The county became an administrative unit in 1041 after the recovery of Mercia from the Danes and was important in the Middle Ages as a monastic center. The northern part of the county, with iron and coal deposits, verges into the industrial Midlands area known as the Black Country. In 1974, Worcestershire was combined with Herefordshire in the nonmetropolitan county of Hereford and Worcester, but in 1998 the counties were again separated.
The county borders Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, and Gloucestershire. To the west, the county is bordered by the Malvern Hills, by which is located the spa town of Malvern. The western side of the hills is in the county of Herefordshire. The southern part of the county is bordered by Gloucestershire and the northern edge of the Cotswolds, and to the east is Warwickshire. The two major rivers flowing through the county are the Severn and the Avon.
Other than the city of Worcester, there are several other small to medium sized towns such as Kidderminster, Bromsgrove, Malvern, Pershore, Evesham and Redditch. In the southern part of the county, the area is still largely rural.
There are many accents and dialects within Worcestershire. The counties' northern commuter towns such as Redditch and Kidderminster have had an influx of the Birmingham accent, due to the New Town Status. Whereas the rest of the county has retained the distinctive West Country accent, the accent of Redditch has merged with the Brummie Twang and formed a new accent unique to the town.
In the nineteenth century, Worcester was a centre for the manufacture of gloves; the town of Kidderminster was a centre for carpet manufacture, and Redditch specialised in the manufacture of needles, springs and hooks. Droitwich Spa, being situated on large deposits of salt, was a centre of salt production from Roman times, one of the principal Roman roads running through the town. These old industries have since declined, to be replaced by other, more varied light industry. The county is also home to the world's oldest continually published newspaper, the Berrow's Journal (established 1690). Malvern was one of the centres of the rise in water-cure establishments in this country, as Malvern water was believed to contain "nothing at all", i.e. to be very pure.
Worcestershire's boundaries have been fluid for over a hundred years since the abolition of the form of local administration known as the Hundreds in 1889, but the continual expansion of Birmingham and the Black Country during and after the Industrial Revolution altered the county map considerably. Worcestershire County Council came into existence following the Local Government Act 1888 and covered the historic traditional county, except for two designated county boroughs at Dudley and Worcester. The county also had many exclaves and enclaves, which were areas of land cut off from the main geographical area of Worcestershire and completely surrounded by the adjoining counties of Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Oxfordshire. The most noticeable were Dudley and the area around Shipston-on-Stour. In return, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Shropshire had their own exclaves within Worcestershire. These were found at Clent, Tardebigge and Halesowen/Oldbury (or the Halesowen Parish area) respectively and were transferred to or rejoined Worcestershire in October 1844 following the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844. This Act of Parliament was designed to eradicate the issue of 'islands' or 'exclaves', however Shipston-on-Stour remained associated with Worcestershire until April 1931 and likewise Dudley until 1966. The southern boundary of the county was also confusing, with parish boundaries penetrating deep into Gloucestershire and vice-versa. This was also eventually resolved following the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844.
Worcestershire Youth Parliament members are Alice Bond, Ryan Nokes and Peter Bullock. A total of 8,598 votes were cast in polling stations right across Worcestershire in February 2008.
Birmingham's continuous expansion has been a large contributory factor to Worcestershire's fluid boundary changes and associated housing issues. In November 1909, Quinton Urban District was ceded to Birmingham and was followed by Yardley, Northfield and Kings Heath in November 1911. As a consequence of the transfer to Birmingham, these areas were no longer part of Worcestershire and became associated with Warwickshire. Dudley's historical status within the Diocese of Worcester and through its aristocratic links ensured that the island was governed on a largely autonomous basis. Worcester was also self-governing and was known as The City and County of Worcester. During the Local Government reorganisation of April 1966, Dudley expanded beyond its historical boundaries and took in Sedgley, Brierley Hill, Coseley and parts of Amblecote. The Local Government Act redefined its status and Dudley County Borough became associated with Staffordshire. In return, Worcestershire gained a new county borough, "Warley", which was centred around Oldbury. It was an amalgamation of Oldbury Urban District, the Staffordshire urban districts of Tividale and Rowley Regis and the County Borough of Smethwick, which was also associated with Staffordshire. Warley County Borough became part of Worcestershire and remained until abolition in April 1974, although it was never administrated by Worcestershire County Council.
