History of Birmingham

History of Birmingham

This article is about the history of Birmingham in England.

Ancient Birmingham

In Roman times, the paved Roman road called Icknield Street passed through what is now the Birmingham area, and a large military fort and marching camp, Metchley Fort, existed on the site of the present Queen Elizabeth Hospital near what is now Edgbaston in southern Birmingham. The fort was constructed soon after the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43. In AD 70, the fort was abandoned only to be reoccupied a few years later before being abandoned again in AD 120. Remains have also been found of a civilian settlement, or "vicus", alongside the Roman fort. [ [http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/metchley Birmingham's Roman Fort] ] Excavations at Parson's Hill in Kings Norton and at Mere Green have revealed a Roman kiln site.

A preserved length of Icknield Street exists in Sutton Park. Another Roman road in Birmingham is the Chester Road in north Birmingham. It was originally known as 'Ridgeway' and has since developed into a major road through Erdington and Sutton Coldfield. ["The Story of Erdington - From Sleepy Hamlet to Thriving Suburb", Douglas V. Jones, 1989, Westwood Press (ISBN 0-948025-05-0)]

Remains dating to the Roman period have also been discovered at 25 different locations throughout the modern Birmingham area.

Until the Middle Ages, the Birmingham area was a sparsely populated backwater, due to Bunter Pebble, a poor quality soil which made agriculture unproductive. The manors in the surrounding areas, which were later to become suburbs of Birmingham, were located amongst areas of good soil for agriculture. Much of the area was covered by the once-vast Forest of Arden.

axon Birmingham

The Romans left Britain in the late 5th century, and by the 7th century, Anglo-Saxon tribes started to settle in the area and establish villages. Birmingham was one of these villages.

The name 'Birmingham' has Saxon origins, 'Birm' is derived from Beorma (or Beornmund) — Beorma was probably a local Saxon tribal leader, 'ing' is derived from "ingas" meaning 'tribe of' or 'people of', and 'ham' is short for hamlet or "heim", village or homestead. Therefore 'Birmingham' roughly means "The home of the tribe or people of Beorma"."Old and New Birmingham: A History of the Town and Its People", Robert Kirkup Dent, 1880, Houghton and Hammond]

Before the Conquest Birmingham and Selly had been the property of Ulwine, Shire-Reeve of Warwick. [ [http://www.bgfl.org/bgfl/custom/resources_ftp/client_ftp/teacher/history/jm_jones/jmj_maps_1/page8.htm BGFL: The Norman Conquest: Domesday Book] ]

Mediæval Birmingham

After the Norman conquest of England the area passed into the hands of the Norman De Birmingham family (sometimes spelt "De Bermingham") who became lords of the manor from which they took a surname. Birmingham was recorded as a minor village in the Domesday Book of 1086 which stated:

"There was land for six ploughs, but only three plough teams were used, there were the families of five villeins [i.e tenants of the Lord] and four bordars [i.e farmers] ; woodland half a league by two furlongs [2778 by 402 m] , no mill, no meadow and a total value of only 20 shillings [£1] ."

Birmingham started life in the 6th century as an Anglo-Saxon farming hamlet on the banks of the River Rea, and was first recorded in written documents by the Domesday Book of 1086 as a small village, worth only 20 shillings. In the 12th century, Birmingham was granted a royal charter to hold a market, which in time became known as the Bull Ring,. At the time of the Domesday survey, Birmingham was far smaller than other villages in the area, most notably Aston. Other manors recorded in the Domesday survey were Sutton, Erdington, Edgbaston, Selly, Northfield, Tessall And Rednal. An settlement called "Machitone" was also mentioned in the survey. This was to later become Sheldon.cite book|author=Victor Skipp|title=The History of Greater Birmingham - down to 1830|year=1987|publisher=V. H. T. Skipp|location=Yardley, Birmingham|isbn=0-9506998-0-2]

The Manor of Birmingham was located at the foot of the eastern side of the Keuper Sandstone ridge. It would have been, at the time of the Domesday survey, a small house. However, it later developed into a timber-framed house surrounded by a moat fed by the River Rea.

