Old Ordnance Survey Maps of Northumberland

This page summarises the local government organisation of Northumberland since 1889.

  • Northumberland County Council was formed in 1889, and in 1894 a network of boroughs, urban district and rural district councils was formed across the county.
  • Newcastle upon Tyne had been an independent county since 1400, and Berwick-upon-Tweed had been a county since 1551. Newcastle became a County Borough in 1889 and so remained a county until 1974. It also became a City in 1882. However Berwick-upon-Tweed ceased to be a county in 1885.
  • In 1844 Bedlingtonshire, Norhamshire and Islandshire, hitherto part of County Durham, were incorporated into Northumberland.
  • Geographical Northumberland had three Municipal Boroughs in 1836, following the Municipal Corporations Act the previous year. These were Berwick-upon-Tweed, Morpeth and Newcastle upon Tyne. Later Municipal Boroughs were created for Tynemouth in 1849, Wallsend (1901), Blyth (1922) and Whitley Bay (1954). Newcastle became a County Borough in 1889 and Tynemouth in 1904.
  • From 1894 there were also 18 Urban Districts: Alnwick & Canongate (Alnwick from 1896), Amble, Bedlingtonshire, Blyth, Benwell & Fenham, Cowpen, Cramlington, Earsden, Hexham, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, Newburn, Seghill, South Gosforth (Gosforth from 1895), Walker, Wallsend, Weetslade, Whitley & Monkseaton (Whitley Bay from 1944), and Willington Quay Urban Districts. Further UDCs were created for Ashington, Rothbury (both 1896), Prudhoe (1910), Longbenton (1912), and Seaton Delaval (1912). In 1935 a new Seaton Valley Urban District was created with the amalgamation of Cramlington, Earsden and Seghill UDCs. Urban Districts had similar powers to Municipal Boroughs but lacked the right to elect mayors or aldermen.
  • Benwell & Fenham and Walker Urban Districts were absorbed by Newcastle in 1904. Cowpen UDC was absorbed by Blyth in 1907. Willington Quay UDC was absorbed by Wallsend in 1910. Weetslade UDC was absorbed by Longbenton in 1935. Rothbury Urban District was absorbed by Rothbury Rural District in 1935. As mentioned above, Wallsend, Blyth and Whitley Bay UDCs became Municipal Boroughs (1901, 1922, and 1954 respectively).
  • From 1894 there were also 11 Rural District Councils covering the areas outside the major towns, but these had less powers. Initially most RDCs were based on the Unions, met at the Workhouse, and had the Guardians serving as councillors. These were: Alnwick, Belford, Bellingham, Castle Ward, Glendale, Haltwhistle, Hexham, Morpeth, Norham & Islandshire, Rothbury, and Tynemouth Rural Districts. Tynemouth RDC was abolished in 1912 and absorbed by neighbouring councils.
  • In 1974 there was major reorganisation and most of Northumberland became a two-tier government with a County Council and six Districts: Alnwick, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Blyth Valley, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale, and Wansbeck. However, in 2009 these districts were abolished and Northumberland became a unitary authority.
  • Also in 1974 the new county of Tyne & Wear was formed, comprised of 5 Metropolitan Boroughs: Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, and (on the Durham side of the Tyne) Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.
  • As part of this reorganisation the City of Newcastle, Gosforth UDC, Newburn UDC and part of Castle Ward RDC were amalgamated to become City of Newcastle Metropolitan Borough Council.
  • Tynemouth County Borough, Wallsend Municipal Borough, much of Whitley Bay Municipal Borough, Longbenton UDC and part of Seaton Valley UDC were amalgamated to form North Tyneside Metropolitan Borough.
  • Tyne & Wear County Council was abolished in 1986, though it remains a ceremonial county. Newcastle and North Tyneside became unitary authorities. The geographical county of Northumberland is therefore governed by 3 unitary authorities: Newcastle upon Tyne, North Tyneside, and Northumberland.

    For a list of Northumberland maps go to the Northumberland page. For a full list of English maps, return to the England page

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    The Godfrey Edition / sales@alangodfreymaps.co.uk / 24 October 2016