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Status: Ceremonial & Non-metropolitan county
Region: West Midlands

- Total

- Admin. council
Ranked 31st

1,975 km2

Ranked 28th
Admin HQ: Warwickmarker
ISO 3166-2: GB-WAR
ONS code: 44

- Total ( )

- Density

- Admin. Council

/ km²

Ethnicity: 95.6% White

2.8% S. Asian

Warwickshire County Council

  1. North Warwickshiremarker
  2. Nuneaton and Bedworthmarker
  3. Rugbymarker
  4. Stratford-on-Avonmarker
  5. Warwickmarker

Warwickshire ( or ) is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of Englandmarker. The county town is Warwickmarker, although the largest town is Nuneatonmarker 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 or Warwicks.


Warwickshire is perhaps best known for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avonmarker. Even today, road signs at the county boundary describe Warwickshire as "Shakespeare's County". The county has also produced other literary figures such as George Eliot (from Nuneatonmarker), Rupert Brooke (from Rugbymarker), and Michael Drayton from Hartshillmarker. The poet Philip Larkinmarker 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 Leicestershiremarker to the northeast, Northamptonshiremarker to the east, Worcestershire to the west, Oxfordshire to the south and Gloucestershiremarker to the southwest. An average-sized English county covering an area of almost 2,000 km2, it 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 Atherstonemarker, Bedworthmarker, Nuneatonmarker, and Rugbymarker. 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 Leamington Spamarker, Stratford-upon-Avonmarker, Kenilworthmarker, Alcestermarker, and Warwickmarker harbour light to medium industries, services and tourism as major employment sectors.

The south of the county is largely rural and sparsely populated, and includes a small area of the Cotswoldsmarker. The only town in the south of Warwickshire is Shipston-on-Stourmarker. The highest point in the county, at , is Ebrington Hill on the border with northernmost Gloucestershiremarker, 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.

There are no cities in Warwickshire since both Coventrymarker and Birminghammarker were incorporated into the West Midlands county in 1974 and are now metropolitan authorities in themselves. The 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 Atherstonemarker, Alcestermarker, Coleshillmarker, Southammarker, Bulkingtonmarker, Polesworthmarker, Kingsburymarker, Henley-in-Ardenmarker, Studleymarker, Shipstonmarker. Wellesbournemarker and Whitnashmarker have populations between 5,000 and 12,000.

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-Ardenmarker, Hampton-in-Ardenmarker and Tanworth-in-Ardenmarker. The remaining area, not part of the forest, was called the Felden - from fielden.

Historic boundaries

Areas historically part of Warwickshire include Coventrymarker, Solihullmarker, and most of Birminghammarker. These became part of the metropolitan county of West Midlands 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 these cities still remain outside Warwickshire.

Some organisations, such as Warwickshire County Cricket Club, which is based in Edgbastonmarker, 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 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 Coventrymarker. 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.

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

In 1931, Warwickshire gained the town of Shipston-on-Stourmarker from Worcestershire and several villages, including Long Marstonmarker and Welford-on-Avonmarker, from Gloucestershiremarker.


A list of the main settlements in Warwickshire, including towns, or villages with a population of over 5,000.


A detailed map

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

During the Middle Ages Warwickshire was dominated by Coventrymarker, 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 Edgehillmarker 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 Birminghammarker and Coventrymarker within its boundaries.

Boundary changes

  • 1844: The Counties Act transferred a township to, and two parishes from, the county.
  • 1888: Those parts of the town of Tamworthmarker lying in Warwickshire were ceded to Staffordshire.
  • 1891: Harbornemarker became part of the county borough of Birminghammarker 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).
  • 1909: Quintonmarker was formally removed from Worcestershire and incorporated into the county borough of Birmingham, then in Warwickshire, on 9 November.
  • 1911: The Staffordshire town of Handsworthmarker and the Worcestershire towns of Northfieldmarker, Kings Nortonmarker and Yardleymarker became part of Birmingham and thus Warwickshire.
  • 1928: Perry Barrmarker 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-Stourmarker was gained from Worcestershire and several villages, including Long Marstonmarker and Welford-on-Avonmarker, from Gloucestershiremarker.
  • 1974: Under The Local Government Act 1972, Birmingham, Coventrymarker, Solihullmarker and Sutton Coldfieldmarker 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 National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 5,063 153 1,717 3,193
2000 7,150 125 2,196 4,829
2003 8,142 159 2,054 5,928
  1. components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  2. includes hunting and forestry
  3. includes energy and construction
  4. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

Local government

Like most English shire counties, Warwickshire has a two-tier structure of local government. The county has a county council based in Warwickmarker 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 Warwickshiremarker, Nuneaton and Bedworthmarker, Rugbymarker, Stratfordmarker, and Warwickmarker (see map). The county and district councils are responsible for providing different services.

Atherstonemarker is the headquarters of the North Warwickshire district, whereas Leamington Spamarker is the headquarters of the Warwick district.

In addition many small towns and villages have their own parish councils although these have only limited powers.

Warwickshire is policed by the Warwickshire Police

The results of the 2009 County Council elections can be found here


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. In the 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 Girlsmarker; King Edward VI Schoolmarker, a boys school; and Alcester Grammar School (mixed)). 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 advance.

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).

There are also five independent schools within the county, namely; Rugby Schoolmarker, Warwick Schoolmarker, Princethorpe Collegemarker, Kingsley Schoolmarker in Leamington Spamarker, and The King's High School For Girlsmarker, Warwickmarker.

Rugby Schoolmarker and Warwick Schoolmarker are arguably the two most notable schools within Warwickshire, with Rugby Schoolmarker being founded in 1567 and Warwick Schoolmarker originally being founded c.914 AD, which makes it the oldest survivng boys school in the country. Both schools achieve very impressive exam results and benefit from exceptional facilities. Rugby Schoolmarker 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 Schoolmarker and Warwick Schoolmarker are HMC schools, with the Headmaster from each school attending the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

Solihull Schoolmarker 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 run through Warwickshire. these include:

  • The M40 motorway which connects Londonmarker to Birminghammarker, 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 (connects the M40 to the M6 via Warwick, Kenilworth and Coventry) and the A452 (Leamington to Birmingham route).


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 Parkwaymarker) and Hattonmarker. 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.
The WCML at Rugby
  • The West Coast Main Linemarker (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 Staffordmarker and the north-west of England. This section has stations at Nuneatonmarker, Atherstonemarker, and Polesworthmarker (North bound services only). There is one branch off the WCML from Nuneatonmarker to Coventrymarker, and there is a station at Bedworthmarker 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 Leicestermarker and Peterboroughmarker. Nuneaton has direct services to Birmingham and Leicester on this line, and there is one intermediate station at Water Ortonmarker near Coleshillmarker in the extreme north-west of the county.

There is also a branch line from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avonmarker. This line used to continue southwards to Cheltenhammarker but is now a dead-end branch. There are several stations on this line at Henley-in-Ardenmarker 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 Kenilworthmarker. 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 CrossCountry services.


Coventry Airportmarker is located in the Warwickshire village of Bagintonmarker.

Canals and Waterways

Canals in Warwickshire include:
  • The Grand Union Canalmarker, 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 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 Canalmarker 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

Sports teams


Warwickshire County Cricket Club play at Edgbastonmarker. Notable players for Warwickshire have been Brian Lara, Bob Willis, Allan Donald , Geoff Humpage and Sreesanth.

Gaelic Sports

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 hÉireannmarker.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.

See also


  1. Roger Squires, (2008), Britain's Restored Canals, 2nd Ed., Landmark Publishing, ISBN 1-84306-331-X

External links

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