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Birmingham



Government

Birmingham City Council is the largest local authority in Europe with 120 councillors representing 40 wards. Its headquarters are at the Council House in Victoria Square. The council currently has a Labour Party majority and is led by Sir Albert Bore, replacing the previous Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition at the May 2012 elections.

Birmingham's ten parliamentary constituencies are represented in the House of Commons by one Conservative, one Liberal Democrat and eight Labour MPs. In the European Parliament the city forms part of the West Midlands European Parliament constituency, which elects six Members of the European Parliament.

Birmingham was originally part of Warwickshire, but expanded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, absorbing parts of Worcestershire to the south and Staffordshire to the north and west. The city absorbed Sutton Coldfield in 1974 and became a metropolitan borough in the new West Midlands county. Up until 1986, the West Midlands County Council was based in Birmingham City Centre.

Since 2011, Birmingham has formed part of the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership along with neighbouring authorities Bromsgrove, Cannock Chase, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Redditch, Solihull, Tamworth, Wyre Forest.

Geography

Birmingham is located in the centre of the West Midlands region of England on the Birmingham Plateau – an area of relatively high ground, ranging around 500 to 1,000 feet (150–300 m) above sea level and crossed by Britain's main north-south watershed between the basins of the Rivers Severn and Trent. To the south west of the city lie the Lickey Hills, Clent Hills and Walton Hill, which reach 1,033 feet (315 m) and have extensive views over the city. Other than its canals, Birmingham is only served by minor rivers and brooks, such as the River Cole, and the River Rea.

The City of Birmingham forms a conurbation with the largely residential borough of Solihull to the south east, and with the city of Wolverhampton and the industrial towns of the Black Country to the north west, which form the West Midlands Urban Area covering 59,972 ha (600 km2; 232 sq mi). Surrounding this is Birmingham's metropolitan area – the area to which it is closely economically tied through commuting – which includes the former Mercian capital of Tamworth and the cathedral city of Lichfield in Staffordshire to the north; the industrial city of Coventry and the Warwickshire towns of Nuneaton, Warwick and Leamington Spa to the east; and the Worcestershire towns of Redditch and Bromsgrove to the south west.

Much of the area now occupied by the city was originally a northern reach of the ancient Forest of Arden, whose former presence can still be felt in the city's dense oak tree-cover and in the large number of districts such as Moseley, Saltley, Yardley, Stirchley and Hockley with names ending in "-ley": the Old English -lēah meaning "woodland clearing".

Environment

There are over 8,000 acres (3,237 ha) of parkland open spaces in Birmingham. The largest of the parks is Sutton Park covering 2,400 acres (971 ha) 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. The Winterbourne Botanic Garden, maintained by the University of Birmingham, is also located close to the city centre.

Birmingham has many areas of wildlife that lie in both informal settings such as the Project Kingfisher and Woodgate Valley Country Park and in a selection of parks such as Lickey Hills Country Park, Handsworth Park, Kings Heath Park, and Cannon Hill Park; the latter also housing the Birmingham Nature Centre.

Demography

Birmingham is the most populous British city outside London, with 1,073,000 residents (2011 census), an increase of 96,000 over the previous decade. The West Midlands Urban Area has a population of 2,440,986 (2011 Census); and Birmingham's metropolitan area, which is also the United Kingdom's second most populous, has a population of 3,683,000. At the time of the 2001 UK Census, Birmingham's population was 977,087, having fallen since reaching a peak of 1,112,685 in the 1951 Census.

Economy

With a city GDP of $90bn (2008 est., PPP), the urban agglomeration around Birmingham has the second-largest economy in the United Kingdom and the 72nd-largest in the world. Although the city grew to prominence as a manufacturing and engineering centre, its economy today is dominated by the service sector, which in 2008 accounted for 86% of its employment. Birmingham is the largest centre for employment in public administration, education and health in Great Britain, and after Leeds and Glasgow it is the third-largest centre for employment in banking, finance and insurance outside London. It is ranked as a beta- world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.

