West Berkshire

West Berkshire
West Berkshire District
West Berkshire UK locator map.svg
Location of West Berkshire in Berkshire
Status: Unitary authority
Region: South East England
Ceremonial County: Berkshire
- Total
Ranked 54th
704.17 km²
Admin. HQ: Newbury
ONS code: 00MB
- Total (2010 est.)
- Density
Ranked 119th
219 / km²
Ethnicity:[1] 95.0% White
1.7% Asian
1.1% Black
1.3% Mixed Race
0.9% Chinese or other
Arms of West Berkshire
West Berkshire Council
Leadership: Leader & Cabinet
Executive: Conservative
MPs: Richard Benyon, John Redwood, Alok Sharma

West Berkshire is a local government district in the ceremonial county of Berkshire, England, governed by a unitary authority (West Berkshire Council). Its administrative capital is Newbury, located almost equidistantly between Bristol and London.



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. The West Berkshire district borders Hampshire to the south, Wiltshire to the west, Oxfordshire to the north and both the Reading and Wokingham unitary districts to the east.

The highest point in southeast/south-central England is located in West Berkshire at Walbury Hill with a summit height of 297 m (974 ft) 2 km to the south of the village of Inkpen. West Berkshire is also home to the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment, based near Aldermaston to the east of the district and the worldwide headquarters of Vodafone on the outskirts of Newbury. The area around Lambourn in the far west of the district is noted for its numerous horse racing stables and training grounds.

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.[2] Purley and Pangbourne are particularly at risk.[3]


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.

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 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.


State schools in West Berkshire are run by the West Berkshire Local Education Authority. There are ten comprehensive schools within the area:

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, Bradfield College and Cheam School.


  1. ^ Neighbourhood Statistics
  2. ^ West Berkshire Council - Flooding
  3. ^ Newbury Today Pangbourne and Purley braced for floods Mon, July 23 2007

External links

Coordinates: 51°24′03″N 1°19′25″W / 51.4009°N 1.3235°W / 51.4009; -1.3235

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