History of the City of London coal duties

Metropolitan Board of Works


After 1855 the money paid into the various improvement funds was used by the Metropolitan Board of Works, the body set up by the Metropolis Management Act 1855 to undertake large scale public works in London which were impossible under the chaotic system of local government then prevailing (See Gibbon & Bell History of the London County Council 1889-1939 chapter 1).

At the first the money was assigned to the various improvement funds rather than to the Board directly, and the Treasury was directed to pay over the money as required to supplement the money raised by way of rates for specific public works such as:

For further information on these works and their background see Porter's The Thames Embankment: environment, technology, and society in Victorian London.

Later, under the 1869 Act, the improvement fund and its income was assigned directly to the Board when certain loans raised under previous Acts had been paid off.

In an attempt to allay the criticism that the area that benefited from the duties was a lot smaller than the area over which they were collected (see Unpopularity of the duties and "Free opening of Kew Bridge" in the Illustrated London news), the 1868 Act directed that the proceeds of the duties for the year 1889-90 should be used to free from toll certain bridges in outer London. These were: (on the Thames) Kew, Kingston upon Thames, Hampton Court, Walton upon Thames, and Staines; and (on the Lea) Chingford, and Tottenham Mills. Under two later Acts of 1869 and 1874 the bridges were freed from toll with money raised on the credit of the duties and the last bridges were freed on 22nd February 1878 (see Return showing the Amount Expended ... in freeing Kew and other Bridges ... ).

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