|Motto: Pulchra terra Dei donum (This fair land is the gift of God)|
|Status||Ceremonial county and unitary district|
- Admin. council
2,180 km2 (840 sq mi)
|ONS code||00GA (ONS)
- Total (2011 est.)
- Admin. council
84 /km2 (220 /sq mi)
|Ethnicity||97.1% White, 1.3% Asian, 0.8% Mixed, 0.5% Black, 0.3% Other|
|Members of Parliament|
Herefordshire (pron.: //; abbreviated Herefs.) is a historic and ceremonial county in the West Midlands region of England. It also forms a unitary district (or unitary county) officially named the County of Herefordshire. It borders the English ceremonial counties of Shropshire to the north, Worcestershire to the east, Gloucestershire to the south-east, and the Welsh preserved counties of Gwent to the south-west and Powys to the west.
Hereford is a cathedral city and is the county town; with a population of approximately 55,800 inhabitants it is also the largest settlement. The county is one of the most rural and sparsely populated in England, with a population density of 82/km² (212/sq mi). The land use is predominantly agricultural and the county is well known for its fruit and cider production, and the Hereford cattle breed. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region (code UKG11) and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire" NUTS 2 region.
Herefordshire was reconstituted both as a new district (effective 19 July 1996) and as a new county (coextensive with the area of the aforementioned district) (effective 1 April 1998) by Statutory Instrument as defined in The Hereford and Worcester (Structural, Boundary and Electoral Changes) Order 1996. This Order established Herefordshire as a unitary authority on the 1st April 1998, combining county and district functions into a single council. Herefordshire is also commonly called a unitary district, but this is not official nomenclature. Herefordshire is officially known as a unitary authority for local government purposes. It is governed by Herefordshire Council which was created in 1998 with the new unitary district that absorbed the previous administrative areas of Leominster District Council, South Herefordshire District Council, Hereford City Council, parts of Hereford-Worcester County Council, and parts of Malvern Hills District Council.
The River Wye, which at 135 miles is the fifth-longest in the United Kingdom, enters the county after briefly being its border with Powys. It flows through both Hereford and Ross-on-Wye before becoming returning to Wales. Leominster is situated on the River Lugg, a tributary of the Wye.
There are two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the county. The Wye Valley is located in the river's valleys south of Hereford, while the Malvern Hills are in the East of the county, along its border with Worcestershire.
Herefordshire is anomalous in that its highest point, the Black Mountain, at 703m, is the highest land in England south of Yorkshire. However, the hill is on the border with Wales, where there are higher points in its range.
Herefordshire is one of the 39 historic counties of England.
In 1974 it was merged with neighbouring Worcestershire to form the Hereford and Worcester administrative county. Within this, Herefordshire was covered by the local government districts of South Herefordshire, Hereford, and part of Malvern Hills and Leominster districts. However, the county was dissolved in 1998, resulting in the return of Herefordshire and Worcestershire as counties.
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Herefordshire at current basic prices published by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
|Year||Regional Gross Value Added||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
^ includes hunting and forestry
^ includes energy and construction
^ includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
^ Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
Most employment in Herefordshire is in agriculture, manufacturing and services. According to Herefordshire Council's online document "worklessness", 10% of people are unemployed in Herefordshire including out-of-work, homeless, ill and disabled and their carers. Cargill Meats and H.P Bulmers are two of the largest private sector employers, with the Council and NHS being the largest public sector employers.
There are 2 parliamentary constituencies in Herefordshire, both of which are served by Conservative MPs. The combined vote share at the 2010 General Election was as follows:
|General Election 2010 : Herefordshire|
The Council operates a cabinet-style council and is Conservative controlled. The Chairman is Councillor Olwyn Barnett, the Cabinet Leader for Herefordshire is Councillor John Jarvis.
The Cabinet Leader is appointed yearly by the full council of 58 councillors. The Cabinet Leader then picks their deputy and six more councillors to form the executive cabinet with a further four councillors holding cabinet support roles. Each cabinet member makes the decisions about the portfolio that they are allocated. Elections to the council are held every 4 years. Elections are conducted under the FPTP system with 31 of the 40 wards returning 1 councillor and 9 returning 2. Elections have been held in 2000, 2003, 2007, and 2011, with the next election due in 2015.
