West Midlands

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon (Photo: Phil Dolby via Flickr)

With Birmingham, England’s second largest city, at the heart of the western half of the Midlands, the surrounding conurbation known as the Black Country holds much of the region’s population. It was here that the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom (and therefore the world) began. Many world firsts can be seen in this region: Ironbridge is the world’s first cast iron bridge, built in 1779, for example. The remainder of the West Midlands is made up mostly of rural lowlands known primarily for their farming. The West Midlands is the only region, excluding London, to have no coastline. Impressive castles are common in many of the medieval towns, notably at Warwick and Kenilworth. Meanwhile Stratford upon Avon was the home town of William Shakespeare, and still proudly upholds his memory with the Royal Shakespeare Company and his original home.