“The Government of Victorian London, 1855-1889: The Metropolitan Board of Works, the Vestries, and the City Corporation”*

*book (published 1982) by David Edward Owen

From publisher’s blurb:

“Of all the major cities of Britain, London, the world metropolis, was the last to acquire a modern municipal government. Its antiquated administrative system led to repeated crises as the population doubled within a few decades and reached more than two million in the 1840s. Essential services such as sanitation, water supply, street paving and lighting, relief of the poor, and maintenance of the peace were managed by the vestries of ninety-odd parishes or precincts plus divers ad hoc authorities or commissions. In 1855, with the establishment of the Metropolitan Board of Works, the groundwork began to be laid for a rational municipal government.

Owen tells in absorbing detail the story of the operations of the Metropolitan Board of Works, its political and other problems, and its limited but significant accomplishments–including the laying down of 83 miles of sewers and the building of the Thames Embankments–before it was replaced in 1889 by the London County Council.”

From archiseek.com:

“The Metropolitan Board of Works was the principal instrument of London-wide government from 1856 until the establishment of the London County Council in 1889. Its principal responsibility was to provide infrastructure to cope with London’s rapid growth, which it accomplished. The MBW was an appointed rather than elected body. This lack of accountability made it unpopular with Londoners, especially in its latter years when it fell prey to corruption. Frederick Marrable, the architect of this building (Spring Gardens), was the board’s first chief architect. After the abolition of the MBW, the building was taken over by the London County Council as its headquarters until County Hall was built and occupied in 1922; the building was then renamed ‘Old County Hall’ and continued as offices for the council until 1958. It was subsequently used for central government offices and demolished in 1971 to make way for a new headquarters for the British Council.”

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