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East Midlands
East Midlands, highlighted in red on a beige political map of England
East Midlands region in England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Status Region
 • Total 6,034 sq mi (15,627 km2)
Area rank 4th
 • Total 4,533,000
 • Rank 8th
 • Density 751.29/sq mi (290.07/km2)
 • Total £88 billion
 • Per capita £17,698 (5th)
ONS code E12000004

The East Midlands is one of nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. The eastern part of the Midlands, it consists of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire (except North and North east Lincolnshire), Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland.

The region has an area of 15,627 km2 (6,034 sq mi), and was home to over 4.5 million people in 2011. There are four cities, Derby, Leicester, Lincoln and Nottingham; other major towns include Boston, Chesterfield, Corby, Grantham, Hinckley, Kettering, Loughborough, Mansfield, Northampton and Wellingborough. The region's relative proximity to London and its connectivity on the national motorway and trunk road networks help the East Midlands thrive as an economic hub. It is also the location of East Midlands Airport in north Leicestershire.


The high point at 636 m (2,087 ft) is Kinder Scout, in the Peak District of the southern Pennines in northwest Derbyshire near Glossop. Other upland, hilly areas of 95 to 280 m (312 to 919 ft) in altitude, together with lakes and reservoirs, rise in and around the Charnwood Forest north of Leicester, and in the Lincolnshire Wolds.

The region's major rivers, the Nene, the Soar, the Trent and the Welland, flow in a northeasterly direction towards the Humber and the Wash. The Derwent, conversely, rises in the High Peak before flowing south to join the Trent some 2 miles (3 km) before its conflux with the Soar.

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Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, next to the Trent, and Waitrose, in Newark-on-Trent

The centre of the East Midlands area lies roughly between Bingham, Nottinghamshire and Bottesford, Leicestershire. The geographical centre of England lies in Higham on the Hill in west Leicestershire, close to the boundary between the East and West Midlands. Some 88% of the land is rural in character, although agriculture accounts for less than three per cent of the region's jobs.

Lincolnshire is the only maritime county of the six, with a true North Sea coastline of about 30 miles (48 km) due to the protection afforded by Spurn Head and the North Norfolk foreshore.). In April 1936 the first Ordnance Survey trig point was sited at Cold Ashby in Northamptonshire.

The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and The Wildlife Trusts are based next to the River Trent and Newark Castle railway station. The National Centre for Earth Observation is at the University of Leicester.


The region is home to large quantities of limestone, and the East Midlands Oil Province. Charnwood Forest is noted for its abundant levels of volcanic rock, estimated to be approximately 600 million years old.

25% of the UK's cement is manufactured in the region at three large sites in Hope and Tunstead in Derbyshire, and in Ketton Cement Works in Rutland. Of the aggregates that are produced in the region, 25% is from Derbyshire and 4-% is from Leicestershire. Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire each produce around 30% of the region's sand and gravel output.

Barwell in Leicestershire had Britain's largest meteorite (7 kg, 15 lb) on 24 December 1965. The 2008 Lincolnshire earthquake was 5.2 magnitude.


Areas of the East Midlands designated by the East Midlands Biodiversity Partnership as Biodiversity Conservation Areas include:

Image-Major Oak in Sherwood Forest in 2006 (2)
Major Oak in Sherwood Forest; a traditional landmark of the Northeast Midlands and Southern Yorkshire.

Areas of the East Midlands designated by the East Midlands Biodiversity Partnership as Biodiversity Enhancement Areas include:

Two nationally designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty include:


Several towns in the southern part of the region, including Market Harborough, Desborough, Rothwell, Corby, Kettering, Thrapston, Oundle and Stamford, lie within the boundaries of what was once Rockingham Forest – a designated royal forest. Rockingham Forest was designated as a royal hunting forest by William the Conqueror, and was long used by English kings and queens.

The National Forest is an environmental project in central England run by The National Forest Company. Areas of north Leicestershire, south Derbyshire and southeast Staffordshire, covering around 200 square miles (520 km2; 52,000 ha), are being planted, in an attempt to blend ancient woodland with new plantings to create a new national forest. It stretches from the western outskirts of Leicester in the east to Burton upon Trent in the west, and is planned to link the ancient forests of Needwood and Charnwood.

Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire attracts many visitors, and is perhaps best known for its ties with the legend of Robin Hood.

Population and settlement

The East Midlands' largest settlements are Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Northampton, Chesterfield, Lincoln, Mansfield, Loughborough and Kettering. Leicester is the largest city in the region, whilst the Nottingham Urban Area is its largest urban conurbation.


