Birmingham (pop. 1,009,100), second-largest city in England, about 200 mi (161 km) northwest of London. Birmingham is known as the steel city, producing everything from pins to automobiles. In ancient times a Saxon settlement existed in this area, and by 1166 the site had become a busy market village trading in small metal goods made in nearby Staffordshire, where iron and coal were plentiful. By the late 16th century the population was manufacturing metal products, from swords and cutlery to guns, buckles, jewelry, and plate. In the 17th century Birmingham became a center for scientific ideas and innovation in industry. Scientists and inventors established the Lunar Society there, its members including James Watt, Matthew Boulton, and Joseph Priestley. By 1800 Birmingham was one of the major industrial towns in Britain, but its rapid growth caused deplorable living and working conditions, resulting in riots (1839). The modern city is a center for the machine and tool industries; other products include armaments, toys, and electrical equipment.
See also: England.