10 fascinating Birmingham facts that may surprise you

We all like to read intriguing tidbits about the city in which we live so we have put together a list for you to enjoy

So you think you already know everything about our historic and vibrant city of Birmingham? Well, read on and we might just surprise you

1) Birmingham inspired iconic film series

Peaky Blinders may be flying the flag for the city on national television but the inspiration for one of the most famous film franchises in the world came from Birmingham.

JRR Tolkien, the author of the The Lord of the Rings, which was turned into an Oscar-winning film trilogy, grew up in Birmingham. During 1895 to 1911, Tolkien lived in nine homes in the south of the city, including King’s Heath.

He also spent a lot of time in Hall Green, where Moseley Bog and Sarehole Mill would go on to provide the inspiration for the iconic series.

Moseley Bog

2) More canals than Venice

This one sounds pretty ludicrous, but yes, Birmingham does in fact have more canals running through it than the prestigious Italian town. Venice has 26 miles of canal while Birmingham has 35 miles.

According to the city council, most of these canals were built in the 1700s and 1800s and at its height, the Birmingham Canal Navigation had more than 170 miles of them.

As the industry declined, over the years canals fell into disrepair. However, many have since been restored and their surroundings improved with modern developments for the locals and tourists to enjoy.

Library of Birmingham

3) The largest public library in Europe

Another accolade for the city is that it is the home of Europe’s biggest public library.

The library is situated on the west side of the city centre at Centenary Square and houses an impressive collection of rare books as well as archives and photography.

Birmingham’s library is also home to one of the largest Shakespeare collections in the world and the famous Shakespeare Memorial Room, dating from the Victorian era.

Costing £188 million, the library was opened in 2013 by Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist and youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Malala opened the library in her adopted home city of Birmingham less than a year after she was shot by the Taliban for championing the right of girls to an education.

4) The world’s first Odeon cinema opened in Birmingham

Despite being one of the biggest cinema brands in Europe, not many people will know that the first cinema to use the Odeon brand name was opened in Perry Barr in 1930 by Oscar Deutsch.

Technically, the first Odeon cinema was opened by Deutsch in 1928, in Brierley Hill, Staffordshire although it was initially called Picture House.

Saving Grace, starring Robert Plant, was one of the many tops acts billed to perform at the festival.

5) Robert Plant is a huge Wolverhampton Wanderers fan

Birmingham has always had a vibrant music scene with an impressive music heritage. But it’s not just Ozzy Osbourne’s band Black Sabbath who hail from the West Midlands. Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant was born in West Bromwich and supports his hometown’s local rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The Stairway to Heaven singer has previously described how his father took him to Molineux when he was just five-years-old and how he was hooked from that moment.

Plant has frequently been spotted in and among the crowd at Molineux over the years, and he even performed at the club’s end of season dinner in 2018 after Wolves secured promotion to the Premier League.

6) The birthplace of the Balti

Birmingham holds the proud accolade of being the birthplace of the Birmingham Balti.

Although sources suggest it originates from Baltistan in northern Pakistan, the Balti is said to have been invented during the 1970s when Birmingham’s Pakistani residents created he late 70s, when curry chefs started to make their dishes healthier and served faster to suit Western tastes.

Is it also claimed that that it was first served in Birmingham 1977 in a restaurant called Adil’s, which was located in Stoney Lane, Sparkbrook,

Birmingham skyline

7) The youngest city in Europe

Birmingham is a great place to live and work for youngsters and our city has the youngest on the continent, with under-25s accounting for nearly 40% of our population.

8) Thomas the Tank Engine was created Birmingham

Many people may not be aware that the popular children’s character Thomas the Tank Engine was actually created in Birmingham.

The Reverend Wilbert Awdry, who was reverend at St Nicholas’ Church in Kings Norton, developed the first of the Thomas stories while Curate at the church during World War 2.

Incredibly, although the stories were initially dreamed up Mr Awdry just to cheer up his poorly son, his creation has since been transformed into a £1 billion-a-year industry and the books are are read in more than 120 countries.

Cluedo Liars Edition. Ages 8 years & up. RRP: £21.99. Sometimes you have to lie to get to the truth in the CLUEDO LIARS Edition board game where players use Investigation cards to help them figure out who killed MR. BODDY in the mansion.

9) Cluedo was invented in Birmingham

It’s clear by this point that Birmingham is a city that can inspire creativity, and Anthony Pratt was another whose creative juices started flowing in the West Midlands. Mr Pratt created the famous board game while working in a wartime tank factory in Birmingham while he was living in Kings Heath.

Pratt originally named the game Murder!  and he and his Pratt his wife, Elva, who had helped design the game, presented it to Waddingtons’ - a manufacturer of card and board games - which immediately purchased it and provided its trademark name of Cluedo.

There is even a plaque up on the wall of the house on Brighton Road where Mr Platt lived.

Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham

10) Birmingham’s trophy making history

One of the main things Birmingham is famous for is the historic Jewellery Quarter, where 40 per cent of all jewellery in the UK is produced – the highest concentration in Europe.

But it’s a little known fact that both of the Wimbledon men’s and ladies’ singles trophies were made in Birmingham in the 19th Century.

A firm in the city’s Jewellery Quarter, P Vaughton and Sons, also had to make an exact replica of the FA Cup trophy in 1895 after Aston Villa managed to lose the prestigious trophy after it was stolen.

The Birmingham-made FA Cup remained in service until 1910, and It is now on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester.10 fascinating facts about Birmingham you need to know

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