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West Midlands
West Midlands
West Midlands region shown within England
Geography
Status Region
Area
— Total
Ranked 7th
13,004 km²
5,020 sq mi
NUTS 1 UKG
Demographics
Population
— Total
— Density
Ranked 5th
5,267,337 (2001)
405/km²
GDP per capita £17,161 (7th)
Government
HQ Birmingham
Assembly
— Type
West Midlands
not directly elected
Regional development Advantage West Midlands
European parliament West Midlands
Website

The West Midlands is an official region of England, covering the western half of the area traditionally known as the Midlands. It contains the second most populous British city, Birmingham, and the larger West Midlands conurbation, which includes the city of Wolverhampton and large towns of Dudley, Solihull, Walsall and West Bromwich. The city of Coventry is also located within the West Midlands county, but is separated from the conurbation to the west by several miles of green belt.

The region is geographically diverse, from the urban central areas of the conurbation to the rural western counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire which border Wales. The longest river in the UK, the River Severn, traverses the region southeastwards, flowing through the county towns of Shrewsbury and Worcester, and the Ironbridge Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Staffordshire is home to the industrialised Potteries conurbation, including the city of Stoke-on-Trent, and the Staffordshire Moorlands area, which borders the southeastern Peak District National Park near Leek. The region also encompasses five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Warwickshire is home to the town of Stratford upon Avon, the birthplace of poet William Shakespeare.

Contents

Geography

England
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The official region contains the large conurbation that includes Birmingham and Wolverhampton, but also covers the predominantly rural shire counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Unofficially the West Midlands region also spreads as far as Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but these are not part of the official region.

There is some confusion in the use of the term "West Midlands", as the name is also used for the much smaller West Midlands county, and is still used by various organisations within that area such as West Midlands Police and West Midlands Fire Service.

The highest point in the region is Black Mountain, at 703 metres (2,307 ft) in west Herefordshire on the border with Powys, Wales.

The region contains five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), including all of the Shropshire Hills, Malvern Hills and Cannock Chase, and parts of the Wye Valley and Cotswolds. The Peak District national park also stretches into the northern corner of Staffordshire.

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Transport

Road

The M6 Toll plaza.

Numerous notable roads pass through the region, with most converging around the central conurbation. The M5, which connects South West England to the region, passes through Worcestershire, near to Worcester, and through the West Midlands county, past West Bromwich, with its northern terminus at its junction with the M6 just south of Walsall. The M6, which has its southern terminus just outside the southeast of the region at its junction with the M1, and which connects the region to North West England, passes Rugby and Nuneaton in Warwickshire, Coventry and Birmingham, and Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. The M6 toll provides an alternative route to the M6 between Coleshill and Cannock, passing north of Sutton Coldfield and just south of Lichfield. The M40 connects the region through South East England to London, with its northern terminus at its junction with the M42; it passes close to Warwick and Banbury. The M42 connects the M5 at Bromsgrove, passing around the south and east of Birmingham, joining the M40 and M6, passing Solihull and Castle Bromwich, to Tamworth, northeast of Birmingham. The M50 connects the M5 from near Tewkesbury to Ross-on-Wye in the southwest. The M54 connects Wellington in the west, passing Telford, to the M6 near Cannock. The A5 road traverses the region northwest-southeast, passing through Shrewsbury, Cannock, Tamworth and Nuneaton.

Transport policy

The M45 motorway was one of the first motorways built in the UK, and is now one of the quietest

As part of the transport planning system the Regional Assembly is under statutory requirement to produce a Regional Transport Strategy (RTS) to provide long term planning for transport in the region. This involves region wide transport schemes such as those carried out by the Highways Agency and Network Rail.[1]

Within the region the local transport authorities carry out transport planning through the use of a Local Transport Plan (LTP) which outlines their strategies, policies and implementation programme.[2] The most recent LTP is that for the period 2006-11. In the West Midlands region the following transport authorities have published their LTP online: Herefordshire,[3] Shropshire U.A.,[4] Staffordshire,[5] Telford and Wrekin U.A.,[6] Warwickshire,[7] West Midlands (county)[8] and Worcestershire.[9] The transport authority of Stoke-on-Trent U.A. publishes a Joint Local Transport Plan in partnership with Staffordshire County Council to cover the North Staffordshire Major Urban Area, which includes Stoke-on-Trent and the more urban parts of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Staffordshire Moorlands.[10]

Towns and cities

A map of the West Midlands region, showing Towns/Cities in Red, Motorways in Blue, AONBs in Light Green and National Parks in Dark Green.
Bold indicates city status.

Major towns and cities in the West Midlands region include:[11]

Population > 750,000

Population > 250,000

Population > 100,000

Population > 70,000

Population > 50,000

Other Notable

History

Iron Bridge at Coalbrookdale

Much of the Industrial revolution began in Birmingham and the Black Country. The Iron Bridge was first built in Shropshire at Coalbrookdale. Much of the UK's car industry would be centred in Coventry and Birmingham. Most of this has now gone.

Regional Assembly

The official representative body of the region is the West Midlands Regional Assembly which has limited administrative functions such as regional planning and economic development. The assembly is not an elected body, but is made up of members appointed from local councils across the region, and members from regional interest groups such as business and environmental groups and trade unions, known as a quango. It is based on Edward Street in Birmingham, near the National Indoor Arena. From March 2010, the funding decisions of the regional assembly will be taken over by Advantage West Midlands.

Demographics

For top-tier authorities in the West Midlands, Stoke on Trent has the highest teenage pregnancy rate. For council districts, Nuneaton and Bedworth in Warwickshire has the highest rate closely followed by Tamworth. For top-tier authorities, Shropshire has the lowest rate, and for council districts Malvern Hills has the lowest rate.

Statue of St Michael and Satan at Coventry Cathedral

Local government

The official region consists of the following subdivisions:

Ceremonial county County/ unitary Districts
Herefordshire
Shropshire Shropshire U.A.
Telford and Wrekin U.A.
Staffordshire Staffordshire † a.) Cannock Chase, b.) East Staffordshire, c.) Lichfield, d.) Newcastle-under-Lyme,
e.) South Staffordshire, f.) Stafford, g.) Staffordshire Moorlands, h.) Tamworth
Stoke-on-Trent U.A.
Warwickshire a.) North Warwickshire, b.) Nuneaton and Bedworth, c.) Rugby, d.) Stratford-on-Avon, e.) Warwick
West Midlands * a.) Birmingham, b.) Coventry, c.) Dudley, d.) Sandwell, e.) Solihull, f.) Walsall, g.) Wolverhampton
Worcestershire a.) Bromsgrove, b.) Malvern Hills, c.) Redditch, d.) Worcester, e.) Wychavon, f.) Wyre Forest

Key: shire county = † | metropolitan county = *

Demography

Ceremonial County Population Population Density Largest local authority Largest settlement
West Midlands (region) 5,267,337 405/km² Birmingham (1,006,500) Birmingham (970,892)
West Midlands (county) 2,600,100 2,884/km² Birmingham (1,006,500) Birmingham (970,892)
Staffordshire 1,062,500 391/km² Stoke-on-Trent (240,636) Stoke-on-Trent (259,252)
Worcestershire 552,900 318/km² Wychavon (116,300) Worcester (93,400)
Warwickshire 522,200 264/km² Warwick (132,900) Nuneaton (70,721)
Shropshire 451,100 129/km² Shropshire (290,900) Telford (138,241)
Herefordshire 177,800 82/km² N/A[12] Hereford (50,400)

The West Midlands' population accounts for almost 11% of England's overall population. 49.36% of the region's population resides in the West Midlands county, 20.17% in Staffordshire, 10.49% in Worcestershire, 9.91% in Warwickshire, 8.56% in Shropshire, and 3.37% in Herefordshire.

Economy

Herefordshire

Strongbow Cider is made in Hereford

Bulmers Cider is in Hereford. Cadbury UK make milk chocolate near Marlbrook (near Leominster).

