join us on facebook
Search our site
Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner Read the opening extract of the brand new Susie Steiner book before its publication on 05/04/2018

A History of Birmingham by Chris Upton


A History of Birmingham by Chris Upton

Birmingham was a village worth only one pound in the Domesday Survey, yet it rose to become the second city of the British Empire with a population that passed a million. Its growth began when Peter de Birmingham obtained a market charter in 1154 for his little settlement by an insignificant river, with all roads leading to its all-important market-place, the great triangular Bull Ring, with the parish church of St Martin's in the middle. In the succeeding centuries, Birmingham has been a product of market forces, as a market of agriculture, trade and metal work. By the 18th century, Birmingham overtook Coventry as the biggest town in Warwickshire and by 1800 it was 'the toy shop of Europe', having cornered the markets for gun-making, jewellery, buttons and buckles with a bewildering variety of specialist craftsmen and traders. The factory system had already begun and men like James Watt, Matthew Boulton, Joseph Priestley and William Murdock made Birmingham the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution, selling their wares in vast quantities to the entire world. The middle of the 19th century saw Birmingham pioneering political reform, education and municipal government. In this first single-volume history of the city for half a century, Dr Upton looks at why Birmingham grew and what it has become. It has always been a place in which to experiment, from the steam engine to the factory in a garden; from the Bull Ring to Spaghetti Junction. To some, the story of Birmingham is one of great industries: Boulton and Watt, Dunlop, Cadbury's, G.K.N., Lloyd's Bank and Austin Rover. But there are many lesser known tales: of the Bull Ring Riots, the Onion Fair, the first floodlit football matches and the tripe sellers. It is a story of communities, too. The Quakers settles in the 17th century, the Irish and Italians in the 19th and, more recently, people from the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent, China and Vietnam have all made Birmingham their home. As Birmingham makes it marks on the map of Europe again, one thing is certain... the story of the city that brought us Joseph and Neville Chamberlain, Thomas the Tank Engine, Fu Manchu and Mendelssohn's Elijah can hardly be dull. Chris Upton's lively account ensures that Birmingham's fascinating story loses nothing in telling.

About the Author

Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

1st May 2011


Chris Upton

More books by Chris Upton
Author 'Like for Like'


Phillimore & Co Ltd an imprint of The History Press Ltd


232 pages


Local history



Lovereading is a world of books. It has everything you need from new to old and much loved classic books. It even give you recommendations!

Kate Thurston

Its jam packed with fantastic titles, informative descriptions & fantastic reviews and has a vast array of great features & competitions.

Linda Rollins

Lovereading is an amazing place to be, the website is wonderful and to me if I'm sad I'll go here and it cheers me up!

Sophia Upton

Lovereading has given me the opportunity to delve into new and exciting worlds of authors who I would never have tried before.

Glynis Elliott

Lovereading has all the new books and also suggestions for 'similar' authors whilst waiting for your favourites new books.

Carol Peace

I love the 'like for like' author recommendations, it's like an old friend whispering in your ear.

Emma Caddick

At Lovereading there are fabulous books available in every genre, with great reviews to help you pick the right book for you.

Teresa O'Halloran

Love books. Love reading. Love reading books. And, here's the trick. Here's a website which caters for people like me.

Ian Harvey-brown