Sanitary district

Sanitary districts were established in England and Wales in 1875 and in Ireland in 1878. The districts were of two types, based on existing structures:

  • Urban sanitary districts in towns with existing local government bodies
  • Rural sanitary districts in the remaining rural areas of poor law unions.

Each district was governed by a sanitary authority and was responsible for various public health matters such as providing clean drinking water, sewers, street cleaning, and clearing slum housing.

In England and Wales, both rural and urban sanitary districts were replaced in 1894 by the Local Government Act 1894 by the more general rural districts and urban districts. A similar reform was carried out in Ireland in 1899 by the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898.

Sanitary district
CategoryLocal government district
LocationEngland and Wales and Ireland
Found inCounty
Created byPublic Health Act 1873
Public Health Act 1875
Public Health (Ireland) Act 1878
CreatedEngland & Wales 1875
Ireland 1878
Abolished byLocal Government Act 1894
Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898
AbolishedEngland & Wales 1894
Ireland 1899
Possible typesUrban
GovernmentSanitary authority

England and Wales

Sanitary districts were formed under the terms of the Public Health Acts 1873 and 1875. Instead of creating new divisions, existing authorities were given additional responsibilities.

Urban sanitary districts were formed in any municipal borough governed under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, in any improvement commissioners district formed by private act of parliament, and in any local government district formed under the Public Health Act 1848 or Local Government Act 1858.

The existing governing body of the town (municipal corporation, improvement commissioners or local board of health) was designated as the urban sanitary authority.

When sanitary districts were formed there were approximately 225 boroughs, 575 local government districts and 50 improvement commissioners districts designated as urban sanitary districts. Over the next nineteen years the number changed: more urban sanitary districts were formed as towns adopted legislation forming local boards and as additional boroughs were incorporated; over the same period numerous urban sanitary districts were absorbed into expanding boroughs.

Rural sanitary districts were formed in all areas without a town government. They followed the boundaries of existing poor law unions formed in 1837, less the areas of urban sanitary districts. Any subsequent change in the area of the union also changed the sanitary district. At the time of abolition in 1894, there were 572 rural sanitary districts.

The rural sanitary authority consisted of the existing poor law guardians for the rural parishes involved.

The Local Government Act 1894 brought an end to sanitary districts in England and Wales. In boroughs, the corporation was already the sanitary authority. All other urban sanitary districts were renamed as urban districts, governed by an urban district council. Rural sanitary districts were replaced by rural districts, for the first time with a directly elected council. It was a requirement that whenever possible a rural district should be within a single administrative county, which led to many districts being split into smaller areas along county lines. A few rural districts with parishes in two or three different counties persisted until the 1930s.

The Local Government Act 1972 made district councils, London borough councils, the City of London Corporation, and Inner Temple and Middle Temple sanitary authorities.


A system of sanitary districts was established in Ireland by the Public Health (Ireland) Act 1878, modelled on that in England and Wales.[1]

Urban sanitary districts were established in the following categories of towns:

The existing corporation or commissioners became the urban sanitary authority. The Local Government Board for Ireland, created by the same act, could designate other towns with commissioners as urban sanitary districts.

Rural sanitary districts were formed in the same way as those in England and Wales, from the Poor Law Unions with the Board of Guardians as the rural sanitary authorities.

The urban and rural sanitary districts were superseded in 1899, under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, by urban and rural districts.[2] Unlike rural sanitary districts, rural districts could not cross county boundaries: so for instance, Ballyshannon rural sanitary district was split into Ballyshannon No. 1, Ballyshannon No. 2 and Ballyshannon No. 3 rural districts in Counties Donegal, Fermanagh and Leitrim respectively. The Local Government Act 1925 abolished rural districts in the Irish Free State, creating a single rural sanitary district for the non-urban portion of each county, called the "county health district".[3] The Local Government (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1934 allowed this district to be split on request of the county council;[4] this happened only in County Cork, the largest county, which was split into three health districts.[5]


Sanitary districts were not formed in Scotland. By the Public Health (Scotland) Act 1867 public health duties were given to the town councils, commissioners or trustees of burghs, and to parochial boards. In 1890 the public health duties of parochial boards were allocated to the newly created county councils, administered by district committees.

