West Midlands conurbation

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

West Midlands
Map of the West Midlands conurbation in 2011, with Travel to Work Areas overlaid. The Birmingham and Wolverhampton sub-divisions are highlighted in orange, the Dudley, Walsall and Solihull sub-divisions are highlighted in green.
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
Largest settlements
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)
  Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)
Area code(s)0121, 01543, 01562, 01384, 01902, 01922

Not to be confused with the region or metropolitan county of the same name, the conurbation does not include parts of the metropolitan county such as Coventry, but does include parts of the surrounding counties of Staffordshire (e.g. Little Aston, Perton and Essington) and Worcestershire (such as Hagley and Hollywood).

According to the 2011 Census the area had a population of 2,440,986,[1] making it the third most populated in the United Kingdom behind the Greater London and Greater Manchester Built Up Areas. However it should be stated that the Conurbation sits within the UK's (and therefore England's) largest Metropolitan Area outside London (known as the Birmingham Metropolitan Area).

The conurbation also has several other unofficial names such as Greater Birmingham, the West Midlands Metro Area, the Birmingham conurbation,[2][3][4] and the Birmingham-Wolverhampton conurbation.[5][6] However it is (Greater) Birmingham & The Black Country[7][8] that has gained the widest traction as an alternative to the generally unpopular official name of the Conurbation. An example of this is the tagline used by BBC Radio WM - “The sound of Birmingham & The Black Country”.

The conurbation is polycentric - Birmingham and Wolverhampton have separate Eurostat Larger Urban Zones, and there are separate Travel to Work areas defined for Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley & Sandwell and Walsall & Cannock; whilst the extreme south-west corner of the conurbation at Hagley is within the Kidderminster Travel to Work Area, and the extreme south-east corner is within the Warwick & Stratford upon Avon TTWA.

Constituent parts

The West Midlands Urban Area as at the 2001 Census

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 Built Up Area as including the urban areas of Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Solihull, West Bromwich, Dudley, and Walsall amongst others. These settlements are not coterminous with the Metropolitan Boroughs of the same name.

The area of conurbation between Birmingham and Wolverhampton is known as the Black Country. The Black Country has no single centre, having grown up from a number of historic market towns and industrial villages that coalesced during the 20th century. It remains essentially polycentric with many of the towns and villages remaining recognisable communities.

Coventry is separated from the West Midlands conurbation by the Meriden Gap, and other urban areas, such as Cannock and Codsall remain separate from the conurbation. Coventry is 19 miles east of Birmingham.

Skyline of Central Birmingham.
St Peter's Collegiate Church in Wolverhampton.
Solihull High Street.
Sutton Coldfield Town Hall.
Dudley Town Centre.
West Midlands conurbation at night from the ISS.


Occasionally the conurbation is seen as being coterminous with the West Midlands Metropolitan 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.

Two Local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) cover the majority of the conurbation area: Black Country LEP comprises the local authorities of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton while the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP includes those two authorities and a number of satellite boroughs, many remote from the conurbation and not traditionally associated with it (Bromsgrove, Cannock Chase, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Redditch, Tamworth and Wyre Forest).


2011 Census

The West Midlands Built Up Area consists of the below settlements. Due to the change in methodology between the 2001 and 2011 Census, and the amount of change between 2011 Census and previous census data, it is impossible to compare the data directly between 2011 and earlier Censuses.

Rank Settlement Population (2011)[1] Notes on significant changes since 2001
1 Birmingham 1,085,810 Gained Quinton from Oldbury-Smethwick USD. Gained Minworth from Sutton Coldfield USD.
2 Wolverhampton 210,319 Bilston and Wednesfield removed from 2001. The three BUASDs combined total 265,178. Essington removed and placed within Willenhall BUASD.
3 Solihull 123,187 Gained Shelly Green and Knowle-Bentley Heath from 2001.
4 Sutton Coldfield 95,107
5 Dudley 79,379 Coseley, Kingswinford, Brierley Hill and Sedgley removed from 2011. The five BUASDs combined total 215,693. Gained Cradley Heath and Quarry Bank from Oldbury-Smethwick USD.
6 West Bromwich 72,945 Wednesbury and Tipton removed from 2001. Town split in two by Sandwell Valley and the two parts are now considered separately. The four BUASDs combined total 153,366. Gained Yew Tree from 2001.
7 Walsall 67,594 Willenhall, Darlaston and Bloxwich removed from 2001. The four BUASDs combined total 185,114.
8 Stourbridge 63,298 Gained Hagley from 2001.
9 Halesowen 58,135
10 Willenhall 51,429 New in 2011. Previously part of Walsall USD, but also gained Essington from Wolverhampton USD.
11 Kingswinford 50,801 New in 2011. Previously part of Dudley USD.
12 Smethwick 48,765 New in 2011. Previously part of Oldbury-Smethwick USD.
13 Bloxwich 47,288 New in 2011. Previously part of Walsall USD.
13 Tipton 42,407 New in 2011. Previously part of West Bromwich USD.
14 Aldridge 39,463 Gained Rushall, Shelfield and Pelsall from 2001.
15 Rowley Regis 34,260 New in 2011. Previously part of Oldbury-Smethwick USD.
16 Brierley Hill 31,430 New in 2011. Previously part of Dudley USD.
17 Sedgley 30,979 New in 2011. Previously part of Dudley USD.
18 Bilston 29,556 New in 2011. Previously part of Wolverhampton USD.
19 Wednesfield 25,303 New in 2011. Previously part of Wolverhampton USD
20 Oldbury 23,964 New in 2011. Previously part of Oldbury-Smethwick USD.
21 Coseley 23,104 New in 2011. Previously part of Dudley USD.
22 Brownhills 20,373
23 Wednesbury 19,029 New in 2011. Previously part of West Bromwich USD.
24 West Bromwich East 18,985 New in 2011. Previously part of West Bromwich USD.
25 Darlaston 18,803 New in 2011. Previously part of Walsall USD.
26 Blackheath 6,518 New in 2011. Previously part of Oldbury-Smethwick USD.
27 Cheswick Green 2,197
28 Wythall 1,912 New in 2011.
29 Hampton in Arden 1,678 New in 2011.
30 Stonnall 1,338 New in 2011.
31 Major's Green 1,002 New in 2011.
32 Tidbury Green 720 New in 2011.

