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Last week, we had a book review and a couple of travel posts, including one by Jackie with photos from inside the Tower Bridge in London. After looking at those, my husband is very excited to see those big engines!

During our upcoming trip to England, we’re going to spend a week in Birmingham. Most travel planners would consider that insane, but I promised Rick a trip centered around the Industrial Revolution and Birmingham was in the center of the Industrial Revolution in England. Besides, it turns out that the nicest hotel rooms in Birmingham are about the same price as middling hotels in London. I’m considering a studio apartment at the Rotunda, which will save us some money on food.

Steam Engine

Steam engine moving water at ThinkTank in Birmingham, UK

The attraction we’re most excited about visiting in Birmingham is ThinkTank, the museum of science and industry. Among other exhibits, they have the oldest working steam engine in the world.

Then, we’ll do a bunch of day trips. Almost everything we want to see is near a train station, but we’ll have to rent a car or hire a car and driver in order to see the Ironbridge World Heritage Site.

Here’s our current list of day trips from Birmingham:

Severn Valley Railway. We’ll ride a train driven by a steam locomotive with a stop to visit a train museum.

Ironbridge. The world’s first cast-iron bridge and related attractions.

Black Country Living Museum. An open-air museum recreating the world’s first industrial landscape.

Gloucester Waterways. A boat ride on canals and exhibits about the canals in Great Britain.

Bletchley Park

Buildings at Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park. Using the science and technology from a century after the Industrial Revolution, women and men worked here to break the code used by Nazi Germany during World War II.

I put these and some other possible day trips from Birmingham on a Pinterest board with a map.

Have you been to Birmingham or the Midlands region of England? What did you see?


What to see from Birmingham, UK — 11 Comments

  1. I’d love to go to Betchley Park. I’m fascinated by that history. Your trip sounds great. It’s depressing to say, but I’ve not been to the Midlands and we’ve lived in Edinburgh for 2 years now. Somehow life always gets in the way.

  2. I have been to Birmingham twice and loved it (not so much in the rain though)!!
    Will post some photos next week.
    Thanks for mentioning me!!!

  3. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t visited any of the things on your list, though they all look great. Isn’t it always the way that you don’t look at the stuff on your own doorstep? The only time I do touristy things over here is when my Canadian relatives come over for a visit. The last time I was in Birmingham was too long ago to reveal…three weeks as a sixteen-year-old on a training course. A fantastic time – my first away from home alone – happy memories! Hope you enjoy your visit as much as I enjoyed mine. 🙂

  4. Hi Joy, thank you so much for you comment on my blog , and thanks to Jackie for sending you my way. I love Oxford , and as I live about 10 miles away , I am there a lot and I know work in Oxford at weekends. I meet a friend there each month and we have a walk around and coffee and visit a college or two.

    Now when was the last time I was in Birmingham ,? Stayed there when I was a child (with my aunty’s family) and the railway station . Sorry apart from that I have only been to the shops. I used to live near Northamptonshire , so wasn’t that far away. I normally go the other way to London .

    You seem to have your trip all sorted which is great and I am sure that you will have lots of fun.

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  6. Your trip sounds great, Joy! I didn’t see much of Birmingham when I stayed there a few years ago at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, but Woodbrooke was beautiful. The Cadbury chocolate factory is nearby.

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  8. For Birmingham, I’d suggest the National Trust’s back-to-back houses which will give you an idea of living conditions during the Industrial Revolution.

    Also the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter.

    Ironbridge itself is great – we stayed in the house immediately to the left of the bridge (owned by the Landmark Trust) when the DB was about 6.

    You’re thinking of going to most of the museums? I recommend Blists Hill (worked on an excavation of the blast furnaces there, many years ago before all these museums were in place); the food in the pub is quite good (also the beer which is proper stuff like we used to drink) and you can get quite good pies from a shop.

    For food in Birmingham (you know people call it ‘Brum’?), think about Indian perhaps. The food’s pretty much part of the culture. In fact, chicken tikka masala is said to be Britain’s favourite food. Chicken tikka on its own is quite good as takeaway food goes, for people watching what they eat.

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