Shropshire

Müller Dairy Ltd is based in Market Drayton. At Crudgington, Dairy Crest makes Country Life butter and Clover. The PDSA and Rayburn Range are based in Telford. The MoD have a significant depot at Donnington. There are also high-technology industries such as Unimation, Nikon, Hitachi Maxell, Ricoh, Capgemini, Fujitsu and Electronic Data Systems. In Hortonwood, Denso Manufacturing UK Ltd make car air-conditioning systems and GKN Wheels make car wheels.

Staffordshire

JCB Dieselmax, holder of the land speed record for diesel-engined vehicles

The brewing companies such as Coors Brewers are in Burton on Trent, as well as Marmite, Marston's, GNC UK (health supplements) and Punch Taverns. JCB is based in Staffordshire, near the Alton Towers colossal leisure park. Newell Rubbermaid UK (owner of Parker Pen, Berol, Paper Mate and DYMO) is at Fradley Park, next to the A38, on an old airfield. Michelin Tyres are made in Sideway in Stoke-on-Trent, with Royal Doulton and Wedgwood based in Barlaston. Manor Bakeries make Mr Kipling slices and Cherry Bakewells in Springfields in the south of Stoke. RoadChef are at Norton Canes, near Cannock. Armitage Shanks is in Rugeley. Areva T&D (UK) (formerly owned by Alstom) is based in Stafford as well as a factory and UK headquarters of Bostik. Numark Pharmacy is in Tamworth (former base of Reliant). Premier Foods make Bird's Custard, Angel Delight and Marvel powdered milk in Knighton, west of Eccleshall near the Shropshire boundary.

Warwickshire

ConocoPhillips UK, JET UK (petrol), Bridgestone UK, National Grid plc, Telent, Calor, Baxi (now owned by De Dietrich), Volvo Group UK and a large data centre of IBM are in Warwick. BMW have their main European four-cylinder engine plant at Hams Hall near the M42. Codemasters, Aga Rangemaster Group, and Wolseley UK are in Leamington Spa. Subaru UK is in Coleshill. ALDI UK is in Atherstone. Holland & Barrett, the health food chain, Triton Showers (the UK's largest shower company), and Adams Childrenswear are based in Nuneaton. Aston Martin and Land Rover have their headquarters in Gaydon. Converteam UK (former Alstom), Morgan Est, and the european HQ of Gap are in Rugby. NFU Mutual is in Tiddington near Stratford and the NFU is in Stoneleigh as is AGCO Limited UK, who own Massey Ferguson; the large factory at Coventry closed in 2002. The British Horse Society is in Kenilworth. Rolls-Royce have a large engine overhaul plant (former Armstrong Siddeley) near Ansty and the M6/M69 junction in Coombe Fields.

West Midlands conurbation

Land Rover Defender, made in Solihull

Nationally famous companies in the West Midlands include Cadbury's in Bournville, Birmingham. Mitchells and Butlers, the pub chain company, CrossCountry, and National Express are in Birmingham. Small-scale production of MG cars was started again by Nanjing Automobile Group on part of the former MG Rover Group site at Longbridge in 2008. H. Samuel, the jewellers, is in Hockley of the Jewellery Quarter. RoSPA is based in Edgbaston; Dollond & Aitchison and ATS Euromaster are in Aston; Goodyear Tyres and Dunlop Tyres are in Erdington; and Severn Trent (water) in Sheldon. Alstom used to have a train factory in Washwood Heath, which built Pendolino traines, but closed in 2007. The Highways Agency have their National Traffic Control Centre in Quinton between the M5 and A456 near junction 3.

Goodrich UK is in Shirley. Daihatsu UK is in West Bromwich. E.ON UK (former Powergen), Jaguar Cars and Volvo Cars UK, Peugeot UK (head office), Jewson, the Learning and Skills Council, Lloyds Pharmacy, and Thomson Holidays are in Coventry. The Whitley plant, just south of Coventry, has the main research centre for Jaguar Land Rover, who also have a large manufacturing plant at Castle Bromwich Assembly; this site in Pype Hayes and Tyburn built half of the RAF's Spitfires in World War 2. The main Land Rover factory, Nationwide Autocentre, and Enterprise Inns are in Solihull. The Forensic Science Service is in Bickenhill, near the airport; the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) is just north, between the airport and the M42. Carillion, Tarmac and ADAS are in Wolverhampton, with Poundland in Willenhall. Hampson Industries is in Brierley Hill.

