The Association of British Counties Gazetteer of British Place Names

2. Detailed Contents of the Gazetteer

The gazetteer comprises 8 columns.

 Place Name
 National Grid Reference
 Latitude and Longitude
 County
 Administrative County
 District
 Unitary Authority Area
 Police Area
 Country

A full explanation of the contents of each of these fields can be found below.

Place Name

The intention is to include the name of every settlement (above isolated houses and farmsteads) which has a distinct name and identity. This includes hamlets, villages, towns and cities. Each district within an urban area which has a distinct name and identity has been included as a separate entry. The gazetteer does not, in general, contain references to other geographical features (e.g. rivers, mountains, valleys etc.). However, certain of these also give their names to settlements within or close to them and, in such cases, these names are included.

A problem of modern popular geography is what is meant by names like "Birmingham", "Manchester", "London", "Liverpool", "Newcastle". There are no clear unambiguous bounds to any of these entities. Where does Birmingham stop and Sutton Coldfield begin ? Is Old Trafford in Manchester ? Is Pinner in London ? The solution we adopt within this gazetteer is to restrict the meaning of these terms to those areas close to the settlement centre. e.g. the entry for Birmingham only refers to the area close to Birmingham city centre. Each distinct locality within the larger urban area which is popularly known as "Birmingham" has its own entry within the gazetteer.

We do not attempt here to give a detailed discussion of the history and orthography of British place names. Several excellent books on this subject are available, the standard authoritative work generally being considered to be The Names of Towns and Cities in Britain by Gelling, Nicolaisen and Richards (Batsford 1970, 1986). However, a feature of place names which cannot be ignored is that both their spellings and pronunciations have changed (often radically) with time. Indeed, the idea of a "standard" spelling of a place name is a relatively modern one. The three main factors which have led to a standardisation of the spellings of place names have been the recording of them on Ordnance Survey maps, the use of them as "postal localities" by the Post Office and the denoting of them by road signs erected by local authorities. However, even today one can find many place names spelt in two or more ways depending on which map, postal address book or road sign one looks at. Within the gazetteer, we have attempted to include all such variations of the spelling of a given place name by including a separate entry for each spelling. Our benchmark has been to include any spelling denoted on an O.S. map or used by the Post Office since the start of the twentieth century, although we also include any other locally accepted spelling which is known to us. Hence, the gazetteer does not provide an exhaustive list of the spellings of a particular place name throughout its entire history.

Many places within Wales have both a Welsh name and also an English or anglicised name. In such cases, each name is given a separate entry. We have taken a similar approach to those places in Scotland which have a commonly used Gaelic name as well as an English or anglicised name.

Those place names which have an affix of the type "The", "Old", "New", "North", "South", "East", "West", "Lower", "Upper" etc. are included twice, e.g. as "West Acre" and "Acre, West".

National Grid Reference

These represent the 1km x 1km square in which the "centre" of the settlement concerned lies. While the "centre" of a village is easy to define, the area which one might call the centre of a large town or city can spread into more than one 1km x 1km square and a subjective decision has been taken here. A determination of the "centre" of districts within urban areas also presents problems since in many cases their bounds and centres are not unambiguously discernible. Our approach has generally been to base it on the site of the village or geographical feature from which the district took its name. However, many modern housing estates have no such "centre" and a subjective decision has had to be made in some cases.

Latitude and Longitude

These are the latitude are lomgitude of the “centre” of the settlement (see comments above about the problem of deriving this in certain cases).

County

The vast majority of places in Britain can be unambiguously assigned to a particular historic county. Unlike modern administrative areas, the boundaries of the counties are not laid out in any single Act of Parliament. Many of them pre-date statutory law itself. Nonetheless, by the beginning of the nineteenth century their bounds had been fixed and known by repute to great accuracy for many centuries. A major task of the Ordnance Survey during the nineteenth century was to ascertain and mark out such "reputed boundaries" (not just of the counties but also of parishes, townships, hundreds, boroughs etc.). By the late 1880s the whole of Britain had been accurately surveyed on a scale of 1:2500 (25 inches to one mile). The resultant set of maps, known as the "1st edition", provided the first planimetrically accurate determination of the boundaries of the counties. It is worth noting that it is on such "reputed boundaries" that many modern administrative areas are still based. For example, the modern "administrative county" of "Norfolk" could not be defined if the O.S. had not accurately determined the "reputed boundaries" of the historic county of Norfolk. Map 1 is a large-scale map of the historic counties of Britain.

