Birmingham City Guide

by Jose Marc Castro on August 18, 2008

UKflag200Birmingham is a city in the West Midlands part of England that is regarded as the second city of the U.K. One of the largest of England’s cities, Birmingham was estimated to have a population of 1,006,500 residents in 2006.The city boundaries of Birmingham encompasses several surrounding neighboring towns and cities, among them Wolverhampton, Solihull, and certain sections of the Black Country. A large part of the world’s perception of Birmingham stems from its role in driving the Industrial Revolution in Britain, which led to the city being called “the workshop of the world”. The city was one of the foremost cities during the Industrial Revolution as it was also known as “the city of a thousand trades”.

Today, Birmingham is much less of an industrial city and it instead has started to gain prominence as a major center of trade and business in the country. It is now considered by many industry observers to be one of the best places in the U.K. in which to establish a business.

The city has earned a reputation from being inner city in a post at the Britain Expat Forum last November 4, 2008:

Forgive me for saying, but thats a bit of an overstatement.

I lived in the Greater Birmingham area for 25 years or so and never witnessed or experienced anything that you would call serious crime. Birmingham of course is the UK’s second city. I’m not disputing that it happens, but certainly I have never wandered the streets of Birmingham being fearful for my safety.

Residential Places in Birmingham

Traditionally, Birmingham is not what you would normally think of as an ideal place to live in. That perception is beginning to change however, and today some parts of the city are proving to be quite respectable residential areas. In fact, the Bournville district–which is located on the outskirts of Birmingham–has recently been named the best place to live in the U.K.Bournville is a large suburb measuring about 1,000 acres and is dotted with lush gardens all over. There are currently about 7,800 homes in the area, with 120 acres of open space, so there is absolutely no reason why you should feel crowded.

The city has been divided into districts such as Moseley, Saltley and Hockley which are prime locations.

To give you an idea of the prices that you would normally expect to pay in Birmingham, a 3-bedroom family home in the south section recently listed for £750 a month, the price of which included a garden, a patio on the balcony, high speed internet connection, wireless network, a TV, and even a newly renovated modern kitchen.

Living in the city has been described in a post at the Britain Expat Forum last January 6, 2009:

i don’t think any parts of the UK are particularly bad….only inner city areas in the larger cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester etc. I think both the North and South of England have a lot going for it.

Hospitals and Universities of Birmingham

Some of the more reputable hospitals in Birmingham are the Birmingham Children’s Hospital at Steelhouse Lane, with telephone number 0121 333 9999, the Heartlands Hospital (formerly known as the East Birmingham Hospital) at Bordeseley Green, with telephone number 0121 424 2000, Birmingham Women’s Hospital at Metchley Park Road, with telephone number 0121 472 1377, City Hospital (formerly known as Dudley Road Hospital) at Dudley Road, with telephone number 0121 554 3801, and Good Hope Hospital at Rectory Road in Sutton, with telephone number 0121 378 2211. Some other hospitals in the city are the Birmingham Dental Hospital, The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, West Heath Hospital, Moseley Hall Hospital, Selly Oak Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital, The Priory Hospital and The Birmingham Nuffield Hospital.

The city is home to centers of excellence in the realm of higher education. These include the University of Birmingham, Aston University and Birmingham City University. There are two university colleges, the Newman University College and the University College Birmingham. Other institutions in the city include the Birmingham Conservatoire and the Birmingham School of Acting.

Commercial Places in Birmingham

Birmingham has evolved into a surprisingly diverse and multi-cultural town in recent years, and this fact is made all the more apparent by the sheer number of restaurants and various other food establishments all over the city. Today, you can find anything from sophisticated pavement cafés and classy fine dining restaurants to more traditional food shops in the city, all of which are indicative of the diversity and broad range of Birmingham’s inhabitants. Chez Jules is worth a visit for simple yet elegant French cuisine that is served in an informal setting. Open for lunch and dinner, Chez Jules is a great place to bring a few friends or even for solo dining. The oddly named Bank is arguably one of the more interesting restaurants in the city, with its menu of imaginative dishes arranged with a decidedly quirky twist. Located at Brindleyplace in the center of Birmingham, Bank’s extensive selection of Martinis and fresh fruit Daiquiris are a must try.

Renowned Shopping Areas

Shopping is just as much a rewarding an experience in Birmingham, with the city having been recognized in 2004 as the third best city in the U.K. to shop in. The Jewellery Quarter is the place to go to for custom made jewelry or even just browsing through the more than 500 jewelry stores. For a more esoteric shopping experience, the Custard Factory in Digbeth is where you can find anything you can possibly need, from old records and sports equipment to house ware and even the odd bit of fashionable apparel.

Other establishments include the Brindleyplace, the Bullring Shopping Center, The Cube, The Mailbox and the National Indoor Arena. There is also the Star City entertainment complex while the nightlife is centered around Broad Street with its many pubs, bars and habitiues.

Service Establishments of Birmingham

A number of companies supply gas to the Birmingham area, among them: Brita Gas, at Bannerley Road, which you can call at 0121 7840544, Gas & Chemicals at Unit 4, Lime Grove, Balsall Heath, which you can call at 0121 4400088, Blue Gas at 703 College Road, which you can call at 0121 3733165, Multi Utility Services at 63 Bishops Wy, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, which you can call at 0121 3233666, and Lister at Unit 6 Western Way Industrial Estate, which you can call at 0121 5061818.

For water supply services, you can contact Midland Water Systems Ltd at Unit 8 Oakleigh Trading Estate Anchor Road, Bilston, West Midlands. You can also call them at 01902 405550.

Embassies in Birmingham

Most of the embassies and consular offices of foreign countries in the U.K. can be found in London, the capital city. There are two consular offices that can be found in Birmingham however: the Indian Consulate and the Dutch Consulate. The Indian Consulate can be found in 20 Augusta Street, Jewellery Quarter, Hockley, and the Dutch Consulate can be found in West Wing, TriGate, 210-222 Hagley Road West, Oldbury.

d in 20 Augusta Street, Jewellery Quarter, Hockley, and the Dutch Consulate can be found in West Wing, TriGate, 210-222 Hagley Road West, Oldbury.

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