The Herefordshire Youth Council has been running for 4 years; it is chaired by Amy Saunders.
Herefordshire has a comprehensive education system that also includes seven independent schools. Most state schools are from 11-16. Sixth form provision is limited. Colleges of further and higher education in the county are:
The agricultural economy has changed massively in recent years within the county. The county is on the western edge of England which has been historically pastoral as opposed to the east which was more arable.
Probably Hereford's most famous export is its beef cattle Hereford cattle. Herefords are docile but extremely hardy creatures and these attributes have led to their proliferation across the world, particularly the US, South America and Australia. The breed is so gentle that a Hereford bull has been used as the mascot for Hereford United Football Club for many years, led around the club's Edgar Street ground prior to major matches.
The county is famous for its apple and pear orchards, and its cider. There are many orchards around the county but not as many as there once were.
In the last few years, soft fruits such as strawberries have become a new and rapidly expanding area of the agricultural economy of the county. One of the main reasons for this was the introduction of the polytunnel or French tunnel. This allowed the strawberries to be grown for a far longer season and at a higher quality (with no blemishes from the rain). The strawberries are mainly picked by Eastern European workers who come over for the season to earn some money, more than they could working in their country of origin and with the bonus, for many of them, of learning or improving their English fluency. The polytunnels have been a major issue in the county, as some people see them as a "blot on the landscape".
Although some polytunnel sites are technically illegal, Herefordshire Council has chosen to ignore legal ruling in the belief that if agriculture is to survive, then it must be allowed to innovate; otherwise, the industry will stagnate and the county will suffer.
There was a time when the majority of farms in the county would have had dairy cattle for milk production. The cost of investing in new equipment, long hours, BSE, foot-and-mouth disease and mainly the falling milk prices have meant that the milk production has drastically reduced, with only a few farms still in dairy farming.
As mentioned above, the county is historically pastoral. The soils are mostly clay, meaning that large scale potato production was very difficult, as tractors were not powerful enough to pull the large machinery required to harvest the crop. Around the early 1990s new technology and more powerful machines overcame this problem. Potato production started to increase, fuelled by a few other key factors: The previously pastoral soils had not had potatoes grown in them; consequently they were not infected with eelworm (Heterodera rostochiensis and Heterodera pallida), which in the east of England had to be sprayed against weekly (a large cost). Also, the clay soil produced an unblemished potato of the highest grade. The intensive nature of the crop meant that potatoes could be grown viably on a given field in only one of every five years. Because potato growers always needed more land than they owned, they rented extra. This demand for rental fields came at a time when the rest of the industry was struggling and in serious decline. The potato farmers' rents of £300-500 per acre (as opposed to normally £80 per acre) were very helpful to many farmers in a difficult period.
Herefordshire County Council was granted a coat of arms on 28 February 1946. The arms became obsolete in 1974 on the abolition of the council, but were transferred to the present Herefordshire Council by Order in Council in 1997.
The arms are blazoned as follows:
Gules on a fesse wavy between in chief a lion passant guardant argent and in base a Herefordshire bull's head caboshed proper, a bar wavy azure; and for a Crest on a wreath of the colours a demi lion rampant gules holding in the sinister claw a fleece or; and for Supporters, on the dexter side a lion guardant or gorged with a wreath of hops fructed proper and on the sinister a talbot argent gorged with a collar or charged with three apples proper.
The red colouring of the shield is taken from the arms of the City of Hereford. The red colour also represents the red earth of Herefordshire. The silver and blue wave across the centre of the shield represents the River Wye. The lions that form parts of the arms, crest and supporters are also taken from Hereford's arms. The agricultural produce of Herefordshire is represented by the bull's head, fleece, hops and apples. The talbot dog comes from the heraldry of the Talbot family, Marcher Lords of Shrewsbury and also from that of Viscount Hereford.