See also


  • Local Government Areas 1834 - 1945, V D Lipman, Oxford, 1949
  • Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England (2 vols.) F A Youngs, London, 1991
  • Public Health Act 1873 (35 & 36 Vict. c.79)
  • Public Health Act 1875 (38 & 39 Vict. c.55)
  • Public Health (Ireland) Act 1878 (41 & 42 Vict. c.52)
  • Status details for Rural Sanitary District


  1. ^ "Public Health (Ireland) Act, 1878". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, Section 22". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Local Government Act, 1925, Section 9". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Local Government (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 1934, Section 5". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  5. ^ Callanan, Mark; Keogan, Justin F. (2003-01-01). Local Government in Ireland: Inside Out. Institute of Public Administration. p. 47. ISBN 9781902448930. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
Amersham Rural District

Amersham was a rural district in the administrative county of Buckinghamshire, England from 1894 to 1974. The rural district took over the responsibilities of the disbanded Amersham Rural Sanitary District. It entirely surrounded but did not include Chesham. Chesham and Amersham rural districts were merged to form the Chiltern District under the Local Government Act 1972.

Banbury Rural District

Banbury was a rural district in Oxfordshire, England from 1894 to 1974. It was formed under the Local Government Act 1894 from the bulk of the Banbury rural sanitary district, which had been divided among three counties. The Warwickshire part of the rural sanitary district (except for the Warwickshire part of the parish of Mollington, which joined Oxfordshire) formed the Farnborough Rural District, whilst the area in Northamptonshire formed the Middleton Cheney Rural District.

It covered the rural area north, west and south of Banbury. The district expanded in 1932 by taking in part of the disbanded Woodstock Rural District.

In 1974 it was abolished, under the Local Government Act 1972, and now forms part of the Cherwell district of Oxfordshire.

Buckingham Rural District

Buckingham was a rural district in the administrative county of Buckinghamshire, England from 1894 to 1974. The rural district took over the responsibilities of the disbanded Buckingham Rural Sanitary District and also incorporated parishes from Brackley RSD which was mainly based in Northamptonshire but oversaw parishes in Buckinghamshire. Buckingham RD was named after but did not include the borough of Buckingham. Under the Local Government Act 1972 it was merged into the Aylesbury Vale district.

Burbank, Santa Clara County, California

Burbank is a census-designated place in Santa Clara County, California. Part of the neighborhood has been annexed to San Jose, while the rest consists of unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. The population was 4,926 at the 2010 census. The neighborhood was named after Luther Burbank.

The historic Burbank Theatre is an area icon and currently the home of a radio station, and also is representative of the architectural significance of the Victorian, Bungalow, Deco and Craftsman style homes. With over 35 recorded significantly historical homes, many residents are restoring these small but quaint homes, making the area much more desirable — and one of the few affordable areas left in Santa Clara County to live. The Burbank Community Association along with many area businesses, residents, and home owners are working as a collective team to ensure the Burbank neighborhood continues to flourish.

The area is also a center for antique stores and is centrally located to Santana Row, Westfield Valley Fair, and also the downtown area.

The area is in ZIP code 95128 and area codes 408 and 669.

KQED, the local NPR affiliate, ran a story about Burbank's status as an "Urban Island", and the local communities desire to not be annexed by the city of San Jose. [1]

Chorley Rural District

Chorley Rural District was a rural district in the administrative county of Lancashire, England from 1894 to 1974.

The district was created by the Local Government Act 1894 as the successor to the Chorley Rural Sanitary District. It comprised an area surrounding but did not include the Municipal Borough of Chorley.Under the Local Government Act 1972, the rural district was abolished in 1974 and its former area became part of the non-metropolitan Borough of Chorley.

