Hereford (// (listen)) is a cathedral city, civil parish and the county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately 16 miles (26 km) east of the border with Wales, 24 miles (39 km) southwest of Worcester, and 23 miles (37 km) northwest of Gloucester. With a population of 60,800, it is by far the largest settlement in Herefordshire.
Hereford Cathedral and Wye Bridge
Coat of arms of the City Council
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An early town charter from 1189 granted by Richard I of England describes it as "Hereford in Wales". Hereford has been recognised as a city since time immemorial, with the status being reconfirmed as recently as October 2000.
It is now known chiefly as a trading centre for a wider agricultural and rural area. Products from Hereford include: cider, beer, leather goods, nickel alloys, poultry, chemicals, and sausage rolls, including the famous Hereford breed.
The Herefordshire edition of Cambridge County Geographies states "a Welsh derivation of Hereford is more probable than a Saxon one" but the name "Hereford" is also said to come from the Anglo-Saxon "here", an army or formation of soldiers, and the "ford", a place for crossing a river (cf. Herford, Westphalia, with the same Saxon etymology). If this is the origin it suggests that Hereford was a place where a body of armed men forded or crossed the Wye. The Welsh name for Hereford is Henffordd, meaning "old road", and probably refers to the Roman road and Roman settlement at nearby Stretton Sugwas. Some historical documents refer to "Hereford in Wales".
Hereford became the seat of Putta, Bishop of Hereford, some time between AD 676 and 688, after which the settlement continued to grow due to its proximity to the border between Mercia and Wales, becoming the Saxon capital of West Mercia by the beginning of the 8th century.
Hostilities between the Anglo-Saxons and the Welsh came to a head with the Battle of Hereford in 760, in which the Britons freed themselves from the influence of the English. Hereford was again targeted by the Welsh during their conflict with the Anglo-Saxon King Edward the Confessor in AD 1056 when, supported by Viking allies, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, King of Gwynedd and Powys, marched on the town and put it to the torch before returning home in triumph. Hereford had the only mint west of the Severn in the reign of Athelstan (924–39), and it was to Hereford, then a border town, that Athelstan summoned the leading Welsh princes.
The present Hereford Cathedral dates from the early 12th century, as does the first bridge across the Wye. Former Bishops of Hereford include Saint Thomas de Cantilupe and Lord High Treasurer of England Thomas Charlton.
The city gave its name to two suburbs of Paris, France: Maisons-Alfort (population 54,600) and Alfortville (population 36,232), due to a manor built there by Peter of Aigueblanche, Bishop of Hereford, in the middle of the 13th century.
Hereford, a base for successive holders of the title Earl of Hereford, was once the site of a castle, Hereford Castle, which rivalled that of Windsor in size and scale. This was a base for repelling Welsh attacks and a secure stronghold for English kings such as King Henry IV when on campaign in the Welsh Marches against Owain Glyndŵr. The castle was dismantled in the 18th century and landscaped into Castle Green.
After the Battle of Mortimer's Cross in 1461, during the Wars of the Roses, the defeated Lancastrian leader Owen Tudor (grandfather of the future Henry VII of England) was taken to Hereford by Sir Roger Vaughan and executed in High Town. A plaque now marks the spot of the execution. Vaughan was later himself executed, under a flag of truce, by Owen's son Jasper.
During the civil war the city changed hands several times. On 30 September 1642 Parliamentarians led by Sir Robert Harley and Henry Grey, 1st Earl of Stamford occupied the city without opposition. In December they withdrew to Gloucester because of the presence in the area of a Royalist army under Lord Herbert. The city was again occupied briefly from 23 April to 18 May 1643 by Parliamentarians commanded by Sir William Waller but it was in 1645 that the city saw most action. On 31 July 1645 a Scottish army of 14,000 under Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven besieged the city but met stiff resistance from its garrison and inhabitants. They withdrew on 1 September when they received news that a force led by King Charles was approaching. The city was finally taken for Parliament on 18 December 1645 by Colonel Birch and Colonel Morgan. King Charles showed his gratitude to the city of Hereford on 16 September 1645 by augmenting the city's coat of arms with the three lions of Richard I of England, ten Scottish Saltires signifying the ten defeated Scottish regiments, a very rare lion crest on top of the coat of arms signifying "defender of the faith" and the even rarer gold-barred peer's helm, found only on the arms of one other municipal authority: those of the City of London.
Nell Gwynne, actress and mistress of King Charles II, is said to have been born in Hereford in 1650 (although other towns and cities, notably Oxford, also claim her as their own); Gwynn Street is named after her. Another famous actor born in Hereford is David Garrick (1717–1779).
