West Midlands (county) facts for kids

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West Midlands
County
Flag
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West Midlands within England
West Midlands in England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Region West Midlands
Established 1 April 1974
(Local Government Act 1972)
Ceremonial county
Area 902 km2 (348 sq mi)
 • Ranked 42nd of 48
Population (2005 est.) 2,591,300
 • Ranked 2nd of 48
Density 2,874/km2 (7,440/sq mi)
Ethnicity 70.1% White (66.0% White British)
18.9% Asian
6.0% Black
3.4% Mixed
1.6% Other
Metropolitan county
Government West Midlands Combined Authority
Admin HQ Birmingham
Area 902 km2 (348 sq mi)
ONS code 2E
NUTS UKG3
Website www.westmidlandscombinedauthority.org.uk
West Midlands numbered districts.svg
Districts of West Midlands
Districts
  1. City of Wolverhampton
  2. Dudley
  3. Walsall
  4. Sandwell
  5. City of Birmingham
  6. Solihull
  7. City of Coventry
Members of Parliament 28 MPs
Police West Midlands Police
Time zone GMT (UTC)
 • Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)

The West Midlands is a metropolitan county in western central England with a 2014 estimated population of 2,808,356, making it the second most populous county in England. It came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972, formed from parts of Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. The county itself is a NUTS 2 region within the wider NUTS 1 region of the same name. The county consists of seven metropolitan boroughs: the City of Birmingham, the City of Coventry, and the City of Wolverhampton, as well as Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, and Walsall.

The metropolitan county exists in law and as a geographic frame of reference. and as a ceremonial county it has a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff. Between 1974 and 1986, the West Midlands County Council was the administrative body covering the county, this was abolished on 31 March 1986, and the constituent metropolitan boroughs effectively became unitary authorities. A new administrative body for the county; the West Midlands Combined Authority was created in June 2016. There will be a directly elected Mayor of the West Midlands from May 2017. Other county-wide bodies include the West Midlands Police, the West Midlands Fire Service and Transport for West Midlands.

The county is sometimes described as the "West Midlands metropolitan area" or the "West Midlands conurbation", although these have different, and less clearly defined, boundaries. The main conurbation, or urban area, does not include Coventry for example. The name "West Midlands" is also used for the much larger West Midlands region, which sometimes causes confusion, not surprising perhaps when geographically it is on the eastern side of the region, the western side comprising Shropshire and Herefordshire.

History

Although the modern county has only existed since 1974, the settlements of the West Midlands have long been important centres of commerce and industry as well as developing a good local infrastructure. Coventry was one of England's most important cities during the Middle Ages, with its prosperity built upon wool and cloth manufacture. Birmingham and Wolverhampton have a tradition of industry dating back to the 16th century, when small metal-working industries developed. Birmingham was known for its manufacture of small arms, whereas Wolverhampton became a centre of lock manufacture and brass working. The coal and iron ore deposits of the Black Country area provided a ready source of raw materials. The area grew rapidly during the Industrial Revolution, and by the 20th century had grown into one large conurbation. Coventry was slower to develop, but by the early 20th century, it had become an important centre of bicycle and car manufacture.

1966 saw a substantial reform in the local government of the area as the patchwork of county boroughs with municipal boroughs and urban district councils in between was replaced by a core of county boroughs covering a contiguous area, roughly as follows:

Around the periphery of this area, three other towns remained separate (Halesowen, Stourbridge and Sutton Coldfield), while Aldridge and Brownhills joined to form a single unit, called Aldridge-Brownhills. In the same year, a single West Midlands Constabulary was formed for the Black Country county boroughs, whilst Birmingham retained its Birmingham City Police and Solihull continued being policed by the Warwickshire Constabulary. The West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority was established in 1968.

County Creation

In 1974, the Local Government Act 1972 came into effect, creating the metropolitan county of West Midlands. This area was based on the seven county boroughs and the other non-county boroughs and urban districts around the fringe of the conurbation. The new area consisted of seven new metropolitan boroughs, with Aldridge-Brownhills added to Walsall; Halesowen and Stourbridge to Dudley and Sutton Coldfield to Birmingham. A new borough of Sandwell was formed by the merger of West Bromwich and Warley. The actual designation of Warley itself was abolished and the three towns of Smethwick, Oldbury and Rowley Regis reinstated as component parts of Sandwell, although these areas formed the Warley postal district.

