Worcester ( ) is a city and county town of Worcestershire, in the West Midlands of England.
is situated some 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Birmingham, 29 miles (47 km) north of Gloucester, and has an approximate population of 94,000
people. The River Severn
runs through the middle of the city, overlooked by the 12th century
of the final
battle of the Civil War,
Worcester was where Oliver
Cromwell's New Model Army
defeated King Charles I's
Cavaliers, resulting in a ten-year period where England and Wales became a
Worcester is also the home
of Royal Worcester Porcelain
the birthplace of the composer Sir Edward
Occupation of the site of Worcester can be dated back to Neolithic
times, a village surrounded by defensive
ramparts having been founded on the eastern bank of the River
Severn here in around 400 BC. The position, which commanded a ford on the river, was in the 1st century
used by the Romans to establish what
may at first have been a fort on the military route from Glevum (Gloucester)
to Viroconium (Wroxeter) but which soon developed — as the
frontier of the empire was pushed westwards — into an industrial
town with its own pottery kilns and
A map of Worcester in 1806.
Tudor Buildings Friar Street
Tudor Building New Street
Roman Worcester (which may have been the Vertis
in the 7th century Ravenna
) was a thriving trading and manufacturing centre
for some three hundred years, though by the time of the Roman
withdrawal from Britain in 407 it had dwindled considerably in size
and is not recorded again until the mid-7th century when documents
mention the Anglo-Saxon
ceaster (settlement of the
people by the winding river). The fact that Worcester was chosen at this
time—in preference to both the much larger Gloucester and the royal centre of Winchcombe—to be the Episcopal
See of a new diocese covering the area
suggests that there may have been a well established, and powerful,
Christian community living on the site
when it fell into English hands.
The town was almost destroyed in 1041 after a rebellion against the
punitive taxation of Harthacanute
town was attacked several times (in 1139, 1150 and 1151) during
", i.e. civil war between
and Empress Matilda
, daughter of Henry I
. This is the background to the
well-researched historical novel The Virgin in the Ice
part of Ellis Peters
" series, which begins with the words:
"It was early in November of 1139 that the tide of
civil war, lately so sluggish and inactive, rose suddenly to wash
over the city of Worcester, wash away half of its lifestock,
property and women, and send all those of its inhabitants who could
get away in time scurrying for their lives northwards away from the
(These are mentioned as having arrived from
Gloucester, leaving a long lasting legacy of bitterness
between the two cities.)
By late medieval
times the population had
grown to around 10,000 as the manufacture of cloth started to
become a large local industry. The town was designated a county corporate
, giving it autonomy from
was the site of the Battle of Worcester (September 3, 1651), when Charles II's attempt to regain the
crown by force was decisively defeated, in the fields a little to
the west and south of the city, near the village of Powick.
being defeated, Charles returned to his headquarters in what is now
known as King Charles house in the Cornmarket, before fleeing in
disguise to Boscobel
House in Shropshire and his eventual escape to France.
Worcester was one of the cities loyal to the King in that war, for
which it was given the epithet "Fidelis Civitas" ("The Faithful
City"). This motto has been incorporated into the city's coat of arms
In 1670 the River Severn
banks and the subsequent flood was the worst ever seen by
Worcester. A brass plate can be found on a wall on the path to the
cathedral by the path along the river showing how high this flood
went, and other flood heights of more recent times are also shown
in stone bricks. The closest flood height to what is known as The
Flood of 1670 was when the Severn flooded in the torrential rains
of July 2007.
The Royal Worcester Porcelain
factory was founded by Dr John Wall in 1751, although
it no longer produces goods. A handful of decorators are still
employed at the factory and the Museum is still open.
During the 18th century Worcester's trade languished compared to
more modern towns of the West Midlands. The Worcester
and Birmingham Canal opened in 1815 allowing Worcester goods to be
transported to a larger conurbation.
