Papers of the Urban District Councils Association

Scope and Content

Journal issued under the title Official Circular , Volumes II-V, 1891-1894 of the Local Boards Association; Volumes VI- LXXX, 1895-1969 of the Urban District Councils Association (UDCA); minutes of the UDCA, 1970-1972; agenda and other papers of annual meetings and conferences, 1950-54, 1959, 1961-1962; papers of a special conference on local government, 1943; "Queries and replies" selected from the Official Circular of the Association, 1894-1910, published 1914.

Although initially published 11 times a year, in the last 20 years or so of the UDCAs existence, the Official Circular was much less regular: in some years it was not published at all and in others, the number of issues varied from two to six. The last issue appeared in 1969. The journals contain current notices, details of progress of bills through parliament, details of law cases, correspondence, book reviews and articles. They also contain information about the Association including minutes of the Executive Council and Annual Meetings, annual reports, and balance sheets. From 1902, full reports of the Annual Meeting and Conference were printed at the end of each volume of the Official Circular . The amount of space devoted to minutes of the Executive Council gradually increased and greater use was also made of correspondence within both the minutes of the Council and the reports of Committees to Council. From 1937, the minutes began to be printed as supplements to the circulars and appeared at the end of each volume with the Annual Meeting and Conference Reports. However, since the 1950s, there is very little information about the UDCA contained in the Official Circular , it mostly consists of notes, legal decisions, legal queries and opinions, questions and answers in Parliament and books received. Issues of the Official Circular are missing for the following years: 1890,1900, 1916, 1918-1920, 1961-1963.

Administrative / Biographical History

Administrative/Biographical History

The Local Boards Association was formed in 1890 to represent the interest of local boards of health. In 1894, however, under the Local Government Act of that year, local boards of health were transformed into urban districts and, in consequence, the Urban District Councils Association replaced the earlier association.

The objects of the Association were "by complete organisation more effectually to watch over and protects the interests, rights and privileges of Urban District Councils as they may be affected by Public or Private Bill legislation or Orders or regulations made by Government Departments; and in other respects to take action in relation to any other subjects in which Urban District Councils may be generally interested; and to promote such measures as may from time to time be deemed advisable".

The Association held an annual conference from 1902 and in 1906, the period of the conference was extended from two to three days and it began to be held regularly outside London. The increasing attendance at the conference during the first 40 years or so of its existence indicates the growing importance of the association. Attendance in 1902 was 189 but this had increased already to 402 by 1909 and another dramatic increase occurred between 1928 and 1931 when attendance rose from 575 to 803. The growing importance and influence of the Association prior to 1939 is also indicated by its increased membership figures. In 1904, 54.8 per cent of all urban districts were members; the percentage increased to 66.1 in 1908, 87.3 in 1933 and to 99.55 by 1939 when all urban district councils in England and all but three Welsh ones were members. In 1970, the UDCA still represented the vast majority of authorities which were eligible for membership. The Association was formally governed by an Executive Council, although some work was given to standing committees which included a Law and Parliamentary Committee, a Housing and Town Planning Committee and a General Purposes Committee. Numerous sub-committees were also appointed.

Following local government reorganisation in April 1974, the UDCA ceased to exist. The Association of District Councils (ADC) replaced the UDCA and the RDCA as the representative body of all non-metropolitan district councils in England and district councils in Wales

Reference: A list of the historical records retained by the Association of District Councils compiled by Philippa Bassett as part of a research project funded by the Social Science Research Council (Birmingham: Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Birmingham, 1980)

Access Information

Access Conditions

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The custody of the records passed into the hands of the Association of District Councils and these were held at their headquarters in Buckingham Gate, London in 1980. The records were deposited by the Local Government Association, Nov 1998.

Other Finding Aids

See full catalogue for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department also holds the Association of Metropolitan Authorities (GB 152 AMA) and its predecessor the Association of Municipal Corporations (GB 150 AMC), which includes records of the Non-County Boroughs Association, together with papers of other local authority associations including the Association of County Councils (GB 150 ACC); County Councils Association (GB 150 CCA); Rural District Councils Association (GB 150 RDCA); Association of District Councils (GB 150 ADC).