An introduction to Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands county of England. It is the most populous British city outside London. Birmingham was the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution in England, a fact which led to it being known as the workshop of the world or the city of a thousand trades.
Although Birmingham's industrial importance has declined, it has developed into a national commercial centre, being named as the second-best place in the United Kingdom to locate a business. Birmingham is a national hub for conferences, retail and events along with an established high tech, research and development sector, supported by its three Universities. It is also the fourth-most visited city by foreign visitors in the UK, has the second-largest city economy in the UK and is often referred to as the Second City.
Activities of interest in Birmingham
Birmingham is an ethnically and culturally diverse city. The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is the main art gallery and museum in Birmingham. It has renowned displays of artwork that include a leading collection of work by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the world's largest collection of works by Edward Burne-Jones. The council also owns other museums in the city such as Aston Hall, Blakesley Hall, the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Soho House, and Sarehole Mill, a popular attraction for fans of J. R. R. Tolkien. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, housed in one of Birmingham's finest Art Deco buildings, is an art gallery and classical music venue and is often termed “one of the finest small art galleries in Europe”
Thinktank in the Eastside is one of the newest museums in the city, replacing the former Science & Industry Museum in Newhall Street. The Birmingham Back to Backs are the last surviving court of back-to-back houses in the city.
There are over 8,000 acres of parkland open spaces in Birmingham. The largest of the parks is Sutton Park covering 2,400 acres making it the largest urban nature reserve in Europe. Birmingham Botanical Gardens are a Victorian creation, with a conservatory and bandstand, close to the city centre.Winterbourne Botanic Garden, maintained by the University of Birmingham, is also located close to the city centre. Woodgate Valley Country Park is in Bartley Green and Quinton.
The city centre consists of numerous public squares including Centenary Square, Chamberlain Square and Victoria Square. The historic Old Square is located on Corporation Street. Rotunda Square and St Martin's Square are two of the newest squares in Birmingham, being located within the Bullring Shopping Centre. Brindley Place also consists of three squares and the National Sea Life Centre.
Birmingham's diverse population uses a wide variety of religious buildings in the city. St Philip's was upgraded from church to cathedral status in 1905. There are two other cathedrals, St Chad's, seat of the Roman Catholic Province of Birmingham, and the Greek Orthodox Dormition of the Mother of God and St Andrew. The original parish church of Birmingham, St Martin in the Bull Ring, is Grade II listed.
Getting to Birmingham
Birmingham has direct links to the UK motorways M6, M5, M1, and M40. Birmingham is the centre of the National Coach Network connecting with 500 destinations.
Birmingham is linked to Central London by frequent rail services. Regular InterCity services leave New Street station for London Euston and from Snow Hill station to London Marylebone. There are rail links running East and West, North and South making Birmingham easy to reach from all parts of the country. www.nationalrail.co.uk
Birmingham is accessible by coach from most cities in the UK. www.nationalexpress.com
Birmingham International Airport has two terminals flying to over 40 scheduled destinations in the UK, mainland Europe, Scandinavia and the Indian sub-continent. There are also daily non-stop flights to New York and Chicago. The airport is situated eight miles south-east of Birmingham, just off the M42 motorway. With its own mainline railway station right next door, access to the city centre and London couldn't be easier. www.birminghamairport.co.uk