City of Chelmsford

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City of Chelmsford
Chelmsford Cathedral Exterior, Essex, UK - Diliff.jpg
Chelmsford Cathedral in Chelmsford, the administrative centre of the district
Chelmsford UK locator map.svg
Chelmsford shown within Essex
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country England
Region East of England
Non-metropolitan county Essex
Admin HQ Chelmsford
Incorporated1 April 1974
  TypeNon-metropolitan district council
  BodyChelmsford City Council
  LeadershipLeader & Cabinet (Liberal Democrat)
   MPs Vicky Ford
Kemi Badenoch
John Whittingdale
  Total132.14 sq mi (342.24 km2)
  Rank107th (of 296)
  Rank113th (of 296)
  Density1,400/sq mi (530/km2)
94.6% White
2.0% S.Asian
1.3% Black
1.2% Mixed Race
Time zone UTC0 (GMT)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)
ONS code 22UF (ONS)
E07000070 (GSS)
OS grid reference TL713070
City of Chelmsford
Click the map for an interactive fullscreen view

The City of Chelmsford ( /ˈɛlmzfəd/ ) is a local government district with borough and city status in Essex, England. It is named after its main settlement, Chelmsford, which is also the county town of Essex. As well as the settlement of Chelmsford itself, the district also includes the surrounding rural area and the town of South Woodham Ferrers.


The neighbouring districts are Uttlesford, Braintree, Maldon, Rochford, Basildon, Brentwood and Epping Forest.


Chelmsford's first elected council was a local board of health established in 1850. [1] This replaced a body of improvement commissioners which had previously administered the town under the Chelmsford Improvement Act 1789 (29 Geo. 3. c. 44). [2] The local board in turn was replaced by the Chelmsford Corporation in 1888 when the town was incorporated to become a municipal borough. [3] [4]

The current district was formed on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, covering two former districts which were abolished at the same time: [5]

The new district was named Chelmsford after its main town. [6] The new council was initially called "Chelmsford District Council". Charter trustees were established for the area of the former municipal borough so as to allow the town to continue to have a mayor. The new district was granted borough status in 1977, changing the name of the council to "Chelmsford Borough Council" and allowing the chair of the council to take the title of mayor instead, with the charter trustees then being disbanded. [7]

On 1 June 2012 the district was granted city status to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II, and the council therefore changed its name to "Chelmsford City Council". [8] [9] [10]


Chelmsford City Council
Chelmsford City Council logo.svg
Linda Mascot,
Liberal Democrat
since 24 May 2023 [11]
Stephen Robinson,
Liberal Democrat
since 22 May 2019
Nick Eveleigh
since February 2018 [12]
Political groups
Administration (33)
  Liberal Democrats (33)

Opposition (24)

  Conservatives (20)
  Independent (4)
Last election
4 May 2023
Next election
6 May 2027
Meeting place
Civic Centre, Chelmsford.jpg
Chelmsford Civic Centre, Duke Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1JE

Chelmsford City Council provides district-level services. County-level services are provided by Essex County Council. Parts of the district are also covered by civil parishes, which form a third tier of local government. [13]

Political control

The council has been controlled by the Liberal Democrats since the 2019 election. [14]

The first election to the council was held in 1973, initially operating as a shadow authority alongside the outgoing authorities until the new arrangements came into effect on 1 April 1974. Political control of the council since 1974 has been as follows: [15] [16]

Party in controlYears
No overall control 1974–1976
Conservative 1976–1983
Alliance 1983–1988
Liberal Democrats 1988–1991
Conservative 1991–1995
Liberal Democrats 1995–1999
No overall control 1999–2003
Conservative 2003–2019
Liberal Democrats 2019–present


The role of mayor is largely ceremonial in Chelmsford. Political leadership is instead provided by the leader of the council. The leaders since 2003 have been: [17]

Roy Whitehead Conservative 200322 May 2019
Stephen Robinson Liberal Democrats 22 May 2019


Following the 2023 election and a subsequent change of allegiance in July 2023, the composition of the council was: [18]

Liberal Democrats 33
Conservative 20
Independent 4

Three of the independent politicians sit together as the "Chelmsford Independents Group". [19] The next election is due in 2027.


