Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wolverton Urban District Council

It is hard to believe today that Stony Stratford was administered by four Parish Councils 100 years ago. The ancient Parish Councils of St Mary's and St Giles had by this time changed their names to Stony Stratford East and Stony Stratford West but the old jurisdictions were the same and the western edge of Horsehair Green was still part of Calverton. All of the late 19th century development along the Wolverton and London Roads was still part of the Wolverton Parish Council.

The Victorian age had transformed Wolverton from a tiny village with a fraction of Stony Stratford's population into an urban area which was by far the largest concentration of population in the whole county. Wolverton's population in 1900 far exceeded that of ancient towns like Buckingham, Aylesbury and Newport Pagnell, and Stony Stratford was now the smaller cousin of Wolverton.

In 1894 a Local Government Act created Rural District Councils. The old Parish Councils continued but larger issues, such as planning, council housing, water and sewage, public health were taken over by the new RDCs. Thus the Wolverton and Stony Stratford RDC came into being. The two Stony Stratford parishes, Wolverton and Calverton comprised the new Rural District. New Bradwell was not part of things at this stage.

At the same time the anomaly of these North Bucks parishes belonging to the Potterspury Poor Law Union was resolved. When Poor Law Unions were created in 1832 the Duke of Grafton made sure that it was centred in his patch and in this case it extended across the County boundary to include the Wolverton and Calverton parishes. At the time this may have mattered little, because with the exception of Stony Stratford these parishes were completely rural in character. The coming of the railway in 1838 changed that.

About 100 years ago proposals originated in Wolverton to create an Urban District Council. Urban districts, which were also created by the 1894 Act, had more powers than a comparable Rural District and the councillors felt that Wolverton and Stony Stratford had come of age. Accordingly, in 1919 the Stony Stratford and Wolverton Urban District Council was created. the combined population was about 10,500.

This state of affairs didn't last long. New Bradwell wished to become part of the urban district and was then accommodated. The new UDC, formed in 1920, took the name of Wolverton Urban District Council. It now included New Bradwell, Wolverton, the two Stony Stratford parishes and Calverton.

Wolverton UDC lasted for 54 years. A Local Government Act of 1972 abolished all Rural District and Urban District Councils in favour of larger administrative units which included towns and rural areas. Two years were allowed for the councils to wind down their affairs. The new town of Milton Keynes became the obvious vehicle for local government and now holds sway over a good part of North Bucks.

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