History of local government in Wales


The history of local government Wales in a recognisably modern form emerged during the late 19th century.

Local Government Act 1888


From 1889 to 1974, counties made up of administrative counties and county boroughs were used for local government purposes. The counties were created by the Local Government Act 1888 (51 & 52 Vict, c. 41), which applied without distinction across Wales and England, and in Wales the administrative counties were based on the historic counties of Wales, but they were not entirely identical.

The 1888 Act did not create elected district councils, but anticipated their later creation, which came with the Local Government Act 1894. The 1894 Act created 'urban districts' and 'rural districts'.

Administrative counties

The table shows the area and population of administrative counties in Wales as recorded at the censuses of 1891 and 1961.[1][2]

Administrative county Area 1891
acres (km2)
Population 1891 Area 1961
acres (km2)
Population 1961
Anglesey 175,836 (712) 50,098 176,694 (715) 51,705
Brecknockshire 469,894 (1,902) 51,393 469,281 (1,899) 55,185
Cardiganshire 443,071 (1,793) 63,467 443,189 (1,794) 53,648
Carmarthenshire 587,816 (2,379) 130,566 588,271 (2,381) 168,008
Caernarfonshire(1) 360,138 (1,457) 117,233 364,108 (1,473) 121,767
Denbighshire 424,235 (1,717) 118,843 427,978 (1,732) 174,151
Flintshire 164,051 (664) 77,277 163,707 (662) 150,082
Glamorgan 505,815 (2,047) 467,954 468,808 (1,897) 523,253
Merionethshire 427,810 (1,731) 49,212 422,372 (1,709) 38,310
Monmouthshire 342,548 (1,386) 203,347 346,779 (1,403) 336,556
Montgomeryshire 510,111 (2,064) 58,003 510,110 (2,064) 41,165
Pembrokeshire 392,710 (1,589) 88,296 393,008 (1,590) 94,124
Radnorshire 301,164 (1,219) 21,791 301,165 (1,219) 18,471

(1)Renamed from Carnarvonshire, 1 July 1926[3]

County boroughs

There were also a number of administratively independent county boroughs:

  • Cardiff created in 1889 (associated with Glamorgan)
  • Swansea, created in 1889 (associated with Glamorgan)
  • Newport, separated from Monmouthshire in 1891
  • Merthyr Tydfil, separated from Glamorgan in 1908
County borough Area 1911
acres (km2)
Population 1911 Area 1961
acres (km2)
Population 1961
Cardiff 6,373 (26) 182,259 15,085 (61) 256,582
Merthyr Tydfil 17,761 (72) 80,990 17,760 (72) 59,039
Newport 4,504 (18) 83,691 7,691 (31) 112,298
Swansea 5,202 (21) 114,663 21,600 (87) 167,322

Local Government Act 1972: Counties and districts


In 1974, the existing administrative counties and county boroughs were abolished and replaced by eight new two-tier authorities, instead called 'counties' by the Local Government Act 1972 (1972 c. 70). These counties were sub-divided into lower-tier districts.

The counties were all given names in Welsh only, apart from the three in Glamorgan, which had English names as well as Welsh. The creation of these new administrative areas effectively separated the administrative function from the traditional counties, although in reality this had occurred in 1889.

When these two-tier counties were abolished in 1996, their names and areas were retained with slight modifications for some purposes such as Lieutenancy, and became known as the preserved counties of Wales. These were further amended in 2003 by S.I. 2003/974 to ensure that each unitary area is wholly within one preserved county.

Counties

  1. Gwent
  2. South Glamorgan
    (De Morgannwg)
  3. Mid Glamorgan
    (Morgannwg Ganol)
  4. West Glamorgan
    (Gorllewin Morgannwg)
  5. Dyfed
  6. Powys
  7. Gwynedd
  8. Clwyd

Districts

The counties were sub-divided into districts, these were:

1996


The redistribution of these districts into the current unitary authorities is as follows:

Unitary authorityPrevious districts
Blaenau Gwentmost of Blaenau Gwent
Bridgendmost of Ogwr
CaerphillyIslwyn, Rhymney Valley
CarmarthenshireCarmarthen, Llanelli, Dinefwr
CardiffCardiff, part of TaffEly
CeredigionCeredigion
ConwyAberconwy, most of Colwyn
DenbighshireRhuddlan, parts of Glyndwr and Colwyn
FlintshireAlyn and Deeside, Delyn
GwyneddArfon, Dwyfor, Meirionnydd
Isle of AngleseyAnglesey
Merthyr TydfilMerthyr Tydfil
MonmouthshireMonmouth, part of Blaenau Gwent
Neath Port TalbotNeath, Port Talbot, parts of Lliw Valley
NewportNewport
PembrokeshirePreseli Pembrokeshire, South Pembrokeshire
PowysMontgomeryshire, Radnorshire, Brecknock, part of Glyndwr
Rhondda Cynon TafRhondda, Cynon Valley, most of Taff-Ely
SwanseaSwansea, parts of Lliw Valley
TorfaenTorfaen
Vale of Glamorganmost of Vale of Glamorgan
Wrexhammost of Wrexham, parts of Glyndwr

See also


References


  1. Census of England and Wales 1891, Vol. I, Table III. Administrative Counties and County Boroughs; Area, and Houses and Population in 1891 (Historic GIS Project, Queen's University, Belfast)"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2008-07-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. 1961 Census England and Wales: County Reports (www.visionofbritain.org.uk)
  3. 1931 Census of England and Wales, county report for Caernarvonshire