Sanitary district

Sanitary districts were established in England and Wales in 1872 and in Ireland in 1878. The districts were of two types, based on existing structures:

  • Urban sanitary districts in towns with existing local government bodies
  • Rural sanitary districts in the remaining rural areas of poor law unions.
Sanitary district
CategoryLocal government district
LocationEngland and Wales and Ireland
Found inCounty
Created byPublic Health Act 1872
Public Health Act 1875
Public Health (Ireland) Act 1878
  • England & Wales 1872
  • Ireland 1878
Abolished by
  • England & Wales 1894
  • Ireland 1899
Possible types
  • Urban
  • Rural
  • Sanitary authority

Each district was governed by a sanitary authority and was responsible for various public health matters such as providing clean drinking water, sewers, street cleaning, and clearing slum housing.

In England and Wales, both rural and urban sanitary districts were replaced in 1894 by the Local Government Act 1894 by the more general rural districts and urban districts. A similar reform was carried out in Ireland in 1899 by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898.