The British Medical
(BMA) is reputed to have been founded in the Board
Room of the old Worcester Royal Infirmary building in Castle Street
around 1860. This building has now been closed and (as of 2006)
will be redeveloped as the University of Worcester
During World War II
, the city was
chosen to be the seat of an evacuated government in case of mass
. The War Cabinet, along with Winston Churchill and some 16.000 state
workers, would have moved to Hindlip Hall (now part of the complex forming the Headquarters
of West Mercia Police), 3 miles north of Worcester, and Parliament would have temporarily seated in Stratford-upon-Avon.
In the 1950s and 1960s large areas of the medieval centre of
Worcester were demolished and rebuilt as a result of decisions by
town planners. There is still a significant area of medieval
Worcester remaining, but it is a small fraction of what was present
before the redevelopments.
current city boundaries date from 1974, when the Local Government Act 1972
transferred the parishes of Warndon and St. Peter the Great County into the city.
In the 2007 election the City Council went from Conservative
control to No Overall Control
however, the Conservative
have the most seats overall with 17 out of 35 seats.
has one member of Parliament,
Michael Foster of the Labour Party, who represents the Worcester
suburbs in Worcester include Claines, Northwick, St Peter the Great, Red Hill and Ronkswood.
Worcester is on the eastern side of the River Severn; Henwick, Lower Wick and St. John's are on the western side.
Demography and religion
The 2001 census recorded Worcester's population at 93,353. About
96.5% of Worcester's population was white; of which 94.2% were
, greater than the
national average. The largest religious group are Christians
, whom made up 77% of the city's
population. People who reported having no religion or did not state
their religion made up 21% of the city's population. Other
religions totaled less than 2% of the population. Ethnic minorities
include people of Chinese
origin, with the largest single
minority group being the British Pakistanis, whom numbered around
1,200 persons and made up around 1.3% of Worcester's population.
led to Worcester containing a small but diverse range of religious
groups; as well as the commanding Worcester Cathedral (Church of
England), there are also Catholic and
Baptist churches, a large center for
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), an Islamic mosque,
and a number of smaller interest groups regarding Eastern Religions
such as Buddhism and the Hare Krishnas.
Worcester is the seat of a Church of
bishop. His official signature is his Christian name
followed by Wigorn
, which is also occasionally used as an
abbreviation for the name of the county.
Industry is now quite varied. In the 19th and early twentieth
century, Worcester was a major centre for glove manufacture, but
this has declined greatly. The late-Victorian period saw the growth
of ironfounders, like Heenan &
, Hardy & Padmore and McKenzie & Holland.
The inter-war years saw the rapid growth of engineering, producing
machine tools James Archdale, H.W. Ward, castings for the motor
Windshields and Casements
, mining machinery MECO
and open-top cans Williamsons.
Worcester Porcelain operated in Worcester until 2008 when the
factory was closed down due to the recession. However, the site of
Worcester Porcelain still houses the Worcester Porcelain Museum
which is open daily to visitors.
One of Worcester's most famous products, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
is made and
bottled in the Midlands Road factory in Worcester, which has been
the home of Lea & Perrins since 16 October 1897. Mr Lea and Mr
Perrins originally met in a chemist's shop on the site of the now
Debenhams store in the Crowngate Shopping Centre.
The surprising foundry heritage of the city is represented by
Morganite Crucible at Norton which produces graphitic shaped
products and cements for use in the modern industry.
mail order business was
founded in Worcester in the 1880s and operated from numerous
premises in the city until 2007. It was then bought out by Reality,
owner of the Grattan catalogue. Kay's former warehouse building was
knocked down in 2008. Worcester is the home of what is claimed to
be the oldest newspaper in the world, Berrow's Worcester Journal
which traces its descent from a news-sheet that started publication
in 1690. The city is also a major retail centre with several
covered shopping centres that has most major chains represented as
well as a host of independent shops and restaurants, particularly
in Friar Street and New Street.
