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Lincolnshire (abbreviated Lincs.) is a ceremonial county in the East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber regions of England. It is bordered by the East Riding of Yorkshire across the Humber estuary to the north, the North Sea to the east, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland to the south, and Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire to the west. The county town is the city of Lincoln.
"Land and God"
|Divided between East Midlands & Yorkshire and the Humber
|1990s local government reform
|Humberside (North East Lincolnshire & North Lincolnshire) & Lincolnshire (Lincolnshire County Council)
|Parts of Lincolnshire (Grimsby County Borough, Holland, Kesteven, Lincoln County Borough & Lindsey)
|UTC±00:00 (Greenwich Mean Time)
|• Summer (DST)
|UTC+01:00 (British Summer Time)
|Members of Parliament
|Humberside Police (North East Lincolnshire & North Lincolnshire Areas) & Lincolnshire Police (Lincolnshire County Council Area)
|Michael Scott (2020–21)
|6,959 km2 (2,687 sq mi)
|2nd of 48
|18th of 48
|156/km2 (400/sq mi)
|Lincolnshire County Council
|5,937 km2 (2,292 sq mi)
|2nd of 21
|13th of 21
|130/km2 (340/sq mi)
Districts of Lincolnshire
Unitary County council area
The county is predominantly rural, with an area of 6,959 km2 (2,687 sq mi) and a population of 1,095,010. After Lincoln (104,565), the largest towns are Grimsby (85,911) and Scunthorpe (81,286). For local government purposes Lincolnshire comprises a non-metropolitan county, with seven districts, and the unitary authority areas of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. The last two areas are part of the Yorkshire and the Humber region, and the rest of the county is in the East Midlands.
Lincolnshire is the second-largest ceremonial county and has a varied geography, including the chalk hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds AONB, the wetlands of the Lincolnshire Fens, the Lincoln Cliff escarpment, and the Lincolnshire Marsh.
Lincolnshire has had a comparatively quiet history, being a rural county which was not heavily industrialised and faced little threat of invasion. In the Roman era Lincoln was a major settlement, called Lindum Colonia. In the fifth century what would become the county was settled by the invading Angles, who established the Kingdom of Lindsey in the north of the region. Lincoln became the centre of a diocese in 1072, and Lincoln Cathedral was built over the following centuries. The late Middle Ages were a particularly prosperous period, when wealth from wool trade facilitated the building of grand churches such as St Botolph's Church, Boston. During the Second World War the relatively flat topography of the county made it an important base for the Royal Air Force, which built several airfields and based two bomber squadrons in the area.
| demographics_type2 = Religion (2021) | demographics2_footnotes = | demographics2_title1 = Religion | demographics2_info1 =
During pre-Roman times, most of Lincolnshire was inhabited by the Corieltauvi people. The language of the area at that time would have been Common Brittonic, the precursor to modern Welsh. The name Lincoln was derived from Lindum Colonia.
Large numbers of Germanic speakers from continental Europe settled in the region following the withdrawal of the Romans. Though these were later identified as Angles, it is unlikely that they migrated as part of an organized tribal group. Thus, the main language of the region quickly became Old English. However, it is possible that Brittonic continued to be spoken in some communities as late as the eighth century.
Modern-day Lincolnshire is derived from the merging of the territory of the Kingdom of Lindsey with that controlled by the Danelaw borough of Stamford. For some time the entire county was called "Lindsey", and it is recorded as such in the 11th-century Domesday Book. Later, the name Lindsey was applied to the northern core, around Lincoln. This emerged as one of the three Parts of Lincolnshire, along with the Parts of Holland in the south-east, and the Parts of Kesteven in the south-west, which each had separate Quarter Sessions as their county administrations. Lindsay was traditionally split between the North, South and West Ridings of Lindsey.
Lincolnshire is home to Woolsthorpe Manor, birthplace and home of Sir Isaac Newton. He attended The King's School, Grantham. Its library has preserved his signature, carved into a window sill when he was a youth.
The geographical layout of Lincolnshire is quite extensive and mostly separated by many rivers and rolling countryside. The north of the county begins from where the Isle of Axholme is located near the meeting points of the rivers Ouse and Trent near to the Humber. From there, the southside of the Humber estuary forms the border between Lincolnshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire. From there, the south bank of the Humber Estuary where the Humber Bridge crosses the estuary at Barton upon Humber, is used primarily for the shipping ports at Immingham, New Holland and Grimsby. From there, the rest of the southern bank forms the Lincolnshire Coast from Cleethorpes to Mablethorpe and then onto Skegness. From Skegness, the rest of the Lincolnshire Coastline forms the sea boundary and border with Norfolk at the Wash. The coast then at Boston becomes the meeting point of the rivers Welland and Haven in a area known as the "Fosdyke Wash".