The Bishop's Palace next to the Cathedral was built in 1204 and continually used to the present day. Hereford Cathedral School is also one of the oldest schools in England. The Harold Street Barracks were completed in 1856.
During World War I, in 1916, a fire at the Garrick Theatre killed eight young girls who had been performing at a charity concert.
Historically Hereford has been the county town of Herefordshire. In 1974 Herefordshire was merged with Worcestershire to become part of the county of Hereford and Worcester, and Hereford became a district of the new county. Hereford had formed a historic borough and was reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. On 1 April 1998 the County of Hereford and Worcester was abolished, and Herefordshire and Worcestershire were re-established as separate counties.
However the new Herefordshire was a unitary authority without any districts, and so Hereford lost its district status (although, confusingly, the authority's full legal name is the County of Herefordshire District Council). Charter Trustees were appointed to preserve mayoral traditions until a civil parish council could be set up, which happened in 2000. Hereford is one of only eight civil parishes in England which have city status. It is based at Hereford Town Hall.
Hereford was the name of a parliamentary constituency centring on the city, from 1295 to 2010, when it was renamed as Hereford and South Herefordshire. The current Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons for Hereford and South Herefordshire is Jesse Norman of the Conservative Party.
As with all of the UK, Hereford experiences a maritime climate, with limited seasonal temperature ranges, and generally moderate rainfall throughout the year. The nearest Met Office weather station for which 30-year averages are available is Credenhill weather station, about 4 miles (6 km) north east of the city centre. Before 2001, the weather station at Preston Wynne (7 miles, 11 km to the north-east) provided the data.
In February 2020 many houses in Hereford were evacuated due to floods.
Hereford, as an ancient crossing over the River Wye, has long been important within the regional and national transport network. Today, the town is served by several major routes, including:
- Shrewsbury. | Southbound: Ross-on-Wye. | Northbound: Leominster and
- | Westbound: Hay-on-Wye and Brecon. | Eastbound: Ledbury and Tewkesbury.
- Merthyr Tydfil. | North-east: Bromyard. | South-west: Abergavenny and
- | North-east: Worcester.
The nearest motorway is the, which passes to the south of Ledbury.
Along the northern rim of the City, the A4103 is named "Roman Road," running in a straight line from east to west.
Only one of these major routes crosses the River Wye, the A49/Victoria Street, which is carried by Greyfriars Bridge.
In 2017, Hereford was named Britain's "second slowest city," with an average traffic speed of 14.09 mph. Cambridge topped the list, whilst London came third with vehicles travelling at an average 14.59 mph.
There have been plans for many years for a north–south bypass and currently the plan is for a nine-mile (14 km) dual carriageway; however, HM Government as yet has refused to grant permission or supply funds. However, the Hereford Link Road was completed in December 2017, costing around £34,000,000 to build. There are plans to add new homes, a university building and a transport hub to this area.
|Railways in Hereford|
Hereford railway station is situated to the north of the city centre. The station is the western terminus of the Cotswold Line, and is a through station on the Welsh Marches Line between Abergavenny and Leominster.
The station is managed by Transport for Wales, which operates services to destinations such as Newport, Cardiff, and Swansea to the south. Transport for Wales also operates services northbound towards Leominster, Shrewsbury, Chester, Manchester, and North Wales.
On the Cotswold Line, services are operated by West Midlands Railway (WMR) towards Birmingham, via destinations such as the Malverns, Worcester, and Bromsgrove. Great Western Railway (GWR) also operates regular services to London Paddington via Worcester, Oxford, and Reading, amongst other destinations.
A second station has also served Hereford in the past, Hereford Barton, which closed in 1893.
Cycling infrastructure in Hereford is maintained by Herefordshire Council and Sustrans.
National Cycle Route 46 runs southbound from Hereford to Swansea. The route is signposted and unbroken, and the next destination from Hereford en route is Kilpeck Castle. The route passes through Abergavenny and the Heads of the Valleys as it enters Wales. As of Summer 2020, Sustrans proposes an extension to Route 46 running eastbound from Hereford to Worcester.
National Cycle Route 44 leaves Hereford to the southeast and runs as far as Rotherwas. The route is incomplete; once completed, Route 44 will run to Ludlow Castle to the north and Cinderford, Forest of Dean to the south.
Since the decision of First Midland Red to pull out of the city in 2015, the majority of bus routes have been operated by Hereford bus and coach operator Yeomans Canyon. The 33 service to Ross-on-Wye and 36 service to Monmouth are operated by Stagecoach West, services historically in the hands of Red & White. Other bus services are operated by various operators.
