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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.