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RECOMMENDED PROPERTIES IN BIRMINGHAM

BIRMINGHAM

Birmingham, in the West Midlands, is Britain's second largest city. Known in the Victorian era, as the "City of a Thousand Trades" and the "Workshop of the World", Brum as locals call the city, is enjoying a 21st-century resurgence as a great shopping and cultural destination.

Birmingham doesn't have a reputation for being especially picturesque, but there is a lot of interesting architecture in the city centre that the shops and crowds sometimes obscure. For such a relatively large population centre, the countryside (in the form of country parks) is surprisingly close. Aston Hall is a restored Jacobean mansion built between 1618 and 1635, containing period rooms and artwork. Cannon damage from the English Civil War is still visible. The Hall was visited by Arthur Conan Doyle and Washington Irving, inspiring the latter's 'Bracebridge Hall'.

Built in 1765, Sarehole Mill is a fine example of one of more than fifty water mills that existed in Birmingham at one time. Matthew Boulton used the Mill for making buttons and for metal rolling until he moved his operations to Soho in 1761. In the late 1890s Sarehole was the childhood haunt of Hobbit author J.R.R. Tolkien, and famously influenced 'The Shire' in The Lord of the Rings.

The principal shopping streets are New Street, High Street and Corporation Street. All include the usual assortment of high street chain-stores and discount outlets. Birmingham's High Street has become run down as of late, holding mainly discount stores, due to the attraction of the Bull Ring to larger name stores. However, New Street, going towards Victoria Square has many upmarket stores.

Birmingham is the balti capital of England, as the balti was invented here in 1977. The much-promoted "balti triangle" covers around 50 restaurants on Ladypool Road and Stratford Road in Sparkbrook, about 2 miles south of the city centre. Birmingham has a large student population, and the usual cottage industries have sprung up in campus areas to cater for their lack of cash. There are around a dozen cheap eateries in the Selly Oak area of Bristol Road, mainly Indian but also Chinese, Italian and English.

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