Market town

In the year 1154, Peter de Bermingham, the lord of the manor, obtained a Charter of Marketing Rights from King Henry II. The subsequent market transformed Birmingham from a tiny, undistinguished farming village into a thriving centre of trade. The market came to be called the Bull Ring. Located at a crossing point on the River Rea called Deritend Bridge [cite book|author=Great Britain|title=The Statutes at Large from the Magna Charta, to the End of the Eleventh Parliament of Great Britain|year=1794|publisher=J. Bentham] , Birmingham was at a focal point for trackways in the area, and for this reason attracted much trade, which in turn attracted skilled craftsmen to set up business there.

Birmingham prospered, and developed industry early on, by the 13th century Birmingham had developed a woollen industry with wool being woven and dyed in the town. The Bull Ring developed into a major textile market. It was mentioned in 1232 by a document in which one merchant is described as a business partner to William de Bermingham, and being in the ownership of four weavers, a smith, a tailor and a purveyor. Seven years later, another document described another mercer in the area. Within the next ten years, the area developed into a leading market town and a major cloth trade was established. Birmingham also developed a leather industry, with leather being tanned to be made into shoes, gloves and many other things. [http://www.localhistories.org/birmingham.html Local Histories: Birmingham, by Tim Lambert] ] Subsequently, the manufacture of bellows began in the town, and has been remarked to have been one of the oldest trades in Birmingham. [cite book|author=William Hone|coauthor=William Clowes|title=The Table Book|year=1828|publisher=Hunt & Clarke|location=London]

By the early 14th century, Birmingham had become the third largest town in Warwickshire, with only Coventry and Warwick being larger. Although Birmingham was still quite small, its population probably being around 1000-1500. Also by this time, a metal working industry had been established.

In 1327 and 1332, the town's contribution to taxation assessments was larger than that of the majority of neighbouring settlements. Aston, which had previously appeared larger than Birmingham, was by that time named 'Aston juxta Birmingham'. ["History of Birmingham": Volume I, C. Gill, Manor and Borough to 1865] The large parish of Aston was separated from that of Birmingham by a short road named AB Row, with AB meaning Aston-Birmingham. [cite book|author=Great Britain|title=The English Reports|year=1930|publisher=W. Green; Stevens]

The increase in prosperity for the town is reflected through the construction of St Martin's Church in the Birmingham area. Settlements in the Greater Birmingham area also witnessed increased prosperity which is documented through the expansion and construction work done to the parish churches.

The De Birminghams retained control of the area until 1527, when John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland gained control of the town. [cite book|author=David Michael Loades|title=John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, 1504-53|year=1996|publisher=Oxford University Press|isbn=0198201931]

16th and 17th centuries

From the 16th century onwards, Birmingham became a centre of many metalworking industries, with a skilled population of ironmongers. Birmingham was located near sources of iron ore, and coal [cite book|author=Hugh Miller|title=First Impressions of England and Its People|year=1851|publisher=Gould and Lincoln] and also several streams which could power bellows. [cite book|author=Henry Clifford Darby|title=An Historical Geography of England Before A.D. 1800: Fourteen Studies|year=1951|publisher=University Press] These natural advantages ensured that Birmingham developed into a metalworking and manufacturing centre.

In 1538, during the reign of King Henry VIII, a traveller named John Leland visited Birmingham, and noted that items such as knives and nails were being produced in small forges and workshops.cite book|author=William Hutton|title=The History of Birmingham|year=1836|publisher=J. Guest]

Birmingham's inland location, away from any major transport links, meant that its manufacturers had to produce goods of high quality and value to compensate the high cost of transport. This gave Birmingham goods a reputation for quality.