There are, however, several areas of potential ambiguity. A discussion of each of these and the way in which they are dealt with within the gazetteer is presented below.

(i) Detached Parts
Historically, there were many instances where a small part of one county was geographically detached from the main body of that county and entirely surrounded by the main body of another county (or between 2 other counties). Most of these "detached parts" were deemed by the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1843 to form part of their surrounding county "for all purposes". Whether this was meant to be a real territorial change or an administrative convenience is a debatable point. Certainly the General Register Office within its Census Reports considered it to be a real territorial change. Nonetheless, local knowledge of at least some of these detached parts does still persist and, in any case, they are of interest to historians and genealogists. Hence, for those settlements which lay within a detached part prior to the 1843 Act, we have noted this fact in Column 3, e.g.

Dayhouse Bank  SO9678  Worcs, pre-1844 in det pt of Shrops

A few detached parts were left unaffected by the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1843. These remain part of their historic parent county. Loyalty to that county is still strong in some of these (e.g. in Dudley to Worcestershire, in the Maelor Saesneg district to Flintshire). In the case of settlements within one of these detached parts, Column 3 lists their ancient or geographical county followed by "det". The county in which the detached part concerned is "locally situate" (i.e lies within) is then listed, e.g.

Dudley         SO9490  Worcs (det), locally in Staffs

(ii) Settlements in more than one County
There have since ancient times been settlements which lay across county borders (e.g. Lamberhurst in Kent/Sussex, Todmorden in Lancs/Yorks). Twentieth century development has added considerably to their number. Cases where a significant part of a settlement lies in more than one county are dealt with by including reference to each of the relevant counties, e.g..

Dancing Green SO6320  Herefordshire / Gloucestershire

In such cases the county listed first is that in which the "centre" of the settlement lies or with which the settlement has been traditionally associated.

(iii) The Counties Corporate
There are, within England and Wales, 18 towns or cities which have, at various times, been granted charters apparently making them "counties" in their own right. These areas are collectively known as the "counties corporate". Such charters were actually concerned with the judicial arrangements of these towns and cities rather than their geographical status. There has always been debate about whether these areas should be considered to be real counties, equivalent to, for example, Devon and Lincolnshire. The General Register Office, within its Census Reports, never considered them to be so and always dealt with them as being part of the county in which they geographically lay. Numerous legal judgments found that the "counties corporate" were not "Counties in the ordinary sense of the term". This convention is followed in this gazetteer. This is done without prejudice to the special status which many feel these places deserve.

(iv) The Ridings of Yorkshire
Yorkshire has since ancient times been divided up into the City of York and the three ridings (North, West and East). The ridings have never been considered counties in the ordinary sense of the term. However, the vast size of Yorkshire has meant that , in terms of administration and popular geography, each of the Ridings has often been treated as though a separate county. This gazetteer maintains this tradition. The relevant riding is denoted after "Yorkshire" thus:

Welton         SE9627   Yorkshire, East Riding
Carperby       SE0089   Yorkshire, North Riding
Bridwell       SE3401   Yorkshire, West Riding


(v) Ross-shire and Cromartyshire
The county of Cromartyshire consists of several parts distributed within the county of Ross-shire and between Ross-Shire and Sutherland. In consequence, Ross-shire and Cromartyshire are often considered as a single geographical unit. Administrative areas based upon them have inevitably used their combined area and been given the label "Ross and Cromarty". However, the bounds of each county have been determined by O.S. to great accuracy. It, therefore, seems reasonable within this gazetteer to list places either "Ross-shire" or "Cromartyshire" as appropriate, not least to assist those using the gazetteer for historical or genealogical studies.

(vi) Alternative County names
The county names used in the Gazetteer are those by which each county has been most commonly known throughout its history. Certain county names (e.g. Dorset, Somerset, Devon, Glamorgan, Merioneth) have occasionally had a "shire" suffixed to them but are here presented in their more common "shire-less" forms.

Several Scottish counties have alternative names by which they are also sometimes known. These are listed below.

