West Midlands (region)

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West Midlands
West Midlands, highlighted in red on a beige political map of England
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
Largest cityBirmingham
Government
 • Leaders' boardWest Midlands Councils
 • EP constituencyWest Midlands
Area
 • Total5,000 sq mi (13,000 km2)
Area rank7th
Population
(2014 est.)
 • Total5,713,000
 • Rank5th
 • Density1,100/sq mi (440/km2)
GVA
 • Total£110 billion
 • Per capita£17,161 (7th)
NUTS codeUKG

The West Midlands is one of nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. It covers the western half of the area traditionally known as the Midlands. It contains Birmingham and the larger West Midlands conurbation, which includes the city of Wolverhampton and large towns of Dudley, Solihull, Walsall and West Bromwich. The City of Coventry (once known as the UK's answer to the USA's 'Motor City' Detroit) is also located within the West Midlands county, but is separated from the conurbation to the west by several miles of green belt. The Region also contains 6 shire counties which stretch from the Welsh Border to the East Midlands.

The region is geographically diverse, from the urban central areas of the conurbation to the rural western counties of Shropshire and Herefordshire which border Wales. The longest river in the UK, the River Severn, traverses the region southeastwards, flowing through the county towns of Shrewsbury and Worcester, and the Ironbridge Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Staffordshire is home to the industrialised Potteries conurbation, including the city of Stoke-on-Trent, and the Staffordshire Moorlands area, which borders the southeastern Peak District National Park near Leek. The region also encompasses five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Wye Valley, Shropshire Hills, Cannock Chase, Malvern Hills, and parts of the Cotswolds. Warwickshire is home to the towns of Stratford upon Avon, birthplace of writer William Shakespeare, Rugby, the birthplace of Rugby football and Nuneaton, birthplace to author George Eliot.

Geography[edit]

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The official region contains the ceremonial counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Worcestershire.

There is some confusion in the use of the term "West Midlands", as the name is also used for the much smaller West Midlands county and conurbation which is in the central belt of the Midlands and on the eastern side of the West Midlands Region. It is also still used by various organisations within that area, such as West Midlands Police and West Midlands Fire Service.

The highest point in the region is Black Mountain, at 703 metres (2,307 ft) in west Herefordshire on the border with Powys, Wales.

The region contains five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), including the Shropshire Hills, Malvern Hills and Cannock Chase, and parts of the Wye Valley and Cotswolds. The Peak District national park also stretches into the northern corner of Staffordshire.

Transport[edit]

Railways[edit]

Served by many lines in the urban areas such as the West Coast Main Line and branches. The Welsh Marches Line and the Cotswold Line transect the region as well as the Cross Country Route and Chiltern Line. There are plans to reopen the Honeybourne Line.

Road[edit]

The M6 Toll plaza.

Numerous notable roads pass through the region, with most converging around the central conurbation. The M5, which connects South West England to the region, passes through Worcestershire, near to Worcester, and through the West Midlands county, past West Bromwich, with its northern terminus at its junction with the M6 just south of Walsall. The M6, which has its southern terminus just outside the southeast of the region at its junction with the M1, and which connects the region to North West England, passes Rugby and Nuneaton in Warwickshire, Coventry and Birmingham, and Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. The M6 toll provides an alternative route to the M6 between Coleshill and Cannock, passing north of Sutton Coldfield and just south of Lichfield. The M40 connects the region through South East England to London, with its northern terminus at its junction with the M42; it passes close to Warwick and Banbury. The M42 connects the M5 at Bromsgrove, passing around the south and east of Birmingham, joining the M40 and M6, passing Solihull and Castle Bromwich, to Tamworth, northeast of Birmingham. The M50 connects the M5 from near Tewkesbury to Ross-on-Wye in the southwest. The M54 connects Wellington in the west, passing Telford, to the M6 near Cannock. The A5 road traverses the region northwest-southeast, passing through Shrewsbury, Telford, Cannock, Tamworth and Nuneaton.

The longest elevated road viaduct in the UK is the 3 miles (4,779 m) section from Gravelly Hill to Castle Bromwich on the M6, opened on 24 May 1972; the 3.5 miles (5.6 km) Bromford Viaduct is the longest viaduct in the UK. The section of the A45 in Coventry from Willenhall to Allesley in 1939 was one of the UK's first ever large planned road schemes; road schemes on that scale had not been previously built, with few large road schemes outside of London, or were piecemeal.

Princes Square in Wolverhampton had Britain's first automatic traffic lights on 5 November 1927.[1] On 13 January 2012, 34-year-old Ben Westwood of Wednesfield, was caught by the police, when speeding at 180 mph, in an Audi RS5 with a Lamborghini engine, from Wolverhampton up to Stafford on the M6, and back again. He was travelling so fast that he was outpacing the Central Counties Air Operations Unit Eurocopter helicopter. He and the vehicle had been in fifteen smash and grab raids and he was jailed for nine years at Wolverhampton Crown Court in August 2012.[2]

Transport policy[edit]

The M45 motorway, originally called the Dunchurch Link, was one of the first motorways built in the UK, and is now one of the quietest

As part of the transport planning system, the Regional Assembly is under statutory requirement to produce a Regional Transport Strategy (RTS) to provide long term planning for transport in the region. This involves region wide transport schemes such as those carried out by the Highways Agency and Network Rail.[3]

Within the region, the local transport authorities carry out transport planning through the use of a Local transport plan (LTP) which outlines their strategies, policies and implementation programme.[4] The most recent LTP is that for the period 2006–11. In the West Midlands region, the following transport authorities have published their LTP online: Herefordshire,[5] Shropshire U.A.,[6] Staffordshire,[7] Telford and Wrekin U.A.,[8] Warwickshire,[9] West Midlands[10] and Worcestershire.[11] The transport authority of Stoke-on-Trent U.A. publishes a Joint Local Transport Plan in partnership with Staffordshire County Council to cover the North Staffordshire Major Urban Area, which includes Stoke-on-Trent and the more urban parts of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Staffordshire Moorlands.[12]

Towns and cities[edit]

Major towns and cities in the West Midlands region include:[13]

Bold indicates city status.

Modern history[edit]

The region is largely based on the heartland of the former Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, which had its capital in Tamworth. After it became part of England, the region was still referred to as Mercia until it eventually began being named the Midlands around 1555, with this specific area called the West Midlands.

The Battle of Edgehill in October 1642 started the English Civil War; the site is now found between the B4086 and A422 in south Warwickshire, in the parish of Kineton.

Nicky Smith was the RAF's first female helicopter pilot, qualifying on 16 October 1992; she had joined the 1989 Course on 2 FTS; on 20 July 1989 it had been announced that female RAF pilots could fly in non-combat roles. Jane Bunford of Bartley Green until 1982 was the tallest woman ever in the world, and now the second tallest, and the tallest person ever in the UK, at 7 ft 11in.

The Heart of England Forest is the largest privately created forest in the world.

World War II[edit]

The RAF Fauld explosion on 27 November 1944 in east Staffordshire produced a 100-foot deep crater, and is the UK's largest explosion, being caused by around 4,000 tonnes of high explosive, and may be the world's largest non-nuclear explosion.

Birmingham was the third most bombed city in the UK after London and Liverpool; Spitfires were built in Castle Bromwich, Lancasters at Austin's works in Longbridge at Cofton Hackett, and the Birmingham Small Arms Company at Small Heath produced the M1919 Browning machine gun. Boulton Paul Aircraft had their main aircraft factory in the north of Wolverhampton. RAF Defford, in the south of Worcestershire between Pershore and Croome Park, was where many important airborne radars were developed, such as H2S (radar) and anti-submarine radars.

Scientific heritage[edit]

Thomas Wedgwood, son of Josiah Wedgwood, discovered the first photo-sensitive (light-sensitive) chemicals – silver nitrate and silver chloride in the 1790s.

Sir Norman Lockyer of Kenilworth discovered helium in 1868, for which he used electromagnetic spectroscopy.

Edward Weston of Oswestry, who emigrated to the US, built the first accurate voltmeter in the late 1880s, and the Weston cell in 1893.

Francis W. Aston of Harborne, educated at the University of Birmingham, developed mass spectrometry in 1919, which helped him to identify the first isotopes, receiving the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1922.

Dennis Gabor invented holography at British Thomson-Houston in Rugby in 1947, receiving the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1971.

James Glaisher in 1862 took a record balloon flight with Henry Tracey Coxwell for the BAAS near Wolverhampton. They reached 29,000 feet (8,800 m) the composition of the Earth's atmosphere until then was not understood; the altitude records for the UK have not been exceeded since; Project Excelsior in the US in 1960 would later reach 20 miles (110,000 ft).

Philip Lawley of Burton upon Trent was first person to realise that chemical damage to DNA caused cancer (at the Chester Beatty Research Institute in London) in the early 1960s.

