Council Fax

Council Fax is the story of how the local authority in Warrington developed from the Poor Law Union to Municipal Borough to the modern day Unitary Authority

All text from except where stated and used under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike.

Warrington Poor Law Union (1834)

In this first section we look at what a Poor Law Union was, followed by a brief introduction to all the districts that made up the Warrington Poor Law Union, many of which are now within the boundary of Warrington Unitary Authority.

Poor law unions existed in England and Wales from 1834 to 1930 for the administration of poor relief. Prior to the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, the administration of the English Poor Laws was the responsibility of the vestries of individual parishes, which varied widely in their size, populations, financial resources, rateable values and requirements. Vestries, apart from being a room in a church where a minister prepares for his message, it was also the name given to where a committee for the local secular and ecclesiastical government of a parish in England, Wales and some English colonies. They originally met in the vestry or sacristy of the parish church, and consequently became known colloquially as the “vestry”. At their height the vestries were the only form of local government in many places and spent nearly one-fifth of the budget of the British government. They were stripped of their secular functions in 1894, and were abolished in 1921. The word vestry comes from Anglo-Norman vesterie, from Old French vestiaire (“room for vestments, dressing room”), from Latin vestiarium (“wardrobe”).

From 1834 the parishes were grouped into unions, jointly responsible for the administration of poor relief in their areas and each governed by a board of guardians. A parish large enough to operate independently of a union was known as a poor law parish. Collectively, poor law unions and poor law parishes were known as poor law districts. The grouping of the parishes into unions caused larger centralised workhouses to be built to replace smaller facilities in each parish. Poor law unions were later used as a basis for the delivery of registration from 1837, and sanitation outside urban areas from 1875.

Poor law unions were abolished by the Local Government Act 1929, which transferred responsibility for public assistance to county and county borough councils. Information from Wikipedia.

Early workhouses in the town and district in 1728 were located at Church Street in Warrington, Cuerdley (for up to 50 inmates), and at Great Sankey (45 inmates). I have no information on the exact locations of Cuerdley or Great Sankey. They were all in existence in 1777 when they were mentioned in a Parliamentary report, which I don’t have access to.

A workhouse was opened at Poulton with Fearnhead in around 1740.

Between 1849 and 1851, a workhouse was built in Whitecross on a site between Lovely Lane and Guardian Street. The site of this workhouse is now the location of Warrington hospital, who took over some of the original workhouse buildings. Read more about Warrington’s workhouses here.

Warrington Poor Law Union was formed on 2 February 1837. Constituent parishes included the following districts (further information on each district will be available in the forthcoming Downtown section of the website).

Lancashire Townships within the Poor Law Union

Burton Wood

Burton Wood (St. Michael) is a chapelry created in 1668, in the parish and union of Warrington, hundred of West Derby, South division of the county of Lancaster, 5 miles (N. W.) from Warrington.

Croft with Southworth

Croft with Southworth (Christ Church) is a parish in the union of Warrington, hundred of West Derby, S. division of the county of Lancaster, 5 miles (N. N. E.) from Warrington. There are places of worship for Unitarians and Methodists; and a Roman Catholic chapel.


A considerable portion of Cuerdley lying by the Mersey is marshy. It is situated in flat country between the manufacturing towns of Widnes and Warrington. Early in the twelfth century Cuerdley formed part of the demesne of the Widnes fee, and before 1117 right of common in the woods and pasture was granted by William Fitz Nigel to the priory of Runcorn, which right continued to be enjoyed by the canons of this house after their removal to Norton.

From and used with permission.


Golborne is a township in the parish of Lowton, union of Leigh, hundred of West Derby, South division of Lancashire, 2 miles (N. N. E.) from Newton-in Makerfield. By a private act passed in 1845 to amend a private act in 1841, it is provided that if a church be built in Golborne, the place is to become a separate parish and rectory. The independents have a place of worship.

This township stretches northwards for about 2½ miles from the boundary of Newton to the Glazebrook. Millingford Brook, coming from Ashton, crosses the township and afterwards forms part of the eastern and southern boundaries.

At the inquest of 1212 it appears that Golborne was held of the baron of Makerfield in moieties; one half was held by the lord of Lowton, the other by a family using the local surname.

The Hospitallers had lands here. Cockersand Abbey had a tenement called Medewall, for which the free tenants, a family named Langton, paid a rent of 2s. 6d. The Hoghtons of Hoghton were landowners in Golborne from an early date, and the Haydocks also, with other of the neighbouring families.

Includes text from and used with permission.

Great Sankey

Great Sankey is a chapelry in the parish of Prescot, union of Warrington, hundred of West Derby, S. division of Lancashire, 2¾ miles west from Warrington.

