East of England
Peterborough ( or ) is a Cathedral City and Unitary Authority Area in the East of England, with a population estimated to be 184,500 in mid 2011. Although traditionally part of Northamptonshire, for ceremonial purposes it falls within the county of Cambridgeshire. It is the 27th largest in the United Kingdom, excluding urban zones. Situated 75 miles (121 km) north of London, the city stands on the River Nene which flows into the North Sea approximately 30 miles (48 km) to the north-east. The railway station is an important stop on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh. The unitary authority borders Northamptonshire and Rutland to the west, Lincolnshire to the north, and non-metropolitan Cambridgeshire to the south and east.
- Map of Peterborough
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Map of Peterborough
The local topography is flat and low-lying, and in some places lies below sea level, for example in the Fens that lie to the east of Peterborough. Human settlement in the area began before the Bronze Age, as can be seen at the Flag Fen archaeological site to the east of the current city centre also with evidence of Roman occupation. The Anglo-Saxon period saw the establishment of a monastery, Medeshamstede, which later became Peterborough Cathedral. Peterborough was until 1965 part of Northamptonshire, although the city with its surrounding rural area was from medieval times administered separately as the Soke of Peterborough.
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The population grew rapidly following the arrival of the railways in the 19th century, and Peterborough became an industrial centre, particularly noted for its brick manufacture. Following the Second World War, growth was limited until designation as a New Town in the 1960s. Housing and population are expanding and a £1 billion regeneration of the city centre and immediately surrounding area is underway. In common with much of the United Kingdom, industrial employment has fallen, with a significant proportion of new jobs in financial services and distribution.
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The towns name changed to Burgh from the late tenth century, possibly after Abbot Kenulf had built a defensive wall around the abbey, and eventually developed into the form Peterborough; the town does not appear to have been a borough until the 12th century. The contrasting form Gildenburgh is also found in the 12th century history of the abbey, the Peterborough version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (see Peterborough Chronicle below) and in a history of the abbey by the monk Hugh Candidus.
Peterborough is currently experiencing an economic boom compared to the rest of the country, believed in part to be due to the regeneration plan running to 2012. In 2005 economic growth was on average 5.5%, whilst in Peterborough it was 6.9%, the highest in the UK. A chart of trend of regional gross value added, an important measure in the estimation of gross domestic product, of Peterborough at current basic prices (with figures in millions of pounds sterling) is given below:
Peterborough has one independent boarding school; Peterborough High School, formerly Westwood House. The school caters for girls and now boys up to the age of 18. Peterboroughs state schools are currently undergoing immense change. Five of the citys 15 secondary schools were closed in July 2007 and are to be demolished over the coming years. John Mansfield, Hereward (formerly Eastholm) and Deacons were replaced with the flagship Thomas Deacon Academy, designed by Lord Foster of Thames Bank which opened in September 2007.
The Voyager School, which has specialist media arts status, replaced Bretton Woods and Walton comprehensive. The schools that remain will be extended and enlarged. Over £200 million is to be spent and the changes on-going to 2010. The Kings School is one of seven schools established, or in some cases re-endowed and renamed, by King Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries to pray for his soul. In 2006, 39.4% of Peterborough local education authority pupils attained five grades A* to C, including English and Mathematics, in the General Certificate of Secondary Education, lower than the national average of 45.8%.
The city has its own further education colleges, Peterborough Regional College (established in 1946 as Peterborough Technical College) and City College Peterborough (known as Peterborough College of Adult Education until 2010). Peterborough Regional College attracts over 15,000 students each year from the UK and abroad and is currently ranked in the top five per cent of colleges in the UK.
The city has a university (University City Peterborough), after Loughborough University closed its Peterborough campus in 2003. Consequently it became the second largest centre of population in the UK (after Swindon) without its own higher education institution. In 2006 however, Peterborough Regional College began talks with Anglia Ruskin University to develop a new university campus for the city. The college and the university completed the legal contracts for the creation of a new joint venture company in 2007, marking the culmination of legal negotiations and securing of funds required in order to build the new higher education centre. University Centre Peterborough opened to the first 850 students in 2009.
The former public library on Broadway was donated by Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1906; Carnegie was made first freeman of the city on the day of the opening ceremony.
According to the Köppen classification the British Isles experience a maritime climate characterised by relatively cool summers and mild winters. Compared with other parts of the country, East Anglia is slightly warmer and sunnier in the summer and colder and frostier in the winter. Owing to its inland position, furthest from the landfall of most Atlantic depressions, Cambridgeshire is one of the driest counties in the UK, receiving, on average, around 600 mm (2 ft) of rain per year. Relative to the rest of the UK, the Peterborough area is sunnier than many places, with annual totals averaging nearly 1,600 hours a year. The Met Office weather station at Wittering, within the unitary authority of Peterborough, recorded a maximum temperature of 35.1 °C (95.2 °F) in August 1990. The lowest temperature in recent years was ?13.4 °C (7.9 °F) during February 2012.