West Berkshire

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West Berkshire
West Berkshire UK locator map.svg
West Berkshire shown within Berkshire
Coordinates: 51°24′03″N1°19′25″W / 51.4009°N 1.3235°W / 51.4009; -1.3235 Coordinates: 51°24′03″N1°19′25″W / 51.4009°N 1.3235°W / 51.4009; -1.3235
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region South East England
Ceremonial county Berkshire
Status Unitary authority
Incorporated1 April 1974
Admin HQ Newbury
  TypeUnitary authority
  Body West Berkshire Council
  LeadershipLeader & Cabinet (Conservative)
   MPs Laura Farris
John Redwood
Alok Sharma
  Total271.88 sq mi (704.17 km2)
Area rank55th (of 309)
 (mid-2019 est.)
  Rank125th (of 309)
  Density580/sq mi (230/km2)
  Ethnicity [1]
95.0% White
1.7% Asian
1.1% Black
1.3% Mixed Race
0.9% Chinese or other
Time zone UTC0 (GMT)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code 00MB (ONS) E06000037 (GSS)
OS grid reference SU4705467146
Website www.westberks.gov.uk

West Berkshire is a local government district in Berkshire, England, administered from Newbury by West Berkshire Council.



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. [2] Apart from Newbury, the other main centres in the district include Thatcham, Hungerford, Pangbourne and Lambourn. 30% of the population resides in the East of the district, which is centred around Tilehurst and Calcot. 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 authorities to the east. Around three-quarters of the land is designated North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ranging from the Berkshire Downs to the Thames Valley.

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, though the hill is not particularly prominent.

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. [3] Purley and Pangbourne are particularly at risk. [4]


West Berkshire has the 21st largest economy in England, [5] 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, [5] 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. [6]

West Berkshire is also home to Atomic Weapons Establishment, near Aldermaston, Wolseley plc, Bayer and PepsiCo.

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.


There are 10 state-funded secondary schools operating in West Berkshire as well as numerous primary schools and a special school provision. There are also a number of independent schools.

Further and higher education in the area is provided by Newbury College, however there are no universities, the nearest being the University of Reading and one of the University of West London campuses, both in the neighbouring Reading Borough.

Notable people

Related Research Articles

Berkshire County of England

Berkshire is a county in South East England. One of the home counties, Berkshire was recognised by the Queen as the Royal County of Berkshire in 1957 because of the presence of Windsor Castle, and letters patent were issued in 1974. Berkshire is a county of historic origin, a ceremonial county and a non-metropolitan county without a county council. The county town is Reading.

Newbury, Berkshire Human settlement in England

Newbury is a market town in the county of Berkshire, England, which is home to the administrative headquarters of West Berkshire Council.

River Kennet

The Kennet is a tributary of the River Thames in Southern England. Most of the river is straddled by the North Wessex Downs AONB. The lower reaches have been made navigable as the Kennet Navigation, which – together with the Avon Navigation, the Kennet and Avon Canal and the Thames – links the cities of Bristol and London.

Hungerford Human settlement in England

Hungerford is a historic market town and civil parish in Berkshire, England, 8 miles (13 km) west of Newbury, 9 miles (14 km) east of Marlborough, 27 miles (43 km) northeast of Salisbury and 60 miles west of London. The Kennet and Avon Canal passes through the town from the west alongside the River Dun, a major tributary of the River Kennet. The confluence with the Kennet is to the north of the centre whence canal and river both continue east. Amenities include schools, shops, cafés, restaurants, and facilities for the main national sports. The railway station is a minor stop on the London to Exeter Line.

Thatcham Human settlement in England

Thatcham is an historic market town in the county of Berkshire, England, centred 3 miles (5 km) east of Newbury, 14 miles (24 km) west of Reading and 54 miles (87 km) west of London. Its population grew rapidly in the second half of the 20th century: from 5,000 in 1951 and 7,500 in 1961 to 22,824 in 2001. During World War II, Thatcham housed one of the biggest Prisoner of War camps in the South, known as camp 1001.

River Lambourn River in Berkshire, United Kingdom

The River Lambourn is a chalk stream in the English county of Berkshire. It rises in the Berkshire Downs near its namesake village of Lambourn and is a tributary of the River Kennet, which is itself a tributary of the River Thames.