Crowmarsh Rural District

Crowmarsh was a rural district in Oxfordshire, England from 1894 to 1932.

It was created under the Local Government Act 1894 from the part of the Wallingford rural sanitary district in Oxfordshire. The remainder of the sanitary district was in Berkshire and became the Wallingford Rural District. Crowmarsh Rural District continued to be administered from Wallingford, with meetings held in the workhouse in the town.The district was abolished in 1932 under a County Review Order, being split between the existing Henley Rural District and the new Bullingdon Rural District. Since 1974 the entire area has been part of the district of South Oxfordshire, which also includes Wallingford and district.

Culham Rural District

Culham was a rural district in Oxfordshire, England from 1894 to 1932. It was formed under the Local Government Act 1894 from the part of the Abingdon Rural Sanitary District in the administrative county of Oxfordshire. The remainder of the sanitary district, in the administrative county of Berkshire, became Abingdon Rural District. The rural district council continued to be based at Abingdon, holding meetings in the workhouse of the poor law union.

George William Bliss

George Bliss (July 21, 1918 - Sept. 11, 1978) was an American journalist. He won a 1962 Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism for the Chicago Tribune and was associated with two others:

1962: corruption at the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago.

1973: For uncovering flagrant violations of voting procedures in the primary election of March 21, 1972

1976: waste and fraud at mortgage firms related to Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance

Goring Rural District

Goring was a rural district in Oxfordshire, England from 1894 to 1932.

It was formed from that part of the Bradfield rural sanitary district which was in Oxfordshire, with the Berkshire part going to the Bradfield Rural District. It consisted of the three parishes of Goring, Mapledurham and Whitchurch.

The district was abolished in 1932 under a County Review Order, the parishes becoming part of the Henley Rural District.

Headington Rural District

Headington was a rural district in Oxfordshire, England from 1894 to 1932, based on the Headington rural sanitary district. It covered an area to the east of the city of Oxford. The parish of Headington was split out as a separate urban district in 1927.

It was abolished under a County Review Order in 1932. Most went to form part of Bullingdon Rural District, with the parish of Horton cum Studley/Studley going to the new Ploughley Rural District.

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), originally known as the Sanitary District of Chicago, is a special-purpose district chartered to operate in Cook County, Illinois since 1889. Although its name may imply otherwise, it is not a part of the City of Chicago's local government but is created by Illinois state government with an elected Board of Commissioners. The MWRD's main purposes are the reclamation and treatment of wastewater and flood water abatement in Cook County to protect the health and safety of citizens and of area waterways. In 1900, the District notably reversed the flow of the Chicago River, and it is currently involved in the large multi-decade construction of the "Deep Tunnel" and/or Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP).

Ogwen Rural District

Ogwen was a rural district in the administrative county of Caernarfonshire in Wales from 1894 to 1974.

The district was formed under the Local Government Act 1894 from the part of the former Bangor Rural Sanitary District in Caernarfonshire. The rest on the Isle of Anglesey, formed Aethwy Rural District. The district was named after the River Ogwen and Ogwen Valley.

The district contained the following civil parishes, now communities:




PentirIn 1894 the urban district of Bethesda was formed from part of Llanllechid parish. The rural district lost further territory under a County Review Order in 1934: parts of Llandygai and Llanlechid were transferred to Capel Curig parish in Nant Conwy Rural District, and parts of Llandygai and Pentir was included in an extension of the boundaries of the Municipal Borough of Bangor.

The rural district was abolished by the Local Government Act 1972, with its area becoming part of the Borough of Arfon, one of five districts of the new county of Gwynedd.

Peterborough Rural District

Peterborough was a rural district adjoining the city and municipal borough of Peterborough, England, from 1894 to 1974. The council offices were at 51 Priestgate, in the city of Peterborough.

The rural district was created under the Local Government Act 1894, from the part of the Peterborough rural sanitary district that was in the administrative county of Soke of Peterborough (the rest, in Huntingdonshire, formed the Norman Cross Rural District).

