It always amuses me that Manchester
United is always included in any mention of "Manchester" - but the population
of Trafford, where Manchester United actually is, is never included in the population
figures for Manchester. Outsiders must laugh when they hear a "city"
with a population of 392,000 claiming international status.
But the thing
is, when people refer to Manchester, they are not thinking of the city alone,
they are thinking of Greater Manchester, just as when they think of London, they
are thinking of Greater London (which is actually the smallest city in the UK
if you just want to talk city population figures).
The population should
be based on the urban area, not this strange situation where Man United is in
Trafford, the Lowry is in Salford, etc, yet all these things are referred to as
It is the 10 local authorities which make up "Manchester's"
2.5 million population and which make it Britain's second city.
the population of the city of Manchester used to be much closer to Birmingham's,
and the size and infrastructure of the city centre reflects this.
Birmingham be considered England's second city? I believe it should be. It's geographically
and historically a significant part of our country and its heritage.
a born and raised Midlander and I've been a university student in Manchester and
now I'm studying in Birmingham. It is with great regret that I admit Manchester
is a much nicer city to live in. Everything from its superb train and tram services
to its shopping, clubs and restaurants.
Manchester just has a classier,
more cultural feel about it, and I can understand why the public would vote it
second to London.
The only real attraction that Birmingham has to offer
to visitors is the Bullring. The council really needs to put some effort into
sorting out some of the many rough areas in Birmingham as well as improving its
transport services if it's to re-gain its rightful title as England's second city,
but until then, Manchester has my vote I'm afraid.
the first industrial city, home of the first passenger railway station, where
the atom was first split, and where the computer was invented. Add to that it
being the birthplace of the socialist, communist, free trade and feminist movements.
Could any other city in the world claim such a collection of important 'firsts'?
I very much doubt it.
Jon Pickstone, London
Sorry, but the
results of your survey are invalid as you only gave a choice of two places - a
free choice would give a very different answer.
Music? Even Oasis would
concede defeat to the Beatles. Culture? Walker Art Gallery - bigger than anything
Manchester has to offer, not to mention the World Museum Liverpool, the Maritime
Museum, the Tate, the Beatles Museum... got the picture yet?
Could be why
we're European Capital of Culture next year.
Sport, well Liverpool and
Everton head the list (Liverpool outdoes both United and Aston Villa on stats
- and who could forget that 5th European Cup win?) but then if you like horses
you might argue that Aintree's Grand National is a bit special.
the gap between culture and sport the Tall Ships Race is something that could
never get to Manchester or Birmingham. Did I mention the Tall Ships are coming
back AGAIN next year?
If you want firsts in inventions and technology, we've
got plenty of those (there's a whole book listing them), but part of the definition
of a city is that it has a cathedral. As the song says, "we've got one to
spare". The Anglican Cathedral has the highest and heaviest peal of bells
IN THE WORLD. Its Grand Organ is the largest in the UK, but it has another one
as well. It is also the largest Anglican Cathedral in Britain, so we even score
points over London with that one.
So sorry, but in a fair fight Liverpool
beats Manchester and Birmingham hands down. Were you frightened of the competition?
Manchester is easily now the second city and this programme
proved it. We've got the bigger airport, metro network, shopping centres, arenas,
skyscrapers, football teams and stadiums, we've got the BBC moving five departments
here and we've got the super-casino! Unlucky Brummies!
one who has lived in Birmingham and its associated towns in the West Midlands
conurbation all my life one could argue that I'm extremely biased but Birmingham
must be accepted as "the second city" for the following reasons:-
Greater population, whichever way you measure it, if it was down to music, sport
etc. Several other cities eligible for the title spring to mind, notably Liverpool.
2) Contribution per capita to GDP, Birmingham is tops!
has been promoted to this claim by central government over the past two decades
in order to denigrate Birmingham in the eyes of the world because of past associations
with employment unrest and political disenchantment. The public's perception of
trade union strength... did the city no favours in the 60'S/70's whilst Manchester
was still a nonentity. All that is in the past and it's time to move on.
has regenerated without substantial support from central government, indeed it
has done so in the face of blatant anti-Birmingham feeling from Westminster.
Birmingham's failed bids for Commonwealth/Olympic Games due to negativity
from Westminster but massive government support for Manchester's Commonwealth
Games bid is now a cornerstone of Manchester's claim for Second City status.