Lambourn Village and civil parish in West Berkshire

Lambourn is a large village and civil parish in West Berkshire. It lies just north of the M4 Motorway between Swindon and Newbury, and borders Wiltshire to the west and Oxfordshire to the north. After Newmarket it is the largest centre of racehorse training in England, and is home to a rehabilitation centre for injured jockeys, an equine hospital, and several leading jockeys and trainers. To the north of the village are the prehistoric Seven Barrows and the nearby Long Barrow, and in 2004 the Crow Down Hoard was found close to the village.

Berkshire Downs

The Berkshire Downs are a range of chalk downland hills in southern England, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Berkshire Downs are wholly within the traditional county of Berkshire, although split between the current ceremonial counties of Berkshire and Oxfordshire. The western parts of the downs are also known as the Lambourn Downs.

North Wessex Downs

The North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located in the English counties of Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. The name North Wessex Downs is not a traditional one, the area covered being better known by various overlapping local names, including the Berkshire Downs, the North Hampshire Downs, the White Horse Hills, the Lambourn Downs, the Marlborough Downs, the Vale of Pewsey and Savernake Forest.

Reading West (UK Parliament constituency)

Reading West is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Alok Sharma, a Conservative. He is currently serving in the Cabinet as the President for COP26. Sharma previously served as the Business Secretary, the International Development Secretary, and a minister in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Purley on Thames Human settlement in England

Purley on Thames is a village and civil parish in Berkshire, England. Purley is centred 3 miles (4.8 km) north-west of Reading, 1 mile (1.6 km) east of Pangbourne, and 22 miles (35 km) south-east of Oxford. Consequently, the Reading urban area is the principal social, economic and cultural centre for the people of Purley. Historically, Purley comprised three separate manors and associated settlements, these being Purley Magna to the east, Purley Parva to the north-west, and La Hyde, to the west. In the centre there is an historic area named variously Lething or Burley (Domesday) which accommodated traders and craftsmen alongside the main Reading to Oxford road.

Newbury (UK Parliament constituency)

Newbury is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament from 2019 by Laura Farris, a Conservative. It was created by the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 and has been in continual existence since then.

Wokingham (UK Parliament constituency)

Wokingham is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom since 1987 by John Redwood, a Conservative.

Ashmore Green Human settlement in England

Ashmore Green is a small hamlet in Berkshire, England. It is situated just to the west of the village of Cold Ash and to the north of Thatcham in the West Berkshire district.

RG postcode area Postcode area within the United Kingdom

The RG postcode area, also known as the Reading postcode area, is a group of thirty postcode districts in England, within twelve post towns. These cover west and central Berkshire and north Hampshire, plus a small part of south-east Oxfordshire and very small parts of Buckinghamshire and Wiltshire.

West Berkshire Council

West Berkshire Council is the local authority of West Berkshire in Berkshire, England. It is a unitary authority, having the powers of a non-metropolitan county and district council combined. West Berkshire is divided into 30 wards, electing 52 councillors. The council was created by the Local Government Act 1972 as the Newbury District Council and replaced five local authorities: Bradfield Rural District Council, Hungerford Rural District Council, Newbury Borough Council, Newbury Rural District Council and Wantage Rural District Council. On 1 April 1998 it was renamed West Berkshire Council and since then has been a unitary authority, assuming the powers and functions of Berkshire County Council within the district. In the 2015 election the Conservatives won 48 out of 52 seats. In 2019, they won 24 seats losing half of their councillors.

2011 West Berkshire Council election

The 2011 West Berkshire Council election took place on 5 May 2011 to elect members of West Berkshire Council in Berkshire, England. The whole council was up for election and the Conservative party stayed in overall control of the council.


  1. "Check Browser Settings". statistics.gov.uk.
  2. "West Berkshire Council". westberks.gov.uk.
  3. "West Berkshire Council". westberks.gov.uk.
  4. "Newbury Today Pangbourne and Purley braced for floods Mon, 23 July 2007".
  5. 1 2 "West Berkshire Council". westberks.gov.uk.
  6. Archived 17 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine