City of Westminster

City of Westminster
Trafalgar Square, a major junction in the city
Trafalgar Square, a major junction in the city
Official logo of Westminster
Council logo
Westminster shown within Greater London
Westminster shown within Greater London
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Region London
Ceremonial county Greater London
Created 1 April 1965
Admin HQ City Hall, Victoria Street
 • Type London borough council
 • Body Westminster City Council
 • Leadership Leader & Cabinet (Conservative)
 • Lord Mayor Ruth Bush
 • London Assembly Tony Devenish (Con) AM for West Central
 • MPs Karen Buck (Lab), Nickie Aiken (Con)
 • Total 8.29 sq mi (21.48 km2)
Area rank 309th (of 309)
 (mid-2019 est.)
 • Total 261,317
 • Rank 63rd (of 309)
 • Density 32,000/sq mi (12,000/km2)
 • Ethnicity[1]
35.2% White British
2.3% White Irish
0% White Gypsy or Irish Traveller
24.1% Other White
0.9% White & Black Caribbean
0.9% White & Black African
1.6% White & Asian
1.8% Other Mixed
3.3% Indian
1.1% Pakistani
2.9% Bangladeshi
2.7% Chinese
4.6% Other Asian
4.2% Black African
2% Black Caribbean
1.3% Other Black
7.2% Arab
3.9% Other
Time zone UTC (GMT)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)
Area code(s) 020
ONS code 00BK
GSS code E09000033
Police Metropolitan Police

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 a large area of central Greater London, including most of the West End. To its west is the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and to its north is Holborn in the London Borough of Camden.

The London Westminster 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, including Hyde Park and most of Regent's Park, 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.[2]

Coat of arms

Coat of arms of the City of Westminster at Westminster City Hall
Historic coat of arms of Westminster, in Old Bond Street

The current Westminster coat of arms was given to the city by an official grant on 2 September 1964.[3]

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.[3]


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'). Over time, Lundenburh ('London fort'), the former Roman city with its still-existing Roman walls, was repopulated and Lundenwic declined, becoming pastoral and partly known as Aldwych (Aldwic - 'old village'), the name of which lives on for a section of Westminster.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7][8]

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.


Year Pop. ±%
1801 220,188 —    
1811 245,254 +11.4%
1821 288,851 +17.8%
1831 344,200 +19.2%
1841 368,910 +7.2%
1851 422,850 +14.6%
1861 446,263 +5.5%
1871 469,677 +5.2%
1881 493,090 +5.0%
1891 462,837 −6.1%
1901 441,857 −4.5%
1911 421,865 −4.5%
1921 396,406 −6.0%
1931 372,566 −6.0%
1941 334,448 −10.2%
1951 300,461 −10.2%
1961 267,126 −11.1%
1971 237,614 −11.0%
1981 163,893 −31.0%
1991 187,526 +14.4%
2001 181,279 −3.3%
2011 219,396 +21.0%
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.

Ethnic Group 2001[9] 2011[10]
Number % Number %
White: British 87,938 48.51% 77,334 35.25%
White: Irish 6,574 3.63% 4,960 2.26%
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller 76 0.03%
White: Other 38,203 21.07% 52,960 24.14%
White: Total 132,715 73.12% 135,330 61.68%
Asian or Asian British: Indian 5,665 3.12% 7,213 3.29%
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 1,828 1.01% 2,328 1.06%
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 5,000 2.76% 6,299 2.87%
Asian or Asian British: Chinese 4,077 2.25% 5,917 2.70%
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian 3,614 1.99% 10,105 4.61%
Asian or Asian British: Total 20,184 11.13% 31,862 14.52%
Black or Black British: Caribbean 5,613 3.10% 4,449 2.03%
Black or Black British: African 6,678 3.68% 9,141 4.17%
Black or Black British: Other Black 1,190 0.66% 2,882 1.31%
Black or Black British: Total 13,481 7.44% 16,472 7.51%
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 1,382 0.76% 1,869 0.85%
Mixed: White and Black African 1,204 0.66% 1,927 0.89%
Mixed: White and Asian 2,436 1.34% 3,584 1.63%
Mixed: Other Mixed 2,458 1.36% 4,015 1.83%
Mixed: Total 7,480 4.13% 11,395 5.19%
Other: Arab 15,724 7.17%
Other: Any other ethnic group 8,613 3.93%
Other: Total 7,426 4.10% 24,337 11.09%
Black, Asian, and minority ethnic: Total 48,571 26.79% 84,066 38.32%
Total 181,286 100.00% 219,396 100.00%


Religion 2001[11] 2011[12]
Number % Number %
Christian 99,797 55.05% 97,877 44.61%
No religion 29,300 16.16% 44,542 20.30%
Muslim 21,346 11.77% 40,073 18.27%
Religion not stated 15,877 8.76% 20,519 9.35%
Jewish 7,732 4.27% 7,237 3.30%
Hindu 3,497 1.93% 4,178 1.90%
Buddhist 2,392 1.32% 3,194 1.46%
Other religion 945 0.52% 1,280 0.58%
Sikh 400 0.22% 496 0.23%
Total 181,286 100.00% 219,396 100.00%


Westminster City Hall, completed in 1965

Local government

A map showing the wards of Westminster since 2002

The city is divided into 20 wards, each electing three councillors. Westminster City Council is currently composed of 41 Conservative Party members and 19 Labour Party members.[13]

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).

