Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk

Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk

Quick and quirky facts

  • Birmingham means home (ham) of the people (ing) of the tribal leader Birm or Beorma. The history of the founding de Bermingham family is difficult to follow as there were seven Williams in a row.
  • Birmingham's first canal was opened in 1769 and linked Birmingham to Wednesbury. There are many locks on the canals including the famous Guillotine Lock in Kings Norton, which was used to control the flow of water between canals owned by different companies.
  • Birmingham is home to Cadbury's Chocolate. George and his brother Richard Cadbury moved their successful chocolate manufacturing business from Bull Street, Birmingham to Bournville in 1879.
  • Built as part of The ICC in 1991, Symphony Hall is the home of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
  • Bingley Hall, the world's first exhibition hall, opened in 1850 on the site now occupied by The ICC
  • Birmingham is home to the historic Bull Ring - site of a market for more than 800 years. Within the complex are five retail markets attracting around 20 million customers a year.
  • Soho House is the elegant home of industrial pioneer Matthew Boulton, who lived their from 1766 to 1809. Boulton in partnership with James Watt developed and patented the steam engine at the nearby but now demolished Soho Factory.
  • William Murdock, who worked for Boulton and Watt at Soho, Handsworth, invented gas lighting. His cottage at Soho Foundary was the first domestic building to be lit by gas (1798).
  • James Watt, who lived in Birmingham 1775-1819, developed the steam engine. Through it, the firm Boulton and Watt sold the industrial revolution to the world. Watt also invented the letter copying machine, forerunner of the photocopier. His name stays in our vocabulary through the lightbulb measurement - 60 Watts, 40 Watts, etc.
  • X-Ray photography for medical purposes was pioneered by Major John Hall Edwards; he took the first x-ray in Birmingham in 1896.
  • Curzon Street Station, Digbeth, was the terminus of the London and Birmingham railway, with a station built by Philip Hardwick in 1838, who designed the original Euston Station too.
  • Birmingham's international Partner Cities include Chicago (USA), Frankfurt (Germany), Johannesburg (South Africa), Leipzig (Germany), Lyon (France) and Milan (Italy).
  • Tree Cheers! Other big cities are green with envy when you mention Brum's six million trees, more parks than any other European city.
  • There are three universities and over 430 schools in the City.
  • Birmingham is home to many past and present rock bands including Ocean Colour Scene, Duran Duran, ELO, Dodgy, UB40, and Black Sabbath.
  • There are 30 other Birminghams around the world and one crater on the moon called Birmingham!
  • Celluloid was invented in 1862, by Alexander Parkes; the first plastic was known as Parkensine.
  • John Wyatt invented a machine for spinning wool - the spinning jenny.
  • Henry Clay invented a new form of papier mache using sheets of paper (1772).
  • Joseph Sampson Gamgee (1828-80), a Birmingham doctor, invented the surgical dressing known as cotton wool.
  • Joseph Priestley, a Birmingham minister (1780-91), discovered oxygen.
  • Electro-plating was invented in Birmingham by John Wright in 1840.
  • Two of Britain's big four banks were founded in Birmingham - Lloyds (1765) and Midland (1836).
  • The Pneumatic tyre was invented in Birmingham by John Dunlop in 1888.
  • Joseph Chamberlain (1836-1914) is recognised as the founder of municipal government.
  • State education was pioneered in Birmingham in the 1850s.
  • Three British prime ministers attended Mason College, forerunner of the University of Birmingham.
  • Antonin Dvorak, Czech composer (1841-1904) said:
    "I'm here in this immense industrial city where they make excellent knives, scissors, springs, files and goodness knows what else, and, besides these, music too. And how well! It's terrifying how much the people here manage to achieve."