Metropolis Management Act 1855

Metropolis Management Act 1855
The Metropolis Management Act 1855

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Long title An Act for the better Local Management of the Metropolis.
Statute book chapter 18 & 19 Vict. c.120
Territorial extent England and Wales
Royal Assent 14 August 1855
Commencement 12 December 1855
Other legislation
Repealing legislation Statute Law Revision Act 1892, Public Health (London) Act 1936, Local Law (Greater London Council and Inner London Boroughs) Order 1965
Status: Repealed

The Metropolis Management Act 1855 (18 & 19 Vict. c.120) was an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that created the Metropolitan Board of Works, a London-wide body to co-ordinate the construction of the city's infrastructure. The Act also created a second tier of local government consisting of parish vestries and district boards of works. The Metropolitan Board was the forerunner of the London County Council.



The Royal Commission on the City of London considered the case for creation of an authority for the whole of London. Its report recommended the creation of a limited-function Metropolitan Board of Works and seven municipal corporations based on existing parliamentary representation.[1]

The Metropolitan board

The act constituted the Metropolitan Board of Works and provided that its members should be chosen by the parish vestries and district boards also constituted by the act. The first election of members was to take place on 12 December 1855. From 1857 one third of the board was to go out of office on the third Wednesday of June every year. The board was to take over the powers, duties and liabilities of the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers and the Metropolitan Buildings Office on 1 January 1856. Its area of responsibility was to be that designated by the Registrar General as London in the 1851 census.[2]

Vestries and District Boards

The second tier of local government was to be based on the existing vestries of civil parishes in an area comprising parts of the counties of Middlesex, Kent and Surrey. Section 42 of the Act dealt with the incorporation of vestries and district boards. Where single parishes became a local authority they were to have the title:

"The Vestry of the Parish of _______ in the County of ________"

Where parishes were grouped the resulting authority took the title:

"The Board of Works for the _________ District"

List of vestries, district boards and number of members elected to the metropolitan board

Vestries and districts of the Metropolis 1855
  1. City of London
  2. Bermondsey
  3. Bethnal Green
  4. Camberwell
  5. (and 5a) Chelsea
  6. Clerkenwell
  7. Fulham District
  8. Greenwich District
  9. Hackney District
  10. Hampstead
  11. Holborn District
  12. Islington
  13. Kensington
  14. Lambeth
  15. (and 15a) Lewisham District
  16. Limehouse District
  17. Mile End Old Town
  18. Newington
  19. Paddington
  20. Plumstead District

MBW map.png

  1. Poplar District
  2. Rotherhithe
  3. St George Hanover Square
  4. St George in the East
  5. St Giles District
  6. St Luke
  7. St Martin the Fields
  8. St Marylebone
  9. St Olave District
  10. St Pancras
  11. St Saviours District
  12. Shoreditch
  13. Southwark St George the Martyr
  14. (and 34a) Strand District
  15. (and 35a) Wandsworth District
  16. (and 36a) Westminster District
  17. Westminster St James
  18. Whitechapel District
  19. Woolwich
The following were detached parts of parishes and districts:

5a Kensal Green; 15a Penge Hamlet; 34a St Anne; 35a detached portion of Streatham parish; 36a Kensington Palace

Not shown is Clerkenwell Detached, an exclave of that parish within Hornsey, Middlesex.

