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The London Government Act 1963 (c. 33) is an Act of Parliament, which recognised officially the conurbation known as Greater London and created a new local government structure for the capital. The Act significantly reduced the number of local government districts in the area, resulting in local authorities responsible for larger areas and populations. The upper tier of local government was reformed to cover the whole of the Greater London area and with a more strategic role; and the split of functions between upper and lower tiers was recast. The Act classified the boroughs into Inner London and outer London groups. The City of London and its corporation were essentially unreformed by the legislation. Subsequent amendments to the Act have significantly amended the upper tier arrangements, with the Greater London Council constituted in the legislation replaced by the Greater London Authority. As of 2012, the London boroughs are more or less identical to those created in 1965, although with some enhanced powers over services such as waste management and education.

Provisions of the Act[]

The Act set up a two-tier local government system, with powers divided between the newly formed Greater London Council (GLC), 32 new London borough councils and the existing City of London. The provisions of the Act came into effect on 1 April 1965, the new councils having been elected as "shadow authorities" in 1964.

Section 1 of the Act established 32 London boroughs, each of which was to be governed by an elected borough council, and was to be regulated by the Municipal Corporations Act 1882 and Local Government Act 1933. Twelve of the boroughs, corresponding to the former County of London, were designated Inner London boroughs. The remaining twenty boroughs were designated Outer London boroughs. None of the boroughs were given names in the Act.

Section 2 declared that the area comprising the areas of the London boroughs, the City and the Temples shall constitute an administrative area to be known as Greater London. An elected Greater London Council was to govern the new area.

Section 3 abolished the administrative counties of Middlesex and London (created in 1889), and absorbed parts of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Hertfordshire plus the whole of the City of London to form the administrative area of Greater London. As well the two counties, the twenty-eight existing metropolitan boroughs, plus all county boroughs, county districts or civil parish that fell wholly within Greater London were to cease to exist, along with their councils. No part of Greater London was to form part of any administrative county, county district or parish. Three Middlesex urban districts not included in Greater London were transferred to other counties: Potters Bar to Hertfordshire and Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames to Surrey.

The Act also established the Inner London Education Authority to administer schools and colleges in the 12 inner London boroughs. The remaining 20 outer boroughs became local education authorities in their own right. The London Traffic Area and the London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee, set up in 1924, were abolished, with the GLC gaining powers to regulate road traffic. An alteration was also made to the Metropolitan Police District to include the whole of Greater London, but the district continued to include a number of areas in surrounding counties.

Later the Local Government Act 1985 would abolish the GLC and devolve its functions to the London boroughs and to central government.

The boroughs[]

Map of London boroughs as numbered in Schedule 1 of the Act. Inner London boroughs are labelled in red, while the City of London is shown in black.

The composition of the London boroughs was given in Schedule 1 of the Act:

