Avon (county)

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Avon (pronounced /ˈeɪvən/) was, from 1974 to 1996, a non-metropolitan and ceremonial county in the west of England.

The county was named after the River Avon, which runs through the area. It was formed from parts of the historic counties of Gloucestershire and Somerset, together with the City of Bristol. In 1996, the county was abolished and the area split between the Bath and North East Somerset, City of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire unitary local authorities. The Avon name is still used for some purposes. The area had a population of approximately 1.08 million people in 2009.[4]

Contents

Background

The important port of Bristol lay close to the mouth of the River Avon which defined the historic boundary between Gloucestershire and Somerset. In 1373 a charter constituted the area as the County of the Town of Bristol, although it continued to fall within the jurisdiction of the two counties for some purposes.[5]

The appointment of a boundaries commission in 1887 led to a campaign for the creation of a county of Greater Bristol. The commissioners, while recommending that Bristol should be "neither in the county of Gloucester nor of Somerset for any purpose whatsoever", did not extend the city's boundaries.[6] The commission's timidity was attacked by the Bristol Mercury and Daily Post, who accused them of using the "crude method of the Procrustean bed".[7] The newspaper went on to attack Charles Ritchie, the President of the Local Government Board and the Conservative government:

Everyone who considered the question on its merits was convinced of the justice of the demand for a Greater Bristol, but... the interests of the Tory party were put before every other consideration and we do not think there is any endeavour to conceal the fact.[8]

Under the Local Government Act 1888 Bristol was constituted a county borough, exercising the powers of both a county and city council. The city was extended to take in some Gloucestershire suburbs in 1898 and 1904.[9]

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