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Warwickshire
County
Flag of Warwickshire.svg
County Flag of Warwickshire
Flag
Warwickshire within England
Warwickshire in England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Region West Midlands
Established Historic
Ceremonial county
Area 1,975 km2 (763 sq mi)
 • Ranked 31st of 48
Population (2005 est.) 533,900
 • Ranked 39th of 48
Density 270/km2 (700/sq mi)
Ethnicity 92.8% White
4.6% Asian
1.5% Mixed
0.8% Black
0.4% Other
Non-metropolitan county
County council Escut Warwickshire.png Warwickshire County Council
http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk
Executive Conservative (council NOC)
Admin HQ Warwick
Area 1,975 km2 (763 sq mi)
 • Ranked 28th of 27
Population 533,900
 • Ranked 23rd of 27
Density 270/km2 (700/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 GB-WAR
ONS code 44
NUTS UKG13
Warwickshire Numbered.png
Districts of Warwickshire
Districts
  1. North Warwickshire
  2. Nuneaton and Bedworth
  3. Rugby
  4. Stratford-on-Avon
  5. Warwick
Members of Parliament
  • Daniel Byles (C)
  • Marcus Jones (C)
  • Mark Pawsey (C)
  • Chris White (C)
  • Jeremy Wright (C)
  • Nadhim Zahawi (C)
Time zone GMT (UTC)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)

Warwickshire (Listeni/ˈwɒrkʃər/ or /ˈwɒrkʃɪər/) is a landlocked county in the West Midlands of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Commonly used abbreviations for the county are Warks or Warwicks.

The county is divided into five districts of North Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Rugby, Warwick and Stratford-on-Avon. The current county boundaries were set in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972. The historic county boundaries also included Coventry and Solihull, as well as much of Birmingham.

Geography

The county is bordered by Leicestershire to the northeast, Staffordshire to the northwest, Worcestershire and the West Midlands to the west, Northamptonshire to the east and southeast, Gloucestershire to the southwest and Oxfordshire to the south. The northern tip of the county is only 3 miles (5 km) from the Derbyshire border. An average-sized English county covering an area of almost 2,000 km2, it runs some 60 miles (97 km) north to south. Equivalently it extends as far north as Shrewsbury in Shropshire and as far south as Banbury in north Oxfordshire.

The majority of Warwickshire's population live in the north and centre of the county. The market towns of northern and eastern Warwickshire were industrialised in the 19th century, and include Atherstone, Bedworth, Nuneaton, and Rugby. Of these, Atherstone has retained most of its original character. Major industries included coal mining, textiles, engineering and cement production, but heavy industry is in decline, being replaced by distribution centres, light to medium industry and services. Of the northern and eastern towns, only Nuneaton and Rugby (as the birthplace of rugby football) are well-known outside of Warwickshire. The prosperous towns of central and western Warwickshire including Royal Leamington Spa, Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon, Kenilworth, Alcester and Wellesbourne harbour light to medium industries, services and tourism as major employment sectors.

The north of the county, bordering Staffordshire and Leicestershire, is mildly undulating countryside and the northernmost village, No Man's Heath, is only 34 miles (55 km) south of the Peak District National Park's southernmost point.

The south of the county is largely rural and sparsely populated, and includes a small area of the Cotswolds, at the border with northwest Gloucestershire. The only town in the south of Warwickshire is Shipston-on-Stour. The highest point in the county, at 261 m (856 ft), is Ebrington Hill, again on the border with Gloucestershire, grid reference SP187426 at the county's southwest extremity.

There are no cities in Warwickshire since both Coventry and Birmingham were incorporated into the West Midlands county in 1974 and are now metropolitan authorities in themselves. The largest towns in Warwickshire in 2011 were: Nuneaton (pop. 81,900), Rugby (70,600), Leamington Spa (49,500), Bedworth (32,500), Warwick (30,100), Stratford (25,500) and Kenilworth (22,400).

Arden and Felden

Much of western Warwickshire, including that area now forming part of Coventry, Solihull and Birmingham, was covered by the ancient Forest of Arden (most of which was cut down to provide fuel for industrialisation). Thus the names of a number of places in the central-western part of Warwickshire end with the phrase "-in-Arden", such as Henley-in-Arden, Hampton-in-Arden and Tanworth-in-Arden. The remaining area, not part of the forest, was called the Felden – from fielden.

Historic boundaries

Areas historically part of Warwickshire include Coventry, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Erdington, and some of Birmingham including Aston and Edgbaston. These became part of the metropolitan county of West Midlands (and Sutton Coldfield became part of Birmingham) following local government re-organisation in 1974.

In 1986 the West Midlands County Council was abolished and Birmingham, Coventry, and Solihull became effective unitary authorities, however the West Midlands county name has not been altogether abolished, and still exists for ceremonial purposes, and so the town and two cities remain outside Warwickshire.

Some organisations, such as Warwickshire County Cricket Club, which is based in Edgbaston, in Birmingham, still observe the historic county boundaries.