During these reorganisations of the nineteen sixties, Worcestershire County Council's expansion was limited to Stourbridge, taking in the majority of Amblecote Urban District from Staffordshire and the designation of Redditch in 1964 as a New Town which saw expansion into Matchborough in Warwickshire. This coincided with a considerable programme of social and private house building in Droitwich, Worcester, Bromsgrove, Kidderminster and along the Birmingham boundary at Frankley, Rubery and Rednal.
From 1974 to 1998, the central and southern part of the county was amalgamated with Herefordshire and Worcester County Borough to form a single non-metropolitan county of Hereford and Worcester. The County Boroughs of Dudley and Warley along with Stourbridge and Halesowen were incorporated into the new West Midlands Metropolitan county. The West Midlands County Council existed for only a short period before abolition in April 1986 by the Government. In the 1990s UK local government reform, the decision was taken to abolish Hereford and Worcester, with the new non-metropolitan county or shire county of Worcestershire regaining it's historic border with Herefordshire. The new county still excluded towns such as Stourbridge, Halesowen, Dudley and Oldbury, due to the reorganisation's remit of dealing with only non-metropolitan counties in England. The new County of Worcestershire came into existence on 1 April 1998 as an administrative county and ceremonial county, although some cross-boundary organisations and resources are shared with the Herefordshire unitary authority, these include waste management and the youth offending service.
The post-April 1974 Hereford & Worcester districts of Redditch, Worcester, Bromsgrove, Wychavon and Wyre Forest were retained with little or no change. However the Leominster and Malvern Hills districts crossed over the historic border, so a new Malvern Hills district was constituted which straddled the Pre-April 1974 county boundary to the west, south west and north west.
See also: List of Worcestershire boundary changes
By far the largest and most successful football club in the county is Kidderminster Harriers FC. In 2000 they became the first Worcestershire club to compete in the Football League.
The film, Shrek the Third, mentioned Worcestershire as an academy, resembling an American High School.
The county is served by a BBC local radio station known as BBC Hereford & Worcester, which as it's name suggests serves the former County of Hereford & Worcester. This radio station commenced broadcasting to Herefordshire and Worcestershire on 14th February 1989 and is based at Hylton Road in Worcester and also in Hereford. BBC Hereford & Worcester can be heard on 104.0 FM from the Great Malvern transmitter which covers central and southern Worcestershire, 104.6 FM in Kidderminster covering the Wyre Forest District, as well as parts of Bromsgrove and a new relay at Headless Cross on 104.4 FM for the Redditch area. In addition, the service broadcasts on 738 kHz AM Medium Wave across Worcestershire, online plus FM and AM in Herefordshire. In 2009, BBC Hereford & Worcester will also broadcast on DAB Digital Radio, via the new MuxCo (Hereford & Worcester) multiplex. BBC Radio WM which primarily broadcasts to Birmingham and the Black Country can also be heard across most of Worcestershire on AM, FM, online and DAB Digital Radio. Birmingham-based radio stations like BBC Radio WM and BRMB have long since considered Redditch as an integral part of their broadcast area. This is due to the close geographical location of Redditch to Birmingham and the population shift from Birmingham to Redditch during the latter's status as a New Town.
There are two commercial radio stations which broadcast to the county as well as Herefordshire, these are: Wyvern FM, and Sunshine Radio. There is also one analogue commercial radio station broadcasting primarily to Kidderminster, Stourport-on-Severn & Bewdley, known as The Wyre. A Community radio station has been licensed within Worcestershire known as Youthcomm Radio which broadcast to Worcester on 106.7FM. Meanwhile in the north east corner of the County, a campaign known as Kingfisher FM aims to deliver community radio to Redditch. In addition, there are local and regional analogue, digital radio stations broadcasting into Worcestershire from surrounding areas such as Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire.