Like many other town and cities Worcester has the traditional
’, though in Worcester’s
case that is the actual street name of the main shopping
thoroughfare. High Street is home to the major stores. Part of the
High Street was revamped in 2005 amid much controversy, many of the
issues focussing on the felling of long-standing trees, the
duration of the works (caused by the weather and an archaeological
find) and the removal of flagstones outside the City’s 18th Century
Guildhall. However, the revamped area has been mostly praised for
its appearance, openness and brightness compared to the previous
look. The other main thoroughfares are The Shambles and Broad
Street, while The Cross (and its immediate surrounding area) is
seen as the city’s financial centre with the majority of
Worcester’s main bank branches located here.
There are three main shopping centres, those being CrownGate,
Cathedral Plaza and Reindeer Court. CrownGate is the largest and is
split in to two centres. Both centres incorporate and in some cases
back on to major stores. CrownGate also includes an outdoor market
which was previously located in Cornmarket, and as such often
referred to at The Corn Market despite its current location.
Cathedral Plaza is the next largest and was called the Lychgate
Shopping Centre prior to its revamp and current, and somewhat,
There are 3 out-of-town retail parks in Worcester. Elgar Retail Park and
Blackpole Retail Park are next door to each other in the Blackpole
area of the City, while Shrub Hill Retail Park is located
immediately outside the City Centre area, next to Worcester
Shrub Hill railway station.
There are three main parks in Worcester, these being Cripplegate
Park, Gheluvelt Park and Fort Royal Park, the latter being on one
of the battles sites of the English
Park was opened as a memorial to commemorate the Worcestershire Regiment's 2nd
Battalion after their part in the Battle of Gheluvelt, during World War
There are also two large woodlands in the city, those being Perry
Wood, at 12 hectares, and Nunnery Wood, covering 21 hectares. Perry
Wood is often said to be the place where Oliver Cromwell
met and made a pact with the
devil. Nunnery Wood is an integral part of the adjacent and popular
Worcester Woods Country Park, itself next door to County Hall on
the east side of the city.
the most famous landmark in Worcester is its imposing Worcester
The current building, formally named The
Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, was begun
in 1084 while its crypt dates from the 10th Century. The chapter
house is the only circular one in the country while the cathedral
also has the distinction of having the tomb of King John
Destinations from Worcester
The M5 Motorway
runs north-south to the
east of the urban area, and is accessed by Junction 6 (Worcester
North) and Junction 7 (Worcester South). This makes the city
relatively easily accessible by car to most parts of the country,
including London which is only 120 miles/2 & half hours away
(via the M5, M42
Several A roads pass through the city. The A449 road
runs south-west to Malvern and north to
Kidderminster. The A44 runs
south-east to Evesham and west to Leominster and Aberystwyth and crosses Worcester
Bridge. The A38 trunk road
runs south to Tewkesbury and Gloucester and north-north-east to Droitwich and Birmingham. The A4103 goes
west-south-west to Hereford. The A422 heads east to
Alcester, branching from the A44 a mile east of the
The city is encompassed by a partial ring road (A4440)
which is formed, rather inconsistently, by single and dual
carriageways. The A4440 road
second road bridge across
(Carrington Bridge) just west of the A4440-A38
is served by 2 stations, Worcester
Foregate Street and Worcester Shrub Hill.
Although featuring 2 tracks Foregate Street
actually consists of 2 single working tracks, one of which forms
part of the Birmingham-Malvern-Hereford line while the other is the
end of the Cotswold Line
, which Shrub
Hill also serves. Both stations frequently serve Birmingham and
nearby towns/cities. London is also served frequently by both
stations via the Cotswold Line and, infrequently, via the
Birmingham-Bristol/Gloucester-Swindon/Bristol-London lines. Train
services to/from London are operated by First Great Western
Although connected to an Inter City mainline only 2 miles away, in
this case the Birmingham-Bristol 'Cross Country' line, Worcester is
not served by the Inter City CrossCountry
service. This makes Worcestershire
the only county in England where 'Cross Country' services pass
through but do not stop in during normal scheduled timetables.