The township, with Penketh as a hamlet, was included in the demesne of the lords of Warrington. The manor of Great Sankey is mentioned in several Boteler settlements and inquisitions, and on the sale of their estates about 1585 became the property of the Bolds of Bold. Sir Thomas Bold in 1610 granted it to Thomas Tyldesley and Thomas Orme; the latter shortly afterwards resigned his interest, so that Thomas Tyldesley was solely seized in 1613.

Within fifteen years it had passed to Sir Thomas Ireland of Bewsey, and has since descended, with other estates of this family, to Atherton, Gwillym, and Powys, Lord Lilford being the most recent lord of the manor. The chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, was built by the year 1728. Manor courts were held yearly until 1888.

A branch of the Rixton family settled here, as did a family named Whethull or Whittle, who appeared during the fourteenth century, and long remained here. The Leghs also held lands here, as may be seen by their inquisitions.

The Commonwealth surveyors of 1650 reported that the inhabitants of Great Sankey and Penketh had built a chapel, and they recommended that it should have a separate parish.  in 1728, Mr. Atherton, the lord of the manor, handed over the chapel to the bishop of Chester.

Includes text from and used with permission.


From its location between Newton and Ashton it seems to have been cut off from the former township. Clipsley Brook separates it from Garswood in Ashton, and Sankey Brook forms the south-west boundary. The manor of Haydock was a dependency or member of the fee of Newton. The first distinct notice of it is in 1168, when Orm de Haydock had paid two out of the 10 marks due from him to the aid for marrying the king’s daughter. He granted land called Cayley to the Hospitallers. His son Alfred took a surname from Ince, in which his demesne lay, and Haydock was divided between Hugh and William de Haydock, who were in possession in 1212.

From and used with permission.


Hollinfare (St Helen) was created a chapel of ease by 1654, in the township of Rixton cum Glazebrook; it later became an ecclesiastical parish [or chapelry] in Warrington parish. Hollinfare was historically within the Winwick deanery Diocese of Chester and later part of the Diocese of Liverpool. It is part of the Winwick deanery in the modern Diocese of Liverpool and forms a united benefice with Warrington All Saints. The Roman Catholics have a place of worship here.

The priests’ board fixed to the north wall shows a chantry chapel was established on this site by the then Lord of the Manor of Rixton, Hamlet Mascy, in 1497. A daughter church of St Elphin in Warrington, it was dedicated to St Helen, that church’s original patron saint.

Due to its proximity to the historic county of Cheshire and ecclesiastical link to Chester Diocese confusion arises as to which county it belongs to. Although often described as part of Cheshire in the 19th century it was in the county of Lancashire until 1974.

Houghton, Middletown and Arbury

The manor of Middleton, from which Houghton became separate in later times, was included in the fee of Makerfield. It was assessed as a plough-land and a half, and in 1212 was held in thegnage* by a total rent of 20s. in four equal shares, each of which appears to have been responsible in turn for providing a judge at the court of Newton.

This township has resulted from the combination of Middleton and Houghton, originally united, with Arbury. This last is a narrow strip of land along the eastern boundary of Winwick; the rest of the area is divided unequally between Middleton on the north, and Houghton on the south, there being no defined boundary between them. The total area is 853½ acres, made up thus: Houghton, 336; Middleton 244¼ Arbury, 273¼.

A road from Winwick Church leads through Arbury to Croft and Culcheth; it is joined by another from the south, coming from Warrington and Fearnhead through Houghton and Middleton.

The manor of Arbury was held in 1212 by the lord of Lowton by knight’s service, its rating being half a plough-land. Later the manor came into the possession of the Southworths.

From and used with permission.

*In Anglo-Saxon England a thegn was an aristocrat who owned substantial land in one or more counties. He ranked at the third level in lay society, below the king and ealdormen.

Kenyon, Newton in Mackerfield

Kenyon was originally part of Lowton, but about the end of the reign of Henry III William de Lawton granted to his son Jordan ‘the whole vill of Kenyon,’ at the rent of 1d. a year or a pair of white gloves. This was confirmed shortly afterwards by Robert, lord of Lowton, son of William. Jordan de Kenyon lived on until about 1300, when he was succeeded by his son Adam.

This township has an area of 1,685 acres and stretches north-west from the boundary of Newton to the Carr Brook, a distance of 2½ miles. The geological formation consists mainly of the Bunter series of the New Red Sandstone. To the north-east of Twist Green the Pebble Beds give place to the Upper Mottled Sandstone of this series.

The principal road is that from Lowton to Culcheth, a branch of it passing south through Kenyon village. The Liverpool and Manchester Railway of the London and North Western Company crosses the township and had a station at Kenyon Junction, whence a branch goes off to Leigh. The Great Central Company’s Manchester and Wigan line also passed through the township.

From and used with permission.

