City of Westminster
City of Westminster is an inner London city and borough. It has been the capital city, de facto, of multiple British governments. Historically in Middlesex, it is immediately to the west of the older City of London.
The city and borough's southern boundary is the Thames. It occupies majority of the central area of Greater London including most of the West End. To the west is the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The London borough was created with the 1965 establishment of Greater London. Upon the creation, it inherited the city status previously held by the then Metropolitan Borough of Westminster from 1900, which was first awarded to Westminster in 1540.
Aside from numerous large parks and open spaces, the population density of the district is high. Many sites commonly associated with London are in the borough, including Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament), Westminster Abbey, Whitehall, 10 Downing Street, and Trafalgar Square. The borough is divided into a number of localities including the ancient political district of Westminster; the shopping areas around Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly and Bond Street; and the night-time entertainment district of Soho. Much of the borough is residential, and in 2008 it was estimated to have a population of 236,000. The local government body is Westminster City Council.
A study in 2017 by Trust for London and The New Policy Institute found that Westminster has the third-highest pay inequality of the 32 London boroughs. It also has the second-least affordable private rent for low earners in London, behind only Kensington and Chelsea. The borough performs more positively on education, with 82% of adults and 69% of 19-year-olds having Level 3 qualifications.
Coat of arms
The current Westminster coat of arms was given to the city by an official grant on 2 September 1964.
Westminster had other arms before, which had a chief identical to the chief in the present arms. The symbols in the lower two thirds of the shield stand for former municipalities now merged with the city, Paddington and St. Marylebone. The original arms had a portcullis as the main charge, which now forms the crest.
After the depopulation of Roman London in the 5th century, an Anglo Saxon agricultural and trade settlement likely developed to its west, associated with the Middle Saxons, sometimes called Lundenwic ('London village' or London port'). Overtime Lundenburh ('London fort'), the former Roman city with its still exiting Roman walls was repopulated and Lundenwic declined, becoming pastoral and partly known as Aldwych (Aldwic - 'old village'), which name lives on for a section of Westminster.
The origins of the City of Westminster pre-date the Norman Conquest of England. In the mid-11th century, King Edward the Confessor began the construction of an abbey at Westminster, only the foundations of which survive today. Between the abbey and the river he built a palace, thereby guaranteeing that the seat of Government would be fixed at Westminster, and inevitably drawing power and wealth west out of the old City of London.
For centuries Westminster and the City of London were geographically quite distinct. It was not until the sixteenth century that houses began to be built over the adjoining fields, eventually absorbing nearby villages such as Marylebone and Kensington, and gradually creating the vast Greater London that exists today.
Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries abolished the abbey at Westminster, although the former abbey church is still called Westminster Abbey. The church was briefly the cathedral of the Diocese of Westminster created from part of the Diocese of London in 1540, by letters patent which also granted city status to Westminster, a status retained after the diocese was abolished in 1550. The Westminster Court of Burgesses was formed in 1585 to govern the Westminster area, previously under the Abbey's control. The City and Liberties of Westminster were further defined by Letters Patent in 1604, and the court of burgesses and liberty continued in existence until 1900, and the creation of the Metropolitan Borough of Westminster.
The present-day City of Westminster as an administrative entity with its present boundaries dates from 1965, when the City of Westminster was created from the former area of three metropolitan boroughs: St Marylebone, Paddington, and the smaller Metropolitan Borough of Westminster, which included Soho, Mayfair, St. James's, Strand, Westminster, Pimlico, Belgravia, and Hyde Park. This restructuring took place under the London Government Act 1963, which significantly reduced the number of local government districts in London, resulting in local authorities responsible for larger geographical areas and greater populations.
The Westminster Metropolitan Borough was itself the result of an administrative amalgamation which took place in 1900. Sir John Hunt O.B.E was the First Town Clerk of the City of Westminster, 1900–1928.
In addition to the City and Liberty of Westminster, prior to 1900, the area occupied by what would become the Metropolitan Borough of Westminster had been administered by five separate local bodies: the Vestry of St George Hanover Square, the Vestry of St Martin in the Fields, Strand District Board of Works, Westminster District Board of Works and the Vestry of Westminster St James.
The boundaries of the City of Westminster today, as well as those of the other London boroughs, have remained more or less unchanged since the Act of 1963.
|Source: A Vision of Britain through time, citing Census population|
The following table shows the ethnic group of respondents in the 2001 and 2011 census in Westminster.
A lord mayor is elected annually to serve as the official representative of the city for one year. See List of mayors of Westminster for a list of former mayors (1900–1965) and lord mayors (1965 to date).
The City of Westminster covers all or part of the following areas of London:
- "Albertopolis" (shared with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea)
- Belgravia (shared with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea)
- Covent Garden (shared with the London Borough of Camden)
- Fitzrovia (shared with the London Borough of Camden)
- Hyde Park
- Knightsbridge (shared with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea)
- Lisson Grove
- Maida Vale
- St James's
- St John's Wood
- Soho, including Chinatown
- Westbourne Green (shared with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea)
- West End (shared with the London Borough of Camden)
- Westminster City Centre
The City of Westminster is home to a large number of companies. Many leading global corporations have chosen to establish their global or European headquarters in the City of Westminster. Mayfair and St. James's within the City of Westminster also have a large concentration of hedge fund and private equity funds. The West End is known as the Theatre District and is home to many of the leading performing arts businesses. Soho and its adjoining areas house a concentration of media and creative companies. Oxford Street is one of the leading shopping destinations in the world. The list of companies includes
- BAE Systems has its head office in Westminster
- Anglo American PLC has its head office in Westminster
- BBC has its head office in the Broadcasting House
- BP has its global headquarters in St. James's, Westminster.