UK Parliament


The City of Westminster covers all or part of the following areas of London:


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.[citation needed] The list of companies includes

BP head office in St. James's, City of Westminster
The Economist Building, St James's Street

The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London is in Westminster.[20][43]

Companies that previously had their head offices in the City of Westminster include Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), British Aircraft Corporation,[20][44] British Midland (Portland House),[45] British United Airways,[46] British Mediterranean Airways,[47] Cadbury,[48] Diageo,[49] BAA Limited,[20][50][51] Lloyd International Airways,[52] and P&O Princess Cruises.[53] In addition, Iran Air previously had its Piccadilly main sales office in the city.[54][55]


Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster and is usually referred to both the clock and the clock tower ( Elizabeth Tower)

The City of Westminster contains the some of the most famous sites in London, including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) and Big Ben.

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:

Railway stations in the City of Westminster [56]
Station Image Line Destinations
London Charing Cross
National Rail Bakerloo Line Northern Line
An image of Charing Cross Station with Southeastern trains at the platform. South Eastern Main Line South East London and Kent including London Bridge, Lewisham, Dartford, Orpington, Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells. Services operated by Southeastern.[57]
London Marylebone

National Rail Bakerloo Line

Marylebone station at night, with red benches and glowing departure boards. Chiltern Main Line North West London, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Midlands including Wembley Stadium, Harrow, Aylesbury, Oxford and Birmingham Moor Street. Services operated by Chiltern Railways.[58]
London Paddington

National Rail Bakerloo Line Circle line (London Underground) District Line (Elizabeth Line) Hammersmith & City Line

Paddington railway station with sun shining through the arches built by Brunel Great Western Main Line West London, South West England and South Wales including Ealing Broadway, Reading, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Oxford, Plymouth and Worcester. Services operated by Great Western Railway and TfL Rail (Elizabeth Line).

Heathrow Airport Airport interchange

Services operated by Heathrow Express and TfL Rail (Elizabeth Line).[59][60]

London Victoria

National Rail Circle line (London Underground) District Line Victoria Line

Victoria station concourse. British flags hang from the ceiling. Brighton and Chatham Main Lines South East London and Kent including Peckham Rye, Dartford, Gravesend, Dover Priory and Ashford International. Services operated by Southeastern.[57]

South London, Sussex and the South Coast including Clapham Junction, Sutton, Brighton, Eastbourne, Gatwick Airport (Airport interchange), Guildford, Portsmouth, and Southampton. Services operated by'Southern.

Gatwick Airport Airport interchange

Services operated by Gatwick Express.[61]

London Underground

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.[62] By 2018 there were 60 electric vehicle charging locations.[63]

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%.[64]


The main entrance to the London School of Economics

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,[65] and there are several non-profit-making junior and senior independent schools.

Universities and colleges

Public libraries

Charing Cross Library

The London Library, an independent lending library, is at 14 St. James Square.[66][67]

The city operates two reference libraries; Westminster Reference Library and Marylebone Information Service.[68] Westminster Reference Library holds several special collections: of which the Sherlock Holmes, Arts and Business collections are the most comprehensive.[69] 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[70] and the Westminster Chinese Library in the Charing Cross Library.[71]

Free City of Westminster operated public lending libraries in Westminster include:

  • Charing Cross Library[72]
  • Church Street Library[73]
  • The Maida Vale Library[74]
  • Marylebone Library[75]
  • Mayfair Library[76]
  • Paddington Library[77]
  • Pimlico Library[78]
  • Queen's Park Library[79]
  • St. John's Wood Library[80]
  • Victoria Library[81]

Home ownership

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.

Highest-ranked local authorities by proportion of Social Housing (2011 Census)[82]
Local Authority Privately rented Socially rented Shared ownership
City of Westminster London Borough 37.6 11.9 0.8
Kensington and Chelsea London Borough 34 9.2 0.9
City of London London Borough 33.1 10.4 0.3
Newham London Borough 32.6 18.3 1.8
Tower Hamlets London Borough 30.8 17.3 2.4
Camden London Borough 30.5 23 0.7
Haringey London Borough 30.3 17 1.5
Hammersmith and Fulham London Borough 30 15.7 1.6
Wandsworth London Borough 30 12.8 1.5
Brent London Borough 28.8 9.7 1.5
Bournemouth Unitary Authority 28.2 5.9 0.7
Brighton and Hove Unitary Authority 28 9.8 0.9
Lambeth London Borough 27.7 19.6 1.5
Hackney London Borough 27.6 23.8 2.3

High Commissions

Notable people

Freedom of the City

The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the City of Westminster.


Military Units

See also


  • Gray, Robert, A History of London, Hutchinson & Co, London, 1978, ISBN 0-09-133140-4