1.) Gravity was discovered in the Midlands
Gravity may not be this little kitty’s friend, but it’s still pretty awesome and it was discovered in the Midlands! Isaac Newton was sitting in his mother’s garden in Lincolnshire when he famously saw an apple fall from a tree and hit upon the concept of gravity. What’s more, Midlands born Newton has been named the world’s most influential scientist by the Royal Society, making the area the ideal destination for any budding physicists wishing to follow in his footsteps.
2.) Nude art was invented in the Midlands
Sort of. Creswell Crags, a natural gorge between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire is home to the biggest collection of bas reliefs (images carved into the rock) in the world, including some rather rude etchings of people with no clothes on — these are believed to be the first nude drawings in Britain. If you’re thinking about studying art at university, head to the Midlands and learn from the masters!
3.) It’s in the middle
Can’t decide whether to live in the north or the south? Live in the middle! It’s the perfect compromise. Plus, there are several ancient monuments across the Midlands purporting to be the geographic centre of England — you can have fun visiting them all.
4.) Birmingham is the spiritual home of chocolate…
Birmingham in the West Midlands is the second biggest city in the UK, but more exciting than that, it’s the home of chocolate! The Cadbury factory, where some of the country’s favourite sweet treats are made is in Birmingham, and yes, you can take a tour. The factory is in the Bournville area of Birmingham — that’s right, Bournville chocolate is named after a village in the Midlands.
5.) …And curry!
Birmingham has long been known as the ‘Curry Capital’ of the UK, thanks to its so called ‘Balti Triangle’ of curry houses, but did you know that the Balti, one of Britain’s most popular curries, was actually invented in Birmingham? Mohammed Ajaib first came up with the dish in 1977 as a way of marking out his restaurant from the other curry houses in the area.
6.) It’s also home to the original Spaghetti Junction
‘Spaghetti Junction’ is a term commonly used to refer to a complicated traffic interchange with multiple roads, but it was originally coined in reference to the Gravelly Hill Interchange in Birmingham. When it first opened it was described by local reporters as a ‘cross between a plate of spaghetti and an unsuccessful attempt at a Staffordshire knot’. Spaghetti Junction is a famous landmark, and while it’s regarded by some as an eyesore, getting lost on Spaghetti Junction is a rite of passage for all drivers.
7.) The Midlands has not one, not two, but three Russell Group universities
You’ll have your choice of top unis in the Midlands, as the University of Birmingham, the University of Warwick and the University of Nottingham (pictured) are all members of the
8.) Aston University, Birmingham, ranks higher than Oxbridge for graduate employability
While we’re on the subject of why unis in the Midlands are so great, did you know that you’re statistically more likely to find a job within six months of graduation if you study at Aston University than at Oxford or Cambridge? It consistently beats them both to come first in the graduate employability league tables.
9.) The Midlands is a European fashion capital
If you’re off to uni to study a fashion degree, you’d do well to eschew the likes of London, Paris, and Milan, and set your sights on the Midlands instead, particularly if menswear is your focus. Paul Smith, arguably the UK’s best loved and most successful menswear designer, and all round international doyen of the fashion world, is a Midlander through and through. He started out in Nottingham, and that’s still where his flagship shop is today. Paul Smith is known for popularising smart tailoring with a cheeky twist among fashion conscious fellows, but that’s not the only massive style trend to emerge from the Midlands — the humble pinstripe is thought to hail from the Midlands too.
10.) Pretty much all the best sports originate from the Midlands
The modern day Olympics were partially based on the teaching of sport at the Rugby School in Rugby, near Coventry in the 19
th Century, with founder of the International Olympic Committee, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, citing the school’s headmaster, Thomas Arnold, as an inspiration. The Wenlock Olympian Games, just down the road in Shropshire were also said to be an influencing force.
Rugby was also invented in, um, Rugby, in the Midlands, when a local chap got the rules of football completely wrong by picking up the ball — an overriding British sense of politeness prevented his friends from telling him he’d got it wrong, so they took the less embarrassing option and invented a new sport instead. Most importantly of all though, the World Conker Championships were founded in Northamptonshire in 1965, where they still take place today. The University of Birmingham, The University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University all offer sports scholarships, so you can follow in the footsteps of local legends like Leicester’s Gary Lineker, and Mansfield born Rebecca Adlington, England’s most successful ever female Olympian.