Newton in Makerfield, Lancashire

The township is called Newton in Makerfield or Newton le Willows, to distinguish it from other places of the name. Sankey Brook and its tributary Newton Brook form the greater part of the southern boundary.

A market and two fairs were in 1301 granted by Edward I to John de Langton. In 1346 it was found that Sir Robert de Langton held the plough-lands in Newton by the service of one knight’s fee, paying 10s. for ward of Lancaster Castle, and doing suit at the wapentake court at West Derby every three weeks. The manor of Newton, with its members, Lowton, Kenyon, Arbury, a moiety [each of two parts into which a thing is or can be divided] of Golborne, and the advowson of Wigan Church, was so held. The other manors of Newton fee – Southworth, Wigan, Ince, Hindley, Abram, Ashton, Pemberton, Billinge, Winstanley, Haydock, Orrell, Winwick-with-Hulme, Woolston, Poulton, Middleton, Houghton, and the other moiety of Golborne – were held by fealty only, i.e. a feudal tenant’s or vassal’s sworn loyalty to a lord.

The Blackburnes, afterwards of Orford and Hale, acquired lands here in the late 16th century. Their house, known more recently as Newton Hall, was built by Thomas Blackburne in 1634. Later, John Blackburne MP sold it to the Leghs.

From 1559 to 1832 it returned two members of Parliament.

From and used with permission.


Originally a hamlet in Great Sankey, Penketh was part of the demesne of the lords of Warrington. It is not clear when the manor was first granted out, but in 1242 Roger de Sankey held the twentieth part of a knight’s fee here under the heirs of Emery le Boteler. The descent from Roger is obscure. About 1280 Gilbert de Penketh and Robert de Penketh were joint lords of the manor; later records prove that the descendants of the latter held under those of the former.

The ancient ferry across the Mersey called Fiddler’s Ferry was owned in 1830 by Mrs. Hughes of Sherdley Hall, Sutton; there was an acknowledgement due to Sir Richard Brooke for permission to pass over his land. Also in the 19th century there were about one hundred acres of waste or common land, called the Greystone Heath and Doe Green. An award for enclosure was made in 1868 and confirmed in 1869, ninety acres being divided among the freeholders, while six acres were reserved for a recreation ground, and five acres for a cemetery for Penketh.

A road from Farnworth to Warrington runs eastwardly through the centre of the township the eastern boundary is partially formed by Whittle Brook.

From and used with permission.


Padgate is described as an ecclesiastical district in the parish and union of Warrington, hundred of West Derby, S. division of Lancashire, 2 miles (N. E.) from the town of Warrington. There are two places of worship for Wesleyans. Before 1838 Padgate was the name of a road from Warrington to Bolton. “Pad” is a north country word for path, and a “Padgate” is a well-trodden path.

Poulton with Fearnhead

Poulton was given by Count Roger of Poitou in 1093 or 1094 to the abbey of St. Peter of Shrewsbury. It had formed part of the count’s demesne between Ribble and Mersey. The gift was confirmed by Henry I, and about the year 1147 by Ranulf, earl of Chester, and in 1155 by Henry II. Sometime before the end of the twelfth century, the manor appears to have been acquired from the abbey of Shrewsbury by Robert Banastre, first lord of Makerfield.

The estate was sold early in the 19th century by William Bankes of Winstanley, and was acquired by Jonathan Jackson, sailcloth manufacturer of Warrington. In 1820 soap works were erected upon a portion of the Bruche estate, to which the name of Paddington was given, by Robert Halton, partner of Mr. Jackson from 1821.

Fearnhead was anciently an area mainly consisting of wood, waste, and moss, which in process of time was brought into cultivation by the tenants of the manor of Poulton. In 1282 Hugh son of Gilbert de Southworth demised to farm to Richard son of Emma de Woolston for life lands in Fearnhead in Poulton which he had by the grant of the said Richard.

From and used with permission.

Rixton with Glazebrook 

This township is the most easterly one of the hundred of West Derby. Glazebrook, a fair-sized stream, forms the boundary between this and the hundred of Salford. The Duke of Cumberland crossed by the ‘Holly Ferry’ and passed through the township in December 1745, in his pursuit of the Young Pretender. As the ferry at Hollinfare was of ancient date  it is probable that a chapel existed there before Hamlet Mascy built one for the chantry he founded in 1497.

Nothing is known of the manor of Rixton until the beginning of the thirteenth century, when it formed one of the members of the fee of Warrington. In 1212 it was held of William le Boteler by Alan de Rixton by knight’s service and the payment of 1 mark; the assessment was one plough-land. As nothing is said of the origin of the tenure, which was ‘of ancient time,’ the Rixton family may have been in possession as early as the beginning of Henry I’s reign. Little can be discovered concerning them; the name Alan de Rixton occurs from 1200 to 1332, so that several successive lords of the manor must have borne it.

