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Program 112
Birmingham, EnglandHighlightsLocation

Sometimes called Britain's "second city," covering an area of over 100 square miles with 1,300 miles of road, Birmingham is home to more than a million people, affectionately known as "Brummies." Conveniently, Birmingham is equidistant from the major cities and ports of Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and London. A place of impressive buildings and large-scale enterprises, Birmingham is constantly re-inventing itself as a city. In recent years squares have been rejuvenated and walkways created, linking up with arts, sports and convention centers throughout the city.

But at one time, Birmingham was more widely known as the "workshop of the world." In the year 1888 alone, the workers of Birmingham manufactured 8,000 guns; 6,000,000 coins; 20,000,000 pens; and 25,000 pairs of spectacles.

One of the city's early pioneers was Matthew Boulton, who inherited his family's metal-working business and in 1762 set up his "manufactory" to produce fine silverware and other products. Boulton's home, Soho House, was a meeting place for a group of brilliant innovators—the leading scientists, engineers and thinkers of the time. The Lunar Society, whose members included potter Josiah Wedgwood and steam engineer James Watt, met at Soho House every month at the time of the full moon to discuss their industrial plans and ideas. At the end of each session, the full moon would light their way home.

Today, Birmingham is also an important center of learning within the UK. Founded by the citizens of Birmingham and granted its Royal Charter in 1900, the University of Birmingham has grown into a world-class institution with a fulltime enrollment of over 17,500 students. As industry and commerce began to flourish in the English Midlands at the beginning of the 20th century, Birmingham needed a university that could train its people in the increasingly important skills of science and industry.

The spectacular Great Hall was officially opened in 1909 by King Edward VII as the symbolic and ceremonial heart of the university. Along with the campus' other original buildings, the Great Hall was designed at the turn of the 20th century by famed English architect Sir Aston Webb. Among other designs for which Webb gained renown, sites in London include the eastern fašade of Buckingham Palace, the Admiralty Arch on the Mall, and a large section of frontage for the Victoria & Albert Museum. One of the Great Hall's foremost features is the immense stained-glass window that overlooks the stage, and its marble foyer, now complete with painted dome ceiling, is also impressive.

Over the years the Great Hall has been the site of many lectures, concerts, balls, operas, and commencement exercises. And now, following our visit to Birmingham, those magnificent surroundings have also seen the likes of the ANTIQUES ROADSHOW UK.

To learn more about Birmingham and its university, visit:


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