header image: Tyseley Locomotive Works – Birmingham Skyline by Elliott Brown
Birmingham is essentially the UK’s second city, behind London. It is the second largest city, the second largest populated, the second largest centre of higher education and many more statistics sitting behind London. Birmingham was also voted the third best place to shop behind (you’ve guessed it) London and Glasgow.
Birmingham was a medium-sized market town during the medieval period, however grew at an astonishing rate during the industrial revolution. The city grew to prominence as a manufacturing and engineering centre. Today, Birmingham is a commercial centre, regarded a Beta- world city by Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Now the city’s economy is dominated by the service sector.
This is also boosted by tourism. Birmingham has some of the country’s best transport links and boasts major facilities such as the ICC, the NEC and the NIA. These help to drive large number of visitors through the UK’s conference and exhibition trade. The NEC brought motor enthusiasts to the area from 1976 to 2010, when it began hosting the British International Motor Show. Many cars throughout the years were introduced to the public at these motor shows.
Birmingham is also known for its music scene. In the 60’s, Liverpool somewhat stole the limelight with The Beatles but Birmingham was home to several groups such as The Move, The Spencer Davis Group and the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) which enjoyed some international success. Birmingham also claims the right to be named the birthplace of heavy metal. Popular bands Black Sabbath and Judas Priest were very much pioneers in this music genre during the late 60’s and 70’s. Other popular music acts from Birmingham include Duran Duran, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Ocean Colour Scene.
Sport has also played a big part in Birmingham’s illustrious history.
The Football League, the world’s first football league competition was founded by a Birmingham resident. William McGregor proposed that the most prominent clubs in England play each other home and away to determine the best football side each year. McGregor was also a director at Aston Villa, a football club founded in Birmingham in 1874. Aston Villa plays their games at Villa Park, less than 2 miles North West of the city centre and compete in the English Premier League. Birmingham City were formed a year later. They play 1.5 miles south west of the city centre at St.Andrews, competing in the Football League Championship.
Birmingham also has history in several other sports. Tennis as we know it today was developed in the city of Birmingham at Edgbaston. Harry Gem and his friend Augurio Perera worked on the rules game between the years of 1859 and 1865. Edgbaston Archery and Lawn Tennis Society is today, the oldest remaining tennis club in the world. Cricket is also a prominent sport in the city.
Edgbaston Cricket Ground is the second largest in the UK after Lord’s and is host to many test cricket and one day internationals as well as the home of seven times County Championship winners Warwickshire County Cricket Club. In the world of golf, there are two major championship golf courses in the outskirts of Birmingham, The Belfry and the Forest of Arden. The Belfry has hosted the Ryder Cup more times than any other venue in the competition’s history. It is also the headquarters of the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA).
So there we have it, an introduction in to the city of Birmingham. The next time we post about this wonderful city, it will be to discuss some of the sights and attractions it has to offer. Check back for the post!