Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, England. By the 20th century it had become the metropolitan hub of the United Kingdom’s manufacturing and automotive industries, having earned itself a reputation first as a city of canals, then of cars, and most recently as a major European convention and shopping destination. The recession of the early 1980s, however, saw Birmingham’s economy collapse. The city itself lost 200,000 jobs between 1971 and 1981, with the losses concentrated in the manufacturing sector; relative earnings in the West Midlands went from being the highest in Britain in 1970 to the lowest in 1983. By 1982 the city’s unemployment rate approached 20%.
Navigation Street, December 1983
As one of the United Kingdom’s major cities, Birmingham is considered to be the social, cultural, financial, and commercial centre of the Midlands. In the years following the Second World War, the face of Birmingham was heavily changed by a major influx of immigrants from the Commonwealth of Nations, with large communities from Southern Asia and the Caribbean settling in the city. Birmingham also saw a new wave of immigration beginning in the early eighties, this time from communities which do not have Commonwealth roots, such as Kosovo and Somalia.
Take a look through these 40 beautiful vintage pictures of Birmingham in the eighties taken by David Rostance. For more fascinating photographs, check out Rostance’s Flickr site.
Bordesley, September 1981
Grand Union canal, Bordesley, September 1981
Proof House Junction, Bordesley, July 1982
Selly Oak and the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, Birmingham University, August 1982