With an area of 80 square miles,
and a population of almost a million people, Birmingham
is England's 2nd city and one of the largest cities in Europe.
Birmingham is nick-named 'Brum',
after its dialect name of Brummagem, and its residents are
known as 'Brummies'.
Birmingham began life as a small
Warwickshire manor but grew to become the 'workplace of the
world'. Its close proximity to iron and coal fields and plentiful
water power meant that by the 17th century Birmingham's population
had grown to 15,000.
James Watt spurred on the Industrial
Revolution when he invented the steam engine in the city.
In the 18th and 19th centuries Birmingham developed a wide
range of industries and became known as the 'City of a Thousand
Trades'. Its well-developed canal network and the growth
of the railways played an vital part in the city's success.
Birmingham achieved its 'Golden
Age' during the Victorian era and many of the city's fine
buildings date from this period.
The splendid Grade I listed
Birmingham Town Hall (reopened in 2006 after complete refurbishment)
was based on the Roman temple of Castor and Pollox.
In 1889 Queen Victoria granted
Birmingham city status, Greater Birmingham was created
in 1912, swallowing up many neighbouring districts.
During World War II Birmingham
was suffered severe damaged by bombing and in the 1950s and
1960s the centre was redeveloped with many concrete office
buildings and ring-roads. This work gave Birmingham
the reputation of being a 'concrete jungle'.
However, in recent years the
centre of Birmingham has undergone a dramatic transforrmation
with new projects such as the redeveloped Bullring shopping
mall (featuring the futuristic Selfridges building) and the
award-winning Water's Edge development at Brindleyplace.
Many pedestrian friendly streets
and squares have also been created and the bustling city now
offers superb shopping facilities, award-winning restaurants
and a vibrant night-life.
There is also a world-class cultural
scene with a wide range of concert halls, theatres and galleries
and the city is home to the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
The National Indoor Arena and
the NEC Arena host major international events and exhibitions.
Other visitor attractions include
magnificent sporting facilities, beautiful parks and Cadbury World (the chocolate-lover's heaven at Bourneville).
Visitors can also enjoy trips
along the West Midlands Waterways. (Ring 0121 200 7400