Working in The West Midlands
Tom Harris, June 24, 2016
One of the most unfair and least accurate regional stereotypes must be the idea that the Midlands is dreary and indistinctive, a featureless blur between the North and South. In reality, few parts of the UK can match the sheer variety and diversity of the West Midlands.
It can simultaneously boast Britain's second biggest city and many thriving industries, alongside the beautiful countryside of Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Urban cities like Birmingham and Coventry provide commercial centres, transport hubs and world-class academic institutions, while only a few miles away you can explore the castles, churches and canals of Warwickshire. It is this strength in variety that makes the West Midlands a great place to live and work.
The West Midlands is probably most famous for its history as a centre of the Industrial Revolution.
Birmingham was at the forefront in scientific and technical innovations in manufacturing, and the boom in heavy industry around Walsall and Dudley earned the area the sooty, smoky nickname 'the Black Country'. The coal dust and the smoke are all gone now, but this period left us a rich legacy of fascinating historical sites.
Some of this creative history can be explored at the Black Country Living Museum and the Stourbridge Glass Quarter.
The West Midland's heritage stretches back a lot further than the Industrial Revolution, though. It was in Stratford-upon-Avon that William Shakespeare was born and raised, and the Royal Shakespeare Company still performs his work there today.
Lovers of churches, cathedrals and medieval castles will love the West Midlands, too. Coventry's 14th century cathedral was burned in the Blitz, but its ruins are lovingly preserved today alongside Sir Basil Spence's Church of St Michael, voted by the public as Britain's favourite 20th century building. Elsewhere, Kenilworth and Warwick are the proud hosts of two famous castles from the 1300s and 1400s.
Any region that produced Shakespeare, Elgar, the Specials and Britain's oldest cinema was always likely to have a pretty lively cultural life.
Birmingham has a wealth of restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as many museums and galleries.
The Birmingham Museum and Gallery holds the most important collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world, alongside an Ancient Egypt Gallery displaying mummies, pottery and artefacts scoping millennia.
Meanwhile, Coventry is currently bidding to be UK Capital of Culture and annually holds the Godiva festival showcasing a broad range of art, music and performance.
In the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon has a good claim to be home to the world's most prestigious theatre company, while the Hippodrome theatre in Birmingham regularly attracts some of the biggest shows from around the world.
While the economy of the West Midlands has changed greatly since its days as a hub of heavy industry, the region remains an economic heartland that is home to many famous global brands. Cadbury, Rover, Goodyear and Dunlop are all based in the West Midlands, as well as Jaguar and the British section of Peugeot.
The region is also home to a thriving engineering, programming and software industries.
There are a number of authorities in the West Midlands. Birmingham is the largest local authority in Europe, representing over one million people, and employs around 13,000 people.
The West Midland has strong transport links, both internally and as a hub from which it is quick to travel to and from other parts of the country.
From Birmingham, it is quick to travel to London and the North West by train, and the region is bisected by a number of motorways.
The West Midlands is a classic example of strength in diversity. A bustling economic centre, a cultural hub and a home of lush countryside all at once, this region will have something to offer to anyone looking to relocate.
The blog has been sponsored by Sandwell Council. Find out more about working at Sandwell by clicking here