Francis Galton (d. 1911) of the Darwin–Wedgwood family's Birmingham branch was an early eugenicist rooted in improving animal breeding stock and examining heredity. He invented terms eugenics and nature versus nurture. His limited calls for human eugenics were widened by the German Society for Racial Hygiene in 1905 founded by Alfred Ploetz, which coupled with the racial superiority fallacies of Aryanism reached its nadir in genocidal anti-semitism. Moral teachings and inherent replusions towards human eugenics were overcome by a minority of those in power espousing racial equality; European media and leaders lamented loss of Empire, advocated ultranationalism and prized military physical advantage; Galton saw human eugenics as part of all means to do better.

Industrial heritage[edit]

The cast iron Iron Bridge at Coalbrookdale, opened in January 1781 and was the first large-scale object made out of cast iron; but cast iron is not reliably strong due to impurities. Wrought iron, where the carbon is hammered to remove to carbon and impurities is much stronger; the first large-scale wrought iron bridge was the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Strait, only possible due to its innovative box girder design by Robert Stephenson

Much of the Industrial revolution in the United Kingdom began in Birmingham and the Black Country area of West Midlands. The Industrial Revolution is thought to have begun when Abraham Darby substituted coke in the place of charcoal to smelt iron, at his Old Furnace. The Black Country may be regarded as the world's first industrial landscape,[14] while nearby Ironbridge Gorge claims to be the Birthplace of Industry.[15] The world's first cast iron bridge in 1779 spans the Gorge. The first self-propelled locomotive to run on rails in 1803 at Coalbrookdale, was built by Richard Trevithick. The first iron rails for horse-drawn transport, were made at Coalbrookdale in 1768 by Richard Reynolds at Ketley Ironworks. Iron rails only became widely successful in 1820 when made out of wrought iron at Bedlington Ironworks in north-east England.

Coalbrookdale by Night, of the Madeley Wood Company, painted by Philip James de Loutherbourg in 1801

Birmingham's industrial development was triggered by discussions at the Lunar Society of Birmingham at Soho House, Boulton's house, and products were carried along the BCN Main Line canal. Soho Manufactory was the first man-made-powered factory in world. Chance Brothers of Smethwick built the glass for The Crystal Palace in 1851. Smethwick Engine, now at Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum, is the oldest working steam engine, made in 1779, and is the oldest working engine in the world. Smethwick was a main centre for making lighthouse lanterns.

Valor Fires in Erdington developed the first radiant gas fire in 1967, a balanced flue fire in 1973, and a natural flame gas fire in 1978. The Erdington site, owned by Iceland's BDR Thermea, closed in May 2012. The company also built gas cookers; since 2011 the company has been part of Glen Dimplex, who have a site at Cooper's Bank, south of Gornalwood.

Boulton, Watt and Murdoch, a 1956 statue on Broad Street in Birmingham; the SI unit of power is the watt, most commonly found as the kW, a replacement for the imperial measurement of horsepower

Ditherington Flax Mill in Shrewsbury was the first iron-framed building in the world in 1797. Thomas Bolton & Sons of Froghall, Staffordshire, made the world's first transatlantic telegraph cable in 1857, having supplied a submarine cable across the English Channel in 1850. GEC Telecommunications was headquartered at the GEC Telephone and Radio Works in Coventry, it has now become the New Century Park, off the A428 north of Stoke Aldermoor in eastern Coventry. On 10 July 1890, a trunk circuit telephone line was opened between London and Birmingham by the National Telephone Company; for the first time this allowed phone calls between the London and the north.[16] The world's first coaxial cable was laid between London and Birmingham in 1936 to give 40 channels for telephone traffic.[17] and brought into use in 1938, later extended to Manchester in 1940.

The Baskerville font named after the inventor of typefaces

Alexander Parkes invented the first man-made plastic (thermoplastic) in Birmingham in 1856. Arthur Leslie Large of Birmingham is credited with inventing the kettle in 1922. Princess Square, Wolverhampton, was the site of Britain's first traffic lights in 1927. Infra-red cameras were developed at the Royal Radar Establishment in Malvern (with EMI Electronics) in 1967. The world's first Maglev train operated Birmingham Airport in 1983. The tallest freestanding structure in the region is the chimney of Ironbridge power station at 673 ft. John Baskerville of Birmingham, a former stone carver, largely invented fonts, or typefaces, for printing.

Much of the UK's car industry would be centred in Coventry and Birmingham; most of this has now gone. Midland Motor Cylinder (part of Birmid Industries) of Smethwick was the largest producer of automobile cylinder blocks in Europe. Fort Dunlop was Europe's largest tyre plant. Metro Cammell in Birmingham made most of the 1970s and 1980s LU underground trains. The MG Rover (a company of Rover) closed in 2005 (from 1885), The Ryton plant, which made the 206, closed at the end of 2006, with production moving to Trnava in Slovakia, and some to a plant at Kolín in the Czech Republic. Alfred Herbert of Coventry was the largest machine-tool manufacturer in the UK for many decades; it was brought down in the 1970s by advancing technology overseas, and complacent strategic decisions of the management (caught like a rabbit in the headlights), finally closing in 1982; many Midlands manufacturing companies followed similar fates in the 1970s and 1980s. Tube Investments was based at Tube Investments House, Five Ways, Edgbaston (now a Marriott hotel).

1817 Boulton & Watt beam blowing engine re-erected on the Dartmouth Circus roundabout, on the A4540 and the A38(M)

Henry Wiggin & Co of Hereford developed the metal alloys necessary for other Midlands' (and beyond) automotive and aerospace companies – Inconel, Incoloy and Nimonic. It was the lack of vanadium for high-melting point alloys, caused by Royal Navy action, that prevented German Me 262 engines being serviceable; had German World War 2 engineers had a greater supply of vanadium and molybdenum, the engine life (around 12 hours maximum, from entering service in April 1944 to the end of the war) of their jet engine would have increased much more, which would have been significant to the war's outcome. Bristol Siddeley developed the rocket engines for Black Arrow at Ansty; in fact all of R-R's rocket engines were developed and built there at R-R's Industrial and Marine Gas Turbine Division; Britain's smaller rocket engines for missiles were built by Bristol Aerojet in what is now North Somerset. High Duty Alloys at Redditch constructed (forged) the compressor and turbine blades for Whittle's first engines, and many of the early jet engines; it made Concorde's airframe from the Hiduminium R.R.58 aluminium alloy.

Maxaret, the world's first ABS braking system, was invented in Coventry by Dunlop in the early 1950s for aircraft; John Boyd Dunlop was a Scottish vet who had first produced the first pneumatic tyres in 1889. Matthew Piers Watt Boulton, grandson of Matthew Boulton, and born in the area, invented the aileron, an important flight control surface in 1868, decades before the first actual flight. Triumph Engineering was a famous motorbike firm in Meriden. About a quarter of all British WWI planes were built in Coventry. The Jensen Interceptor FF was the first production four-wheel-drive car in the world, designed by Major Tony Rolt, and built at their factory in West Bromwich.

Cadbury launched Dairy Milk in 1905, Bournville in 1906, Fruit & Nut in 1928, Whole Nut in 1930, Cadbury Roses in 1938, and the Cadbury Creme Egg in 1971. George and Richard Cadbury built their factory in 1879 and Bournville in 1893, named after the Bourn brook. Iceland (supermarket) opened its first store in Oswestry in 1970 – heralding the onset of frozen food in the UK. Alfred Bird invented egg-free custard in 1837 in Birmingham – accidentally given to guests at his home, being created as his wife had an allergy to eggs; he then invented baking powder in 1843 as his wife also had an allergy to yeast.

Culture[edit]

J. R. R. Tolkien grew up in Birmingham, Kings Heath, then part of Worcestershire, and was inspired by Moseley Bog and Sarehole, and perhaps by the Perrott's Folly. Philip Larkin came from Coventry. Rowland Hill (stamps) was from Kidderminster. The writer George Eliot came from Nuneaton. Anthony E. Pratt from Birmingham invented Cluedo.

Frederick Gibberd of Coventry designed Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Edward Cave from Rugby made Britain's first magazine in 1731 – The Gentleman's Magazine. Philip Astley from Newcastle under Lyme invented the modern day circus in 1768 – Astley's Amphitheatre.

The Castlemorton Common Festival in May 1992 near Malvern, led to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

The highest numbered building in the UK is 2679 Stratford Road, Stratford Road, Hockley Heath.

Regional assembly[edit]

The official representative body of the region is the West Midlands Leaders Board which has limited administrative functions such as regional planning and economic development. The board is not an elected body, but is made up of members appointed from local councils across the region and is known as a quango. It is based on Edward Street in Birmingham, near the National Indoor Arena. From March 2010, the funding decisions at regional level were taken over by Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Agency.

