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The history of Derbyshire County Council

The first meeting of the county council was on 1 April 1889 when the authority consisted of 80 members, 60 of them councillors and 20 of them aldermen.


Council crest

These were people appointed rather than elected on to the council who, until the reorganisation of local government in 1974, made up a quarter of the members of the authority.

Overseeing proceedings was the authority’s first chairman, Sir Thomas William Evans Baronet (Bt.) of Allestree Hall at which he and 70 other members set the council’s first budget of £91,000 based on a county rate (council tax) of six and three-quarter old pence, less than three pence in today’s money. 

Three years later in 1892 he was succeeded by Sir Henry Wilmot Bt., who had been awarded the Victoria Cross at the siege of Lucknow in 1858. The third chairman was Lord Waterpark of Doveridge who served from 1899 until 1901 when he was succeeded by George Herbert Strutt of the famous Belper textile family.   Alderman Strutt was a considerable philanthropist: Herbert Strutt School in Belper is named after him and he made many other contributions to local services until the end of his term of office in 1913.

Local industry was also represented in the next chairman, James Oakes of Riddings. He served until 1920. His successors were Alderman C E Barnes (1920-37) and Alderman H R Cleaver who took office in 1937.

The following year, 1938, the county council formally adopted a coat of arms incorporating the motto ‘Bene consulendo’ meaning ‘By wise deliberation’. The cost of the coat of arms was met by an elected member, Captain H FitzHerbert Wright and Alderman E C Barnes presented the county council with its new seal incorporating this coat of arms.