From and used with permission.


Winwick St Oswald, is a parish in the union of Warrington, hundred of West Derby, South division of Lancashire; containing, with the township of Houghton with Middleton and Arbury, the township of Winwick with Hulme, 3 miles north from Warrington.

The parish was, until lately, of great extent, and included the now distinct parishes of Ashton-in-Makerfield, St Thomas in Ashton, Croft with Southworth, Lowton, Newchurch, and Newton-in-Makerfield; all which, by acts of parliament passed in 1844 and 1845, were formed into separate parishes.

Other places in the parish include: Arbury, Haydock, Houghton, Houghton, Middleton and Arbury, Winwick with Hulme, Kenyon, Middleton, Myddleton, Risley, and Hulme.

Religious Chapelries

Warrington Christ Church was a chapelry created by the year 1838 and stood in the township of Padgate in Warrington Parish.

Warrington Holy Trinity, Trinity Chapel was built as a chapel of ease for Warrington St Elphin Parish in the year 1761.

Warrington St Elphin was of Saxon origin, and existed at the time of the Conquest: of this there are no remains. The site is occupied by the present church, dedicated to St. Elphin, a spacious cruciform structure, of various styles, with a central tower, which, with the piers and arches supporting it, and the chancel, are the oldest parts, and a fine specimen of the decorated English style.

Warrington St Paul, St Paul Warrington was a chapelry created and built by the year 1830 and lay within the civil parish boundaries of Warrington St Elphin.

There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connection, Independents, Wesleyans, Independent Methodists, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics.

Other places in the parish include: Bank Quay, Glazebrook, Howley, Little Sankey, Martinscroft, Orford, Poulton and Fearnhead, Poulton with Fearnhead, Rixton, Rixton and Glazebrook, Rixton with Glazebrook, Woolston, Woolston and Martinscroft, Woolston with Martinscroft, and Fearnhead.

Cheshire Townships within the Poor Law Union


Grappenhall is a township and a parish in the district of Warrington and county of Chester. The township lies on the Bridgewater Canal, near the West Coast Main Line railway and the River Mersey. It is 2¾ miles SE by S of Warrington and has a post office under Warrington. The parish included the township of Latchford at one time. There were two dissenting chapels.

Grappenhall St Wilfrid was an ancient parish, originally serving the townships of Grappenhall and Latchford. The church is Norman in origin, built probably in the earlier part of the 12th century.


Latchford was a chapelry to Grappenhall Ancient Parish, which included Latchford and Thelwall, Cheshire and Warrington, Lancashire. Thus the chapelry, built in 1777, was ecclesiastically partly in Cheshire and partly in Lancashire. In 1796 the part of Latchford that was ecclesiastically in Lancashire became Latchford, St. James ecclesiastical parish. In 1866, the part of Latchford chapelry that was ecclesiastically in Cheshire became Latchford Christ Church ecclesiastical parish.

Its name came from Anglo-Saxon Læccford = “Boggy-stream ford”.

Latchford was originally a township in the ancient parish of Grappenhall, in Cheshire. It was also part of Bucklow Hundred, and was close to the border with Lancashire.

Between 1894 and 1974, part of Latchford was placed within the County Borough of Warrington, and the registration county of Lancashire, whilst the rest of Latchford became a civil parish named “Latchford Without” and was transferred to Lancashire.

With the local government reforms of 1974, as part of the newly formed Cheshire borough of Warrington, Latchford was transferred back to Cheshire.

Latchford is a suburban district and electoral ward of the unitary borough of Warrington, in Cheshire, England. It is around one mile south of Warrington town centre.

A predominantly residential area, Latchford lies between the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, and broadly consists of 19th-century terraced housing and some open space. The Canal is crossed here by a swing bridge, a high level road bridge and the now disused Latchford railway viaduct.


Thelwall was a township in the parochial chapelry of Daresbury, parish of Runcorn, union of Warrington, East division of the hundred of Bucklow in the North division of the county of Chester. It is 3 miles ESE from Warrington. The church, dedicated to All Saints, was rebuilt in 1843

Thelwall All Saints was formed as a chapel to Runcorn All Saints, ancient parish and became the parish church for part of Thelwall in 1870; other parts of the parish from 1866 are served by All Saints Latchford and became the parish church for part of Thelwall in 1870. Other parts of the parish from 1866 are served by All Saints Latchford, Cheshire Genealogy.

The origins of a church or chapel at Thelwall are unclear. It has been thought that a chapel was built by Richard Brooke of Norton Priory but a legal suit in 1663 suggests that there was a chapel on the site before this date. At this time Thelwall was in the parish of Runcorn. In 1663, the chapel on the site was restored by Robert Pickering. After this the chapel fell into disrepair. It was restored again and re-opened in 1782. By the following century the church was too small for its congregation and in 1843 a new church was built and consecrated.

