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Worcestershire County Flag.jpg
Worcestershire within England
Worcestershire shown within England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Region West Midlands
Established Historic
Ceremonial county
Area 1,741 km2 (672 sq mi)
 – Ranked 34th of 48
Population (mid-2014 est.) 566,500
 – Ranked 38th of 48
Density 325/km2 (840/sq mi)
Ethnicity 91.25% White British
3.25% Other
2.86% Asian
1.26% Mixed
1.06% Black
0.32% Chinese [1]
Non-metropolitan county
County council WorcsCoatArms.jpg
Worcestershire County Council[2]
Executive Conservative
Admin HQ Worcester
Area 1,741 km2 (672 sq mi)
 – Ranked 29th of 27
Population 566,500
 – Ranked 21st of 27
Density 325/km2 (840/sq mi)
ISO 3166-2 GB-WOR
ONS code 47
Worcestershire UK district map numbered.svg
Districts of Worcestershire
  1. Worcester
  2. Malvern Hills
  3. Wyre Forest
  4. Bromsgrove
  5. Redditch
  6. Wychavon
Members of Parliament
Time zone GMT (UTC)
– Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)

Worcestershire (Listeni/ˈwʊstəʃə/ WUUS-tə-shə or /ˈwʊstəʃɪər/ WUUS-tər-sheer; abbreviated Worcs) is a county in the West Midlands of England. Between 1974 and 1998, it was merged with the neighbouring county of Herefordshire as Hereford and Worcester.

The cathedral city of Worcester is the largest settlement and administrative seat of the county. Towns in the county include Redditch, Bromsgrove, Stourport-on-Severn, Droitwich, Evesham, Kidderminster and Malvern. The north-east of Worcestershire includes part of the industrial West Midlands; the rest of the county is largely rural. Administratively the county is divided into six districts: Worcester, Redditch, Wychavon, Malvern Hills, Wyre Forest and Bromsgrove.


The county borders Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire. To the west, the county is bordered by the Malvern Hills and the spa town of Malvern. The southern part of the county is bordered by Gloucestershire and the northern edge of the Cotswolds; to the east is Warwickshire. There are two major rivers flowing through the county, the Severn and the Avon.


The Battle of Powick Bridge on the River Teme on 23 September 1642 began the English Civil War.

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Worcestershire was the heartland of the early English kingdom of the Hwicce. It was absorbed by the Kingdom of Mercia during the 7th century and then by the unified Kingdom of England from 927 to 1707, it was a separate ealdormanship briefly in the 10th century before forming part of the Earldom of Mercia in the 11th century. In the years leading up to the Norman conquest, the Church, including the cathedral, Evesham Abbey, Pershore Abbey, Malvern Priory and other religious houses, increasingly dominated county. The last known Anglo-Saxon sheriff of the county was Cyneweard of Laughern, and the first Norman sheriff was Urse d'Abetot who built the castle of Worcester and seized much church land. Worcestershire was the site of the Battle of Evesham in which Simon de Montfort was killed on 4 August 1265. In 1642, the site of the Battle of Powick Bridge the first major skirmish of the English Civil War, and the Battle of Worcester in 1651 that effectively ended it.

During the Middle Ages, much of the county's economy was based on the wool trade. Many areas of its dense forests, such as Feckenham Forest, Horewell Forest and Malvern Chase, were royal hunting grounds subject to forest law.

In the nineteenth century, Worcester was a centre for the manufacture of gloves; the town of Kidderminster became 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, with 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 in 1690. Malvern was one of the centres of the 19th century rise in English spa towns due to Malvern water being believed to be very pure, containing "nothing at all".[3]


The 2011 census found the population of Worcestershire to be 566,169, an increase of 4.4% from the 2001 population of 542,107.


