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29 Secrets No One Ever Tells You About Birmingham

Want to drink gin out of a bathtub or eat pizza out of a vintage Mini? Come to Brum.

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2. ...drink gin from a ceramic bathtub...

Instagram: @elliesalty02

You can do that and much more at the Jekyll and Hyde, a terrific Alice in Wonderland-themed gin emporium on Steelhouse Lane.

3. ...or visit a cocktail bar cunningly disguised as a laundrette.

Instagram: @sudsndudscocktailbar

Suds 'n' Duds can be found on Gas Street, and is probably full of confused people with bags full of dirty washing.


4. You might find yourself in a sci-fi movie.

Instagram: @tomlennon1

Zombie thriller The Girl with All the Gifts and forthcoming Steven Spielberg epic Ready Player One were both filmed here. Brum has become a go-to destination for Hollywood studios looking for that elusive post-apocalyptic je ne sais quoi.

5. One of the best views of Birmingham is from the top of a multi-storey car park.

Instagram: @redcandyuk

The Old Moat Lane multi-storey car park, to be precise. The car park itself doesn't look so sexy, sadly.

7. Donald Trump's TV nemesis is actually an Erdington lad.

Rolling Stone / Via Instagram: @iamjohnoliver

John Oliver, the bespectacled Trump-baiting host of award-winning US satirical news show Last Week Tonight, was born in Erdington. He has appeared in Community, Mock the Week, and Big John's on the high street.


8. There's no shortage of picturesque gardens.

Instagram: @anythinbutjenny

Dating back to Edwardian times, Winterbourne House & Garden is right next door to the University of Birmingham. The nearby Birmingham Botanical Gardens is also well worth a visit.

9. In fact, we have a ridiculous number of parks.

Instagram: @megs_color

571, to be exact, and over 14 square miles of public open space (that's more than any other European city). Birmingham recently joined an elite global union of supergreen cities, so there.

10. You can look round a Coffin Furniture Factory.

Instagram: @englishgirlathome

The former Newman Brothers Coffin Furniture Factory has been turned into an award-winning museum (Coffin Works) that gives visitors a fascinating glimpse into Birmingham's industrial past. It's a must-see for emo revivalists.

11. Or visit the Oasis Market, where Boy George used to have a stall.

On our 'Kiss Across The Ocean' tour in 1984.

Although according to former co-workers his attendance was patchy: "He'd come and go," they say. "He'd come and go-oh-oh-oh." (Sorry)


12. There's an awesome street art tour in Digbeth.

Instagram: @oonamac

City of Colours, the organisers of Brum's annual street art festival, also arrange walking tours that give a unique insight into the history of this vibrant artform.

13. You can travel back in time without the aid of a TARDIS or DeLorean.

Instagram: @camillaceballos

Next to the Hippodrome Theatre you'll find Birmingham Back to Backs, the last remaining Victorian back-to-back houses in the Midlands. You'll need to book a guided tour to visit them, but it's worth it.

14. You can visit a Victorian-style camera obscura.

We're all setup and ready in the beautiful gardens @winterbournehg with some slightly surreal weather.

Birmingham has it's very own travelling camera obscura where you can see real-time images projected onto a screen while you're inside the camera. You can't do that with an iPhone. For more details visit Birmingham Camera Obscura.

15. Or perhaps you'd rather learn how to pick a lock?

Lockpicking & security night

FizzPOP is a "hackerspace" where would-be Tony Starks can learn to make cool stuff in a supportive environment. And pick locks.


16. You can learn how to make amazing food in Stirchley.

Instagram: @eleanorclarkeflowers

Loaf is a bakery, social enterprise, and cookery school on Stirchley High Street that can turn even the most hopeless kitchen klutz into a Bake Off contender.

17. Our landmarks have turned up in Gotham City...

DC Comics/John McCrea / Via

Yes, that really is the Rotunda behind Catwoman, in a scene from the classic Gotham City-based comic Hitman. It was drawn by the Birmingham-based artist John McCrea.

18. ...and in an early Alan Moore comic.

Alan Moore/Jim Baikie/2000ad / Via

"Skizz" appeared in 1983 in the pages of 2000AD. Critics dismissed it as "E.T. set in Birmingham", which, of course, makes it utterly "bostin", "scrotnig", and "zarjaz".

19. There are secret tunnels hidden beneath the streets.

Birmingham's #hiddenspaces: Anchor Exchange BT tunnels shrouded in secrecy

Built in the 1950s and now largely derelict, the Anchor Exchange would have served as a nuclear bunker in the event of a third world war. Oddly, there are currently no plans to turn this top secret site into yet another hipster restaurant.


20. And a big one between The Mailbox and New Street Station.

Instagram: @hiddenbrum

When The Mailbox was still a sorting office, it was used to speedily transport letters to New Street Station. It's like Postman Pat meets Batman (Patman?).

21. You can grab a pint at Laurel and Hardy's local.

Instagram: @beandarea

Slapstick legends Stan and Ollie stayed at Newtown's rather beautiful Bartons Arms pub in 1954, where they presumably tried to carry a piano up its steep staircase with hilarious results.

22. Or get drunk in a prison.

Instagram: @emmamoore94

Jewellery Quarter basement bar The Vaults is in the cellars of a Grade 2 listed Victorian Building that used to be a women's prison. Insert your own "Vodka and orange is the new black" joke here.

23. You can circumnavigate the whole city by bus.

Twitter: @OuterCircleBus

At 27 miles, Birmingham's number 11 is the longest urban bus route in Europe. It goes all the way around the city, so you can use it to take your own, personal (and great value) guided tour.


24. You can down cocktails at the UK's oldest working cinema.

Instagram: @swim_bake_run

The Electric Cinema on Station Street opened in 1909 and is still going strong, offering a classy alternative to the multiplexes.

25. Or visit "Old Joe" at Birmingham University, the tallest free-standing clock tower in the world.

Instagram: @emilyhstone

The Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower is bigger than Big Ben, and some say it inspired the campus clock in Pixar's Monsters University. Unfortunately, Sully and Mike have refused to comment.

26. We have a kick-ass Pen Museum, which is way better than the Lakeland Pencil Museum in Keswick.

Instagram: @tomlennon1

Walt Disney's animators got their pen nibs from the Jewellery Quarter, which makes Mickey, Donald, and Goofy honorary Brummies. In your face, Keswick.

27. And while you're in the area, you can rock on down to St Paul's Gallery.

Instagram: @audwy

It's a music-lovers treasure trove, with the largest collection of officially licensed album art in the world.


28. Or take a tour of the BBC Birmingham studios.

Instagram: @james_clarke75

But watch out for vicious Daleks, and stray Archers cast members.

29. And finally, you can eat pizza served from an old Mini that's been turned into an oven.

Instagram: @seatbeltsfastened

Digbeth Dining Club takes place every Friday night, and is a top destination for fans of street food and heavily-modified cars.

And who isn't, after all? It's such a natural combination.