  1. The metropolitan boroughs of Westminster, Paddington and St Marylebone.
  2. The metropolitan boroughs of Hampstead, Holborn and St Pancras.
  3. The metropolitan boroughs of Finsbury and Islington.
  4. The metropolitan boroughs of Hackney, Shoreditch and Stoke Newington.
  5. The metropolitan boroughs of Bethnal Green, Poplar and Stepney.
  6. The metropolitan borough of Greenwich and so much of the metropolitan borough of Woolwich as lay south of the centre of the navigable channel of the River Thames at low water.
  7. The metropolitan boroughs of Deptford and Lewisham.
  8. The metropolitan boroughs of Bermondsey, Camberwell and Southwark.
  9. The metropolitan borough of Lambeth and so much of the metropolitan borough of Wandsworth as lay east of Hazelbourne Road, Cavendish Road, the railway between Balham and Streatham Common stations and the railway between Streatham and Mitcham Junction stations.
  10. The metropolitan borough of Battersea and the remainder of the metropolitan borough of Wandsworth not included in borough 9.
  11. The metropolitan boroughs of Fulham and Hammersmith.
  12. The metropolitan boroughs of Chelsea and Kensington
  13. The boroughs of Chingford, Leyton and Walthamstow
  14. The borough of Ilford, the borough of Wanstead and Woodford, so much of the borough of Dagenham as lay north of Billet Road and an area in the south of the urban district of Chigwell including the Hainault Estate.
  15. The borough of Romford and the urban district of Hornchurch.
  16. The borough of Barking except the part in Borough 17 and the borough of Dagenham except the part in Borough 14.
  17. The county boroughs of East Ham and West Ham, so much of the borough of Barking as lay west of the River Roding and Barking Creek and the part of the metropolitan borough of Woolwich not included in Borough 6.
  18. The boroughs of Bexley and Erith, the urban district of Crayford, and so much of the urban district of Chislehurst and Sidcup as lay north of the A20 road.
  19. The boroughs of Beckenham and Bromley, the urban districts of Orpington and Penge, and so much of the urban district of Chislehurst and Sidcup as lay south of the A20 road.
  20. The county borough of Croydon and the urban district of Coulsdon and Purley.
  21. The borough of Beddington and Wallington, the borough of Sutton and Cheam and the urban district of Carshalton.
  22. The boroughs of Mitcham and Wimbledon and the urban district of Merton and Morden.
  23. The borough of Kingston upon Thames, the borough of Malden and Coombe and the borough of Surbiton.
  24. The boroughs of Barnes, Richmond and Twickenham.
  25. The borough of Brentford and Chiswick, the borough of Heston and Isleworth, and the urban district of Feltham.
  26. The borough of Uxbridge, the urban district of Hayes and Harlington, the urban district of Ruislip-Northwood, and the urban district of Yiewsley and West Drayton.
  27. The boroughs of Acton, Ealing and Southall.
  28. The boroughs of Wembley and Willesden.
  29. The borough of Harrow.
  30. The boroughs of Finchley and Hendon, and the urban districts of Barnet, East Barnet and Friern Barnet.
  31. The boroughs of Hornsey, Tottenham and Wood Green.
  32. The boroughs of Edmonton, Enfield and Southgate.


As passed, the Act did not include names for the new boroughs. Keith Joseph, the Minister, asked local councils for suggestions as to possible names, asking that they be a single word if possible, and noting that "the best name will be the place recognised as the centre of the new borough". Double-barrelled names were to be prohibited.[1][2]

Nine names were without controversy and were proposed in September, 1963.[3]

Six new names were proposed by the Minister in October, 1963 for boroughs unable to decide upon a name[4]

The Minister proposed a further twelve names in January, 1964[5]

  • Hammersmith and Fulham (Borough 11) were unable to choose a single name, and sent a shortlist to the Minister including "Riverside" and "Olympia". Wembley and Willesden (Borough 28) wished to be called "Willesden and Wembley", but was ultimately titled Brent after the River Brent.

Chelsea was unwilling to lose its name, and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was the only double-barrelled name to be permitted. The name "Royal Borough of Charlton" was proposed for Greenwich/Woolwich (Borough 6), whilst Lewisham and Deptford (Borough 7) were also unable to agree on whether the borough should be named Lewisham, Deptford or Ravensbourne. The councils to become part of the London Borough of Barnet (Borough 30) suggested "Northgate" or "Northern Heights" as names. Islington and Finsbury (Borough 3) were also unable to come to a decision, with Finsbury preferring "New River" and Islington preferring Islington. Richmond and Twickenham (Borough 24) disagreed over which, if any of those names should appear in the new borough names. Suggestions for Enfield (Borough 32) included "Enfield Chase" and "Edmonton Hundred".

The Local Government Act 1972 would later provide a mechanism for councils to change their names, and both the London Borough of Hammersmith and the London Borough of Barking changed their names after their creation to contain a second locality: to "Hammersmith and Fulham" and "Barking and Dagenham", respectively.

Distribution of functions[]

The split of functions between the new authorities were:[6]

Greater London Council Shared London boroughs
  • Education (ILEA / Outer boroughs)
  • Roads
  • Planning
  • Housing
  • Sewage
  • Traffic
  • Personal health services
  • Welfare services
  • Children's services
  • Libraries
  • Refuse collection
  • Swimming baths
  • Weights and measures
  • Food and drugs
  • Public health inspection
  • Cemeteries and crematoria
  • Collection of rates


Herbert Report[]

A royal commission was appointed in 1957 under the chairmanship of Sir Edwin Herbert to consider future local government structures in Greater London. The commission delivered its report in October 1960 proposing the creation of a Greater London with 52 Greater London Boroughs.

The Greater London area set up by the 1963 Act was very similar to that proposed by the Herbert Report, with the exclusion of Banstead, Caterham and Warlington, Esher, Walton and Weybridge in Surrey, Chigwell in Essex, Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, and Staines and Sunbury in Middlesex.