However, the proposed new station, Worcestershire Parkway
will end this.
Being the bigger of the 2 stations, and due to its location, Shrub
Hill is often used as a stabling point and a through route for
The main operator of bus services in and around the city is
's First Midland Red Buses
as First) which, prior to mergers and acquisitions was once
Midland Red West
, itself one of the
5 companies that was formed from the split of the massive Midland Red
operation prior to deregulation. A
handful of other smaller operators provide services in Worcester,
most notably Astons (Veolia
) and Bromyard
Omnibus Company. The terminus/interchange for many bus services in
Worcester is CrownGate Bus Station located in the City
Worcestershire County Council operates the W1 bus service with a
new fleet of high specification Mercedes Citaro vehicles. The W1
service is a frequent and direct limited stop service between the
Worcester North (Perdiswell) Park & Ride site and CrownGate Bus
Station. The service runs Monday to Saturday, from 7am to 7pm at a
high frequency. The journey between the Park and Ride site and
Worcester City Centre takes approximately ten minutes.
The buses stop at:· Worcester North (Perdiswell) Park & Ride
Site· St Stephen’s Church· St George’s Square· Little London, Royal
Grammar School· Foregate Street Rail Station· Worcester (Crowngate)
Additionally, the Worcester Sixways Park and Ride site (adjacent to
Junction 6 of the M5) is due to open in late 2008.
Worcester's nearest major airport is
Birmingham International approximately 45 minutes by road via the M5 and M42
Worcester is home to the University of Worcester
was awarded university status in 2005 by HM Privy Council. From
1997 to 2005 it was known as University College Worcester (UCW) and
prior to 1997 it was known as Worcester College of Higher
Education. The University is also home to the independent Worcester Students Union
institution. The city is also home to two colleges,
Sixth Form College and Worcester College of
schools located in the city are Bishop
Perowne CofE College, Blessed
Edward Oldcorne Catholic College, Christopher Whitehead Language
College, Elgar Technology College, Nunnery Wood High School and New College
Worcester which caters for blind and partially sighted students
from the ages of 11 to 18.
is also the seat of three private schools, The Royal Grammar School
and Alice Ottley
School have recently merged to form the Royal Grammar
School Worcester and Alice Ottley School, Worcester aka RGSAO.
School, Worcester was re-founded in 1541 under King Henry VIII. Saint Mary's
Convent School, now the only all-girls school in the city, is the
third private school in the city. Other private schools
include the Independent Christian school, the River School in Fernhill
Probably Worcester's most famous citizen was composer Sir Edward Elgar
, whose father ran a music shop at
the end of the High Street; a statue of Elgar stands near the
original location of that shop. His birthplace is a short way outside
Worcester in the village of Broadheath.Hannah
, famous for impersonating a man and being enlisted in the
in the 18th century was
born and raised here.
Sir Charles Hastings
of the British Medical
lived in Worcester for most of his life - the newly
built Worcestershire Royal Hospital stands in a road named in his
2007 British Streetluge
champion William Stephenson was born and still lives in
Philip Henry Gosse
was born in the city in 1810.
Thomas Brock, a sculptor most famous for the Imperial
Victoria Memorial in London was born here in 1847.
Civil engineer Edward Leader Williams
, designer of
the Manchester Ship Canal
born and raised in Worcester, residing at Diglis House (now the
Diglis House Hotel) with his brother, noted landscape artist Benjamin
Morris, Lord Nuffield
, (founder of the Morris Motor Company
philanthropist), spent the first three years of his life in the
Poet and author Reverend Geoffrey Anketell Studdert
, famously known as "Woodbine Willy", was for some time
the Vicar of St. Paul's Church in the city. He rose to fame during
World War I
when he became an army
chaplain, his sermons and poetry helping boost morale to the
troops. He acquired his nickname from his habit of handing out
"Woodbine" cigarettes to the men in the trenches.
