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 after Greater London. 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 the boroughs of 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 (and some of the district surrounding it as Non-Constituent members), the West Midlands Combined Authority, was created in June 2016. Since May 2017, the authority has been headed by a directly elected Mayor of the West Midlands, a position currently held by Andy Street of the Conservative Party. 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.
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Established||1 April 1974|
|Established by||Local Government Act 1972|
|High Sheriff||Michael Kuo (2019–20)|
|Area||902 km2 (348 sq mi)|
|• Ranked||42nd of 48|
|Population (mid-2017 est.)||2,897,300|
|• Ranked||2nd of 48|
|Density||3,213/km2 (8,320/sq mi)|
|Ethnicity||70.1% White (69.0% White British)|
|Government||West Midlands Combined Authority|
|Area||902 km2 (348 sq mi)|
Districts of West Midlands
|Members of Parliament||28 MPs|
|Police||West Midlands Police|
|Time zone||Greenwich Mean Time (UTC)|
|• Summer (DST)||British Summer Time (UTC+1)|
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:
Near 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.
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.
|Metropolitan county||Metropolitan borough||County boroughs||Non-county boroughs||Urban districts||Rural districts|
Between 1974 and 1986, the county had a two-tier system of local government, and the seven districts shared power with the West Midlands County Council. However, the Local Government Act 1985 abolished the metropolitan 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.
Following the abolition of the county council, some county-wide bodies continued to exist, which were administered by various joint-boards of the seven districts, among these were the West Midlands Police, the West Midlands Fire Service and the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive.
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.
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 Mayor of the West Midlands was created in 2017 to chair the new body. The first Mayoral election was held in May 2017, and the position was won by Andy Street of the Conservative Party.
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, six of 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|
|Accessible open space|
|Museum (free/not free)|
The West Midlands contains ten universities, seven of which are located in Birmingham:
Each of the local authorities has at least one further education college for students aged over 16, and since September 1992 all of the local authorities have operated traditional 5–7 infant, 7–11 junior, and 11-16/18 secondary schools for students in compulsory education. This followed the demise of 5–8 first, 8–12 middle and 12-16/18 secondary schools in the Sutton Coldfield area.
For 18 years before September 1990, Dudley had operated 5–8 first, 8–12 middle, and 12-16/18 secondary schools before then, while Halesowen (September 1972 until July 1982) and Aldridge-Brownhills (September 1972 until July 1986) had both operated 5–9 first, 9–13 middle and 13-16/18 secondary schools.
Many local authorities still have sixth form facilities in secondary schools, though sixth form facilities had been axed by most secondary schools in Dudley since the early 1990s (and in Halesowen in 1982) as the local authorities changed direction towards further education colleges.
All secondary state education in Dudley and Sandwell is mixed comprehensive, although there are a small number of single sex and grammar schools existing in parts of Birmingham, Solihull, Wolverhampton and Walsall.
In August 2009, Matthew Boulton College and Sutton Coldfield College merged to become Birmingham Metropolitan College, one of the largest further and higher education institutions in the country. Plans are afoot for the construction of a new campus in the Perry Barr area of Birmingham.
The West Midlands is home to numerous sports teams. In football, there are six Premier League and Football League teams in the county of which two, Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, play in the Premier League. Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Coventry City, Walsall, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers are often referred to as the West Midlands "Big Six".
|Wolverhampton Wanderers||Premier League||Wolverhampton||Molineux||31,700|
|Aston Villa||Premier League||Birmingham||Villa Park||42,788|
|Birmingham City||Championship||Birmingham||St Andrew's||30,079|
|West Bromwich Albion||Championship||West Bromwich||The Hawthorns||26,500|
|Coventry City||League One||Coventry||Ricoh Arena||32,609|
|Walsall||League One||Walsall||Bescot Stadium||11,300|
The West Midlands is also home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club, who are based at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, which also hosts Test matches and One Day Internationals. The Birmingham Panthers basketball team replaced the Birmingham Bullets and are currently based at a facility provided by the University of Wolverhampton in Walsall.
Local elections to the West Midlands County Council, a Metropolitan County Council encompassing the West Midlands, were held on 7 May 1981, resulting in large swings to Labour, giving them control of the council.
This was the last election to the West Midlands County Council, after metropolitan county councils were scrapped on 31 March 1986 under the Local Government Act 1985 by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. The councils' abolition followed several high profile clashes between mostly Labour metropolitan county councils and the Conservative government over issues, including spending and rates charges.2014 Coventry City Council election
The 2014 Coventry City Council election took place on 22 May 2014 to elect members of Coventry City Council in England. This was on the same day as other local elections.2015 Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council election
The 2015 Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council election took place on 7 May 2015 to elect members of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in England. It was held on the same day as other local elections.2015 Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council election
The 2015 Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council election took place on 7 May 2015 to elect members of the Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council in England. It was held on the same day as other local elections and on the same day as the General Election.