Demographics[edit]

Ethnicity[edit]

How the West Midlands region voted in the June 2016 European Union referendum; only the (university) district of Warwick voted (58.8%) to stay in the EU; the region had the highest overall vote (59.3%) to leave, with large proportions in Stoke-on-Trent (69.4%) and Cannock Chase (68.9%)

The West Midlands is the second most ethnically diverse part of the UK (Greater London being the most diverse). This is in large part due to the West Midlands conurbation, which is highly diverse. The ethnic makeup of the West Midlands as a whole as measured by the 2011 census was as follows:

Ethnic group 2011
population
2011
%
White: British 4,434,333 79.2
White: Irish 55,216 1.0
White: Irish Traveller/Gypsy[note 1] 4,734 0.1
White: Other 139,386 2.5
White: Total 4,633,669

82.7

Asian or Asian British: Indian 218 439 3.9
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 227,248 4.1
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 52,477 0.9
Asian or Asian British: Chinese 31,274 0.6
Asian or Asian British: Asian Other 74,997 1.3
Asian or Asian British: Total 604,435

10.8

Black or Black British: Caribbean 86,794 1.6
Black or Black British: African 64,253 1.2
Black or Black British: Other 31,078 0.6
Black or Black British: Total 182,125

3.3

Mixed: White and Caribbean 68,533 1.2
Mixed: White and African 9,232 0.2
Mixed: White and Asian Other 32,561 0.6
Mixed: Other Mixed 21,388 0.4
British Mixed: Total 131,714

2.4

Other: Arab[note 2] 18,079 0.3
Other: Any other ethnic group 31,825 0.6
Other: Total 49,904

0.9

Total 5,601,847

100

Teenage pregnancy[edit]

For top-tier authorities in the West Midlands, Stoke-on-Trent has the highest teenage pregnancy rate. For council districts, Nuneaton and Bedworth in Warwickshire has the highest rate closely followed by Tamworth. For top-tier authorities, Shropshire has the lowest rate, and for council districts Malvern Hills has the lowest rate.

Social deprivation[edit]

The region, from studies of multiple deprivation, shows similarities with Yorkshire and the Humber, and is more deprived than the neighbouring East Midlands. From the Indices of deprivation 2007, it can be seen that, in common with Northern England, the region has more Lower Area Super Output Areas in the 20% most deprived districts than in the 20% least deprived districts.[18] The region's most deprived council districts, in descending order, are Birmingham (10th highest in England), Sandwell (14th), Stoke-on-Trent (16th), Wolverhampton (28th), Walsall (45th), Coventry (61st), and Dudley (100th). These have Labour MPs except for a Conservative MP in Walsall, one in Sandwell, one in Dudley, and one in Wolverhampton (Wolverhampton South West), and a Lib Dem MP for Birmingham Yardley.[19]

The least deprived districts in 2007 (before Shropshire became a unitary authority in 2009) were Bromsgrove, South Staffordshire, Warwick, Wychavon, and Lichfield. These areas, like all rural areas of the West Midlands, have Conservative MPs. At county level, the least deprived areas, in descending order, were Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Solihull, Staffordshire, and Shropshire.

In March 2011 the region had the second highest overall unemployment claimant count in England at 4.7%, second to North East England. The highest in the region was Wolverhampton at 7.7%, the joint second highest (with Manchester) unemployment rate in England. Next is Sandwell with 7.1%, Birmingham with 7.0%, and Walsall with 6.4%. The lowest rate in the region is the district of Stratford-on-Avon, with 1.6% – one of the lowest unemployment rates in England.[20]

Elections[edit]

The Green Party of England and Wales was formed at the Bridge Inn in Napton-on-the-Hill, Warwickshire, in February 1973, and originated from an article by Paul R. Ehrlich about population growth in Playboy magazine; it became the Ecology Party in 1975 and the Green Party in 1985; the first conference was in June 1973 at The Allesley Hotel at the A4114/A45 junction south of the main Jaguar works in Allesley, in west Coventry.

General Election results in 2017

In the 1992 general election, Nuneaton was taken by Labour with a 7% swing, which was one of the largest swings of the night; in the 2015 election, the Nuneaton result would largely seal the eventual outcome of the election. In the 2010 general election, North Warwickshire (Dan Byles) had the smallest Conservative majority, with 54; Stoke-on-Trent Central had the smallest number of winning votes, with 12,220.

In the 2015 general election, the Conservatives gained the largest share of the region by popular vote and took control of the number of seats, with 42% of the region's electorate voting Conservative, 33% Labour, 16% UKIP, 6% Liberal Democrat and 3% Green. The Conservatives gained 2 seats with virtually no swing from Labour to Conservative.

In the 2017 general election, South Staffordshire (Gavin Williamson) had the second-highest Conservative vote proportion in the UK – 69.8%. David Firth (statistician), at the University of Warwick, invented the BBC election exit poll. 6 ft 9 Daniel Kawczynski, a Shropshire MP, is the tallest MP ever.

Although having a slightly smaller percentage of the vote than the neighbouring East Midlands, the geographic area of the West Midlands is more Conservative, due to Labour's vote now consigned to the urban areas of Birmingham, Coventry and Stoke-on-Trent. The number of seats is more favoured towards Labour than the geographic spread, with 35 Conservative seats and 24 Labour. All of Warwickshire, Staffordshire (except Newcastle-under-Lyme), Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire is now Conservative.

Eurostat NUTS[edit]

In the Eurostat Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS), the West Midlands form a level-1 NUTS region, coded "UKG", which is subdivided as follows:

NUTS 1 Code NUTS 2 Code NUTS 3 Code
West Midlands UKG Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire UKG1 Herefordshire UKG11
NUTS 3 regions of the West Midlands 2010 map.svg Worcestershire CC UKG12
Warwickshire CC UKG13
Shropshire and Staffordshire UKG2 Telford and Wrekin UKG21
Shropshire UKG22
Stoke-on-Trent UKG23
Staffordshire CC UKG24
West Midlands UKG3 Birmingham UKG31
Solihull UKG32
Coventry UKG33
Dudley UKG36
Sandwell UKG37
Walsall UKG38
Wolverhampton UKG39

Local government[edit]

The region contains of the following administrative subdivisions:

Map Ceremonial county Shire county / unitary Districts
West Midlands counties 2009 map.svg 1. Herefordshire U.A.
Shropshire 2. Shropshire U.A.
3. Telford and Wrekin U.A.
Staffordshire 4. Staffordshire † aCannock Chase, bEast Staffordshire, cLichfield, dNewcastle-under-Lyme, eSouth Staffordshire, fStafford, gStaffordshire Moorlands, hTamworth
5. Stoke-on-Trent U.A.
6. Warwickshire † aNorth Warwickshire, bNuneaton and Bedworth, cRugby, dStratford-on-Avon, eWarwick
7. West Midlands * aBirmingham, bCoventry, cDudley, dSandwell, eSolihull, fWalsall, gWolverhampton
8. Worcestershire † aBromsgrove, bMalvern Hills, cRedditch, dWorcester, eWychavon, fWyre Forest

Key: †two-tier non-metropolitan county | *metropolitan county including the West Midlands Combined Authority and mayor

Demography[edit]

Statue of St Michael and Satan at Coventry Cathedral
Ceremonial County Population Population density Largest local authority Largest settlement
West Midlands (region) 5,267,337 405/km² Birmingham (1,006,500) Birmingham (1,006,500)
Gloucestershire 623,100 234/km2 City of Gloucester City of Gloucester
West Midlands (county) 2,600,100 2,884/km² Birmingham (1,006,500) Birmingham (1,006,500)
Staffordshire 1,062,500 391/km² Stoke-on-Trent (240,636) Stoke-on-Trent (259,252)
Worcestershire 552,900 318/km² Wychavon (116,300) Worcester (93,400)
Warwickshire 522,200 264/km² Warwick (132,900) Nuneaton (70,721)
Shropshire 451,100 129/km² Shropshire (290,900) Telford (138,241)
Herefordshire 177,800 82/km² N/A[21] Hereford (50,400)

The West Midlands' population accounts for almost 11% of England's overall population. 49.36% of the region's population resides in the West Midlands county, 20.17% in Staffordshire, 10.49% in Worcestershire, 9.91% in Warwickshire, 8.56% in Shropshire, and 3.37% in Herefordshire.

Economy[edit]

Sir Anthony Bamford, the wealthiest British-nationality businessman

Business Link West Midlands[22] was based on the Quinton Business Park in Quinton, next to Highways England and the M5 at the A456 Quinton Interchange. NHS West Midlands, the strategic health authority was on Hagley Road (A456) in Edgbaston. The West Midlands Ambulance Service is on the Waterfront Business Park in Brierley Hill, off the A461, near the headquarters of West Midlands Police, where the Child Support Agency (CSA) was headquartered. The region's Manufacturing Advisory Service was on Wolverhampton Science Park[23] off the A449 north of the city centre; this function is now represented by Made in the Midlands, off M4 junction 2 at Pendeford north of Wolverhampton. The DIT West Midlands (previously UKTI) for the region[24] is based at the West Midlands Chambers of Commerce on Harborne Road (B4284), south of NHS West Midlands west of Five Ways; this was previously at the B4100/B4114 junction south of Aston University near the Matthew Boulton Campus of Birmingham Metropolitan College. Most of the region is covered by the Midlands Air Ambulance, except Warwickshire is covered by the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance, based at Coventry Airport; both are charity-funded. Sir Anthony Bamford of Staffordshire is the richest British industrialist, at around £3.15bn in 2014; Sir James Dyson is second (£3bn).