In 1929 the city's boundaries were extended, with six of the rural district's parishes being absorbed.

Local government reorganisation abolished the Soke in 1965 and the rural district was transferred to the new administrative county of Huntingdon and Peterborough. The rural district was abolished under the Local Government Act 1972, becoming part of the Peterborough district of the new non-metropolitan county of Cambridgeshire.


Sukhaphiban (Thai: สุขาภิบาล; translated as "sanitary district") were administrative divisions of Thailand.

Sanitary districts were the first sub-autonomous entities established in Thailand. A first such district was created in Bangkok by a royal decree of King Chulalongkorn in 1897. The king had learned about the sanitary districts in England during his European trip earlier that year, and he wanted to try this local administration in his country as well. Tha Chalom District became the second such district, created in 1906 and responsible for parts of Mueang Samut Sakhon District, Samut Sakhon Province. In 1907 the act on operations of sanitary districts codified the regulations, and with the Local Administration Act of 1914 two levels of sukhaphiban were introduced, the sukhaphiban mueang for towns and sukhaphiban tambon for rural areas.

The number of sanitary districts grew to 35 in 1935, when these however were converted into municipalities (thesaban). New sanitary district were again established starting in 1952 by prime minister Phibun Songkhram. With the Act to Upgrade Sanitary Districts to Thesaban of May 1999 they were again abolished, and all became thesaban tambon.As the name suggests, the main task of the sanitary districts are sanitation projects. The districts were administered by a sanitation committee, which consisted of kamnan (tambon headmen), village headmen, and also local merchants. It was financed by a housing tax on local residents.

Teesdale (district)

Teesdale was, from 1974 to 2009, a local government district in County Durham, England. Its council was based in Barnard Castle and it was named after the valley of the River Tees.

That part of the district south of the River Tees is historically part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, and made up Startforth Rural District before the Local Government Act 1972 came into effect in 1974. The other predecessors to the district were Barnard Castle urban district and Barnard Castle Rural District.

Much of the area had before 1894 constituted a single Teesdale rural sanitary district.

The district was the least-populous ordinary district in England, with only the City of London and the Isles of Scilly being smaller. It had the second-lowest population density in England, after Eden, Cumbria.

The district was abolished as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England.

Wantage Rural District

Wantage was a rural district of Berkshire, England from 1894 to 1974.

It was created in 1894 as a successor to the Wantage rural sanitary district. It was named after Wantage, which formed a separate urban district entirely surrounded by the rural district. It had its headquarters in Belmont, Wantage.

The district was abolished in 1974 (as were all other rural districts, under the Local Government Act 1972). Its area was split, with the parishes of Ardington, Blewbury, Childrey, Chilton, Denchworth, East Challow, East Hanney, East Hendred, Goosey, Grove, Harwell, Letcombe Bassett, Letcombe Regis, Lockinge, Sparsholt, Upton, West Challow, West Hanney and West Hendred becoming part of the Vale of White Horse district in Oxfordshire, and the rest becoming part of the Newbury district of Berkshire.

Wisconsin v. Illinois

Wisconsin v. Illinois, 278 U.S. 367 (1929), also referred to as the Chicago Sanitary District Case, is an opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States which held that the equitable power of the United States can be used to impose positive action on one state in a situation in which nonaction would result in damage to the interests of other states. Pursuant to Article Three of the United States Constitution, the case was heard under the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction because it involved a controversy between two states, Illinois and Wisconsin. Chief Justice William Howard Taft wrote the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Wycombe Rural District

Wycombe was, from 1894 to 1974, a rural district in the administrative county of Buckinghamshire, England.

The district was created by the Local Government Act 1894 as successor to the disbanded Wycombe Rural Sanitary District. The district was named after, and based in, High Wycombe. The rural district did not include the town, however, which was a separate municipal borough (known as Chepping Wycombe until 1946).

District status in the United Kingdom
County districts
Pre-1894 districts
Designations for types of administrative territorial entities

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