HISTORY OF THE
bounded to the north-west by the West Midlands metropolitan county and Staffordshire, by Leicestershire to the north-east,
Northamptonshire to the east,
Worcestershire to the west,
Oxfordshire to the south and
Gloucestershire to the south-west.
The northern tip of the county is only 5 km (3 miles) from the Derbyshire border. An average-sized English
county covering an area of almost 2,000 km2, it runs some 96 km (60 mi) north to
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, 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
Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon, Kenilworth, Alcester, and Warwick 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 Cotswolds, at the border with northwest Gloucestershire. The only town in the south of Warwickshire is
Shipston-on-Stour. The highest point in
the county, at 261 m (856 ft), is Ebrington Hill, again on the border with Gloucestershire,
grid referenceSP187426 at the county's 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 55 km (34 mi) south of the
Peak District National Park's southernmost point.
There are 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. 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
Atherstone, Alcester, Coleshill, Southam, Bulkington, Polesworth, Kingsbury, Henley-in-Arden, Studley, Shipston. Wellesbourne and Whitnash have populations between 5,000 and
Much of western Warwickshire, including that area now forming part
of Coventry, Solihull and Birmingham, 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
Tanworth-in-Arden. The remaining area, not
part of the forest, was called the Felden - from fielden.
Areas historically part of Warwickshire include
Coventry, Solihull, Sutton
Coldfield and most of Birmingham. These became part of the
metropolitan county of
West Midlands (and Sutton Coldfield
became part of Birmingham) 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
Edgbaston, 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 Coventry &
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 increase by almost a third-of-a-million overnight should this occur, Coventry being the UK's 11th largest
The town of Tamworth was historically divided between Warwickshire
and Staffordshire, but since 1888 has
been fully in Staffordshire.
In 1931, Warwickshire gained the town of Shipston-on-Stour from Worcestershire and several villages, including
Long Marston and Welford-on-Avon, from Gloucestershire.