As part of a competition organised by the charity Plantlife to raise awareness of conservation issues, the public were asked to vote for "county flowers" that they felt best represented their county. Mistletoe was announced as the winning choice for Herefordshire in 2004. The emblem has no official status, and has not been widely adopted. Herefordshire Council uses a logo consisting of a green apple.
Perhaps the most famous sporting team in Herefordshire is Hereford United football club, who have been members of the Football League and play at Edgar Street stadium in the city of Hereford. The club was founded in 1924 on the merger of two local teams - St Martin's and RAOC - and became members of the Birmingham Combination League. The club then made its way upwards to the Southern Football League, finally gaining election to the Football League in 1972 - the same year that the club famously defeated First Division side Newcastle United in an FA Cup tie. Two successive promotions saw the club reach the Second Division in 1978, but two successive relegations followed and saw the club side back into the Fourth Division. Despite being situated within England, the club has competed in the Welsh Cup on a number of occasions, winning the trophy in 1990. The club suffered relegation from the Football League in 1997 and fell into the Football Conference, not regaining its Football League status until 2006. The club then played in Football League Two - the fourth highest division of English football - for six years before once again being relegated out of the Football League at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Cricket is widely played within the county, and Herefordshire County Cricket Club compete in the Minor Counties Championship, having been elected in 1992 to take Durham's place, when that county joined the First-class structure. The leading club sides in Herefordshire are Brockhampton CC and Eastnor CC, who both compete in the Birmingham and District Premier League, the ECB accredited Premier League for cricket clubs in the West Midlands, and one of the strongest cricket leagues in England. Below that in the cricketing pyramid system 7 other leading Herefordshire clubs compete in the Worcestershire County Cricket League, with the remaining 25 or so cricket clubs within the county competing in the Marches League, or just playing Sunday or mid-week 'friendly' matches.
|Accessible open space|
|Museum (free/not free)|
The M50, one of the first motorways to be built in the UK, runs through the south of the county and, with the A40 dual carriageway, forms part of the major route linking South Wales with Gloucester, Oxford and London
The hilly nature of the terrain in Mid Wales means that the main ground transport links between North Wales and South Wales run through Herefordshire. The other trunk roads in Herefordshire, the A49 and the A465, form part of these north–south routes as well as catering for local traffic. These are single-carriageway roads and mean that travelling through the county is often slow.
The Welsh Marches Railway Line also runs north–south with passenger trains operated by Arriva Trains Wales offering links to Manchester as well as to North and South Wales. Hereford is the western end of the Cotswold Line and also is operated by Arriva Trains Wales which runs via Worcester with through services to Oxford and London (operated by First Great Western) and to Birmingham (operated by London Midland).
Former routes which are now closed were Ledbury to Gloucester; Hereford to Ross-on-Wye and onward to Gloucester and Monmouth; Hereford to Hay-on-Wye; Pontrilas to Hay-on-Wye; Leominster to New Radnor; Eardisley to Presteigne; and Leominster to Worcester via Bromyard. Part of the Titley Spur is opened annually by enthusiasts and a steam train is run along the track.
There are no airports with scheduled air services in Herefordshire. Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol international airports are the nearest. The RailAir coach operated by First Great Western provides connections to London Heathrow via Reading station. Shobdon Aerodrome near Leominster is a centre for general aviation and gliding. Hot air ballooning is also popular with Eastnor Castle being one of the favourite launch sites in the area.
Historically, the rivers Wye, Teme and Lugg were navigable but the wide seasonal variations in water levels mean that few craft larger than canoes and coracles are now used. There are canoe centres at The Boat House, Glasbury-on-Wye (in Powys, Wales), the Hereford Youth Service and Kerne Bridge in Ross-on-Wye, as well as rowing clubs in Hereford and Ross-on-Wye.
The early 19th century saw the construction of two canals, The Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal and The Leominster & Stourport Canal but these were never successful and there are now few remains to be seen. The Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal is currently the subject a restoration project, which includes the construction of a new canal basin in Hereford city centre as part of the regeneration of the Edgar Street Grid. The project, however, is being undertaken by a small voluntary group and there is no expected date for any part of the canal to re-open for boating.
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