Two of Britain's largest banks were founded in Birmingham – Lloyds Bank (now Lloyds Banking Group) in 1765 and the Midland Bank (now HSBC Bank) in 1836 – as well as Ketley's Building Society, the world's first building society, in 1775. In 2010, Cushman & Wakefield stated that Birmingham was the third best place in the United Kingdom to locate a business and the 18th best in Europe.

Culture

Music

The internationally-renowned City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's home venue is Symphony Hall. Other notable professional orchestras based in the city include the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the Royal Ballet Sinfonia and Ex Cathedra, a Baroque chamber choir and period instrument orchestra. The Orchestra of the Swan is the resident chamber orchestra at Birmingham Town Hall, where weekly recitals have also been given by the City Organist since 1834.

The Birmingham Triennial Music Festivals took place from 1784 to 1912. Music was specially composed, conducted or performed by Mendelssohn, Gounod, Sullivan, Dvořák, Bantock and Edward Elgar, who wrote four of his most famous choral pieces for Birmingham. Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius had its début performance there in 1900. Composers born in the city include Albert William Ketèlbey and Andrew Glover.

Jazz has been popular in the city since the 1920s, and there are many regular festivals such as the Harmonic Festival, the Mostly Jazz Festival and the annual International Jazz Festival.

Birmingham's other city-centre music venues include The National Indoor Arena, which was opened in 1991, 02 Academy on Bristol Street, which opened in September 2009 replacing the 02 Academy in Dale End, The CBSO Centre, opened in 1997, HMV Institute in Digbeth and the Adrian Boult Hall at the Birmingham Conservatoire.

During the 1960s Birmingham was the home of a music scene comparable to that of Liverpool. Although it produced no single band as big as The Beatles it was a "a seething cauldron of musical activity", and the international success of groups such as The Move, The Spencer Davis Group, The Moody Blues, Traffic and the Electric Light Orchestra had a collective influence that stretched into the 1970s and beyond. The city was the birthplace of heavy metal music, with pioneering metal bands from the late 1960s and 1970s such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest having come from Birmingham. The next decade saw the influential metal bands Napalm Death and Godflesh arise from the city. The 1970s also saw the rise of reggae and ska in the city with such bands as Steel Pulse, UB40, Musical Youth, Beshara and The Beat, expounding racial unity with politically leftist lyrics and multiracial line-ups, mirroring social currents in Birmingham at that time.

Other popular bands from Birmingham include Duran Duran, Fine Young Cannibals, Ocean Colour Scene, The Streets, The Twang and Dexys Midnight Runners. Musicians Jeff Lynne, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, John Lodge, Roy Wood, Joan Armatrading, Toyah Willcox, Denny Laine, Sukshinder Shinda, Steve Winwood, Jamelia and Fyfe Dangerfield all grew up in the city.

Since 2012 the Digbeth-based B-Town indie music scene has attracted widespread attention, led by bands such as Peace and Swim Deep, with the NME comparing Digbeth to London's Shoreditch, and The Independent writing that "Birmingham is fast becoming the best place in the UK to look to for the most exciting new music".

Theatre and Performing Arts

Birmingham's leading producing theatre is the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, which was founded by Barry Jackson in 1913 to "serve an art instead of making that art serve a commercial purpose". The Rep pioneered innovations such as the performance of Shakespeare in modern dress, and launched the careers of performers including Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft, Paul Scofield and Albert Finney. Other theatre companies in Birmingham include the experimental Stan's Cafe, the politically radical Banner Theatre, the Birmingham Stage Company and the Maverick Theatre Company. The Alexandra Theatre and the Birmingham Hippodrome host large-scale touring productions, while professional drama is performed on a wide range of stages across the city, including the Old Rep, the Crescent Theatre, the Custard Factory, the Old Joint Stock Theatre, the Blue Orange Theatre, the Drum in Aston and the mac in Cannon Hill Park.

The Birmingham Royal Ballet is one of the United Kingdom's three major ballet companies and the only one based outside London. It is resident at the Birmingham Hippodrome and tours extensively nationally and internationally. The company's associated ballet school – Elmhurst School for Dance in Edgbaston – is the oldest vocational dance school in the country.