Herefordshire[edit]

Bulmers cider orchard east of Hereford, near the River Wye

Bulmers Cider is in Hereford within walking distance of Hereford station; it is the world's largest cider factory, and has the world's largest vat (for Strongbow), built in 1975. Painter Brothers (part of Balfour Beatty) on the Aydon Ind Est off the A49 near Hereford Racecourse in the north of Hereford, is the UK's largest manufacturer of electricity pylons (transmission towers), broadcasting masts, the Callender-Hamilton bridge, and rail electrification structures. Special Metals Wiggin, part of Special Metals Corporation, based at Hereford was the main producer of nickel alloys in Europe, with a large site directly north of Painter Brothers at the A49/A4103 junction; further north on the A49 at Moreton Business Park at Moreton-on-Lugg is GEA Denco (part of GEA Group) who make dehumidifiers. The Special Reconnaissance Regiment was formed in 2005. At Hereford, Cargill Meats Europe (formerly Sun Valley) have a large poultry meat processing facility, processing chickens from around Herefordshire; it produces a lot of the chicken for McDonald's in the UK and processes around a million birds a week.

Cadbury (Mondelēz International) make milk chocolate crumb near Marlbrook (near Leominster). Weston's Cider is in Much Marcle, south-west of Ledbury at the A449/B4024 junction, who also make Stowford Press. Wye Fruit is in the north of Ledbury on the B4214; in the west of the town, off the A417 bypass is a large site of Amcor, and further west is Universal Beverages (UBL), owned by Heineken since 2007 where it cans cider; the site of Ledbury Preserves of RHM made Robertson's jam, mincemeat and marmalade and closed in 2008 when production moved to Histon in Cambridgeshire. Atora suet has been made in Ledbury since around 2003, when production was moved from Teesside by RHM to a former factory of Just Juice, which was bought by Del Monte in 1999. Holden Aluminium Technologies are a sports car chassis manufacturer at Linton on the A44, east of Bromyard. Kingspan Insulation is based at Pembridge, next to Shobdon Aerodrome, west of Leominster off the A44. BT's Madley Communications Centre, claims to be the world's largest earth station. Tyrrells Potato Crisps are off the B4457 at Dilwyn west of Leominster, near the A44.

Shropshire[edit]

Rayburn Range and Aga Rangemaster Group are based in Telford; the PDSA is in St George's and Priorslee, Telford next to the M54 near the B5061/A5 Priorslee Roundabout; opposite the M54 on Stafford Park is Virgin Balloon Flights; Hymix is on the east of Stafford Park near the A464, who make mountable concrete mixers. The MoD have a significant depot at Lilleshall and Donnington. There are also high-technology industries such as Unimation, Nikon, Hitachi Maxell, Ricoh, Capgemini, Fujitsu and Electronic Data Systems. In Hadley Castle off the A442, Denso Manufacturing UK Ltd make car air-conditioning systems and GKN Wheels make car wheels. Nearby is Ogihara Europe, a tool making (dies and press) and metal-pressing company. Makita Manufacturing Europe off the A518 at Hortonwood at Telford is the only plant in the UK that makes power tools. Chequer Foods (owned by the Chiswick-based Autobar Group), off the A442 near the A4169 junction in Halesfield to the south, make food sachets for foodservice and for the UK's military ration packs.

Müller Dairy Ltd is based in Market Drayton, and Palethorpes, part of Pork Farms which makes own-label sausages, is on the same site on A53. At Crudgington, Dairy Crest made Country Life butter and Clover until February 2015, and have their Technical Centre. Anglo Beef Processors (ABP Food Group) are at Harlescott in the north of Shrewsbury. Nearby Stadco, a metal pressings company, are based off the A5124 and next to the railway, on the Battlefield Ind Estate and have a site at Hadley Castle, Telford off the A442. Uniq plc have a plant on the A488 at Minsterley making chilled desserts for Tesco.

BT have their National Network Management Centre (Whittington House) off the A495 near the A5 roundabout on the Oswestry bypass in Whittington, Shropshire, where they claim to have the largest video information wall in Europe.[citation needed] Military helicopter training in the UK takes place at RAF Shawbury, alongside training for the RAF's air traffic controllers (ATC).

Staffordshire[edit]

JCB Dieselmax, holder of the land speed record for diesel-engined vehicles

The brewing companies such as Coors Brewers are in Burton on Trent, as well as Marmite, Marston's Brewery, GNC UK (health supplements), and Doncasters (aerospace components and steel forging, founded by Daniel Doncaster of Sheffield). Conder Structures is a structural steel company next to Marmite on the A5121, and further south Johnson Controls make seats for Toyota in Branston. Spirit Pub Company (which demerged from Punch Taverns in August 2011, and owns Chef & Brewer, Flaming Grill and Fayre & Square) is near the A5121/A38 junction, with Punch Taverns slightly further north. Marley Eternit (part of the Belgium Etex Group), who make Eternit fibre cement roofing (often seen on industrial buildings) are based on the west side of the A38 in the south of Branston, (with another large plant at the A525/A531 junction in Madeley near the M6 at Keele); next door in Dunstall, Lanxess UK (former W. Hawley) make pigments.

The Michelin Man (Bibendum) at Sideway in Stoke, with his name originating from the Latin phrase Nunc est bibendum

Newell Rubbermaid UK (owner of Parker Pen, Berol, Paper Mate and DYMO), Graco (buggies), a large RDC of Tesco, and Zytek (motorsport) are at Fradley Park, next to the A38, on an old airfield. Norgren (part of IMI) is an international pneumatic technology company on the A5192 in Lichfield.

Off the A522 north of Cheadle is JCB Earthmovers (wheel loaders) and JCB Compact Products (mini excavators and skid-steer loaders). JCB is based in Staffordshire, near the Alton Towers colossal leisure park; JCB Heavy Products (excavators), and their World Parts Centre are off the A50 in Uttoxeter Rural (Beamhurst). Lafarge Cement UK (former Blue Circle) have a large plant at Cauldon in Waterhouses, between the A523 and A52.

Michelin Tyres are made in Sideway in Stoke-on-Trent, next to Stoke's only grammar school in the south of Trent Vale. Royal Doulton and Wedgwood are based in Barlaston. Emma Bridgewater make pottery on the A50 in Hanley. Tile Giant (owned by Travis Perkins since 2007) is based on the B5039 in Longton, and Walkers' Nonsuch make toffee on the A5007. Portmeirion Pottery, who own the Royal Worcester brand, are on the B5041 in Stoke. Steelite International (pottery) are based at Middleport, in west Burslem, next to the Trent and Mersey Canal. Dudson (pottery) is on the A50 in the north end of Burslem, towards Tunstall. Johnson Tiles and Norcros Adhesives (owned by Norcros) is in the west of Tunstall. Wade Ceramics is in Etruria to the east of Wolstanton, near the A53/A500 junction off the A53, near the HQ of the Sentinel newspaper (Harmsworth Printing). Swan Products (teasmades and small appliances, owned by Littlewoods) are based in Fenton. Premier Foods make Mr Kipling slices and Cherry Bakewells in Trent Vale in the south of Stoke-on-Trent.

Bet365 is on Festival Park in Etruria, off the A53, and is Stoke-on-Trent's largest private sector employer. Goodwin Steel Castings make steel castings in the east of Stoke on the A52. The Co-operative Pharmacy National Distribution Centre is on the A50 at Meir, on the former site of Cookson Ceramics (later Johnson Matthey until its closure in 2003). Dechra Pharmaceuticals make veterinary pharmaceuticals at Talke, off the A34. Churchill China are at Sandyford near Tunstall at the A50/A527 junction. Sumitomo Electrical Wiring Systems (Europe), who supply wiring for the automotive industry, are in Silverdale, not far from Keele University. At Kidsgrove off the A34, Converteam (former GEC) make variable speed drives (VSDs); AAH Pharmaceuticals have their Enterprise and Trident divisions in Talke, in the west of Kidsgrove, off the A5011. AWS Electronics have a factory, off the A34 north of Newcastle. Phones 4u was at Knutton in the north of Newcastle-under-Lyme until it went bankrupt in 2014. Off the B5500 in Chesterton in the north-west of Newcastle, Broxap are a leading supplier of cast iron street furniture. Andritz UK (engineering) are at Wolstanton, off the A34 in the north of Newcastle.

Marmite is made from the yeast left over from the brewing industry

RoadChef are at Norton Canes, near Cannock. Tallent Automotive (previously ThyssenKrupp, now owned by Gestamp since 2011) make car suspensions and crossmembers at Cannock. Electrium (Wylex RCDs, and Crabtree and Volex electrical wiring) is on the A460 next to the M6 toll at Bridgtown. Mann+Hummel UK, on the A460 south of M54 junction 1 at Featherstone, make air and oil filters. Motivair, who make air compressors, is based off the A5190 in Burntwood; Mizkan Europe (who now own Branston Pickle in Suffolk) make vinegar. Armitage Shanks (owned by Ideal Standard International) are in the east of Rugeley off the A513 in Armitage with Handsacre, near the WCML; JCB Cab Systems are next to the A51 on the Riverside Ind Est.