A new FA Stadium (Wembley but better and cheaper!!)- failed, if Manchester
had been a proposed area it would have won except for the fact that when any deprived
area of London is in the running for national regenerative funding, nobody else
stand a chance.
This is begetting to sound like sour grapes, as I'm sure
the chance for debate intends, I'd just like to say that if it matters who is
SECOND CITY, it will never come within light years of LONDON, the city who's regeneration
we are all expected to contribute to through taxes, lottery funding, congestion
charging and other means of extraction.
Instead of this meaningless debate
over Second City status we all should be asking what anybody "Up North"
get for our money.
I opened a hostel catering for
backpackers in the early 90s. Friends queried why I would choose to open a hostel
here. Why would 'backpackers' come to Manchester?
One of the many answers:
English-speaking visitors thought we were in the Midlands (in the middle of England).
They did not differentiate between England and Britain. Many came in on 'long-haul'
flights, with no real intention to visit Manchester. They left totally enamoured
of Manchester, and this was before the 1996 bomb with all the changes it brought.
I remember one young American guy ('lad' in my lingo) who stayed for one night
only, prior to his homeward flight. "Manchester is what I expected Glasgow
to be! I wish I had allowed more time to visit Manchester." was how he expressed
Visitors telephoning from Birmingham, which had no hostel
(I had researched opening a hostel and at that time, and for a long time, there
was no demand) told me they did not want to stay there even if they could find
It is unimportant for Manchester's visitors where we come in
such a 'poll'. I just hope that both Manchester and Birmingham do not 'throw out
the baby with bathwater' as these cities develop.
I am 58 years old and
have spent much of that time overseas discovering what is fascinating about the
places I have visited. I only discovered what is fascinating about my home city,
Manchester, when I returned here in the early 90s and spent time introducing 'My
City' to visitors.
Joan Haggas, Manchester BackPackers Hostel
Being a Brummie, the decision does appal me but this is just typical of how the
rest of the country looks on us.
For many years, the rest of the country
has looked on this great city as dirt and it seems they don't want to quit any
Birmingham is and will always be the
2nd city but it is little wonder that the population as a whole don't view is
as such. Successive governments have treated Birmingham like an Epstein sculpture
with a large hole in the middle.
We have missed out of so many things -
Birmingham should have been the city of culture, should have had a super casino
and what about the Olympics?
From an ex Brummie (and proud of it) that
is fed up of being left out in the cold.
Iris now in Redditch
I am Welsh. My family moved to Birmingham in 1980. I absolutely love this city...
the shops, the restaurants, loads of great galleries and exhibitions, the NEC,
NIA, ICC, the Mailbox, sitting by the canal in the summer, the beautiful Hippodrome....
could go on forever!!!! The list is endless. Manchester, the 2nd city-not in my
Manchester should just back off,
Birmingham has and always will have second city title.
Would a huge retailer
such as Selfridges have come to Birmingham if they thought we were the "3rd"
city? I don't think so. We have all the music scenes, from the NEC to symphony
hall to the academy, we have all the canals, we even beat Venice on that one!
We have multiple universities, and if as the climate profs say the ice
caps are melting, Brum will be the one where everyone rushes to, even the Londoners
will have to bite their tongues!!! Birmingham rules!
Blake was discussing Birmingham's right to be, I believe, England's second city.
Edinburgh is Britain's second city!!
lost out and the damage was done in April 1974 when Manchester became Greater
Manchester. Birmingham was buried under something called West Midlands, Liverpool
under Merseyside etc the list goes on.
In 1974 the powers in Whitehall decided
to bury all our great cities under non descript entities whilst they instigated
Manchester to become Greater Manchester. They decided what city to show off to
There is now the creation of the city regions taking place. Let's
all make sure this time the Birmingham city region becomes Greater Birmingham
and not something like Middle west bottom outer Midlands.
A Greater Birmingham
would shine though as the true second city of the UK.
Steve in Norton
(Soon to become part of Greater Birmingham I hope and not
Mercia middle bottom mid-central-land).
For me, determining England's second
city has nothing to do with size, population or cultural contribution.
second is our national hobby - we are a nation of runners -up, of nearlymen. And
there's nowhere else in the country that loses out or comes second more often
than Birmingham - the city characterises the nation's natural tendency towards
Birmingham always comes second, and for that reason, it has
to be England's second city.