In the 2011 Census, Coleshill and Water Orton are two separate built-up areas with populations of 6,341 and 3,444 respectively. Prior to 2011, they were considered part of the West Midlands Urban Area.

Prior censuses

Prior to the 2011 census, the conurbation was known by the ONS as the West Midlands Urban Area, which contained the following Urban Sub-Divisions:



Settlement Population






1 Birmingham 970,892 965,928 1,024,118
2 Wolverhampton 251,462 257,943 265,631
3 Dudley 194,919 192,171 187,367
4 Walsall 170,994 174,739 178,852
5 Oldbury / Smethwick 139,855 145,542 153,461
6 West Bromwich 136,940 146,386 154,531
7 Sutton Coldfield 105,452 106,001 103,097
8 Solihull 94,753 94,531 94,613
9 Stourbridge 55,480 55,624 55,499
10 Halesowen 55,273 57,918 57,532
11 Brownhills 19,866 18,159 18,200
12 Knowle / Bentley Heath 18,452
13 Aldridge 15,659 16,832 17,589
14 Pelsall 10,524 10,007 10,328
15 Shelfield 6,807 7,079 6,029
16 Coleshill 6,235 6,324
17 Yew Tree 6,109
18 Rushall 5,864 5,871 6,137
19 Hagley 5,723 5,417 5,754
20 Shelly Green 5,702
21 Water Orton 3,573 3,555
22 Cheswick Green 2,261 2,511
23 Knowle 17,588 16,872
24 Bentley Heath 5,984


  • Knowle and Bentley Heath are considered as one settlement in 2001, but are considered separately in 1991 and 1981. Bentley Heath was not considered to be a settlement within the West Midlands Urban Area in 1981.
  • Coleshill and Water Orton were not considered to be part of the West Midlands Urban Area in 1981, but a separate Coleshill/Water Orton Urban Area with a total population of 9,554; made up of Coleshill (6,113) and Water Orton (3,441).
  • Yew Tree is only considered part of the West Midlands Urban Area in the 2001 census.
  • Cheswick Green was not considered to be a settlement within the West Midlands Urban Area in 1981.
  • Shelly Green was not considered to be a settlement within the West Midlands Urban Area in 1981 or 1991.

See also

  • Constituent areas of Birmingham, England
  • List of areas in Dudley
  • List of areas in Sandwell
  • List of areas in Walsall
  • List of areas in Wolverhampton


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  3. 143 (West Midlands) Brigade, British Army, 2013, retrieved 2013-10-06
  4. Goode, David (2010), "Planning for Nature in Towns and Cities", in Douglas, Ian; Goode, David; Houck, Mike; Wang, Rusong (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Urban Ecology, London: Routledge, p. 86, ISBN 978-0203839263, retrieved 2013-10-06
  5. Wells, John C. (1982), "Accents of English 2: The British Isles", Accents of English 2: The British Isles, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 350, ISBN 978-0521285407, retrieved 2013-10-09
  6. Way, J.M. (1976), Grassed and Planted Areas by Motorways (PDF), Huntingdon: The Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, p. 8, ISBN 978-0521285407, retrieved 2013-10-09
  7. Wise, M.J. (1972), "The Birmingham-Black Country Conurbation in its Regional Setting", Geography Vol 57, number 2, 57, Geographical Association, pp. 89–104, JSTOR 40568059
  8. Whitehead, Mark (2007), Spaces of Sustainability: Geographical Perspectives on the Sustainable Society, Routledge, p. 155, ISBN 978-0203004098, retrieved 2013-10-06
  9. "2001 census: Key Statistics for Urban Areas". ONS. Retrieved 2013-04-10.
  10. "1991 Census: West Midlands Urban Area". ONS. Retrieved 2013-04-10.
  11. "1981 Key Statistics for Urban Areas: The Midlands Table 1". Office for National Statistics. 1981. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

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