Writers Mrs. Henry Wood
were born here.
Worcester was home to electronic
producer and Aphex Twin
collaborator Mike Paradinas
record label Planet Mu
, until the label relocated to London in
Cyclist Ernest Payne
was born in
Worcester and rode for the local Worcester St Johns Cycling Club.
He won a
gold medal in the team pursuit at the 1908 Summer
Olympics in London.
Worcester is also the home town of aviatrix
was born in
Worcester. He founded the first advertising agency in 1800 in
- See also People
Every three years, Worcester becomes home to the Three Choirs Festival
, which dates
back to the 18th century and is credited with being the oldest
music festival in Europe. The location of the festival rotates each
year between the Cathedral Cities of the Three Counties - Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester.
Famous for its championing of
English music, especially that of Elgar
, Vaughan Williams
and Gustav Holst
, Worcester last hosted the
festival in August 2008.
The Worcester Festival is a relatively new venture established in
2003. Held in late August, the festival consists of a variety of
music, theatre, cinema
and workshops, as well
as the already established Beer
, which runs as an event within the Worcester
The Victorian-themed Christmas Fayre is a major source of tourism
every December. Elton John
came to the
Worcestershire Cricket Ground, New Road on Saturday 9 June
CAMRA Worcester Beer and Cider festival took place for
three days from the 17 August 2006 and was held as usual on
Pitchcroft Race Course.
On entry there is a choice between a
(free) half or pint glass, with this year's having orange
The Worcester Beer, Cider and Perry festival is the largest beer
festival within the West Midlands with the 2009 event being
attended by 11,000 people. An extensive range of beers, ciders and
perries are provided as well as a range of food and soft drinks.
Bands perform on the Thursday and Friday evening sessions and
throughout the day on Saturday.
Famous 18th century actress Sarah
made her acting debut here at the Theatre Royal in
Angel Street. Her sister, the novelist Ann Julia Kemble Hatton,
otherwise known as Ann of Swansea, was born in the city. Matilda
Alice Powles, better known as Vesta
, a leading male
and music hall artiste was born in
In present-day Worcester the Swan Theatre stages a mixture of
professional touring and local amateur productions. The Countess of
Huntingdon's Hall is a historic church now used as venue for an
eclectic range of musical performances, while the Marrs Bar is a
venue for gigs and stand-up comedy. Worcester also boasts two
multi-screen cinemas (a six screen Vue Cinema complex located on
Friar Street and an Odeon Cinema, boasting seven screens, at the
heart of the city on Forgate Street).
northern suburb of Northwick is the Art Deco
Built in 1938 it contains one of the only
two remaining interiors in Britain designed by John Alexander
perspective drawings are still held by RIBA
). It was a
Hall from 1966 to 1982 and then empty
until 1991; it was then run as a music venue until 1996, and was
empty again until Autumn 2006 when it became an antiques and
lifestyle centre, owned by Grey's Interiors, who were previously
located in The Tything.
There are also a number of Arts organisations in Worcester, one of
which is C&T. Based at the University and also Bishop Perowne
Performing Arts College is C&T [formerly Collar & TIE].
C&T is an educational theatre company that specialises in
theatre for young people tackling topical issues through a unique
blend of drama and new media technologies.
Twinning and planned twinning
is twinned with the German city of Kleve, the
Parisian commune of Le Vésinet, and its larger American namesake Worcester,
February 2009, Worcester City Council's Twinning Association began
deliberating an application to twin Worcester with the Palestinian city of Gaza.
Councillor Alan Amos introduced the application, which was passed
at its first stage by a majority of 35-6. However, the proposal was
later rejected by the Executive Committee of the City of Worcester
Twinning Association for reasons of lack of funding due to its
present commitment to existing twinning projects.