Warwickshire ( or ) is a
county in the West Midlands
region of England.
county town is Warwick, although
the largest town is Nuneaton in the far
north of the county.
The shape of the administrative area
Warwickshire differs considerably from that of the historic county
. Commonly used
abbreviations for the county are Warks
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".
county has also produced other literary figures such as 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.
Warwickshire is bounded to the northwest by
the West Midlands metropolitan county and Staffordshire, by Leicestershire to the northeast, Northamptonshire to the east, Worcestershire to the west, Oxfordshire to the south and Gloucestershire to the southwest.
An average-sized English
county covering an area of almost 2,000 km2
runs some north to south.
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.
Major industries included coal mining
, 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
) are well-known outside of Warwickshire. The prosperous towns
of central and western Warwickshire including Leamington
Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon, Kenilworth, Alcester, and Warwick harbour
light to medium industries, services and tourism as major
of the county is largely rural and sparsely populated, and includes
a small area of the Cotswolds. The only town in the south of Warwickshire
is Shipston-on-Stour. The highest point in the county, at , is
Ebrington Hill on the border with northernmost Gloucestershire, at its southwest extremity.
The north of the county, bordering Staffordshire and
Leicestershire, is mildly undulating countryside and the
northernmost village, No Man's Heath, is only south of the Peak
District National Park's southernmost point.
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.
largest towns in Warwickshire as of 2004 are: Nuneaton (pop.
77,500), Rugby (62,700), Leamington Spa (45,300), and Bedworth
(32,500). Stratford, Warwick, and Kenilworth all house
20,000-25,000 inhabitants, while the smaller towns of Atherstone, Alcester, Coleshill, Southam, Bulkington, Polesworth, Kingsbury, Henley-in-Arden, Studley, Shipston. Wellesbourne and Whitnash have populations between 5,000 and
Arden and Felden
Much of western Warwickshire, including that area now forming part
of Birmingham and the West Midlands, 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 northwestern 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
historically part of Warwickshire include Coventry, Solihull, and most of Birmingham.
These became part of the metropolitan county
of West Midlands
government re-organisation in 1974.
In 1986 the West Midlands
was abolished and Birmingham, Coventry, and
Solihull became effective unitary
, however the West Midlands county name has not been
altogether abolished, and still exists for ceremonial purposes
, and so
these cities still remain outside Warwickshire.
organisations, such as Warwickshire County Cricket
Club, which is based in Edgbaston, in Birmingham, still observe the historic county
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 Radio
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 explode by almost a third-of-a-million overnight
should this occur, Coventry being the UK's 11th largest city.
of Tamworth was historically divided between Warwickshire and
Staffordshire, but since 1888 has been
fully in Staffordshire.
Warwickshire gained the town of Shipston-on-Stour from Worcestershire
and several villages, including Long
Marston and Welford-on-Avon, from Gloucestershire.
A list of the main settlements in Warwickshire, including towns, or
villages with a population of over 5,000.
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 Waeinewiscscr
named after Warwick (meaning
"dwellings by the weir
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
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.
- 1844: The Counties Act
transferred a township to, and two parishes from, the county.
Those parts of the town of Tamworth lying in Warwickshire were ceded to Staffordshire.
Harborne became part of the county borough of Birmingham and thus transferred from Staffordshire to
Warwickshire by the Local Govt. Bd.'s Prov. Orders Conf.
(No. 13) Act, 54 & 55 Vic. c. 161 (local act).
Quinton was formally removed from Worcestershire and
incorporated into the county borough of Birmingham, then in
Warwickshire, on 9 November.
The Staffordshire town of Handsworth and the Worcestershire towns of Northfield, Kings
Norton and Yardley became part of Birmingham and thus
Barr was ceded to Birmingham, from
- 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
of Shipston-on-Stour was gained from Worcestershire and several
villages, including Long Marston and Welford-on-Avon, from Gloucestershire.
Under The Local Government Act
1972, Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield were ceded to the new West Midlands county, the latter town
also becoming part of Birmingham.
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of
Warwickshire at current basic prices published
(pp.240–253) by Office for
with figures in millions of British Pounds
||Regional Gross Value Added
- components may not sum to totals due to rounding
- includes hunting and forestry
- includes energy and construction
- includes financial intermediation services indirectly
Like most English shire counties, Warwickshire has a two-tier
structure of local government
county has a county council based in
Warwick which is
elected every four years (the last election was held on 4 June 2009
the same day as the European Elections} it is
currently controlled by the Conservative Party), and is also
divided into five districts each with their own
district councils. These districts are: North
Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Rugby, Stratford, and Warwick (see map).