Coventry is effectively in the centre of the Warwickshire area, and still has strong ties with the county. Coventry and Warwickshire are sometimes treated as a single area and share a single Chamber of Commerce and BBC Local Radio Station (BBC Coventry & Warwickshire).

Coventry has been a part of Warwickshire for only some of its history. In 1451 Coventry was separated from Warwickshire and made a county corporate in its own right, called the County of the City of Coventry. In 1842 the county of Coventry was abolished and Coventry was remerged with Warwickshire. In recent times, there have been calls to formally re-introduce Coventry into Warwickshire, although nothing has yet come of this. The county's population would increase by almost a third-of-a-million overnight should this occur, Coventry being the UK's 11th largest city.

The town of Tamworth was historically divided between Warwickshire and Staffordshire, but since 1888 has been fully in Staffordshire.

In 1931, Warwickshire gained the town of Shipston-on-Stour from Worcestershire and several villages, including Long Marston and Welford-on-Avon, from Gloucestershire.

Settlements

The following towns and villages in Warwickshire have populations of over 5,000.

History

Warwickshire Administrative 1832
Warwickshire in 1832
Kenilworth Castle gatehouse landscape
Kenilworth Castle

Warwickshire came into being as a division of the kingdom of Mercia in the early 11th century. The first reference to Warwickshire was in 1001, as Wæringscīr named after Warwick (meaning "dwellings by the weir").

During the Middle Ages Warwickshire was dominated by Coventry, which was at the time one of the most important cities in England due to its textiles trade in the heart of England. Warwickshire played a key part in the English Civil War, with the Battle of Edgehill and other skirmishes taking place in the county. During the Industrial Revolution Warwickshire became one of Britain's foremost industrial counties, with the large industrial cities of Birmingham and Coventry within its boundaries.

Boundary changes

  • 1844: The Counties (Detached Parts) Act transferred a township to, and two parishes from, the county.
  • 1888: Those parts of the town of Tamworth lying in Warwickshire were ceded to Staffordshire.
  • 1891: Harborne became part of the County Borough of Birmingham and thus was transferred from Staffordshire to Warwickshire by the Local Govt. Bd.'s Prov. Orders Conf. (No. 13) Act, 54 & 55 Vic. c. 161 (local act).
  • 1891: The district of Balsall Heath, which had originally constituted the most northerly part of the Parish of King's Norton in Worcestershire, was added to the County Borough of Birmingham, and therefore Warwickshire, on 1 October 1891.
  • 1909: Quinton was formally removed from Worcestershire and incorporated into the County Borough of Birmingham, then in Warwickshire, on 9 November 1909.
  • 1911: The Urban District of Handsworth, in Staffordshire, and the Rural District of Yardley along with the greater part of the Urban District of King's Norton and Northfield, both in Worcestershire, were absorbed into Birmingham, and thus Warwickshire, as part of the Greater Birmingham Scheme on 9 November 1911.
  • 1928: Perry Barr Urban District was ceded to Birmingham from Staffordshire.
  • 1931: The boundaries between Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire were adjusted by the Provisional Order Confirmation (Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire) Act which transferred 26 parishes between the three counties, largely to eliminate exclaves. The town of Shipston-on-Stour was gained from Worcestershire and several villages, including Long Marston and Welford-on-Avon, from Gloucestershire.
  • 1974: Under The Local Government Act 1972, Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield were ceded to the new West Midlands county, with Sutton Coldfield becoming part of Birmingham.

Transport

Roads

Several major motorways run through Warwickshire. These include:

  • The M40 motorway, which connects London to Birmingham, runs through the centre of the county, and serves Leamington Spa, Warwick, and Stratford.
  • The M6 motorway, which connects northwestern England and the West Midlands to the M1 motorway (and then on to London), runs through the north of Warwickshire, and serves Rugby, Nuneaton and Bedworth on its way to Birmingham.
  • The M69 Coventry to Leicester motorway, which serves Nuneaton.
  • Other motorways pass briefly through Warwickshire including the M45 (a short spur south of Rugby connecting to the M1), the southern end of the M6 Toll, and the M42, which passes through the county at several points.

Other major trunk routes in Warwickshire includes the A45 (Rugby-Coventry-Birmingham and east into Northamptonshire route). The A46 (connects the M40 to the M6 via Warwick, Kenilworth and Coventry), the A452 (Leamington to Birmingham route) and the A5 runs through Warwickshire passing Nuneaton between Tamworth and Hinckley (at Atherstone).

Rail

See also: Category:Railway stations in Warwickshire

Two major railway lines pass through Warwickshire.

  • The Chiltern Main Line, the former Great Western route from London to Birmingham passes through the centre of Warwickshire on a route similar to the M40 motorway, and has stations at Leamington Spa, Warwick, (and Warwick Parkway), Hatton and Lapworth. Rail services are provided by Chiltern Railways and London Midland (Birmingham to Leamington only). There are also two branches off the Chiltern line, one from Leamington to Coventry, and another from Hatton near Warwick to Stratford.
Rugby railway station MMB 23 390XXX
The WCML at Rugby
  • The West Coast Main Line (WCML) runs through Warwickshire. At Rugby the WCML splits into two parts, one runs west through to Coventry and Birmingham, and the other the Trent Valley Line runs north-west towards Stafford and the north-west of England. This section has stations at Nuneaton, Atherstone, and Polesworth (North bound services only). There is one branch off the WCML from Nuneaton to Coventry, and there is a station at Bedworth on this branch.

