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What is a county town?

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Messages: 1 - 19 of 19
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by Pumblechook (U6852342) on Saturday, 26th March 2011

    I always thought Preston was the CT of Lancs and that is where the County Council is based but websites say the CT is Lancaster?

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  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Douglas (U1916617) on Saturday, 26th March 2011

    I don't know why Lancashire County Council decided to base itself in Preston but I suspect it was because it was a more convenient centre for comminication with the various parts of the county.

    However, it could not really be the County Town because from 1888 to 1974 it was not administratively part of Lancashire but an independent County Borough.

    Lancaster will thus have remained the County Town.

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  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Preacher (U2899850) on Sunday, 27th March 2011

    I have always taken it that a County Town is the town from which the county derives its name. Hence Leivcester is the County Town of Leicestershire, Lancaster is the County Town of the County Palatine of Lancashire a.k.a. Lancashire, Chester of Cheshire. It implies that certain counties have no County Town - Norfolk, Middlesex, Essex, Cornwall and so on.

    But this is only supposition on my part.

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  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by Mathos-le-Rhymer (U2504551) on Sunday, 27th March 2011

    Not heard of NORwich then? they don't all follow the +shire, as you have said,
    I add Kent and raise you Rutland! many counties towns changed through/over time.

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  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Matthew (U2355698) on Monday, 28th March 2011

    The nearest dictionary to hand defines "county town" as "a town that is the seat of the government of a county".

    Derby, Nottingham and Winchester are all cities, though. So, are they county towns or not?

    BTW: you're entitled to feel smug if you know the county town of Wiltshire without looking it up. (I'm not because I have the advantage of having picked the question)

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  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by yggdrasil (U2748506) on Monday, 28th March 2011

    Sussex always had two county towns, Chichester and Lewes, because it was so long. Since it has been divided into West and East, this hasn't had to change.

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  • Message 7

    , in reply to message 6.

    Posted by RCWhiting (U11440738) on Monday, 28th March 2011

    Matthew
    Born and bred there, although left Wiltshire 50 year ago.
    Thus I nominate Trowbridge, always a puzzle to Swindonians.

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  • Message 8

    , in reply to message 7.

    Posted by Douglas (U1916617) on Monday, 28th March 2011

    Swindonians. 

    I thought they were called 'swindlers'.

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  • Message 9

    , in reply to message 5.

    Posted by Tommi Ruebenkopf (U14590363) on Tuesday, 29th March 2011

    I thought Salisbury was the county town of Wiltshire but it was originally Wilton, just outside it but I maybe wrong.
    Does this also mean Somerton is the CT of Somerset? It can really be quite confusing!

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  • Message 10

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by bledwim (U14156470) on Tuesday, 29th March 2011

    To Pumblechook

    The authority on these matters, i.e. the traditions and the changes to them, appears to be the Association of British Counties. Has at least one senior member of the Govt. in it, I believe. Certainly he is an advocate.

    Anyway, Buckinghamshire County Council is based in Aylesbury, not Buckingham as might be supposed.

    And Wantage is in Berkshire, for me at least, not Oxfordshire as central govt. reorganised it. King Alfred must be turning in his grave.

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  • Message 11

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by Hazel (U14354588) on Tuesday, 29th March 2011

    To Pumblechook

    The authority on these matters, i.e. the traditions and the changes to them, appears to be the Association of British Counties. Has at least one senior member of the Govt. in it, I believe. Certainly he is an advocate.

    Anyway, Buckinghamshire County Council is based in Aylesbury, not Buckingham as might be supposed.

    And Wantage is in Berkshire, for me at least, not Oxfordshire as central govt. reorganised it. King Alfred must be turning in his grave.
     

    Yes, Wantage is geographically in Berkshire but politically in Oxfordshire. Abingdon used to be the county town of Berkshire but it became Reading in 1867 because it was bigger than Abingdon, which is now in Oxfordshire. Oh hum.

    Perhaps that's the case with Aylesbury and Buckingham.

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  • Message 12

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Urban 'Reg' Chronotis (U2338993) on Wednesday, 30th March 2011

    This is a rather vexed question, and locally a topical one, since Derby and Matlock have recently been battling it out in the letters page of the Derbyshire Times. The last word went to someone who said that the concept of county town has no official status, and there are no official definitions - which must have been bad news for any pub quizmasters who were reading!

