60 Fun & Interesting Facts about Birmingham, England

Birmingham is one of the largest and most culturally/historically significant cities in England and the UK. Have you ever wondered what exactly Birmingham is known for?

In this article, you’ll learn 60 fun facts about Birmingham. These are separated into general facts, random interesting facts, and finally historical Birmingham facts.

General Birmingham Facts

  • Birmingham is the second-largest city in the UK after London.
  • It is both a city and a metropolitan borough in West Midlands county, one of the country’s 83 counties.
Birmingham flag
The flag of the city of Birmingham
  • Birmingham got its name from the old English word “Beormingaham,” which means the settlement of Biormingas. They were the people of a tribe called Beorma.
  • English is the primary language in Birmingham, spoken by around 85 per cent of the population.
  • Around 2,900,000 people live in Birmingham city, with 3,600,000 in the metropolitan area.
  • A person from Birmingham is referred to as a Brummie. This is also the name of the English dialect spoken there.
  • Since Birmingham is located almost right in the middle of England, you can travel to pretty much anywhere in the country from there in 4 hours or less.
Three red phone booths on a street in Birmingham
Classic British phone booths in Birmingham
  • Birmingham is about 160 km (100 mi) northwest of downtown London.
  • Birmingham is often referred to as the “second city of the UK.”
  • Birmingham considered the youngest city in Europe, as 40 per cent of its population are younger than 25 years.
  • With five major universities, Birmingham is considered an important center of education.
Exterior of an old building at Birmingham University
Margaret Street Campus of Birmingham City University
  • Birmingham has seven sister cities, including Chicago (USA), Guangzhou (China), Lyon (France), and Milan (Italy).
  • In 2012, The New York Times magazine listed Birmingham as one of the world’s top 20 places to visit.

Random Interesting Facts About Birmingham

  • Birmingham is one of the UK’s greenest cities. With more than 8,000 acres of parks. That’s more space than 1300 Colosseums from Rome combined.
  • Birmingham has more than 56 km (35 mi) of canals. To put this into perspective, the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, is 0.5 miles high. So Birmingham has more distance covered by canals than 65 Burj Khalifas put together! That’s even more than Venice, the city of canals.
A canal in a residential neighborhood in Birmingham
Birmingham is famous for its canals.
  • Birmingham has been called the “home of heavy metal,” producing pioneering bands such as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest.
  • Other famous bands from Birmingham include Duran Duran, UB40, Electric Light Orchestra, the Streets, the Beat, and GBH.
  • Birmingham started the first football league in the world, as the FA Cup was created there.
Exterior of the Birmingham Library
The Library of Birmingham is one of the largest in Europe.
  • Birmingham has the largest regional library and public cultural space in Europe, the Library of Birmingham. It receives around 2.5 million visitors per year.
  • The oldest working cinema in the United Kingdom, the Electric Cinema, is in Birmingham city.
  • Over 500,000 people visit Birmingham Hippodrome every year. That’s the capacity of five large football stadiums, making it the UK’s busiest theatre.
  • Forty percent of the UK’s jewelry is produced in Birmingham. That’s 435,200,000 pounds worth of jewelry a year!
  • The world’s largest urban park that is not in a capital city, Sutton Park, is located in Birmingham. It covers over 2400 acres and is the 7th largest park in Europe.
A tree in Sutton Park, Birmingham
Enormous Sutton Park
  • The World’s first hole-in-the-heart surgery was done in 1950 in Birmingham’s Children Hospital.
  • Matthew Boulton (1728–1809), an industrial pioneer from Birmingham, financed the first steam engine. Today he is featured on the UK’s £50 note.
  • Birmingham soup, an historical local dish, was invented back in 1793 by Matthew Boulton. It consisted of stewed beef and vegetables. Today there are modern versions of it.
  • The world-famous ship, the Titanic, had its anchor made in Black Country northwest of Birmingham. The world’s first steam engine was also constructed there.
A black and white image of the Titanic.
The titanic’s anchor was made in Birmingham.
  • Augorio Perera and Harry Gem are said to have played the first ever game of lawn tennis at a Spanish merchant’s house in Birmingham.
  • With seven Michelin Star restaurants in the city, Birmingham has the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants outside of London in the United Kingdom.
  • Throughout the history of Birmingham, there have been numerous festivals dedicated to food. In 1250, a three-day celebration held by William De Birmingham was solely devoted to food.
  • Today, Birmingham hosts over 50 festivals every year.
A cake covered in strawberries and blueberries
Birmingham has the world’s largest cake festival.
  • Despite now being owned by the American Company Hasbro, the six-player murder mystery game Cluedo was invented in Birmingham by Anthony E. Pratt in 1943.
  • Famous movies filmed in Birmingham include Ready Player One, American Assassin, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of The Rings, lived in Moseley, south Birmingham. People and places from there inspired the successful trilogy.
Old buildings of Birmingham's Cadbury World
Cadbury World in Birmingham
  • The world’s biggest collection of pre-Raphaelite paintings lies in the Birmingham Museum.

Historical Facts About Birmingham

  • Stone age artifacts found around Birmingham date back as early as 8000 BC.
Exterior of Selly Manor Museum
Selly Manor in Birmingham dates back over 500 years.
  • Birmingham was the third-largest town in Warwickshire by the mid-14th century, and it stayed that way for the following 200 years.
  • By 1700, Birmingham’s population had increased 15 times, making it the fifth largest town in both England and Wales.
  • The first coke-fueled blast furnace was built by Abraham Darby, who trained in Birmingham, in 1709.
  • Birmingham had over three times more patents than any British city between 1760 and 1850.
An old brick bridge over a canal in Birmingham
Old brick bridge over a Birmingham canal
  • Birmingham chemist Joseph Priestly discovered oxygen in 1774.
  • The Soho Manufactory, built in 1761 by Matthew Boulton in Birmingham, was the biggest factory in Europe at the time.
  • In 1765, Lloyds Bank was founded in Birmingham. It remains one of the largest banks in the UK today.
  • Birmingham’s famous canal system started being constructed in 1820.
  • During the Victorian era, Birmingham’s population became the second largest in England, with over 60,000 people.
Exterior of a brick building in Birmingham
Old brick building in the jewelry quarter
  • Newhall Hill, a street in Birmingham, hosted the biggest political assemblies Britain had ever seen in both 1831 and 1832.
  • In 1838, Birmingham was the terminus for the Grand Junction Railway and the London and Birmingham railway. At the time, they were the world’s first long-distance railway lines.
  • In 1875, three-quarters of all pen nibs (the part of the pen that is dipped into ink and touches the surface of paper) in the world were made in Bermingham.
  • In 1940, physicists Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls envisioned the construction of the first nuclear weapon in Birmingham. 
Exterior of Birmingham Cathedral (St. Philip's Cathedral)
Birmingham Cathedral dates to 1715.
  • During WWII, the city of Birmingham suffered heavy bombing by the German Luftwaffe in an operation named Birmingham Blitz.
  • Until late 1970, household income in Birmingham exceeded all British cities, including London. As a result, Birmingham was considered Britain’s most prosperous city.
  • In 1974, the “Birmingham 6” were accused of setting off a series of bombs in the city, killing 21 people. After 16 years in prison, they were released, with many believing them to be innocent and trial unfair.
  • Birmingham hosted the 24th G8 summit in 1998.
  • The metro line from Birmingham to Wolverhampton began running in 1999.