The UK headquarters of Alstom Grid (former Areva T&D UK, and GEC) is based in Stafford as well as a factory and the UK headquarters of Bostik (a subsidiary of TOTAL). Alstom Power repair electrical generators. Altecnic, who work with Caleffi of Italy, is in the north of Stafford in Creswell, off M6 junction 14, and supply plumbing fittings. MICROMINIATURES on the B5026 in Stone claim to be Europe's leading supplier of ice cream van chime equipment.

Invotec Group, a PCB manufacturer, is based off the A51 in Dosthill, south of Tamworth. Numark Pharmacy is in Tamworth (former base of Reliant). JVM Castings make crankcases off the A51 at The Leys in Tamworth, and have a site in Worcester. Bristan (owned by Masco) based in Dordon and Baddesley Ensor on the Birch Coppice Business Park south-west of Tamworth, next to a new Ocado distribution centre, is the UK's largest supplier of kitchen and bathroom taps; Volkswagen Group (VAG UK) have their main UK distribution facility there, the site of Birch Coppice Colliery before 1987; nearby Maersk have their Birmingham Intermodal Freight Terminal (rail). Ansell UK (medical gloves, from Australia) is on Tamworth Enterprise Park, off the A51 next to the West Coast Main Line; they also produce Mates condoms. Lyalvale Express make shotgun cartridges north of Tamworth next to the WCML at Fisherwick. Whittington Barracks (DMS Whittington) near to the west is the home of the Defence Medical Services and Defence Dental Service, and soon the Defence Medical Services Training Centre.

Premier Foods make Bird's Custard, Angel Delight and Marvel powdered milk in Knighton, west of Eccleshall near the Shropshire boundary. Static Systems Group (SSG) in Wombourne, south Staffordshire, make most of the nurse call systems for the NHS. Kerrygold have a large cheese production site on the A53 in Leek on the Barnfields Industrial Estate.

On the Balliol Business Park, in Bilbrook and directly west of Fordhouses in Wolverhampton north of Pendeford, Cargill process poultry (with another site at Hereford), and next door is Moog Aircraft (GE Aviation Systems before September 2009, which had bought Smiths Aerospace in May 2007) which makes flight control actuation systems (for the hydraulics on Boeing and Airbus), to move to the I54 Business Park in Bilbrook; the Balliol Business Park was formerly the site of Boulton Paul Aircraft, that made the Defiant.

Warwickshire[edit]

Dennis Eagle bin wagon works at Warwick

Bridgestone UK, Telent (near the A46 bypass), Calor (on Tachbrook Park off the A452), next to Co-operative Energy and near Magna Powertrain UK, Baxi (now owned by BDR Thermea, and on the A429 near Warwick railway station) with Potterton, Volvo Trucks UK (next to the A46 bypass) and a large data centre of IBM are in Warwick. Dennis Eagle, who make bin wagons, are headquartered off the A452 on the Heathcote Ind Estate, south of Calor Gas, in east Warwick towards Leamington. Godiva (former Hale Products Europe, part of the IDEX Corporation) are the UK's leading manufacturer of fire pumps off the A445 in Emscote, east Warwick.

IBM at Warwick

Aga Rangemaster Group is on the north of Leamington Spa Business Park, and directly south is Wolseley UK; Raicam Clutches (Automotive Products) is south of Wolseley; to the west Grupo Antolin UK make vehicle interiors; on the same estate is Caparo AP Braking, and Delphi Automotive have an electronics centre. On the Warwick Technology Park, south of Warwick on the A425, are Phillips 66 UK (former ConocoPhillips) who own JET UK (petrol); to the east is McKesson's European HQ (who produce the software for the NHS's 1.4 million employees' payroll – the largest payroll in the UK),[25] and to the west is Tulip (who produce SPAM, with Plumrose and Danepak) in the UK and are owned by Danish Crown Group – Europe's largest pork producer, near Midcounties Co-operative which is next to the wireless division of Arqiva; National Grid plc is in the centre of the park, and Allinea Software is at the Innovation Centre.

NFU Mutual headquarters at Tiddington, east of Stratford-upon-Avon

NFU Mutual is in Tiddington near Stratford and the NFU is in Stoneleigh; The Pony Club and other parts of the British Equestrian Federation are in Stoneleigh. AGCO Limited UK and its European Operations Centre is nearby at Stareton, who own Massey Ferguson with Valtra UK; the large factory at Coventry closed in 2002. The British Horse Society is in Kenilworth. At Cubbington is the UK headquarters of Joma, and has the Thwaites dumper manufacturer. Caparo Vehicle Technologies is off the B4087 road towards Leamington Spa. Codemasters is off the A425 in Long Itchington, east of Leamington, opposite the 600-acre RLS Polo Club; directly east of Leamington on the A425 is Ricardo's Midlands Technical Centre. Recaro UK (car seats) is off the A4177 next to a former airfield (now a proving ground), west of Kenilworth. Further north, the University of Warwick, on the Coventry/Warwickshire boundary, is home to the Warwick Manufacturing Group technology consultancy and the Tata Motors European Technical Centre.

SRS Frigadon, off the A3400 (former A34) at Atherstone on Stour, is an Anglo-Swedish refrigeration company that makes chillers and heat exchangers.

In 2008, the former Daw Mill colliery produced 3.2 million tonnes of coal, a UK record

BMW have their main European four-cylinder engine plant at Hams Hall near the M42. Subaru UK and Isuzu UK (IM Group) are sandwiched between the M6 and the M42 (south of junction 8) at the Coleshill Manor Office Campus, west of Coleshill. Off the B4117 in the north of Coleshill is Thomas & Betts UK (former Adaptaflex), which makes flexible conduits. TNT UK is off the B4116 in the west of Atherstone, and Aldi UK is on the other side of the road; Aldi opened its first UK store on 17 July 1990 in Stechford, Birmingham, and now has around 700 UK stores. 3M have an abrasive products (sandpaper) factory in the east of the town. Daw Mill, next to the railway, was Britain's biggest coal producer near the B4098/B4114 junction at Arley and Over Whitacre. Holland & Barrett are Europe's largest health food chain, with 1,400 stores. Triton Showers (the UK's largest shower company) are based in Nuneaton; Adams Childrenswear, formerly on the A4254 on the Attleborough Fields Ind Est, closed most of its stores in 2010.[citation needed]

South of Nuneaton, at the A444/B4113 roundabout is the national distribution centre of Dairy Crest, where it also packages Cathedral City cheese. North of Coventry, Oleo International (its name is from the Oleo strut) is a world leader in railway buffers based on the B4113 in Exhall, next to the M6. The London congestion charge is operated by Capita, based at Prologis Park (Bedworth) in the west of Exhall. Rolls-Royce have a large engine overhaul plant (former Armstrong Siddeley), near Ansty and the M6/M69 junction in Coombe Fields, which also makes their engine casings, built on a former airfield; Ansty Park is a new development on the same former airfield.

Aston Martin and Land Rover have their headquarters in Gaydon. Nearby to the south in the same area as the Battle of Edgehill (1642) west of the M40 is MoD Kineton (former Defence Storage and Distribution Agency or DSDA Kineton, now part of Defence Equipment and Support or DE&S), home of the Army School of Ammunition and Defence Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Munitions and Search Training Regiment which teaches bomb disposal (Improvised Explosive Device Disposal); on the opposite site of the B4086 is Marlborough Barracks and Defence Munitions Centre Kineton.

Morgan Sindall Construction HQ on Corporation Street (B4632) in Rugby

GE Power Conversion UK (former Alstom, then Converteam) and Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure (former Morgan Est) are in Rugby. Alstom have their Power and Transport division in the north of Rugby on the A426, where they service steam turbines; on the Swift Valley Ind Estate Premier Foods have their national distribution centre; on the same estate Ball Packaging Europe UK have a main plant (tin cans), and nearby are Morsø UK (wood-burning stoves). The European HQ of Gap is in the north of Rugby, alongside the M6 in Churchover; Gap is the world's third-biggest fashion retailer, with 118 stores in the UK. CEMEX have the country's largest cement works, west of Rugby at the junction of the A428 and the A4071 western bypass towards Long Lawford (former Rugby Cement).

West Midlands county[edit]

In Central Birmingham
Car Manufacturers
The leaping jaguar mascot outside the car company's head office south of Coventry
Nearest Birmingham
Cadbury in Birmingham
Outskirts of County
Near other main towns

Speciality Fibres and Materials developed Lyocell (Tencel) in the 1980s.[73]

A Land Rover Defender in eastern Africa, made in Solihull

The Forensic Science Service, Linpac, Lafarge Cement UK and IMI plc (former ICI Metals Division) are on the Birmingham Business Park in Bickenhill, near the airport; the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) is just north, between the airport and the M42. Lafarge Tarmac is in Marston Green, Bickenhill; ZF Lemförder UK's site at Bickenhill makes axle modules for Land Rover off the B4438 north of the NEC, near the new site of Tarmac (after the Lafarge merger). Newey and Eyre, Britain's largest electrical wholesaler and part of Rexel UK, is at Sheldon on the A45 near the airport. Neopost UK is off the A452. Goodrich UK is in Shirley. Prologis UK, Intersport UK (on the Cranmore Ind Est), and Enterprise Inns are on the A34 in Monkspath; next door is Trelleborg Sealing Solutions UK; TRW Conekt have a main automotive engineering research centre (with Girling Brakes, at the former Lucas Research Centre) at the A34/B4102 roundabout at The Green Business Park in Shirley Heath, further north on the A34 from Enterprise Inns, on other side of the road. The Mormons (Latter Day Saints) have their European HQ in Solihull near the hospital, on the B4025 opposite Morrisons. Amtico (flooring) is based in the south of Solihull, with a main factory in Foleshill, Coventry. Compin UK, with Fainsa, are in Solihull, and make train and bus seats.

