) and the Hummingbird (now the Carling Academy Birmingham). Some of the UK's most influential dance nights including Gods Kitchen, Chuff Chuff, Wobble, Miss Moneypenny's, Gatecrasher, Sundissential, Atomic Jam and the original C.R.E.A.M have their roots in the city and have been supported by local figures such as the late Tony De Vit, Steve Lawler and Steve Kelley.

More recent artists include electro dub creators Rockers Hi-Fi, Big Beat musicians Bentley Rhythm Ace, Garage/House band The Streets, Electronica bands Broadcast, Pram, Plone and Add N to X and Avrocar. R&B; singer Jamelia is also from the city as is Kelli Dayton of The Sneaker Pimps, saxophonist/rapper Soweto Kinch and the rock band Ocean Colour Scene.

Party in the Park is Birmingham's largest music festival, at Cannon Hill Park, where up to 30,000 revellers of all ages enjoy popular chart music.

Some of Birmingham's other music venues include Academy 2, the National Exhibition Centre's Indoor Arena and Symphony Hall, Scruffy Murphy's, the Custard Factory, Edward's No. 8, mac (Midlands Arts Centre), and the Drum Arts Centre.

Classical

The internationally-renowned City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's home venue is Symphony Hall, where it gives frequent performances.

The equally world-renowned Birmingham Royal Ballet also resides in the city as will the world's oldest vocational dance school, Elmhurst.

The Birmingham Triennial Music Festival took place from 1784 - 1912 and was considered the grandest of its kind throughout Britain. Music was written for the festival by Mendelssohn, Gounod, Sullivan, Dvorak, Bantock and most notably Elgar, who wrote four of his most famous choral pieces for Birmingham.

Birmingham's other city- centre music venues include The National Indoor Arena (NIA), CBSO Centre, Adrian Boult Hall (ABH) at Birmingham Conservatoire and the Birmingham Town Hall, which played host to many classical and popular music performances from the late 1800s, but which is currently closed for refurbishment.

Literature

Many famous literary figures have been associated with Birmingham:

Comedy

Birmingham has generated some very famous comedians including
Sid Field, Tony Hancock, Jasper Carrott, Shazia Mirza and Rick Mayall.

The Glee Club a prominent comedy venue. The Drum Arts Centre also hosts series of monthly comedy sessions as does the mac.

Theatre

There are many theatres in Birmingham. The three largest professional theatres are the Alexandra Theatre ("the Alex"), Birmingham Repertory Theatre ("The Rep") and the Birmingham Hippodrome.

The actors in the long-running Radio 4 serial The Archers live in and around Birmingham, where the supposedly rural programme is recorded.

Art

Birmingham has one one of the largest collections of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world at The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery;. Edward Burne-Jones was born in Birmingham.

David Cox was a famous Birmingham watercolour artist and President of the Associated Artists in Water Colour in 1810.

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is housed at the University of Birmingham and although only a small gallery it was declared 'Gallery of the Year' by the Good Britain Guide 2004.

The Ikon Gallery is housed in a neo-gothic former school in Brindley Place and showcases modern art. Number 9 The Gallery is close by.

The Halcyon Gallery is located inside the International Convention Centre, with major sale- exhibitions by artists as diverse as Rolf Harris, Mackenzie Thorpe, L.S._Lowry and Birmingham-born Govinder Nazran, who was nominated for the Fine Art Trade Guild's 'Best Selling Artist 2004'.

Graffiti (or "spraycan art") culture appeared in the early 1980s, with the area featuring in Channel 4 documentary Bombing. Birmingham also hosted the largest spraycan art competition in Britain, which brought together Goldie, Bronx Graffiti Supremo Brim, Mode and 3D, who later went on to found Massive Attack. Graffiti events are still held in the Custard Factory and Selly Oak ball park.

The Old Bird's Custard Factory is now one of the largest thriving media and arts villages in Europe, with exhibitions and an array of exciting modern sculpture and water features.

The mac hosts theatre performances, concerts, literature and poetry showcases, courses, film screenings and art exhibitions.

The Drum Arts Centre features works of local, regional, national and international African, Asian and Caribbean contemporary artists.

Events of note

Festivals

Birmingham is home to many national, religious and spiritual festivals including a St. George's Day party and the third largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the world, after New York and Dublin.

The Birmingham Tattoo is a military show that has taken place in the city for several years. The currently biennial Caribbean- style Birmingham International Carnival was originally the Handsworth Carnival, held in Handsworth Park from 1984, but now takes place biennially in Perry Barr Park. Birmingham Pride takes place in Birmingham's gay village and attracts up to 100,000 visitors each year. The Fierce Festival teams with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre ("The Rep") to present an series of quirky performances from local and national companies. The Birmingham Film Festival takes place annually at various Broad Street venues. It highlights local talent as well as a wide spectrum of international productions. The Young Book Reader UK festival also takes place in the city. The millennium saw the birth of the Birmingham International Festival.

Architecture

Birmingham grew out of dozens of small villages, towns and farmsteads, particularly during the Industrial Revolution. The need to house the many industrial workers that flocked to the city from other areas lead to many Victorian streets and terraces of back-to-back houses, some of which were later to become inner-city slums.