In 1999, the British Army Special Air Service (SAS) moved from their base at Stirling Lines in Hereford since 1960 to a former Royal Air Force base RAF Credenhill in Credenhill that had been redeveloped and was designated as Stirling Lines in 2000. The clock tower on which the names of deceased SAS soldiers are inscribed was re-located.
The main public service employers in Hereford include:
- Herefordshire Council
- NHS Herefordshire
Major employers in the city include:
- Bulmers, now owned by Heineken – Cider and alcoholic beverages producer. Brands include Woodpecker Cider, Strongbow and Bulmers Cider
- Special Metals Wiggin Ltd – Manufacturers of nickel alloys
- Cargill Meats Europe (formerly Sun Valley) – Manufacturers and suppliers of food products for retailers and foodservice operators
- Painter Brothers – Manufacturers of galvanized steel towers including The Skylon
Other major companies based in Hereford include:
- Spinning Dog Brewery – Brewers of traditional beers in Hereford City
- Wye Valley Brewery – Producers of such beers as Butty Bach and Hereford Pale Ale (HPA) and other real ales.
Herefordshire is a global centre for cider production as it supports many acres of orchards, so many breweries and associated organisations exist here, along with other heavy and light industries. Within the city, many are based at the Rotherwas Industrial Estate.
Many of the schools in Hereford have been rebuilt and improved. The Herefordshire and Ludlow College has also been rebuilt to a 21st-century standard. A new higher education institution NMITE (New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering) is also being developed, which, once validated, will teach Engineering in a liberal context. The first staff were appointed in 2018 and the first cohort of students will enter in 2020 subject to Validation. There have also been a number of improvements at Hereford Sixth Form College, where a new business block extension was completed in 2013 and a new reception area was completed in 2015.
Hereford benefitted from the PFI reconstruction schemes for NHS hospitals, with the former County Hospital site having £60 million spent on a brand new, one-site hospital to replace the former 3 hospitals: the General, the Eye Hospital, and the County Hospital. The new Hereford County Hospital was the single largest investment in Herefordshire at that point. In 2015, further funds for more improvements at the hospital were granted.
Current and future projects
A major regeneration project is taking place in Hereford city centre, formerly known as the Edgar Street Grid. This covers an area of around 100 acres (0.40 km2) just north of the old city walls. Work started on 8 October 2012, and should take around 15 years to complete the whole project. The regeneration includes the rebuilding of the canal basin at the end of the currently disused Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal. The £80 million phase 1 includes a supermarket, department store, multiplex cinema, shops, restaurants, and other facilities and opened in late Spring 2014.
The Butter Market is due for refurbishment and proposals are being examined.
A proposed bypass has been drawn up to circulate the city, which suffers from rush hour traffic, with potential routes either to the east or west of the city. Both routes would connect with the Rotherwas Access Road which was recently completed, connecting the Rotherwas Industrial Estate to the A49. Rotherwas itself has recently been awarded an Enterprise Zone status by the government which is expected to boost the economy and bring in thousands of new jobs.
A second railway station for Hereford has been discussed, which would be situated in Rotherwas as part of the Enterprise Zone.
Hereford is the home of the football club, Hereford FC who play at Edgar Street in the National League North. They are a phoenix club that was set up in the wake of the demise of Hereford United Football Club in 2014. United were best known for beating Newcastle 2–1 in an FA Cup replay in January 1972, when they were still a non-league side and Newcastle were in the top division of English football. Other city clubs include Westfields and Pegasus Juniors.
The city is home to Hereford Racecourse, a traditional National Hunt course to the north of the city centre which hosted around twenty meetings a year. The company who leased the site decided in 2012 that the site was not viable. What many thought to be the last meeting was held on 16 December 2012, however the course reopened for racing in October 2016.
Golf courses surround the city at Wormsley (Herefordshire GC), Burghill and Brockington. The racecourse surrounds a golf course in Holmer.
Hereford's public leisure facilities are managed by a not-for-profit trust HALO Leisure, which runs the Hereford Leisure Centre (that includes sports halls, gymnasium, squash courts, and an outdoor athletics facility), and the Hereford Leisure Pool (which includes a gymnasium, full size swimming pool, leisure pool, diving pool, and learners pool).
Clubs and societies
The Hereford Rowing Club (along with the Kayak Club) uses the River Wye. The stretch of river is also used for other water sports. Hereford has a nine pin skittle league, formed on 24 October 1902, and today consists of five divisions.