Carillion head office in Wolverhampton

Carillion in construction[82] Tarmac Group was on the A4039 south-east of the city centre in Ettingshall until 2012 when it merged with Lafarge. Marston's is headquartered west of the ring road, on the A41, and have the Park Brewery on the A4124, east of the city centre. The UK's VAT Registration Service, for Value Added Tax is at HMRC in Wolverhampton on the opposite side of the Wolverhampton Ring Road (A4150) to the HQ of Marstons, on the west side of the town centre. Flint Ink UK in the east of the town centre, former Mander Brothers, was the largest ink supplier in the British Empire, before being bought in 1998. BAE Systems Land & Armaments (former Alvis Bridging and Vickers Armstrong) formerly on the A4126 in Ettingshall, near the former Tarmac site, closed at the end of 2011. In Fordhouses, along the A449 to the north, are HS Marston (part of the former Hamilton Sundstrand, now UTC Aerospace Systems) makes heat exchangers, Goodrich Actuation Systems (the former Actuation Division of Lucas Aerospace and H. M. Hobson), and a new engine plant for JLR. Goodrich in the UK, is what became of Lucas before a takeover by Goodrich; Lucas Aerospace was a world leader in flight control actuation for civil aircraft.

Wednesfield Steelpark in September 2006

On the Staffordshire boundary, to the west on the Pendeford Business Park, are ADAS (previously on the A41 in Wergs), Gunnebo UK (cash handling) and Birmingham Midshires. Turner Powertrain Systems is the world market leader for transmissions for backhoe loaders, mini excavators telescopic handlers, and site dumpers is further south, to the west of the A449 near Dunstall Hill. Hampson Industries is in Brierley Hill. Wednesbury Tube (part of Mueller Industries) make copper pipe on the A41 in Bilston at the Key Ind Est near the Loxdale tram stop, and its sister company Primaflow makes brass fittings in Nechells. On the A4124, Tata Steel (former site of British Steel Seamless Tubes until 1995) have their Wednesfield Steelpark (the UK's biggest steelyard, built by Corus in 1999) on the Walsall boundary.

Boss Design is a furniture manufacturer in Blowers Green, Dudley at the A461/A459 roundabout. KUKA Robotics UK, a maker of industrial robots, and Joseph Ash (galvinizers) are off the A459 at Mucklow Hill in Halesowen, with Floors-2-Go based off the A458; Sandvik Coromant UK (Swedish machine cutting tools, who provide Birmingham's Christmas tree) are off junction 3 of the M5 on the A456. Hingley Trailers (former M+G Trailers before 2009) makes trailers on the A458 in Lye. Marcegaglia UK make electrical-resistance welded steel tubes off the A461 in Dudley. Essar Steel UK (former Servosteel) on the A4101 Pensnett Road in west Dudley, is the largest independent steel toll processor in the UK. Initial Cleaning Services (Facilities) is based on the Ashmore Ind Estate, at the A461/A459 Castle Gate Island roundabout, opposite the Showcase cinema on the Castle Gate Leisure Park. The Merry Hill Shopping Centre, similar to Meadowhall in Sheffield, is built on a large former steelworks, the Round Oak Steelworks.

Avery Weigh-Tronix is on the site of James Watt's Soho Foundry in Smethwick; Interlink Express (and its parent GeoPost UK) is on Summit Crescent Ind Estate off the A4252, north of Smethwick Galton Bridge railway station, next to the M5. Hadley Group near the Soho Foundry is the largest cold roll forming manufacturer in the UK. J. B. & S. Lees makes steel strip at the Trident Steel Works in Albion, West Bromwich off the B4166 and also by Firth Cleveland at the B4517/B4163 junction in Tipton further up the Birmingham Canal. Caparo Precision Tubes between the M5 and A4182 in Oldbury, is the UK's largest producer of electric resistance welded (ERW) steel tubes, and Wellman Group make boilers off the A457 to the west. Metsec, east of Oldbury (owned by Voestalpine), is one of the UK's largest cold roll-forming companies. Conex Bänninger (former IBP Conex), on the B4166 in New Town, west of West Bromwich on Birmingham Canal, make pipe and compression fittings. Rhodia's Oldbury site on the B4170 in Langley Green, south of Oldbury and east of the M5 is a world-leading site (former Albright and Wilson) in phosphorus-based chemistry. The AA have a main office on the A4123 at the A4034 roundabout in Rounds Green, west of Oldbury. BIP Chemicals (former British Cyanides) at Oldbury are the oldest polymer manufacturer in the UK. STILL UK (KION Group) is in Harvills Hawthorn, Golds Hill at the A461/A41 roundabout, north-west of West Bromwich; further along the A41 is 2 Sisters Food Group, Britain's largest processor of chicken. Nesbit Evans in the east of Wednesbury, off the A41, are a main manufacturer of hospital beds, owned by ArjoHuntleigh.

Willenhall is the lockmaking capital of the UK, and the home of Chubb

The national headquarters of One Stop is on the A4124 in Brownhills, at Clayhanger. Homeserve is in the north of Walsall on the A34, opposite Walsall Retail Park; next door to the north, on the other side of the Wyrley and Essington Canal on the B4210, on the edge of Blakenall Heath, is Eagle Envelopes, part of Mayer-Kuvert, Europe's leading envelope manufacturer. Imperial Bathroom Company, on the Empire Ind Est off the B4152 in Leighswood, is in the north of Walsall borough; next door is RMD Kwikform (scaffolding) on the opposite side of Rushall Canal; to the south was GKN Driveline Walsall from 1953 until 2010, which was the largest independent manufacturer of CV-jointed propshafts in Europe. Poundland is in Willenhall, on the side of the Black Country Route (A454) towards the M6 junction 11. Wedge Group, based on the B4484 in Willenhall, is the largest hot dip galvanising company in the UK. Assa Abloy UK (and Yale UK, former Yale & Towne), owned by a Swedish company, is off the A454 at the B4464 roundabout in Willenhall, as the town is known for manufacture of locks; close by is A.F. Blakemore, which supplies most of the SPAR shops in the UK. ZF Lemförder UK make chassis components (a main competitor to GKN), in the east of Darlaston, with Caparo Atlas Fastenings off the A4038.

Worcestershire[edit]

Worcester Bosch; Bosch Thermotechnology are in Warndon

In Redditch are Halfords, on the B4497 to the south in Washford, and GKN (it has the second largest turnover in the West Midlands) is on the A441 in Riverside. CompAir Hydrovane, who make rotary vane compressors, are on the Washford Ind Estate near the B4497/A453 junction in Redditch. Mettis Aerospace are on the B4184 in Enfield, north Redditch, and make light metal components (the former High Duty Alloys, which made most of the forged pistons for Britain's aircraft engines in WWII). Hymatic (part of Honeywell Defense and Space) make world-leading cryocoolers, on Moon's Moat Ind Est, in the north-east of Redditch; on same site the KAC Alarm Company, also part of Honeywell, make break glass call points for fire alarms; they innovated them in the 1970s, and are global leaders. Magna Interior Systems make the cockpit module (dashboard) for the MINI. Entaco make needles for hand sewing and medical purposes in the south of Redditch on the Washford Ind Est. Directly east of Redditch in Beoley is Lear Corporation UK, who make car seats. Phoenix Group (non-public life assurance schemes) is off the A435 in the north-east of the county near the Warwickshire boundary, at Wythall, and has a large turnover; nearby to west Metalrax, headquartered in Alvechurch near the M42, make (via subsidiaries) most of the bakeware sold in the UK.

The factory opened in 1897; the recipe for Worcestershire sauce came from Lord Sandys, and was only discovered accidentally when initially discarded and left to mature for months

Roger Dyson Group manufactures auto-recovery vehicles off the A442 in north Droitwich, near Vax and Koito Europe (car headlamps). South of Bromsgrove, on the B4091 at Stoke Prior, L.G. Harris & Co make paintbrushes. Lea & Perrins is in Worcester. Joy Mining Machinery are on the A44 in the west of Worcester. Worcester, Bosch Group make 1,200 boilers a day. Mazak UK have the parent company's European manufacturing facility (for CNC machine tools) on the B4639 in the north of Worcester, next to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal; nearby on the Blackpole Ind Est, Froude Hofmann have their world headquarters, who make dynamometers, originated from William Froude (former Heenan & Froude).