9% of all jobs in the region are in logistics. Traffic in the region is growing at 2% per year – the highest growth rate of all regions in the United Kingdom. It has been estimated that there are approximately 140,000 heavy goods vehicle journeys made inside the region each day.


The M1 (part of the E13 European route) serves the four largest urban areas in the region, namely Northampton, Leicester, Derby and Nottingham, and affords a motorway link between London and Yorkshire.

To the east of the largest cities lies the A1 (part of the E15 European route), an important route for journeys to and from ports on England's northeast coast and the capital, and is a major artery for the United Kingdom's agricultural industry.

The A46 follows the Fosse Way which, since Roman times, has provided a connection between the southwestern and northeastern parts of England.

The A43 dual carriageway connects the East Midlands with the M40 motorway corridor and on to the South of England and Solent ports.

The historically important A5 runs along the south west Leicestershire boundary to the south of Lutterworth and Hinckley.


East Midlands2
East Midlands Airport (looking west)

East Midlands Airport in North West Leicestershire is situated between the three cities of Derby, Nottingham and Leicester. The airport is the region's biggest public airport, used by over 4 million passengers per year.

Rivalry between the region's three biggest cities has led to a long-running discussion about the identity of both the airport, and region, with The East Midlands rarely found on any non-political map of the UK. The name was at one point changed to Nottingham East Midlands Airport so as to include the name of the city that is supposedly most internationally recognisable, mainly due to the Robin Hood legend. However, the airport has a Derby phone number and postcode, and is in Leicestershire, but is officially assigned to Nottingham by IATA. As a result of the dispute the name was soon changed back, to now include all city names.

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Air cargo aircraft at EMA

Three of the world's four main international airfreight companies (integrators) have their UK operations at EMA: DHL, UPS and TNT (TNT bought by UPS); FedEx have theirs at Stansted. It is the second-largest freight airport in the UK after Heathrow, but most freight from EMA is carried on dedicated planes, whereas most freight from Heathrow is carried on passenger planes (bellyhold). Royal Mail have their main airport hubs at Heathrow and EMA, as EMA is conveniently near the M1, A42 and A50. Heathrow takes around 60% of UK air freight, and EMA around 10%, with Stansted, Manchester and Gatwick next. Air freight has grown at EMA from 1994–2004 from around 10,000 tonnes to over 250,000 tonnes; previously it did not have much air freight. The main hours of cargo flying are from 8 pm to 5 am; domestic cargo flies into the airport in the evening, then from 11:30 pm to 1:30 am cargo flies to European capitals, then from 3 am to 5 am cargo flies from Europe to EMA. It is the UK's 12th largest passenger airport; the runway is the UK's sixth-longest at 2,900 metres (9,500 ft). Royal Mail flights from EMA go to Belfast, Edinburgh, Inverness, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Exeter and Bournemouth, and it is the largest UK Royal Mail air hub, with 11 flights per night. DHL is the main route carrier at EMA by far with 20 flights per night, UPS have 6, and TNT have 2 (Belfast and Liège); for hubs in Europe, DHL flies to Leipzig, UPS to Cologne, and TNT at Liege.

Smaller airports include Retford Gamston Airport, Nottingham Airport, Leicester Airport, Hucknall Airfield, Sywell Aerodrome, and Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome. Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield lies just outside the East Midlands, in South Yorkshire, but is within the historic boundaries of Nottinghamshire.


Two of the United Kingdom's mainline railways serve the region: the Midland Main Line and the East Coast Main Line, providing services terminating at London St Pancras railway station and London King's Cross railway station respectively. Both operators provide regular high-speed services to London, at up to 125 mph (200 km/h), serving Wellingborough, Kettering, Corby, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough, Derby, East Midlands Parkway, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Grantham, Newark North Gate and Retford. Northampton and Long Buckby are served by the Northampton Loop of the West Coast Main Line. England's primary southwest to northeast Cross Country Route runs through Derby. Worksop, Mansfield, Lincoln, Matlock, Melton Mowbray, Skegness, Boston, Spalding and Oakham are served by regional services.