Birmingham soon became a centre of arms manufacturing, with guns and swords being produced. By the mid-17th century Birmingham had grown into an important manufacturing town with a population of around 5,500. [cite book|author=Gary Bridge|coauthor=Sophie Watson|title=The Blackwell City Reader|year=2002|publisher=Blackwell Publishing|isbn=0631225145]

The armaments trade was greatly stimulated by the English Civil War. In 1642, the townsfolk refused to support the King, and in revenge Birmingham was plundered by the royalist forces led by Prince Rupert of the Rhine. Following this, Birmingham allied itself with the Parliamentarian cause and Birmingham manufacturers supplied the Roundheads with much of their weaponry. Reputedly, 15,000 swords were produced in Birmingham for Oliver Cromwell's forces.

By the late 17th century, gun making in Birmingham became concentrated in an area called the Gun Quarter. By the end of the century 200 muskets a month were being produced in Birmingham for the government. ["The Gentleman's Magazine", 1869, F. Jefferies] In the latter half of the century Birmingham's population expanded rapidly; by 1700 it had grown to over 15,000. [ [http://www.bham.de/index_population.html Bham.de: Population of Birmingham] ]

18th century

In the 18th century Birmingham grew rapidly into one of the world's first major industrial towns. In 1791, Arthur Young described Birmingham as "the first manufacturing town in the world". [cite book|author=|Richard Peter Treadwell Davenport|title=Business in the Age of Reason|year=1987|publisher=Routledge|isbn=0714633062] cite book|author=David Michael Palliser|title=The Cambridge Urban History of Britain|year=2000|publisher=Cambridge University Press|isbn=0521417074]

The industrial revolution began in the Midlands area of England, especially in the Ironbridge area, some 30 miles (50 km) to the west of Birmingham.

Birmingham's skilled workforce, and the fact that Birmingham was located near the coalfields of northern Warwickshire and Staffordshire, meant that the town grew rapidly. By the mid-18th century, Birmingham had become the largest town in Warwickshire. In the latter half of the 18th century, Birmingham's population tripled from 24,000 in 1750, to 74,000 in 1800.

During this time, Birmingham was home to Matthew Boulton, James Watt, William Murdoch, Joseph Priestley who, with others, formed the highly influential Lunar Society. Joseph Priestley's presence in Birmingham resulted in the Priestley Riots of 1791 in which his home, as well as other individual's properties, was burned down by a mob.

During their time in Birmingham, Boulton, Watt and Murdoch were instrumental in innovations such as the development of the steam engine and gas lighting, and Birmingham found itself at the forefront of industrial technology.

The first map of Birmingham was produced in 1731 by William Westley, though the year before, he produced the first documentation of a newly constructed square named Old Square. It became one of the most prestigious addresses in Birmingham. This was not the first map to show Birmingham, something that had been done in 1335, albeit showing Birmingham as a small symbol. [ [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=22959 British History Online: Development up to 1838] ] Birmingham was again surveyed in 1750 by S. Bradford. [cite book|author=John Britton|title=The Beauties of England and Wales|year=1814|publisher=Thomas Maiden]

Until the 1760s, Birmingham's local government system, consisted of manorial and parish officials, most of whom served on a part-time and honorary basis. However this system proved completely inadequate to cope with Birmingham's rapid growth. In 1768, Birmingham gained a rudimentary local government system, when a body of "Commissioners of the Streets" was established, who had powers to levy a rate for functions such as cleaning and street lighting. They were later given powers to provide policing and build public buildings.

From the 1760s onwards, Birmingham became a centre of the canal system. The canals provided an efficient transport system for raw materials and finished goods, and greatly aided the town's industrial growth.

The first canal to be built into Birmingham, was opened in November 1769 and connected Birmingham with the coal mines at Wednesbury in the Black Country. [cite book|author=Urquhart Atwell Forbes|title=Our Waterways: A History of Inland Navigation Considered as a Branch of Water Conservancy|year=1906|publisher=J. Murray] Within a year of the canal opening, the price of coal in Birmingham had fallen by 50%.