Sealine make boats at the A442/A451 roundabout in Kidderminster, owned by Brunswick Boat Group. Also in Kidderminster of the A451, Stourport Road are Brintons Carpets and Beakbane. Roxel UK (equally owned by Safran and MBDA), develops solid-fuel rockets for missiles at the A449/A442 junction south of Kidderminster and in Hartlebury, on the former site of Royal Ordnance Rocket Motors. The West Midland Safari Park is off the A456 in Bewdley, west of Kidderminster. Morgan Technical Ceramics is headquartered on the B4195 at Lickhill in Stourport-on-Severn, south of Kidderminster; at the B4193/A4025 roundabout, XTA Electronics make audio amplifiers. Egbert H. Taylor off the A442 in Elmley Lovett, near Hartlebury is the world's leading manufacturer of metal bins. Leigh Sinton was the home of Biffa Waste Services' Worcester depot until the closure in July 2013.

Qinetiq at the Malvern Hills Science Park, or Malvern Technology Centre; the integrated circuit was invented here in 1952

Liquid crystal displays were developed in 1972 in conjunction with the Royal Radar Establishment, where Geoffrey Dummer invented the idea of the integrated circuit in 1952. It was based in Malvern, and became the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, which developed thermal imaging and pyroelectric infrared detectors, and is now a large site owned by QinetiQ. Morgan Motor Company is in Malvern Link; nearby is Desire Petroleum. Commsoft RMS is in Evesham. Allen Gears supply industrial-sized gears off the A4104 in Pershore. For many years Group 4 Security, which was the largest security company in Europe, had its headquarters in Broadway off the A44, on the edge of the Cotswolds; G4S Integrated Services now has its HQ there.

Education[edit]

Secondary education[edit]

Selective schools are in low numbers as follows: Birmingham (8), Walsall (2), Wolverhampton (1), Warwickshire (6), Stoke-on-Trent (1), and Telford and Wrekin (2). The highest proportion per head therefore is Warwickshire (its population is between 550,000 and 600,000 people). The other counties and metropolitan boroughs have none, their public education systems are comprehensive in intake. The grammar and independent schools tend to produce pass-rate examination results among the top twenty ranked regionally. Many pupils compete for entrance examinations to attend such long-established Grammar Schools and most have significant parent sponsorship. In 2016 two of the top ten such schools nationally were in Warwickshire, where in the CV37 postal district prices were 34% higher than the county as a whole.[83] The top 20 schools at A-level rarely change from year to year; slightly lower in the table pass-rate boosts and top grades regularly occur among the schools receiving industrial funding, with similar frequency to London, the North East, and the North West, particularly in schools and academies which have some of the most advanced facilities.

Around 275,000 secondary schools are in the region, the greatest number after the South East, Greater London and North West.

At GCSE based on % of entrants' pass rates, the best performing local government area in 2010 was Solihull, closely followed by Warwickshire and Shropshire. Dudley, Herefordshire, Telford and Wrekin, Birmingham and Staffordshire (in descending order) are above the English average, at which rate, is approximately Worcestershire. The area consistently having fewest passes is Sandwell, followed by Stoke-on-Trent. Struggling pupils in Wolverhampton and Walsall also attain fewer passes than the English average in most GCSE years, sometimes by a very narrow margin. For metropolitan boroughs, Solihull then Dudley perform best. Dudley is the best metropolitan borough at A-level passes and has a consistent post-2000 history of being better than Solihull.

Schools have been offrolling pupils. Pupils likely to do badly in examinations are expelled before the examinations to improve the school performance in league tables. Expelled pupils then disproportionately get involved in gangs and in crime. Knife crime in the West Midlands is the highest outside London.[84]

At A-level in 2010, the consistently best performing area was Herefordshire where most A-level candidates attend Hereford sixth form college. Dudley is also above the English average; the other metropolitan boroughs have low-to-average A-level pass or high mark proportions. Shropshire is at the English average.

Regionally in persistent truancy at secondary school, Sandwell had the highest rate at 6.9%; Bromsgrove had the lowest at 2.3%.[85]

Tertiary education[edit]

There are thirty-seven FE colleges (FECs).[86] There are six LSCs for the area (which fund FECs), and the Learning and Skills Council head office is based in Coventry. The five largest FE colleges in the region – Bournville College, North Warwickshire and Hinckley College, Solihull College, South & City College Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent College – each have more than 25,000 students.

School children in Shropshire and Solihull are most likely to attend university, followed by Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

School league tables[edit]

Below is a list of the top thirty state schools in the West Midlands by 2010 A level results:

Universities[edit]

University of Birmingham
University of Warwick – Medical Teaching Centre
University Students National Ranking (2017)[87]
University of Birmingham 34,835 15
Coventry University 31,690 50
University of Warwick 25,615 8
Birmingham City University 24,130 95
University of Wolverhampton 19,560
Staffordshire University 14,910 101
Aston University 14,162 30
University of Worcester 10,745 97
Keele University 10,600 46
Harper Adams University 5,410 46
University College Birmingham 4,935
Newman University 2,830

The University of Birmingham is the main university in the region[88] and has the most funding. It has a large research grant, as does the University of Warwick, which is the next largest in terms of funding. Birmingham and Warwick are members of the Russell Group of public research universities. Keele and Aston have a moderate research grant, but none of the other universities do. Keele, although having the largest campus in the UK (by area), is one of the smallest universities in the region. There are medical schools are at Warwick, Keele and Birmingham. Birmingham and Warwick receive more than twice as much total income than any other university in the region – around £400 million each.

For students in the region, around 45% are from the region, and 35% from other regions. The other region with the most native students in the region is South East England (good access via the M40 and the West Coast Main Line), but there is a good mix of students from other regions, except the North East (especially) and Yorkshire.

Students native to the West Midlands are most likely to study in the region (40%), then the East Midlands (12%), the North West (11%), and then Yorkshire (9%). Very few go to the East of England or the North East. The region has a net export of university students to other regions.

Once graduated, almost 60% of graduates stay in the region, with 10% going to London, 7% to the South-East, and around 5% to the East Midlands. Very few go to Yorkshire, the North-East, or even (neighbouring) Wales.

Media[edit]

Television[edit]

ITV Central Gas Street Studios in Birmingham

The West Midlands region of the BBC is based at the Mailbox in Birmingham. From there, the regional programme Midlands Today is produced. ITV Central broadcasts from Birmingham, off Broad Street on Gas Street next to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, with its ITV News Central regional programme.

Some northern parts of the region, including Biddulph, receive BBC North West Tonight and Granada Reports both of which are based at Media City UK in Salford and are broadcast from the Winter Hill transmitter.

The BBC has its engineering training centre at Wood Norton, Worcestershire, off the A44 north of Evesham in Norton and Lenchwick. BBC English Regions is based at Birmingham.

Radio[edit]

BBC Local Radio[edit]

The West Midlands is served by numerous BBC Local Radio stations, including BBC WM, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, BBC Radio Stoke, BBC Hereford & Worcester and BBC Radio Shropshire.

Commercial radio[edit]

Commercial radio stations include Free Radio, Capital FM Birmingham, Heart West Midlands, Smooth Radio West Midlands, Absolute Radio, Touch FM, Rugby FM, Signal Radio, Signal 107, Sunshine 855 and Sunshine Radio Herefordshire & Monmouthshire.

Community Radio[edit]

Community radio stations include:

Stafford is also notable for Windmill Broadcasting, the UK's only radio station based in a Windmill, in the Broad Eye Windmill.

Newspapers[edit]

Local newspapers include:

Magazines[edit]

William Gibbons of Wolverhampton prints New Scientist, The Lady, Farmers Weekly, BBC Focus, Psychologies, History Revealed, Classic Rock, and Tractors & Machinery.

The Polestar Varnicoat works on the A44 in Pinvin, north of Pershore, for many years[when?] printed Woman's Own, Heat, Pick Me Up, Chat, and That's Life.

Online[edit]

Channel 4's 4Talent network has a hub in the West Midlands dealing with rising media talent from the region.[89]

Sport[edit]

St George's Park is the training ground of the England National Football Team

The National Sports Centre at Lilleshall Hall is in Sheriffhales, Shropshire, north-east of Telford; it was largely established by the Central Council of Physical Recreation in 1949 as a National Recreation Centre; the south of England had theirs at Bisham Abbey on the Thames. St George's Park National Football Centre is at Tatenhill near Byrkley Park in Needwood Forest, near former the RAF Tatenhill off the A515, four miles west of Burton upon Trent.

The Tough Guy Competition, now a widespread sport competition in the US, began in 1987 on a farm at Perton in Staffordshire. The main British athletics championships are held in Birmingham in late June. The Olympic Movement started at Much Wenlock, and also to the east of region, where Baron de Coubertin formulated his ideas for sport and the Olympics at Rugby School in 1883, with the headmaster Thomas Arnold, whose son would be the famous poet Matthew Arnold and whose great-grandson would be Aldous Huxley.