Though the total number of people in every ethnic group increased between 2001 to 2011, the White British share of Worcestershire's population decreased from 95.5% to 92.4%, as did the share of white ethnic groups as whole, which went from 97.5% to 95/7%. While this change is in line with the nationwide trend of White British people's share of the population shrinking, Worcestershire is still much more ethnically homogeneous than the national average. In 2011 England as a whole was 79.8% White British, much lower than Worcestershire's figure of 92.4%. The change in every group can be found in the table below, with figures rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent except when that would mean rounding down to zero. That said, those who owe their ancestry to the process of industrialisation are a mixed-peoples, with many having Irish ancestry, but have traditionally found identity in class, region, and occupational groupings. Migrationary patterns out of urban areas, such as Birmingham, into areas such as N.Worcestershire, mean that demographics and identity are more complex than a focusing on skin-colour or ethnic tick-boxes would suggest. Ethnicity tick-boxes are, arugably, mistaken for skin colour or recent ancestry in a way that excludes industrial and pre-industrial peoples.

Ethnic group 2001
White: British 517,747 95.5 522,922 92.4
White: Irish 4,163 0.8 3,480 0.6
White: Irish Traveller/Gypsy[note 1] 1,165 0.2
White: Other 6,869 1.27 14,491 2.6
White: Total 528,779 97.5 542,058


Asian or Asian British: Indian 1,640 0.3 3,634 0.6
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 2,917 0.5 4,984 0.9
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 970 0.2 1,316 0.2
Asian or Asian British: Chinese 1,106 0.2 1,601 0.3
Asian or Asian British: Asian Other 455 0.1 2,206 0.4
Asian or Asian British: Total 7,088 1.3 13,741 2.4
Black or Black British: Caribbean 1,153 0.2 1,275 0.2
Black or Black British: African 332 0.1 767 0.1
Black or Black British: Other 153 0.03 330 0.1
Black or Black British: Total 1,638 0.3 2,372


Mixed: White and Caribbean 1,704 0.3 3,150 0.6
Mixed: White and African 221 0.04 592 0.1
Mixed: White and Asian Other 1,099 0.2 2,053 0.4
Mixed: Other Mixed 771 0.1 1,250 0.2
British Mixed: Total 3,795 0.7 7,045


Other: Arab[note 2] 236 0.04
Other: Any other ethnic group 807 0.1 717 0.1
Other: Total 807 0.1 953


Total 542,107 100 566,169


Local government

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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.


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Halesowen was an exclave of neighbouring Shropshire until 1844 when it was incorporated into Worcestershire. It is now in the metropolitan county of the West Midlands.

Worcestershire had many exclaves and enclaves, which were areas of land cut off from the main geographical area of Worcestershire and completely surrounded by the nearby counties of Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Oxfordshire. The most notable were Dudley, Evenlode, 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 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.

Birmingham's continuous expansion has been a large contributory factor to Worcestershire's fluid boundary changes and associated housing issues. The district of Balsall Heath, which had originally constituted the most northerly part of the Parish of King's Norton, was the first area of the County to be added to the County Borough of Birmingham on 1 October 1891. This was followed by Quinton Urban District, which was ceded to Birmingham in November 1909, and then by both the Rural District of Yardley and the greater part of the Urban District of King's Norton and Northfield, which were absorbed into the City as part of the Greater Birmingham Scheme on 9 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.

1926 boundary changes

In 1926, Dudley County Borough council purchased several square miles of land to the north of the town centre, a large percentage of which existed within Sedgley (Staffordshire), including Dudley Castle. This was to build the Priory Estate, a large new council estate on which construction would begin in 1929. The boundaries of Worcestershire were altered to include all of the proposed new housing estate in Dudley.[4]


Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. During the Local Government reorganisation of April 1966, Dudley expanded beyond its historical boundaries and took in the bulk of Sedgley and Brierley Hill and the south of Coseley as well as a small section of Amblecote. The Local Government Act redefined its status and the County Borough of Dudley became part of Staffordshire, the county which all of these areas had been part of. At the same time, Worcestershire gained a new county borough known as Warley, which was an amalgamation of Oldbury Urban District, Rowley Regis Urban District, the County Borough of Smethwick and parts of Dudley and Tipton. During these reorganisations, the area of the county council grew only where Stourbridge took in the majority of Amblecote Urban District from Staffordshire and the designation of Redditch in 1964 as a New Town. This in turn saw expansion into the area in and around the villages of Ipsley and Matchborough in Warwickshire. The Redditch New Town designation 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. Frankley Parish was later split into two parts with New Frankley and the area around Bartley Reservoir transferring from Bromsgrove District to Birmingham in April 1995. The small village of Frankley remained in Worcestershire and formed a new Civil Parish under the same name.


