Records of the Rural District Councils Association

Scope and Content

Journal , 1895-1974 (issued 11 times a year until 1957, thereafter monthly) under the title Official Circular , 1895-1948, Rural District Review , 1949-1971 and, in anticipation of local government reorganisation promised in the Local Government Bill of 1972, District Councils Review ; annual meeting and conference papers, 1961-1972 (prior to 1961 these can be found in the official journal).

The journal includes reports of Annual General Meetings and Annual Conferences up to 1960 and these include annual reports and balance sheets, lists of delegates and details of elections and the various papers read. Minutes of the Executive Council were soon introduced into the journal and became increasingly detailed as some correspondence began to be reproduced or summarised and minutes and reports of one or two committees began to be included. In 1945, with the revision of the constitution, the increase in detail is even more noticeable as the number of standing committees was increased. Reports of conferences, outside committees, deputations, legislation and various memoranda are often included within the minutes or appear as appendices to them. Other features have included topical articles and notes, correspondence (for many years presented in the form of Queries and Replies ) and notes and news on current issues relating to the powers, duties and liabilities of rural district councils; questions in parliament; details of the passage of bills and notes on law cases affecting rural districts; and book reviews and details of current literature. In more recent years, the journal included reports and minutes from county branches of the Association, reports on the work of various rural districts and reports from the County Councils Association. Issues of the journal are missing for the following years: 1900, 1912, 1916-1920, 1945-1946, 1955-1956.

Administrative / Biographical History

Administrative/Biographical History

Rural district councils were created (together with urban district councils and parish councils) by the Local Government Act of 1894, as successors of the rural sanitary authorities, which were themselves created by the Public Health Act of 1875. The Rural District Councils Association (RDCA) was formed at a General Meeting of rural district councils in February of the following year. A report of the meeting in the RDCAs Official Circular Volume 1 set out the objects of the association as being: "(a) To afford Rural District Councils an opportunity of giving expression to their opinions when occasion requires, and to take action in matters affecting their interests; (b) To offer to Parliament, the Local Government Board and other bodies, the benefit of the collective experience of Rural District Councils; (c) To watch the working of the laws affecting such bodies and to promote such measures as may from time to time be deemed advisable; (d) To obtain and circulate information for the use of members. All rural district councils were eligible for membership and the Association was governed by an Executive Council, consisting of its officers (President, four Vice-Presidents, Treasurers and Secretary, all elected at the annual meeting) and 20 representatives. These last were elected by rural district councils on a national basis, their number being increased to 24 in 1926. From 1927 until 1944, the elections were conducted on a regional basis with two members appointed for each of eleven regions.

In 1945, the constitution of the RDCA was revised further. The system of election by region was abolished and regions were replaced by 42 county branches, each comprising the rural district councils grouped where possible within the area of a single administrative county. However, some branches combined more than one county and Wales was divided into two branches, one each for North and South Wales. A new Council replaced the Executive Council, and the number of seats available for elected members was increased to ensure that all branches were fully represented. A number of additional standing committees were appointed and in 1945, these comprised Housing and Planning, Public Health, Finance, Rating and Valuation, Law and Parliamentary and General Purposes. The Association grew steadily in size. At the first meeting of the Executive Council, 56 rural district councils had already joined. In 1901, 143 councils - out of a possible total of 667 - and this had increased to 454 by 1916. The RDCA achieved 100 per cent membership in 1953 when there were 476 councils.

Following local government reorganisation in April 1974, the RDCA ceased to exist. The Association of District Councils (ADC) replaced the RDCA and the UDCA 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).


The collection is arranged chronologically within each series.

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 the records were held at their headquarters in Buckingham Gate, London in 1980. The records were deposited by the Local Government Association, November 1998.

Other Finding Aids

Finding Aids

Please view the 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

The Special Collections Department also holds records of 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); Urban District Councils Association (GB 150 UDCA); Association of District Councils (GB 150 ADC).