The canal network across Birmingham and the Black Country expanded rapidly over the following decades, with most of it owned by the Birmingham Canal Navigations Company. Other canals such as the Birmingham and Worcester Canal the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and the Warwick and Birmingham Canal (now the Grand Union) and the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal linked Birmingham to the rest of the country. By 1830, some 160 miles of canal had been constructed across the Birmingham and Black Country area. [cite book|author=Stanley Robertson Broadbridge|title=Birmingham Canal Navigations|year=1974|publisher=David & Charles Publishers]

Due to Birmingham's vast array of industries, it was nicknamed "workshop of the World". The expansion of the population of the town and the increased prosperity led to it acquiring a library in 1779, a hospital in 1766 and a variety of recreational institutions.cite book|author=Kirstin Olsen|title=Daily Life in 18th-Century England|year=1999|publisher=Greenwood Press|isbn=0313299331]

Printing of Birmingham's first newspaper, the "Birmingham Journal", commenced in 1732 by Thomas Warren, however ceased in 1741. "The Birmingham Chronicle" began printing in 1769 and survives for a longer period. [ [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=22966&strquery=The%20Birmingham%20Journal British History Online: Social History before 1815] ]

19th century

In 1802, Nelson and the Hamiltons visited Birmingham. Nelson was fêted, and visited Matthew Boulton on his sick-bed at Soho House, before taking a tour of the Soho Manufactory and commissioning the Battle of the Nile medal. In 1809, a statue of Horatio Nelson by Richard Westmacott Jr. was erected by public subscription. It still stands, in the Bull Ring, albeit on a 1960s plinth.

The Birmingham manor house and its moat were demolished and removed in 1816. ["A Description of Modern Birmingham", Charles Pye, 2004, Kessinger Publishing (ISBN 1419100866)] The site was constructed upon to create the Smithfield Markets, which concentrated various marketing activities upon one area close to the Bull Ring which had developed into a retail-led area.

At the beginning of the 19th century, Birmingham had a population of around 74,000. By the end of the century it had grown to 630,000. This rapid population growth meant that by the middle of the century Birmingham had become the second largest population centre in Britain. [cite book|author=Gordon Emanuel Cherry|title=Urban Change and Planning: a history of urban development in Britain since 1750|year=1972|publisher=G. T. Foulis & Company]

Railways arrive

Railways arrived in Birmingham in 1837 with the opening of the Grand Junction Railway which linked Birmingham with Manchester and Liverpool. The following year the London and Birmingham Railway opened, linking to the capital. This was soon followed by the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway and the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway. [cite book|author=John R. Kellett|title=The Impact of Railways on Victorian Cities|year=1969|publisher=Routledge]

These all initially had separate stations around Curzon Street. However, in the 1840s, these early railway companies had merged to become the London and North Western Railway and the Midland Railway respectively. The two companies jointly constructed Birmingham New Street Station which was opened in 1854, and Birmingham became a central hub of the British railway system.

In 1852, the Great Western Railway arrived in Birmingham, and a second smaller station, Snow Hill was opened. The GWR line linked the city with Oxford and London Paddington.

Political reform

Also in the 1830s, due to its growing size and importance, Birmingham was granted Parliamentary representation by the Reform Act of 1832. The new Birmingham constituency was created with two MPs representing it. Thomas Attwood and Joshua Scholefield both Liberals, were elected as the Birmingham's first MP's.

In 1838, local government reform meant that Birmingham was one of the first new towns to be incorporated as a municipal borough by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. [cite book|author=Sidney Webb|coauthors=Beatrice Potter-Webb|title=English Local Government from the Revolution to the Municipal Corporations Act|year=1908|publisher=Longmans, Green and Co.] This allowed Birmingham to have its first elected town council. The council initially worked alongside the existing Street Commissioners, until they were wound up in 1851.

Industry and commerce

Birmingham's growth and prosperity was based upon metalworking industries, of which many different kinds existed.

Birmingham became known as the "City of a thousand trades" because of the wide variety of goods manufactured there — buttons, cutlery, nails and screws, guns, tools, jewellery, toys, locks, and ornaments were amongst the many products manufactured.For most of the 19th century, industry in Birmingham was dominated by small workshops rather than large factories or mills. [ [http://www.search.revolutionaryplayers.org.uk/engine/resource/exhibition/standard/default.asp?resource=2879 The First Manufacturing Town: Industry in Birmingham in the mid-19th Century, The New Illustrated Directory, 1858 ] ] Large factories became increasingly common towards the end of the century when engineering industries became increasingly important.