Hereford has other clubs and societies including the Railway Club, Welsh Club, Military Club, Richmond Place Club and the Whitecross Squash & Lawn Tennis Club.
Hereford has several music clubs/societies such as Herefordshire Youth Orchestra, a group for those up to the age of 21.
A new higher education institution, New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering, has been created in Hereford, which will have its first intake of students in September 2021. It is envisioned as a seed institution for a future University of Hereford.
Hereford is home to five colleges, including:
- Hereford College of Arts – a publicly funded art school located on Folly Lane, with a Higher Education centre on College Road in the former main buildings of the Royal National College for the Blind. The University of Wales Trinity St Davids co-operate to provide degree qualifications.
- Herefordshire and Ludlow College (HLC) formerly known as Hereford College of Technology – The Folly Lane facility includes a university centre for the University of Worcester.
- Hereford Sixth Form College
- The Royal National College for the Blind – One of the top colleges in Europe for blind and visually impaired students, and one of only two in Britain. The college occupies the former Hereford College of Education campus. The college often plays host to major blind sporting competitions like the Blind World Cup 2010 and Euro 2015 Blind Football Championships, and currently hosts the England Blind Football squad training camps.
- Holme Lacy College – An agricultural college that was part of the Pershore Group of Colleges (now Warwickshire College), but currently belongs to Herefordshire and Ludlow College (HLC).
Hereford's many secondary schools include:
- The Steiner Academy Hereford – The first Rudolf Steiner school in England to become an Academy.
- Aylestone Business and Enterprise College- A co-educational comprehensive school for pupils aged between 11 and 16, created in 1976 by merging two former grammar schools, the Hereford High School for Boys and the Hereford High School for Girls. Specialises in Business and Enterprise.
- The Bishop of Hereford's Bluecoat School – A co-educational voluntary aided comprehensive school for pupils aged between 11 and 16, formed in 1973 from two former church secondary schools, the Bluecoat foundation, dating back to 1710 and the Bishop's School, a secondary modern school founded in 1958. It is now a Technology College with a second specialism in Languages.
- The Hereford Academy – A high school for pupils aged between 11 and 19. It was known as Haywood High School in the late seventies until 2006, when it was renamed as Wyebridge Sports College. As of 1 September 2009 it was renamed The 'Hereford Academy'. It has been, like Whitecross High School, re-classified as a 'Sports College'. The Academy's new building opened in September 2011, and the demolition of the old school site, making way for new playing fields to be laid out, was completed in Spring 2012.
- Hereford Cathedral School – A co-educational independent school and sixth form, and a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. The earliest existing records date from 1384 though it is likely that a school was associated with the cathedral from its foundation in the late 7th century. HCS, together with HCJS (see below) educates the choristers for Hereford Cathedral Choir.
- St Marys RC High School – A Roman Catholic Comprehensive School for boys and girls aged 11–16. The school primarily serves the Catholic Communities of Herefordshire and is situated in a very attractive rural location close to the River Lugg, a few miles to the east of the City of Hereford in the village of Lugwardine.
- Whitecross Hereford High School – A specialist Sports College, which moved to a brand new PFI building in June 2006. The college for pupils aged between 11 and 16 aims to use the new facility to provide the best high school education for its pupils in the topic of Sports & Fitness.
Primary schools in the city include Hereford Cathedral Junior School, a co-educational independent school. Hereford Cathedral Junior School is, with Hereford Cathedral School, part of the ancient Hereford Cathedral Foundation dating back to 676. The Junior School was founded as an independent school in 1898. The City's other primary schools are: Lord Scudamore Academy, St James C of E, St Francis Xavier R.C, Trinity, Holmer C of E, Marlbrook, Riverside, St Martin's, Broadlands, Riverside, Hampton Dene and St Paul's C of E.
Health and social care
The major hospital in Hereford is the Hereford County Hospital. Ambulance services are provided by the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust. The Midlands Air Ambulance charity provides air ambulance services across Herefordshire.
A private national firm operates a hospital in Hereford, and the city is well-populated with council-funded, private and charity based nursing, residential and other elderly care homes and facilities.
Society and culture
Farming has played a major part in the history of the county of Herefordshire, and for many years the City of Hereford was the epicentre, playing host to the Cattle Market; a major market site.
With the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak the market suffered with trade reduced. Established by Act of Parliament, the market had to be provided, and so a Bill was introduced in 2003 to move the site to the outskirts of the city. The inner city site would then be available for redevelopment, a process that has now finished.
The annual Three Choirs Festival, originating in the 18th century and one of the oldest music festivals in the British Isles, is held in Hereford every third year, the other venues being Gloucester and Worcester.