    I suppose the problem arises because of the increasing separation of adminsitrative counties, which seem to change every time anyone in Whitehall sneezes, and ceremonial counties which, in England at least, have retained their traditional boundaries throughout all the changes of the last 50 years. To me 'county town' has a permanent and ceremonial ring, more to do with the county sherriff than the county council. It seems inappropriate, and increasingly untenable, to confer the title on an administrative centre, which can move whenever the council decides to relocate its headquarters, and disappear altogether if the council is abolished - as happened in Middlesex in 1965, and in Cheshire as recently as 2009.

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  • Message 13

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by Joe_the_Gardener (U3478064) on Wednesday, 30th March 2011

    My understanding of the Derbyshire situation is that Matlock became the administrative centre in the sixties because there happened to be an enormous hydro standing empty there and it was a cheaper alternative to building a new county office in Derby. The reasons for change can be quite mundane.

    I imagine the reason Swindon was never the county town of Wiltshire is that it hardly existed until Brunel and his navvies arrived there.

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  • Message 14

    , in reply to message 13.

    Posted by JeanHartrick (U2756124) on Wednesday, 30th March 2011

    Interesting information here:

    en.wikipedia.org/wik...

    The Industrial Revolution caused huge movements of population and shifts in the relative importance of towns and cities. In the case of Llancashire, obviously Lancaster ought to be the county town but Preston is more central and having also become more important and larger (?), has been the county town since 1882.

    However, even in 1882 Liverpool and Manchester were both far larger than Preston, but they had to wait until 1974 for the new 'counties' of Merseyside and Greater Manchester to be created around them as county towns.

    But what happened in 1986?

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  • Message 15

    , in reply to message 14.

    Posted by grandpacliffy (U14287151) on Wednesday, 30th March 2011

    Kingston upon Thames is Surrey's county town and could hardly be placed in a more northerly location in the county. I believe that discussion took place a few years ago in order to site a new county town at Guildford which is a bit more central, but nowt came of it. Those of us who live south of the North Downs in Surrey often feel that we don't count.........

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  • Message 16

    , in reply to message 14.

    Posted by Urban 'Reg' Chronotis (U2338993) on Wednesday, 30th March 2011

    Liverpool and Manchester were both far larger than Preston, but they had to wait until 1974 for the new 'counties' of Merseyside and Greater Manchester to be created around them as county towns. 
    The metropolitan counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester were only administrative counties. The places within them remained in the ceremonial (or as some would say, geographical) counties of Lancashire and Cheshire. This is important when considering
    what happened in 1986? 
    The metropolitan county councils were abolished, promoting the metropolitan boroughs within them to the status of unitary authorities. Some people say the metropolitan counties still exist without county councils, others that they have become 'metropolitan areas', and that the only 'counties' these places are now in are the old ceremonial ones.

    Not long ago someone raised an objection to the BBC referring to Leigh, Lancashire, saying that it has been in Greater Manchester since 1974. This was drowned out by a chorus of protest from the town itself, to the effect that it is in the County Palatine of Lancashire, always has been and always will be.

    This is a good example of why I don't think it is very wise to take administrative counties, and their associated county towns, too seriously.

    Report message16

  • Message 17

    , in reply to message 16.

    Posted by JeanHartrick (U2756124) on Wednesday, 30th March 2011

    Thanks, Reg. I thought it was something like that, but I couldn't remember the details.

    I'm not sure I'm entirely happy about sharing a county with Manchester, though.

    Report message17

  • Message 18

    , in reply to message 17.

    Posted by Pumblechook (U6852342) on Wednesday, 30th March 2011

    I get mail with my county as Clwyd and many companies and organisations put me in Clwyd. I pay Council Tax to Flintshire or Sir Fflint.

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  • Message 19

    , in reply to message 17.

    Posted by Urban 'Reg' Chronotis (U2338993) on Thursday, 31st March 2011

    I'm not sure I'm entirely happy about sharing a county with Manchester, though. 
    Well you have a choice. You can still say you're in Merseyside if you prefer. But don't say it in this forum, because someone is bound to pop up and say "No you're not, you're ON Merseyside."

    Report message19

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