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Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): LCC
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1721-1983
Level of description: Collection
View subfonds/series records
Extent: 2796.07 linear metres
Name of creator(s): LCC | London County Council x London County Council


Administrative/Biographical history:

London's first civic authority was that of the City of London. The origin of the Corporation of London is unknown, but the initial rights and privileges of the City rested upon a Charter granted by William the Conqueror. The term 'London' was gradually applied to the area adjoining the ancient city, and as a consequence of the need for a central authority to deal with the local government of this ever growing area the term 'metropolis' was defined, and an authority, the Metropolitan Board of Works, was set up in 1855 to deal with many of the services common to the whole area. In 1888, as a result of the Local Government Act, the area of the City and the metropolis was constituted the 'Administrative County of London' and the London County Council was established as the central authority. The 'Administrative County' consisted of the City of London and the twenty-eight metropolitan boroughs; while a 'County of London' was also constituted, excluding the City of London, for certain ceremonial and judicial purposes; for example, a Lord Lieutenant was appointed, while in the City this function is carried out by the Lord Mayor. Those parts of Middlesex, Kent and Surrey that were part of the Metropolis were taken out of those counties and added to the County of London.

The City of London and the twenty-eight borough councils were independent of the County Council, and had complete jurisdiction over certain fields within their individual areas. There were many case in which cooperation and consultation took place between the various London local government authorities. The principal instances in which the County Council had control over the Metropolitan Borough Councils were: sanctioning the raising of loans for housing, building, land purchase, street improvements and drainage; making byelaws (although the borough councils had to enforce the byelaws); approval of sewer plans; taking steps if the borough council was not fulfilling statutory obligations; and control over grants. Other bodies which the County Council worked alongside included the Metropolitan Police, the London Passenger Transport Board, the Port of London Authority, the Thames Conservancy Board, the London and Home Counties Joint Electricity Authority and the Metropolitan Water Board.

The London County Council consisted of persons directly elected, every third year, by the local government electorate in the Administrative County, and of aldermen elected by the Council itself. The aldermen retained their seats for six years. The powers and duties of the Council were:
(i) those powers transferred from the Metropolitan Board of Works, including drainage, street improvements, Thames flood prevention, street naming and numbering, bridges and tunnels, fire brigade, slum clearance, supervision of building works and parks and open spaces;
(ii) those powers involved in administrative business transferred from the Justices, including issuing licences for music, dancing and stage plays, mental hospitals, reformatory and industrial schools, county bridges, coroners, weights and measures;
(iii) education, including those powers transferred from the London School Board in 1904;
(iv) those powers transferred from the London Poor Law Authorities in 1930, including the 25 Boards of Guardians, the Metropolitan Asylums Board, Boards of School District Managers and the Central Unemployed Body;
(v) those powers conferred directly by Parliament at various times, including ambulances, mental deficiency, protection of children, licences for cinemas, boxing and wrestling, licences for motor cars, housing, town planning, health services, welfare of the blind, employment agencies and massage establishments.

The first meetings of the Council were held at both the Guildhall in the City and the offices of the Metropolitan Board of Works at Spring Gardens, Trafalgar Square. New headquarters were planned at County Hall. This was situated on the southern bank of the Thames close to Westminster Bridge. The foundations were begun in 1909, the foundation stone was laid in 1912 and the building was formally opened in 1922. In 1937 the administrative staff of the Council numbered 6,000, while the total staff included 18,150 teachers, 2,000 fire fighters, 22,000 hospital staff, 3,000 housing estates workers, 8,200 mental hospital staff, 1,450 park staff, 3,100 public assistance staff and 1,000 main drainage service staff.

