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County of Herefordshire
Status Unitary district
Ceremonial county
Origin Historic
Region West Midlands
- Total
- District
Ranked 26th
2,180 km²
Ranked 3rd
Admin HQ Hereford
ISO 3166-2 GB-HEF
ONS code 00GA
- Total (2005 est.)
- Density
- District
Ranked 45th
82 / km²
Ranked 84th
Ethnicity 99.1% White
Arms of County of Herefordshire District Council
Herefordshire Council
Executive Conservative / Independent

Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county and unitary district (known as County of Herefordshire) in the West Midlands region of England. 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. It is not to be confused with Hertfordshire, a county north of London.

It is pronounced ['herəfədʃə] (i.e. first syllable as in "herring", and -e- a separate syllable).

The county town of Herefordshire is the cathedral city of Hereford.

Herefordshire is a very rural county best known for its fruit growing and cider production in particular. When Celia Fiennes visited Herefordshire in 1696 she saw a countryside in which apple and pear trees were growing everywhere 'even in their corn fields and hedgerows'. Modern agriculture has put pressure on the ancient orchards in the county but many of them still survive today providing a habitat for the rare noble chafer beetle.

Herefordshire's county flower is the Mistletoe.


[edit] History

See main article History of Herefordshire.

Herefordshire is one of the 39 historic counties of England.

In 1974 it was merged with neighbouring Worcestershire to form the relatively short-lived Hereford and Worcester non-metropolitan county. Within this, Herefordshire was covered by the districts of South Herefordshire, Hereford, and part of Malvern Hills and Leominster districts.

On April 1, 1998 it was split out again, in the form of a unitary authority, with broadly the same borders as before. It is the second largest unitary area in England, after the East Riding of Yorkshire [1].

[edit] Cities, Towns and villages

See main article list of places in Herefordshire.

The major settlements in the county include Hereford, which is the county town and Herefordshire's only city, as well as the towns of Leominster, Ledbury, Ross On Wye, Kington and Bromyard.

See also Category:Towns in Herefordshire and Category:Villages in Herefordshire.

[edit] Economy

This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Herefordshire 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[2] Agriculture[3] Industry[4] Services[5]
1995 1,622 218 567 836
2000 1,885 155 643 1,087
2003 2,216 185 708 1,323

  includes hunting and forestry

  includes energy and construction

  includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

  Components may not sum to totals due to rounding

[edit] Agriculture

Agriculture has changed massively in recent years within the county. The county is in the west of England which has been historically pastoral as opposed to the east which was more arable.

[edit] Fruit

The county is famous for its apple and pear orchards, and of course its cider. There are many orchards around the county but not as many as there once was.

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. This allowed the strawberries to be grown for a far longer season and at a higher quality (no blemishes from the rain). The strawberries are mainly picked by Eastern European 'students' 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. The polytunnels have been a major issue in the county as some people see them as a 'blot on the landscape'. Others believe, however, that if agriculture is to survive, then it must be allowed to innovate; otherwise, the industry will stagnate and the county will suffer.

[edit] Dairy

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.

[edit] Potatoes

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. 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/acre (as opposed to normally £80/acre) were very helpful to many farmers in a difficult period.

[edit] Places of interest

[edit] Transport

[edit] Road

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 and the West Midlands.

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. In particularly Hereford is a major congestion point with all traffic having to pass over one dual-carriageway bridge in the centre of town. Subsequently traffic can jam and leave the city in gridlock in rush hour. In times of flood a roundabout on the south side of the bridge is impassable leaving the south of the city almost stranded. In 2006, ASDA supermarkets opened a controversial supermarket scheme connecting to this small roundabout on a flood plain. This project has large flood defences and the roundabout has been replaced by traffic lights and the road level raised as part of the project.

[edit] Rail

The Welsh Marches Railway Line also runs north - south with passenger trains operated by Arriva Trains Wales offering links to North West and South West England as well as to North and South Wales. Hereford is the western end of the Cotswold Line which runs via Worcester with through services to Oxford and London (operated by First Great Western and FGWL) and to Birmingham and Nottingham (operated by Central Trains).

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 Presteign; and Leominster to Worcester via Bromyard.

[edit] Air

There are no airports with scheduled air services in Herefordshire though Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol International Airports are all within reach and the RailAir coach operated by First Great Western provides connections from 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.

[edit] Waterways

Historically, the Rivers Wye 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, the Hereford Youth Service and Kerne Bridge Ross-on-Wye, as well as a rowing club in Hereford.

The early nineteenth century saw the construction of two canals, The Hereford & Gloucester Canal and The Leominster & Stourport Canal but these were never successful and there are now few remains to be seen.

[edit] External links