The industrial wealth of Birmingham allowed merchants to fund the construction of some fine institutional buildings in the city. Some buildings of the 19th century included: the Birmingham Town Hall built in 1834, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens opened in 1832, the Council House built in 1879, and the Museum and Art Gallery in the extended Council House, opened in 1885.

The mid-19th century saw major immigration into the city from Ireland, following the Great Irish Famine (1845-1849).

Birmingham became a county borough and a city in 1889. [ [http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/GenerateContent?CONTENT_ITEM_ID=67195&CONTENT_ITEM_TYPE=0&MENU_ID=5396 Birmingham.gov.uk: Central Birmingham 1889] ]


As in many industrial towns during the 19th century, many of Birmingham's residents lived in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. During the early to mid 19th century, thousands of back-to-back houses were built to house the growing population, many of which were poorly built and badly drained, and many soon became slums. [cite book|author=S. Martin Gaskell|title=Slums|year=1990|publisher=Leicester University Press]

In 1851, a network of sewers was built under the city which was connected to the River Rea, [ [http://www.environmentprobe.org/enviroprobe/pubs/ev631.htm Environment Probe: The Power of Property Rights to Preserve Our Lakes and Rivers] ] although only new houses were connected to it, and many older houses had to wait decades until they were connected.

Birmingham gained gas lighting in 1818, and a water company in 1826, to provide piped water, although clean water was only available to people who could pay. Birmingham gained its first electricity supply in 1882. Horse-drawn trams ran through Birmingham from 1873, and electric trams from 1890.Between 1873 and 1876, Joseph Chamberlain served as mayor of the town. Under his leadership, Birmingham was transformed, as the council introduced one of the most ambitious improvement schemes outside London. The council purchased the city's gas and water works, and moved to improve the lighting and provide clean drinking water to the city, income from these utilities also provided a healthy income for the council, which was re-invested into the city to provide new amenities.

Under Chamberlain, some of Birmingham's worst slums were cleared. And through the city-centre a new thoroughfare was constructed, Corporation Street, which soon became a fashionable shopping street. He was instrumental in building of the Council House and the Victoria Law Courts in Corporation Street. Numerous public parks were also opened. The improvements introduced by Chamberlain were to prove the blueprint for municipal government, and were soon copied by other cities. Although he resigned as mayor to become an MP, Chamberlain took close interest in the city for many years after he resigned.

Birmingham's water problems were not fully solved through the creation of reservoirs in Walmley Ash, fed by Plants Brook.cite book|author=Douglas V. Jones|title=Walmley and its surroundings|year=1990|publisher=Westwood Press|isbn=0-948025-11-5] Other larger reservoirs were constructed at Witton Lakes and Brookvale Park Lake to help ease the problems. The problems were finally solved, however, by the completion of a 73 mile long Elan aqueduct was built to a reservoir in the Elan Valley in Wales; this project was approved in 1891 and completed in 1904.


Birmingham's boundaries were expanded at several times during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Birmingham was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1838. The borough initially included the parishes of Birmingham and Edgbaston and part of the parish of Aston. In 1889, the municipal borough of Birmingham was reconstituted as a county borough.

It was expanded in 1891 under the "City of Birmingham Extension Order" by adding Harborne from Staffordshire and Balsall Heath from Worcestershire, as well as Saltley, a further part of Aston parish. Quinton in Worcestershire was added in 1909. [cite book|author=Conrad Gill|coauthor=Asa Briggs|title=History of Birmingham|year=1952|publisher=Oxford University Press]

1911 saw a large expansion with the addition of Aston Manor and Erdington from Warwickshire, Handsworth from Staffordshire, and Yardley and part of Kings Norton and Northfield from Worcestershire. The remainder of Kings Norton and Northfield were added in 1912. Perry Barr in Staffordshire was added in 1928. [Youngs, Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England Volume 2] In 1931, parts of the parishes of Minworth, Castle Bromwich, Sheldon and a tiny part of Solihull were added, including the area of Castle Vale, then known as Berwood.