The council is based at Chelmsford Civic Centre on Duke Street in Chelmsford. The building was purpose-built for the former borough council and was opened in 1935. [20]


Since the last full review of boundaries in 2003 the council has comprised 57 councillors elected from 24 wards, with each ward electing one, two or three councillors. Elections are held every four years. [21]


South Woodham Ferrers, the only town in the district South Woodham Ferrers - - 2125855.jpg
South Woodham Ferrers, the only town in the district

The district has two major centres, the principal settlement Chelmsford in the centre and the town of South Woodham Ferrers to the south east. The remainder of the district is predominantly rural, with many villages and hamlets.

The River Chelmer flows into the district near North End and flows to Chelmsford where the River Can converges with it at the city centre. The River Chelmer then flows out of the district between Boreham and Little Baddow. The River Can's source is in the north west of the district. The River Wid flows from the south of the borough through Widford towards the centre past Writtle to join the River Can between Writtle and Chelmsford. The River Crouch flows along the part of the southeastern border below South Woodham Ferrers. Hanningfield Reservoir, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, is located in the south of the borough.


The rail links, both national and international, which run through the borough, are all operated by Greater Anglia. Two national rail services operate. The Great Eastern Main Line runs through the centre, stopping at Chelmsford railway station. Services via Chelmsford operate between London Liverpool Street and Ipswich, Clacton, Harwich, Braintree or Norwich. The Crouch Valley Line also runs through the far south-east tip of the borough, stopping at South Woodham Ferrers, running services between Wickford and Southminster.

The Amsterdam Express, a rail/sea/rail international service owned by also stops at Chelmsford, on its route between London and the Netherlands, via North Sea ferries.

There are several primary routes within the borough. One of these, the A12, is also a trunk road and runs from London and the M25, centrally in a north-easterly direction through the borough bypassing the city of Chelmsford onwards to Suffolk and Norfolk. Two other significant primary routes are the A130 which runs north-south across Essex and the A414, which begins as a primary route in Chelmsford but its terminus us Maldon in Essex. The A414 then runs west through Essex, meets the M11 and then its path continues into Hertfordshire via Harlow. Various other A- and B-Roads connect the borough, especially the city of Chelmsford to the rest of the county and beyond.

There is, additionally, a large integrated bus network provided primarily by First Essex which connects the city to towns and villages across the county. Other smaller operators also provide services, such as Stephensons of Essex and Arriva Essex.


There are 29 civil parishes in the district. The former Chelmsford Municipal Borough is an unparished area, directly administered by Chelmsford City Council. The parish council for South Woodham Ferrers takes the style "Town Council", whilst the parish of Mashbury has a parish meeting rather than a parish council due to its small population. [22]


Educational establishments in the borough include:


Henry VIII's former Palace of Beaulieu is situated in Boreham, now occupied by the New Hall School. Also located in the borough include the RHS Garden, Hyde Hall at Rettendon, and numerous open spaces in Chelmsford, including Admirals and Central Parks. Writtle, where Robert the Bruce is said to have married his second wife Elizabeth de Burgh in 1302, has English Royal connections, with King John building a hunting lodge there in 1211. Much of the site now lies within the grounds of Writtle College, the internationally famous centre for horticulture and agriculture. A few miles away is the village of Pleshey, where stand the ruins of a once important castle mentioned in William Shakespeare's play Richard II . The entire circuit of the castle walls can still be traced in the village streets. American tourists often visit the village of Springfield, Essex, the origin of "Springfield" as a popular place name, first giving its name to the important City of Springfield, Massachusetts, and subsequently Springfield, Illinois, the state capital of Illinois, and Springfield, Missouri, among numerous others.

Freedom of the City

The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the City of Chelmsford.



Coat of arms of City of Chelmsford
Chelmsford Coat of Arms.jpg
Granted 3 March 1975.
On a wreath of the colours a garb Or transfixed with a seaxe and a sword in saltire points upwards both Proper.
Argent three bars wavy Azure on a chief indented Gules a saltire couped between two mullets Argent.
Dexter a lion Azure supporting an episcopal crozier Or sinister a like lion supporting an abbatical crozier Or with veil proper upon a compartment comprising a triple arched stone bridge above water barry wavy.
Many Minds One Heart [25]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation</span> United Kingdom legislation

The Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation is the canalisation of the Rivers Chelmer and Blackwater in Essex, in the east of England. The navigation runs for 13.75 miles (22.13 km) from Springfield Basin in Chelmsford to the sea lock at Heybridge Basin near Maldon. Initial plans faced spirited opposition from Maldon, which were overcome by avoiding the town and terminating at Heybridge, and the navigation opened in 1797. There were some teething problems, and the engineer John Rennie was called back on two occasions to recommend improvements. The impact of the railways was less severe than on many canals, as there was never a direct line between Chelmsford and Maldon. The sea lock at Heybridge was enlarged after the Second World War, but trade gradually declined and ceased in 1972.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chelmsford</span> City in Essex, England

Chelmsford is a city in the City of Chelmsford district in the county of Essex, England. It is the county town of Essex and one of three cities in the county, along with Colchester and Southend-on-Sea. It is located 30 miles north-east of London at Charing Cross and 22 miles south-west of Colchester. The population of the urban area was 110,625 in the 2021 Census, while the wider district has 181,763.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Great Baddow</span> Village and civil parish in Essex, England

Great Baddow is an urban village and civil parish in the Chelmsford borough of Essex, England. It is close to the city of Chelmsford and, with a population of over 13,000, is one of the largest villages in the country.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Danbury, Essex</span> Human settlement in England

Danbury is a village in the City of Chelmsford district, in the county of Essex, England. It is located 33.5 miles (53.9 km) northeast of Charing Cross, London and has a population of approximately 6,500. It is situated on a hill 367 feet (112 m) above sea level.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maldon and East Chelmsford (UK Parliament constituency)</span> Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1997–2010

Maldon and East Chelmsford was a parliamentary constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. From 1997 to 2010 it elected one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boreham</span> Village in Essex, England

Boreham is a village and civil parish, in Essex, England. The parish is in the City of Chelmsford and Chelmsford Parliament constituency. The village is approximately 3.7 miles (6.0 km) northeast from the county town of Chelmsford.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">South Woodham Ferrers</span> Human settlement in England

South Woodham Ferrers is a town and civil parish in the borough of Chelmsford, in the English county of Essex. It is approximately 35 miles (56 km) east of London and 8 miles (13 km) south-east of the city of Chelmsford, and had a population of 16,453 at the 2011 Census, a decrease from 16,629 at the 2001 Census.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chelmsford (UK Parliament constituency)</span> Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom (1885-1997 and 2010 onwards)

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">West Hanningfield</span> Small village in Essex, England

West Hanningfield is a small village and civil parish in south Essex, England. It is located approximately 5 mi (8.0 km) south-south-east of the county town of Chelmsford. The village is in the borough of Chelmsford and in the parliamentary constituency of Maldon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">East Hanningfield</span> Human settlement in England

East Hanningfield is a small village in south Essex, England. It is situated to the southeast of Chelmsford and to the northwest of South Woodham Ferrers, with a population of ? It is surrounded by the villages of Butts Green, Bicknacre, Woodham Ferrers, West Hanningfield, Howe Green, and Rettendon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">River Chelmer</span> River in Essex, England

The River Chelmer flows entirely through the county of Essex, England; it runs 40 miles (64 km) from the north-west of the county through Chelmsford to the River Blackwater, near Maldon.

Chelmsford Rural District was a local government district in Essex, England from 1894 to 1974. It surrounded, but did not include, the town of Chelmsford; which formed a municipal borough.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2019 Chelmsford City Council election</span>

The 2019 Chelmsford City Council election took place on 2 May 2019 to elect members of Chelmsford City Council in England. This was on the same day as other local elections.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2023 Chelmsford City Council election</span>

The 2023 Chelmsford City Council election took place on 4 May 2023 to elect members of Chelmsford City Council in Essex, England. This was on the same day as other local elections across England.


  1. "Chelmsford Board of Health". Chelmsford Chronicle. 13 September 1850. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  2. An act for paving the footways of the several streets, public passages and places within the town of Chelmsford, and hamlet of Moulsham, in the parish of Chelmsford, in the county of Essex, and for cleaning, lighting, and watching the said town and hamlet, and for removing and preventing nuisances, annoyances, and encroachments therein (29 Geo. 3. c. 44)
  3. "The Incorporation of Chelmsford: Reception of the Charter yesterday". Essex Weekly News. Chelmsford. 20 September 1888. p. 3. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
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