From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The English Midlands, or the Midlands is the traditional name for the area comprising central England that broadly corresponds to the early medieval Kingdom of Mercia. It borders Southern England, Northern England, East Anglia and Wales. Its largest city is Birmingham, and it was an important location for the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries. The greater part of the area is now administered as the Government Office Regions of the West Midlands and East Midlands, though parts of the traditional Midlands are also in surrounding regions, namely Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (East of England), Oxfordshire (South East), Gloucestershire (South West) and Northern Lincolnshire (Yorkshire and the Humber).
Extent of the Midlands
The Midlands does not correspond to any current administrative area, and there is therefore no strict definition. However, it is generally considered to include the counties of Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, the West Midlands and Worcestershire. The 2001 census included Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire in the Midlands, though East Anglia (the collective name for these counties) is not usually considered part of the Midlands. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica describes Gloucestershire as "west midland", Bedfordshire as "south midland", and Huntingdonshire as "east midland" counties respectively.
With more restricted boundaries than the traditional area known as the Midlands, two modern Government Office Regions together represent the latter: West Midlands and East Midlands. These are also constituencies of the European Parliament.
The West Midlands comprises the shire counties of (1) Staffordshire, (2) Warwickshire and (3) Worcestershire (with their respective districts), the unitary counties of (4) Herefordshire and (5) Shropshire, the metropolitan boroughs of (6) Birmingham, (7) Coventry, (8) Dudley, (9) Sandwell, (10) Solihull, (11) Walsall and (12) Wolverhampton, and the unitary boroughs of (13) Stoke-on-Trent and (14) Telford and Wrekin. The East Midlands comprises the shire counties of (15) Derbyshire, (16) Leicestershire, (17) Lincolnshire, (18) Northamptonshire and (19) Nottinghamshire (with their respective districts), the unitary county of (20) Rutland, and the unitary boroughs of (21) Derby, (22) Leicester and (23) Nottingham. The two regions have a combined population of 9,439,516 (2001 census), and an area of 11,053 sq mi (28,631 km²).
The South Midlands is an area identified by the government for regional development purposes, consisting of Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire with northern Buckinghamshire (what is now the Milton Keynes unitary authority). Bedfordshire and particularly Buckinghamshire are not usually considered part of the Midlands and are in the administrative regions of the East of England and the South East respectively, a further illustration of the fluidity of the perceived boundaries of the Midlands. Banbury in north Oxfordshire is often considered as the southern extremity of the English Midlands as it is relatively industrialised and many locals harbour an accent which is discernibly non-Southern. The town also has strong links with the Birmingham–Coventry industrial zone to the north.
The largest Midlands conurbation, which includes the cities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, is approximately covered by the former metropolitan county (which also includes the city of Coventry) of the West Midlands. Parts of the East Midlands are also densely populated, particularly the triangle formed by the cities of Leicester, Nottingham and Derby, which also includes sizeable towns such as Loughborough and the Long Eaton–Beeston–Stapleford subconurbation.
Various part of the Midlands (particularly Warwickshire) are somewhat poetically referred to as the Heart of England, especially in tourist literature.
Notable cities and towns
- Alcester, Aldridge, Alfreton, Ashbourne, Ashby de la Zouch, Atherstone
- Banbury, Bedworth, Belper, Bewdley, Birmingham, Bloxwich, Boston, Bridgnorth, Bromsgrove, Brownhills, Burntwood, Burton upon Trent, Buxton
- Cannock, Chesterfield, Coalville, Corby, Coventry
- Darlaston, Daventry, Derby, Droitwich, Dudley
- Eastwood, Evesham
- Gainsborough, Grantham, Glossop
- Halesowen, Hereford, Henley-in-Arden, Hinckley, Hucknall
- Kenilworth, Kettering, Kibworth Beauchamp, Kidderminster
- Leamington Spa, Leek, Leicester, Lichfield, Lincoln, Long Eaton, Loughborough, Ludlow, Lutterworth
- Malvern, Mansfield, Market Drayton, Market Harborough, Matlock
- Newark-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Northampton, Nottingham, Nuneaton
- Oldbury, Oswestry
- Redditch, Rothwell, Rugby, Rugeley, Rushden
- Shrewsbury, Skegness, Smethwick, Solihull, Stafford, Stamford, Stoke-on-Trent, Stone, Stourbridge, Stourport-on-Severn, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sutton Coldfield, Southam
- Tamworth, Telford, Tipton, Towcester
- Walsall, Warwick, Wednesbury, Wellingborough, West Bromwich, Whitchurch, Wigston, Wolverhampton, Worcester