Metropolitan Borough of Stepney
The former Town Hall in Commercial Road
Stepney within the County of London
|• 1911/1931||1,766 acres (7.15 km2)|
|• 1961||1,771 acres (7.17 km2)|
|• Succeeded by||London Borough of Tower Hamlets|
|Status||Metropolitan borough (1900—1965)|
Civil parish (1927—1965)
|Government||Stepney Borough Council|
|• HQ||227-233 Commercial Road|
|• Motto||A Magnis Ad Maiora (From great things to greater)|
Coat of arms of the borough council
Formation and boundaries
The borough was formed from thirteen civil parishes and extra-parochial places: Christchurch Spitalfields, Liberty of Norton Folgate (part), Mile End New Town, Mile End Old Town, Old Artillery Ground, Ratcliff, St Anne Limehouse, St Botolph without Aldgate, St George in the East, St John of Wapping, St Mary Whitechapel, St Paul Shadwell and Tower of London.
In 1901 Tower of London was merged with St Botolph without Aldgate. In 1921 Ratcliff, St John of Wapping and St Paul Shadwell were merged with St Anne Limehouse; and Christchurch Spitalfields, Liberty of Norton Folgate, Mile End New Town, Old Artillery Ground and St Botolph without Aldgate were merged with St Mary Whitechapel. In 1927 the remaining four civil parishes were combined into a single civil parish called Stepney, which was conterminous with the metropolitan borough.
Previous to the borough's formation it had been administered by four separate local bodies: Limehouse Board of Works, Whitechapel Board of Works, Mile End Old Town Vestry and St George in the East Vestry.
The area maps roughly to the London postcode E1.
Borough seal and coat of arms
On the formation of the metropolitan borough the corporation adopted a seal depicting the patron saints of the parishes that made up the borough. These were St Anne, Limehouse, St Mary Matfelon, Whitechapel, St Dunstan, for Stepney and St George in the East. In the centre was a depiction of the Tower of London. At the top of the seal was a sailing ship, recalling the legend that all persons born on the high seas, could claim Stepney as their birthplace. The more modern ship and quayside at the bottom of the seal was for the borough's docks.On the left of the seal was a picture of a steam locomotive, for the London and Blackwall Railway, and on the right a loom for the historic weaving industry.
In 1931 the seal was replaced by an official coat of arms, granted by the College of Arms. The main item on the shield is a ship on the waves of the sea, for the various maritime interests of Stepney. At the top of the shield are shown a version of the arms of the City of London, but with an anchor replacing the sword in the city's arms. On either side of this were placed smith's tongs, symbol of St Dunstan, patron saint of Stepney. The crest on the top of the helm featured a mural crown, representing the battlements of the Tower of London. Atop the crown were two crossed gold anchors. The Latin motto: A magnis ad maiora, can be translated as from great things to greater. When Stepney became part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, the arms of the new borough were based on Stepney's, and an English-language version of the motto was adopted.
Population and area
The area of the borough was 1,766 acres (7.1 km2). The populations recorded in National Censuses were:
Constituent parishes 1801-1899
Metropolitan Borough 1900-1961
The borough was divided into nineteen wards for elections: Centre, Limehouse North, Limehouse South, Mile End New Town, North East, North, Ratcliffe, Shadwell, South East, South, Spitalfields East, Spitalfields West, St George in the East North, St George in the East South, The Tower, West, Whitechapel East, Whitechapel Middle and Whitechapel South.
For elections to Parliament, the borough was divided into five constituencies:
- Tower Hamlets, Limehouse division
- Tower Hamlets, Mile End division
- Tower Hamlets, St George division
- Tower Hamlets, Stepney division
- Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel division
In 1918 the borough's representation was reduced to three seats:
In 1950 the borough's representation was reduced to one seat:
- Robert Donald, ed. (1907). "London: Stepney". Municipal Year Book of the United Kingdom for 1907. London: Edward Lloyd.
- Youngs, F. A., Guide to Local Administrative Units of England, Vol. 1, Southern England, London, 1979
- Vision of Britain website 
- GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, Tower of London CP/ExP through time | Census tables with data for the Parish-level Unit, A Vision of Britain through Time. http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit/10164539 Date accessed: 19th February 2015
- GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, Whitechapel CP through time | Census tables with data for the Parish-level Unit, A Vision of Britain through Time. http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit/10071306 Date accessed: 19th February 2015
- GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, Limehouse CP/ExP through time | Census tables with data for the Parish-level Unit, A Vision of Britain through Time. http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit/10020566 Date accessed: 19th February 2015
- GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, Stepney CP through time | Census tables with data for the Parish-level Unit, A Vision of Britain through Time. http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit/10235431 Date accessed: 19th February 2015
- Statistical Abstract for London, 1901 (Vol. IV).
- Stepney MetB: Census Tables at Vision of Britain accessed on 14 Dec 2006
- The census was suspended for World War II
- Post Office London County Suburbs Directory, 1919. 1919. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- Ordnance Survey 'County Series 3rd Edition' Map of London (1912-14) at 1:2500 scale. Accessed at https://www.old-maps.co.uk/