Did you know that the UK’s biggest ward accounts for 2% of the total area of the UK? You did? Ok then, did you know that only one UK ward out of more than 9,000 begins with ‘z’? Perhaps you did. But did you know that ‘Plumpton, Streat, East Chiltington and St John (Without)’ is the longest ward name in the UK, and also perhaps the best? How about the fact that there are 11 UK wards bigger than Greater London and the smallest ward in the country (in the City of London) is not very big at all – 0.044 square km (about 6 football pitches). The ward that you’d most like to drink? Why, that’s the ward of ‘Speyside Glenlivet’ (in Moray), surely.
Time for some maps now. They all have the name of the local authority they’re in in the top left, with the ward name along the bottom.
|Not quite as big as Trinidad and Tobago, but close enough|
|It’s small, ancient and has about 320 people|
|Zetland ward, in Redcar and Cleveland|
If you’re a local Councillor in the UK’s biggest ward you have an awful lot of ground to cover, as you can see below for the journey between Achiltibuie and Kinloch Hourn, which are both in the same ward. Extra points if you can pronounce Achiltibuie (I can but I have a bit of an advantage on the Highland-place-names-as-Shibboleth thing).
|The route between Achiltibuie and Kinloch Hourn (in same ward)|
|By far the biggest ward in England|
|Just a smidgen bigger than Torr Head and Rathlin|
|The biggest ward in Wales is also a donut ward|
|The other humongous ward|
|Northern Ireland’s smallest ward|
|Scotland’s smallest ward|
|The smallest ward in Wales|
|Not the street of Charles Booth fame, but it is small|
Wards are actually very important though, and they represent a very important part of local democracy in the UK, so there are some practical implications to this kind of thing, particularly when you consider the different areas people represent and how widely they can vary, even within a single local authority. For example, in Northumberland the biggest ward is more than 1,100 times the size of the smallest. In the Highland Council area in Scotland the biggest ward is over 1,300 times the size of the smallest.
But did you know that wards can also be mapped with a basemap in greyscale? You didn’t? Okay, here’s proof, with a selection of wards covering more than 100 sq km.
|Lots of big wards in this neck of the woods|
|Not anywhere near Bolton|
|Another donut ward – I’m not sure how many there actually are|
|10th biggest ward in Northern Ireland|
|Yes, the Isle of Skye is a single ward (pop about 10,500)|
|I like the name of this ward|
Notes: I used ward boundaries for 2018 from the ONS Open Geography Portal. This file contains 9,114 wards for the UK, with 7,446 in England, 462 in Northern Ireland, 354 in Scotland and 852 in Wales. Scotland has relatively few wards compared to Northern Ireland and England but I won’t go into that here. My favourite ward? Not sure, but Aird and Loch Ness is definitely a contender – see below. It contains all of Loch Ness, is pleasingly-shaped and is only a little bit smaller than Luxembourg. Then there is ‘Highland’ ward which is not in ‘Highland’ (the council area) but is in the Highlands but in the Perth and Kinross council area. I have loads more of these maps but that’s enough for today.
|The midgie capital of the world (at least in my experience)|