Most populated districts in Yorkshire
Since the early 1970s there have been several sweeping changes to local government structure in Yorkshire, but since that time all the region has been organised into district super-authorities of one form or another.
In West Yorkshire there are five metropolitan districts, in South Yorkshire there are four metropolitan districts, in North Yorkshire there are seven districts, known as shire districts as there is also a county authority, and there are five unitary authorities for the East Riding of Yorkshire, City of Hull, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and City of York.
Two other unitary authorities, three shire districts and a metropolitan district also now straddle the historic boundaries of Yorkshire and are not included here, although they would not in any case figure within the top seven populations highlighted below.
Based on these district super-authorities, here, in order, are the highest populations in Yorkshire:
Unsurprisingly, the city of Leeds and the other towns and villages which make up its metropolitan district occupy the top spot in this table.
Less well-known is that Leeds district accounts for only around one-third of the population of the West Yorkshire conurbation, where Leeds occupies the north-east corner.
The metropolitan district, however, accounts for around 13% of the population of the whole of Yorkshire. Continuing city expansion has seen Leeds merge itself into neighbouring established towns and villages within the metropolitan district, bringing concerns about the effects on their trade, vacant office space and increasing traffic congestion on routes into the city centre. The district does however retain an extensive agricultural area, particularly to its north-east, and distinct towns including Otley, Wetherby and Morley.
Sheffield metropolitan district occupies the south-west corner of South Yorkshire and is unusual among the modern metropolitan districts of Yorkshire as somewhere where a sprawling and expansive industrial city grew very quickly from very few small villages and hamlets. This is compared with other metropolitan districts of Yorkshire formed in 1974 which brought together several traditional Yorkshire market and industrial towns under one which had grown to city-sized or near-city-sized proportions.
In the Sheffield metropolitan district, the only notable towns distinct from the city's suburban sprawl are Stocksbridge and Chapeltown.
A substantial western area of the Sheffield metropolitan district is countryside and moorland lying within the Peak District National Park in which there are still small villages and hamlets.
The district has boundaries with two of the other three South Yorkshire districts: Rotherham metropolitan district to the east and Barnsley metropolitan district to the north, both of which contain many characteristic towns and villages.
Bradford metropolitan district is the second-largest of the five metropolitan districts of West Yorkshire with just under a quarter of its population.
The district population is near equal to that of South Yorkshire's largest metropolitan district, Sheffield.
In addition to Bradford, the district also includes several other towns, the largest being Keighley, and many villages.
The population is approximately double that of the average Greater London borough.
In addition to the three Yorkshire districts above, only three other English metropolitan districts have a higher population than Kirklees, those being Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.
Huddersfield is the administrative centre and has a vast hinterland of around 100 villages, small towns and hamlets in the southern part of the district. Dewsbury is the second largest town and one of several towns in the northern part of the district, an area many had wanted to become a sixth district when the five super-authorities of West Yorkshire were formed in local government reorganisation of 1974.
Kirklees has around one-fifth of the population of the five metropolitan districts of West Yorkshire.
The population of Kirklees is around two-thirds higher than the average Greater London borough.
East Riding of Yorkshire
As a mostly rural area, the 'bread basket of Yorkshire' has possibly a surprising fifth position in this list.
It is, however, a vast area and the bulk of what was once a county authority as the original East Riding of Yorkshire. The current unitary authority is only the City of Hull and a few boundary adjustments short of being the original historic Riding. While the population is widely spread there are several towns, including the county town of Beverley, seaside resorts including Bridlington, Hornsea and Withernsea, the port of Goole, and towns on the outskirts of Hull, including Hessle and Hedon.
The City of Wakefield, county town of the West Riding and West Yorkshire, also gained a large hinterland, including some sizeable towns, during local government reorganisation in 1974.
Wakefield district accounts for around 15% of the population of West Yorkshire.
The population of Wakefield district is about 28% higher than the average Greater London borough.
The large town of Doncaster and its metropolitan district of many surrounding towns and villages is South Yorkshire's second biggest centre of population after its next-but-one neighbour Sheffield.
Doncaster district has just under a quarter of the population of the four metropolitan districts of South Yorkshire.
The population of Doncaster district is about 18% more than the average Greater London borough.
* Figures based on 2011 Census data.
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