Solihull took in much of the suburban fringe to the east of Birmingham, including the former villages of Chelmsley Wood and Castle Bromwich, also Birmingham Airport, and the area of countryside between Solihull and Coventry, whilst Coventry itself received only small changes and Wolverhampton was unaltered. This led to (apart from in the east, with Coventry and the Meriden Gap) quite a tightly defined metropolitan border, excluding such places as Burntwood, Bromsgrove, Cannock, Kidderminster, Lichfield and Wombourne which had been considered for inclusion in the West Midlands metropolitan area by the Redcliffe-Maud Report. The 1974 reform created the West Midlands County Council that covered the entire area and dealt with strategic issues. A new West Midlands Police service was formed covering the entire area, with the West Midlands Constabulary and Birmingham City Police abolished, and also taking over responsibility from the county forces.

post-1974 pre-1974
Metropolitan county Metropolitan borough County boroughs Non-county boroughs Urban districts Rural districts
West Midlands County.png
West Midlands is an amalgamation of 14 former local government districts, including eight county boroughs.
Birmingham Birmingham Sutton Coldfield - -
Coventry Coventry - - Meriden
Dudley Dudley Halesowen • Stourbridge • - -
Sandwell Warley • West Bromwich • - - -
Solihull Solihull - - Meriden • Stratford-on-Avon •
Walsall Walsall - Aldridge-Brownhills
Wolverhampton Wolverhampton - - -

West Midlands County Council

Westmidsarms
The arms of the West Midlands County Council, depicted here, became redundant with the abolition of the council in 1986 (though similar arms are used by the West Midlands Fire Service).

Between 1974 and 1986, the county had a two-tier system of local government, and the seven districts shared power with the county council. However, the Local Government Act 1985 abolished the county councils, and the West Midlands County Council ceased to exist in 1986. Most of its functions were devolved to the West Midland boroughs, which effectively became unitary authorities, with responsibility for most local authority functions.

Boundary changes

In 1994, the western/southern shores of Chasewater, plus the adjacent Jeffreys Swag, were transferred from the Metropolitan Borough of Walsall to the District of Lichfield, Staffordshire. Further boundary changes came into effect in 1995, when part of the Hereford and Worcester parish of Frankley (including the south-west part of Bartley Reservoir) was transferred to Birmingham and became part of the county.

West Midlands Combined Authority

On 17 June 2016 a new administrative body, the West Midlands Combined Authority was created for the county, under the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009, which created several other combined authorities in England. The new body has powers over transport, economic development, skills and planning. A new directly elected position of 'metro mayor' will be established in 2017 to chair the new body.

Geography

See also: List of places in the West Midlands, List of settlements in West Midlands (county) by population, Constituent areas of Birmingham, England, List of areas in Dudley, List of areas in Sandwell, List of areas in Walsall, and List of areas in Wolverhampton
West Midlands outline map with UK
Map of West Midlands, showing urban areas in grey and metropolitan district boundaries

The West Midlands is a landlocked county that borders the counties of Warwickshire to the east, Worcestershire to the south, and Staffordshire to the north and west.

The West Midlands County is one of the most heavily urbanised counties in the UK. Birmingham, Wolverhampton, the Black Country and Solihull together form the third most populous conurbation in the United Kingdom with a combined population of around 2.44 million. However, the West Midlands is not entirely urban; Coventry is separated from the West Midlands conurbation by a stretch of green belt land roughly 15 miles (24 km) across, known as the "Meriden Gap", which retains a strongly rural character. A smaller piece of green belt between Birmingham, Walsall and West Bromwich includes Barr Beacon and the Sandwell Valley.

The highest point in the West Midlands is Turners Hill, with a height of 271 m (889 ft). The hill is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Barr Beacon is another hill in the West Midlands, located on the border of Birmingham and Walsall, with a height of 227 m (745 ft).

There are 23 Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the county. One of these SSSIs is Sutton Park in Sutton Coldfield, which has an area of 970 hectares (2,400 acres). As a result, it is one of the largest urban parks in Europe, and the largest outside of a capital city in Europe. The park also has national nature reserve status.

There are numerous rivers that pass through the county, including the River Tame. The river basin is the most urbanised basin in the United Kingdom, with approximately 42% of the basin being urbanised. The River Tame is fed by the River Rea, River Anker, and the River Blythe, which in turn is fed by the River Cole. The River Sowe and River Sherbourne both flow through Coventry. The River Stour flows through the west of the West Midlands county.

Like other metropolitan counties, the West Midlands is divided into districts called metropolitan boroughs. There are seven boroughs in the West Midlands, which are named after the largest settlement in their administrative area. The West Midlands is unusual amongst the metropolitan counties in that three of its boroughs have city status; Coventry is a city by ancient prescriptive usage, Birmingham was granted city status in 1889, and Wolverhampton in 2000 as a "Millennium City".

