Map of Rural Districts in 1931, alongside Administrative Counties, County Boroughs, Municipal Boroughs, Urban Districts
|Category||Local government district|
|Location||England and Wales and Ireland|
|Found in||Administrative county|
|Created by|| Local Government Act 1894 |
Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898
|Abolished by|| Local Government Act 1925 |
Local Government (Boundaries) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971
Local Government Act 1972
|Government||Rural district council|
|Subdivisions||Civil parish: England / Ireland |
District Electoral Division
Rural districts were a type of local government area – now superseded – established at the end of the 19th century in England, Wales, and Ireland for the administration of predominantly rural areas at a level lower than that of the administrative counties.
In England and Wales they were created in 1894 (by the Local Government Act 1894) along with urban districts. They replaced the earlier system of sanitary districts (themselves based on poor law unions, but not replacing them).
Rural districts had elected rural district councils (RDCs), which inherited the functions of the earlier sanitary districts, but also had wider authority over matters such as local planning, council housing, and playgrounds and cemeteries. Matters such as education and major roads were the responsibility of county councils.
Until 1930 the rural district councillors were also poor law guardians for the unions of which they formed part. Each parish was represented by one or more councillors.
Originally there were 787 rural districts in England and Wales, as they were based directly upon the sanitary districts and poor law unions which had preceded them. Gradual urbanisation over the following decades led to some rural districts being redefined as urban districts or merging with existing urban districts or boroughs. Other rural districts proved to be too small or poor to be viable, and under the Local Government Act 1929, 236 rural districts were abolished and merged or amalgamated into larger units.Further mergers took place over following decades and by 1965 the number of districts had been reduced to 473.
The typical shape of a rural district was a doughnut-shaped ring around a town (which would be either an urban district or a municipal borough). A good example of this is Melton and Belvoir Rural District, which surrounded the town of Melton Mowbray. Some rural districts were fragmented, consisting of a number of detached parts, such as Wigan Rural District. Some rural districts had a more rounded shape and had a small town or village as the administrative centre.
A few rural districts consisted of only one parish (for example, Tintwistle Rural District, Alston with Garrigill Rural District, South Mimms Rural District, King's Lynn Rural District, Disley Rural District and Crowland Rural District). In such districts there was no separate parish council, and the rural district council exercised its functions.
All rural districts in England and Wales were abolished in 1974 (by the Local Government Act 1972) and were typically merged with nearby urban districts or boroughs to form "districts", which included both urban and rural areas.
See Rural districts formed in England and Wales 1894–1974 for the districts created in 1894; List of rural and urban districts in England, and List of rural and urban districts in Wales for a list of rural districts at abolition in 1974.
In Ireland, rural districts were created in 1898 by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898. They were subdivided into district electoral divisions.
Following the partition of Ireland, rural districts in the Irish Free State were abolished in 1925, by the Local Government Act 1925, amid widespread accusations of corruption. Their functions were transferred to the county councils(in County Dublin they remained intact until 1930). The former boundaries of the rural districts in the Republic of Ireland continue to be used for statistical purposes and defining constituencies.
In Northern Ireland, rural districts continued to exist until 1973 when they were abolished (along with all other local government of the old pattern) and replaced with a system of unitary districts.
Cumberland is a historic county of North West England that had an administrative function from the 12th century until 1974. It was bordered by Northumberland to the east, County Durham to the southeast, Westmorland and Lancashire to the south, and the Scottish counties of Dumfriesshire and Roxburghshire to the north. It formed an administrative county from 1889 to 1974 and now forms part of Cumbria.
Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Dublin Region in the province of Leinster. It is named after the former borough of Dún Laoghaire and the barony of Rathdown. Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county was 218,018 at the time of the 2016 census.
The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland that established a system of local government in Ireland similar to that already created for England, Wales and Scotland by legislation in 1888 and 1889. The Act effectively ended landlord control of local government in Ireland.
In England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland, an urban district was a type of local government district that covered an urbanised area. Urban districts had an elected urban district council (UDC), which shared local government responsibilities with a county council.
In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties, or their combined form, the unitary authority. Civil parishes can trace their origin to the ancient system of ecclesiastical parishes which historically played a role in both civil and ecclesiastical administration; civil and religious parishes were formally split into two types in the 19th century and are now entirely separate. The unit was devised and rolled out across England in the 1860s.
A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries.
Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974, in Northern Ireland from 1840 to 1973 and in the Republic of Ireland from 1840 to 2002. Broadly similar structures existed in Scotland from 1833 to 1975 with the reform of royal burghs and creation of police burghs.
A civil parish is a country subdivision, forming the lowest unit of local government in England. There are 125 civil parishes in the ceremonial county of Bedfordshire, most of the county being parished: Luton is completely unparished; Central Bedfordshire is entirely parished. At the 2001 census, there were 312,301 people living in the 125 parishes, which accounted for 55.2 per cent of the county's population.
A civil parish is a country subdivision, forming the lowest unit of local government in England. There are 104 civil parishes in the ceremonial county of Berkshire, most of the county being parished; Reading is completely unparished; Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire and Wokingham are entirely parished. At the 2001 census, there were 483,882 people living in the 104 parishes, accounting for 60.5 per cent of the county's population.
A poor law union was a geographical territory, and early local government unit, in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Gloucester was, from 1894 to 1974, a rural district in the administrative county of Gloucestershire, England. The district did not include the City of Gloucester, which was a separate county borough. In 1935 Gloucester RD was more than doubled in size.
The Local Government Act 1894 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed local government in England and Wales outside the County of London. The Act followed the reforms carried out at county level under the Local Government Act 1888. The 1894 legislation introduced elected councils at district and parish level.
Sanitary districts were established in England and Wales in 1875 and in Ireland in 1878. The districts were of two types, based on existing structures:
Hemsworth was, from 1894 to 1974, a rural district in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England.
The Local Government Act 1929 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that made changes to the Poor Law and local government in England and Wales.
Town commissioners were elected local government bodies established in urban areas in Ireland in the 19th century. Larger towns with commissioners were converted to urban districts by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, with the smaller commissions continuing to exist beyond partition in 1922. The idea was a standardisation of the improvement commissioners established in an ad-hoc manner for particular towns in Britain and Ireland in the eighteenth century. The last town commissioners in Northern Ireland were abolished in 1962, while in the Republic of Ireland the remaining commissions were renamed as town councils in 2002, and abolished and replaced with municipal districts by the Local Government Reform Act 2014.
Boards of guardians were ad hoc authorities that administered Poor Law in the United Kingdom from 1835 to 1930.
The History of local government districts in Middlesex outside the metropolitan area began in 1835 with the formation of poor law unions. This was followed by the creation of various forms of local government body to administer the rapidly growing towns of the area. By 1934 until its abolition in 1965, the entire county was divided into urban districts or municipal boroughs.
The History of local government districts in Buckinghamshire began in 1835 with the formation of poor law unions. This was followed by the creation of various forms of local government body. In 1894 the existing arrangements were replaced with a system of municipal boroughs, urban and rural districts, which remained in place until 1974.
A civil parish is a country subdivision, forming the lowest unit of local government in England. There are 218 civil parishes in the ceremonial county of Cornwall, which includes the Isles of Scilly. The county is effectively parished in its entirety; only the unpopulated Wolf Rock is unparished. At the 2001 census, there were 501,267 people living in the current parishes, accounting for the whole of the county's population. The final unparished areas of mainland Cornwall, around St Austell, were parished on 1 April 2009 to coincide with the structural changes to local government in England.