The Conservative Party won every seat with 3 exceptions (The Green Party held Chelmsley Wood and Smith's Wood, and UKIP gained Kingshurst and Fordbridge from Labour).2015 Wolverhampton City Council election
The 2015 Wolverhampton City Council election took place on 7 May 2015, to elect members of the Wolverhampton City Council in England. It was held on the same day as other local elections.Bordesley Hall, Birmingham
Bordesley Hall was an 18th-century hall which stood in a 15 hectare (40 acre) park south of the Coventry Road in what is now Small Heath, Birmingham.
It was built for the manufacturer and banker John Taylor in 1767 to replace an existing manor house on land that had previously belonged to the Holte family. Taylor emparked the estate and created an ornamental pool with an island, bridge, and grotto. On his death in 1785 the property passed to his son John and John's wife Sarah Skeye, whose seven children were all born at the Hall. John, jnr was appointed High Sheriff of Warwickshire for 1786.
The hall was burned down in 1791 during the Priestley Riots. It is reported that the house was rebuilt but sold off in 1840 for housing developments. However, Charles Pye writing of his visit to Birmingham in 1818 states that "having crossed the Warwick canal, the ruins of Bordesley house are in full view; they having continued in that state ever since the year 1791, when the house was demolished by an infuriated mob. The land by which it is surrounded has been parcelled out, and advertised to be let for building."Central Goods railway station
Central Goods railway station was a goods-only railway station in central Birmingham, England, on a spur connected to the Birmingham West Suburban Railway. The station was opened by the Midland Railway on 1 July 1887, initially with facilities to handle 375 wagons. The depot was expanded gradually over the next fifteen years. It was originally known as Worcester Wharf due to it being located next to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, its name was changed on 31 May 1892.In 1923 the depot was taken over by the newly amalgamated London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and in 1948 by the nationalised British Railways (later British Rail).
From the 1940s onwards, competition from road transport led to a decline in the use of rail freight. In its later years, the depot mostly handled parcels traffic. It eventually closed on 6 March 1967. The spur line leading to it was permanently closed two years later.The site is now occupied by Axis House, formerly Stanier House, a British Rail office building.Civil parishes in the West Midlands (county)
A civil parish is a subnational entity, forming the lowest unit of local government in England. There are 18 civil parishes in the ceremonial county of West Midlands, most of the county being unparished; Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton are completely unparished. At the 2001 census, there were 89,621 people living in the 18 parishes, accounting for 3.5 per cent of the county's population.High Sheriff of the West Midlands
The Office of High Sheriff of the West Midlands is the ceremonial position of High Sheriff appointed to the West Midlands, a metropolitan county in central England. The appointment is made by the British monarch by Pricking the Lists. Created in 1974, the office of High Sheriff of the West Midlands has the duty to "protect and assist in upholding the dignity and well being of Her Majesty’s judges and to represent the Queens executive powers in respect of the administration of justice in the county". The Office of High Sheriff is normally awarded to people of stature in the West Midland who have significantly and positively contributed in some way to the county's community either through voluntary work or through commerce or industry.List of Parliamentary constituencies in the West Midlands (county)
The ceremonial county of West Midlands, England is divided into 28 parliamentary constituencies, each of which elect one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons. These constituencies were first implemented at the 2010 general election. All are borough constituencies except for Meriden, which is a county constituency.List of places in West Midlands (county)
Map of places in West Midlands (county) compiled from this list
See the list of places in England for places in other counties.
This is a list of cities, towns, villages and other settlements in the ceremonial county – not the region – of West Midlands, England.Metchley Fort
Metchley Fort was a Roman fort in what is now Birmingham, England.It lies on the course of a Roman road, Icknield Street, which is now the site of the present Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the University of Birmingham in Edgbaston. The fort was constructed soon after the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43. The fort was around 200 square metres (2,153 sq ft) in area and was defended by a turf and earth bank with a timber wall, towers and double ditches. Within the fort were timber buildings including barrack blocks, a granary, a workshop and a store. In AD 70, the fort was abandoned, only to be reoccupied a few years later before being abandoned again in AD 120.
Remains have also been found of a civilian settlement, or vicus alongside the fort. It consisted of timber buildings and yards alongside a road leading from the fort's west gate, and was occupied for just a few years, when the fort was at its largest.