Electing Authority

Number of members elected to MBW

Administrative Headquarters

City of London 3 Guildhall
Bermondsey Vestry (Surrey) 1 Town Hall, Spa Road, Bermondsey
Bethnal Green Vestry (Middlesex) 1 Vestry Hall, Bethnal Green
Camberwell Vestry (Surrey) 1 Vestry Hall, Peckham Road
Chelsea Vestry (Middlesex) 1 Town Hall, King's Road, Chelsea
St. James & St. John Clerkenwell Vestry (Middlesex) 1 Vestry Hall, 58 Rosomon Street, Clerkenwell (replaced by Town Hall in Rosebery Avenue 1895)
Fulham District, comprising: 1 Town Hall, Walham Green
Greenwich District , comprising: 1 141 Greenwich Road, Greenwich
Hackney District, comprising: 1 Town Hall, Hackney
Hampstead Vestry (Middlesex) 1 Vestry Hall, Haverstock Hill, Hampstead
Holborn District, comprising: 1 Town Hall, Gray's Inn Road
Islington St Mary Vestry (Middlesex) 2 Vestry Hall, Upper Street, Islington
Kensington Vestry (Middlesex) 1 Town Hall, Kensington
Lambeth Vestry (Surrey) 2 Vestry Hall, Kennington Green
Lewisham District comprising: 1 member jointly with Plumstead District Catford
Limehouse District comprising: 1 White Horse Street, Commercial Road
Hamlet of Mile End Old Town Vestry (Middlesex) 1 Vestry Hall, Bancroft Road, Mile End Road
Newington Vestry (Surrey) 1 Vestry Hall, Walworth Road
Paddington Vestry (Middlesex) 1 Vestry Hall, Harrow Road
Plumstead District comprising: 1 member jointly with Lewisham District Old Charlton
Poplar District comprising: 1 117 High Street, Poplar
Rotherhithe Vestry (Surrey) 1 member jointly with St Olave District Public Baths, Lower Road, Rotherhithe
St George Hanover Square Vestry (Middlesex) 2 Vestry Hall, Mount Street, Grosvenor Square
St George in the East Vestry (Middlesex) 1 Vestry Hall, Cable Street
St Giles District comprising: 1 197 High Holborn
St Luke Middlesex Vestry (Middlesex) 1 Vestry Hall, City Road
St Martin in the Fields Vestry (Middlesex) 1 Town Hall, Charing Cross Road
St Marylebone Vestry (Middlesex) 2 Court House, Marylebone Lane
St Olave District comprising:
  • Southwark St John Horsleydown (Surrey)
  • Southwark St Olave (Surrey)
  • Southwark St Thomas (Surrey)
1 member jointly with Rotherhithe Vestry Vine Street, Tooley Street, Southwark
St Pancras Vestry (Middlesex) 2 Vestry Hall, Pancras Road
St Saviour's District comprising: 1 3 Emerson Street, Bankside
Shoreditch St Leonard Vestry (Middlesex) 2 Shoreditch Town Hall, Old Street
Southwark St George the Martyr Vestry (Surrey) 1 Vestry Hall, 81 Borough Road
Strand District comprising: 1 5 Tavistock Street
Wandsworth District comprising: 1 East Hill, Wandsworth
Westminster District comprising:
  • Westminster St Margaret and St John (Middlesex)
1 Town Hall, Caxton Street, Westminster
Westminster St James Vestry (Middlesex) 1 Vestry Hall, Piccadilly
Whitechapel District comprising: 1 15 Great Alie Street, Whitechapel
Woolwich Vestry (Kent) 1 Town Hall, Woolwich

A number of extra-parochial places lay within the Metropolitan Board's area but were not included in any District:

Changes in later legislation

In 1886 The Fulham district was dissolved and the two parish vestries of Fulham and Hammersmith became local authorities. Fulham vestry continued to use the existing town hall at Walham Green, while Hammersmith vestry built a town hall at Hammersmith Broadway.

In 1889 the Local Government Act replaced the Metropolitan Board of Works with the London County Council, and the area of the board became the County of London. From that date the various parishes were separated from Middlesex, Kent and Surrey and placed for all purposes in the new county, while the vestries and district boards continued to function under the aegis of the new county council.

In 1894 the Hackney District Board of Works was dissolved, with the vestries of Hackney and Stoke Newington assuming the powers of the district board. Stoke Newington vestry built a town hall at 126 Church Street. At the same time the Vestry of the Parish of Plumstead became a separate authority, with the remaining four parishes of Plumstead District being reconstituted as Lee District Board of Works.

In 1896 the parishes of Southwark St Olave and St Thomas were combined as a civil Parish.

In 1900 metropolitan boroughs created by the London Government Act replaced the vestries and district boards.


  1. ^ Young, K. & Garside, P., Metropolitan London: Politics and Urban Change, (1982)
  2. ^ Davis, J., Reforming London: The London Government Problem, 1855-1900, (1988)

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