Birmingham is the second largest city the UK with a population of more than one million , one of the youngest populations in the world.
It attracts over 34 million visitors a year, is voted the most popular destination for meetings, conferences & events and named the UK’s most entrepreneurial city, outside of London.
Unlike the other industrial areas of the Midlands, Birmingham turned its hand to every kind of manufacturing. And it was her that the fathers in the Industrial Revolution: James Watt, Matthew Boulton, Josiah Wedgwood, Joseph Priestly and Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles) formed the Lunar Society – a melting pot of scientific and industrial ideas. It’s still in existence today.
As a result of ideas that came from the society – the first purpose-built factory, gas lighting, the mass production of steam engines and more – a small market town turned into an economic powerhouse.
Brum city centre is small and easily walkable and has a variety of interesting architectural styles, having partly been rebuilt with a new Convention Centre, BullRing Shopping Centre, and is booming and bustling with restaurants.
It as also burgeoned as an arts centre with a new library opening last year, the Royal Ballet in residence and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
How to get to Birmingham
It also has its own international airport, eight miles east of the city centre. This is served by Birmingham International Station from London Euston. Chiltern Railways runs from Marylebone to London in 1 hour 25 minutes.
Places of interest
The Bull Ring and Selfridges
The Bull Ring shopping centre was completely rebuilt in 2001. It is now split into two sections with a view of the medieval church of St Martin’s in the middle.
The Selfridges’ store (pictured below) which is covered in shimmering metal discos has become an iconic landmark.
St Martin’s Church
This church has survived being bombed by the Luftwaffe and the 60s rebuilt of the city around it. Inside you will see a beautiful stained glass window by Burne-Jones.
The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Houses the world’s largest Pre-Raphaelite collection, including some 2,00 art works. In 2009 it purchased the Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found with over 1500 pieces, mostly related to battle.
Gas Street and The Mailbox
Brindley place and the Ikon Gallery
Here there are bars and restaurants galore. In the summer when the weather is good as it was here, it can get very hectic.
The Ikon Gallery is known for its cutting-edge exhibitions in a converted Gothic schoolhouse.
The Jewellery Quarter
Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, home to over 400 jewellery businesses, has been a national epicentre for jewellery design for over 250 years
- The city remains in England’s top three most visited places to shop with £1.64 billion expenditure
- Birmingham’s Bullring has hosted markets since the 12th century
- The architecturally remarkable Selfridges building is decorated with 15,000 spun aluminium discs
- Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, home to over 400 jewellery businesses, has been a national epicentre for jewellery design for over 250 years
- The city is set to receive its first John Lewis store in 2015, which will feature more than 350,000 products
- Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is the biggest of its kind in the UK with nearly 200 stalls lining the city centre, welcoming over 4 million visitors in 2012
- The Bullring is the size of 26 football pitches with more than 160 shops and can you believe it will be 10 years old this year
- Touchwood is 650,000 square feet of retail heaven in the heart of Solihull
- Westfield Merry Hill in the Black Country has over 240 retailers, an Odeon cinema and 7,200 free parking spaces
- The Mailbox opened in 1998, was the redevelopment of the former Royal Mail sorting office in Birmingham city centre and is under and £50million redevelopment due to complete in 2015
- The UK’s first integrated destination leisure complex (£150 million), Resorts World, will open in 2015
Canals were the lifeline of Black Country industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here the canal boats show how cargoes would have been carried to and from ironworks in the area. The canal tunnels under the limestone hills in the area are some of the longest in the country. The horses that drew the narrow boats could not go into the tunnels so that boats had to be legged through which was pretty tiring work – even for the fittest person.
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