Westside is one of Birmingham’s trendiest and most affluent entertainment and nightlife districts. The Birmingham Old Canal forms a boundary on 2 sides of this buzzing neighbourhood. This allows restaurants to make the most of being beside the water even though the city is far from the sea. Westside is also full of cafés and cocktail bars and because of this, it’s one of the city’s most popular nightlife districts.

There’s a multi-screen cinema on busy Broad Street and a theatre which hosts a variety of performances such as plays and stand-up comedy. Art lovers should pay a visit to Ikon Gallery while they’re in the area. It’s no surprise that there are also plenty of hotels in the neighbourhood, including big names like Hilton and Jury’s Inn. Hotel chains – not to mention their guests – are attracted by the area’s proximity to shops and other city-centre facilities as well as its convenient transport links.  

Westside in Birmingham - one of the highlights of 10 Most Popular Neighbourhoods in Birmingham (Read all about Birmingham here)

photo by Oosoom (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

A brief history of Westside

Historically, Westside was an industrial part of Birmingham. Factories lined the canals and used them to transport goods across the country. Close by, factory workers lived in crowded back-to-back housing. But levels of deprivation were high. By the early 1990s, a lot of the district was derelict and the area’s industrial units had stood empty for years. Once a thriving part of the city, they had become the victim of changing manufacturing processes and recession. Fed up residents were keen to draw attention to what they dubbed Birmingham’s Slum Quarter and staged rooftop protests.

The council listened and Westside’s fortunes turned when developers finished the Brindleyplace regeneration project in the mid-1990s. Visionary architects and civic planners worked together to clear rundown properties which transformed the space. One of the things they got right, and a reason why Westside is so successful, is because of its mixed-use zoning. As well as leisure and retail, the area contains office blocks and high-quality residential developments. And as a result, it never feels soulless.

Close by, the opening of Mailbox Birmingham paved the way to yet more upgrades. It contains a high-end shopping centre and luxury spa which are popular with both locals and visitors. The International Convention Centre, Utilita Arena, and Symphony Hall face Westside from across the canal. The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is also nearby. Sunset and Moonlit Parks are located within walking distance of Westside; they were an important part of the Park Central project.

photo by Oosoom (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

What to see in Westside?

Westside is an attractive location for many kinds of businesses. The National SEA LIFE Centre occupies a prime location and is a popular attraction with families. It boasts the UK’s only 360-degree ocean tunnel. As you walk along this tunnel, sharks, rays, tropical fish and turtles swim both above and below you. Expect squeals of delight from any children you visit with.

A few minutes’ walk away you’ll find the Broad Street Walk of Stars. It takes its inspiration from the Hollywood Walk of Fame and forms a kind of pavement guide to the entertainers and sports personalities who hail from Britain's second-largest city. Among the many celebrities honoured with a spot are rock legend Ozzy Osbourne, comedians Lenny Henry and Frank Skinner, racing driver Nigel Mansell, TV presenter Chris Tarrant and actress Julie Walters.

What’s good to know about Westside?

Westside is an easy part of Birmingham to get to. It’s not difficult for you as a visitor travelling by car to reach from the M5 and M6. Once you arrive, there are plenty of car parks close to the attractions. Public transport is also excellent. Birmingham New Street station, with links to central London and many other parts of the UK, is less than a mile away and only a 150-minute walk. Five Ways station, served by West Midlands Railway trains, is even closer.

Westside in Birmingham

Location: Westside, Birmingham, UK

Julia Hammond | Contributing Writer