Vitamin C was first synthesised at the University of Birmingham in 1933, and in 1940 the university developed the cavity magnetron which was important in radar for RAF night fighters and the development of the microwave oven. The steam engine has mostly a Birmingham heritage.

Worcestershire

Halfords and GKN are in Redditch. Lea & Perrins is in Worcester. The West Midland Safari Park is off the A456 in Bewdley. Liquid crystal displays were developed in 1972 in conjunction with the Royal Radar Establishment, which largely invented the idea of the integrated circuit in the 1950s. It was based in Malvern, and became the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, which developed thermal imaging, and is now a large site owned by QinetiQ. Morgan Motor Company is in Malvern Link. Commsoft RMS is in Evesham.

Education

Birmingham (8), Walsall (2), Wolverhampton (1), Warwickshire (6), Stoke on Trent (1), and Telford and Wrekin (2) have selective schools. The other counties or metropolitan boroughs do not—being completely comprehensive. Virtually all of the grammar schools are in the top twenty schools for the West Midlands. Competition for these schools can be high, with their excellent records. At GCSE, the best performing area is Solihull, followed closely by Shropshire. Herefordshire is also above the England average. The worst performing area is Sandwell, followed by Stoke-on-Trent. Wolverhampton and Walsall also do not perform well. For a metropolitan borough, Dudley performs higher than many in Birmingham. At A level, the best performing area is Herefordshire, followed by Shropshire. All the other areas of the West Midlands perform under the UK average. Solihull does not perform as well at A level as it does at GCSE.

School league tables

Below is a list of the top twenty state schools in the West Midlands by 2008 A level results:

Universities

University of Birmingham
University of Warwick

There are nine universities in the region:

There are also three university colleges:

Local media

References

  1. ^ "Regional Transport Strategy: the National Picture". Government Office for the West Midlands. http://www.gos.gov.uk/gowm/Transport/TransportRegTransStrat/?a=42496. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  2. ^ "The LTP Process". Department for Transport. http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/ltp/theltpprocess. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  3. ^ "Herefordshire 2006-11 Local Transport Plan". Herefordshire Council. http://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/transport/3197.asp. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  4. ^ "Shropshire2006-11 Local Transport Plan". Shropshire Council. http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/traveltransport.nsf/open/ADE3AAF9F3AAD7C48025709E003D2144. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  5. ^ "Staffordshire2006-11 Local Transport Plan". Staffordshire County Council. http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/transport/transportplanning/localtransportplan/LocalTransportPlan2.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  6. ^ "Telford and Wrekin 2006-11 Local Transport Plan". Telford and Wrekin Council . http://www.telford.gov.uk/Transport+streets+and+parking/Transport+planning/Local+Transport+Plan+2006-2011+with+mid-term+Delivery+Report.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  7. ^ "Warwickshire 2006-11 Local Transport Plan". Warwickshire County Council. http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/ltp. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  8. ^ "West Midlands 2006-11 Local Transport Plan". West Midlands LTP. http://www.westmidlandsltp.gov.uk/. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  9. ^ "Worcestershire 2006-11 Local Transport Plan". Worcestershire County Council. http://worcestershire.whub.org.uk/home/wccindex/wcc-ht/wcc-ht-ltp-v2.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  10. ^ "Stoke-on-Trent 2006-11 Local Transport Plan". Stoke-on-Trent City Council. http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ccm/content/rc/LTP/provisional-north-staffordshire-ltp.en. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  11. ^ Office for National Statistics - Key Statistics for Urban Areas Population data
  12. ^ County of Hereford forms single local government unit (Unitary Authority)
  13. ^ Channel14.com

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The West Midlands, in its broadest sense, is the western part of central England (and therefore part of the United Kingdom as well). The region is heavily populated and industrialised, including several of the largest cities in the country, though still retaining much natural beauty in the rural counties.