A land speed record for trains was broken in the region. Although the record was set in 1938, the current world speed record for steam trains is held by LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard, which clocked 126 mph (203 km/h) between Grantham and Peterborough, pulling six coaches on the East Coast Main Line near Little Bytham in Lincolnshire, on 3 July 1938. The Mallard record was not broken by any BR train until 6 June 1973 when an HST between Northallerton and Thirsk reached 131 mph (211 km/h); Mallard in 1938 had 6 carriages and a dynamometer car. The national speed record (pre-High Speed 1) for electric trains of 162 mph (261 km/h) was set on the same stretch as the Mallard record on 17 September 1989 by Class 91 91010 (now painted with the livery of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight).

There are currently plans to bring a new high-speed rail line through the East Midlands as part of the High Speed 2 project. Phase 2 of this project would see a new line connecting Birmingham to Leeds, with a proposed station in Toton known as the East Midlands Hub.


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The River Trent at the former High Marnham Power Station, next to the 1897 Fledborough Viaduct

The Trent is a navigable river, and is used to transport goods to the Humber, as well as passing by many power stations. The Trent is the only river in England to be able to support cooling water for power stations for most of its length; it has the largest water capacity in England, although it is not the longest.

Several rivers in the region gave their name to early Rolls-Royce jet engines, namely the Nene, the Welland, and the Soar.

Transport policy

As part of the transport planning system, the now defunct Regional Assembly was under statutory requirement to produce a Regional Transport Strategy to provide long term planning for transport in the region. This involved region wide transport schemes such as those carried out by the Highways Agency and Network Rail.

Within the region, local transport authorities carry out transport planning through the use of a Local Transport Plan (LTP), which outlines their strategies, policies and implementation programme. The most recent LTP is that for the period 2006–11. In the East Midlands region the following transport authorities have published their LTP online: Derbyshire, Leicestershire. Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland U.A. The unitary authorities of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham have each written a joint LTP in collaboration with their respective local county councils.



A historical basis for such an area exists in the territory of the Corieltauvi tribe. When the Romans took control of the region, they made Leicester one of their main forts (then named Ratae Corieltauvorum). The main town in the region in Roman times was Lincoln, at the confluence of the Fosse Way and Ermine Street.

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The Five Boroughs of the Danelaw

Danelaw and the Anglo-Saxons

The region also corresponds to the later Five Boroughs of the Danelaw, and the eastern half of the Anglian Kingdom of Mercia. In around 917 the region was subdivided between Danelaw (Vikings) to the north, and Mercia (Saxons) to the south. By 920, this border was moved further north to the River Humber. Evidence of the Danelaw can be seen in place-name endings of the region's villages, particularly towards the east. The Danes under Canute recaptured the area from around 1016 to 1035.

Civil War

Two main battles in the English Civil War were the Battle of Naseby in northern Northamptonshire on 14 June 1645, and the Battle of Winceby on 11 October 1643 in eastern Lincolnshire.

Scientific heritage

Isaac Newton, born in Grantham in 1642 is perhaps the most prolific scientist ever. His accomplishments include Calculus, Newton's laws of motion, and Newton's law of universal gravitation among many other. There is a shopping centre named in his honour in Grantham.

Henry Cavendish, loosely connected with Derbyshire, discovered hydrogen in 1766 (although the element's name came from Antoine Lavoisier), and Cavendish was the first to estimate an accurate mass of the Earth in 1798 in his Cavendish experiment. The Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge is named after a relative. Herbert Spencer coined the term "survival of the fittest" in 1864, which was once strongly linked with social Darwinism. Sir John Flamsteed was the first Astronomer Royal of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in 1675. Robert Bakewell, of Dishley in Leicestershire and known for his English Leicester sheep, invented selective breeding; his English Longhorn were the first ever cattle bred for beef.

George Boole, pioneer of Boolean logic (upon which all digital electronics and computers depend), was born in Lincoln in 1815. Boole's grandson, the physicist G. I. Taylor, made significant experimental contributions to quantum mechanics. The first practical demonstration of radar was near Daventry in 1935. Robert Robinson, of Chesterfield in Derbyshire, invented the circular symbol in 1925 for the pi bonds of the benzene ring, as found on all structural diagrams of aromatic compounds. Nicola Pellow, a maths undergraduate at Leicester Polytechnic, whilst at CERN in November 1990, wrote the world's second web browser.

Silicone was invented 1899 by Prof Frederick Kipping at University College, Nottingham. Michael Creeth of Northampton discovered the hydrogen-bonding mechanism between DNA bases, allowing the structure of DNA to be discovered. Nottinghamshire's Ken Richardson was in charge of the team at Pfizer in Sandwich, Kent that in 1981 discovered Fluconazole (Diflucan), the world's leading antifungal medicine, especially useful for people with weakened immune systems, and has few side effects; he is now one of the few Britons in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Don Grierson at the University of Nottingham was the first to invent a GM tomato, which was the first GM food on sale in the UK, and the USA.

