From playing the first game of lawn tennis, inventing the first practical bicycle and pioneering the first automated traffic lights, through to literary heroes such as William Shakespeare, the West Midlands’ innovators, products and ideas have helped drive Britain forward and shape the world.

You can also view the West Midlands’ strong heritage in creativity and innovation through our Tiki-Toki timelines. Learn more about the region as a place to invest and visit, or find out about the spirit of the people who lived and worked here.

50 ways the West Midlands has made its mark

Sound of the West Midlands

50 ways the West Midlands has made its mark (Social media)

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The world’s oldest digital computer. And the UK’s first 5G testbed. The West Midlands stands at the forefront of innovation.

HSBC’s Birmingham HQ, 2019. The first Lloyds Bank in Oldbury, 1864. The West Midlands remains a major banking and finance hub.

From the finest chocolatiers… To the finest chocolatiers! Two centuries on, Cadbury remains one of the world’s largest confectionary brands.

Thomas Newcomen built the first fuel-burning engine near Dudley in 1712. Now, we prepare for HS2 in 2026. The West Midlands continues to transform infrastructure and connectivity.

The Jaguar Land Rover plant, Solihull. Britain’s first cycle factory, Coventry. The West Midlands' manufacturing industry remains influential.

Then, Walsall's Sister Dora was famed for her nursing and medical skills. Now, Queen Elizabeth Birmingham is one of the largest hospitals in Europe.

Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon. The Custard Factory. The West Midlands creative sector continues to thrive.