Local Government Act 1894

Local Government Act 1894

The Local Government Act 1894 (56 & 57 Vict. c. 73) created a system of urban districts and rural districts with elected councils in all areas of England and Wales outside a municipal borough, following on from the Local Government Act 1888, which had created county councils.

The new district councils were based on the existing urban and rural sanitary districts. Many of the latter had lain in more than one ancient county, whereas the new rural districts were to be in a single administrative county.

The Act also reorganised civil parishes, so that none of them lay in more than one district and hence didn't cross administrative county boundaries. It also allowed for the election of parish councils in larger parishes.

Urban districts

In 1893 there were 688 urban Sanitary districts outside boroughs. These had various titles such as "Local Government District" or "Local Board of Health District" or "Improvement Commissioners' District".

Each of these variously titled entities became urban district in 1894/5. Urban districts continued to be formed, and by 1927 there were 785.

Rural districts

There were 574 Rural Sanitary Districts in 1893, many of them crossing county boundaries. The number of Rural Districts formed by the Act was 692. All but three of 118 additional Districts were caused by the breaking up of cross-county Rural Sanitary Districts (for example Monks Kirby Rural District was the part of Lutterworth RSD that was in Warwickshire, with the rest forming Lutterworth Rural District.)

In some areas the county boundaries were so complicated that Rural Districts were in more than one administrative county. For example, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire had many outlying detached parishes surrounded by other counties.

Parish councils

In all parishes with a population of 300 or more, a parish council had to be elected. In parishes with more than 100 but less than 300 population, the parish meeting could request the county council to make an order to establish a parish council.


The responsibility for defining the areas of the districts was given to the County councils established in 1888.

County councils were supposed to have regard to areas of existing sanitary districts and parishes in the administrative county, and to ensure that no parish or district extended into another county. Also parishes that crossed district boundaries were to be divided.

Hundreds of orders were made by county councils, and it was not until 1898 that the process was complete. Many county councils took the opportunity to "tidy up" their boundaries with neighbouring authorities, and it was not uncommon for blocks of parishes to be exchanged.

The division of parishes lead to many ancient parishes being split into "urban" and "rural" portions. As an example, an order of the Hertfordshire County Council split the parishes of Bushey and Watford into Bushey Urban and Watford Urban parishes in Watford Urban District and Watford Rural and Bushey Rural parishes in the Watford Rural District.

The county council could also group small parishes under a joint parish council.

ee also

List of Rural Districts in England and Wales 1894 - 1930

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