Birmingham was reconstituted on April 1, 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, as a metropolitan district, which covered both the former county borough of Birmingham, and the municipal borough of Sutton Coldfield.

20th century

During the 20th century, Birmingham's population continued to increase and also peaked.

In 1918, the Birmingham Civic Society was founded to bring public interest to bear upon all proposals put forward by public bodies and private owners for building, new open spaces and parks, and any and all matters concerned with the amenities of the city. The society set about making suggestions for improvements in the city, sometimes designing and paying for improvements themselves and buying a number of open spaces and later gifting them to the city for use as parks.

In 1936, King Edward's Grammar School on New Street was demolished and moved to Edgbaston. The school had been on that site for 384 years. The site was later transformed into an office block which was destroyed in the bombing of the Second World War. It was later rebuilt and named "King Edward's House". It is used as an office block and on the ground floor as shops and restaurants.

In the First and Second World Wars, the Longbridge car plant switched to production of munitions and military equipment, from ammunition, mines and depth charges to tank suspensions, steel helmets, Jerricans, Hawker Hurricanes, Fairey Battle fighters and Airspeed Horsa gliders, with the mammoth Avro Lancaster bomber coming into production towards the end of WWII. The Spitfire fighter aircraft was mass produced at Castle Bromwich by Vickers-Armstrong throughout the war.

Birmingham's industrial importance and contribution to the war effort may have been decisive in winning the war. The city was heavily bombed by the German Luftwaffe during the Birmingham Blitz in World War II. By the war's end 2,241 citizens had been killed by the bombing and over 3,000 seriously injured. 12,932 buildings were destroyed (including 300 factories) and thousands more damaged. The air raids also destroyed many of Birmingham's fine buildings. The council declared five redevelopment areas in 1946: ["The City of Birmingham Baths Department 1851 - 1951", J. Moth M.N.A.B.S., 1951, Birmingham City Council]
*Duddeston and Nechells
*Summer Lane
*Bath Row
*Gooch Street

In the postwar years, a massive program of slum clearances took place, and vast areas of the city were re-built, with overcrowded "back to back" housing being replaced by high rise blocks of flats (the last remaining block of four back-to-backs have become a museum run by the National Trust).

Due largely to bomb damage, the city centre was also extensively re-built under the supervision of the city council's chief engineer Henry Manzoni during the postwar years. He was assisted by the City Architect position which was held by several people. [cite book|author=Peter J. Larkham|title=Conservation and the City|year=1996|publisher=Routledge|isbn=0415079470] Emblematic of this was the new Bull Ring Shopping Centre. Birmingham also became a centre of the national motorway network, with Spaghetti Junction. Much of the re-building of the postwar period would in later decades be regarded as mistaken, especially the large numbers of concrete buildings and ringroads which gave the city a reputation for ugliness.

In 1974, 21 people were killed and 182 people were injured when two city-centre pubs were bombed by the IRA.

In the same year as part of a local government reorganisation, Birmingham expanded again, this time taking over the borough of Sutton Coldfield to the north. [cite book|author=Douglas V. Jones|title=The royal town of Sutton Coldfield: a commemorative history|year=1984|publisher=Westwood Press Publications|isbn=0950263672] Birmingham lost its county borough status and instead became a metropolitan borough under the new West Midlands County Council. It was also finally removed from Warwickshire.


