The UK’s second biggest city certainly has a lot to offer with its huge retail centres, nightlife and plentiful green spaces. If you have read my first blog post, you might remember that one of my things to advise my first year self was to explore Birmingham and the local area. Today you’ll be able to read some less-known quirky, interesting and crazy facts about Brum which can inspire you to get out there and explore!
If you were born and bred in Birmingham, you might already know about some of Brum’s best kept secrets. However if you are an international student, or based elsewhere in the UK, some of the facts below might just take your breath away.
So, whatever you’re doing now, take a break, have a nice cuppa and take some time to learn something new about this thriving city.
Here are some of the interesting facts:
1. 90% of the UK is within 4 hours from Birmingham.
2. Brum has more miles of canals than Venice, with 100 miles of canal navigations. Also, you might not know that the boats which you can see navigating the canals are not just boats – but home for many people!
3. The anchor of the Titanic was made in the Black Country – an area of the West Midlands, west of Birmingham covering the four metropolitan boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
4. Heavy metal has a Birmingham address. The city is the birthplace of bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Led Zeppelin. There is a bridge on Broad Street named in honour of Black Sabbath, have you seen it before?
5. The game of tennis was invented on a lawn in Edgbaston in 1859.
6. Sutton Park is also one of the largest urban parks in Europe. It is a National Nature Reserve where you can enjoy heathland, woodland and lakes along with cycling, bird-watching and golf!
7. The 22nd National Curry Week took place from 5th to 11th October this year, and you might just be in the right city to celebrate! There are more than 100 balti houses in the city, and the world-famous Balti Triangle attracts in excess of 20,000 visitors a week.
8. Birmingham’s Bullring is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe and has been ‘’the place to shop’’ since the Middle Ages, hosting markets since the 12th century! Today, it’s the third most popular place to shop in the UK.
9. St Chad’s Cathedral was designed by the same architect who designed Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London, Augustus Pugin. How cool is that?
10. The city’s St Patrick’s Day parade is the third biggest in the world behind New York and Dublin. It is estimated that around 150,000 people march through the city centre streets each year! Perhaps this is no surprise, as Brum is said to have the largest Irish population in the UK, and is home to the UK’s only Irish Quarter situated in Digbeth.
11. The first street in Birmingham to have gas street lighting became known as Gas Street in 1818.
12. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are based on places and people in Moseley, where the author J.R.R. Tolkien lived. ‘The Shire’, home to the Hobbits, was inspired by the fields and mill at Sarehole, a village now absorbed into Birmingham’s suburbs. Still clearly visible inspirations today are Perrott’s Folly and the Waterworks Tower in Edgbaston, along with the University of Birmingham’s illuminated clock tower!
So, there it is! These are just a couple of interesting facts to add to the many thousands which already prove that Birmingham, with its diverse culture and rich history, is a great place to live and work. Hopefully, you learned something new today and got some inspiration to explore Brum!
Thanks for reading!