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Birmingham City Council

Digbeth

An Introduction

Digbeth was almost certainly the site of Birmingham's birth when Berma's tribe chose to settle in the River Rea valley during the 7th Century A.D. The town which grew from this small settlement came to be famous as a place of opportunity where people with a wide assortment of skills, and from many regions of both Britain and the rest of the world, could make a successful living. The "city of a thousand trades" was no idle boast - and for centuries those who wanted to be part of Birmingham life were most likely to find a home in Digbeth.

It was Digbeth's plentiful water supply which acted as a magnet - not only the River Rea, but also the area's natural springs. In fact the name Digbeth is believed to have originally been 'Duck's bath' - a quaint description of one of these springs. The coming to Digbeth of the canals in the 18th Century and the railways in the 19th Century ensured that a large community was in permanent residence. Until, that is, the turn of the 20th Century, when Digbeth had become full to bursting point and people began to move out.

Today, Digbeth is a successful industrial centre and the vibrant community life of Digbeth's past will no doubt help to point the way to an equally lively future.

Meanwhile memories of by gone Digbeth are revealed in a surprising number of its buildings, and 2 discovery trails have been devised to guide you around this important area of Birmingham heritage.

Heritage: Digbeth Tuck Trail
Heritage: Digbeth Slice of Life Trail