The Birmingham Opera Company under artistic director Graham Vick has developed an international reputation for its avant-garde productions, which often take place in factories, abandoned buildings and other found spaces around the city. In 2010 it was described by The Guardian as "far and away the most powerful example that I've experienced in this country of how and why opera can still matter." More conventional seasons by Welsh National Opera and other visiting opera companies take place regularly at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

Museums and Galleries

Birmingham has two major public art collections. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is best known for its works by the Pre-Raphaelites, a collection "of outstanding importance". It also holds a significant selection of old masters – including major works by Bellini, Rubens, Canaletto and Claude – and particularly strong collections of 17th century Italian Baroque painting and English watercolours. Its design holdings include Europe's pre-eminent collections of ceramics and fine metalwork. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts in Edgbaston is one of the finest small art galleries in the world, with a collection of exceptional quality representing Western art from the 13th century to the present day.

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. The Birmingham Back to Backs are the last surviving court of back-to-back houses in the city. Cadbury World is a museum showing visitors the stages and steps of chocolate production and the history of chocolate and the company. The Ikon Gallery hosts displays of contemporary art, as does Eastside Projects.

Thinktank is Birmingham's main science museum, with a giant screen cinema, a planetarium and a collection that includes the Smethwick Engine, the world's oldest working steam engine. Other science-based museums include the National Sea Life Centre in Brindleyplace, the Lapworth Museum of Geology at the University of Birmingham and the Centre of the Earth environmental education centre in Winson Green.

Night Life and Festivals

 
Nightlife in Birmingham is mainly concentrated along Broad Street and into Brindleyplace. Outside the Broad Street area are many stylish and underground venues. The Medicine Bar in the Custard Factory, hmv Institute, Rainbow Pub and Air are large clubs and bars in Digbeth. Around the Chinese Quarter are areas such as the Arcadian and Hurst Street Gay Village, that abound with bars and clubs. Summer Row, The Mailbox, O2 Academy in Bristol Street,Snobs Nightclub, St Philips/Colmore Row, St Paul's Square and the Jewellery Quarter all have a vibrant night life. There are a number of late night pubs in the Irish Quarter. Outside the city centre is Star City entertainment complex on the former site of Nechells Power Station.

Birmingham is home to many national, religious and spiritual festivals including a St. George's Day party. The Birmingham Tattoo is a long-standing military show held annually at the National Indoor Arena. The Caribbean-style Birmingham International Carnival takes place in odd numbered years. Birmingham Pride takes place in the gay village and attracts up to 100,000 visitors each year. From 1997 until December 2006, the city hosted an annual arts festival ArtsFest, the largest free arts festival in the UK at the time. The city's largest single-day event is its St. Patrick's Day parade (Europe's second largest, after Dublin). Other multicultural events include the Bangla Mela and the Vaisakhi Mela. The Birmingham Heritage Festival is a Mardi Gras style event in August. Caribbean and African culture are celebrated with parades and street performances by buskers.

Other festivals in the city include the Birmingham International Jazz Festival,"Party in the Park" was originally a festival hosted by local and regional radio stations which died down in 2007 and has now been brought back to life as an unsigned festival for regional unsigned acts to showcase themselves in a one day music festival for the whole family. In 2013 it is on June 30 and hosts over 33 acts and bands with lots of family orientated events on during the day such as street dance workshops and ball games. Birmingham Comedy Festival (since 2001; 10 days in October), which has been headlined by such acts as Peter Kay, The Fast Show, Jimmy Carr, Lee Evans and Lenny Henry, and the Off The Cuff Festival established in 2009. The biennial International Dance Festival Birmingham started in 2008, organised by DanceXchange and involving indoor and outdoor venues across the city. Since 2001 Birmingham is also host to the Frankfurt Christmas Market. Modelled on its German counterpart it has grown to become the UK's largest outdoor Christmas market and is the largest German market outside of Germany and Austria, attracting over 3.1 million visitors in 2010 and over 5 million visitors

Architecture

Birmingham is chiefly a product of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries; its growth began during the Industrial Revolution. Consequently, relatively few buildings survive from its earlier history and those that do are protected. There are 1,946 listed buildings in Birmingham and thirteen scheduled ancient monuments. Birmingham City Council also operate a locally listing scheme for buildings that do not fully meet the criteria for statutorily listed status.

