Birmingham sits at the heart of England, not far from the town of Meriden, considered by many to be the traditional centre of England. The place where canals from London and the North of England converge, Birmingham is said to have more canals than Venice. In fact, that’s how the name More Than Venice came about. Perhaps saying Birmingham has more miles of canal than Venice would be a more accurate statement, but who are we to argue with folklore?
Lord of the rings creator J. R. R. Tolkien, who was inspired by some of Birmingham’s locations including here in Edgbaston and also Hall Green, where Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell grew up. Another notable work superstar is Ozzy Osbourne, who was born and grew up in the city, shooting to fame with Black Sabbath.
Home to great industry, sports stars and other famous personalities, Birmingham has a lot to offer the world. How much do you know about Birmingham already?
We have a very strong tradition of industry here in the city, playing a major role in the development of the United Kingdom into the country it is today. Though many miles from the sea, Birmingham was at the forefront of making anchors and chains for ships that travelled the world.
To learn more about the pivotal role Birmingham and the Black Country made to the development of Britain during the industrial revolution, visit the Black Country Living Museum, an award-winning open air museum. Located on the site of a former coal mine, the museum is packed full of real historical buildings and even its own stretch of canal complete with tunnels and a large cavern.
Hosts of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Birmingham has a long and great sporting history most notably football and cricket. Aston Villa, 1982 European Cup winners and Birmingham City represent Birmingham in the Premier League and English Football League respectively.
Warwickshire County Cricket Club are based in the Edgbaston area of the City. Since Birmingham is actually in the old county or Warwickshire, it made perfect sense to base them at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham, though the team did start off just outside Birmingham in Leamington Spa.
Birmingham is home to Europe’s largest Council and its main neighbourhoods are:
Aston – Aston Villa
Bournville – Cadbury
Edgbaston – Warwickshire CCC, More Than Venice
Ladywood – A large portion of the City Centre is in Ladywood
Selly Oak – University of Birmingham
Small Heath – Birmingham City F.C
Sutton Coldfield – The Belfry
it’s easy to lump places from the Black Country in with Birmingham and many people associate nearby towns with being a part of the city itself.
Potentially mistaken for being a part of Birmingham are:
- Walsall, West Bromwich, Stourbridge and Dudley among others to the west and north-west
- Bromsgrove, Redditch (which is actually a post-war overspill new town created to house Birmingham’s growing population) and Solihull to the south and south-east
- Tamworth, Lichfield and Cannock to the north-east and north
Many people from these and other areas close to Birmingham, but without the same high-profile, will often just say they’re from Birmingham. In fact, they’re from completely independent towns. Birmingham has a great reputation and name recognition to go with it, so shouldn’t we all capitalise on this name recognition to drive growth for the whole region?
What Name Should We Use?
There is currently debate over the name we should chose for the entire region including places mistakenly considered a part of Birmingham. London’s equivalent region is known as Greater London and Manchester is the same with Greater Manchester. It’s thought that calling our region Greater Birmingham would help spur growth because Birmingham’s international reputation would help smaller towns and cities attract investment.
In this globalised world, our region is in need of an organisational structure and name that can take it to the next level. Currently we’re known as the West Midlands, a name that acknowledges the rich differences between our towns and cities. The West Midlands Combined Authority is our strategic authority with powers over transport, economic development and regeneration, but the name doesn’t really have the marketability in international circles the way a region called Greater Birmingham would. Certainly the regional chamber of commerce seems to think so.
The idea of losing the Black Country identity, itself an amalgamation of towns is one that deserves careful consideration. Solihull, which though independent, seems to have a symbiotic relationship with Birmingham, also has a strong identity many people wish to keep, but forging closer links with Birmingham would deliver many benefits for both.
Even wholly independent cities like Wolverhampton and Coventry with name recognition in their own right and well-known historical prominence independently of Birmingham, could benefit from forging a stronger alliance with the UK’s second biggest city.
To grow, we may need to come together under the most marketable name and find ways to continue celebrating the rich history we all share. Sometimes taking a strategic view and making tough decisions beats procrastination.
World Leading Business
Historically, Birmingham has been home to great industry, powering the industrial revolution, producing anchors for chips, despite being far from the sea and especially aiding the war effort during WWI and WWII producing munitions.
One of the largest historical manufacturers was Rover, creators of Rover Cars, Land Rover and MG sports cars. No longer in operation with parts of the former company in the hands of other organisations, its disappearance from the Longbridge area of the city represents a great loss to Birmingham’s manufacturing sector.
Established in 1824 by John Cadbury, Cadbury is the second largest confectionery brand in the world; and it all started in the Bournville area of Birmingham. The influence of Cadbusy can be seen internationally as it even inspired Herhsey’s Chocolate founder Milton S. Hershey to build a factory and village for his staff at Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Imperial Metal Industries was founded in 1862 by George Kynoch. Originally named Kynoch, the business grew to manufacturing goods ranging from bar soap to bicycles. Over time, the company developed expertise in metallurgy, merged with other companies and continued along a strong path of growth.
Operating three distinct business divisions, Critical, Precision and Hydronic engineering, IMI plc own a group of manufacturing companies across the globe with unrivalled engineering capabilities.
Worldwide sports apparel company Gymshark was founded just outside Birmingham by two university students. The brand has grown rapidly since 2012 to become an internationally renowned company delivering fitness gear to users worldwide.
We’re going to claim this as a ‘Greater Birmingham’ success story.
A nod back to the industrial revolution roots of Birmingham and its canals, the Silicon Canal is the expression of Birmingham as a modern technology hub. Home to over 6,000 tech businesses we’re creating the conditions required for startups to be established and grow.
Here in the 21st century, we can now be at the heart of the tech revolution, just like we were at the heart of the industrial revolution. We can’t wait to see how Birmingham grows and produces another crop of world leading businesses over the coming century.
High Quality Education
One of the best things about Birmingham, is the higher education institutions present in the city. Home to four universities, two of them in the UK’s top 50 list of universities. The red brick University of Birmingham and Aston university, backed up by Birmingham City University and Newman University which both offer a very high standard of education for all. These higher education institutions provide an exceptional graduate workforce tech startups can draw upon.
Birmingham is recognised internationally as a great place to experience British culture with “a more authentic welcome and arguably a more honest cultural experience” than is possible in the nation’s capital. Although international tourism seems geared towards London, now is the time to raise the profile of our city as a whole with an international audience and benefit from those visitors.
It’s our goal to help you show the world exactly how amazing Birmingham is. Direct effects will be felt with hotels, bars, restaurants, local attractions and transport.
A secondary effect of increased tourism will benefit companies providing tourism related organisations with vital services such as dry cleaning, HVAC, security, vehicle mechanics and even more.
Come To Birmingham
Come to Birmingham if you want to start a new business or grow a successful one. With a proven history of creating some of the world’s greatest brands, an amazing workforce and stellar higher-education institutions, Birmingham is the place to come and achieve your goals.