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Birmingham, England

West Midlands

Last modified: 2017-12-25 by rob raeside
Keywords: west midlands | birmingham |
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[Flag of Birmingham] image by Jason Saber, 30 July 2015

See also:

About the Community Flag

The city of Birmingham, UK has selected a new flag:
Jason Saber, 30 July 2015

Flag Type: City Flag
Flag Date: 23rd July 2015
Flag Designer: Thomas Keogh and David Smith
Adoption Route: Popular Vote
UK Design Code: UNKG7530
Aspect Ratio: 3:5
Pantone® Colours: Blue 286, Yellow 116, Red 186, Dark Red 484
Certification: Flag Institute Chief Vexillologist, Graham Bartram
Notes: From the hoist issue two conjoined blue triangles, which together act as an abstract representation of the letter B, recalling the name of the city, the colour blue representing Birmingham’s importance in the national canal network. This is bordered by a golden zigzag shape, similarly forming an abstract vertical letter M. This symbolises the Roman letter for 1000 and in turn Birmingham’s sobriquet as ‘the City of a thousand trades’, the zig-zag shape also represents closed locks on a canal, positioned next to the colour blue.

The overall arrangement of the zigzag and colours serves to represent the historic arms of the de Birmingham family and current city council. In the centre of the design is charged a golden bulls head for the Bull Ring market which stands at the geographic, economic and historic heart of the city.
Philip Tibbetts, 5 August 2015


  • Birmingham's new flag is inspired by the Bullring and its reputation as the ‘city of a thousand trades’ following a public vote
  • It features the bull from the Bullring and a yellow abstract letter B for Birmingham - which on its side doubles as a Roman numeral ‘M’ for 1,000 which represents the city of a thousand trades.
  • It is a community flag which will be owned by the people. The city’s civic flag, by contrast, is jealously guarded by the council with permission to use it rarely given.

During the recent flag change for Birmingham, the final six proposals can be seen here (in no particular order):

  1. "Design A by Nick Wilkinson, James Gordon and Jewellery Quarter company Thomas Fattorini. Inspired by the Industrial Revolution invention of the sun and planet gear system invented by William Murdoch for Boulton & Watt. A large golden cog issues from the base with spokes representing the dawn of the industrial era."
  2. "Design B by Ginny Adams. Features a steel pen nib for which Birmingham was the centre of world  manufacture in the Jewellery Quarter. The straight red line denotes the man-made canal network carrying the lifeblood trade and industry"
  3. "Design C by Thomas Keogh and David Smith. Two triangles are an abstract representation of the letter B, bordered by a golden zig-zag, similarly forming an abstract vertical letter M. This symbolises the Roman letter for 1,000 and Birmingham's sobriquet as 'the city of a thousand trades'" (winner)
  4. "Design D by Carole Pearson. Layered golden cross and saltire reflect the city's central position, links and reach within the nation and how its rise powered the rise of the country. The crosses are bordered by the alternating red and blue of the historic arms of the de Birmingham family and city council"
  5. "Design E by Jordan Zhu and David Fogarty. Vertical blue and white stripes represent the canal network and red chevron serves as an arrow pointing forward, to mirror the civic motto as well as its tradition as a leading centre for scientific, industrial and cultural progress".
  6. "Design F by Johnathan Stephen. Series of checks represents different communities coming together as the fabric of the city. Anchor is placed on each as the symbol of the Jewellery Quarter. This represents the wealth and quality the city is known for, mirrored in a golden background"
Esteban Rivera, 14 November 2017

Civic flag

[Flag of Birmingham] image by Chris Hancox

The city flag of Birmingham (England) as flown from the council buildings which I observed on a recent shopping excursion.
Chris Hancox, 24 December 2006

Birmingham City Council flies daily from the main flagpole at Council House, Victoria Square in the centre of Birmingham, a flag representing its arms, known as a banner of arms. There is a secondary flagpole, lower down the main frontage, on which it tends to fly the Union Flag. The banner of arms is blazoned by the city council as follows:

"Quarterly first and fourth Azure a Bend of five Lozenges conjoined Or second and third per pale indented Or and Gules over all a Cross Ermine thereon a Mitre Proper."