Traces of medieval Birmingham can be seen in the oldest churches, notably the original parish church, St Martin in the Bull Ring. A few other buildings from the medieval and Tudor periods survive, among them the Lad in the Lane and The Old Crown, the 15th century Saracen's Head public house and Old Grammar School in Kings Norton and Blakesley Hall.

A number of Georgian buildings survive, including St Philip's Cathedral, Soho House, Perrott's Folly, the Town Hall and much of St Paul's Square. The Victorian era saw extensive building across the city. Major civic buildings such as the Victoria Law Courts (in characteristic red brick and terracotta), the Council House and the Museum & Art Gallery were constructed. St Chad's Cathedral was the first Roman Catholic cathedral to be built in the UK since the Reformation. Across the city, the need to house the industrial workers gave rise to miles of redbrick streets and terraces, many of back-to-back houses, some of which were later to become inner-city slums.

Postwar redevelopment and anti-Victorianism resulted in the loss of dozens of Victorian buildings like Birmingham New Street Station and the old Central Library. In inner-city areas too, much Victorian housing was redeveloped. Existing communities were relocated to tower block estates like Castle Vale.

Birmingham City Council now has an extensive tower block demolition and renovation programme. There has been much redevelopment in the city centre in recent years, including the award-winning Future Systems' Selfridges building in the Bullring Shopping Centre, the Brindleyplace regeneration project, the Millennium Point science and technology centre, and the refurbishment of the iconic Rotunda building. Funding for many of these projects has come from the European Union; the Town Hall for example received £3 million in funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

Highrise development has slowed since the 1970s and mainly in recent years because of enforcements imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority on the heights of buildings as they could affect aircraft from the Airport (e.g. Beetham Tower).

Transport

Partly because of its central location, Birmingham is a major transport hub on the motorway, rail and canal networks. The city is served by the M5, M6, M40, and M42 motorways, and probably the best known motorway junction in the UK: Spaghetti Junction. The M6 passes through the city on the Bromford Viaduct, which at 5,600 metres (18,400 ft) is the longest bridge in the United Kingdom.

The National Express Group headquarters are located in Digbeth, in offices above the newly developed Birmingham Coach Station, which forms the national hub of the company's coach network.

Birmingham Airport, located six miles east of the city centre in the neighbouring borough of Solihull, is the seventh busiest by passenger traffic in the United Kingdom and the third busiest outside the London area after Manchester and Edinburgh. It is a major base for airlines including Flybe, Ryanair, BMI Regional, Monarch Airlines and Thomson Airways; and is connected by flag carrier airlines to major international hubs including Dubai, New York-Newark, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam.

Birmingham New Street railway station is the busiest in the United Kingdom outside London, both for passenger entries and exits and for passenger interchanges. It is the national hub for CrossCountry, the most extensive long-distance train network in Britain, and a major destination for Virgin Trains services from London Euston, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley. Birmingham Snow Hill and Birmingham Moor Street, the other major railway stations in the city centre, form the northern terminii for Chiltern Railways express trains running from London Marylebone. Local and regional services are operated from all of Birmingham's stations by London Midland.

Local public transport in Birmingham is co-ordinated by Centro, the Integrated Transport Authority for the West Midlands county. Branded as "Network West Midlands", Centro's network includes the busiest urban rail system in the UK outside London, with 122 million passenger entries and exits per annum; the busiest urban bus system outside London, with 300.2 million passenger journeys per annum; and the Midland Metro, a light rail system which operates between Snow Hill and Wolverhampton via Bilston, Wednesbury and West Bromwich, – currently being extended from Snow Hill further into Birmingham city centre. Bus routes are mainly operated by National Express West Midlands, which accounts for over 80% of all bus journeys in Birmingham, though there are around 50 other, smaller registered bus companies. The number 11 outer circle bus routes are the longest urban bus routes in Europe, being 26 miles (42 km) long with 272 bus stops.

