The Middlesex Federation

When we talk of Middlesex where do we mean?
The County, the Province or the Tribal Lands?
It’s possible you didn’t even realise there is a choice!

It is Middlesex Day in...

The 50th anniversary of local governments and how the government has failed Middlesex

On April 1st 2024 there was much ado made about the 50th anniversary of local government authorities that came into being in 1974.

I need to explain … it’s a long read but I hope you’ll stick with me.

As Jeremy Hunt delivered his budget he looked over the Dispatch Box and said, “I can see the Leader of the Opposition smiling as he, like me, is a Surrey boy”.

As people scrambled to discover where they were both from, many were surprised to see Hunt is from Kennington and Starmer from Southwark: Surrey? Of course, the Surrey that has been around for centuries; proper Surrey, real Surrey, historic Surrey.

This for me was the most interesting bit of the budget as the Chancellor knew that his roots were not in a Surrey County Council (Kennington and Southwark have never been a part of an administrative Surrey) but were still within and part of the longlived real, proper, historic County of Surrey.

An historic County is not the same as a County Council; the boundaries are different – the historic County is fixed and cannot be changed or altered, not even by Parliament, whereas the County Council is fluid and can be changed by Parliament.

The vintage historic County dates back thousand of years whereas the administrative County Council is only 135 years old.

So when in 1965 the Middlesex County Council was abolished the County of Middlesex was not. In 1965 the then Surrey County Council was abolished but the County of Surrey was not. Surrey County Council returned with different boundaries and covered a lesser area, the same for Herts County Council which was abolished as was but came back with a new southern boundary.

In 1965 Parliament decided to chop off bits of Surrey, Herts (Kent and Essex) and most of Middlesex to create a Greater London administrative unit. But remember, the historic counties that gave up their territory for local government purposes had nothing chopped off, but remained the same, to quote Mrs Thatcher “Parliament couldn’t change what it had not created.”

Let me hand you over to the Encyclopaedia Britannica who, as you would expect, unlike Wikipedia, gets it so very right.](](

So there’s the difference.

On April 1st 1974, yet another Local Government Act was thrust upon us and that’s when three of Middlesex’s Urban Districts: Staines and Sunbury on Thames were combined to create the Borough of Spelthorne and Potters Bar UDC was merged into a new authority called Hertsmere, which literally means ‘the border’ between Hertfordshire and Middlesex.

Bravo to the choosing of the ancient Middlesex Hundred name of Spelthorne for the new borough combining Staines and Sunbury as it underlined the new borough’s Middlesex credentials.

Hopefully you’ve now managed to get your head round the fact that the difference between a County Council and the ever-current County is at least a thousand years from Anglo Saxon times to the present day as opposed to County Councils who made their entrée into the world only 135 years ago.

On the surface the continual tampering with our local identity and heritage doesn’t help the outsider to understand where they are at a given time, as the County Councils have have become like an invasive plant taking over the identity and heritage of places and areas that they are only meant to provide services for.

Councils are frightened and insecure if any group (like ours) reminds them that our past belongs to us and is not theirs; they’re scared as they believe it undermines their own authority and powers. I have to say I resent such websites as ‘exploring Surrey’s past’ or ‘visit Surrey’. Sure visit Surrey but don’t forget to include Wimbledon, Wandsworth, Sutton, Croydon etc., but leave Spelthorne alone!

The real culprits are those politicians who should have safeguarded our English local history and heritage when the Acts were past.

In 2015 the Government of the day confirmed that the historic, real, proper counties continue to exist, Middlesex wasn’t abolished (only its smaller County Council); Surrey still continued up to the Thames in areas many thought of as London; Historic Hertfordshire didn’t have Monken Hadley or Potters Bar in its borders only the Herts County Council did.

But our politicians failed to seal the continued recognition of our shires and counties in an Act of Parliament and in the long run the power and the money (or lack of it) is given over to the local government areas who are reluctant or refuse to use in promoting the very roots and beginnings of our English and British nation our Counties – if they were good enough for King Alfred and King Edgar and William the Conqueror in fact right up until Queen Victoria then surely they are good enough for all of us.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.