Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the English West Midlands. Generally regarded as England's "second city", it 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 population of 992,400 (2004 estimate) . It forms part of the larger West Midlands conurbation, which has a population of 2,284,093 (2001 census) and includes several neighbouring towns and cities, such as Solihull, Wolverhampton and the towns of the Black Country.
Birmingham are known as 'Brummies', a term derived from the city's nickname of Brum. T
his comes in turn from the city's dialect name, Brummagem. There is a distinctive Brummie dialect and accent.
Birmingham is an ethnically and culturally diverse city. Around 30% of Birmingham's population is of non-white ethnicity; at the time of the 2001 census, 70.4% of the population was White (including 3.2% Irish), 19.5% Asian or Asian British, 6.1% Black or Black British, 0.5% Chinese, and 3.5% of mixed or other ethnic heritage.
Birmingham has a recorded history going back 1,000 years. In this time, it has grown from a tiny Anglo-Saxon farming village into a major industrial and commercial city.
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, which in time became known as the Bull Ring. As a convenient location for trade, Birmingham soon developed into a small but thriving market town.
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. Birmingham manufacturers supplied Oliver Cromwell's forces with much of their weaponry during the English Civil War. Arms manufacture in Birmingham became a staple trade and was concentrated in the area known as the Gun Quarter.
Birmingham is situated just to the west of the geographical centre of England, across an area of relatively high ground, ranging around 150-200 metres above sea level. The main north-south watershed of Britain actually passes through Birmingham. The Birmingham area has recently seen several tornadoes, the most recent of which were witnessed in 2005. The watershed of the River Severn and River Trent can clearly be seen along the Perry Barr area of Birmingham and areas near Erdington where the level and gradient of the land changes significantly.
To the south west of the city lie the Clent Hills and Walton Hill, which reach 315 m and have good views over the city
Birmingham is an important manufacturing and engineering centre, employing over 100,000 people in industry and contributing billions of pounds to the national economy. Over a quarter of the UK's exports originate in the greater Birmingham area.
Birmingham's industrial heritage predates the Industrial Revolution, and up until the 20th Century the city maintained a tradition of individual craftsmen, sometimes working independently in their own back yards or on piecework rates in rented workshops, alongside larger factories. During the Industrial Revolution many factories, foundries and businesses prospered in the city, including the areas known as the Gun Quarter and Jewellery Quarter. Pen manufacture in Birmingham helped revolutionise writing across the world with many companies based in and around the Jewellery Quarter. The Jewellery Quarter is still the largest concentration of dedicated jewellers in Europe, and one third of the jewellery manufactured in the UK is made within one mile of Birmingham city centre. Until 2003, coins for circulation were manufactured in the Jewellery Quarter at the Birmingham Mint, the oldest independent mint in the world, which continues to produce commemorative coins and medals.
James Watt improved the Steam Engine while working in the city, and historically the largest manufacturers in the city have been associated with the steam, electric and petrol transport and power industries. The city's workers designed and constructed railway carriages, steam engines, bicycles, automobiles and even - unusually for somewhere so far from the sea - ships, which were made as pre-fabricated sections, then assembled at the coast. Birmingham was home to two major car factories: MG Rover in Longbridge and Jaguar in Castle Bromwich. The MG Rover car works went into administration in 2005, resulting in the plant being mothballed and the loss of 6,000 jobs at the site, plus more in the supply chain. Things are looking more positive in 2006 with the Nanjing Automobile Group (MG Rover's main purchasers) hoping to restart production of MG cars at Longbridge by 2007. Another small sports car manufacturer has set up business in the Longbridge premises.
The city's present day products include motor vehicles, vehicle components and accessories, weapons, electrical equipment, plastics, machine tools, chemicals, food, jewellery and glass. Scientific research (including research into nanotechnology at the University of Birmingham) is expanding in the city. Other famous brands from the city include Bakelite, Bird's Custard, Brylcreem, BSA, Cadbury's chocolate, Chad Valley toys, Halfords, HP Sauce, Typhoo Tea and Valor.
Birmingham has over 500 law firms, and is Europe's second largest insurance market. The city attracts over 40% of the UK's total conference trade. Two of Britain's "big four" banks were founded there. Lloyds Bank (now Lloyds TSB) began in 1765 and the Midland Bank (now HSBC Bank plc) opened in Union Street in August 1836.
Birmingham City Council is the largest local authority in the UK, following a reorganisation of boundaries in June 2004, with 120 councillors representing just under one million people, in 40 wards.
Famous People :
- Jamelia - (R&B singer)
- Ozzy Osbourne - (Musician - Black Sabbath, TV star)
- Albert Austin - (Silent film star)
- Jasper Carrott - (Comedian)
- Austen Chamberlain - (Politician)
- Neville Chamberlain - (Former Prime Minister)
- Lisa Clayton - (Solo yachtswoman)
- David Cox - (Artist)
- Cat Deeley - (Television Presenter)
- Oscar Deutsch - (Founder of the Odeon Cinemas chain)
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. The abundance of canals has led to the frequently made claim that "Birmingham has more canals than Venice". Although this is in some sense correct (Venice has 26 miles), Birmingham is far larger , and the types of waterway are very different.
Birmingham's canals are comparatively shallow artificial channels, while those in Venice are primarily reinforced natural channels between islands of the lagoon on which the city stands.
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.
Birmingham is one of the few remaining cities in the UK to still have the position of City Organist. Since 1834 only 7 men have held this position, the current holder, Thomas Trotter has been in post since 1983. Free weekly recitals have been given since the organ in Birmingham Town Hall was opened. The recitals are temporarily being held in St. Philip's Cathedral, until the Town Hall organ opens again after restoration in 2006.
There are many theatres in Birmingham. The four largest professional theatres are the Alexandra Theatre ("the Alex"), Birmingham Repertory Theatre ("The Rep"), the Birmingham Hippodrome and the Old Rep. The Mac and Drum arts centres also host many professional plays.
The Fierce Festival teams with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre annually to present a series of quirky performances from local and national companies. This article is licensed under the [GNU Free Documentation License]. It uses material from Wikipedia
Birmingham Image : mccormick.uk.com