West Midlands conurbation

The West Midlands conurbation is the name given to the large conurbation that includes the cities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton and the large towns of Dudley, Walsall, West Bromwich, Solihull, Stourbridge, Halesowen and Sutton Coldfield in the English West Midlands.

Not to be confused with the Metropolitan county of the same name, the conurbation does not include parts of the county such as Coventry, but does include parts of the surrounding counties of Staffordshire (e.g. Little Aston, Perton), Warwickshire (specifically Coleshill and Water Orton) and Worcestershire (Hagley).

According to the 2001 Census the area had a population of 2,284,093, making it the second largest conurbation in the United Kingdom.

Constituent Parts

Although the exact boundaries of any conurbation are open to debate, dependent on what criteria are used to determine where an urban area ceases, the Office for National Statistics defines the West Midlands Urban Area as including the urban areas (in decreasing size) of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, and Walsall amongst others. These settlements are not coterminous with the Metropolitan Boroughs of the same name, and the ONS takes its settlement boundaries within the conurbation as the pre-1974 local authorities.

The conurbation is unusual in having a number of large settlements within, with Birmingham (2nd), Wolverhampton (13th), Dudley (19th) and Walsall (28th) all being amongst the largest 30 urban sub-areas in England.

The area of conurbation between Birmingham and Wolverhampton is known as the Black Country. The Black Country has coalesced into a single conurbation, but is unusual in that it has no single centre, having grown up from a number of historic market towns and industrial villages that have coalesced during the 20th century. It remains essentially polyfocal with many of the towns and villages remaining recognisable communities. Inhabitants of the Black Country generally resist hints at any relationship to people living in Birmingham. This can be seen by recent (2006) controversy regarding the name of the newly created city region. "Greater Birmingham" was seen as unacceptable, and the final name given was "Birmingham, Coventry and the Black Country".

Coventry is separate from the West Midlands conurbation, and other urban areas, such as Cannock and Codsall are also only narrowly avoided.

Relationship to Metropolitan County

Occasionally the conurbation is seen as being coterminous with the West Midlands county; however, this includes Coventry, which is separate from the main urban area, and excludes the parts of the surrounding counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire that fall within the conurbation.

For administrative purposes, the vast majority of the conurbation falls within the six Metropolitan Boroughs of Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Between 1974 and 1986 these areas (along with Coventry) were additionally administered by the West Midlands County Council. Some bodies such as the West Midlands Police and Centro (the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive) still cover the Metropolitan County, but not the entire urban area.


According to the ONS definition the West Midlands conurbation consists of the following settlements:


* [http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=8271&More=Y Office for National Statistics: Census 2001, Key Statistics for urban areas] Maps showing breakup of the conurbation according to the ONS (PDF):
* [http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/census2001/ks_urban_midlands_part_8.pdf North West, including Wolverhampton]
* [http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/census2001/ks_urban_midlands_part_9.pdf North East, including Walsall]
* [http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/census2001/ks_urban_midlands_part_4.pdf South West, including Dudley]
* [http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/census2001/ks_urban_midlands_part_5.pdf South East, including Birmingham and Solihull]

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