Louis Essen, a physicist from Nottingham, made advances in the quartz clock in the 1930s at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, to produce the quartz ring clock in 1938, and the caesium clock, known as the atomic clock, in 1955. During the war he invented the cavity resonance wavemeter to find the first accurate value of the speed of light. The atomic clock works on differences in magnetic spin. Before Essen's invention, the second was defined on the orbit of the Earth around the Sun; he changed it in 1967 to be based on the hyperfine structure of the caesium-133 atom. Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), in Paris, takes the average of 300 atomic clocks around the world.

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Steep Hill in Lincoln
Fox hunting is historically linked with the East Midlands


See also: Received Pronunciation#History

The East Midlands colloquially use a distinctive form of spoken dialect and accent in some areas. It also has some history in the beginnings of Received Pronunciation and southern England accents. The above links expand on these in detail.

The area is known historically for its food, examples of which include Red Leicester, the Lincolnshire sausage, the Melton Mowbray pork pie, Stilton, the Bakewell tart, and the Bramley apple.

D. H. Lawrence is perhaps the region's best known author, although only gained full recognition in the late twentieth century. The Key Words Reading Scheme (Peter and Jane) was first produced in 1964 by Ladybird of Loughborough, being still all in print, helped many children to read; the books were the idea of Douglas Keen of Heanor, which got going in 1948; the first book was British Birds and Their Nests. Ladybird Books were published in Loughborough throughout their 1960s and 1970s heyday, with the site closing 1998.

William Booth of Nottingham founded The Salvation Army in 1865. Another religious order, the Pilgrim Fathers, originated from Babworth near Retford. The Quakers, also known as the Religious Society of Friends, were founded by Leicestershire-born (Fenny Drayton) George Fox, who had inspiration whilst living in Mansfield in 1647. Thomas Cranmer from Aslockton made the Book of Common Prayer.

Joseph Wright of Derby an artist whose paintings symbolised the struggle between science and religious values in the Age of Enlightenment. He was also suggested to be "the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution".

Charles Frederick Worth, born in Lincolnshire in 1825, is considered to be the founder of Parisian haute couture, and thought be world's first true fashion designer.

Industrial heritage

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Watford Gap services, Britain's first motorway service station, opened in November 1959

The region can claim the world's first factory, Sir Richard Arkwright's Cromford Mill. Additionally, the world's oldest working factory can also be found in the area, producing textiles at Lea Bridge, owned by John Smedley. Both sites are part of the region's only World Heritage Site, the Derwent Valley Mills. An opportunist employee of the Derbyshire textile factories, Samuel Slater of Belper saw his chance and (illegally) eloped in 1789 to Rhode Island in the USA after memorising the layout of the textile machinery while working at Jedediah Strutt's Milford Mill. He was warmly welcomed by the inhabitants of the newly formed USA, so much so that he was later named the "Father of the American Industrial Revolution".

Britain's hosiery and knitwear industry was largely based in the region, and in the 1980s it had more textile workers than any other British region. The stocking frame was invented 1587 in Calverton, Nottinghamshire by Rev William Lee; these were the first known knitting machines and heralded the industrial revolution by providing the necessary machinery. The world's first (horse-powered) cotton mill was built in central Nottingham in 1768. Marvel's Mill in Northampton was the first cotton mill to be powered by water.

John Barber of Nottinghamshire had invented a simple gas turbine in 1791 (when living in Nuneaton). Lincoln was the site of the first tank (first built on 8 September 1915, Little Willie was the first tank, and is the oldest surviving tank in the world, originally called the No.1 Lincoln Machine), and Grantham the first diesel engine (in 1892). The jet engine was first developed in the region in Lutterworth and Whetstone, with the VTOL engine also (initially) developed in Hucknall. The first jet aircraft flew from RAF Cranwell in May 1941. During the Second World War, Derby was an important strategic location, as it was in Derby that Rolls-Royce developed and manufactured their iconic Merlin aero-engine. During the Second World War, all of R-R's engineering staff had been transferred to Belper.

Derby was also home to an important railway workshop, initially for the Midland Railway, then the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and finally British Railways. British Rail Research Division in Derby invented the APT and Maglev. The first ever steel rails were laid in 1857 in Derby railway station for the Midland Railway.