Passage through Parliament[]

The government felt that the boroughs should be fewer and larger, and published its plan for 34 London boroughs in late 1961.[7] In the County of London area this reorganised the proposed boroughs so that the pairings leading to the present boroughs of Camden, Westminster and Islington were achieved. The Hackney borough had Shoreditch rather than the Tower Hamlets borough, whilst south of the river, Lewisham would be standalone, Deptford would combine with Camberwell and Bermondsey, and Southwark and Lambeth would unite. Eastern Wandsworth was to form a borough in itself, with western Wandsworth being paired with Battersea.

Outside the county of London area the boroughs were to be:

  • Chigwell (north of the Roding - that is, Loughton and Buckhurst Hill)/Chingford/Leyton/Walthamstow/Wanstead and Woodford
  • Chigwell (south of the Roding)/Ilford
  • Hornchurch (part)/Romford
  • Barking/Dagenham/Hornchurch (Rainham and South Hornchurch wards)
  • East Ham/West Ham/North Woolwich
  • Bexley/Chislehurst and Sidcup/Crayford/Erith
  • Beckenham/Bromley/Orpington/Penge
  • Caterham and Warlingham/Coulsdon and Purley/Croydon
  • Banstead/Beddington and Wallington/Carshalton/Epsom and Ewell/Sutton and Cheam
  • Merton and Morden/Mitcham/Wimbledon
  • Esher/Kingston/Maldon and Coombe/Surbiton/Walton and Weybridge
  • Barnes/Richmond/Twickenham
  • Brenford and Chiswick/Feltham/Heston and Isleworth/Staines/Sunbury
  • Hayes and Harlington/Ruislip-Northwood/Uxbridge/Yiewsley and West Drayton
  • Acton/Ealing/Southall
  • Wembley/Willesden
  • Harrow
  • Barnet/Finchley/Hendon
  • East Barnet/Enfield (part)/Friern Barnet/Hornsey/Southgate/Wood Green
  • Cheshunt/Edmonton/Enfield (part)/Tottenham

The Minister of Housing and Local Government announced that Cheshunt, Chigwell, Esher, Staines and Sunbury were to be excluded from Greater London on 18 May 1961, having already announced the exclusion of Banstead, Caterham and Warlingham Urban District and Walton and Weybridge. The requests by Romford, Barnet, Carshalton, Coulsdon and Purley, Feltham, and Yiewsley and West Drayton to be removed from the area were turned down. Additionally, it was stated that the "northern part of the borough of Epsom and Ewell definitely forms part of Greater London and must be included", although Epsom was to be excluded.[8] Epsom and Ewell would ultimately be excluded from the area in its entirety.

Changes published in August 1962 saw a reduction from 33 to 32 boroughs with the association of Clapham/Streatham with the London Borough of Lambeth; Shoreditch joining Hackney - also Wanstead and Woodford would be added to Ilford to form the London Borough of Redbridge rather than the London Borough of Waltham Forest; Chislehurst and Sidcup Urban District would be divided between the London Borough of Bromley and the London Borough of Bexley, and that East Barnet, Friern Barnet, Hendon, and Finchley would form a single London Borough of Barnet, and that Enfield would join Edmonton and Southgate (in the London Borough of Enfield), and the association of Tottenham, Hornsey and Wood Green (to form the London Borough of Haringey).[9]

The Local Government Bill was finally published in November 1962[10] proposed essentially the 32 London boroughs that were created.


  1. Choosing Names For New Boroughs. The Times. June 25, 1963.
  2. Where Judgement of Solomon Will Be Required: Minister to Have Final Word on Names of New London Boroughs. The Times. August 8, 1963.
  3. Names for Nine New Boroughs of London. The Times. September 14, 1963.
  4. Minister Names New Boroughs. The Times. October 30, 1963
  5. Chelsea Name Retained: New Decisions on Three Boroughs. The Times. January 3, 1964.
  6. Redcliffe-Maud & Wood, B., English Local Government Reformed, (1974)
  7. Government Plan for 34 London Boroughs. The Times. December 19, 1961.
  8. Five More Towns Now Out Of London Plan. The Times. May 19, 1962
  9. Changes In Proposals For London Council Areas: Ministry Accepts Recommendations. The Times. August 3, 1962.
  10. London Government Bill. Fewer, Bigger, Boroughs To Run Own Education, Central Control Over Water. The Times. November 23, 1962

External links[]