Guide to the East Midlands

Situated in the east of central England, the East Midlands is one of nine official regions in the country. It is half of the traditional region of the Midlands, which also includes the West Midlands. Major cities in the region include Derby, Leicester, Lincoln and Nottingham, which have long been associated with scientific and industrial innovation since the Industrial Revolution.

Defining the East Midlands

The East Midlands traditionally includes Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, and much of Lincolnshire. It borders the West Midlands to the west, the North East of England and Yorkshire and the Humber to the North, and the East of England and the South East of England to the south. To the east lies the North Sea. A broader definition of the East Midlands includes Peterborough, a city that is traditionally part of Northamptonshire but generally considered within Cambridgeshire. A broader definition may also include North Lincolnshire, although it is generally considered part of the Yorkshire and the Humber region.

History of the East Midlands

Prior to the Roman period, the Corieltauvi tribe settled in what is today considered the East Midlands. Leicester emerged as one of the most important Roman forts in Britain, although Lincoln was the main settlement under Roman control. Following the departure of the Romans, the Danes and Anglo-Saxons ruled areas of the East Midlands. By the ninth century, the Danish-controlled Five Boroughs included Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford. The eastern portion of the Anglo-Saxon's Kingdom of Mercia also fell within the East Midlands. Control between the Danes and Anglo-Saxons would continue into the eleventh century and the Norman Conquest.

The East Midlands has a strong industrial heritage and claims to be the site of the world's first factory at Cromford Mill. The Derwent Valley Mills, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features a string of historically significant sites linked to the Industrial Revolution throughout the region. The East Midlands became an important centre for the hosiery and knitwear industry, and a leader in textiles manufacturing. Some of the first knitting machines and the first horse-powered cotton mill were developed in the East Midlands, as well as the first water-powered cotton mill, tank, jet engine and diesel engine. Although working outside the region when they developed their creations, local inventors are also attributed to the development of the gas turbine, early traffic lights and tarmac.

The East Midlands emerged as an important scientific centre during the Industrial Revolution, and spirit of innovation that continues into the present day. Henry Cavendish, the discoverer of hydrogen, Herbert Spencer, who first coined the term 'survival of the fittest', Sir John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, and George Boole, who pioneers the Boolean logic of which digital electronics continue to be based, all have connections to the region. The East Midlands was also the site of the first practical demonstration of radar. Silicone was invented in Nottingham by Frederick Kipping and the leading antifungal medicine Fluconazole was developed by Nottinghamshire's Ken Richardson.

Demographics of the East Midlands

The East Midlands cover an area of 15,627 square kilometres or 6,033 square miles, making it the fourth largest region in England. Its population is more than 4.5 million, according to the 2011 Census. The Gross Value Added (GVA) per capita for the region is £17,698, the fifth highest among England's regions. The largest city in the region is Leicester with a population of 329,600, according to the 2011 Census. The Nottingham Urban Area is home to 729,977 people and is the region's largest urban conurbation, while the population of the city proper is 303,900.

Major Towns and Cities in the East Midlands

The traditional capital of Leicestershire, Leicester is the most populous city in the East Midlands and one of the oldest cities in England. Founded by Romans in 50, the cosmopolitan city has emerged as one of the most multicultural in the UK. Among the most important sites in the city is the Jewry Wall Museum, based at the remnants of a 2000 year old Roman bath. Leicester is also home to the National Space Centre and Abbey Park, which is the site of remains from a twelfth century abbey and Cavendish House.

Nottingham is one of the top retail destinations in the East Midlands, as well as a major tourist destination in its own right. Links to Robin Hood can be seen throughout the city, which is a gateway to the last remnants of Sherwood Forest. Nottingham's economy has traditionally been based on lace making and coal mining industries, although its industrial past has largely been replaced by the service sector. Other major attractions in the city include Nottingham Castle, which is more of a mansion and houses an interesting art gallery.

Derby is often seen as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. The world's first factory was located in the city and it was an important railway hub from the nineteenth century. Derby continues to be an industrial leader, especially in transport. The second largest aircraft engine manufacturer, Rolls-Royce, is based in the city. Toyota's main manufacturing headquarters and the UK's last train manufacturer, Derby Litchurch Lane Works, are also based in and around Derby.

Once an important Roman town, Lincoln is now a major retail and tourism centre. Public administration, commerce and agriculture are also major employers, as well as distribution and hospitality. The decline of industry in the city has led to many warehouses being converted into commercial and residential space. The city's cathedral and castle can be explored along a street plan that evoke Roman and medieval planning. Lincoln Cathedral is among Europe's best examples of Gothic design, while Lincoln Castle dates back to the Norman period and houses an original copy of the Magna Carta.