Birmingham is known as one of the great cities of the Industrial Revolution: however it was a thriving town long, long before that. Medieval Birmingham centred on the Bull Ring, where open-air and covered markets were held, and it has remained at the heart of the city ever since. Currently undergoing a £500 million redevelopment, it is hoped that the Bull Ring will become one of Europe largest and most modern shopping destinations. Birmingham’s oldest church, St. Martin’s dates from the 13th century and is to be found in the Bull Ring precinct.
By the 16th century Birmingham had established a reputation for industry, particularly as metal smiths. The city produced 15,000 swords for Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army. In 1765 some of the key figures of the Industrial Revolution formed a committee that met once in a month in Birmingham. Lunar Society members included James Watt, Matthew Boulton, Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestly and Josiah Wedgewood and among their achievements were the invention of gas-light, mass production of steam engines and the first ever purpose built factory. They put the city at the heart of the Industrial Revolution as it came to be known as the 'city of 1001 trades’.
St. Philip’s Anglican Cathedral dates from the early 18th century and is the baroque design of Thomas Archer. The Catholic cathedral of St. Chad was built in 1841, making it the first to be built since the Reformation.
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