Status Ceremonial & Non-metropolitan county
Region West Midlands
- Total
- Admin. council
Ranked 34th
1,741 km²
Ranked 29th
Admin HQ Worcester
ISO 3166-2 GB-WOR
ONS code 47
- Total (2004 est.)
- Density
- Admin. council
Ranked 38th
317 / km²
Ranked 22nd
Ethnicity 97.5% White
1.1% S.Asian

Worcestershire County Council
Executive Conservative
Members of Parliament

Michael Foster, Julie Kirkbride, Peter Luff, Jacqui Smith, Michael Spicer, Richard Taylor, Bill Wiggin


  1. Worcester
  2. Malvern Hills
  3. Wyre Forest
  4. Bromsgrove
  5. Redditch
  6. Wychavon

Worcestershire (pronounced /ˈwʊs.təˌʃə/; abbreviated Worcs) is a county located in the West Midlands region of central England. From 1974 to 1998 it was administered as part of Hereford and Worcester.

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 former 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 northern part of the county, the area is still largely rural.


Worcestershire was the site of the Battle of Evesham in which Simon de Montfort was killed (4th August, 1265), and later, in the English Civil War, the Battle of Worcester (1651).

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 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 is believed to contain "nothing at all", i.e. being very pure.

Local government

Worcestershire's boundaries have been fluid for over a hundred years since the abolition of the form of administration known as the Hundreds, though the continual expansion of Birmingham and the Black Country considerably altered the county map. Worcestershire County Council came into existence in 1889 and administrated the whole of the traditional county, except two County Boroughs - Dudley and Worcester. The county used to also oversee 'islands' which were completely surrounded by the adjoining counties of Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Oxfordshire. The most noticeable were Dudley known as the 'County Borough of Dudley annexed to Worcestershire' and the area around Shipston-on-Stour. In return Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Shropshire had islands within Worcestershire. These were found at Clent, Tardebigge and Halesowen/Oldbury respectively though the latter originally was outside Worcestershire for nine-hundred years. The southern boundary of the county was especially confusing with parish boundaries penetrating deep into Gloucestershire and vise-versa.

Dudley's historical status within the Worcester Diocese and through its aristocracy links ensured to a certain extent that the island was self-governing. Worcester was also self-governing and was known as The City and County of Worcester. During the Local Government reorganisation of 1966 - Dudley expanded beyond its historical boundaries and took in Sedgley, Brierley Hill, Coseley and parts of Amblecote, but lost its Worcestershire status and became part of Staffordshire. Worcestershire also gained part of Amblecote which was incorporated into Stourbridge.

Since the establishment of the administrative county, Worcestershire has lost a considerable amount of territory including Yardley, Northfield and Kings Heath to Birmingham, the surrounding islands to their respective counties, Oldbury to Warley County Borough and St. John's, Warndon, Claines and St. Peter's Parishes to Worcester. In return - Worcestershire's expansion was limited to Stourbridge taking in the majority of Amblecote Urban District and the designation of Redditch in 1964 as a New town which saw expansion into Matchborough in Warwickshire.

From 1974 to 1998, the county was combined with Herefordshire and Worcester County Borough to form a single administrative county of Hereford and Worcester; the County Boroughs of Dudley and Warley along with Stourbridge and Halesowen were incorporated into the West Midlands Metropolitan county. The West Midlands County Council was only in existence for a short period before abolition in 1986. The new administrative County of Worcestershire was established in 1998 following a decision to abolish Hereford and Worcester, though it does not correspond to the pre-1974 boundaries. The post-1974 districts of Redditch, Worcester, Wychavon and Wyre Forest were retained in the new administrative county with little or no change. However Malvern Hills District Council's boundaries were altered to include Tenbury Wells following the loss of Bromyard and Ledbury to the new Herefordshire Unitary Authority. Meanwhile Dudley, Stourbridge and Halesowen are still part of Dudley Metropolitan Borough, whilst Oldbury forms part of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough. Both Metropolitan Borough's are currently within the West Midlands ceremonial county.

Despite the countless Local Government reorganisations since 1889, the traditional county boundaries of Worcestershire have never been altered. The Central Government and local/national media do not usually acknowledge these boundaries.

Recent observations regarding the future of local and regional government include an idea to create a 'city region' known as Greater Birmingham, which could incorporate Redditch and Bromsgrove in some capacity either into a new-style and enlarged West Midlands Metropolitan county or under direct control of a 'Mayor of Birmingham' office. Other plans could include creating 'unitary authorities' across Worcestershire, either as a single county authority or a divide into two areas - North Worcestershire (Wyre Forest, Bromsgrove and Redditch) and South Worcestershire (Malvern Hills, Wychavon and Worcester).

Physical geography

Worcestershire is a fairly rural county. The Malvern Hills, which run from the south of the county into Herefordshire, are made up mainly of volcanic igneous and metamorphic rock, some of which date from before 1200 million years ago.

Culture, media and sport

The county is home to the Worcestershire County Cricket Club, traditionally first stop on for the touring national side's schedule in England. The Club's players have included Tom Graveney, Ian Botham, Glenn McGrath, Graeme Hick, Kapil Dev, Vikram Solanki, Don Kenyon and Basil D'Oliveira. Worcester Rugby Football Club, the Worcester Warriors, whose ground is at Sixways, Worcester, were promoted to the Guinness Premiership in 2004.

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

There are three radio stations which broadcast to the county as well as Herefordshire, these are: Wyvern FM, Classic Hits and BBC Hereford & Worcester. There is also one commercial radio station broadcasting primarily to Kidderminster, Stourport & Bewdley, known as The Wyre. Recently a Community radio station has been licensed within Worcestershire, known as Youth Community Radio in Worcester. In addition, there are local and regional radio stations broadcasting into Worcestershire from surrounding areas such as Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire.


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 Added4 Agriculture1 Industry2 Services3
1995 5,047 225 1,623 3,200
2000 6,679 159 2,002 4,518
2003 7,514 182 1,952 5,380

Note 1: includes hunting and forestry

Note 2: includes energy and construction

Note 3: includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

Note 4: Components may not sum to totals due to rounding

Industry and agriculture

A large area of the county used to be devoted to fruit-growing and the cultivation of hops; this has decreased considerably since World War II, though in the southern area of the county, around the Vale of Evesham, there are still sufficient orchards that the British Automobile Association signposts a route (the "Blossom Trail") where the orchards can be seen in spring. Worcester City's coat of arms includes a depiction of three black pears, representing a now rare local fruit 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 city of Worcester and the surrounding county are best known for Worcestershire sauce and for its porcelain works. Worcestershire sauce (also known as Worcester sauce) is a savory 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.

Towns and villages

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, and Tenbury Wells.

Places of interest

Local groups

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