The rest of the sea boundary runs from Fosdyke to the east of Sutton Bridge, where the current land boundary with Norfolk is located in a narrow area of reclaimed farmland just to the east of the River Nene but until as recently as the early 19th century there was no land border between Lincolnshire and Norfolk as it was separated from each other by the "Cross Keys Wash" a former area of estuary and marshland where the River Nene used to flow out into the Wash and could only be crossed at low tide by a causeway or ferry and was the natural boundary between the two counties. The causeway known at the time as the "Wash Way" was renowned as being particularly treacherous and the safer route was to go into Norfolk from Lincolnshire via the Cambridgeshire town of Wisbech and this element remains to the present day as the Cross Keys Bridge at Sutton Bridge provides the only direct access point to Norfolk from Lincolnshire over the River Nene some nine miles north of Wisbech. The border with Lincolnshire to Cambridgeshire begins at Crowland, Market Deeping and Stamford which form the southern boundary of the county with both Peterborough, Rutland and briefly Northamptonshire; the county's border with Northamptonshire is just 20 yards (19 m) long, England's shortest county boundary. From there, the border with Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire begins at Sleaford, Grantham, Lincoln and Gainsborough. From Gainsborough, the border with South Yorkshire begins at Haxey and Epworth before looping back to the original north of the county near Scunthorpe with East Riding of Yorkshire at the Isle of Axholme and Goole.
Bedrock in Lincolnshire features Jurassic limestone (near Lincoln) and Cretaceous chalk (north-east). The area around Woodhall Spa and Kirkby on Bain is dominated by gravel and sand. For much of prehistory, Lincolnshire was under tropical seas, and most fossils found in the county are marine invertebrates. Marine vertebrates have also been found including ichthyosaurus and plesiosaur.
The biggest rivers in Lincolnshire are the Trent, running northwards from Staffordshire up the western edge of the county to the Humber estuary, and the Witham, which begins in Lincolnshire at South Witham and runs for 132 km (82 miles) through the middle of the county, eventually emptying into the North Sea at The Wash. The Humber estuary, on Lincolnshire's northern border, is also fed by the River Ouse. The Wash is also the mouth of the Welland, the Nene and the Great Ouse.
Lincolnshire's geography is fairly varied, but consists of several distinct areas:
- Lincolnshire Wolds: area of rolling hills in the north-east of the county designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- The Fens: dominating the south-east quarter of the county
- The Marshes: running along the coast of the county
- Lincoln Edge or Cliff: limestone escarpment running north–south along the western half of the county
Lincolnshire's most well-known nature reserves include Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve, Whisby Nature Park Local Nature Reserve, Donna Nook National Nature Reserve, RSPB Frampton Marsh and the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve. Although the Lincolnshire countryside is intensively farmed, there are many biodiverse wetland areas, as well as rare limewood forests. Much of the county was once wet fenland (see The Fens).
From bones, we can tell that animal species formerly found in Lincolnshire include woolly mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, wild horse, wolf, wild boar and beaver. Species which have recently returned to Lincolnshire after extirpation include little egret, Eurasian spoonbill, European otter and red kite.
The Local Government Act 1888 established county councils for each of the parts of Lincolnshire – Lindsey, Holland and Kesteven – and came into effect on 1 April 1889. Lincoln was made an independent county borough on the same date, with Grimsby following in 1891.
The Local Government Act 1972 abolished the three county councils and the two county boroughs, effective 1 April 1974. On this date, Grimsby and the northern part of Lindsey (including Scunthorpe) were amalgamated with most of the East Riding of Yorkshire and a part of the West Riding of Yorkshire to form the new non-metropolitan county of Humberside. The rest of Lindsey, along with Holland, Kesteven and Lincoln, came under the governance of the new Lincolnshire County Council.
A local government reform in 1996 abolished Humberside. The land south of the Humber Estuary was allocated to the unitary authorities of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire which became part of Lincolnshire for ceremonial purposes, such as the Lord-Lieutenancy, but are not covered by the Lincolnshire police; they are in the Yorkshire and the Humber region. The remaining districts of Lincolnshire are Boston, East Lindsey, Lincoln, North Kesteven, South Holland, South Kesteven, and West Lindsey. They are part of the East Midlands region.
North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire are unitary authorities. They were districts of Humberside county from 1974. In 1996, Humberside was abolished along with its county council. Some services in those districts are shared with the East Riding of Yorkshire ceremonial county, rather than the rest of Lincolnshire including Humberside Police, Humberside Airport, Humberside Fire Service, and BBC Radio Humberside.
- a includes hunting and forestry
- b includes energy and construction
- c includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
Notable businesses based in Lincolnshire include the Lincs FM Group, Young's Seafood, Openfield and the Lincolnshire Co-operative (whose membership includes about one quarter of the population of the county).