Map of the West Midlands region
Map of the West Midlands region

The West Midlands region includes several traditional English counties as well as a central urban county called, confusingly enough, The West Midlands County:

Herefordshire
Worcestershire
Warwickshire
West Midlands County
Shropshire
Staffordshire

Understand

From around the 1870s until the 1970s, the region was "the workshop of the world", especially known for engineering, metal industries, beer production (due to the waters), and pottery from Stoke-on-Trent. There was also extensive coal mining. The centre of the industrial region, Birmingham, was known as "the city of a thousand trades" due to a vibrant free market in skills and an independent-minded population of workers. For complex reasons, this industrial base began to collapse from the 1960s onwards. Although much industry still remains, 100,000's of industrial factory-based jobs have been lost over the last 30 years.

The English counties that surround the urban core are still some of the most beautiful in England, especially Warwickshire, Worcestershire, most of north Staffordshire, and certain parts of Shropshire.

Get in

The main access points are Birmingham International Airport, and Birmingham New Street railways station.

By car

The West Midlands is well served by motorways connecting with other English regions. From London, the M40 and the M1/M6 are the most obvious choices, connecting directly with Birmingham and the northwestern part of the West Midlands respectively.

Get around

The road network is extensive, if convoluted. There are also good bus and rail networks, as well as national cycle-routes and a large canal network for narrowboats.

  • Shakespeare's birthplace Stratford upon Avon
  • Some of of England's finest castles in Warwick, Ludlow and Kenilworth
  • Unique architecture of Birmingham's Bull Ring shopping mecca
  • Industrial history including the world's first iron bridge in Ironbridge
This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|West Midlands]] The West Midlands is an official Region of England, covering the western half of the Midlands.

Contents

Geography

The official region contains the large conurbation that includes Birmingham and Wolverhampton and includes also the mainly rural shire counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. (Unofficially the West Midlands region also spreads as far as Cheshire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, but these are not part of the official region.)

There is some confusion in the use of the term "West Midlands", as the name is also used for the much smaller West Midlands county, and is still used by various organisations within that area such as West Midlands Police and West Midlands Fire Service.

The highest point in the region is Black Mountain, at 703 metres.

Towns and cities

Major towns and cities in the West Midlands region include:

Regional Assembly

The official representative body of the region is the West Midlands Regional Assembly which has limited administrative functions such as regional planning and economic development. The assembly is not an elected body, but is made up of members appointed from local councils across the region, and members from regional interest groups such as business and environmental groups and trade unions.

Local government

The official region consists of the following subdivisions:

Ceremonial county County/ unitary Districts
Herefordshire
Shropshire Shropshire † Bridgnorth, North Shropshire, Oswestry, Shrewsbury and Atcham, South Shropshire
Telford and Wrekin
Staffordshire Staffordshire † Cannock Chase, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Newcastle-under-Lyme, South Staffordshire, Stafford, Staffordshire Moorlands, Tamworth,
Stoke-on-Trent
Warwickshire North Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Rugby, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwick
West Midlands * Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, Wolverhampton
Worcestershire Bromsgrove, Malvern Hills, Redditch, Worcester, Wychavon, Wyre Forest

Key: shire county = † | metropolitan county = *

Economy

Coal mining used to be the main industry of the Black Country. Nationally famous companies in the West Midlands are Cadbury's in Bournville, Birmingham; the brewing companies such as Coors Brewers in Burton on Trent, as well as Marmite; JCB is based in Staffordshire.

Local media

  • The West Midlands region of the BBC is based at the Mailbox in Birmingham. From there, the regional programme Midlands Today is produced. ITV Central broadcasts from Birmingham, with its Central Tonight regional programme.
  • BBC Radios WM, Coventry & Warwickshire, Stoke, Hereford & Worcester and Shropshire.
  • Commercial radio stations: BRMB, Beacon Radio in Wolverhampton, Mercia FM in Coventry, Touch FM (Burton, Lichfield and Tamworth) in Tamworth, Touch FM (Coventry), Kerrang! 105.2 in Birmingham, Wyvern FM in Worcester, 100.7 Heart FM in Birmingham, and Signal 1 from Stoke.
  • Newspapers - the Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail, Express & Star in Wolverhampton, The Sentinel in Stoke-on-Trent and Coventry Evening Telegraph.

Other websites


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