There were further waves of immigration from Ireland in the 1950s and 1980s as emigrants sought to escape the economic deprivation and unemployment in their homeland. There remains a strong Irish tradition in the city, most notably in Digbeth's Irish Quarter and in the annual St Patrick's Day parade, claimed to be the third-largest in the world after New York and Dublin. [ [http://www.anysubject.com/st-patricks-day-history-of-st-patricks-day.asp The History of St Patricks] ]

In the years following World War II, a major influx of immigrants from the Commonwealth of Nations changed the face of Birmingham, with large communities from Southern Asia and the Caribbean settling in the city, [ [http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/GenerateContent?CONTENT_ITEM_ID=2392&CONTENT_ITEM_TYPE=0&MENU_ID=10596 Birmingham.gov.uk: Birmingham's Post War Black Immigrants] ] turning Birmingham into one of the UK's leading multicultural cities. As of 2001, 29.7% of the city's population was made up of ethnic minority communities. Amongst the largest minority communities, 10.6% of Birmingham residents are Pakistani, 5.7% are Indian, 6.1% are Black Caribbean or African, and 2.9% are of mixed race.

The developments were not welcomed by everyone however — the right-wing Wolverhampton MP Enoch Powell delivered his famous Rivers of Blood speech in the city on 20 April, 1968. [cite book|author=Sarita Malik|coauthor=Stuart Hall|title=Representing Black Britain: A History of Black and Asian Images on British Television|year=2002|publisher=Sage Publications|isbn=0761970282]

On the other hand, some arts prospered, such as the formation of the influential musical group Black Sabbath, which was formed by Birmingham natives.

Since the early 1980s, Birmingham has seen a new wave of migration, this time from communities which do not have Commonwealth roots, including people from Kosovo and Somalia.

Tension between ethnic groups and the authorities led to the Handsworth riots in 1981 and 1985. October 2005 saw the 2005 Birmingham riots in the Lozells and Handsworth regions of the city, with street battles between black and Asian gangs, caused by an unsubstantiated [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/6728199.stm rumour] resulting in two deaths and much damage.


In the 1970s and 1980s, manufacturing industry in Birmingham went into decline, mainly through competition from foreign competitors, and by the early 1980s unemployment rates in Birmingham were amongst the highest in the country. The City Council undertook a policy of diversifying the city's economy into service industries, retailing and tourism to lessen the dependence upon manufacturing. A number of initiatives were undertaken to make the city more attractive to visitors.

In the 1970s, the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) was built, 10 miles (16 km) southeast of the centre, close to Birmingham International Airport. Although it is actually just inside neighbouring Solihull, it was instigated, and largely owned by, Birmingham Council, and is thought by most people to be in the city. It has been expanded several times since then.

The International Convention Centre (ICC) opened in central Birmingham in the early 1990s. The area around Broad Street, including Centenary Square, the ICC and Brindleyplace, was extensively renovated at the turn of 2000. In 1998, a G8 summit was held in Birmingham, and US president Bill Clinton was clearly impressed by the city.

In September 2003, the Bullring shopping complex was opened following a three year project. In 2003, the city failed in its bid to become the 2008 European Capital of Culture, under the banner "Be in Birmingham 2008".

Considerable but localised destruction occurred in July 2005, when there was a rare tornado in the city's southern suburbs, though no one was killed. The area was subsequently subject of investment to repair the damage and attract back lost business, notably to the balti belt.

Birmingham continues to develop, with a series of large scale projects in progress, not least in the city's Eastside district which is undergoing work which is expected to total £6 billion.

Historic population

*1538 — 1,300
*1550 — 1,500
*1650 — 5,472
*1700 — 15,032
*1731 — 23,286
*1750 — 24,000
*1778 — 42,250
*1785 — 52,250
*1800 — 74,000
*1811 — 85,753
*1821 — 106,722
*1831 — 146,986
*1841 — 182,922
*1851 — 232,638
*1861 — 296,076
*1871 — 343,787
*1881 — 400,774
*1891 — 478,113
*1901 — 522,204 in the city proper, 630,162 in the urban area.
*1911 — 840,202
*1951 — 1,113,000 (population peak)
*1981 — 1,013,431
*2003 — 992,000
* Current - [http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/GenerateContent?CONTENT_ITEM_ID=26205&CONTENT_ITEM_TYPE=0&MENU_ID=11333#population 1,001,000]

