Urban District Councils

Urban District Councils

Urban District Councils were created to provide local government services (water, public health, building control and, later, housing) in towns. In 1848 and 1858, Acts of Parliament had allowed (but did not oblige) communities to establish local boards for these purposes. Then in 1872, the government divided up the country into rather repellently-named Urban and Rural Sanitary Authorities.

Places which had adopted the Acts of 1848 and 1858, automatically became urban sanitary districts: in our area, these places were Doncaster, Mexborough and Tickhill. Twenty years later, in 1894, new legislation created Urban District Councils and these three towns acquired this new status.

The growth of industry in the area led to the creation of new Urban Districts form the end of the nineteenth century. On the outskirts of Doncaster, Hexthorpe with Balby and Wheatley, both expanding suburbs, became UDCs in 1896 and 1900 respectively. Their independence was short-lived, for both were absorbed into Doncaster borough in 1914.

In the coalfield, the growth of mining communities led to the creation of Urban District Councils. Bentley with Arksey was the first of these in 1911, followed by Adwick le Street in 1915 and Conisbrough in 1921. The Urban District Councils ceased to exist after 31 March 1974, when Doncaster Metropolitan Borough came into existence.

The councils were often the means by which Labour politicians first broke into politics, becoming urban district councillors then becoming county councillors on the West Riding of Yorkshire County Council. The most talented went on to become M Ps and a few served as government ministers.

Doncaster Archives holds the records of all these authorities. There are details in the Guide to Doncaster Archives (2006), available for £10 (+ £2.00 p & p) from Doncaster Archives.



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