Other railway lines in Warwickshire include the Birmingham-Nuneaton section of the Birmingham to Peterborough Line, which continues east of Nuneaton towards Leicester and Peterborough. Nuneaton has direct services to Birmingham and Leicester on this line, and there are two intermediate stations at Water Orton and Coleshill in the extreme north-west of the county.

There is also a branch line from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon. This line used to continue southwards to Cheltenham but is now a dead-end branch. There is an intermediate station on this line at Henley-in-Arden and at several small villages. Stratford also has direct rail services to London via the branch line to Warwick (mentioned earlier).

The only major town in Warwickshire not to have a station is Kenilworth. Although the Leamington to Coventry line passes through the town, its station was closed in the 1960s as part of the Beeching Axe. The station is now slated to re-open in December 2016, although currently there are no local services operating on the line, as it is used only by CrossCountry services.

Honeybourne Line

The Honeybourne Line is being reopened by the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway connecting Cheltenham Racecourse to Broadway and Honeybourne on the Cotswold Line (which connects with Hereford, Worcester and Oxford, Reading and London Paddington). There is only a short gap to connect many places to Stratford upon Avon with Honeybourne by reopening the line into Warwickshire. There is a good business case to restore the Stratford-Cotswolds link line.

Air

Coventry Airport is located in the Warwickshire village of Baginton.

Canals and waterways

Oxford Canal from Napton
The Oxford Canal at Napton-on-the-Hill

Canals in Warwickshire include:

  • The Grand Union Canal, which runs through Leamington and Warwick and onwards to Birmingham.

The restored Saltisford Canal Arm is close to the centre of Warwick, and is now a short branch of the Grand Union Canal. The arm is the remains of the original terminus of the Warwick and Birmingham Canal and dates back to 1799. The Saltisford Canal Trust have restored most of the surviving canal, which is now the mooring for colourful narrowboats and a waterside park open to the public. Over 800 visiting narrowboats come by water to Warwick each year and moor on the arm.Saltisford Canal Trust

  • The Coventry Canal which runs through the north of the county from Coventry through Bedworth, Nuneaton, Atherstone, and Polesworth, and then onwards to Tamworth.
  • The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal which runs from the Grand Union west of Warwick to Stratford.
  • The Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal passes briefly through Warwickshire from a junction with the Coventry Canal at Bedworth.
  • The Oxford Canal, which runs from near Coventry and then eastwards around Rugby, and then through the rural south of the county towards Oxford.

The River Avon is navigable from just north of Stratford. In 1974, the Higher Avon Navigation Trust made a proposal to extend the navigation to Warwick and Leamington, where a junction with the Grand Union Canal would create a new cruising ring. Warwickshire County Council believed the scheme to be a catalyst for economic regeneration in the area, but after gauging public support in 2003, decided not to support the plans. The Stratford and Warwick Waterway Trust is still actively pursuing the proposals.

Places of interest

  • Arbury Hall
  • Battle of Edgehill
  • The Belfry
  • Brinklow Castle
  • British Motor Museum
  • Burton Dassett Hills
  • Caldecotte Park
  • Charlecote Park
  • Charlecote Water Mill
  • Compton Verney House
  • Compton Wynyates
  • Coombe Abbey
  • Coombe Country Park
  • Coughton Court
  • Coventry Canal
  • Draycote Water
  • Grand Union Canal
  • Guy Fawkes House
  • Hartshill Hayes County Park
  • Hatton Country World
  • James Gilbert Rugby Football Museum
  • Jephson Gardens
  • Kenilworth Castle
  • Kingsbury Water Park
  • Ladywalk Reserve
  • Lunt Roman Fort
  • Lord Leycester Hospital
  • Lowsonford
  • Mary Arden's House
  • Midland Air Museum
  • Oxford Canal
  • Ragley Hall
  • River Avon
  • Rollright Stones
  • Royal Pump Rooms
  • Rugby Art Gallery and Museum
  • Rugby School
  • Ryton Pools Country Park
  • St Nicholas Park
  • University of Warwick
  • Warwick Castle
  • Warwick School
  • Wellesbourne Wartime Museum

Freedom of county

In March 2014 the freedom of the county was bestowed on the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the honour was officially bestowed following a parade through Warwick on 6 June 2014.

People

Warwickshire is perhaps best known for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon. Even today, road signs at the county boundary describe Warwickshire as "Shakespeare's County". The county has also produced other famous figures such as Aleister Crowley (from Royal Leamington Spa), George Eliot (from Nuneaton), Rupert Brooke (from Rugby), and Michael Drayton (from Hartshill). The poet Philip Larkin lived in Warwick (born in nearby Coventry), and Elizabeth Gaskell went to school in Barford and Stratford. Folk musician Nick Drake, who record for Island records in the late 60s, early 70s, lived and died in Tanworth-in-Arden.


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