Football[edit]

Club League City/Town Stadium Capacity
Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C. Premier League Wolverhampton Molineux Stadium 31,700
Aston Villa FC Championship Birmingham Villa Park 42,788
Birmingham City F.C. Championship Birmingham St Andrew's 30,079
Stoke City FC Championship Stoke-on-Trent Britannia Stadium 28,384
West Bromwich Albion FC Championship West Bromwich The Hawthorns 26,500
Burton Albion F.C. League One Burton-upon-Trent Pirelli Stadium 6,912
Coventry City FC League One Coventry Ricoh Arena 32,609
Shrewsbury Town F.C. League One Shrewsbury Prostar Stadium 9,875
Walsall F.C. League One Walsall Bescot Stadium 11,300
Port Vale F.C. League Two Stoke-on-Trent Vale Park 19,052
Solihull Moors National League Solihull/Birmingham Damson Park 3,050
A.F.C. Telford United National League North Telford New Bucks Head 6,300
Hereford F.C. National League North Hereford Edgar Street 4,913
Kidderminster Harriers F.C. National League North Kidderminster Aggborough 6,250
Nuneaton Town F.C. National League North Nuneaton Liberty Way 4,314
Leamington F.C. National League North Whitnash New Windmill Ground 5,000

Rugby[edit]

In rugby union, the region is home to professional Premiership teams Wasps RFC and Worcester Warriors. In rugby league, Coventry Bears play in the third tier League 1.

Tennis[edit]

Tennis was invented in Edgbaston, Birmingham

Britain's first tennis club was founded in 1872 in Leamington Spa. The modern rules of lawn tennis were developed in 1874 by Leamington Tennis Club. Tennis was pioneered in Edgbaston in 1859, and Edgbaston Archery and Lawn Tennis Society also claims to be the oldest tennis club in the world, where tennis was invented by Major Harry Gem and the Spaniard Augurio Perera.

A famous 1970s Tennis Girl picture was taken on 12 September 1976 by Oldbury's Martin Elliott at the tennis courts of Birmingham University, featuring 18-year-old Fiona Butler, now of Stourport-on-Severn.[citation needed]

Motor sport[edit]

Team Dynamics at Pershore, has won the British Touring Car Championship.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In 2001 part of the White Other category. New category created for the 2011 census
  2. ^ In 2001 part of the 'Other' category. New category created for the 2011 census

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Princes Square - Roader's Digest: The SABRE Wiki". www.sabre-roads.org.uk.
  2. ^ "Jail for 180mph M6 chase driver". 23 August 2012 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  3. ^ "Regional Transport Strategy: the National Picture". Government Office for the West Midlands. Archived from the original on 30 June 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  4. ^ "The LTP Process". Department for Transport. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  5. ^ "Herefordshire 2006–11 Local Transport Plan". Herefordshire Council. Archived from the original on 28 December 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  6. ^ "Shropshire2006-11 Local Transport Plan". Shropshire Council. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  7. ^ "Staffordshire2006-11 Local Transport Plan". Staffordshire County Council. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  8. ^ "Telford and Wrekin 2006–11 Local Transport Plan". Telford and Wrekin Council. Archived from the original on 30 June 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  9. ^ "Warwickshire 2006–11 Local Transport Plan". Warwickshire County Council. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  10. ^ "West Midlands 2006–11 Local Transport Plan". West Midlands LTP. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  11. ^ "Worcestershire 2006–11 Local Transport Plan". Worcestershire County Council. Archived from the original on 11 March 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  12. ^ "Stoke-on-Trent 2006–11 Local Transport Plan". Stoke-on-Trent City Council. Archived from the original on 30 June 2009. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  13. ^ "Home - Office for National Statistics". www.statistics.gov.uk.
  14. ^ "Black Country Living Museum". Black Country Living Museum. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  15. ^ "The Iron Bridge". Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  16. ^ "1881to1911". www.btplc.com.
  17. ^ "1912to1968". www.btplc.com.
  18. ^ LSOA data Archived 9 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ Communities and Local Government 2007 Archived 13 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ Claimant count[dead link]
  21. ^ County of Hereford forms single local government unit (Unitary Authority)
  22. ^ Business Link Archived 5 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Manufacturing Advisory Service Archived 22 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ Midl, DIT West; help, find out how DIT can. "DIT West Midlands: helping companies export and grow overseas". GOV.UK.
  25. ^ "Electronic Staff Record". www.electronicstaffrecord.nhs.uk.
  26. ^ Intelligence and Enforcement Directorate, The Insolvency Service, 18 The Priory Queensway, Birmingham
  27. ^ HMRC Stamp Duty Taxes, City Centre House, Birmingham
  28. ^ Ofwat, Centre City Tower, Birmingham
  29. ^ The Consumer Council for Water, Victoria Square, Birmingham
  30. ^ Tricorn House, 51–53 Hagley Rd, Birmingham – specifically near Five Ways.
  31. ^ SRA, The Cube, Birmingham part of the Mailbox.
  32. ^ H. Samuel, Hunters Road, Hockley within the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham since 1912 http://www.hsamuel.co.uk/about_us
  33. ^ J Hudson & Co 244 Barr Street, Boulton Middleway, Birmingham, namely in the Jewellery Quarter where the A41 and A4540 meet.
  34. ^ Founded 1786, headquarters: Deakin & Francis, 15–17 Regent Pl, Birmingham
  35. ^ The latter at Cannon House
  36. ^ a b Solihull
  37. ^ Head office, B4110 at Stoke Aldermoor
  38. ^ Jaguar Land Rover, Whitley, Coventry
  39. ^ D&A, Aston Cross Business Park, 50 Rocky Lane, Aston, Birmingham, B6 5RQ
  40. ^ ATS Euromaster, Aston, Birmingham
  41. ^ Wharf Street, Aston, Birmingham
  42. ^ http://www.bmason.co.uk/internet/media/training/quality/data_sheets/C103_Datasheet.pdf
  43. ^ Kiepe Electric, Aston Science Park, Birmingham
  44. ^ Goodyear, 2920 Trident Court, Solihull Parkway, Birmingham Business Park, Birmingham
  45. ^ 40 Fort Pkwy, Birmingham
  46. ^ RoSPA, 28 Calthorpe Rd, Birmingham – specifically in Calthorpe Fields in north Edgbaston, next to St George's School
  47. ^ Headquartered in Redditch, GKN Driveline its UK plant at the A38/A452 roundabout in Tyburn, north of the JLR plant.
  48. ^ at Bromford off the A47.
  49. ^ Office/depot at the A47/A4040 junction next to the River Tame at Ward End near M6, and next to the former LDV factory.
  50. ^ Genting Group, Star City near Washwood Heath.
  51. ^ Dana Traction Technologies, Witton
  52. ^ A41 at the River Cole bridge
  53. ^ Goodrich Engine Controls, Hall Green, Birmingham
  54. ^ in Kings Norton
  55. ^ Kitts Green (towards Solihull), next to the River Cole.
  56. ^ at Longbridge.
  57. ^ is on the A4097 in Minworth
  58. ^ Hozelock, Midpoint Park Birmingham
  59. ^ Maypoint Business Park, next to the railway on the opposite side of the A38
  60. ^ Midpoint Park, south of A38
  61. ^ Sutton Coldfield
  62. ^ Legrand based at the A41/A4540 junction at Newtown south of Aston.
  63. ^ at Small Heath Trading Est off the A45.
  64. ^ Birmingham
  65. ^ Tyseley
  66. ^ TRW Automotive Electronics, A453 north of the M6 at Perry Barr.
  67. ^ Highways England, [[Quinton, Birmingham|]], Birmingham.
  68. ^ Ishida, Woodgate Business Park
  69. ^ Severn Trent, 2 St John Street, Coventry
  70. ^ Westwood Business Park in Westwood Heath
  71. ^ Bladon Jets, Pinley
  72. ^ Axeon UK, Coventry
  73. ^ SFM, Foleshill
  74. ^ Edgwick and Great Heath
  75. ^ Wayside Business Park, Longford, Coventry
  76. ^ a b c d Whitmore Park, Coventry
  77. ^ Bayton Road
  78. ^ a b c At Walsgrave Triangle
  79. ^ Binley
  80. ^ Middlemarch Business Park, Baginton next to Coventry Airport
  81. ^ a b Prologis Park, Coventry
  82. ^ Wolverhampton ring-road (A4150)
  83. ^ https://www.lloydsbank.com/assets/media/pdfs/press-releases/2016/160907-house-prices-near-schools-press-release.pdf Press Release "Parents willing to pay £53,000 more to live near a top school ", Lloyds Bank, 2016
  84. ^ West Midlands schools 'fuelling violent crime by excluding pupils' The Guardian
  85. ^ 2010 statistics (approx.)
  86. ^ Directory of AoC member Colleges Archived 17 August 2013 at Archive.is
  87. ^ "Top UK University League Tables and Rankings 2019". thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk.
  88. ^ "HEFCE" (PDF). hefce.ac.uk.
  89. ^ [1] Archived 10 August 2014 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 52°28′N 2°17′W / 52.47°N 2.29°W / 52.47; -2.29