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Birmingham, the second largest city in the United Kingdom, is a borough in the West Midlands, England, near the geographic centre of England. The city's nickname, "Brum," comes from the local name of the city, Brummagem. People from Birmingham are called Brummies.

Birmingham's first market charter was granted in 1166, though it was not an important settlement until the 14th century. It did not have river transport, a fact that held the settlement back from developing from a small manufacturing town into a large city until late in the 18th century when it emerged as a main player in the Industrial Revolution in England. The population grew from 15,000 in the late 17th century to 70,000 in the late 18th century.

Fine jewelry was made in Birmingham, and it was less expensive than jewelry available elsewhere, and brass buttons and trinkets were bought and sold all over the world. The town was also well-known for its expansive metal and gunsmithing trades.

Numerous inventors and polymaths lived and worked in Birmingham during the Industrial Revolution, including: James Watt, who invented the steam engine while living there. Trailblazers of early steam engine development William Murdock, Watt's partner who also invented an oscillating engine and later perfected practical ways to store and purify gas, as well as Matthew Boulton, whose Soho Manufactory developed the steam engine for industrial use.

Joseph Priestly, a polymath whose talents included becoming a theologian, Dissenter of the Church of England, and preacher at Birmingham's New Meeting House. He was also a political theorist whose work advanced liberal political and religious thought veering from Calvinism. He was one of the founders of Unitarianism in England. His scientific prowess led to his advances in the science of electricity as well as chemistry of gases which led to the discovery of oxygen as well as his invention of carbonated water. His outspoken support of the French Revolution put him in disfavor by the government as well as many people. An angry mob burned his house and church there, and he left for the United States.

Birmingham was intensely bombed in the German Luftwaffe's Birmingham Blitz from the summer of 1940 to the spring of 1943. The blitz consisted of 365air raid alerts and 77 actual air raids, eight of which were classified as major, meaning more than 100 tons of bombs were dropped. All together, 2,241 people were killed and 3,010 seriously were hurt with an additional 3,682 people with lesser injuries. More than 12,390 houses, 302 factories, and 239 other buildings were demolished with countless buildings damaged. More than 1850 tons of bombs were dropped on the city, making it the third most heavily bombed city in England in World War II. Only London and Liverpool were bombed more heavily.

Today, Birmingham is a major international commercial centre and is largely a service sector.


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