In 1957 the Royal Commission on Local Government in Greater London was set up under the chairmanship of Sir Edwin Herbert. Their terms of reference were 'to examine the present system and working of local government in the area' and 'to recommend whether any, and if so what, changes in the local government structure and the distribution of local authority functions in the area, or any part of it, would better secure effective and convenient local government'. After nearly three years consideration of these issues the Commission reported in 1960, recommending a radical reorganisation of London's local government. All existing local authorities except the City of London Corporation were to be abolished, a council for Greater London was to be established, and new boroughs were to be created, each within a population range of 100,000 to 250,000. The councils of these new boroughs were to be the primary units of local government and to have the most normal local government functions, including housing, personal health, welfare and children's services, environmental health, roads other than main roads, libraries and functions in relation to education and planning. The council for Greater London was to have certain functions of education and planning, and be the authority for traffic, main roads, refuse disposal, fire and ambulance services; as well as having supplementary powers for housing, parks, entertainments, sewerage and land drainage. When the Bill for the Local Government Act, 1963, based on the Royal Commission report, was introduced into Parliament it was met with considerable opposition. Some amendments were passed, but the Bill was passed into law without major alterations. An Inner London Education Authority was provided so that education could continue to be handled on a wider county level. Thirty-two new London borough councils were established. The first elections for the Greater London Council were held on 9 April 1964. The LCC was to remain in being side by side with the new authority to enable a smooth transfer, until 1 April 1965 on which date the old authority ceased to exist.

The Royal Commission commented that 'nobody studying London Government can fail to be deeply impressed with the achievements of the London County Council. It has given the Administrative County of London a strong and able form of government which makes its standing very high among the municipal governments of the world'.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the London County Council, 1721-1983, including the Architect's Department, Chief Engineer's Department, Children's Department, Clerk's Department, Comptroller of the Council's Department, Education Officer's Department, Fire Brigade Department, Housing Department, Legal and Parliamentary Department, Lieutenancy of the County of London, Public Control Department, Public Health Department, Parks Department, Restaurant and Catering Department, Staff Benevolent Society, Supplies Department, Tramways Department, Valuation Department, Welfare Department and Works Department.

The type of records held include committee minutes and papers, administrative records, reports, plans and maps, photographs, log books, registers and samples of case files, examinations, application forms, licences, school report books, publicity material, pamphlets, leaflets and publications. The records deal with various aspects of London governance including the management of schools, hospitals, health centres and other insitutions; the overseeing and regulation of construction work, street improvements, sewers and drains, flood defences and bridges; tax assessments; the construction and maintenance of housing estates; the maintenance of parks and open spaces; the care of children, the elderly and the disabled; the monitoring of legal requirements; licensing and monitoring of establishments including lodging houses, theatres, cinemas, and slaughterhouses; licensing of vehicles and drivers; traffic congestion and transport issues; town planning; financial accounts, estimates and budgets and emergency measures during the First and Second World Wars.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In sections by department; LCC/AR/BA - LCC/WKS/GEN.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Received in multiple accessions between 1953 and 1999 (AC/53/008; AC/53/023; AC/53/045; AC/53/051; AC/53/053; AC/53/057; AC/54/042; AC/54/073; AC/54/077; AC/54/081; AC/54/098; AC/54/099; AC/54/100; AC/54/104; AC/54/106; AC/54/107; AC/54/109; AC/55/010; AC/55/016; AC/55/019; AC/55/024; AC/55/062; AC/55/071; AC/55/078; AC/55/079; AC/55/088; AC/55/095; AC/55/102; AC/55/107; AC/55/108; AC/55/110; AC/55/114; AC/55/116; AC/55/117, B98/207, B99/066).

Allied Materials

Related material:

Related records on the government of London held at LMA:
Metropolitan Board of Works: reference MBW
City of London: references COL and CLA
London School Board: reference SBL
Boards of Guardians: various references e.g. BBG for Bermondsey Board of Guardians
Metropolitan Asylums Board: reference MAB
Central Unemployed Body: reference CUB
Middlesex County Council: reference MCC
Inner London Education Authority: reference ILEA
Greater London Council: reference GLC

Publication note:

For further information on the history of the LCC please see The London County Council: its duties and powers by Sir GL Gomme (1888), History of London County Council, 1889-1939 by Sir G Gibbon and R Bell (1939), LMA library reference 18.0 1939, Achievement: A Short History of the London County Council by W Eric Jackson (1965), LMA Library reference 18.0 1965, The London County Council 1938, LMA Library reference 18.7 SER 4, and The Youngest County: A description of London as a county and its public services, 1951, LMA Library reference 18.0 1951.

A detailed bibliography of sources for the history of London is available in the W Eric Jackson history.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
April to June 2009

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