Strange as it may seem, Bromsgrove is best known for nail production. Once made by hand, and usually as part of a family enterprise, the area was a centre for the craft for many years. It was also notably home to the Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts, a group of craftsmen who produced fine works including the gates of Buckingham Palace and the Liver Birds on the Royal Liver Building.
Now it is an area which is seeing economic growth – recent figures show that 29% of firms in Bromsgrove have plans to expand their premises in the short term. Over 80% of Bromsgrove’s residents are economically active and a high proportion have undertaken further education. This is perhaps reflected in the fact that over 60% can be categorised as ABC1 and almost 80%, more than the national average, are homeowners.
Known for the scenic hills, and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, that gives the area its name, Malvern Hills is the least populated in the county with just over 77,000 residents. As well as the rolling hills which divide Herefordshire and Worcestershire, the county is home to the Teme Valley, famous for its orchards, and the spa town of Malvern.
Thanks to its natural beauty and the availability of green spaces, Malvern Hills has a high proportion of businesses related to agriculture, forestry and fishing and a relatively high average age of 45. Quality of life is high here too as over 80% are satisfied with the area as a place to live, 75% are economically active and a high proportion own their own homes.
Just 15 miles south of the UK’s second city, Redditch has a rich manufacturing history which still defines the area. In the 19th century it was known as an international centre for the production of needles and fishing tackle – at one point, 90% of the world’s needles came from Redditch.
In the 1960s it saw an explosion in population as the centre became a model for modern new town planning. The population of Redditch is now the most ethnically diverse in Worcestershire and 87% of those who call it home are economically active. Interestingly, 21% of those are employed in manufacturing and 21% in wholesale and retail – both well over UK averages for these sectors.
Set in the very centre of the county, Worcester is the county’s historic city. It provided the setting for the final battle of the English Civil War and has become known as ‘the faithful city’ for its loyalty to the Royalist cause throughout the conflict. The city is also known as the home of Royal Worcester Porcelain, Berrow’s Worcester Journal (thought to be the world’s oldest newspaper), Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce, which was first made at the Midland Road in 1897 and the home of Worcestershire County Cricket Club.
History is a large part of the Worcestershire’s offering – the city’s eight museums are proof of that. But there is plenty of new too, including The Hive, an award-winning joint public and university library, the home of Worcester Warriors Rugby and quick links to major cities via the M5 and the area’s three rail stations.
The population here is slightly younger than across the rest of the county and an impressive 82% express high or very high satisfaction with their lives in Worcester. The vast majority are economically active too, with 80% in employment, and a lower unemployment level than the national average.
Spanning countryside, towns and villages, Wychavon has the largest population in the county with over 125,000 people spread across the area. The market town of Pershore and the Vale of Evesham are nationally recognised for their produce, but Droitwich Spa, a town where salt has been extracted since ancient times, has the longest history.
Those living in Wychavon have the highest life expectancy in the county and the latest statistics show it is popular with visitors too. Around 3.5 million trips are taken to the district every year, generating around £147m in revenue. New business is also welcome here – Wychavon sees the most new enterprises in the county and 46% survive five years or more.
This district covers a vast area of natural beauty, including part of its namesake Wyre Forest, and several towns, namely Kidderminster, Stourport-on-Severn and Bewdley. Once the centre of the modern carpet industry, from the late 18th century carpetmaking became central to the local economy in Wyre Forest. By 1951 there were over 30 carpet manufacturers in Kidderminster alone.
Now West Midland Safari and Leisure Park has become one of the area’s best-known attractions, having first opened its doors in 1973. Since then, it has grown to include the UK’s largest groups of white lions, cheetahs, hippopotami and meerkats and now welcomes over 700,000 visitors each year. The park provides a lot of jobs in the area, where 76% are economically active, and sees a turnover in excess of £17m annually.