Shropshire History


County Council


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Shropshire County Council (originally called Salop County Council) was set up following the Local Government Act 1888. It governed the whole of Shropshire, with subordinate Districts as follows :-


Atcham Rural District

Bridgnorth Rural District

Burford Rural District (absorbed into Ludlow RD in 1934)

Chirbury Rural District (absorbed into Clun RD in 1934)

Church Stretton Rural District (absorbed into Ludlow RD in 1934)

Church Stretton Urban District (absorbed into Ludlow RD in 1966)

Cleobury Mortimer Rural District (absorbed into Ludlow RD in 1934)

Clun & Bishop’s Castle Rural District

Clun Rural District (absorbed into Clun & Bishop’s Castle RD in 1967)

Dawley Urban District

Drayton Rural District (absorbed into Market Drayton RD in 1966)

Ellesmere Rural District

Ellesmere Urban District

Ludlow Rural District

Market Drayton Rural District

Market Drayton Urban District (absorbed into Market Drayton RD in 1966)

Newport Rural District (absorbed into Wellington RD in 1934

Newport Urban District

Oakengates Urban District

Oswestry Rural District

Shifnal Rural District

Teme Rural District (absorbed into Clun RD in 1934)

Wellington Rural District

Wellington Urban District

Wem Rural District

Wem Urban District

Whitchurch Urban District


The council was to hold elections every 3 years, the first taking place in January 1889. This initial council was known as a provisional council until it came into its powers on 1st April 1889. The county was divided into Electoral Divisions corresponding to the Districts, each returning a single Councillor. Following the election, the County Councillors then appointed a Chairman and Vice Chairman, who each had a one year term of office, although they could be reappointed. There was also one Alderman for every three Councillors.  These were elected by the council itself rather than the electorate (the title is derived from the Old English word “ealdorman” literally meaning "elder man") for a term of 6 years.  The problem was that this allowed a political party that narrowly lost overall control in an election to retain control by choosing aldermen of its political persuasion. Aldermen were finally abolished in 1974 following the Local Government Act 1972.


The powers and responsibilities of the new council were transferred from the quarter sessions and included :-


·         Making and levying rates

·         Borrowing money

·         Passing county accounts

·         Maintenance and construction of county buildings such as shire halls, county halls, court houses and police stations

·         Licensing of places of entertainment and race courses

·         Provisions of asylums for pauper lunatics

·         Establishment and maintenance of reformatory and industrial schools

·         Repair of county roads and bridges

·         Appointment, dismissal and setting of salaries for county officers

·         Division of the county into polling places for parliamentary elections and the provision of polling stations

·         Control of contagious diseases in animals and destructive insects

·         Fish conservancy and control of wild birds

·         Weights and measures.


Control of the county police was exercised jointly by the Quarter Sessions and County Council through a standing joint committee. The committees were replaced by Police Authorities in the Police Act 1964.


The Local Government Act 1972 abolished all previous administrative districts to establish a uniform two tier system across the country. Shropshire County Council was retained to generally administer the county and provide certain county-wide services. The second tier of the local government was divided into 6 districts as follows :-


Bridgnorth District

North Shropshire District

Oswestry Borough

Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough

South Shropshire District

The Wrekin District.


The original name when set up in 1888 had been Salop County Council, since Shropshire was described in historical records as "the County of Salop" and Shrewsbury as "the town of Salop".  The name was never popular, however, and local MP Jasper More raising an amendment to the 1972 Local Government Bill to rename the county as Shropshire.  At the time, the council itself opposed the change although later it exercised its power to legally change the name of the county. One of the reasons why Salop was unpopular was the fact that if you add the letter “E” and make it “Salope”, this is a French word and means “Bitch or Loose Woman”. The decision to make the change was taken on 1st March 1980 at a special meeting of the council, with 48 votes in favour versus 5 against. It came into effect on 1st April 1980. The term "Salopian", derived from "Salop", is still used to mean "from Shropshire" and Salop can also mean the county town Shrewsbury. The Latin motto of "Floreat Salopia" (may Shropshire flourish) was originally used by the borough of Shrewsbury and was adopted in 1896 by the County Council when they received a grant of a coat of arms. The motto is now used in a number of other emblems associated with the county.


The Local Government Act 1992 authorised the creation of two new unitary authorities.  Telford & Wrekin Council was created in 1998 and The Wrekin District was transferred to them from Shropshire County Council. As a result of the Local Government Act 2000, Shropshire County Council moved to an executive-based system, with the Council Leader and a Cabinet of Councillors acting as an executive authority. It was finally abolished in 2009 when the new unitary authority of Shropshire Council was created, retaining the other 5 Districts.



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