Metropolitan borough Administrative centre Other towns
City of Birmingham Birmingham Edgbaston, Great Barr, Hall Green, Handsworth, Northfield, Quinton, Soho, Sutton Coldfield
City of Coventry Coventry Allesley, Binley, Keresley, Stoke, Tile Hill
Dudley Dudley Brierley Hill, Cradley, Halesowen, Kingswinford, Lye, Netherton, Stourbridge, Quarry Bank
Sandwell Oldbury Bearwood, Rowley Regis, Cradley Heath, Old Hill, Smethwick, Tipton, Tividale, Wednesbury, West Bromwich, Yew Tree
Solihull Solihull Balsall Common, Bickenhill, Castle Bromwich, Chelmsley Wood, Dorridge, Elmdon, Hampton-in-Arden, Kingshurst, Knowle, Marston Green, Meriden, Monkspath, Hockley Heath
Walsall Walsall Aldridge, Bloxwich, Brownhills, Darlaston, Pelsall, Pheasey, Shelfield, Willenhall
City of Wolverhampton Wolverhampton Bilston, Blakenhall, Bushbury, Oxley, Wednesfield

Demography

Population Density West Midlands 2011 Census
Population density in the 2011 census in the West Midlands.
Distribution of ethnic groups in the West Midlands according to the 2011 census.
White 
White-British 
White-Irish 
White-Other 
Asian 
Asian-Indian 
Asian-Pakistani 
Asian-Bangladeshi 
Asian-Chinese 
Black 
Black-African 
Black-Caribbean 
Other-Arab 
Distribution of religions in the West Midlands according to the 2011 census.
Christianity 
Islam 
Judaism 
Hinduism 
Sikhism 
Buddhism 
Other religion 
No religion 

Places of interest

See also: Category:Tourist attractions in Birmingham, West Midlands
Key
National Trust Owned by the National Trust
English Heritage Owned by English Heritage
Forestry Commission Owned by the Forestry Commission
Country Park A Country Park
Accessible open space An Accessible open space
Museum (free) Museum (free)
Museum Museum (charges entry fee)
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House
  • Ackers Adventure, Birmingham, Themepark uk icon.png
  • Aston Hall, Birmingham Historic house
  • Bantock House Museum and Park, Wolverhampton Historic house
  • Bescot Stadium (Walsall F.C.)
  • Bilston Craft Gallery, Wolverhampton Museum (free)
  • Birmingham Botanical Gardens Accessible open space
  • Birmingham Bullring
  • Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Museum (free)
  • Birmingham Hippodrome Drama-icon.svg
  • Black Country Living Museum, Dudley Museum
  • Blakesley Hall, Birmingham Historic house
  • Cadbury World, Bournville, Birmingham Themepark uk icon.png
  • Coventry Cathedral AP Icon.svg
  • Coventry SkyDome Arena
  • Coventry Transport Museum Museum (free)
  • Dudley Castle CL icon.svg
  • Dudley Zoo Zoo icon.jpg
  • Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham
  • International Convention Centre (including Symphony Hall), Birmingham Drama-icon.svg
  • Merry Hill Shopping Centre, Dudley
  • Molineux Stadium (Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C.)
  • Moseley Old Hall, Wolverhampton Historic houseNational Trust
  • National Exhibition Centre
  • National Indoor Arena (NIA), Birmingham
  • Sea Life Centre, Birmingham Zoo icon.jpg
  • Netherton Tunnel, Dudley
  • The New Art Gallery Walsall, Walsall Museum (free)
  • Perrott's Folly, Birmingham
  • Red House Glass Cone, Stourbridge Museum (free)
  • Ricoh Arena (Coventry City Football Club)
  • Sandwell Valley Country Park, West Bromwich Country Park
  • Sarehole Mill, Birmingham Museum
  • St Andrew's (Birmingham City Football Club)
  • St Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton AP Icon.svg
  • Star City
  • The Hawthorns (West Bromwich Albion Football Club)
  • Thinktank Millennium Point, Birmingham Museum
  • Tyseley Locomotive Works, Birmingham Heritage railway
  • University of Birmingham
  • Villa Park (Aston Villa Football Club)
  • Walsall Art Gallery Museum (free)
  • West Park, Wolverhampton Accessible open space
  • Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton Historic houseNational Trust
  • Winterbourne Botanic Garden, Birmingham Accessible open space
  • Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton Museum (free)
  • Wolverhampton Civic Hall, Wolverhampton
  • Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton Drama-icon.svg
  • Wolverhampton Racecourse, Wolverhampton

West Midlands (county) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.