London County Council (L.C.C.)
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The London County Council (L.C.C.) was London's top tier of local government between 1889 and 1965. The L.C.C. was the first directly elected strategic local government body for London. It replaced the traditional system of managing local affairs through church parishes.
The L.C.C. had 118 elected members. In its early days, it concentrated on three key areas: transport, housing and - from 1904 - education.
The L.C.C's main efforts in transport went into the tram system: until the 1930s, it ran a London-wide system. It also built new tunnels under the river at Blackwall and Rotherhithe. In the 1930s, the L.C.C's transport responsibilities passed to a new organisation, London Transport.
In housing, the council began a vigorous programme of house-building, aiming to raise the living standards of London's workers by enabling them to move into clean, healthy homes. It built new blocks of flats in inner London, and cottage estates on London's outskirts. A typical cottage estate was Totterdown Fields in Tooting, which was begun in 1903. The council rehoused 8,788 people from the inner city on this 38-acre site. Totterdown was built at the end of an L.C.C. tramline, which enabled workers to get to and from their jobs in central London.
The L.C.C. took over London's public education system in 1904, replacing the older School Boards. Besides running schools, the L.C.C's education authority successfully tackled the extensive problem of malnutrition and disease among London's school pupils.
In 1910, the L.C.C. began to build a new palatial headquarters, County Hall, on the south bank of the Thames. The First World War interrupted building, but County Hall eventually opened in the 1920s. During the 1930s and 40s, the council went into a less dynamic phase. Its activities were hampered by lack of money, disputes with the metropolitan boroughs and uncertainty over the limits of 'municipal socialism'.
After the Second World War, it became clear that the L.C.C. was too small to cope with the new demands being placed upon local government by the Welfare State. In 1957, the Royal Commission for Local Government recommended that the L.C.C. be wound up and replaced with the Greater London Council, a body covering a larger area. Only the education side of the L.C.C's work continued, under a new name - the Inner London Education Authority.
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