A Brief History of Birmingham

The earliest signs of a settlement in Birmingham date back to the Bronze Age. The current city has its origins in an Anglo-Saxon development of 700 AD; however the city grew to prominence in the industrial revolution. Birmingham has long been associated with trade and manufacturing and this has been the key reason for its growth.

Birmingham’s market place was central to its growth. Traders flocked to the market and it soon developed a reputation as one of the leading trading places in the area. Manufacturing grew alongside this, focusing initially on cloth and metal goods. However, in later years the city became particularly well known for its iron and metalworking, developing a reputation for quality goods.

Birmingham merchants were innovators:  one of the first instances of mass-produced goods occurred in a Birmingham toy factory. However, it was the harnessing of developing technology which allowed the city to really boom.

The city was one of the first to use canals to transport goods. The ability to move heavy goods easily to London and the ports really opened trade opportunities and new markets for Birmingham merchants. For the first time they could easily transport heavy metal goods around the world cheaply and easily. The resulting growth in the city meant that it was also one of the first to have train links.

As the city grew in prosperity, it also developed facilities and amenities to match. Parks were built, as were an art gallery, a museum, libraries and entertainment venues. Some of Birmingham’s most significant buildings were created in this age of prosperity, including the elaborate university buildings.
Birmingham’s links with transport continued, and it became home to Britain’s motor industry. The city was also of major importance during the world wars. In World War I it was a major producer or machine guns, while in World War II the city became the centre of the aircraft industry. Many of the hurricanes and spitfires were built in Birmingham, and as such it became a prime target for German bombing raids.

After the war Birmingham was quick to welcome the new wave of Caribbean and Asian immigrants. The resulting change in demographics to a mixed race city also led to it becoming a strong multi-cultural centre.

After the war damage inflicted on the city, the rebuilding was very concrete and utilitarian. However, things have changed during the past few decades, and the city centre has been rejuvenated with projects such as the Bullring shopping centre.

This regeneration is also linked with changing the face of business in Birmingham from manufacturing. Two projects which illustrate this are the Birmingham Business Park and the Eastside Locks Business Park. The Birmingham Business Park was established 20 years ago in the Solihull area as out of town offices in Birmingham. The park is occupied by some major businesses, which are attracted by the excellent facilities, beautiful landscaped gardens and modern office space.

Eastside Locks Business Park also provides Birmingham office space and is one of the largest regeneration schemes within walking distance of a city centre in the UK, intended for mixed use.

Birmingham is an innovative city built on business and this continues to be seen today.

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