The fort was extended on three sides by the addition of defended annexes, which were used for tethering horses, storage and small-scale industrial activity such as ironworking. Later the fort's buildings were replaced by other structures including compounds which suggest that it was now being used as a stores depot.The remains were first identified in the 18th century, although there were conflicting opinions on the origins of the earthworks. The date was confirmed in excavations that took place in the 1930s when the University of Birmingham Medical School was constructed. Further excavations took place in the 1940s and 1950s. On 28 September 1953 the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, G. H. W. Griffith, opened the newly restored north-west corner of the fort. The reconstruction of the corner did not last long, however, as it was later destroyed by vandals. More extensive excavations took place in the 1960s which uncovered various timber buildings within the fort. Mick Aston, who later became well-known on the TV programme Time Team, worked on the Metchley excavations in the late 1960s. Discoveries from excavations in the early 2000s included ovens and hearths, timber gateways, roads, the headquarters building, vessels from the Severn Valley and the Malvern Hills, and tableware from France.The remains of the fort are one of thirteen scheduled monuments in Birmingham.Moat House, Sutton Coldfield
Moat House is a Grade II* listed building situated in Lichfield Road, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands. It is part of the Anchorage Road conservation area.The property was designed and built in 1680 as a mansion house by William Wilson, builder, architect and student of Sir Christopher Wren, as a home for his new wife, a wealthy local widow Jane Pudsey who had previously owned Langley Hall with her first husband.
The original gatehouse or lodge, itself a Grade II listed building, and stone bridge remain but no traces of the 'moat' remain. The moat survived until 1860, until which it had to be crossed by a small stone bridge. A sundial is attached to the side of the building.The property is occupied by the adjacent Sutton Coldfield College.Oaks Sixth Form College
Oaks Sixth Form College is a consortium of six secondary school sixth forms in South-West Birmingham.
The consortium consists of: Dame Elizabeth Cadbury Technology College, Harborne Academy, Hillcrest School and Sixth Form Centre, Lordswood Sixth Form Centre, Shenley Academy, and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School.Soho House
Soho House is a museum run by Birmingham Museums Trust, celebrating Matthew Boulton's life, his partnership with James Watt, his membership of the Lunar Society of Birmingham and his contribution to the Midlands Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. It is a Grade II* listed 18th-century house in Handsworth (historically in the county of Staffordshire, but part of Birmingham since 1911), England. It was the home of entrepreneur Matthew Boulton from 1766 until his death in 1809, and a regular meeting-place of the Lunar Society.Solihull
Solihull (, or ) is a large town in the West Midlands, England with a population of 123,187 in the 2011 Census. Historically in Warwickshire, it is a part of the West Midlands conurbation. It is the largest town in, and administrative centre of, the larger Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, which itself has a population of 209,890. Solihull is situated 7.5 miles (12.1 km) southeast of Birmingham, 18 miles (29 km) northwest of Warwick and 110 miles (180 km) northwest of London.
Solihull is the most affluent town of the West Midlands, and one of the most affluent areas in the UK outside London. In November 2013, the uSwitch Quality of Life Index named Solihull the "best place to live" in the United Kingdom. Residents of Solihull and those born in the town are referred to as Silhillians. The motto of Solihull is Urbs in Rure (Town in Country).St Michael's Church, Handsworth
St Michael’s Church in St Michael’s Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, England, is a Grade II listed, Church of England church, in the Diocese of Birmingham, built in 1851–1855 (and then in Staffordshire), and described as "a major local landmark".In 1907 part of the parish was taken to form a new parish for St Peter's Church, Handsworth.
It can seat one thousand people, and was built mainly to accommodate workers from local industry.The foundation stone was laid by William Legge, 4th Earl of Dartmouth, of Sandwell Hall, in 1852. The church was consecrated by John Lonsdale, the Bishop of Lichfield.Transport for West Midlands
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) is the public body responsible for co-ordinating transport services in the West Midlands metropolitan county in England. It is an executive body of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), with bus franchising and highway management powers similar to Transport for London. TfWM's policies and strategy are set by the Transport Delivery Committee of the WMCA.
TfWM's initial priorities are the expansion of the Metro through East Birmingham, Brierley Hill and Birmingham Airport, improvements to the M5 and M6 motorways, and new cycle routes as part of a metropolitan cycle network. There are also plans to work with central government over the future of the underused M6 Toll.Weoley Castle (house)
Weoley Castle is the remains of a fortified manor house located in the Birmingham district of Weoley Castle, a primarily residential area, in the English West Midlands. Owned by Birmingham City Council and administered as a community museum by Birmingham Museums Trust, it is a Grade II listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The castle was on Historic England's Heritage at Risk register, but was removed in 2009 following repair work. The archaeological evidence suggests a Norman foundation for the site which was surrounded by a moat and bank topped by a timber pallisade.
Ceremonial county of West Midlands
1974–1996 ← Ceremonial counties of England → current