Some of the city's older black and white timber buildings can still be seen today like 'The Old Crown' public house in Digbeth, the 'Stone' public house in Northfield and Stratford House in Sparkbrook.

Many Georgian, Tudor, Edwardian and Elizabethan buildings still survive dotted around the city. These include Bournbrook Hall (Bournville), Selly Manor (a Tudor manor house), Minworth Greaves (a medieval hall), the 15th Century "Saracen's Head" and "Old Grammar School" (both Kings Norton), Handsworth Old Town Hall (1460; an example of early cruck timber frame construction), Soho House (Handsworth, 1766), The Old Birmingham Workhouse in Lichfield street (1734) and the 29m metre high Perrots Folly Ladywood which was built in 1758 by John Perrot and which was an inspiration to Tolkien.

The Victorian era saw an extensive building programme right across the city, examples of which can still be seen, with many churches and public buildings like the Birmingham Law Courts, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery;, Birmingham Botanical Gardens and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Many of the public buildings were built usng red brick and terracotta. New Street and Corporation Street in the city centre have retained many of their fine Victorian buildings providing an insight into how the city once looked.

Birmingham's industrial importance in World War Two lead to some of the heaviest bombing raids during the Battle of Britain, this claimed many lives and many beautiful buildings too, however the destruction that took place in post war Birmingham was also extensive, dozens of fine Victorian buildings like the intricate glass roofed Birmingham New Street station, and the old Central Library were destroyed in the 1950s and 1960s. These planning decisions were to have a profound effect on the image of Birmingham in subsequent decades, with the mix of concrete ring roads, shopping malls and tower blocks often referred to as a 'concrete jungle' or a city with no soul. The largest high-rise estate in Britain was constructed at Castle Vale with over 30 huge tower blocks in one small area. Birmingham has since learnt from this with one of the largest tower block demolition and renovation programmes anywhere in Europe, and the construction of new buildings, squares and green spaces.

Birmingham's grade I listed Town Hall closed to the public in 1996, for major renovation. The 31 million City Council initiated refurbishment will see the Town Hall brought back to its original glory with its 6,000-pipe organ still in place. The redbrick Victoria Law Courts in Corporation Street, built in 1887, and Curzon Street Station are also grade I listed.

Many grade II listed buildings also remain in the city, for instance the empty, recently- listed Grand Hotel on Colmore Row (1875, with additions in 1876, 1891 and 1895) and the popular 200ft-high Rotunda, a circular tower block at the South end of New Street. St. Philip's Cathedral, built as a parish church, is in the heart of the city, and has glass by Edward Burne-Jones. More modern architecture includes the award winning Future Systems' Selfridges building which is an irregularly- shaped structure, covered in thousands of reflective discs. Brindley Place and Millennium Point are also examples of recent rejuvenation. Many new projects are planned for the city, including a new Library of Birmingham in the developing Eastside, and Arena Central on Broad Street.

Media

Local newspapers include The Birmingham Post, Sunday Mercury and Evening Mail [1].

The BBC have a regional headquarters which produces many radio and T.V. shows including the BBC Midlands Today news programme. The radio studios have recently re-located from Pebble Mill to The Mailbox in central Birmingham to be followed by the television production in autumn 2004 .

ITV Carlton also has a regional headquarters in the city.

Local radio stations include BRMB, Galaxy, BBC WM and Heart FM.

Learning

Birmingham has three universities: The University of Birmingham, Aston University and The University of Central England (UCE, formerly Birmingham Polytechnic). The UCE has asked Aston to consider a merger. The Birmingham Conservatoire, now part of the UCE, was established over 100 years ago and is recognised as one of the major national colleges of music which centers on the performance and of composition.

Government

For information about the city council, the city's only parish, and the city's MPs see Government in Birmingham

Other Places of interest

Towns, villages and other areas

Between 1889 and
1995, the city boundaries were expanded to include many places which were once towns or villages in their own right, many of which still retain a distinctive character. The most recent of these additions are Sutton Coldfield, a royal borough in its own right until 1974, and New Frankley, transferred from Bromsgrove in 1995.

Nearby places

(other than those listed in Districts of England, below)

Cities

Towns

Twin towns or partner cities

(see
twin towns)

See also

External links


Districts of England - West Midlands
Birmingham | Bridgnorth | Bromsgrove | Cannock Chase | Coventry | Dudley | East Staffordshire | Herefordshire | Lichfield | Malvern Hills | Newcastle-under-Lyme | North Shropshire | North Warwickshire | Nuneaton and Bedworth | Oswestry | Redditch | Rugby | Sandwell | Shrewsbury and Atcham | Solihull | South Shropshire | South Staffordshire | Stafford | Staffordshire Moorlands | Stoke-on-Trent | Stratford-on-Avon | Tamworth | Telford and Wrekin | Warwick | Walsall | Wolverhampton | Worcester | Wychavon | Wyre Forest

Administrative Counties with multiple districts: Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Worcestershire