Radio Wyvern has been broadcasting since 4th October 1982, although the name was changed slightly to Wyvern FM following the end of simulcasting on AM and FM in 1996. Radio Wyvern commenced broadcasting on 1530 kHz AM (196 Metres Medium Wave) and 96.2 MHz FM in Worcestershire following a campaign to establish a commercial radio station spearheaded by Severn Valley Radio. It was felt that the name was too Worcestershire-centric and was renamed Radio Wyvern after a mythical dragon or the proposed name for the short-lived County of Hereford & Worcester. The name also symbolises the two major rivers which flowed through the two counties - the River Severn and the River Wye. Radio Wyvern has had a varied history, launching careers of names such as Neil Fox, Eleanor Oldroyd, Jane Garvey and Sybil Roscoe to name but a few. Through its twenty-five years, Wyvern played host to presenters such as, Jonathan Ross, Ruby Wax and Johnnie Walker, although these names arrived at Barbourne Terrace via syndicated means. Wyvern FM currently broadcast via studios at Perdiswell and is owned by Global Radio UK due to a takeover of Gcap Media (formerly GWR Group) on the 7th June 2008, although this process it still not complete.
Following the end of simulcasting on AM and FM, Radio Wyvern launched a new AM service known as Wyvern AM, which was a more adult contemporary service concentrating on playing 'classic hits' and melodic music. Wyvern AM was short lived when the company was bought by GWR Group. The AM service was renamed Classic Gold 954/1530 and became an oldies radio station fitting into the Classic Gold Network, until it was sold to Muff Murfin. In 2003, Classic Gold 954/1530 was renamed 'Classic Hits 954/1530' and for a short period became Adult Contemporary, this was soon changed and once again became an oldies radio station. In 2007, Laser Broadcasting acquired Classic Hits 954/1530 and fellow Murfin Media station Sunshine 855 from Ludlow. The station was again renamed in 2007 and became Sunshine Radio, complete with daily split programming for Herefordshire and Worcestershire. In September 2008, Sunshine Radio is due to begin broadcasting via DAB Digital Radio across Worcestershire and Herefordshire. The Wyre broadcasts on 107.2 FM across the north of the county, concentrating on Kidderminster, Stourport and Bewdley. This station commenced broadcasting on 12th September 2005 and is owned by the Midland News Association, who publishes a number of newspapers including the Express & Star. The launch of a radio station primarily for the Wyre Forest District is the result of a long-standing campaign to bring commercial radio to the area by local business people.
On the 6th September 2007 - the Office of Communications (Ofcom) awarded a DAB Digital Radio Multiplex licence for Herefordshire & Worcestershire to MuxCo (Hereford & Worcester) Ltd. MuxCo aims to provide a number of new radio stations including Shuffle, Smithy Rock, Local Live and Easy Radio. As well as providing a digital platform for Wyvern FM, Sunshine Radio and BBC Hereford & Worcester and area extensions to United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) and the Highways Agency. The new multiplex aims to commence broadcasting from September 2008 utilising three transmitters; two of which are within Worcestershire at Great Malvern and Bromsgrove. Although the applicant has stated that they may extend coverage at a later date via a relay at Headless Cross (Redditch). Ofcom received two applications; MuxCo (Hereford & Worcester) and Gcap Media (owners of Wyvern FM). In July 2008, CE Birmingham, who own and operate the Birmingham local DAB multiplex licence holder opened a new relay transmitter from the Lickey Hills. This has not only improved coverage of DAB Digital Radio across southern districts of the city and northern parts of Worcestershire which border the conurbation, but has extended coverage across most of the county including Worcester and Malvern. The following services can be heard at medium to strong signal-strength across much of Worcestershire; BRMB, Chill, Gold (Birmingham), Magic Radio, Sunrise Radio, Traffic Radio (Midlands), BBC Radio WM, Xfm (Midlands) and Radio XL. The owners of CE Birmingham are GCap Media (until the full takeover by Global Radio) and Bauer Radio.
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Who travels Worcester county takes any road that comes when April tosses bounty to the cherries and the plums
Worcestershire is also famous for a number of its non-agricultural products. The city of Worcester and the surrounding county are best known for Worcestershire sauce such as that made by Lea and Perrins and for its porcelain works. Worcestershire sauce (also known as Worcester sauce) is a savoury sauce made with vinegar, anchovies, molasses, tamarinds, onions and spices, used in flavouring various foods and the Bloody Mary drink which is drunk worldwide. The town of Malvern is the home of the Morgan traditional sports car. The painting, A Worcestershire Cottage by Arthur Claude Strachan is also of general renown.
For a full list of settlements, see list of places in Worcestershire.