Everybody knows you either love Marmite or you hate it (cats love it). If you’re a fan of brewed yeast extract on toast, look at courses in Staffordshire, so you can be close to Burton-on-Trent, where the Marmite Food Extract Company has been manufacturing the spread since 1902. You can even pay pilgrimage to the Marmite Monument or (‘Monumite’ as it’s been dubbed), a stone tribute to Marmite erected in 2010 at a cost of £15,000 — that’s how much Midlanders love the stuff.
12.) Midlanders have a strong sense of social justice
Nottingham, in the Midlands, is famous for its connections with Robin Hood, who stole from the rich to give to the poor, but he wasn’t the only campaigner for social equality who hailed from the region. Coventry’s most famous former citizen is Lady Godiva, an 11
th Century noblewoman who legend has it rode naked through the streets of the city in protest at her husband Leofric, the Earl of Mercia’s, unfair taxes. Great inspirations for any undergraduates who fancy themselves as future human rights campaigners.
13.) Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings was inspired by the Midlands
That’s not to say all residents of the Midlands look like Hobbits (they don’t). But J.R. Tolkien grew up in the Midlands, living first in Birmingham, then in Worcestershire, and his childhood haunts inspired his greatest work — Moseley Bog in Birmingham and Worcester’s rolling hills and countryside set the scene for Middle Earth (Middle, Midlands, get it?), and the local Malvern Hills became the White Mountains of Gondor. Tolkien even borrowed some of the names for his mythical landscapes directly from his childhood home — Bag End was the name of his aunt’s farm.
14.) The University of Birmingham broke all the rules
University of Birmingham has a history of being a bit of a rebel. It was the first civic university in the UK, meaning it was the first to admit students regardless of their social or religious background; it was the UK’s first campus university, and the first to obtain a licence to hold its own farmers’ market. It remains the world’s first and only university to have its own dedicated railway station (it’s called University). If you’re a rebel without a cause —or a rebel with a cause — it sounds like Birmingham might just be your spiritual home, if it isn’t your actual home already.
15.) Keele is pretty much the most romantic university in the UK (possibly the world)
The students of
Keele University are famous for two things: successfully lobbying to get Keele included on the special UK edition of Monopoly (it was featured as a wildcard entry), and being the first university to found a Cuddling Society —they even staged a televised mass cuddle outside the students’ union to celebrate. Definitely the place to head to whether you’re looking for love or just a good snuggle.
16.) It has an entrepreneurial spirit (and more canals than Venice)
It’s a much vaunted fact that Birmingham, the industrial heart of the Midlands, has more canals than Venice, but the reason they’re there is testament to the area’s plucky entrepreneurial spirit. Derbyshire born engineer James Brindley realised in the late 18
th Century that towns with a natural port, such as London, Bristol or Liverpool had a huge advantage over those that didn’t in terms of the advancement of trade and industry, as in those days, it was faster to transport goods by boat. Not one to let a trifling problem such as the natural landscape stand in his way, Brindley set about bringing industry to the Midlands by constructing a huge network of artificial waterways all across Birmingham, leading to the city boasting 35 miles of canal to Venice’s paltry 26. This enabled Birmingham to lead the Industrial Revolution in the early 19 th Century, along with Brindley’s hometown of Derbyshire, in the East Midlands, and nearby Leicester. Couple this with the fact that Brum’s Aston University is home to one of the most respected business schools in the UK, and it’s easy to see why anyone hoping to one day be a leader of industry might be heading off to study in the Midlands.
17.) The Midlands has royal ancestry
Althorp in Northamptonshire has been the ancestral home of the Spencer family for 500 years, the most famous member of the family being Diana Spencer, who went on to be formally known as Diana, Princess of Wales. We’re pretty sure that makes William and Harry Midlanders by default, and while William may be married to the lovely Kate, Harry (always the hotter one anyway) is still single….
So, will you be looking at unis in the Midlands?
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