Birmingham is a better
city culturally and historically.
I cannot believe Manchester won the debate
but I think Birmingham needs newer buildings and business injection.
from the clips shown on the show that Manchester does look like a newer and more
modern city than Birmingham - I really think Birmingham needs more of these.
football teams also need to sort themselves out to get the city on the map!
can see Birmingham coming back with a vengeance soon.
has a natural up to date modern trendy style and feeling about it. It has some
great restaurants & bars.
I have lived in both cities and think
they are both great. I prefer Manchester at the moment due to the general feel
of the city.
Birmingham needs to sort out Broad street to get anywhere
close to beating Manchester.
With such a diverse and cosmopolitan population,
Broad Street should signify all that is great about Birmingham. Get rid of all
the nasty student bars and make it a street where we find the "world on one
We should have a variety of international restaurants &
bars ranging form Jamaican, Bahamian, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek, Spanish,
Argentinean, Brazilian, French, Italian, Russian, etc etc. The Broad Street image
tarnishes the Birmingham image.
Clean up Broad Street and give
it some real vision and direction and Brum will become the second city once again.
of Brum and Manchester, it's gotta be Manchester! More cultural, better architecture,
and far enough from London to be a nicer place overall.
Plus, has anyone
tried walking or driving around Birmingham? Not for the faint hearted!
both places aren't a patch on Newcastle!
Bri (Exiled Geordie), Manchester
is merely a massive metropolitan conurbation that now includes a great part of
traditional Lancashire - much of it unhappy at being included in 'Manchester'.
Manchester is the city of 'we've gots', none of which it would have had if
it hadn't had a Labour Council!
Said of Manchester - a great city but
it has no soul.
It will never be our 2nd City because it's not to do with
what they've got but more about what they haven't got!
is definitely the country's second city. Although it should be the first.
is massive and full of great things.
We have just won the contract to build
the UK's first super casino!!! Especially with the Hilton apartments which is
mostly made from glass.
I feel the urge to
defend Birmingham's credentials of being 2nd city. We have all the following:
two top universities in the country (B'ham and Aston). Also the top ranked school
with King Edward's, Edgbaston.
Chocolate- World renowned Cadbury signifies
chocolate and Dark Chocolate is Bournville.
Events- we have hosted summits
with Clinton, Eurovision song contest, sports personality.
- Jasper Carrott, Lenny Henry, Frank Skinner, Denise Lewis, Ozzy Osbourne.
- CBSO, Royal Ballet, Tolkein and Lord of the Rings trilogy, many theatres and
cinemas (Star City for premieres). We also have more lap dancing clubs than anywhere
else and spearmint rhinos European capital.
I could carry on and on but
the fact is we are bigger than Manchester and always will be. They should just
get the chip of both their shoulders and grow up.
a biased and proud Brummie, I would say that people in Birmingham do not feel
the need to compete with Manchester, or any other city for that matter. We know
what we've got and don't feel the need to keep bashing on about it.
problem with this kind of poll is that most people base their opinions on the
view they get of the city as the pass on the M6. I've heard people bad-mouth Birmingham
not knowing I was born and brought up there, only to eat their words and admit
that actually they've never been to Birmingham or have only been to the NEC to
see a concert.
If you spend time in the city, you will see passed the city
centre, which sadly lost many of its splendid Victorian buildings due to poor
post-war planning decisions, and look towards the
green and leafy suburbs.
I could go on about the city's industrial contribution to the UK, Matthew
Boulton etc, famous literary residents such as Tolkein, comedians, Tony Hancock
and Jasper Carrot, sporting heroes such as skater John Curry, and racing driver
Nigel Mansell, world class universities and the fabulous City of Birmingham Symphony
Orchestra, but I don't feel the need to labour the point.
like most people who have taken little time to get to know Birmingham, the writer
of the article is clearly biased towards Manchester in listing only a few bands
that are from Birmingham.
Here are few more, beside Black Sabbath and UB40:
Blues, Fairport Convention, the Spencer Davis Group, Led Zeppelin, the Move, ELO,
Wizzard, Steel Pulse, Duran Duran, Ocean Colour Scene, Judas Priest, The Beat,
Musical Youth, Asian Dub Foundation, Dexys Midnight Runners, Pop Will Eat Itself,
The WonderStuff, and The Charlatans.