It is a flag divided into quarters. In the top left (first) and bottom right (fourth) quarters is a diagonal line of five yellow diamonds on a blue background. These symbolise the arms of the de Bermingham family, former Lords of the Manor and are probably taken from the effigy of Sir William de Bermingham dated 1325 and extant in the Victorian church of St Martins in the Bullring, in Birmingham city centre. The top right (second) and bottom left (third) quarters are divided vertically with a zig-zag (indented in the blazon) line, yellow on the left and red on the right. These originate from the arms of another branch of the same Bermingham family, but have been coloured differently by the city council.

Over all is a cross of ermine. Ermine was first included in a previous version of the city's arms, to mark the incorporation of Edgbaston into the city and is taken from the arms of the Calthorpe family, lords of the manor of Edgbaston. Following local government reorganisation in 1974, the Borough of Sutton Coldfield was incorporated into Birmingham and the arms were subsequently amended. A cross, representing Sutton Coldfield and taken from its arms, was added to the arms, but it was depicted in ermine. Thus, the ermine cross represents Edgbaston and Sutton Coldfield, two very well-off areas of the city.

Superimposed in the centre of the ermine cross is a mitre, the traditional head wear of a bishop and represents John Harmanor Vesey, Bishop of Exeter in the sixteenth century, who was born in Sutton Coldfield and is said to have procured Sutton Coldfield's charter from Henry VIII, as well as other advantages for the town.

The council's web site contains a depiction of the full achievement of its arms and separate badge, together with a helpful description of heraldic terms used here: For further information, including original sources, please see the links below.

(1) Personal observations, 1994 to date
(2) Birmingham City Council, web site,, stated to be last updated Friday, 9 June 2006 and consulted 27 December 2006
(3) National Library of Ireland, Office of the Chief Herald, web site,, consulted 29 December 2006
(4) Catalogue of Metallic Lapel Ringing Badges, St Martin's Guild for the Diocesan [sic] of Birmingham, consulted 27 December 2006
(5) Birmingham City Council, Photo Gallery: Images of Birmingham, web site,, stated to be last updated Tuesday, 28 March 2006 and consulted 27 December 2006
(6) Birmingham City Council, The Armorial Bearings of the City of Birmingham 1889-1977 as depicted on Spring Hill Branch Library" (abridged and amended), A. P. S. de Redman, Honorary City Armorist, as consulted web site,, stated to be last updated Wednesday, 15 November 2006 and consulted 27 December 2006
(7) Birmingham City Council, City Council - Coat of Arms Heraldry, A. P. S. de Redman, Honorary City Armorist, as consulted web site,, stated to be last updated Monday, 15 July 2002 and consulted 27 December 2006

Colin Dobson, 31 December 2006

The Birmingham City Council is allowed to fly the "Civic flag" (or Council banner), "adapted as a banner of arms from the coat of arms of Birmingham, it was adopted in its current form in 1977, reflecting the city's new status as a metropolitan borough and its expansion to include Sutton Coldfield as a result of the Local Government Act 1972. The council flag has four quarters, the top left and bottom right each having a diagonal band of five yellow diamonds against a blue background, the top right and bottom left being divided vertically with a zig-zag line between a yellow left-hand side and a red right-hand side. These heraldic devices come from the arms of the de Birmingham family,[3] who first established Birmingham as a market town and borough in the 12th century.[4] Superimposed on the quartering is a cross of ermine – the ermine coming from the arms of the Calthorpe family who were Lords of the Manor of Edgbaston, which was absorbed by the new municipal borough of Birmingham in 1832; the cross coming from the arms of the town of Sutton Coldfield, which the city absorbed in 1974. At the centre of the cross a mitre represents John Vesey, who restored the fortunes of Sutton Coldfield in the 16th century as Bishop of Exeter."

Here's an actual flying flag:

Sources: and
Esteban Rivera, 14 November 2017