Birmingham is also notable for its extensive canal system and the city is often noted for having more miles of canal than Venice. The canals fed the industry in the city during the Industrial Revolution. Canalside regeneration schemes such as Brindleyplace have turned the canals into tourist attractions.

Education

Tertiary Education

Birmingham is home to six universities: the University of Birmingham, Aston University, Birmingham City University, University College Birmingham, the University of Law and Newman University. Birmingham is also home to the Open University's West Midlands region, which has 60 staff, 600 tutors and 12,000 students. The Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham School of Acting and Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, all now part of Birmingham City University, offer higher education in specific arts subjects. The range of universities and colleges means that there are over 65,000 higher education students in Birmingham, making it the UK's second largest student city to London.

The Birmingham Business School, established by Sir William Ashley in 1902, is the oldest graduate-level business school in the United Kingdom. Other business schools in the city include Aston Business School and Birmingham City Business School.

Birmingham is also an important centre for religious education. St Mary's College, Oscott is one of the three seminaries of the Catholic Church in England and Wales; Woodbrooke is the only Quaker study centre in Europe; and Queen's College is an ecumenical theological college serving the Church of England, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.

Birmingham Metropolitan College is one of the largest further education colleges in the country, formed through a series of mergers between smaller colleges.

Primary and Secondary Education

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. Most of Birmingham's state schools are community schools run directly by Birmingham City Council in its role as local education authority (LEA). However, there are a large number of voluntary aided schools within the state system. Since the 1970s, most secondary schools in Birmingham have been 11-16/18 comprehensive schools, while post GCSE students have the choice of continuing their education in either a school's sixth form or at a further education college. Birmingham has always operated a primary school system of 4–7 infant and 7–11 junior schools.

King Edward's School, founded in 1552, is the oldest and perhaps the most prestigious independent school in the city. Other notable independent schools in the city include the Birmingham Blue Coat School and Edgbaston High School for Girls. The seven schools of The King Edward VI Foundation are known nationally for setting very high academic standards and all the schools consistently achieve top positions in national league tables.

Birmingham was set to receive up to £2.4 billion of central government funding for the replacement and modernisation of many of its secondary schools as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme. Procurement commenced in 2009, with the Lend Lease Group being the successful Local Education Partnership company contracted to resource and undertake the work. The first three sample schools were all designed, constructed and completed by 2011, however the programme was scrapped shortly before their completion in July 2010, with only a few other schools and the remaining Academy schemes continuing through to construction, and now due for completion in 2013. Holte visual and arts college is one of the best schools ;with a status of ``outstanding`` running for 2 years ,it has recently improved the building(rebuild ed)in 2012.

Public services

Library services

Birmingham Central Library is the largest non-national library in Europe. Six of its collections are designated by the Arts Council England as being "pre-eminent collections of national and international importance", out of only eight collections to be so recognised in local authority libraries nationwide. A new Library of Birmingham is currently being constructed in Centenary Square which will replace Central Library upon its completion in 2013. There are 41 local libraries in Birmingham, plus a regular mobile library service. The library service has 4 million visitors annually.

Emergency services

Law enforcement in Birmingham is carried out by West Midlands Police, whose headquarters are at Lloyd House in Birmingham City Centre. With 87.92 recorded offences per 1000 population in 2009–10, Birmingham's crime rate is above the average for England and Wales, but lower than any of England's other major core cities and lower than many smaller cities such as Oxford, Cambridge or Brighton. Fire and rescue services in Birmingham are provided by West Midlands Fire Service and emergency medical care by West Midlands Ambulance Service.

The former Central Fire Station, a Grade II listed building, is now set for redevelopment as student accommodation, shops and leisure facilities.

