10 Fascinating Facts about Birmingham
Friendly Birmingham, the UK’s self-professed second city. Birthplace of the nation’s favourite chocolates and short folk with rings. Here a few fascinating facts about humble Brum:
England’s very own Venice
Fancy a trip on a gondola? Forget Venice, head to Brum. Birmingham has more canals than the iconic Italian city, with over 56km of waterways spanning across the urban areas.
Forget Paris, too…
There is really no need for a European escape when you swing by Birmingham. Brum is one of the cities with the most greenspaces in Europe, with over 600 public parks, which is more than the French capital.
Take to the tennis courts
Birmingham is the ancestral home of tennis. The sport, in its modern guise, was created on a croquet lawn in Edgbaston by Harry Gem and Augurio Perera by combining elements of other racquet sports with Spanish pelota.
Or get an x-ray
Humble Brum is also the birthplace of the medical x-ray, with the first ever being taken here by one John Hall-Edwards. The Birmingham Hospital Radiographer used the new and mysterious technique to x-ray a colleague’s hand. Hall-Edwards’ keen use of the x-ray method would be his end however, with radiation contributing to a cancer that cost him his left arm, and eventually his life. Hall-Edwards’ radiated hand is still held by Birmingham University Museum, as part of its exhibit on the dangers of radiation poisoning.
Rock out to heavy metal
Don that leather jacket vest and start moshing. Clearly Birmingham is the birthplace of all sorts, including not least heavy metal. Pioneers of the rock genre, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath can all trace their roots back to the dingy clubs and music halls of this Midlands city. Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi famously lost the tips of his fingers working in a local factory. Replacing the stubs with metal caps, the added protection would contribute to Sabbath’s iconic sound.
Birmingham is a foodie’s favourite
Many of the UK’s favourite food brands had their origins on these streets: Cadbury, Bourneville Chocolate, HP Sauce and Typhoo Tea all began in this city.
Speaking of food…
The city has the most Michelin-starred restaurants outside London, with four inside the city centre alone. Birmingham is good for a curry too, with over 100 Indian curryhouses whipping up delicious grub across the city. And veggies and vegans are absolutely catered for.
Book lovers rejoice
Birmingham’s massive public library, the Library of Birmingham, is the largest in the nation and was the 10th most visited public attraction in the country back in 2014. There are supposedly over 800,000 books inside, which is enough to keep generations of families busy for centuries.
The Lord of the Rings
The nearby Sarehole Hill served as inspiration for the lands of the Shire in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Esteemed author J.R.R. Tolkien was a local lad who spent much of his childhood in the area, having moved at the age of four from South Africa.
Scottish inventor James Watt, from whose name comes the measurement of power, also founded the idea of horsepower and early iterations of the steam engine design in this fair city.
All Photos: Shutterstock
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