Runcorn All Saints

Runcorn All Saints is the ancient parish church for Runcorn and includes Higher Walton, Lower Walton, Norton, Rocksavage, Stockham, Sutton, Sutton near Frodsham, Sutton Weaver, Walton Inferior, Walton Superior, Weston, Weston Point Christ Church, Aston Grange, Clifton, Clifton with Rocksavage, and Dutton.

A church has stood on the site of the present church for centuries. There is a tradition that the first church was founded in 915 by Ethelfleda when she built a castle nearby. This church was dedicated to St Bertelin and was probably a simple structure of wood and thatch.

There is no mention of Runcorn in the Domesday Book but there is evidence that Nigel, the first baron of Halton who died in 1080, conferred the church with a priest “in the days of the Conqueror”. A medieval church was later built on the site. When this was demolished in the 19th century, Norman capitals were found in the masonry of its tower.

Judging by its Early English style of architecture, the medieval church would have been built around 1250. It was built in local sandstone.

A later addition to the Warrington Poor Union was Little Sankey (from 1894).

Initially, the new Warrington Union took over existing township workhouses at Warrington and Newton-le-Willows.

You might find this website interesting The Workhouse, Warrington, Lancashire

Warrington Municipal Borough 1847

Within the boundaries of the historic county of Lancashire, the town of Warrington was incorporated as a municipal borough in 1847 under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. The town had its own police force from 1847 to 1969. Warrington acquired county borough status upon reaching a population of 50,000 in 1900 and until 1974 was known as the County Borough of Warrington.

Municipal boroughs were a type of local government district which existed in England and Wales between 1835 and 1974.

Boroughs had existed in England and Wales since medieval times. By the late Middle Ages they had come under royal control, with corporations established by royal charter. These corporations were not popularly elected: characteristically they were self-selecting oligarchies, were nominated by tradesmen’s guilds or were under the control of the lord of the manor.

A Royal Commission was appointed in 1833 to investigate the various borough corporations in England and Wales. In all 263 towns were found to have some form of corporation created by charter or in existence by prescription. The majority had self-elected common councils, whose members served for life. Where there was an election, the incumbent members of the corporation often effectively nominated the electorate. Eleven boroughs were manorial court leets. Following the report of the royal commission, legislation was introduced to reform borough corporations.

The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 provided for a reformed form of town government, designated a municipal borough. The Act introduced a uniform system of town government in municipal boroughs, with an elected town council, consisting of a mayor, aldermen and councillors to oversee many local affairs. The legislation required all municipal corporations to be elected according to a standard franchise, based on property ownership. The Act reformed 178 boroughs. At the same time, a procedure was established whereby the inhabitant householders of a town could petition the Crown via the privy council to grant a charter of incorporation, constituting the area a municipal borough.

Each municipal borough possessed a corporation uniformly designated as the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the town. The only exception was where the borough enjoyed city status; in this case “burgesses” became “citizens”. In a handful of cities the chief magistrate was granted the further dignity of lord mayor.

Town councils

The town council of each municipal borough consisted of a mayor, aldermen, and councillors. The councillors were directly elected by the burgesses for a three-year term, with one third of their membership retiring each year. Boroughs with a population of more than 6,000 were divided into wards with separate elections held in each ward annually. One quarter of the council were aldermen, who were elected by the council for a six-year term. Half of the aldermen were elected every third year at the council’s annual meeting. From Wikipedia

The first meeting of the council took place soon after the first municipal election on 1 June 1847. The first mayor of the town was William Beamont and other members of the council including businessmen and other prominent people from the town. These included John and Peter Rylands, railway engineer William Allcard, Gilbert Greenall, Thomas Lyon and Joseph Perrin, to name just a few.

The council wasted no time in meeting the needs of the community and in the first year work started on sewers, streets were paved, houses, hospitals, schools, parks and a cemetery and hospital wards were built. In 1848 the museum and library became the first in the country to be paid for out of the rates.

Other developments in the town included

  • Sewerage schemes in 1857
  • Longford gas works commenced in 1879
  • In 1900 we had electricity in the town
  • A new workhouse at Whitecross in 1851 (with some of the buildings later becoming part of Warrington hospital)
  • The School of Art on Museum Street in 1853
  • A field at Arpley was rented as the first recreation ground in 1865
  • The building that became our town hall was purchased in 1872
  • Legh Street baths came under council ownership in 1873 when the original private company operating them went out of business
  • The first steam fire engine was purchased in 1880
  • The first census in 1881 showed a population of 42,552

And that’s just some of the improvements to the town in just 50 or so years.

