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Birmingham, Warwickshire (England)

English City

Last modified: 2021-06-19 by rob raeside
Keywords: warwickshire | west midlands | birmingham |
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[Flag of Birmingham] image by Jason Saber, 30 July 2015

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Introduction: The City of Birmingham Flag

Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough formerly in Warwickshire, in the region of West Midlands. It is the second-largest city in both England and the United Kingdom, only eclipsed by Greater London. It is considered to be the social, cultural, financial, and commercial centre of the Midlands and is the fourth-most visited city in the United Kingdom by foreign visitors.
There are Stone Age artifacts of people living in the forested country on the Birmingham Plateau as early as 8000 BC with evidence of seasonal settlements, hunting parties and tree harvesting. But the actual settlement that became Birmingham wasn't firmly established until after the Roman conquest. The advancing Romans had struggled with the barrier of the thick forests and built a network of Roman roads through them, including a fort occupied between AD 48-150 with a double-ditched turf and earth bank topped with timber walls and towers, called the Metchley Fort today in what is now modern-day Birmingham.
The name Birmingham itself comes from the Old English word Beormingaham (meaning the settlement of the Beormingas). They were a clan of the early Anglo-Saxon tribes living in the area. The real development of Birmingham into a significant urban and commercial centre began in 1166 when the ruling Norman Lord Peter de Bermingham obtained a charter to hold a market at his castle. This was soon followed followed by the creation of the market town of Birmingham next to the lord's manor and bull ring. The "Bull Ring" is now a major shopping centre in downtown Birmingham, but located in the same spot.
As one of the leading medieval market towns Birmingham embraced all the advances in science, technology, and enjoyed the resulting economic development spurred by the Enlightenment and later the Industrial Revolution until by the 18th century it was the leading manufacturing centre in the Midlands producing a series of innovations that laid the foundations of modern industrial society. By 1700 Birmingham's population had increased fifteen-fold and the town was the 5th largest in England and Wales. By 1791, it was being hailed as "the first manufacturing town in the world." Birmingham was granted city status in 1889 by Queen Victoria.
What was different about Birmingham was that instead of having a low-paid, unskilled population to rely on, they had a highly skilled (and well paid) workforce with a huge range of skills. Between 1760 and 1850 this led to an exceptional level of inventiveness during the years of the Industrial Revolution. In 1741 the world's first cotton mill was started in Birmingham. By the 1820s, an extensive canal system had been constructed, giving the city greater access to natural resources and fuel. Birmingham was parent of both of the world's first two long-distance railway lines: the 82-mile Grand Junction Railway of 1837 and the 112-mile London and Birmingham Railway of 1838. A Birmingham school teacher, Rowland Hill, invented the postage stamp and created the first modern universal postal system in 1839. Alexander Parkes invented the first plastic in 1855. The city established its own university in 1900. They registered three times as many patents as any other British city groups.
The city would suffer heavy bomb damage during World War II's "Birmingham Blitz," but the city also made two scientific discoveries that proved critical to the outcome of the war. Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls first described how a practical nuclear weapon could be constructed, and the invention of the key component of radar (the cavity magnetron) by John Randall and Henry Boot all happened in Birmingham. The first jet engine was invented by Frank Whittle in nearby Rugby during the war years, which resulted in the first Gloster Meteor jet fighter in 1943. Thousands of Meteors were built to fly with the RAF and other air forces and remained in use for several decades.
Today the Birmingham City Council is the largest local authority in Europe, and the city continues to amaze.
Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021


About the City of Birmingham Flag

The city of Birmingham, UK has selected a new flag.
Source: Birmingham Live Article - written by Neil Elkes, 23 July 2015.
Jason Saber, 30 July 2015

"From the hoist issue two conjoined blue triangles, which together act as an abstract representation of the letter B, recalling the name of the city, the colour blue representing Birmingham's importance in the national canal network. This is bordered by a golden zigzag shape, similarly forming an abstract vertical letter M. This symbolises the Roman letter for 1000 and in turn Birmingham's sobriquet as 'the City of a thousand trades', the zigzag shape also represents closed locks on a canal, positioned next to the colour blue."