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Broadway Tower, one of several Worcestershire follies

From 1974, 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, though legally exists to this day as an administrative county and ceremonial county.

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 its 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 and ceremonial county. Worcestershire County Council was reformed, although some services are shared with the newly formed Herefordshire Council, including 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.

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Physical geography

Summit of the Worcestershire Beacon in the Malvern Hills, the county's highest point.

While the north east is part of the greater West Midlands conurbation, the remainder of Worcestershire is predominantly rural. The Malvern Hills, which run from the south of the county into Herefordshire, are made up mainly of volcanic igneous rocks and metamorphic rocks, some of which date from more than 1200 million years ago. They are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Worcestershire Beacon which at 425m is the highest point in the county, lies in this range.[5]

The rest of the county consists of undulating hills and farmland stretching either side of the Severn valley. The Severn is the United Kingdom's longest river and flows through both Stourport-on-Severn and Worcester.[6] The River Avon flows through the Worcestershire town on Evesham but does not join the Severn until Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

Several coniferous and deciduous woodlands are located in the north of the county. The Vale of Evesham runs through the south of the county and to its south is the Cotswolds AONB.[7]


New Road is the home of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, across the River Severn from Worcester Cathedral.

Football is the most popular sport in the county[citation needed], and the largest and most successful football club in the county is Kidderminster Harriers F.C.. Founded in 1877 as a running club and doubling as a rugby club from 1880, the football club was founded in 1886. In 1987, the club won the FA Trophy for the first time, and seven years later reached the fifth round of the FA Cup, also winning the GM Vauxhall Conference title in 1994 but being denied Football League status as their Aggborough Stadium did not meet capacity requirements. However, when the club next won the Conference title six years later, their stadium had been upgraded and promotion was granted, giving the county its first Football League members. However, the club's Football League membership was short-lived, as Harriers were relegated back to the Conference in 2005 after just five years in the Football League, and have yet to reclaim their status.[8]

The county is also represented by Worcester City of the Blue Square Premier North & Redditch United of the Southern Premier League. There is also Droitwich United, Evesham United, Kempsey F.C. Malvern Rangers, Malvern Wanderers, Nunnery Woods and Pershore Town.

The county is home to Worcestershire County Cricket Club, traditionally first stop on for the touring national side's schedule in England.[9] Formed officially in 1865, the Club initially played in Boughton Park, before moving to its current New Road ground, which today can host 5,500 spectators, in 1895. The Club has won five County Championships in its history, most recently in 1989.[10]

Worcester Rugby Football Club, the Worcester Warriors, are the county's largest and most successful Rugby Union team, having been promoted to the Premiership in 2004. The Warriors were relegated to the RFU Championship in 2010 but rebounded back to the Premiership in 2011. Worcester Warriors play at the Sixways Stadium on the outskirts of Worcester, holding over 12,000 spectators, thus making it the largest stadium in the county. Sixways has hosted the final of the LV Cup on three occasions.[11]


Classical composer Sir Edward Elgar was born in this house in Broadheath, Worcestershire, currently used as the Elgar Birthplace Museum.

The village of Broadheath, about 6 miles (10 km) North-West of the city of Worcester, is the birthplace of the composer Edward Elgar.

It is claimed that the county was the inspiration for The Shire, a region of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, described in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was thought to have named Bilbo Baggins' house "Bag End" after his Aunt Jane's Worcestershire farm. Tolkien wrote of Worcestershire: "Any corner of that county (however fair or squalid) is in an indefinable way 'home' to me, as no other part of the world is."[12]

Worcestershire is one of the three counties associated with the Border Morris style of English folk dancing. Worcestershire Monkey is a popular Border Morris dance, although normally performed as a group of eight, it is sometimes danced en masse with multiple border morris sides performing the dance together.[13]


The Worcester station of BBC Hereford & Worcester.

BBC Hereford & Worcester, Free Radio and Sunshine Radio broadcast to both Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Signal 107 broadcasts to the north west of Worcestershire. Youthcomm Radio, a Community radio station, broadcasts to the city of Worcester. Birmingham-based radio stations such as BBC Radio WM have traditionally considered the bordering areas of Worcestershire as part of their broadcast area. The Birmingham-based West Midlands regional stations, such as Heart and Smooth Radio regionals also cover much of the county.

