Birmingham is the second-biggest city in the UK and home to many interesting places, people and secrets. Whether you’re new to the city or have been living there your whole life, there’s always something new to discover.
Here is our list of 10 things you might not know about Birmingham…
…covering 8,000 acres. That’s a lot of green space, and it makes Birmingham one of the UK’s greenest cities. It also means that the city has more open space than Paris.
The Library of Birmingham is the largest public library in Europe and lends more than eight million books each year. It is also one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions thanks to its stunning design by world-famous architectural firm Mecanoo, which includes rooftop gardens and a sunken amphitheatre, as well as a shimmering façade which pays homage to Birmingham’s jewellery quarter.
Speaking of which…
Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is home to Europe’s largest collection of jewellery businesses, more than 700 in total. Between them, they supply more than 40% of jewellery made in the UK.
Birmingham has a reputation as a culinary destination thanks to its six Michelin starred restaurants – more than any other UK city outside of London. That’s a lot of options for keen foodies!
The people of Birmingham simply cannot stop creating new things, registering thousands of patents in the city every year. Some of the most useful and surprising inventions to come out of the city include the x-ray scanner, the smoke detector, the portable vacuum cleaner, fountain pens and the bicycle bell.
Birmingham saw the first public performance of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. 10 years after its publication, the author performed his novel at the Town Hall over the course of three and a half hours.
Birmingham developed an intricate system of canals during the Industrial Revolution which is still in use today. The network within the city spans 35 miles in total – almost half as much again as can be found in Venice.
Just off Centenary Square, you can find a gilded statue of Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdoch. Between them, these three engineers revolutionised the steam engine in Birmingham and provided the power that would drive the Industrial Revolution.
JRR Tolkien grew up in Birmingham, and the city provided inspiration for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, two of the most successful novels of all time. The city and its surrounds influenced the books from the very start, whether it was the fields and mills of Sarehole becoming the Shire, or Perrott’s Folly and the Waterworks in Edgbaston becoming Mordor.
Birmingham is considered by many to be the birthplace of tennis. In the 19th century, Spanish merchant Augurio Perera and Birmingham man Harry Gem supposedly combined elements of existing lawn sports – including racquets and Basque pelota – in the search for a brand new game to play.