Step back in time with fascinating old images of Birmingham, in the West Midlands, England.
Birmingham is famous for its waterways, the Bull Ring shopping centre, (now rebuilt and rebranded as Bullring), and the Gravelly Hill interchange nicknamed Spaghetti Junction.
Today it’s home to more than a million people, comfortably making it the UK’s second-largest city. But surprisingly, this is about the same number of residents as lived there in 1931!
What has changed from past times is the cultural, religious and ethnic diversity of the city. As reported by the BBC, the city council states about 42% of the population have Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. It is estimated that almost 50,000 residents cannot speak English at a passable level.
It’s also a surprisingly young city population, with many more under-18s and many fewer over-65s than found in most UK communities. Unfortunately, the high number of young people without qualifications makes finding quality jobs difficult in an age where labour-intensive industries have largely disappeared, but it’s a vibrant city with many great facilities and a very good museum.
One Hour of Vintage Film Showing Old Birmingham
We start with a journey into the heart of Birmingham throughout the 20th century, with a 1 hour vintage film.
1 hour of Birmingham Old on film – JR SMITH on YouTube
Old Photos of Birmingham
Enjoy a trip through many decades and locations with the following collections of old photos of the city and surrounding areas.
Birmingham Nostalgic Pics Pt2: BazzaFromBrum on YouTube
Collection of old photographs of different areas of the City of Birmingham.
Old Pictures of Birmingham – Volume 2 – Earface on YouTube
Birmingham & Black Country Photographs
This award winning photography of Birmingham and the Black Country gives our last glimpse of the Industrial Revolution, with the canals and railways powering Birmingham’s industry and supplying the rest of England and the UK.
These historic images were photographed by Peter Donnelly, as part of a project he began in 1965.
He won The Daily Telegraph photographic competition, whose judges included David Bailey (iconic fashion photographer), Emil Buhrur (editor of Camera, a Swiss magazine ), Ian James (editor of The Photography Year Book), and George Rodger (founder of Magnum Photographers Agency).
He also produced a unique series of poems postcards and posters about “Old Birmingham” which featured on BBC News, Radio WM & Midlands Today.
Birmingham and Black Country Nostalgia Award Winning Poems and Photographs are available for sale.
Old Birmingham England UK Award Winning Photographs: TheSiDon on YouTube
Birmingham – History Of Midlands TV News
This piece first broadcast on 9 May 2013. Televised on UK’s regional television ITV Central. Programme (Program) — ITV News Central.
Birmingham – History of Midlands TV News: BhamUrbanNewsUK on YouTube
Old Photos of Nechells and Erdington
Then and now photos of Nechells and Erdington in Birmingham.
Old Photos of Nechells and Erdington in Birminghm: Paul Burden on YouTube
Birmingham In The 1920s
This is an excerpt from ‘Birmingham, The Way We Were’ DVD.
Birmingham in the 1920s: Britainonfilm on YouTube
Birmingham In The 1930s
Silver Jubilee (1935)
This rare 1930s home movie footage shows the city’s 1935 Silver Jubilee celebrations.
1935 Birmingham, Silver Jubilee, Rare 1930s: Thekinolibrary on YouTube
Pageant of Birmingham (1938)
In 1938 Birmingham celebrated the 100th anniversary of the city’s Borough Charter.
A pageant was the main feature of the celebrations, held at Aston Park from July 11th to the 16th (because of its success, the pageant was extended to the following week, from July 18th until the 23rd).
Eight episodes told the story of Birmingham from its prehistoric origins to its position as the ‘hub of industrial England’ and its final status as a city in its own right. It was produced by Gwen Lally (1882-1963), the first female pageant master, and thousands of residents from across the city took part.
Pageant of Birmingham – 1938 – Idowish12 on YouTube
A wide variety of locations in and around the city in the 1930s.
Starts with Birmingham’s water supply, which is from a reservoir at Elan Valley in Wales, which has an impressive dam.
The city scenes include:
- Bull-ring market
- Market hall
- shopping streets
- civic and historic buildings
- snow and skiing
- handbell ringers
- Firemen and fire station
- power station and turbines
- industrial scenes with young boys, old men and women
- button making, pressing sheet metal, milk production, making studs
Birmingham in the 1930’s – Film 1465 – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube
Birmingham, UK (1935)
Birmingham, West Midlands, UK, in 1935.
Birmingham, UK 1935 – BrianTrenerryArchive on YouTube
Birmingham In The 1940s
Birmingham Tram Tour (1940s)
Trams and trolleybuses in Birmingham. Bus marked “Special” leaves the depot in the rain.
Birmingham Tram Tour, 1940’s – Film 17148 – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube
WWII, Industry, Munitions, & Home Front (1940s)
1940s Birmingham during WWII. Industry, munitions, and home front.
1940s Birmingham During WWII, Industry, Munitions- Thekinolibrary on YouTube
Coventry to Birmingham Car Rally (1940s)
Car Rally Coventry to Birmingham 1940’s – Dean Nelson on YouTube
Birmingham Tram Tour (1940s)
- Birmingham Tram with “Special Car” written on side.
- Single-decker tram enters depot.
- Close up of driver adjusting points?
- Man runs for tram.
- Looking over the driver’s shoulder at the controls.
Birmingham Tram Tour, 1940’s – Film 17147 – Film HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Unit (1940s)
Birmingham United Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Unit. Probation nurses in training prior to the foundation of the NHS.
- Doors open on nurses in library and canteen, ping-pong.
- Girls with hockey sticks.
- On steps waves goodbye to a car.
- Reading notice board in a lecture hall.
- Correcting uniform, buttons, hats.
- Sister tutor tells nurses to sit.
- Close-ups of faces.
- Anatomy, skeleton.
- Handling bones.
- Demonstration ward.
- Bed making.
- Dental health.
- Medical examination.
- Tray of thermometers in glasses.
- Taking temperature.
- Bed making.
- Using telephone.
- Black ambulance.
- Lifting casualty off the bed onto a trolley.
- Preparing X-ray.
- Bandaged man.
- X-ray examination.
- Doctor on the phone.
- Preparing operating theatre.
- Clearing equipment.
- Nurse gives an injection.
- Puts on a gown.
- Patient into the theatre.
- Breathing-bag inflating.
- Gloved hands and masks.
- Handing utensils to doctor / surgeon.
- Patient recovers.
- Takes pulse.
- Awarded certificate.
- Pin on medals.
- Study adverts in job pages.
- Weighing baby.
- Help man into bed.
- Daffodils in a vase.
- Nurse relaxing, reading.
- Ends with nurse resembling Virgin Mary, with Halo.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Unit (1940s) – HuntleyFilmArchives on YouTube
1960s to 2000s
A look at images of Birmingham through 40 years of change.
Old Birmingham Images: Zensgio on YouTube
More West Midlands pages
Find more locations in our Sitemap for England