The second biggest city in the UK (after London), Birmingham is a thriving metropolis, with an intriguing history. The Watt steam engine was invented in Birmingham, and the first gun maker was recorded here. It originated as a market town, but grew rapidly following the Industrial Revolution, which saw advances in science, technology and economic development. By 1791, it was hailed as the first manufacturing town in the world, with thousands of small workshops practising a wide variety of specialised and highly skilled trades, from cast iron to cotton production.
These days, Birmingham’s economy is dominated by the service sector. In fact, it is the largest centre in Great Britain for employment in public administration, education and health, and after Leeds, the second largest centre outside London for employment in financial and other business services. Major industrial plants in and around the city include Jaguar Land Rover and Cadbury. Yes, Bournville on the outskirts of Birmingham is home to the nation’s favourite chocolate bar. You can even smell the chocolate in the air! In addition, Birmingham supports a supply chain of smaller manufacturers and craft industries – 40 per cent of the jewellery made in the UK is produced by the 300 independent manufacturers of the city’s Jewellery Quarter.
And culture vultures won’t be disappointed… Birmingham is the cultural hub of the Midlands. From music and theatre, to art and literature, Birmingham has it all! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, the Library of Birmingham and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts can all be found here, along with a host of seasonal events held throughout the year… The Brummies know how to have fun!
Getting around the city is easy. Partly due to its central location, Birmingham is a major transport destination on the motorway, rail and canal networks. The most famous motorway junction in the UK, Spaghetti Junction, is located in this neck of the woods, while Birmingham Airport and Birmingham New Street Station ensure fantastic transport links in and out of the city. The local public transport network is coordinated by Transport for West Midlands, with trains and buses respectively carrying some 122 million passengers and 300.2 million passenger journeys per annum.
Birmingham City Council is England’s largest local education authority, directly or indirectly responsible for 25 nursery schools, 328 primary schools, 77 secondary schools and 29 special schools, and providing around 3,500 adult education courses throughout the year. There are five universities – Aston University, University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, University College Birmingham and Newman University – as well as Birmingham Metropolitan College, which is one of the country’s largest further education colleges, with many courses aimed at students with few prior formal qualifications.
The majority of house sales in Birmingham during the last year were terraced properties, selling for an average price of £165,365. Semi-detached properties sold for an average of £205,147, with flats fetching £158,738, and overall sold prices over the last year up 3 per cent.
Birmingham is a sought-after place to live, and since it has been announced that the city will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games, this is expected to generate a £526 million boost to the West Midlands regional economy!
Planning a visit? Don’t forget to stop off at the Bull Ring for shopping and dining out in the heart of the city, with over 200 stores to enjoy, including John Lewis and Selfridges.