At its height, Corby Steelworks were the largest in Britain. The collapsible baby buggy was invented in 1965 at Barby, Northamptonshire by Owen Maclaren. Ford's £8 million Daventry Parts Distribution Centre (Ford Parts Centre) was fully opened on 6 September 1972 (the first southern section opened in 1968), and was the UK's largest building by floor area for many years at 36.7 acres (149,000 m2), and is situated opposite the Cummins factory.

The largest camera in the world was built in 1957 in Derby for Rolls-Royce, which weighed 27 tonnes and was around 8 feet (2.4 m) high, 8 feet (2.4 m) wide and 35 feet (11 m) long, with a 63-inch (1,600 mm) lens made by Cooke Apochromatic. Cooke Optics and Taylor-Hobson were major supplier of lenses for Hollywood; Star Wars was filmed with their lenses, filmed in England. Horace W. Lee invented the inverted telephoto lens (known as the Angénieux retrofocus) in 1931, lengthening the back focal length of the camera for the 1930s Technicolor Process and for vignetting. Arthur Warmisham of Taylor & Hobson invented the first non-telescopic 35 mm zoom lens, the Cooke Varo 40– 120mm Lens, in a camera manufactured by Bell & Howell of the USA. The popular 35 mm Eyemo film camera came with Cooke lenses. Much of World War II aerial photography, where definition was important, was through Cooke lenses, due to their Apochromatic process. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Cooke Speed Panchro lenses were the most popular choice for cinema films, then from the 1970s their Varotal zoom lens, which would win Gordon Henry Cook the 1988 Gordon E. Sawyer Award at the Oscars.

J. P. Knight of Nottingham is credited with inventing green and red traffic lights (installed in London) on 9 December 1868, but these lasted only three weeks; traffic lights would be introduced only from the 1920s in London (from an American-led design scheme). Edgar Purnell Hooley, a Nottinghamshire surveyor, in 1901 was in Denby and found a stretch of road surface that was smooth from an accidental leak of tar over the surface. He patented a process of mixing tar with chipped stones in 1902, forming Tarmac, a name which he patented. Radcliffe Road (A6011) in West Bridgford in 1902 was the first tarmac road (5 miles or 8.0 kilometres long) in the world.

Mettoy was a famous firm in the St James area of Northampton, which from 1933 produced Corgi toys (mostly made in Swansea and designed in Northampton), and in the 1970s it made the space hopper; the company collapsed in 1983, moving to Swansea. In Leicestershire was Palitoy, another world-famous firm in Coalville; General Mills bought it in 1968 and production ceased in 1984, and the site was closed by Hasbro in 1994. Pedigree Dolls & Toys (Sindy) was in Wellingborough, closing in 1982. The first plastic DVD case was made in Corby by Amaray.

Much integrated circuit and semiconductor research was carried out at Caswell (Plessey) near Towcester, ahead of much of what was being achieved in America by Jack Kilby; Plessey invented a model of the integrated circuit in 1957. It was later a site for manufacturing monolithic microwave integrated circuits in the 1990s by Marconi Materials Technology. The site was Plessey's main research site during the Second World War and also known as the Allen Clark Research Centre.

Torksey railway viaduct, built across the Trent in 1849, is considered to be the first box girder bridge, designed by Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet. The tallest freestanding structure in the region is the chimney of West Burton power station (north Nottinghamshire) at 656 ft (200 m)*. Nottingham Combined Heating and Power Scheme is the largest district heating system in the UK, centred on the Eastcroft incinerator, built in 1972; it serves a leisure centre and both of the city's shopping centres. The 72 ft Nunn's Bridge across Hobhole Drain at Fishtoft, designed by LG Mouchel, was the first pre-stressed concrete bridge built in-situ in the UK, in 1948, built for the Witham Fourth District IDB.

Second World War

Most of the region was protected by a solitary RAF station, RAF Digby near Sleaford, part of No. 12 Group RAF and controlled from RAF Watnall. Within the East Midlands, only Nottingham was heavily bombed during the Second World War's Blitz, due to the presence of a large Royal Ordnance factory. However, much of the aerial obliteration of Germany was directed from the region, with two bomber groups based in Lincolnshire (No.1 and No.5), and a few squadrons in South Nottinghamshire.

Regional governance

The current government office region was created in 1994. Government funding decisions moved from Melton Mowbray (the East Midlands Regional Assembly) to Nottingham (the East Midlands Development Agency) in April 2010.

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