Warrington Sanitary District 1872

Sanitary districts were established in England and Wales in 1872 and in Ireland in 1878. The districts were of two types, based on existing structures:

  • Urban sanitary districts in towns with existing local government bodies
  • Rural sanitary districts in the remaining rural areas of poor law unions.

Each district was governed by a sanitary authority and was responsible for various public health matters such as providing clean drinking water, sewers, street cleaning and clearing slum housing.

In England and Wales, both rural and urban sanitary districts were replaced in 1894 by the Local Government Act 1894 by the more general rural districts and urban districts. A similar reform was carried out in Ireland in 1899 by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898.

England and Wales

Sanitary districts were formed under the terms of the Public Health Act 1872. Instead of creating new bodies, existing authorities were given additional responsibilities. The sanitary districts were created on 10 August 1872, when the act received royal assent, and the existing authorities were able to exercise their new powers from their first meeting after that date. The powers and responsibilities initially given to sanitary authorities in 1872 were relatively limited. They had to appoint a medical officer, but other powers were generally permissive rather than compulsory. Three years later the Public Health Act 1875 substantially broadened the scope of powers and expectations on sanitary authorities.

Urban sanitary districts were formed in any municipal borough governed under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, in any improvement commissioners district formed by private act of parliament, and in any local government district formed under the Public Health Act 1848 or Local Government Act 1858.

The existing governing body of the town (municipal corporation, improvement commissioners or local board of health) was designated as the urban sanitary authority.

When sanitary districts were formed there were approximately 225 boroughs, 575 local government districts and 50 improvement commissioners districts designated as urban sanitary districts. Over the next nineteen years the number changed: more urban sanitary districts were formed as towns adopted legislation forming local boards and as additional boroughs were incorporated; over the same period numerous urban sanitary districts were absorbed into expanding boroughs.

Rural sanitary districts were formed in all areas without a town government. They followed the boundaries of existing poor law unions, less the areas of urban sanitary districts. Any subsequent change in the area of the union also changed the sanitary district. At the time of abolition in 1894, there were 572 rural sanitary districts.

The rural sanitary authority consisted of the existing poor law guardians for the rural parishes involved.

The Local Government Act 1894 brought an end to sanitary districts in England and Wales. In boroughs, the corporation was already the sanitary authority. All other urban sanitary districts were renamed as urban districts, governed by an urban district council. Rural sanitary districts were replaced by rural districts, for the first time with a directly elected council. It was a requirement that whenever possible a rural district should be within a single administrative county, which led to many districts being split into smaller areas along county lines. A few rural districts with parishes in two or three different counties persisted until the 1930s.

The Local Government Act 1972 made district councils, London borough councils, the City of London Corporation, and Inner Temple and Middle Temple sanitary authorities. See more in Wikipedia, where you can also read information on how Scotland and Ireland were governed by their own versions.

County Borough of Warrington 1900

The County Borough of Warrington was, from 1900 to 1974, a local government district centred on Warrington in Lancashire. It was alternatively known as Warrington County Borough or the County of Warrington.

The district was created in 1900 and was based upon the earlier Municipal Borough of Warrington, which had, in turn, been based on the older ancient borough of Warrington. This had received its charter in 1847. These earlier local government districts had crossed the county boundary line and contained small parts of parishes in Cheshire, namely, Latchford, Cheshire and Thelwall though these anomalies were rectified in 1894 and 1884, respectively.

The County Borough of Warrington was abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 and its territory, along with that of Warrington Rural District transferred to Cheshire to form part of the Borough of Warrington.

Information from Wikipedia

Warrington Rural District 1894 

Warrington Rural District was, from 1894 to 1974, a local government district in the administrative county of Lancashire.

It was formed a rural district under the Local Government Act 1894 from the Warrington rural sanitary district, and was centred on territory north of the town of Warrington (which was broadly shared with, but separate from, the County Borough of Warrington).


It covered the following parishes initially:

  • Burtonwood
  • Cuerdley
  • Great Sankey
  • Houghton, Middleton and Arbury
  • Little Sankey
  • Penketh
  • Poulton with Fearnhead
  • Rixton with Glazebrook
  • Southworth with Croft
  • Winwick with Hulme
  • Woolston with Martinscroft

The parish of Little Sankey, which had been formed from that part of Warrington parish not in Warrington borough; was added to Warrington in 1896.


The district was reorganised in 1933, by taking in part of the disbanded Leigh Rural District. Several parishes were reorganised

  • Burtonwood
  • Croft
  • Cuerdley
  • Great Sankey
  • Penketh
  • Poulton with Fearnhead
  • Rixton with Glazebrook
  • Winwick
  • Woolston

The district was abolished on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972. It became part of the new borough of Warrington in the non-metropolitan county of Cheshire.

