Towns in West Riding of Yorkshire
WF1, WF10, WF11, WF2, WF5, WF8
BD11, BD19, WF12 to WF17, HD1 to HD7
HD6, HX1 to HX6
BD1 to BD12
West Yorkshire is a metropolitan county in England. It is an inland and in relative terms, upland county having eastward-draining valleys while taking in moors of the Pennines and has a population of 2.2 million. West Yorkshire came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972.
West Yorkshire consists of five metropolitan boroughs (City of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, City of Leeds and City of Wakefield) and shares borders with the counties of Derbyshire (briefly to the south), Greater Manchester (to the south-west), Lancashire (to the north-west), North Yorkshire (to the north and east) and South Yorkshire (to the south and south-east). Seams of coal and iron ore abound in the county which attracted people over the centuries – the greatest hub in the area is Leeds who may become a terminus for a north-east limb of High Speed 2, major railways and three major motorways traverse the county. In the heart of the county is Leeds Bradford International Airport.
West Yorkshire County Council was abolished in 1986, so its five districts became effectively unitary authorities. However, the metropolitan county, which covers an area of 2,029 square kilometres (783 sq mi), continues to exist in law, and as a geographic frame of reference. Since 1 April 2014 West Yorkshire has been a combined authority area, with the local authorities pooling together some functions over transport and regeneration as the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
West Yorkshire includes the West Yorkshire Urban Area, which is the most built-up and biggest urban area within the historic county boundaries of Yorkshire.
West Yorkshire was formed as a metropolitan county in 1974, by the Local Government Act 1972, and corresponds roughly to the core of the historic West Riding of Yorkshire and the county boroughs of Bradford, Dewsbury, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, and Wakefield.
West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council inherited the use of West Riding County Hall at Wakefield, opened in 1898, from the West Riding County Council in 1974. Since 1987 it has been the headquarters of Wakefield City Council.
The county initially had a two-tier structure of local government with a strategic-level county council and five districts providing most services. In 1986, throughout England, the metropolitan county councils were abolished. The functions of the county council were devolved to the boroughs; joint-boards covering fire, police and public transport; and to other special joint arrangements. Organisations such as the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (governed by the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner) continue to operate on this basis.
Although the county council was abolished, West Yorkshire continues to form a metropolitan and ceremonial county with a Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire and a High Sheriff.
Wakefield’s Parish Church was raised to cathedral status in 1888, and after the elevation of Wakefield to the diocese, Wakefield Council immediately sought city status and this was granted in July 1888. However, the industrial revolution, which changed West and South Yorkshire significantly, led to the growth of Leeds and Bradford, which became the area’s two largest cities (Leeds being the largest in Yorkshire). Leeds was granted city status in 1893 and Bradford in 1897. The name of Leeds Town Hall reflects the fact that at its opening in 1858 Leeds was not yet a city, while Bradford renamed its Town Hall as City Hall in 1965.
The county borders, going anticlockwise from the West: Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, South Yorkshire and North Yorkshire. It lies almost entirely on rocks of Carboniferous age which form the southern Pennine fringes in the west and the Yorkshire coalfield further eastwards. In the extreme east of the metropolitan county, there are younger deposits of magnesian limestone. The Bradford and Calderdale areas are dominated by the scenery of the eastern slopes of the Pennines, dropping from Upland in the west down to the east, and dissected by numerous steep-sided valleys. There is a close conjunction of large scale industry, urban areas and transport routes with open countryside. The dense network of roads, canals and railways and urban development, confined by valleys creates dramatic interplay of views between settlements and the surrounding hillsides.
The carboniferous rocks of the Yorkshire coalfield further east have produced a rolling landscape with hills, escarpments and broad valleys. In this landscape there is widespread evidence of both current and former industrial activity. There are numerous derelict or converted mine buildings and recently landscaped former spoil heaps. The scenery is a mixture of built up areas, industrial land with some dereliction, and farmed open country. Ribbon developments along transport routes including canal, road and rail are prominent features of the area although some remnants of the pre industrial landscape and semi-natural vegetation still survive. However, many areas are affected by urban fringe pressures creating fragmented and downgraded landscapes and ever present are urban influences from major cities, smaller industrial towns and former mining villages.
In the magnesian limestone belt to the east of the Leeds and Wakefield areas is an elevated ridge with smoothly rolling scenery, dissected by dry valleys. Here, there is a large number of country houses and estates with parkland, estate woodlands, plantations and game coverts.
West Yorkshire grew up around several industries. Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield were grown through the development of woollen mills, Leeds’ traditional industry was the manufacturing of cloth, while heavier engineering industries facilitated growth in South Leeds. Wakefield, Castleford, Pontefract and South and East Leeds were traditional coal mining areas. The woollen and cloth industries declined throughout the twentieth century, while mining in West Yorkshire declined through the late 1980s and 1990s, leaving only Kellingley Colliery and a few open cast mines today.
Leeds has since attracted investment from financial institutions, to become a recognised financial centre, with many banks, building societies and insurance companies having offices in the city. Wakefield has also attracted many service based industries, in particularly call centres. Two of the big four supermarkets are from West Yorkshire. Morrisons is based in Bradford, while Asda is based in Leeds. Netto have their British headquarters in South Elmsall.
The Rhubarb Triangle is wholly in West Yorkshire and still produces the vegetable in considerable quantities. Twelve farmers who farm within the Rhubarb Triangle applied to have the name “Yorkshire forced rhubarb” added to the list of foods and drinks that have their names legally protected by the European Commission’s Protected Food Name scheme. The application was successful and the farmers in the Rhubarb Triangle were awarded Protected Designation of Origin status (PDO) in February 2010. Food protected status accesses European funding to promote the product and legal backing against other products made outside the area using the name. Other protected names include Stilton cheese, Champagne and Parma Ham.
Urban tourism features football and rugby league stadia, museums and galleries such as the Royal Armouries which is Leeds, theatre and music. Signposted walks follow rivers and the escarpment of the Pennines, which is scaled in meandering stages and tunnels by the recreational Leeds-Liverpool Canal and Rochdale Canal, navigable by barge, canoe or kayak. Other tourism includes abbeys, castles, landscape gardens and stately homes, tea rooms, real ale breweries, farmer’s markets, restaurants and hiking in villages including Hebden Bridge, Ilkley with its scenic riversides, cherry blossoms and suspension bridge and equally in Wharfedale, Otley.
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West Yorkshire NEIGHBOURS
Greater Manchester < WEST YORKSHIRE > NORTH YORKSHIRE