In 2007 the Office of Communications (Ofcom) awarded a DAB Digital Radio multiplex licence for Herefordshire & Worcestershire to MuxCo Ltd. who aimed to provide several new stations in 2009, while also providing a digital platform for Free Radio, Sunshine Radio and BBC Hereford & Worcester and area extensions to United Christian Broadcasters and the Highways Agency. This multiplex eventually launched in December 2013, carrying the three aforementioned local services. In 2008, MXR, who owned and operated the West Midlands regional DAB multiplex licence, improved coverage of DAB Digital Radio across other parts of the county to include Worcester and Malvern. Services that could be heard reasonably across much of Worcestershire included: Chill, Gold (Birmingham), Magic Radio, Sunrise Radio, Traffic Radio (Midlands), BBC Radio WM, Xfm and Radio XL. However, this regional multiplex closed on 27 August 2013, reducing the number of services available in the county. A key factor behind this move was the industry-wide shift, supported by government, towards improving local and national DAB multiplexes.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Worcestershire 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[14] Agriculture[15] Industry[16] Services[17]
1995 5,047 225 1,623 3,200
2000 6,679 159 2,002 4,518
2003 7,514 182 1,952 5,380

Industry and agriculture

Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce - the invention of two Worcester chemists

Fruit farming and the cultivation of hops were traditional agricultural activities in much of the county. During the latter half of the 20th century, this has largely declined with the exception southern area of the county around the Vale of Evesham, where orchards are still worked on a commercial scale.[citation needed] Worcester City's coat of arms includes three black pears, representing a now rare local pear variety, the Worcester Black Pear. The county's coat of arms follows this theme, having a pear tree with black pears. The apple variety known as Worcester Pearmain originates from Worcestershire, and the Pershore plum comes from the small Worcestershire town of that name, and is widely grown in that area.

Worcestershire is also famous for a number of its non-agricultural products. The original Worcestershire sauce, a savoury condiment made by Lea and Perrins, is made in Worcester, and the now closed Royal Porcelain works was based in the city. 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.


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Worcestershire has a comprehensive school system with over thirty-five independent schools including the RGS Worcester, The King's School, Worcester, Malvern St James and Malvern College. State schools in Worcester, the Wyre Forest District, and the Malvern Hills District are two-tier primary schools and secondary schools whilst Redditch and Bromsgrove have a three-tier system of first, middle and high schools. Several schools in the county provide Sixth-form education including two in the city of Worcester. Several vocational colleges provide GCSE and A-level courses and adult education, such as South Worcestershire College, and an agricultural campus of Warwickshire College in Pershore. There is also the University of Worcester, which is located in the city itself and is home to the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit and five other national research centres.

Towns and villages

Due to its Cathedral (pictured), the county town of Worcester is the only settlement in the county with city status.

The county town and only city is Worcester. The other major settlements, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove and Redditch are satellite towns of Birmingham. There are also several market towns: Malvern, Bewdley, Evesham, Droitwich Spa, Pershore, Tenbury Wells, Stourport-on-Severn and Upton-upon-Severn.

For a full list of settlements, see list of places in Worcestershire.

Places of interest

AP Icon.svg Abbey/Priory/Cathedral
Accessible open space Accessible open space
Themepark uk icon.png Amusement/Theme Park
CL icon.svg Castle
Country Park Country Park
EH icon.svg English Heritage
Forestry commission logo.svg Forestry Commission
Heritage railway Heritage railway
Historic house Historic House
Museum (free)
Museum (free/not free)
National Trust National Trust
Drama-icon.svg Theatre
Zoo icon.jpg Zoo

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Local groups


See also



  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


  1. Rogers, Simon. (18 May 2011) The ethnic population of England and Wales broken down by local authority | News | guardian.co.uk. Guardian. Retrieved on 17 July 2013.
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  3. Bottled Waters of the World. Retrieved 9 August 2009
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  8. [1]
  9. [2]
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  11. [3]
  12. Humphrey,C. 1977 Tolkien: A Biography New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-04-928037-6
  13. [4] Worcestershire Monkey , Wicket Brood website
  14. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  15. includes hunting and forestry
  16. includes energy and construction
  17. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured


External links

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