Composer Sir Edward Elgar lived at Plas Gwyn, Eign Hill, in Hereford between 1904 and 1911, writing some of his most famous works during that time. He is commemorated with a statue on the Cathedral Close. One of his Enigma Variations was inspired by a bulldog named Dan falling into the River Wye at Hereford, and the dog is similarly honoured with a wooden statue beside the river. Not long after moving into the city he was (despite not being a city council member) offered but declined the office of mayor of the city. He also visited the city as a conductor at the Three Choirs Festival, the last occasion in 1933 prior to his death.
H.Art, or Herefordshire Art Week, is an annual county-wide exhibition held in September, displaying the work of local artists. Many places usually closed to the public are opened during this week, such as the Bishop's Palace at the Cathedral.
Polish-born sculptor Walenty Pytel has had studios in Hereford since 1963 after training at Hereford College of Art.
The troops of the fictional commando squad Rainbow were based at RAF Hereford, as detailed in the novel Rainbow Six.
Comedy writer Aaron Gillies began writing using Twitter while working as a sound technician at The Courtyard.
The local radio stations are Free Radio (formerly known as Wyvern FM) which broadcasts on 97.6–96.7–102.8 FM, Sunshine Radio on 106.2 FM, BBC Hereford and Worcester which broadcasts on 94.7FM, Like Radio Like Music, Like Radio. Digital Radio Station available on DAB, Online and On The Go. The station covers Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucester, Cheltenham and Birmingham. Hereford FC has its own online Radio station, RadioHerefordFC covering all its matches Home and Away. It also has a 24/7 eclectic music output.
The Hereford Times is the city's only remaining weekly local newspaper as the 'Hereford Journal' ceased publication on 11 June 2014 and the 'Hereford admag' ceased publication in September 2018.
Local TV content is currently provided by BBC Midlands Today and ITV Central News.
The city's main theatre and cultural venue is the Courtyard Centre for the Arts which was opened in 1998, replacing the New Hereford Theatre.
There is also a multi screen Odeon cinema in the Old Market precinct.
MFA Bowl (formerly known as TGS), home to a Ten Pin Bowling alley and Mini Golf course is located near the railway station.
There is also a dedicated Skatepark on Holmer Road.
John Kemble, Catholic priest and martyr, was born near Hereford.
Nell Gwyn, David Garrick and Sarah Siddons, actors and actresses, are all historical figures popularly associated with Hereford.
Major-General Stringer Lawrence, first commander-in-chief of British troops in India, under whose command Robert Clive served, was born in Hereford.
Broadcaster Gilbert Harding was born there when his father was master of the local workhouse, as was contemporary actress Beryl Reid.
The original lineup of The Pretenders, with the exception of lead singer Chrissie Hynde, were from Hereford, as were the rock band Mott the Hoople.
John Williamson (economist), international economist and author of "What Washington Means by Policy Reform" was born in Hereford.
Ellie Goulding, pop singer and songwriter was born in Hereford.
Tourism and attractions
The Old House, Hereford is an historic black and white house in the centre of High Town in Hereford. It is now a museum about life in the Jacobean era of the 1600s when it was built.
The Hereford Museum and Art Gallery, housed in a Victorian Gothic building and opened in 1874, presents artefacts, fine art, and decorative art associated with the local area.
The Hereford Cider Museum is in the city, with a shop, and an interactive guide to producing the drink. It is a registered Charity Trust founded in the early 1970s by people who wanted to record the past, and also the disappearing traditional art of cider making that had been practiced for generations on the farms in the "Cider Counties". Situated in an old cider factory, it opened in 1980 and 1981. In the spring/summer a cider festival is held, started in the mid-1980s, by the Friends of the Museum with the advice of Long Ashton Research station near Bristol. It has a display of named cider apples, and the apples are pressed in the old way. The Museum holds in its Pomological Archive a number of records pertaining to apples and cider.
The Violette Szabo Museum is in Wormelow village, outside the city.
Several festivals are hosted in Hereford including the Beer on the Wye festival, the Hereford Food Festival, and the Three Choirs Festival.
Freedom of the City
The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the City of Hereford.
- The Herefordshire Light Infantry: September 1945.
- RAF Hereford: April 1959.
- The King's Shropshire Light Infantry: April 1960.
- The Light Infantry: July 1971.
- HMS Antelope, RN: March 1976.
- The Royal British Legion: April 1976.
- The 22nd Special Air Services Regiment: April 1981.
- The Burma Star Association: April 1982.
- The Rifles: July 2008.
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