Information from Wikipedia

The Following Rural and Urban districts had ares that eventually became part of the Borough of Warrington in1974

Golborne Urban District 1894

Under the Local Government Act 1972, in force from 1 April 1974, the urban district of Golborne, established in 1894 (and expanded in 1933 by adding part of Leigh Rural District which included Kenyon), was split, with the parts of Culcheth and Newchurch becoming the civil parish of Culcheth and Glazebury in the Warrington district in Cheshire, and the rest of the district becoming part of the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan of Greater Manchester.

Information from Wikipedia

Leigh Rural District 1894 

Leigh Rural District was, from 1894 to 1933, a rural district of the administrative county of Lancashire, in northwest England. It spanned a rural area outlying from the town Leigh.

It was created based on the rural sanitary district and consisted of the civil parishes of Astley, Culcheth, Kenyon and Lowton. The district was abolished in 1933 under a County Review Order. The parishes of Kenyon, Lowton and part of Culcheth went to the Golborne urban district, Astley was added to Tyldesley Urban District, and the remainder of Culcheth parish became part of the parish of Croft in Warrington Rural District.

Since 1974 the parishes of Croft and Culcheth and Glazebury form part of the borough of Warrington and the rest are part of the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan.

Information from Wikipedia

Lymm Urban District 1894

Lymm Urban District is a former Urban District in Cheshire, based in the village of Lymm. It was created in 1894 and abolished in 1974 when it was incorporated into the Borough of Warrington. The area is now covered by a successor parish council.

Information from Wikipedia

Runcorn Rural District 1894

Runcorn was a rural district in Cheshire from 1894 until 1974. It was named after but did not include Runcorn, a town on the River Mersey to the north-west of the district, which formed its own urban district.

The district was abolished in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. It was split between the new districts of Vale Royal, Warrington and Halton, with the parishes of Appleton, Grappenhall, Hatton, Stockton Heath, Stretton, and Walton going to Warrington; the parishes of Daresbury, Moore and Preston Brook going to Halton (with Runcorn town), and the rest going to Vale Royal (now Cheshire West and Chester). The council had its offices at Castle Park in Frodsham.

Parishes that became part of Warrington:

  • Acton Grange (abolished in 1936 to form part of Walton)
  • Appleton
  • Grappenhall
  • Hatton
  • Latchford Without (abolished in 1936 to enlarge Stockton Heath)
  • Stockton Heath
  • Stretton
  • Thelwall
  • Walton
  • Walton Inferior (abolished in 1936 to form part of Walton)
  • Walton Superior (abolished in 1936 to form part of Walton)

Information from Wikipedia

See also the Local Government Act 1894

Whiston Rural District 1895

Whiston Rural District was a rural district of the administrative county Lancashire, England. It was created in 1895 by renaming the Prescot Rural District when the parish of Prescot was removed from that rural district and created a separate urban district. Later the parish of Speke was incorporated into the City of Liverpool and Ditton into the Municipal Borough of Widnes. In 1922 the parish of Kirkby was added from the disbanded Sefton Rural District and removed again in 1958 when it was created a separate urban district. It was named after and administered from Whiston. In 1934 and 1954 parts of Windle and Eccleston were removed and placed in St Helens county borough.

The district was abolished by the Local Government Act 1972 on 1 April 1974. Its ten civil parishes were split between the Merseyside metropolitan boroughs of Knowsley and St Helens and the Cheshire boroughs of Halton and Warrington as follows:

  • Cronton (Knowsley)
  • Halewood (Knowsley)
  • Knowsley (Knowsley)
  • Tarbock (Knowsley)
  • Whiston (Knowsley)
  • Eccleston (St Helens)
  • Rainhill (St Helens)
  • Windle (St Helens)
  • Bold (St Helens/Warrington)
  • Hale (Halton)

Information from Wikipedia

Local Government Act 1933

The Local Government Act 1933 was an Act of Parliament that consolidated and revised existing legislation that regulated local government in England (except the County of London) and Wales. It remained the principal legislation regulating local government until the Local Government Act 1972 took effect in 1974.

Powers of Local Authorities

Although local authorities acquired few new powers or duties, the Act did include a few innovations:

  • One section dealt with custody of records, and led to the establishment of county record offices
  • It became easier for local authorities to form joint committees where they had a common interest
  • A council could acquire land outside of its area in order to perform its functions
  • County councils could agree to exchange areas of land to form more efficient boundaries
  • Rural and urban district councils, previously elected annually by thirds, could opt for elections of the whole council, triennially.
Administrative Areas and local authorities

Although the 1933 Act did not create new local government areas, it repealed most of the Local Government Acts of 1888 and 1894, and parts of the Municipal Corporations Act 1882, and re-established the existing councils and administrative areas.

Information from Wikipedia

Borough of Warrington 1974

The Borough of Warrington is a unitary authority area with borough status in the ceremonial county of Cheshire, North West England. The borough is centred around the town of Warrington, and extends out into outlying areas such as Lymm, Great Sankey, and Birchwood.