Angus                 Forfarshire
East Lothian          Haddingtonshire
Midlothian            Edinburghshire
Morayshire            Elginshire
West Lothian          Linlithgowshire

The counties of Wales have, of course, commonly used Welsh names. The following versions are those recommended by The Language and Literature Committee of the Board of Celtic Studies of the University of Wales (which advises the Ordnance Survey on the orthography of Welsh place names).

Anglesey             Sir Fon
Brecknockshire       Sir Frycheiniog
Caernarfonshire      Sir Gaernarfon
Cardiganshire        Ceredigion
Carmarthenshire      Sir Gaerfyrddin
Denbighshire         Sir Ddinbych
Flintshire           Sir y Fflint
Glamorgan            Morgannwg
Merioneth            Meirionnydd
Monmouthshire        Sir Fynwy
Montgomeryshire      Sir Drefaldwyn
Pembrokeshire        Sir Benfro
Radnorshire          Sir Faesyfed

Administrative County, District, Unitary Authority Area

In practical terms there are areas of England where local government service provision is split between a "county council" and several "district councils" and, throughout the rest of Britain, local government service provision is the responsibility of a single local authority. Sadly, statutory terminology does not reflect this simple situation. In England, a "district council" may share responsibility with a "county council" or it may be the sole council in its area. Similarly, a "county council" may share responsibility with several "districts" or it may be the sole council. In Wales, despite all local authorities having the same responsibilities, some are called, "county councils", some "county borough councils" and the rest just "councils". In Scotland all local authorities are just called "councils".

Our solution to this confusing situation is to offer our own terminology based upon two terms: "administrative county" and "unitary authority area". The "administrative counties" are defined as those local government areas of England within which the responsibility for local government service provision is shared between a "county council" and several "district councils". The "unitary authority areas" are those local government areas within which a single local authority is responsible for all service provision.

For places that lie within an "administrative county", the Gazetteer lists the name of the "administrative county" and the name of the local government "district". For places that lie within a "unitary authority area", the Gazetteer lists the name of the "unitary authority area". In this way both the structure of local government and the name/s of the relevant area/s can be determined.

The structure of local government within "Greater London" is still principally governed by the London Government Act 1963. This Act created the "London boroughs" and their councils. It left the Corporation of the City of London in charge of administration within the City. The status of the "Inns of Court" (i.e. the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple) was also unaffected by the Act. Each of these continues to be administered by a "Master of the Bench". The Act also created "Greater London" itself, defining it to be the sum of the areas of the "London boroughs", the City of London and the Inner and Middle Temples. The Act as passed also created the "Greater London Council" (GLC).

Outside of "Greater London", the structure of local government within England and Wales is governed by the Local Government Act 1972 (LGA 1972). As originally passed, this Act divided both England and Wales into "local government areas" which were to "be known as counties" and within which there were to be "districts". The "counties" were further subdivided into the "metropolitan counties" (e.g. "Greater Manchester", "Tyne and Wear" etc.) and the "non-metropolitan counties". Originally each "county" had a "county council" and each "district" had a "district council". The only exception to this county/district structure were the "Isles of Scilly" which were deemed by the 1972 Act and Statutory Instrument SI 1978/1844 to be a "local government area" with a council known as the "Council of the Isles of Scilly". Hence, the "Isles of Scilly" is not a part of any of the "counties" of the 1972 Act (and is considered to be a "unitary authority area" in our terminology).

The Local Government Act 1985 abolished both the GLC and the "county councils" of the "metropolitan counties" although "Greater London" and the "metropolitan counties" themselves were not abolished. All local authority functions in these areas were devolved to the "London boroughs" and the "metropolitan district councils". These are considered to be "unitary authority areas" in our terminology. The Greater London Authority Act 1999 created the "Greater London Authority". However, the GLA is better considered as a regional assembly than a local authority. Whilst it has a strategic role in promoting the economic and social development and the environment of "Greater London", it is specifically not empowered to provide those services generally associated with local authorities (e.g. education, social services, housing). Such powers remain with the "London boroughs". Hence, we do not consider "Greater London" to be an "administrative county" or equivalent in this gazetteer.

The Local Government Act 1992 created a review process within England which, thus far, has led to the creation of a further 46 local government areas which have only one council with responsibility for the provision of all local government services. There are three different ways in which this has been done:

(a) 39 "counties" have been created which have only a single district, this district having the same name and area as the "county" (e.g. "Milton Keynes", "Swindon", "Southend-on-Sea"). There are no "county councils" in these "counties". All local government functions are exercised by the "district councils".