Healthcare

There are several major National Health Service hospitals in Birmingham. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, adjacent to the Birmingham Medical School in Edgbaston, houses the largest critical care unit in Europe, and is also the home of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, treating military personnel injured in conflict zones. Other general hospitals in the city include Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield and City Hospital in Winson Green. There are also many specialist hospitals, such as Birmingham Children's Hospital, Birmingham Women's Hospital, Birmingham Dental Hospital, and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital.

Birmingham saw the first ever use of radiography in an operation, and the UK's first ever hole-in-the-heart operation was performed at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Shopping

 
Birmingham is a shopper’s paradise. Whether you seek head-turning chic or eye-catching value it’s all here.

From the world-famous, 21st Century Bullring to the Great Western Arcade’s Victorian elegance, Birmingham and the region have a spectacular range of shopping centres.

Bullring

One of the largest shopping centres in the UK, Bullring is right in the heart of the city centre. There are over 160 of the most imaginative and desirable shops for you to explore and the iconic Selfridges department store which stocks all your favourite designers, the latest brands and is home to the world famous Food Hall.And once you’re all shopped out, why not refuel in one of the Bullring’s 25 restaurants?

Pavilions

On Birmingham’s High Street there is Pavilions, jam-packed with top names. From major high street retail brands including Marks & Spencer, Hobbs, Waterstones and La Senza to tiny, independent gift boutiques such as Wysteria Lane or the natural food and ingredients retailer Julian Graves.

The Food Loft, at the top of the mall, is a great place for people watching over lunch or a refreshing cup of tea.

The Pallasades

Recognised as a shopping destination in its own right, it’s an easy walk from New Street Station, Snow Hill Station or the Bullring, where you’ll find big names such as Gap, Jane Norman and the only New Era Caps flagship store outside of Berlin and London.


High Street

Linking Bullring with Marks & Spencer, you’ll find the best street entertainers providing a lively backdrop to the vibrant, bustling High Street. Big names such as Waterstones, the city’s largest Boots, H&M and Levi, as well as M&S can be found here. It’s also the gateway to Pavilions, one of our major shopping centres and home to brands such as L’Occitane and Hobbs as well a large food court on the top floor.


Corporation Street

Recognised as a shopping destination in its own right, it’s an easy walk from New Street Station, Snow Hill Station or the Bullring, where you’ll find big names such as Gap, Jane Norman and the only New Era Caps flagship store outside of Berlin and London.

House of Fraser commands pride of place on Corporation Street, packed full of the latest men’s, women’s and children’s fashion, as well as a wide range of home and beauty items

Just off Corporation Street is Martineau Place, a great spot for lunch with EAT and Sainsbury’s at hand, as well as Nata, an independent café specialising in Portuguese coffee, sandwiches and treats. If you head the other way, you’ll walk down Cherry Street and head towards Birmingham Cathedral where office workers and visitors mingle enjoy the lunchtime summer sunshine in its’ beautiful green church yard.


Shopping in the Balti Triangle

Birmingham’s Balti Triangle, named after the popular Asian dish that was created in Birmingham, is now as famous for fashion as it is for food.

There’s plenty of scope to excite the imagination of the dressmaker and the interior designer here, with a huge variety of textures and colours.

With unique boutiques and stores that you simply won’t see on the high street, customers are guaranteed to find something for almost any occasion. The fashion outlets offer a diverse selection of clothes ranging from the traditional and authentic to the latest in Asian design. Experienced and helpful staff are on hand to offer styling advice and tailor, or customise, any purchase to meet individual requirements.


Jewellery Quarter

The home of British jewellery with a growing arts scene and plenty of great restaurants and bars.

There are over 100 specialists and craftspeople to be found here making it a wonderful place to explore and the perfect place go for THAT present, but at a price to surprise. Part of the appeal of going direct is that many of the Jewellery Quarter retailers have workshops on the premises, so a special gift can be commissioned on site!

There’s a buzzing arts scene here too with galleries, wedding shops and fashion specialists mingling with the latest restaurants, serving everything from Neapolitan to Nepalese cuisine. Plenty of places for a drink and a dance too including several in the stunning St Paul’s Square, such as Jools Holland’s legendary Jam House and Après in Summer Row.


