West Midlands

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The West Midlands is dominated by the major city centres of Birmingham and Coventry, the Black Country towns of Dudley, West Bromwich and Stourbridge, and its motorways. Particularly the M6 and its intersection with the A38, also known as 'Spaghetti Junction'. There's no mistaking how the West Midlands became a birthplace for popular motoring - both around Gravelly Hill and its factories, past and present. Needless to say, its central position and road access has made the West Midlands a popular area for conference venues.

Birmingham is in many eyes the epicentre of the West Midlands being its biggest city. It has a wealth of attractions including Thinktank, the Jewellery Quarter, and the Symphony Hall. Shoppers will be enthralled by the Bullring Centre, its nearby markets and Brindleyplace. It also has more miles of canal than Venice. Close by is Edgbaston, famed for cricket, and the model village of Bournville, built by George Cadbury to accommodate workers of the nearby chocolate factory. As well as its core purpose, it is also home to the Cadbury World attraction.

Coventry, the West Midlands' second city, was damaged during the Second World War and revamped with a pedestrian precinct. One which on opening was deemed the best retail environment outside of London. Worth visiting in the city of Coventry is St. Michael's Cathedral, which includes the ruins of the original one and the modern one. The latter was consecrated in 1962 and designed by Basil Spence.

Wolverhampton is the West Midlands' newest city, one of three towns granted city status in December 2000. Its prosperity was brought about by steel manufacturing, vehicle manufacturing, tyre production and brewing.

Close to Birmingham International Airport is Solihull, an affluent town whose recent prosperity came courtesy of the motor industry. Today, it remains the home of Land Rover, owned by Tata Motors and a brand of Jaguar Land Rover.

The Black Country, which also covers the city of Wolverhampton is a most fascinating area stretching from Stourbridge to Walsall. It reputedly got its name from the black soot from heavy industries which covered the area, mainly coal mines, coking, steel mills and iron foundries. Its industrial past is commemorated in The Black Country Living Museum, between Dudley and Tipton. It is close to the site where Thomas Dudley first mastered the technique of smelting iron with coal instead of wood charcoal.

Throughout the West Midlands, there is no shortage of sports venues, whether you prefer football, cricket, oval track racing or horse racing. Test Match and county cricket can be seen at Edgbaston, whereas lovers of association football are placated at Molineux, St. Andrews, The Hawthorns, Villa Park and the Bescot Stadium (homes of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Birmingham City, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Walsall). All the aforementioned stadia are also conference venues.

Horse racing fanatics may well enjoy the floodlit racecourse in Wolverhampton. Greyhound racing takes place at the Perry Barr, Hall Green and Monmore Green tracks. Oval race meetings - bangers and stock cars - take place at Bordesley Green and Perry Barr.

The West Midlands is well served by inter-city, cross-country and regional rail services. Frequent services are available to London Euston and Marylebone stations, Manchester Piccadilly and Liverpool Lime Street. It has excellent road access from most parts of the UK and is well served by coach, local buses and air as well as rail. Birmingham International Airport has a wealth of scheduled domestic and international flights and direct rail access. It is also next to the Birmingham NEC - a well established exhibition and conference venue.

If you're looking for a conference venue which is accessible from most parts of the United Kingdom, the West Midlands is 'bostin' with options, from hotels to arenas.

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