Thursday, October 27, 2022

Why is the constituency called Shrewsbury and Atcham?

I have solved one of the mysteries of Shropshire politics: why is the constituency called "Shrewsbury and Atcham" when Atcham is only a small village?

The solution is that the constituency does not cover just the town of Shrewsbury, but also takes in a swathe of countryside to its south that stretches from the Severn to the Welsh Border. This includes the Stiperstones and the nearby large villages of Minsterley and Pontesbury.

And until 1974 the local authority covering that countryside was Atcham Rural District Council.

Atcham RDC was merged with the Borough of Shrewsbury in 1974. The new authority was expected to be named merely Shrewsbury, but when councillors met they decided to call it the Borough of Shrewsbury and Atcham. 

The parliamentary constituency adopted the name Shrewsbury and Atcham in time for the 1983 general election, even though it kept the boundaries of the old Shrewsbury seat.

The Borough of Shrewsbury and Atcham disappeared in 2009 when Shropshire became a unitary authority. And under the 2016 Boundary Commission proposals, the constituency, while remaining largely unchanged, will revert to the name of Shrewsbury.

When that happens, the benign ghost of Atcham Rural District Council will have been laid to rest.

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