The History of Birmingham: The Facts

Updated Apr 1, 2021

Birmingham has been a staple of England’s trade for hundreds of years, forming the bull ring, one of the largest commercial hubs in the country. But how did we get to this point? At what point did Birmingham become the enormous 1.2 million strong city that it is today? Well as we provide our security services in and around the Birmingham area, we figured we would summarise a few of the more interesting and noteworthy points to celebrate Birmingham as a city.

So first things first, what was the first sign of Birmingham as a civilisation, well that would be the Saltley handaxe. This is the oldest human artefact found in Birmingham, evidently used by our ancestors over 500,000 years ago, lending much more history to the area that would become Birmingham than many others. The oldest structures in the area actually date back to the Neolithic era, indicating that Birmingham had some prevalence as an area of interest at the beginning of agriculture.

Fast forwarding, we get to the Romans in AD 43, they setup a large military fort and marching camp after the Roman invasion of Britain. This camp was abandoned eventually, although it was revived for a brief time before being abandoned again in AD 120.

This is also where Birmingham gets its name from, it was called Beormingahām which means place of the “Beormingas”, this meaning “Beorma’s people”, a beorma being a person of power over a location at the time.

By the time of 1086 and the writing of the Domesday book, Birmingham was far smaller than other villages in the area, being worth 20 shillings in tax. In 1166 Peter De Birmingham bought a charter off of the King which allowed a market to take place in Birmingham, this collection of markets and traders built the foundation for what we know today as the Bull Ring. This influx of traders and commerce in the region allowed the town to grow rapidly, still not enough to context with some of the bigger cities but it was making steady progress to becoming a real force to be reckoned with.

Medieval Birmingham was known for 3 primary things, it’s wool production, it’s metal work and the leather craft going on in the city. These 3 aspects of life brought in traders and craftsmen of all walks of life to help bolster the economy, although admittedly this did little for the population, still being considered a tiny town even at the time with a population of about 1,500 in 1500 AD. In the 16th century, Birmingham grew a few times it size to 5,000 people, starting to become a good sized town.

Fast forwarding even further, we get to the 18th century whereby the century was ended with Birmingham sitting at roughly 72,000 people living there. This was when Birmingham really hit its stride as one of the larger and more important towns in England. In 1889 Birmingham was officially declared a city as it had grown considerably its services to provide sanitation, communication, transportation and working services for the general populous of the city. Amenities for the longest time were unsanitary but with Birmingham council taking over a large portion of public services, they were steadily improving, increasing the quality of life for many of the residents of Birmingham.

Birmingham then was able to carry on this momentum with exponential growth up until 2020 where it currently sits at a population of 1.2 million. This meant it was 800 times the size, population wise than it was barely 500 years ago, going to show what kind of massive boom had happened.

And that is a (very) brief summation of the history of Birmingham as a city, there is plenty more to read online, with a few links listed down below for further study. If you run a business in or around the Birmingham area, we are the number 1 choice for providing high quality, reliable security services that keep your business running.