The borough is geographically located to the north and northeast of the Cheshire West and Chester and Halton districts in Cheshire, the metropolitan borough of St Helens in Merseyside to the northwest and north and the metropolitan boroughs of Wigan and Trafford in Greater Manchester to the northeast, east, and southeast.

Additionally, to the south-east, the borough borders Cheshire East. The borough is also located between the cities of Liverpool, Salford, Manchester, Chester and Preston. The district straddles the historic counties of Cheshire (the South part of the district includes Lymm and Stockton Heath) and Lancashire (the North part including Warrington itself and Latchford).

Civil Parishes

The borough contains the unparished area of Warrington and 18 civil parishes.

Civil Parish – a type of administrative parish used for local government. It is a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government.  Civil parishes can trace their origin to the ancient system of ecclesiastical parishes, which historically played a role in both secular and religious administration.

Unparished area – an area that is not covered by a civil parish.

The 18 civil parishes of Warrington are:

  • Appleton
  • Birchwood (Town Council)*
  • Burtonwood and Westbrook
  • Croft
  • Cuerdley
  • Culcheth and Glazebury
  • Grappenhall and Thelwall
  • Great Sankey
  • Hatton
  • Lymm
  • Penketh
  • Poulton-with-Fearnhead
  • Rixton-with-Glazebrook
  • Stockton Heath
  • Stretton
  • Walton
  • Winwick
  • Woolston


The borough of Warrington was historically split between the historic counties of Cheshire and Lancashire.

The whole part of the borough (north of the River Mersey) is within the historic boundaries of the county of Lancashire which includes the town of Warrington, and the areas of Latchford, Great Sankey, Culcheth, Glazebury, Burtonwood and Birchwood.

The whole part of the borough (south of the River Mersey) is within the historic boundaries of the county of Cheshire which includes the villages of Lymm, Stockton Heath, Appleton Thorn and Stretton. These remain in the same county now unchanged by the reforms.

In 1974, following the local government reforms which saw many old counties and districts abolished and new counties or districts created. Warrington along with the neighbouring town of Widnes was moved into the county of Cheshire which saw the entire area from the border with Speke/Widnes to Glazebury/Cadishead moved into the county of Cheshire.

The current borough was formed from the County Borough of Warrington and the wards of Culcheth and Newchurch in Golborne Urban District of Culcheth and Newchurch in Golborne Urban District, Warrington Rural District and part of the parish of Bold in Whiston Rural District, in Lancashire and Lymm Urban District and the parishes of Appleton, Grappenhall, Hatton, Stockton Heath, Stretton and Walton from Runcorn Rural District in Lancashire. The M62 motorway forms a border with both Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

Information from Wikipedia

* Birchwood Town Council

Birchwood Town Council is the first tier of local government, and is therefore the closest to the local community, followed by Warrington Borough Council.

Parish and Town Councils were created in law, and they can only act within the law, by exercising their powers and functions which have been conferred on them by Statutes (i.e. Acts of Parliament). Town Councils have a number of powers available to them, but the ability to exercise any such powers may sometimes depend upon a number of other factors, such as land ownership, financing, or planning approval.

There is some confusion as to what the difference is between a Parish and Town Council. The answer is simple, nothing, they are exactly the same. However, a Town Council can elect a Mayor to be Head of Council, instead of a Chairperson. Birchwood Town Council chooses to have a Chairperson, and in May of each year, a Chair is elected by the Council.

In order to support their activities, Parish/Town Councils need funds, and they are primarily funded from a small percentage of the Council Tax charge, made by Warrington Borough Council to parishioners. This is known as the precept. For the majority of Parish Councils. the precept is a small portion of the whole Council Tax Bill, and is the main source of income. The level of this precept is at the discretion of the parish, based on the Council’s budget, and the number of Band D equivalent properties within the parish. Birchwood Town Council does not receive any Government funding, or income from business rates, but it does receive a very small amount of additional income from letting out its meeting room.

The Town Council campaigns on local issues, and lobbies other agencies (including land owners) to take action, or rectify defects, which are in the interests of the local community. It normally comprises twelve Councillors, who are elected by the people of Birchwood.  The twelve Councillors represent four wards within Birchwood; Chatfield (2), Gorse Covert (3), Locking Stumps (4) and Oakwood (3).


Warrington Unitary Authority 1998

The borough became a unitary authority in 1998, along with Halton, making it separate from the then Cheshire County Council before the 2009 restructuring of local government which saw the county council abolished and replaced by two new unitary authorities, Cheshire East and Cheshire West (and Chester). All four unitary authorities still form Cheshire for ceremonial purposes and share local services.

Information from Wikipedia