All the Nicknames for Birmingham, England

Birmingham | © bs0u10e0 / Flickr

Freelance Travel and Music Writer

Birmingham is the UK’s second city and boasts an incredibly proud history of manufacturing and industrialism. With this comes a number of nicknames – so for when a plain, old, official name just won’t cut it, here are the historical nicknames for Birmingham!


Stemming from the city’s historical name, Brummagem bears many connotations. Dating back as far as the Middle Ages, it’s thought that the name derives from an older variant of ‘Birmingham’. As Birmingham was London’s biggest weapon-manufacturing rival, the term ‘Brummagem’ was also used in a derogatory way towards anyone, or anything, that was deemed counterfeit, or not fit for purpose. This was all because London didn’t like another city becoming a viable threat and refused their wares for use in His Majesty’s store.

Birmingham at night


Brum, a short-form version of Brummagem, is the city’s most popular nickname. Brum – a play on words on the noise a car makes – was also the name of a popular children’s TV show in the 90s, which saw a car come to life from his owner’s garage and explore the city streets. The city’s local dialect, Brummie, is also derivative of this nickname.

Second City

While this is still a bit of a nickname, take nothing away from the fact that it’s factual, too. Move over Manchester, because Birmingham ain’t budging. This is also the nickname for the football derby between Aston Villa and Birmingham City.

Birmingham city centre

The City of a Thousand Trades

Let’s just say we’d be here a very long time if we tried to explain everything that Birmingham has manufactured or exported, but this nickname refers to the city’s proud industrial past. There’s even a bar in the Jewellery Quarter – 1000 Trades – named after this pet name.

The Workshop of the World

Similar to the Thousand Trades nickname, The Workshop of the World also refers to Birmingham’s proud industrial past. Birmingham’s workshops manufactured and exported anything from pens to jewellery, whistles to custard and Cadbury chocolate to the famous Mini Cooper.

Cadbury factory, Bournville

The Pen Shop of the World

Birmingham was the largest pen manufacturer in the world in the 1800s, hence the nickname, The Pen Shop of the World! During the 19th century there were over 100 active pen factories, which in turn supplied 75% of the world’s pens. There’s a Pen Museum in the Jewellery Quarter devoted to the history of the pen and how Birmingham changed the world of handwriting.

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