(b)The LGA 1972 "county" of Berkshire still exists but it now has no "county council". All administrative functions have been devolved to the 6 "district councils".

(c)The LGA 1972 "counties" of the "Isle of Wight" “Northumberland”, “Whitchurch”, “Shropshire”, “Cornwall” and “County Durham” now have no "district councils". The sole council is the "county council".

All 51 of these areas are considered to be "unitary authority areas" in our terminology.

There still exist within England, 34 "counties" (within the meaning of the LGA 1972) which have a "county council" and several districts within them, each of which has an existing "district council". These areas are "administrative counties" within our terminology.

Meanwhile the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 amended the LGA 1972 so as to abolish the "counties" and "districts" of Wales and, in their place, create 22 "new principal areas". These areas are subdivided into "counties" and "county boroughs" (although they are identical in every other respect). Local authorities can choose to call themselves "county council" or "county borough council" (as appropriate) or simply call themselves "council". These are considered to be "unitary authority areas" in our terminology.

The Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 divides Scotland into a single set of 22 "local government areas". All local authorities are simply known as "councils". These are considered to be "unitary authority areas" in our terminology.

Map 2 shows the distribution of the 34 "administrative counties" and 177 "unitary authority areas" of Britain. Note that, in terms of legislation, there are ten distinct types of local government area which fall under the "unitary authority area" label. The map and the accompanying keys show the breakdown of the "unitary authority areas" into these ten categories.

It should be understood that the "counties" of the LGA 1972 (or, indeed, any of the other local government areas described above) are not replacements for or amendments to the historic counties. Rather they are administrative areas created for certain specified administrative purposes. Parliament has never given them a wider geographical or cultural role. They are totally separate entities to the historic counties, as the Government has confirmed on many occasions (see "County confusion - and how to resolve it" for a more detailed discussion of this point).

Local authorities are responsible for numerous important administrative duties. The councils of the "administrative counties" of England are responsible for education, social services, economic development and transport. The "district councils" within these areas are responsible for housing, planning, paving and street lighting, public health, leisure and amenities and waste management. Within the "unitary authority areas" the sole council is responsible for all of these services.

Police Area

The areas of the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police are defined by Section 76 of the London Government Act 1963. The rest of England and Wales is divided into "police areas" by the Police Act 1996. Scotland is similarly divided into "police areas" by the Police (Scotland) Act 1967. Most "police areas" are coterminous with one or more local government areas.

The legislation states that each "police area" must have both a "police force" and a "police authority". Police authorities are responsible for maintaining an effective and efficient police force in their areas.

Country

The Gazetteer lists whether a place is under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Parliament or the National Assembly for Wales.

The Scottish Parliament was established by the Scotland Act 1998. It has the right to pass primary legislation on most matters relating to Scotland. The main areas of administration and law devolved to the Scottish Parlimanent include health, education, local government, social work, housing, planning, economic development, tourism, most aspects of the criminal and civil law, criminal justice and prosecutions, environment, agriculture, forestry, sports, fisheries, and the arts.

The Scottish Executive (whose members are collective known as the "Scottish Ministers") is the Government for Scotland on all devolved matters. It consists of the First Minster (elected by the Scottish Parliament), the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland and other Ministers appointed by the First Minister.

The Scottish Parliament has jurisdiction over the whole of Scotland (as referred to in Acts of Union of 1706 and 1707).

The National Assembly for Wales was created by the Government of Wales Act 1998. The Assembly has the power to develop and implement policy in a range of areas including agriculture, education, health, economic development, the environment, housing, local government, social services, tourism, transport and the Welsh Language. The sixty members of the Assembly delegate their executive powers to the First Secretary, who is elected by the whole Assembly. The First Secretary in turn delegates responsibility for delivering the executive functions to a number of Assembly Secretaries. Together they form the Assembly's executive committee, the Assembly Cabinet, which makes many of the Assembly's day to day decisions.

The "Wales" covered by the Assembly is that area deemed to be "Wales" by the Local Government Act 1972 for the purposes of local government. It differs slightly from the Wales referred to in the Laws in Wales Act 1535 (i.e. the act which united England and Wales into one country) since this Act attached several small parts of Wales to Shropshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. These areas are within "England" within its meaning in the Local Government Act 1972 and hence are not covered by the National Assembly for Wales.


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