[wawr-ik-sheer, -sher, wor-]
Warwickshire, county (1991 pop. 477,000), 975 sq mi (2,525 sq km), central England. The county seat is Warwick. The terrain is gently rolling, with outcroppings of the Cotswold Hills in the south. The Avon, flowing southwesterly, is the chief river. There are vestiges of the ancient Forest of Arden. The region is a varied one, largely given to agriculture (wheat and other grains, dairying, sheep and cattle grazing). Some light industry is practiced. There are deposits of limestone and fireclay; coal is in the northeast. One of England's most known public schools is at Rugby. Numerous traces of the Roman occupation remain, such as the abbeys of Merevale and Stoneleigh and the ruins of the castle at Kenilworth. Warwick Castle is largely intact. The county is rich in literary associations as well. Shakespeare's birthplace at Stratford-on-Avon, with the Globe Theater, is one of England's most popular literary attractions. In 1974, Warwickshire was reorganized as a nonmetropolitan county.
colspan=2 align=center - Geography
Status: Ceremonial & Non-metropolitan county
Region: West Midlands
- Total
- Admin. council
Ranked 31st
1,975 km²
Ranked 28th
Admin HQ: Warwick
ONS code: 44
- Total ()
- Density
- Admin. Council

/ km²
Ethnicity: 95.6% White
2.8% S.Asian

Warwickshire County Council


  1. North Warwickshire
  2. Nuneaton and Bedworth
  3. Rugby
  4. Stratford-on-Avon
  5. Warwick

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).

Historic boundaries

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.

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 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.

In 1931, Warwickshire gained the town of Shipston-on-Stour from Worcestershire and several villages, including Long Marston and Welford-on-Avon, from Gloucestershire.


List of wards in Warwick district by population
List of wards in Rugby borough by population
List of wards in North Warwickshire by population
List of wards in Nuneaton and Bedworth by population
List of wards in Stratford district by population

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").

During the Middle Ages Warwickshire was dominated by Coventry, which was at the time one of the most important cities in England due to its textiles trade in the heart of England

Warwickshire played a key part in the English Civil War, with the Battle of Edgehill and other skirmishes taking place in the county.

During the Industrial Revolution Warwickshire became one of Britain's foremost industrial counties, with the large industrial cities of Birmingham and Coventry within its boundaries.

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.

Boundary changes


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Warwickshire at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 5,063 153 1,717 3,193
2000 7,150 125 2,196 4,829
2003 8,142 159 2,054 5,928

  1. components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  2. includes hunting and forestry
  3. includes energy and construction
  4. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

Local government

Like most English shire counties, Warwickshire has a two-tier structure of local government. The county has a county council based in Warwick, and is also divided into five districts each with their own district councils. These districts are: North Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Rugby, Stratford, and Warwick (see map). The county and district councils are responsible for providing different services.

Atherstone is the headquarters of the North Warwickshire district, whereas Leamington Spa is the headquarters of the Warwick district.

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


In the state sector, children start school in the school year in which they turn five. They stay at primary school for seven years (although this varies even within the county, as some people have previously gone for four years and then spent another four years at a 'middle school') until they are eleven. Warwickshire is one of the few local authorities in England to still maintain the Grammar school system in two districts: Stratford on Avon and Rugby, although Southam claims to have a comprehensive school. In the final year of primary school, children are given the opportunity of sitting the eleven plus exam in order to compete for a place at one of the Grammar schools, with two in Stratford and Rugby and one in Alcester (including Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls; King Edward VI School, a boys school; and Alcester Grammar School (mixed)). The exam is sat on three different days and consists of two verbal reasoning and mathematics papers and one extended writing paper. In order to maintain standards, there is a bank of papers that are used in rotation. In 2006, it was revealed in a local newspaper, the Stratford Herald, that some private eleven plus tutors had copies of the exam papers and that they were using them as practice papers for their pupils. This meant that, in some cases, pupils sitting the exam had seen the paper in advance.

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.



Several major motorways run through Warwickshire. these include:

  • The M40 motorway which connects London to Birmingham, runs through the centre of the county, and serves Leamington Spa, Warwick, and Stratford.
  • The M6 motorway, which connects the north west of England and the midlands to the M1 motorway (and then on to London). Runs through the north of Warwickshire, and serves Rugby, Nuneaton, and Bedworth on its way to Birmingham.
  • The M69 Coventry to Leicester motorway which serves Nuneaton.
  • Other motorways pass briefly through Warwickshire including the M45 (a short spur south of Rugby connecting to the M1), the southern end of the M6 Toll, and the M42 which passes through the county at several points.

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).


Two major railway lines pass through Warwickshire.

  • The Chiltern Main Line, the former Great Western route from London to Birmingham passes through the centre of Warwickshire on a route similar to the M40 motorway, and has stations at Leamington Spa, Warwick, (and Warwick Parkway) and Hatton. Rail services are provided by Chiltern Railways and London Midland (Birmingham to Leamington only). There are also two branches off the Chiltern line, one from Leamington to Coventry, and another from Hatton near Warwick to Stratford.
  • The West Coast Main Line (WCML) runs through Warwickshire. At Rugby the WCML splits into two parts, one runs west through to Coventry and Birmingham, and the other the "Trent Valley Line" runs north-west towards Stafford and the north-west of England. This section has stations at Nuneaton, Atherstone, and Polesworth (North bound services only). There is one branch off the WCML from Nuneaton to Coventry, and there is a station at Bedworth on this branch.

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.

Canals and Waterways

Canals in Warwickshire include:

  • The Grand Union Canal, which runs through Leamington and Warwick and onwards to Birmingham.

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.

Places of interest

Sports teams


Warwickshire County Cricket Club play at Edgbaston. Notable players for Warwickshire have been Brian Lara, Bob Willis, Allan Donald and Geoff Humpage.

Gaelic Sports

The Warwickshire County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) (or Warwickshire GAA) is one of the county boards outside Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in Warwickshire. The county board is also responsible for the Warwickshire inter-county teams. The play their home games at Páirc na hÉireann. Warwickshire Schools GAA Board was originally setup in September 2000. It has grown at a very healthy rate such that as of May 2007 WSGAA now work in partnership with 28 primary schools, 15 Secondary schools, 2 HE/FE Colleges and 5 local GAA clubs and in total an estimated 2385 young people. The aims of the WSGAA include competition by their elite team in the All-Ireland underage championships. This initiative is a remarkable departure from the traditional way in which British GAA clubs have been organised.

See also


External links

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