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Birmingham History!


Anglo-Saxon
Birmingham has a recorded history going back 1,000 years. In this time, it has grown from a tiny Anglo-Saxon farming village into a major industrial and commercial city. The Birmingham area was occupied in Roman times, with several military roads and a large fort. Birmingham started life as a small Anglo-Saxon hamlet in the Early Middle Ages. It was first recorded in written documents by the Domesday Book of 1086 as a small village, worth only 20 shillings. In the 12th century, Birmingham was granted a charter to hold a market, which in time became known as the Bull Ring. As a convenient location for trade, Birmingham soon developed into a small but thriving market town. By the 16th century, Birmingham's access to supplies of iron ore and coal meant that metalworking industries became established. In the 17th century Birmingham became an important manufacturing town with a reputation for producing small arms. Birmingham manufacturers supplied Oliver Cromwell's forces with much of their weaponry during the English Civil War. Arms manufacture in Birmingham became a staple trade and was concentrated in the area known as the Gun Quarter.

Industrial Revolution
During the Industrial Revolution (from the mid 18th century onwards), Birmingham grew rapidly into a major industrial centre. Unlike many other English industrial cities such as Manchester, industry in Birmingham was based upon small workshops rather than large factories or mills. The Birmingham Canal Navigations between the International Convention Centre (left) and Brindleyplace (right) in central Birmingham. The Birmingham Canal Navigations between the International Convention Centre (left) and Brindleyplace (right) in central Birmingham.
From the 1760s onwards, a large network of canals were built across Birmingham and the Black Country, to transport raw materials and finished goods. By the 1820s an extensive canal system had been constructed; Birmingham is often described as having more miles of canals than Venice. Railways arrived in Birmingham in 1837, with the opening of the Grand Junction Railway and later the London and Birmingham Railway the railways soon linked Birmingham to every corner of Britain. New Street Station was opened as a joint station in 1854; this was soon followed by the Great Western Railway's Snow Hill station. During the Victorian era, the population of Birmingham grew rapidly to well over half a million and Birmingham became the second largest population centre in England and the third in Britain after Glasgow and then London. Birmingham's importance led to it being granted city status in 1889 by Queen Victoria. The city built its own university in 1900, The University of Birmingham, which became the first of Britain's Redbrick universities.

20th century
Birmingham was originally part of Warwickshire, however the city expanded in the late 19th and early 20th century, absorbing parts of Worcestershire to the south and Staffordshire to the west. The city absorbed Sutton Coldfield in 1974, and at the same time became part of the new West Midlands county. Birmingham suffered heavy bomb damage during World War II during the Birmingham Blitz, and partly as a result of this the city centre was extensively re-developed during the 1950s and 1960s, with many concrete office buildings, ring-roads, and now much-derided pedestrian subways. As a result, Birmingham gained a reputation for ugliness and was frequently described as a "concrete jungle". In recent years however, Birmingham has been transformed, the city centre has been extensively renovated and restored with the construction of new squares, the restoration of old streets, buildings and canals, the removal of the pedestrian subways, and the demolition and subsequent redevelopment of the Bull Ring shopping centre, which now includes the architecturally unique Selfridges building. In the decades following World War II, the face of Birmingham changed dramatically, with large scale immigration from the Commonwealth of Nations and beyond. Birmingham's transition from an industrial centre to a tourism and services economy is best illustrated by the hosting of the first official summit of the G8 at the International Convention Centre (May 15 to May 17, 1998).