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
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 innovatorsthe 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: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk.