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Clockwise, from top: skyline of Birmingham City Centre from the south, Birmingham Town Hall, St Martin's church and Selfridges department store in the Bull Ring, the University of Birmingham, St Philip's Cathedral, the Library of Birmingham) is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England, standing on the small River Rea.
It is the largest and most populous British city outside London, with an estimated population of 1,101,360 as of 2014 A medium-sized market town in the medieval period, Birmingham grew to international prominence in the 18th century at the heart of the Midlands Enlightenment and subsequent Industrial Revolution, which saw the town at the forefront of worldwide advances in science, technology, and economic development, producing a series of innovations that laid many of the foundations of modern industrial society.
This reputation for having "shaken the fabric of privilege to its base" in 1832 led John Bright to make Birmingham the platform for his successful campaign for the Second Reform Act of 1867, which extended voting rights to the urban working class.
Its most successful football club Aston Villa has won seven league titles and one European Cup with the other professional club being Birmingham City. Birmingham's early history is that of a remote and marginal area.
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Birmingham's distinctive economic profile, with thousands of small workshops practising a wide variety of specialised and highly skilled trades, encouraged exceptional levels of creativity and innovation and provided a diverse and resilient economic base for industrial prosperity that was to last into the final quarter of the 20th century.
Perhaps the most important invention in British history, the industrial steam engine, was invented in Birmingham.Birmingham was the terminus for 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.