Religion

Although Christianity is the largest religion within Birmingham, with 59% of residents stating that they were Christian in the 2001 Census, the city's religious profile is highly diverse: outside London, Birmingham has the United Kingdom's largest Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist communities; its second largest Hindu community; and its seventh largest Jewish community.

St Philip's Cathedral was upgraded from church status when the Anglican Diocese of Birmingham was created in 1905. There are two other cathedrals: St Chad's, seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham and the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God and St Andrew. The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Midlands is also based at Birmingham, with a cathedral under construction. The original parish church of Birmingham, St Martin in the Bull Ring, is Grade II* listed. A short distance from Five Ways the Birmingham Oratory was completed in 1910 on the site of Cardinal Newman's original foundation.

The oldest surviving synagogue in Birmingham is the 1825 Greek Revival Severn Street Synagogue, now a Freemason's Lodge hall. It was replaced in 1856 by the Grade II* listed Singers Hill Synagogue. Birmingham Central Mosque, one of the largest in Europe, was constructed in the 1960s. During the late 1990s Ghamkol Shariff Masjid was built in Small Heath. The Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha Sikh Gurdwara was built on Soho Road in Handsworth in the late 1970s and the Buddhist Dhammatalaka Peace Pagoda near Edgbaston Reservoir in the 1990s.

Sport

Birmingham has played an important part in the history of sport. The Football League – the world's first league football competition – was founded by Birmingham resident and Aston Villa director William McGregor, who wrote to fellow club directors in 1888 proposing "that ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home-and-away fixtures each season". The modern game of tennis was developed between 1859 and 1865 by Harry Gem and his friend Augurio Perera at Perera's house in Edgbaston, with the Edgbaston Archery and Lawn Tennis Society remaining the oldest tennis club in the world. The Birmingham and District Cricket League is the oldest cricket league in the world, and Birmingham was the host for the first ever Cricket World Cup, a Women's Cricket World Cup in 1973. Birmingham was the first city to be named National City of Sport by the Sports Council. Birmingham was selected ahead of London and Manchester to bid for the 1992 Summer Olympics, but was unsuccessful in the final selection process, which was won by Barcelona.

Today the city is home of two of the country's oldest professional football teams: Aston Villa F.C., who was founded in 1874 and still play at Villa Park; and Birmingham City F.C., who was founded in 1875 and still play at St Andrew's. Rivalry between the clubs is fierce and the fixture between the two is called the Second City derby. Villa currently play in the Premier League and have been League champions on seven occasions and European Champions in 1982. Blues (Birmingham City) currently play in the Championship, the second tier of English football. Another Premier League club, West Bromwich Albion F.C., play just outside the city boundaries at The Hawthorns.

Food and drink

Birmingham's development as a commercial town was originally based around its market for agricultural produce, established by royal charter in 1166. Despite the industrialisation of subsequent centuries this role has been retained and the Birmingham Wholesale Markets remain the largest combined wholesale food markets in the country, selling meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and flowers and supplying fresh produce to restauranteurs and independent retailers from as far as 100 miles away.

Birmingham is the only English city outside London to have three Michelin starred restaurants: Simpson's in Edgbaston, Turners in Harborne and Purnell's in the city centre.

Birmingham based breweries included Ansells, Davenport's and Mitchells & Butlers. Aston Manor Brewery is currently the only brewery of any significant size. Many fine Victorian pubs and bars can still be found across the city, whilst there is also a plethora of more modern nightclubs and bars, notably along Broad Street.

The Wing Yip food empire first began in the city and now has its headquarters in Nechells. The Balti, a type of curry, was invented in the city, which has received much acclaim for the 'Balti Belt' or 'Balti Triangle'. Famous food brands that originated in Birmingham include Typhoo tea, Bird's Custard, Cadbury's chocolate and HP Sauce.
Sitemap: Contact Details:
Prestige Properties
527 Bristol Road,
Selly Oak,
Birmingham
B29 6AU

Tel:0121 471 1924
Email:info@prestigeproperties.uk.com
Out of office hours:07405903447
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