- Houlihan Lokey, the international investment bank, has its London offices at 83 Pall Mall, London, Westminster.
- Pearson PLC and subsidiary Penguin Group: headquartered in a facility in Westminster.
- Rio Tinto Group, a multinational Australian-British company, has its UK head office in Westminster.
- Economist Group, publisher of The Economist and other materials, is headquartered in Westminster.
- Kingfisher plc has its head office in Paddington, Westminster
- SABMiller has its head office in Westminster.
- British American Tobacco has its head office in the Globe House in the City of Westminster.
- Marks & Spencer has its head office in the Waterside House.
- Swire Group has its head office in the Swire House
- Pret a Manger has its head office in Westminster.
- Rolls-Royce Group has its head office in Westminster.
- Global Infrastructure Partners has an office in Westminster.
- Google has an office in Westminster near Victoria Station.
- EasyGroup has its head office in Mayfair, City of Westminster.
- Gulf Oil International has its head office in the city.
- AstraZeneca has its head office in Westminster.
- Informa has its London office, including its Investor Relations and Media Centre departments, in the Informa House
- Petrofac possesses an office on Jermyn Street, near Oxford Circus.
- Northrop Grumman has its UK offices in Clareville House.
- Korean Air has its European head office in the City of Westminster.
- Iraqi Airways has its London sales office in the IKB House in City of Westminster.
The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London is in Westminster.
Companies that previously had their head offices in the City of Westminster include Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), British Aircraft Corporation, British Midland (Portland House), British United Airways, British Mediterranean Airways, Cadbury, Diageo, BAA Limited, Lloyd International Airways, and P&O Princess Cruises. In addition, Iran Air previously had its Piccadilly main sales office in the city.
Parks and open spaces
These include Green Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent's Park and St. James's Park. In addition to parks and open spaces within the borough, the City owns and maintains East Finchley Cemetery and crematorium in the London Borough of Barnet.
National Rail stations
Four National Rail stations serve the City of Westminster:
The City of Westminster is served by 27 London Underground stations and 10 lines.
Electric charging points
By 2009 Westminster City Council had electric vehicle charging points in 15 locations through the city (13 car parks and two on-street points). Users pay an annual fee to cover administration costs to register and use the points. By 2018 there were 60 electric vehicle charging locations.
Travel to work
In March 2011, the main forms of transport that residents used to travel to work were: underground, metro, light rail, tram, 21.0% of all residents aged 16–74; on foot, 9.3%; bus, minibus or coach, 9.3%; driving a car or van, 6.0%; work mainly at or from home, 5.5%; bicycle, 3.1%; train, 3.0%.
Westminster Children's Services administers many primary and secondary schools. In addition, there are several state-funded faith schools, primarily Church of England (CE), and Roman Catholic (RC), but Christian non-denominational (ND) schools are also in the borough, and there are several non-profit-making junior and senior independent schools.
Universities and colleges
- The University of Westminster has its three campuses in the borough; 309 Regent Street (with 4–12 / 16 Little Titchfield Street and 32 / 38 Wells Street buildings uniting under the same campus), 115 New Cavendish Street, and 25 Marylebone Road.
- The Strand campus of King's College London is located within the district.
- The London Business School, in Regent's Park.
- The London School of Economics, at Clare Market, near Aldwych.
- The Royal Academy of Music, on Marylebone Road.
- University of the Arts London has constituent colleges in Millbank (Chelsea College of Art and Design) and Oxford Street (London College of Fashion).
- The Courtauld Institute of Art, in Somerset House, Strand.
- Brigham Young University London Centre, on Palace Court.
- The northern half of Imperial College London's main South Kensington campus lies within the borough.
- City of Westminster College is a further education college with campuses on Paddington Green and at Queens Park. It also owns the Cockpit Theatre, which is used as a training and performance venue.
- Regent's College, whose campus is within the grounds of Regent's Park, which houses: European Business School London; Regent's American College London; Regent's Business School; School of Psychotherapy and Counselling; Webster Graduate School; Internexus, a provider of English language courses.
- Westminster Kingsway College is a further education college with centres in Soho and Victoria in Westminster. It also has centres in Camden.
- The Royal College of Art in Kensington Gore.
The city operates two reference libraries; Westminster Reference Library and Marylebone Information Service. Westminster Reference Library holds several special collections: of which the Sherlock Holmes, Arts and Business collections are the most comprehensive. In addition to the collections in Westminster Reference Library the city has two specialist libraries: the Westminster Music Library, the largest music library in the UK and the Westminster Chinese Library in the Charing Cross Library.
Free City of Westminster operated public lending libraries in Westminster include:
- Charing Cross Library
- Church Street Library
- The Maida Vale Library
- Marylebone Library
- Mayfair Library
- Paddington Library
- Pimlico Library
- Queen's Park Library
- St. John's Wood Library
- Victoria Library
In terms of tenure, the borough ranks highest on one standard criteria in analysing housing supply and demand, the proportion of private rented accommodation relative to other types of housing in England. This is indicative of a high density of development and higher investment demand relative to other districts in England and most of the 15 highest-ranking local authorities are boroughs of Greater London. Tourism also increases the proportion of willing third-party landlords, as the two authorities which are outside London in the list are England's largest south coast holiday resorts.
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- South Africa
- Trinidad and Tobago
Freedom of the City
The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the City of Westminster.
- Rt Hon Sir Winston Churchill : 1946.
- Sir Robert Mark : 22 June 1977.
- Rt Hon Margaret Thatcher : 12 December 1990.