  • Flag Type: City Flag.
  • Flag Date: 23rd July 2015.
  • Flag Designer: Thomas Keogh and David Smith.
  • Adoption Route: Popular Vote.
  • UK Design Code: UNKG7530.
  • Aspect Ratio: 3:5.
  • Pantone® Colours: Blue 286, Yellow 116, Red 186, Dark Red 484.
  • Certification: Flag Institute Chief Vexillologist, Graham Bartram

"The overall arrangement of the zigzag and colours serves to represent the historic arms of the de Birmingham family and current city council. In the centre of the design is charged a golden bulls head for the Bull Ring market which stands at the geographic, economic and historic heart of the city."
Source: The UK Flag Registry: Birmingham.
Philip Tibbetts, 5 August 2015

Taken from the Birmingham Live Article dated 23 July 2015.

"...Birmingham's new flag is inspired by the Bullring and its reputation as the "city of a thousand trades" following a public vote... It features the bull from the Bullring and a yellow abstract letter B for Birmingham - which on its side doubles as a Roman numeral "M" for 1,000 which represents the city of a thousand trades...It is a community flag which will be owned by the people. The city's civic flag, by contrast, is jealously guarded by the council with permission to use it rarely given..."

Esteban Rivera, 14 November 2017


Proposed City of Birmingham Flags 2015

During the recent flag change for Birmingham (2015), the final six proposals can be seen here (in no particular order)

Proposal A

[Proposed Flag of Birmingham A]

"Design A by Nick Wilkinson, James Gordon and Jewellery Quarter company Thomas Fattorini. Inspired by the Industrial Revolution invention of the sun and planet gear system invented by William Murdoch for Boulton Watt. A large golden cog issues from the base with spokes representing the dawn of the industrial era."

Proposal B

[Proposed Flag of Birmingham B]

"Design B by Ginny Adams. Features a steel pen nib for which Birmingham was the centre of world  manufacture in the Jewellery Quarter. The straight red line denotes the man-made canal network carrying the lifeblood trade and industry"

Proposal C (Winner)

[Proposed Flag of Birmingham C]

"Design C by Thomas Keogh and David Smith. Two triangles are an abstract representation of the letter B, bordered by a golden zig-zag, similarly forming an abstract vertical letter M. This symbolises the Roman letter for 1,000 and Birmingham's sobriquet as 'the city of a thousand trades'"

Proposal D

[Proposed Flag of Birmingham D]

"Design D by Carole Pearson. Layered golden cross and saltire reflect the city's central position, links and reach within the nation and how its rise powered the rise of the country. The crosses are bordered by the alternating red and blue of the historic arms of the de Birmingham family and city council"

Proposal E

[Proposed Flag of Birmingham E]

"Design E by Jordan Zhu and David Fogarty. Vertical blue and white stripes represent the canal network and red chevron serves as an arrow pointing forward, to mirror the civic motto as well as its tradition as a leading centre for scientific, industrial and cultural progress"

Proposal F

[Proposed Flag of Birmingham E]

"Design F by Johnathan Stephen. Series of checks represents different communities coming together as the fabric of the city. Anchor is placed on each as the symbol of the Jewellery Quarter. This represents the wealth and quality the city is known for, mirrored in a golden background."

From Birmingham Live Article.
Esteban Rivera, 14 November 2017


Birmingham City Council Flag (Official)

[Civic Flag of Birmingham] image by Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021
Based on this photo.

The city flag of Birmingham (England) as flown from the council buildings which I observed on a recent shopping excursion.
Chris Hancox, 24 December 2006

Birmingham City Council flies daily from the main flagpole at Council House, Victoria Square in the centre of Birmingham, a flag representing its arms, known as a banner of arms. There is a secondary flagpole, lower down the main frontage, on which it tends to fly the Union Flag. The banner of arms is blazoned by the city council as follows:
"Quarterly first and fourth Azure a Bend of five Lozenges conjoined Or second and third per pale indented Or and Gules over all a Cross Ermine thereon a Mitre Proper."
It is a flag divided into quarters. In the top left (first) and bottom right (fourth) quarters is a diagonal line of five yellow diamonds on a blue background. These symbolise the arms of the de Bermingham family, former Lords of the Manor and are probably taken from the effigy of Sir William de Bermingham dated 1325 and extant in the Victorian church of St Martins in the Bullring, in Birmingham city centre. The top right (second) and bottom left (third) quarters are divided vertically with a zigzag (indented in the blazon) line, yellow on the left and red on the right. These originate from the arms of another branch of the same Bermingham family, but have been coloured differently by the city council.
Over all is a cross of ermine. Ermine was first included in a previous version of the city's arms, to mark the incorporation of Edgbaston into the city and is taken from the arms of the Calthorpe family, lords of the manor of Edgbaston. Following local government reorganisation in 1974, the Borough of Sutton Coldfield was incorporated into Birmingham and the arms were subsequently amended. A cross, representing Sutton Coldfield and taken from its arms, was added to the arms, but it was depicted in ermine. Thus, the ermine cross represents Edgbaston and Sutton Coldfield, two very well-off areas of the city.
Superimposed in the centre of the ermine cross is a mitre, the traditional head wear of a bishop and represents John Harmanor Vesey, Bishop of Exeter in the sixteenth century, who was born in Sutton Coldfield and is said to have procured Sutton Coldfield's charter from Henry VIII, as well as other advantages for the town.
The council's web site contains a depiction of the full achievement of its arms and separate badge, together with a helpful description of heraldic terms used here (source). For further information, including original sources, please see the links below.
Colin Dobson, 31 December 2006

  1. Personal observations, 1994 to date
  2. Birmingham City Council, web site, http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/arms, stated to be last updated Friday, 9 June 2006 and consulted 27 December 2006
  3. National Library of Ireland, Office of the Chief Herald, web site, http://www.nli.ie, consulted 29 December 2006
  4. Catalogue of Metallic Lapel Ringing Badges, St Martin's Guild for the Diocesan [sic] of Birmingham, consulted 27 December 2006
  5. Birmingham City Council, Photo Gallery: Images of Birmingham, web site, http://www.birmingham.gov.uk, stated to be last updated Tuesday, 28 March 2006 and consulted 27 December 2006
  6. Birmingham City Council, The Armorial Bearings of the City of Birmingham 1889-1977 as depicted on Spring Hill Branch Library" (abridged and amended), A.P.S. de Redman, Honorary City Armorist, as consulted web site, http://www.birmingham.gov.uk, stated to be last updated Wednesday, 15 November 2006 and consulted 27 December 2006
  7. Birmingham City Council, City Council - Coat of Arms Heraldry, A.P.S. de Redman, Honorary City Armorist, as consulted web site, http://www.birmingham.gov.uk, stated to be last updated Monday, 15 July 2002 and consulted 27 December 2006

"The Birmingham City Council is allowed to fly the 'Civic flag' (or Council banner), adapted as a banner of arms from the coat of arms of Birmingham, it was adopted in its current form in 1977, reflecting the city's new status as a metropolitan borough and its expansion to include Sutton Coldfield as a result of the Local Government Act 1972. The council flag has four quarters, the top left and bottom right each having a diagonal band of five yellow diamonds against a blue background, the top right and bottom left being divided vertically with a zig-zag line between a yellow left-hand side and a red right-hand side. These heraldic devices come from the arms of the de Birmingham family, who first established Birmingham as a market town and borough in the 12th century. Superimposed on the quartering is a cross of ermine – the ermine coming from the arms of the Calthorpe family who were Lords of the Manor of Edgbaston, which was absorbed by the new municipal borough of Birmingham in 1832; the cross coming from the arms of the town of Sutton Coldfield, which the city absorbed in 1974. At the centre of the cross a mitre represents John Vesey, who restored the fortunes of Sutton Coldfield in the 16th century as Bishop of Exeter."
Here's a photo of the actual flying flag.
Sources: Wikipedia: Coat of arms of Birmingham and Wikipedia: Flag of Birmingham)
Esteban Rivera, 14 November 2017


Birmingham City Coat of Arms and Crest

[Birmingham Coat of Arms] Coat of Arms 1977 [Birmingham Crest] Shield
images located by Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021

The Birmingham City Coat of Arms and Crest (Shield) are described in great detail in the above "Birmingham City Council Flag" section, but here is some more. "The arms were officially granted on May 10, 1977. These particular arms were granted after the merger with Sutton Coldfield and are based on the old arms of the City Borough Council. To the old arms a bishops mitre (commemorating the 16th century Bishop Vesey) was added in the centre of the shield and the Tudor Rose (marking Henry VIII's granting of a charter to Sutton Coldfield in 1528) on the mural crown."

Official Blazon 1977

  • Arms: Quarterly first and fourth Azure a Bend of five Lozenges conjoined Or second and third per pale indented Or and Gules over all a Cross Ermine thereon a Mitre proper.
  • Crest: On a Wreath Or and Azure issuant from a Mural Crown Or charged with a Rose Gules charged with another Argent barbed and seeded proper a dexter Arm embowed the hand holding a Hammer all proper; Mantled Azure doubled Or.
  • Supporters: On the dexter side a Female Figure (representing) Art) proper vested Argent wreathed round the temples with Laurel Vert tied by a Riband Gules holding in the sinister hand resting on the Shield a Book bound also Gules and in the dexter a Painter's Palette Or with two Brushes proper and on the sinister side a Man habited as a Smith (representing Industry) holding in the dexter hand resting on the Shield a Cupel and in the sinister a Hammer resting on an Anvil all proper.
  • Motto: Forward

Coat of Arms 1889, 1936

[Birmingham Coat of Arms 1889] Coat of Arms 1889 image located by Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021

These arms were officially granted in 1889 (the same arms were again granted in 1936). "The arms in the quarters of the shield are two distinct coats used by the de Bermingham family, who held the manor in the 13th century (and perhaps from the time of the Conquest) until 1527, when Edward de Birmingham was deprived of his property by John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, by means of a false charge of riot. The bendwise lozenges appear on the shield of an effigy in the church of St. Martins-in-the-Bull Ring, believed to be William de Bermingham. Later members of the family seemed to have quartered the two coats in one shield, but with the quarters reversed. This order of the coats was used by the City for difference. The mural crown, arm and hammer refer to civic government and industry. The figures represent art and industry. The cupel refers to the jewellery quarter and the anvil refers to the tradition of heavy industry."

Official Blazon 1889

  • Arms: Quarterly first and fourth Azure a Bend of five Lozenges Or second and third per pale indented of the last and Gules over all a fesse Ermine thereon a mural crown of the second.
  • Crest: On a Wreath of the colours, A mural crown, issuant therefrom a dexter arm embowed, the hand holding a hammer, all proper.
  • Supporters: On the dexter side a man habited as a smith (representing Industry) holding in the dexter hand a hammer resting on an anvil proper; and on the sinister side a female figure (representing Art) proper, vested argent, wreathed around the temples with laurel vert, tied by a riband gules, holding in the dexter hand resting on the shield a book proper also gules and in the sinister a painter's palette Or with two brushes proper.
  • Motto: "Forward."
Source: Heraldry of the World: Birmingam
Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021


Birmingham City Council Logos

[Birmingham Coat of Arms 1889] image located by Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021

This logo is used on Birmingham City Council publications and on their website.
Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021


Birmingham Flags - Commercial

[Birmingham Coat of Arms 1889]      [Birmingham Coat of Arms 1889]
images by Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021
Image #1 based on this photo.

These commercially manufactured flags are both being sold as flags of Birmingham, but neither have any official status. The second design with the name changed is a popular one for many cities in the United Kingdom and popular with tourists and sports fans.
Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021


Anglican Diocese of Birmingham

[Birmingham Coat of Arms 1889] Commercial Flag      [Birmingham Coat of Arms 1889] Arms
images located by Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021

The Diocese of Birmingham was founded in 1905 in the Church of England's Province of Canterbury. The diocese covers the northwest part of the traditional county of Warwickshire (West Midlands, part of Staffordshire, Warwickshire and north Worcestershire). It is headquartered in the centre of the City of Birmingham and the Cathedral Church of Saint Philip. First built as a parish church in 1715, St Philip's became the cathedral of the newly formed Diocese of Birmingham in 1905.
Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021


University of Birmigham

[University of Birmigham #1]      [University of Birmigham #2]
images located by Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021

The University of Birmingham (UOB) is the largest of five universities located in Birmingham. The other four being Birmingham City University, Aston University, University College Birmingham, and Newman University. It received its royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Queen's College. In 1825 it began as the Birmingham School of Medicine and Surgery and the Mason Science College (established in 1875) and was the first English civic or "red brick" university to receive its own royal charter. The 100-metre high Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower is a prominent landmark visible from many parts of the city. Former British Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin were were alumni of the university.
Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021

UOB Logos

[University of Birmigham Logo #1] Sheild      [University of Birmigham Logo #2] Logo
images located by Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021


Birmingham City University

[Birmingham City University #1]      [Birmingham City University #2] images by Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021

Birmingham City University (BCU) is the second largest of the five universities in Birmingham. It was established as the Birmingham College of Art in 1843, designated as a polytechnic in 1971 and gained full university status in 1992. The university has three main campuses and offers courses in art and design, business, environment, computing, education, engineering, English, healthcare, law, the performing arts, social sciences, and technology.
Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021

BCU Logos

[Birmigham City University Logos]
images by Pete Loeser, 13 June 2021