Lincolnshire has long been a primarily agricultural area, and it continues to grow large amounts of wheat, barley, sugar beet, and oilseed rape. In south Lincolnshire, where the soil is particularly rich in nutrients, some of the most common crops include potatoes, cabbages, cauliflowers, and onions. Lincolnshire farmers often break world records for crop yields. South Lincolnshire is also home to one of the UK's leading agricultural experiment stations, located in Sutton Bridge and operated by the Potato Council; Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research engages in research for the British potato industry.
The Lincoln Longwool is a rare breed of sheep, named after the region, which was developed both for wool and mutton, at least 500 years ago, and has the longest fleece of any sheep breed. The Lincoln Red is an old breed of beef cattle, originating from the county. In the mid 20th century most farms in Lincolnshire moved away from mixed farming to specialise in arable cropping, partly due to cheap wool imports, partly to take advantage of efficiencies of scale and partly because the drier land on the eastern side of England is particularly suitable for arable cropping.
Mechanization around 1900 greatly diminished the number of workers required to operate the county's relatively large farms, and the proportion of workers in the agricultural sector dropped substantially during this period. Several major engineering companies developed in Lincoln, Gainsborough and Grantham to support those changes. Among these was Fosters of Lincoln, which built the first tank, and Richard Hornsby & Sons of Grantham. Most such industrial companies left during late 20th-century restructuring.
Today, immigrant workers, mainly from new member states of the European Union in Central and Eastern Europe, form a large component of the seasonal agricultural workforce, particularly in the south of the county. Here more labour-intensive crops are produced, such as small vegetables and cut flowers. This seasonal influx of migrant labour occasionally causes tension between the migrant workforce and local people, in a county which had been relatively unaccustomed to large-scale immigration. Agricultural training is provided at Riseholme College and in 2016 the University of Lincoln opened the Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology.
Services and retail
Lincolnshire is one of the few counties in the UK that still uses the 11-plus to decide who may attend grammar school. As a result, many towns in Lincolnshire have both a grammar school and a secondary modern school. Lincolnshire's rural character means that some larger villages also have primary schools and are served by buses to nearby high schools.
Lincoln itself, however, is primarily non-selective, as is the area within a radius of about seven miles. In this area, almost all children attend comprehensive schools, though it is still possible to opt into the 11-plus system. This gives rise to the unusual result that those who pass the Eleven plus can attend a Grammar School outside the Lincoln Comprehensive area, but those who do not pass still attend a (partly non-selective) Comprehensive school.
Being on the economic periphery of England, Lincolnshire's transport links are poorly developed compared with many other parts of the United Kingdom. The road network in the county is dominated by single carriageway A roads and local roads (B roads) as opposed to motorways and dual carriageways – the administrative county of Lincolnshire is one of the few UK counties without a motorway, and until several years ago, it was said that there was only about 35 km (22 mi) of dual carriageway in the whole of Lincolnshire. The M180 motorway passes through North Lincolnshire, splitting into two dual carriageway trunk roads to the Humber Bridge and Grimsby, and the A46 is now dual carriageway between Newark-on-Trent and Lincoln.
The low population density of the county means that the number of railway stations and train services is very low considering the county's large area. Many of the county's railway stations were permanently closed following the Beeching Report of 1963. The most notable reopening has been the line and two stations between Lincoln and Sleaford, which reopened within months of the Beeching closure. Most other closed lines in the county were lifted long ago and much of the trackbed has returned to agricultural use.
Prior to 1970, a through train service operated between Cleethorpes and London King's Cross via Louth, Boston and Peterborough. The part of this line in Grimsby is now the A16 road, preventing reinstatement as a railway line, and a small section of the line is now the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway, with an extension towards Louth in progress.
A daily through train service operated between Cleethorpes and London King's Cross via Grimsby, Market Rasen and Lincoln Central until the late 1980s. The Humberlincs Executive, as the service was known, was operated by an InterCity 125, but was discontinued following the electrification of the East Coast Main Line. Passengers now have to change trains at Newark North Gate when travelling to and from London. However, the East Coast Main Line passes through the western edge of the county and one can catch direct trains to London from Grantham.
Most rail services are currently operated by East Midlands Railway and Northern Trains. London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and CrossCountry have services which pass through the county, with LNER trains frequently passing and stopping at Grantham on the East Coast Main Line and a service every other hour to Lincoln, while CrossCountry trains stop at Stamford on their way between Birmingham and Stansted Airport. Stations along the Humber are served by TransPennine Express services between Manchester Airport and Cleethorpes. One of the most infrequent services in the UK is in Lincolnshire: the Sheffield-Gainsborough Central-Cleethorpes line has passenger trains only on a Saturday, with three trains in both directions. This line is, however, used for freight.