The county and district councils
are responsible for providing different services.
Atherstone is the headquarters of the North Warwickshire
district, whereas Leamington Spa is the headquarters of the Warwick
In addition many small towns and villages have their own parish councils
although these have only
Warwickshire is policed by the Warwickshire Police
The results of the 2009 County Council elections can be found
In the state sector, children start school in the school year in
which they turn five. They stay at primary school for seven years
(although this varies even within the county, as some people have
previously gone for four years and then spent another four years at
a 'middle school') until they are eleven. Warwickshire is one of
the few local authorities in England to still maintain the Grammar
school system in two districts: Stratford on Avon and Rugby,
although Southam claims to have a comprehensive school.
final year of primary school, children are given the opportunity of
sitting the eleven plus exam in order to
compete for a place at one of the Grammar schools, with two in
Stratford and Rugby and one in Alcester (including Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for
Edward VI School, a boys school; and Alcester Grammar School
The exam is sat on three different days and
consists of two verbal reasoning and mathematics papers and one
extended writing paper. In order to maintain standards, there is a
bank of papers that are used in rotation. In 2006, it was revealed
in a local newspaper, the Stratford Herald, that some private
eleven plus tutors had copies of the exam papers and that they were
using them as practice papers for their pupils. This meant that, in
some cases, pupils sitting the exam had seen the paper in
It should be noted that Warwickshire contains 4 Further Education
Colleges, North Warwickshire & Hinckley College which has main
colleges based in Nuneaton and the Leicestershire Town of Hinckley
with smaller colleges based around North Warwickshire, King Edward
VI Sixth Form College (K.E.G.S) in Nuneaton, Stratford Upon Avon
College and Warwickshire College
, an institution made up of six
main separate colleges that have merged together (Leamington
Centre, Rugby Centre, Moreton Morrell Centre, Pershore College,
Henley-in-Arden Centre, Trident Centre - Warwick).
also five independent schools within the county, namely; Rugby School, Warwick
School, Princethorpe College, Kingsley
School in Leamington Spa, and The King's High School For
Rugby School and Warwick School are arguably the two most notable schools within
Warwickshire, with Rugby
School being founded in 1567 and Warwick School originally being founded c.914 AD, which makes it
the oldest survivng boys school in the country.
achieve very impressive exam results and benefit from exceptional
facilities. Rugby School is one of nine schools that were defined as the
"great" English public schools by the Public Schools Act 1868, and is
unsurprisingly a member of the Rugby
Group. Both Rugby School and Warwick School are HMC schools, with the
Headmaster from each school attending the Headmasters' and
School in Solihull is also sometimes classified as being
in the county of Warwickshire.
The changes of the county
border has meant that the town was, at some points in time, within
Warwickshire and at others was not.
Several major motorways
Warwickshire. these include:
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 the
north west of England and the 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
the M40 to the M6 via Warwick, Kenilworth and Coventry) and the
(Leamington to Birmingham
Two major railway lines pass through Warwickshire.
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) and Hatton. 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
The WCML at Rugby
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 is one intermediate station
Orton near Coleshill in the extreme north-west of the
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 are several
stations on this line at Henley-in-Arden and at several small villages.
Main Line (WCML) runs through Warwickshire.
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.
also has direct rail services to London via the branch line to
Warwick (mentioned earlier).
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
. There is a
concerted campaign to re-open the station, although currently there
are no local services operating on the line, as it is used only by
Airport is located in the Warwickshire village of Baginton.
Canals and Waterways
in Warwickshire include:
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 River Avon
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
Places of interest
Warwickshire County Cricket
Club play at Edgbaston.
Notable players for Warwickshire have
been Brian Lara
, Bob Willis
, Geoff Humpage
The Warwickshire County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association
(GAA) (or Warwickshire GAA
) is one of the county boards
outside Ireland, and is responsible
for Gaelic games
in Warwickshire. The
county board is also responsible for the Warwickshire inter-county
teams. The play their home games at Páirc na hÉireann.
Warwickshire Schools GAA Board was
originally setup in September 2000. It has grown at a very healthy
rate such that as of May 2007 WSGAA now work in partnership with 28
primary schools, 15 Secondary schools, 2 HE/FE Colleges and 5 local
GAA clubs and in total an estimated 2385 young people. The aims of
the WSGAA include competition by their elite team in the
All-Ireland underage championships. This initiative is a remarkable
departure from the traditional way in which British GAA
clubs have been organised.
- Roger Squires, (2008), Britain's Restored Canals, 2nd
Ed., Landmark Publishing, ISBN 1-84306-331-X