Official histories

There have been a number of history books written about Birmingham over the past three centuries. These include the 'official' history, commissioned by Birmingham City Council. Amongst these are "History of Birmingham 1865-1938" by Asa Briggs.

ee also

*Economic history of Birmingham — For history of Birmingham's economy
*Government of Birmingham — For history of local government in Birmingham
*Military history of Birmingham — For history of Birmingham's military
*Timeline of Birmingham history — For a timeline of the history of Birmingham

**History of Warwickshire
**History of England


*"Birmingham A Study in Geography, History and Planning", By Gordon E. Cherry (1994) ISBN 0-471-94900-0
*"A History of Warwickshire", By Terry Slater (1981) ISBN 0-85033-416-0
*"Positively Birmingham", By Johnathan Berg (1994) ISBN 0-9523179-0-7
*"A History of Birmingham", By Chris Upton (1993) ISBN 0-85033-870-0

External links

* [http://www.birminghamhistory.co.uk/ Birmingham History] - Birmingham History Webring
* [http://forum.birminghamhistory.co.uk/index.php Birmingham History Webring Forums] — Birmingham History Webring Forums
* [http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/localhistory Local history pages] — Birmingham City Council website
* [http://www.birminghamuk.com/historicbirmingham.htm Birmingham history] — from BirminghamUK.com
* [http://www.birminghamcivicsociety.org.uk/ The Birmingham Civic Society]
* [http://www.austinmemories.com Austin Memories] - Austin Memories
* [http://www.virtualbrum.co.uk/history/brum.htm More Birmingham history] — from Virtualbrum.co.uk
* [http://www.localhistories.org/birmingham.html A brief history of Birmingham]
* [http://www.madeinbirmingham.org/ MADE IN BIRMINGHAM.org] — Birmingham's industrial history website
* [http://www.gutenberg.net/dirs/1/3/9/2/13926/13926-h/13926-h.htm An History of Birmingham] — an extensive history, written in 1783, from Project Gutenberg
* [http://1911encyclopedia.org/Birmingham%2C_England 1911 article about Birmingham] — article about Birmingham from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
* [http://www.birminghamstories.co.uk/ Birmingham Stories] — Birmingham's past and the inventions that changed people's lives

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  • History of Birmingham City F.C. — This article deals with the history of Birmingham City Football Club, an English professional football club based in the city of Birmingham. For a season by season breakdown of the club s performance, see Birmingham City F.C. seasons.1875 –… …   Wikipedia

  • Military history of Birmingham — The city of Birmingham, in England, has a long military history and has been for several centuries a major manufacturer of weapons. Contents 1 Roman Britain 2 Roman discovery 3 14th century 4 …   Wikipedia

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  • Birmingham New Street railway station — Birmingham New Street redirects here. For the actual street, see New Street, Birmingham. Birmingham New Street …   Wikipedia

  • Birmingham City University — Motto Latin: Age Quod Agis Motto in English Do what you are doing; attend to your business Established 1992 gained university status 1971 City of Birmingh …   Wikipedia

  • Birmingham City F.C. — Birmingham City Voller Name Birmingham City Football Club Gegründet 1875 Stadion …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Birmingham City Ladies — Birmingham City Voller Name Birmingham City Football Club Gegründet 1875 Stadion …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Birmingham City F.C. seasons — Birmingham City Football Club was founded in 1875 as Small Heath Alliance . For the first thirteen years of their existence, there was no league football, so matches were arranged on an ad hoc basis, supplemented by cup competitions organised at… …   Wikipedia

  • Birmingham St George's F.C. — Birmingham St. George s F.C. was a football club based in Birmingham, England. They were formerly known as Mitchell St. George s F.C., a merger of Mitchells and St. George s in 1881 (first match in the FA Cup was in the 1881 82 season), changing… …   Wikipedia

  • BIRMINGHAM — BIRMINGHAM, city in England. The Jewish community there is believed to have come into existence around 1730. The early Jewish settlers included peddlers who used Birmingham as a base. The first known Birmingham glass furnace was set up by Meyer… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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