Birmingham is a special city, make no mistake about it. We all know about the accent, the curries and the Villa, but what of those less-known facts about the Workplace of the World? Here are 10 things you might not have known about Brum, starting with one the world’s most important creations.
1. The Home of Chocolate
Birmingham is largely considered to be the home of chocolate, which makes it a must-visit in our books. Cadbury’s began production of the good stuff here way back in 1824, and it is believed that a visit to the factory inspired Roald Dahl to write ‘Charlie & the Chocolate Factory’ in 1964.
2. The Largest Public Library Going
This is a city famous for its artists, so it might not be a huge surprise to find the largest public library in the United Kingdom here. The Library of Birmingham was opened in 2013 and has been heralded as the largest cultural space in Europe. It also happens to be one of the most architecturally intriguing.
3. City of Youth
Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe, with some 40% of its population having the luxury of being under 25 years old. For the record, that is around 454,840 young people.
4. Nature, Nature, Everywhere
Brumagem doesn’t get mentioned in the same breath as Venice and Paris too often, but it might just be about time that changed. The city has more miles of canals than Venice (35m to the Italian charmer’s 25) and more green areas than Paris. Does that mean that ‘Birmingham’ is the answer to the ‘Venice + Paris = ?’ equation? Yes, yes it does.
5. But Very Far From the Sea
Birmingham is the farthest city from the sea, in the UK at least, although that sort of depends on how you define ‘sea’. Coton in the Elms (Derbyshire) is the furthest town from the sea, but this is a village, and big ol’ Brum takes the cake on the city front. Still, the train from Brum to Aberystwyth only takes a couple of hours…
6. A Tolkien of Inspiration
‘The Lord of the Rings’ is probably the most famous fantasy novel since The Bible, and it is a little known fact that J.R.R.Tolkien spent much of his youth in and around the Birmingham area. Was The Hobbit based on Moseley Bog? Take a visit and see for yourself.
7. The Start of League Football
It might be ubiquitous today, but there was a time when association football was very much an outsider’s game. The first official league was established in the Midlands in 1888, and included 12 teams from the area. Preston North End were the first champions.
8. Home of Thomas the Tank Engine
Okay, the home of Thomas the Tank Engine was obviously the Island of Sodor, but it was while living in Birmingham that Rev. W. Awdry conceived the anthropomorphic trains that made him famous. The stories came together when his son was in bed with measles, for the record.
9. Anyone for Tennis?
Wimbledon might get the headlines for being the home of tennis, but the sport was actually first officially played in Birmingham, way back in the 1850s.
10. A City of Invention
Birmingham has always been considered a wildly creative city, so it is no great shock to hear of a plethora of inventions to come from Brum. Photocopiers, whistles, vacuum cleaners, windscreen wipers, pacemakers, the list goes on and on and on.