where the suburbs met utopia
What kind of dream was this
so easy to destroy?
And who are we to blame
for the sins of the past?
These slums of the future?
Suburbia, Pet Shop Boys, reproduced from:

In the 1986 album Please the Pet Shop Boys gave us the song Suburbia which was inspired by the Penelope Spheeris film Suburbia while also reflecting on the tension of the Brixton riots and the boredom of suburbia.

For many Birmingham residents suburbia was where they grew up in the neighbourhoods that make up suburban Birmingham.  Often overlooked by a focus on the city centre the short film below from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, AHRC, looks at Suburban Birmingham in a collaborative research project exploring an 80 year period in the history of the city's south-western suburbs.

One of the projects main outputs has been the development of the new Birmingham History Galleries, Memory of the Future - Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which includes, like the new Library of Birmingham and University of Birmingham research library, a multi-user 'Suburban Birmingham app' running on 50-inch touch screen screens.  

The short film was made at the launch and opening of the Suburban Birmingham app at the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.  It was a chance for researchers, museums, libraries and galleries professionals, and local residents to come together to share information on, and to celebrate n the rich local history of the suburbs where they live and work.

The suburban project website,, provides a fascinating insight into the suburbs with essays and pictures providing a rich history and exploration of their history in the city.

I have lived in the south and south-west of the city since my arrival as a student at the University of Birmingham in 2001 living in the suburbs of Edgbaston, Balsall Heath, Selly Park, Cotteridge and Moseley and each suburb has brought it's own charms, character and mix of history and people that shows the rich mix of the city overall.


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