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Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): MBW
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1739-1912
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 216.75 linear metres
Name of creator(s): MBW | Metropolitan Board of Works x Metropolitan Board of Works


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Metropolitan Board of Works was constituted under the Metropolis Local Management Act of 1855 (18 and 19 Vic. cap 120). It was only indirectly representative of ratepayers since its members were chosen, three by the Mayor and the Corporation of the City of London and the remainder by the parishes and district boards specifically mentioned in the Act. The Board took responsibility for the main drainage of London from the Metropolitan Commissioners of Sewers; it was given some supervisory and coordinating powers over the vestries and district boards, who were made responsible for local drainage and for paving and lighting of streets, and it was given power to make, widen or improve streets and roads and to regulate the naming of streets and numbering of houses. The Metropolitan Buildings Act (18 and 19 Vic. cap 122), passed on the same day as the Metropolis Local Management Act, gave the Board power to appoint and dismiss District Surveyors, to appoint a Superintending Architect of Metropolitan Buildings, and to modify the building regulations contained in the Act as might be necessary fron time to time.

During the life of the Board a whole series of Acts gradually extended its powers; notably the Metropolitan Gas Act, 1860, The Thames Embankment Acts, 1862, 1863 and 1868, The Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act, 1865, The Metropolitan Commons Act, 1866 (and subsequent amending Acts), and Acts relating to individual parks and open spaces, The Metropolitan Streets Act, 1867 (and susequent Street Improvement Acts), The Metropolis Toll Bridges Act, 1877 (and other Acts relating to bridges), The Artizans Dwellings Act, 1875 and The Public Entertainments Act, 1875.

Almost throughout its history members of the Board were discussing the possibility of the complete reorganisation of London Government, and from 1883 to 1885 a sub-committee of the Works and General Purposes Committee was meeting to consider municipal government. The several scandals that arose concerning irregularities in administration were symptomatic of the need for wider powers and more direct representation of the ratepayers. Under the Local Government Act 1888 the powers, duties and liabilities of the Board were transferred to the London County Council.


Scope and content/abstract:

MBW/1901-1908: Thames Floods (estimate of works required to repair damage caused by floods and estimates of works for defence against future flooding)
MBW/1909-1910: Redistribution Of Vestrymen (cuttings from minutes)
MBW/1911-1913: Water Supply (reports on the metropolis water supply)
MBW/1914-1916: Letters (in-letters, petitions, applications and out-letters)
MBW/1917-1919: Advertisements
MBW/1920-1924: Newspaper Cuttings
MBW/1925-1928: Staff Lists (including duties of officers)
MBW/1929-2309: Finance (including registers of contracts and agreements, salary books and rate books)
MBW/2310-2420: Printed Reports (including annual reports of the Board and Committees, architect's, engineer's and fire brigade reports, papers circulated to Board members, Bills and Acts of Parliament)
MBW/2421-2445: Contracts And Specifications for work on sewers, drains and embankments.
MBW/2446-2653: Plans (plans submitted to Parliament, plans of local improvements arranged by parish, plans of artisan's dwellings, plans of the metropolis water supply, plans of Thames floods, plans of parks and open spaces, plans presented to the Board and to various Committees to accompany reports, memorials and proposals for improvements, creation of parks, drainage, bridges, roads and tunnels, plans of railways)
MBW/2654-2656: District Surveyor (monthly returns and drainage applications)
MBW/2657-2663: Bridges (Accountant's Department papers concerning claims of the bridge companies whose bridges were acquired under the Metropolitan Toll Bridges Act 1877 and the Metropolitan Bridges Act 1883)
MBW/2664-2682: Thames Floods (volumes of duplicate copies of notices served on riparian [situated on the banks of a river] owners under the Metropolis Management (Thames River Prevention of Floods) Amendment Act 1879 and Metropolitan Board of Works (Various Powers) Act, 1882, with associated plans and riverfront elevations)
MBW/2683-2685: Financial Records (Accountant's Department papers)
MBW/2686-2807: Thames Floods (plans and estimates for flood prevention works and plans of river frontage with elevations of riparian [situated on the banks of a river] properties)
MBW/2808-2812: Thames Soundings
MBW/2813-2830: Specifications (volumes of specifications for housing, fire stations, bridges, drainage, parks, embankments and sewers)
MBW/2831-2837: Contract Books and Registers
MBW/2838-2840: Rate Books
MBW/P: Plans
MBW/OW: Office of Works (papers relating to the Chelsea Bridge and Embankment, Westminster Bridge, Battersea Park, Kennington Park and Victoria Park)
MBW/BC: Bridge Company (papers relating to Vauxhall Bridge)

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

MBW/1901-2840; MBW/P; MBW/OW; MBW/BC.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

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 1952 and 1992 (AC/52/040; AC/54/097; AC/55/013; AC/55/062).

Allied Materials

Related material:

MCS: Metropolitan Commission of Sewers; LCC: London County Council.

Publication note:

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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