After London, Birmingham is the second largest city in England and I have always been happy living in or near it. As well as it being an interesting and diverse city, it’s central England location is perfect for a rail travel lover such as myself. I have more blogs to come on areas around Birmingham but for now here are some general facts and city centre photographs.
Birmingham started off in the 7th century as as a small hamlet near the Forest of Arden (William Shakespeare’s stomping ground). It later took its name after Peter de Bermingham who owned the manor house during 12th century. This manor house has long gone and the land is now filled with huge Bull Ring Shopping Centre and markets. I am sure Peter would approve since he started a Thursday market in his home grounds once he got permission from King Henry II.
Is known as the City of A Thousand Trades (I have blogged on its historical pen and jewellery trades but I have not got the time to research the rest)
Is the youngest city in Europe with under 25s accounting for nearly 40% of the population.
Is one of the greenest cities in the UK with over 8000 acres of parks and open space.
Is home to more stretches of canal than Venice
Has one the biggest motorway junctions in Europe nicknamed “Spaghetti Junction” (located north of the city).
Was where the first Xray was taken by Major John Hall Edwards in 1896.
Has a “Hollywood” (near me), “California” and “Broadway”.
Is where JRR Tolkien, author of the “Lord of the Rings” series grew up.
Has produced Black Sabbath, ELO and Duran Duran.
Is famous for producing Cadbury’s chocolate. John Cadbury was a Quaker and to this day there are no pubs in the factory location of Bournville.
Is home to Aston Villa the biggest football team in Birmingham and the county. It’s local rival is Birmingham City (The Blues).It is also the city where football referee whistles were invented.
Has the “Balti Triangle”, an area just outside of the city centre where you can get a reasonably priced curry from an abundance of Asian restaurants.
Has produced comedian Tony Hancock.
Hosts UK athletics at its Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr.
Has a German Christmas Market every November-December which takes over the city centre with its mulled wine, wooden toys, crystals and candy stands.
Is the setting of popular TV series Peaky Blinders staring Cillian Murphy.
Our city crest includes a labourer carrying a bog roll. You just never know when you may get caught short.
The main drag, New Street. The ugly barriers are recent and to deter drive through terrorists.
Corporation Street (off New Street). The tramline here is relatively new. It gets you all the way to Wolverhampton.
Formerly known as The Floozi in the Jacuzzi, the lady has been rechristened The Lass in the Grass. Sadly the Victoria Square fountain became unrepairable and so was filled in with foliage.
Queen Victoria, dominating Victoria Square.
The Town Hall.
The Mailbox – where I used to work for Network Rail. Now the space is just for the BBC, Harvey Nicols, designer shops and restaurants.
St Martin’s Church. It is very difficult to get a good shot of this listed building.
The famous Bullring Rag Market.
St Philip’s Cathedral.
The library which opened in 2003.
The Victoria Pub in the theatre area.
The Rotunda where I used to work and once it became residential in 2008, I was one of the first to bag myself an apartment in there. Synchronically, I lived on the same floor (the tenth) facing the same direction as when I worked there in the mid 1990s.
A cut through from the main drag.
The Radisson Hotel dominating the end of Smallbrook Queensway.
Alpha Tower. When I went to the top (26th floor) my ears popped. This never happened at the Empire State.
Victoria Law Courts. One of my first jobs was here but I got sacked for using green Tippex.
Top of the City Council building
Council House in Victoria Square.
The Ikon Gallery at Brinley Place, off the canal.
Selfridges in the Bullring. The design was inspired by a 1960s chain mail Paco Rabanne dress. £60 million well spent.
Architecture in the Colmore (business) district.
View from Snow Hill Station.
Chamberlain clock tower, the centre of the Jewellery Quarter.
Former Jewellery Quarter historic lavatories known as The Temple of Relief.
Phil Matsell (age 30) was the last man to be hung in 1802 for shooting and maiming a peace officer, an early form of police officer. Matsell was strung up in front of 40,000 on Ludgate Hill before Birmingham then became one of the first English cities to abolish hanging.