|Local government district|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Region||South East England|
|Incorporated||1 April 1974|
|• Type||Unitary authority|
|• Body||West Berkshire Council|
|• Leadership||Leader & Cabinet (Conservative)|
|• MPs||Richard Benyon, John Redwood, Alok Sharma|
|• Total||271.88 sq mi (704.17 km2)|
|Area rank||54th (of 326)|
|Population (2011 est.)|
|• Rank||120th (of 326)|
|• Density||570/sq mi (220/km2)|
|• Ethnicity||95.0% White
1.3% Mixed Race
0.9% Chinese or other
|Time zone||GMT (UTC0)|
|• Summer (DST)||BST (UTC+1)|
|ONS code||00MB (ONS) E06000037 (GSS)|
|OS grid reference||SU4705467146|
West Berkshire is a local government district in the ceremonial county of Royal Berkshire, England, located almost equidistantly between Bristol and London. Its administrative town is Newbury and it is governed by the West Berkshire Council unitary authority.
The district of Newbury was formed on 1 April 1974, as a merger of the borough of Newbury, Bradfield Rural District, Hungerford Rural District and Newbury Rural District, along with part of Wantage Rural District.
Until 1 April 1998, Newbury District Council and Berkshire County council were responsible for the region at local government level. On 1 April 1998, Berkshire County Council was abolished and Newbury District Council changed its name to West Berkshire Council and took on the former County Council's responsibilities within its area.
West Berkshire is semi-rural in character, with most of the population living in the wooded Kennet valley. Apart from Newbury, the other main centres in the district include Thatcham, Hungerford, Pangbourne and Lambourn. Larger villages include Theale, Purley-on-Thames, Burghfield, Mortimer and Hermitage. West Berkshire borders Hampshire to the south, Wiltshire to the west, Oxfordshire to the north and both the Reading and Wokingham to the east. Around three quarters of the land is designated North Wessex DownsArea of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ranging from the Berkshire Downs to the Thames valley.
West Berkshire has a number of water courses running through the area. In addition to the River Thames, there are the Rivers Lambourn, Kennet, Pang, Bourne and the Kennet and Avon Canal and a number of tributaries that feed these rivers. Properties within flood plains may be at risk of flooding from rising river waters or from water coming up through the ground in some periods of heavy and/or prolonged periods of rain. Purley and Pangbourne are particularly at risk.
West Berkshire has the 21st largest economy in England, characterised by low unemployment, above average wages, and abundance of jobs in technology and financial sectors. The presence of Vodafone has created a cluster of around 80 mobile phone related businesses in Newbury, while the Lambourn area is the second most important centre for the racehorse industry in Great Britain, employing over 800 people directly, and producing an annual income of £20 million.
West Berkshire is also home to Atomic Weapons Establishment, near Aldermaston, Wolseley plc, Bayer and Pepsico. Around 65% of people live and work in West Berkshire, with the vast majority of jobs in Newbury.
Coat of arms
The coat of arms for West Berkshire was established in 1974 for Newbury District Council. Upon the creation of the unitary authority it was inherited by West Berkshire Council.
The colours of red and gold in the arms represent industry and the richness of the area, whilst the interwoven cross represents the weaving industry which was important to Newbury in past centuries. The corn on the shield represents the agriculture industry which is important to the area, whilst the cogwheels represent manufacturing and manufacturing achievement. The mural crown represents local government and the grassy mount symbolises the downs of the surrounding area. Finally, the horseman represents the two battles of Newbury in the English civil war.
Since 5 May 2005 the West Berkshire Council is Conservative-controlled because of a by-election in Thatcham North. Before that, the Liberal Democrats and Conservative Party had an equal number of seats but the Liberal Democrats had control due to the casting vote of the council chairman. The Liberal Democrats had first taken power in 1991.
The district is approximately coterminous with the parliamentary constituency of Newbury, except for areas to the east where parts of West Berkshire are incorporated into the constituencies of Wokingham and Reading West.
- The Willink School in Burghfield Common
- The Downs School in Compton
- John O'Gaunt Community Technology College in Hungerford
- St Bartholomew's School in Newbury
- Park House School in Newbury
- Trinity School in Newbury
- Mary Hare Grammar School in Newbury
- Kennet Comprehensive School in Thatcham
- Denefield School in Tilehurst
- Little Heath School in Tilehurst
- Theale Green Community School in Theale
There is also further and higher education provided in the area, represented by Newbury College, however there are no universities, the nearest being the University of Reading and one of the campuses of Thames Valley University, both in the neighbouring Reading Borough. Independent schools in the district include Downe House, St Gabriels, Padworth College, Pangbourne College and Bradfield College.
- Richard Adams - (b. 1920) author
- Francis Baily - (1774-1844) astronomer
- Michael Bond - (b. 1926) author and creator of Paddington Bear
- David Cameron - (b. 1966) politician and UK Prime Minister
- Terence Conran - (b. 1931) furniture designer
- Emma Crosby - (b.1977) television newsreader
- Matthew Darby-Griffith - (1772-1823) Napoleonic army general
- Miles Dempsey - (1896-1969) WW2 army general
- James Hanson - (1922-2004) industrialist
- Max Hastings - (b. 1945) journalist
- Nicky Henderson - (b. 1950) racehorse trainer
- John Newport Langley - (1852-1925) scientist
- George Mann - (1917-2001) English cricket team captain
- Melinda Messenger - (b. 1971) model and TV presenter
- Kate Middleton - (b. 1982) duchess and member of the British Royal Family
- Julian Pettifer - (b. 1935) TV journalist
- Chapman Pincher - (1914-2012) journalist and author
- Jenny Pitman - (b.1946) racehorse trainer and author
- Charles Portal, 1st Viscount Portal of Hungerford - (1893-1971) WW2 air marshal
- Chris Tarrant - (b. 1946) TV presenter
- Jethro Tull - (1674-1741) farmer and inventor
- Alfred Waterhouse - (1830-1905) architect
- Theo Walcott - (b. 1989) footballer
- John Winchcombe aka Jack_O'Newbury (1489-1557) industrialist
- Will Young - (b. 1979) pop singer