BIRMINGHAM, MANCHESTER, LEEDS AND GRIMSBYCategory: Land + People
In the heart of England, about 112 miles north-west of London, is Birmingham, a city with over a million inhabitants. The growth of this city during the last century has been very rapid, for it owes its importance almost entirely to its iron industry. Although it has no outlet on the sea-coast and does not stand on any great river, it has become a busy hive of undustry. The nearest port is Liverpool, at the mouth of the River Mersey, on the Irish Sea, over seventy miles away. But most of the goods manufactured in Birmingham are transported to London and thence distributed to different parts of the world.
The district around Birmingham is known as the Black Country. It is a land of factories and mines. Tall chimneys belch forth smoke. The factories are engaged in the hardware industry. Steam- engines, gas-engines, motor-cars, railway carriages, rails, gun?, bicycles, agricultural implements, cooking utensils, carpenter’s tools, screws, and nails are among the articles manufactured in the factories of’the Black Country. [...]
The centre of the cotton industry is Manchester, which, with its large suburb, Salford, has a population of nearly one million.
Like Birmingham, Manchester is of recent growth. It cannot boast of many ancient buildings. Few English cities, however, have better public parks, of which there are over fifty, the largest, named Heaton Park, being over one square mile in extent. In libraries and schools the city is likewise rich; and the University of Manchester, founded in 1880 and reorganised in 1903, is famous for its modern studies. [...]
The county town of Yorkshire is York, and the old centre of the woolen trade is Halifax. York is a beautiful old city on the River Ouse; Halifax is a town of one hundred thousand inhabitants, standing on the River Calder. But neither York nor Halifax is the centre of the woolen industry, which is Leeds, a rapidly growing city in the valley of the River Aire.
By means of the River Aire, a tributary of the River Humber, Leeds has communication with the North Sea; while the Leeds and Liverpool Canal connects it with the western seaboard.
Railways radiate from Leeds to the north, south, east, and west. The modern development of Leeds as the chief centre of the woolen industry in England dates from the introduction of steam- power machinery towards the close of the eighteenth century. Other industries include the making of locomotives, agricultural implements, heavy iron and steel goods of all kinds, chemicals, glass, leather goods, artificial silk, and pottery. These industries together sustain well over half a million people, f…]
Grimsby is a prosperous seaport on the coask of Lincolnshire, at the estuary of the River Humber. Like other seaside towns, it has its spacious promenade, or public walking-place along by the sea, public parks and playing fields, pier and lighthouse. Its well- arranged public buildings include a fine parish church, a town hall, a custom house, a corn exchange, a free grammar school.
Grimsby is thewealthiest fishing port in Europe. Over two and a half million pounds worth of fish is landed every year, so rich is the harvest of the sea. Many thousands of people follow a seafar
ing life, and hundreds of others are engaged in shipbuilding and ropemaking. Ships from Grimsby go forth to all parts of the North Sea, especially to the Dogger Bank, and they go far out into the Atlantic Ocean, as far north as Iceland and the White Sea, and as far South as Morocco.
Until less than a century ago, the fishing boats which went forth from Grimsby were very small vessels with one mast, driven by the wind. They were called smacks. They were very poorly equipped with nets, lines, and other fishing appliances, and they fished only near the shore. The transport of fish far inland was difficult in those days when there were no railways, and when ice was not used. Only London and the coast towns had sea-fish markets. Midland towns had no sea-fish; they had to be content with fish caught in the rivers.
The development of railways and the discovery of refrigeration gave a great impetus to fisheries. Boats were built ef a larger type. Equipment was improved. Steel steamships took the place of wooden sailing-vessels. More distant fishing-grounds were sought, and the quantity of fish landed began to increase.
The Grimsby fishermen may be seen on the quays and beach in their oilskin coats and trousers, heavy sea-boots, and sou’westers, as their oilskin caps are called. Their faces are brown and tanned by the sunshine and the salt sea breeze.
Theirs is a strenuous life, but it is not so dangerous as in the old days when fishermen went to sea in wooden sailing-vessels and not, as today, in steel-clad steamships which can weather the fiercest storm.
(From Everyday English for Foreign Students by S. Potter)