Page 11: Metropolitan boroughs

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The London Government Act of 1899 removed the old vestries, replacing them with borough councils. The key boundary change was the removal of Chelsea and dividing it between Kensington and Paddington. In 1901 Kensington, at the expressed wish of Queen Victoria, was given Royal Borough status by King Edward VII. Although this title does not carry any special rights or privileges it is seen as an honour and a matter of civic pride, and it is only held by three other boroughs.

There was a steady devolution of functions and responsibilities from the London County Council to the boroughs. By 1965 delivery of the bulk of services, especially those of a more local and personalised nature, had been transferred. The environment, parks and open spaces, licensing, public baths and playing fields, public libraries, planning for and construction of housing and social welfare all now came under the local council.

The councils became major employers and outgrew their existing premises. Chelsea Town Hall was refaced and enlarged in 1905. In Kensington several additional buildings had to be acquired to accommodate all the newly created departments and their staff.

 

Photograph of Edward VII wearing crown

Portrait of HRH Edward VII who conferred Royal Borough status to Kensington
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Photograph of old Kensington Town Hall and Library

Kensington Town Hall on the High Street, 1905
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Virtual Museum – The History of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
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