Administrative (pop., 2001: 505,885) and historic county, central England. As an administrative and geographic unit, the county dates from the 10th century, with the historic county town of Warwick lying roughly at its centre. In Saxon times Warwickshire formed a border zone between the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. During the Middle Ages two major centres grew up in the county, at Warwick and Kenilworth. Historical structures surviving in the area include Norman and early English churches, along with buildings at Stratford-upon-Avon associated with William Shakespeare. The Battle of Edgehill (1642), the first serious clash of the English Civil Wars, was fought in Warwickshire near the Oxfordshire border. Farming, dairy farming, fruit growing, market gardening, and coal mining are important economic activities.
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Warwickshire County Council
Warwickshire (/ˈwɒrɪkʃɪə/, or /ˈwɔr-/, worrick-sheer) is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton in the far north of the county. The shape of the administrative area Warwickshire differs considerably from that of the historic county. Commonly used abbreviations for the county are Warks or Warwicks.
Warwickshire is perhaps best known for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon. Even today, road signs at the county boundary describe Warwickshire as "Shakespeare's County". The county has also produced other literary figures such as George Eliot (from near Nuneaton), Rupert Brooke (from Rugby), and Michael Drayton from Hartshill. It is also known for Warwick Castle and Kenilworth Castle.
Warwickshire is bounded to the northwest by the West Midlands metropolitan county and Staffordshire, by Leicestershire to the northeast, Northamptonshire to the east, Worcestershire to the west, Oxfordshire to the south and Gloucestershire to the southwest. An average-sized English county covering an area of almost 2,000 sq.km, it runs some 96 km / 60 miles north to south. The majority of Warwickshire's population live in the north and centre of the county. The market towns of northern and eastern Warwickshire were industrialised in the 19th century, and include 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 include 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. 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 on the border with northernmost Gloucestershire, GR SP187426 at its southwest extremity.
The north of the county, bordering Staffordshire and Leicestershire, is mildly undulating countryside and the northernmost village, No Man's Heath, is only 55 km / 34 miles 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 12,000.
Historically much of western Warwickshire, including the area now forming part of Birmingham and the West Midlands, was covered by the ancient Forest of Arden (although most of this was cut down to provide fuel for industrialisation in the 17th to 19th centuries). For this reason, the names of a number of places in the northwestern part of Warwickshire end with the phrase "-in-Arden", such as Henley-in-Arden, Hampton-in-Arden and Tanworth-in-Arden (which was home to the late singer-songwriter Nick Drake).
Areas historically part of Warwickshire include Coventry, Solihull, and most of Birmingham. These became part of the metropolitan county of West Midlands following local government re-organisation in 1974.
In 1986 the West Midlands County Council was abolished and Birmingham, Coventry, and Solihull became effective unitary authorities, however the West Midlands county name has not been altogether abolished, and still exists for ceremonial purposes, and so these cities still remain outside Warwickshire.
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 NHS trust and Chamber of Commerce as well as other institutions, ie, BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire.
Coventry has been a part of Warwickshire for only some of its history. In 1451 Coventry was separated from Warwickshire and made a county corporate in its own right, called the County of the City of 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 explode by almost a third-of-a-million overnight should this occur, Coventry being the UK's 11th largest city. The town of Tamworth was historically divided between Warwickshire and Staffordshire, but since 1888 has been fully in Staffordshire.
A list of the main settlements in Warwickshire, including towns, or villages with a population of over 5,000.
Warwickshire came into being as a division of the kingdom of Mercia in the early 11th century. The first reference to Warwickshire was in 1001, as Waeinewiscscr named after Warwick (meaning "dwellings by the weir").
1974 boundary changes removed Birmingham and Coventry from Warwickshire, leaving the present day county with a rather odd shape, which looks as if a large chunk has been bitten out of it.
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In addition many small towns and villages have their own parish councils although these have only limited powers.
Warwickshire is policed by the Warwickshire Police
It should be noted that Warwickshire contains 4 Further Education Colleges, North Warwickshire & Hinckley College which has main colleges based in Nuneaton and the Leicestershire Town of Hinckley with smaller colleges based around North Warwickshire, King Edward VI Sixth Form College (K.E.G.S) in Nuneaton, Stratford Upon Avon College and Warwickshire College, an institution made up of six main separate colleges that have merged together (Leamington Centre, Rugby Centre, Moreton Morrell Centre, Pershore College, Henley-in-Arden Centre, Trident Centre - Warwick).
There are also five independent schools within the county, namely; Rugby School, Warwick School, Princethorpe College, Kingsley School in Leamington Spa, and The King's High School For Girls, Warwick.
Rugby School and Warwick School are arguably the two most notable schools within Warwickshire, with Rugby School being founded in 1567 and Warwick School originally being founded c.914 AD, which makes it the oldest survivng boys school in the country. Both schools achieve very impressive exam results and benefit from exceptional facilities. Rugby School is one of nine schools that were defined as the "great" English public schools by the Public Schools Act 1868, and is unsurprisingly a member of the Rugby Group. Both Rugby School and Warwick School are HMC schools, with the Headmaster from each school attending the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.
Solihull School in Solihull is also sometimes classified as being in the county of Warwickshire. The changes of the county border has meant that the town was, at some points in time, within Warwickshire and at others was not.
Other major trunk routes in Warwickshire includes the A45 (Rugby-Coventry-Birmingham and east into Northamptonshire route). The A46 (connects the M40 to the M6 via Warwick, Kenilworth and Coventry) and the A452 (Leamington to Birmingham route).
Other railway lines in Warwickshire include the Birmingham-Nuneaton section of the Birmingham to Peterborough Line, which continues east of Nuneaton towards Leicester and Peterborough. Nuneaton has direct services to Birmingham and Leicester on this line, and there is one intermediate station at Water Orton near Coleshill in the extreme north-west of the county.
There is also a branch line from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon. This line used to continue southwards to Cheltenham but is now a dead-end branch. There are several stations on this line at Henley-in-Arden and at several small villages. Stratford also has direct rail services to London via the branch line to Warwick (mentioned earlier).
The only major town in Warwickshire not to have a station is Kenilworth. Although the Leamington to Coventry line passes through the town, its station was closed in the 1960s as part of the Beeching Axe. There is a concerted campaign to re-open the station, although currently there are no local services operating on the line, as it is used only by CrossCountry services.
The restored Saltisford Canal Arm is close to the centre of Warwick, and is now a short branch of the Grand Union Canal. The arm is the remains of the original terminus of the Warwick and Birmingham Canal and dates back to 1799. The Saltisford Canal Trust have restored most of the surviving canal, which is now the mooring for colourful narrowboats and a waterside park open to the public. Over 800 visiting narrowboats come by water to Warwick each year and moor on the arm. Saltisford Canal Trust
The River Avon is navigable from just north of Stratford. In 1974, the Higher Avon Navigation Trust made a proposal to extend the navigation to Warwick and Leamington, where a junction with the Grand Union Canal would create a new cruising ring. Warwickshire County Council believed the scheme to be a catalyst for economic regeneration in the area, but after gauging public support in 2003, decided not to support the plans. The Stratford and Warwick Waterway Trust is still actively pursuing the proposals.