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Published August 10th 2018
50 of Birmingham's Best?
Fact 4 (image by Cadbury's World)
Looking beyond the touristy treats of London? Escape the city with a holiday in the West Midlands. Start your adventure with these top clues about the Birmingham's rich history.
11. Let there be light – but how bright? The watt is our modern measure of power, named for the inventive Scot, James Watt, as he developed many marvels in Birmingham.
12. Thank your dentist for the x-ray if it avoids painful drilling. The first medical x-ray was snapped here.
13. Birmingham is the 2nd largest city in the UK with almost 4 million people calling it home. It's also in the top 10 in Europe for the population.
14. Hug a tree – there are 6 million local trunks to choose from.
15. You spin me right round. The spinning jenny was invented by local, John Wyatt, to spin wool.
Fact 10 (Tenderlok / CC BY-SA 3.0)
16. It's always nice when someone pumps up your tyres (i.e. gives you a confidence-boosting compliment). John Dunlop, a Birmingham local, invented the pneumatic tyre, manufactured in Fort Dunlop, considered the largest factory in the world in 1916. Over 3,000 workers produce the iconic tyre, used to win countless motor racing championships and propel millions of passenger and commercial vehicles around the world.
17. Gondoliers serenade lovers in Venice but they'd be at home in Birmingham, with more canals than the Italian floating city.
18. Birmingham is the home of reinvention. After pioneering the manufacturing process in a variety of trades, it's now ruling the service sector, with 6 prestigious universities, retail giants and event centres for international conferences.
19. Feed your rumbling stomach with a balti bowl, a spicy curry served in a small wok. Birmingham hosts hundreds of balti restaurants, many grouped in the Balti Triangle.
20. A night at the theatre is a must in most cities. Birmingham tops the list as the Hippodrome welcomes over half a million guests every year.
Fact 19 (ayes / CC BY-SA 2.0)
21. Dress up for fine dining without the heartburn-inducing prices in London. Birmingham rivals the English capital, many of Britain's Michelin-star restaurants in the city.
22. The artwork of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of painters, created in the mid-19th century, is on display in Birmingham with over 2,000 paintings to choose from.
23. A classic cinema has that Golden Age aura to rival the shiny new multiplex. Enjoy timeless films in the Electric Cinema, the oldest working cinema in the UK. It began life in 1909 with silent films.
24. Head banging began here with heavy metal giants Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath strumming their first hits in the 1970s.
25. LPs have been replaced with cassettes, CDs, mp3s, and now streaming music. The LP is still loved by many, often for the iconic album covers. St Paul's Gallery in Northwood St has the largest collection in the world.
Fact 22: Medea by Frederick Sandys - Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
26. Search for 'my precious', the ring in The Lord of the Rings series of fantasy novels, at Sarehole Mill, where a young J.R.R. Tolkien dreamt of Middle Earth.
27. Bunch up in the back-to-back terraces (homes sharing a wall) in Inge and Hurst St. These historic homes on the National Trust and feature a museum.
28. R&D conjures images of repetitive testing to solve serious issues. Chocolate deserves research and development too – almost £20 million is spent locally to invent the next chocolate treat.
29. Classic British meals, from baked beans on toast to a breakfast fry-up, deserve a dollop of HP Sauce, invented in Birmingham.
38. The biro is a convenient pen but it lacks the style of the pen nib. Birmingham was the home of pen nib manufacture, dominating the world market before the biro scrawled the writing on the wall.
39. When the heavens open, Alexander Parkes saved us from drenching when he invented waterproof fabric and the earliest flexible plastics, including celluloid, the medium used to record film.
40. Diana, Princess of Wales and romantic icon, was the step-granddaughter of Dame Barbara Cartland, the classic local romance novelist.
Fact 1 (Esther Lim CC / BY-SA 2.0)
41. Feed your romantic urge with the Dame's novels. She wrote 723 novels, including Jig-Saw, Elizabethan Lover and A Duel of Hearts.
42. Strike it rich with the Staffordshire Hoard, a massive stash of over 6 kilos of gold and silver recovered from Anglo Saxon origins.
43. Indulge your philatelic urges at the birthplace of the reformed postal system and the postage stamp, created by local schoolteacher, Rowland Hill.
44. Better than a fingerprint, DNA is the unique genetic code fuelling forensic science and family historians. Local scientist, Maurice Wilkins, was awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts to discover the secret of our genes.