And, before conducting another poll,
I would suggest the organisers ask people who have actually been to the cities
After watching your programme I feel
compelled to argue for Birmingham. Our universities at Birmingham and Aston are
both highly thought of. We have the best school in Britain in King Edward's, Edgbaston.
We have the biggest Christmas German market outside Deutschland. The pulse of
the rail network at New Street.
We have hosted Bill Clinton and several
summits. We have hosted the Eurovision contest. We are home of Denise Lewis, Frank
Skinner, Lenny Henry, Tony Hancock and the immense Jasper Carrott.
sport, Warwickshire are far better than Lancashire in Cricket and the magnitude
of the arena signifies this.
We have still not mentioned Cadbury. The
largest chocolate manufacturer in the world. You think of chocolate, you think
of Cadbury. In fact, dark chocolate across the world is known as Bournville.
We have also got more canals than Venice. The most important point is that
we are the 2nd biggest city in terms of population.
I am not surprised. Not because I believe that Manchester is the Second City,
but because this was a public opinion poll. Times have changed and how people
view a city is no longer by how big it is, but by its media profile. And this
is where Manchester comes out top.
Lets look at the hard facts:
Sport - Birmingham 30 World Championships, Manchester has the Commonwealth
Games and the most famous football club in the world. And where have England been
playing since Wembley has shut, yep, Manchester. Sorry, Brum 1-0 to Manchester
whilst Heavy Metal was virtually invented in Birmingham it was the last
original big thing, but that was nearly 40 years ago! Since then Manchester has
had New Order, the Smiths, Happy Mondays, Oasis etc. Sorry Brum but 2-0 to Manchester
ah Britains best regional Orchestra and Concert Hall
in Brum. Two Michelin star restaurants in Brum. The Royal Ballet. But all
well and good, but today, culture means a buzz, and air of anticipation and something
alternative. High culture, yes Birmingham wins, but when it comes to partying,
Manchester wins again. 3-0
Television the most influential medium
in the world. Brum gave us Pebble Mill at One and in the process invented the
oh and Crossroads, Boon, Doctors and Brum! Manchester has
given us the Street, Cold Feet, and now has the BBC media city on its way
so sorry, Manchester 4-0
Transport well when it comes to flying Manchester
hands down, but Brum is at the hub of the nations rail, coach and motorway networks
but is ease of getting to Northampton on the 305 National Express coach more of
an appeal that catching a long haul flight to Singapore, LA, or Vancouver? Manchester
wins again 5-0
Ah but, financial business financial services, well
despite the flurry of major banks moving into Manchester (mainly relocating from
outer Manchester business parks) Birmingham is Englands second biggest with
its accountants and legal services. So 5-1.
Manufacturing well both
cities are of world wide historical greatness, but it is about now. Birmingham
is still the UK leading manufacturing centre so 5-2
sorry it is Brum again. 5-3.
Creative industries Manchester
hands down, 6-3.
Shopping, and here is where Brum is way ahead. With the
Bull Ring, Mailbox and all areas in between, Brum over £2 billion spent
in its shops each year as opposed the Manchesters £1.4 billion and
Brum ranks higher on all other shopping centre rankings.
Birmingham is way ahead of Manchester which is usually in the bottom ten
for education standards in the UK. 6-5.
Health Manchester is the
unhealthiest place to live in Britain. Official. 6-6.
Wealth if we
are talking within city limits, Brum has Edgbaston, Harbourne, Moor Green, Sutton
Coldfield and Four Oaks all riddled with wealthy and millionaires. Manchester
has um a few Ian Simpson penthouses. Sorry, but Brum wins. 7-6
prices for retail rents, houses, office rents, industrial rents and just
about everything else, Birmingham is more expensive which reflects demand which
reflects importance, so 8-6.
Environment Manchester is often voted
Britains dirtiest city and Brum has more trees and parkland. 9-6.
Brum has led the way in the UK in the last 15 years, but things are faltering
under the new Council who seem hell bent on doing nothing. In the meantime, Manchester
is doing what Brum was doing so, give that one to Manchester 9-7
So you could say it is Brum, but when it comes to selling itself, until
things start to change in Birmingham and it stops living in its past and starts
telling the world that it is a World City and it is amongst the best, then sorry
in a public opinion poll it will always come second not to London but to Manchester
and Glasgow and Newcastle and Liverpool and Edinburgh.
Ian Butt, Brummie