On 22 May 2011 East Coast started a Lincoln-London service, initially one train a day each way, and there is a northbound service on a Sunday. This was increased in 2019 to a service every two hours. East Midlands Railway also run a daily (Mon-Sat) service each way between Lincoln and London St Pancras, though this is a stopping service which takes around three hours via Nottingham, compared to LNER's service to London King's Cross which takes around 1 hour 50 minutes.
The only airport in Lincolnshire is Humberside Airport, near Brigg. East Midlands Airport, the main airport servicing the East Midlands, is within travelling distance of the county. Until its closure in 2022, Doncaster Sheffield Airport near Doncaster was within travelling distance of much of Lincolnshire.
The county's biggest bus companies are Stagecoach Grimsby-Cleethorpes (formerly Grimsby-Cleethorpes Transport) and Stagecoach in Lincolnshire (formerly Lincolnshire Road Car). There are several smaller bus companies, including Brylaine of Boston, Delaine Buses and Hornsby's of Scunthorpe.
A Sustrans cycle route runs from Lincoln to Boston in the south of the county.
The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the largest trusts in the country, employing almost 4,000 staff and with an annual budget of over £200 million. The north of the county is served by the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Some of the larger hospitals in the county include:
- Diana Princess of Wales Hospital, Grimsby
- Scunthorpe General Hospital
- Boston Pilgrim Hospital
- Lincoln County Hospital
Since April 1994, Lincolnshire has had an Air Ambulance service. The air ambulance is stationed at RAF Waddington near Lincoln and can reach emergencies in Lincolnshire within 25 minutes. An A&E hospital is only 10 minutes away by helicopter from any accident in Lincolnshire.
Separately to the commercial water companies the low-lying parts of the county are drained by various internal drainage boards, such as the Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board,Witham 4th District IDB, Lindsey Marsh Drainage Board Archived 18 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine, or the Welland and Deepings Internal Drainage Board.
Towns and villages
In terms of population, the 12 biggest settlements in the county by population are:
- Lincoln (Population: 104,565)
- Grimsby (Population: 85,911)
- Scunthorpe (Population: 81,286)
- Boston (Population: 45,339)
- Grantham (Population: 44,898)
- Spalding (Population: 30,556)
- Cleethorpes (Population: 29,678)
- Gainsborough (Population: 21,908)
- Stamford (Population: 20,742)
- Skegness (Population: 20,704)
- Sleaford (Population: 18,033)
- Bourne (Population, 17,490)
The majority of tourism in Lincolnshire relies on the coastal resorts and towns to the east of the Lincolnshire Wolds. The county has some of the best-known seaside resorts in the United Kingdom, which are a major attraction to visitors from across England, especially the East Midlands and parts of Yorkshire. There are three main coastal resorts in Lincolnshire and several smaller village resorts.
The main county seaside resort of Skegness with its famous Jolly Fisherman mascot and famous slogan "Skegness is so bracing", together with its neighbouring large village coastal resorts of Ingoldmells and Chapel St Leonards, provides the biggest concentration of resorts along the Lincolnshire Coast, with many large caravan and holiday sites. The resort offers many amusements, beaches, leisure activities and shops, as well as Butlins Skegness, Fantasy Island, Church Farm Museum, Natureland Seal Sanctuary, Skegness Stadium, Skegness Pier and several well-known local golf courses. There are good road, bus and rail links to the rest of the county.
The second largest group of resorts along the coast is the seaside town of Mablethorpe, famous for its golden sands, and the neighbouring village resorts of Trusthorpe and Sutton-on-Sea. This area also offers leisure activities and has large caravan and holiday sites. But the area is less developed, with fewer amusement arcades and nightclubs, and poorer road links to the rest of the county; but the area offers a more traditional seaside setting.
The third group of resorts includes the seaside town of Cleethorpes and the large village resort of Humberston within North East Lincolnshire. It has the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway and Cleethorpes Pier along with its local golf courses and caravan and holiday sites, whilst it is also the former site of Pleasure Island Family Theme Park. Cleethorpes is well-served by road and rail; it is easily accessible from the M180 and the TransPennine Express route to Manchester.
Nature is an attraction for many tourists: the south-east of the county is mainly fenland that attracts many species of birds, as do the national nature reserves at Gibraltar Point, Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe and Donna Nook, which also contains a large grey seal colony which is popular with visitors.
The market towns of the Lincolnshire Wolds Louth, Alford, Horncastle, Caistor and Spilsby are also attractive, with several having historically important buildings, such as Alford Manor House, St James' Church and Bolingbroke Castle. The Wolds are popular for cycling and walking, with regular events such as the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival.
The city of Lincoln is home to many tourist attractions including Lincoln Castle, Lincoln Cathedral, The Engine Shed, Steep Hill, International Bomber Command Centre and Guildhall and Stonebow among other historical landmarks and listed buildings. The city acts as one of the many tourist centres in the East Midlands Region.