Southwark Central (UK Parliament constituency)

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Southwark Central
Former Borough constituency
for the House of Commons
Number of members one
Replaced by Southwark
Created from Newington West

Southwark (Br [ˈsʌðɨk])[1] Central was a borough constituency returning a single Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom through the first past the post voting system. The constituency was a very compact and urban area, and was one of three divisions of the Parliamentary Borough of Southwark, which was identical to the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark, in South London. The creation of the constituency was recommended by the Boundary Commission in a report issued in 1917, and formally created by the Representation of the People Act 1918. It came into existence at the 1918 general election.

Southwark Central in the Parliamentary County of London

As the borough of Southwark had only 67,279 electors on 15 October 1946, the relevant date for the subsequent Boundary Commission review, the borough was only entitled to a single Member of Parliament. As a consequence Southwark Central was abolished as a separate constituency by the Representation of the People Act 1948, along with its neighbours Southwark North and Southwark South East and went out of existence at the 1950 general election, forming part of the re-established Southwark constituency.


Southwark Metropolitan Borough wards in 1916

When the constituency was created, it was defined to include three whole wards of the Metropolitan Borough of Southwark (St Mary's, St Paul's and Trinity) together with a small section of the St George's ward. This formed an area in two main parts linked by a narrow strip of land around Elephant and Castle. The southern section, between Kennington Park Road and Walworth Road, including the St Mary and St Paul wards, was almost entirely residential. It stretched to Kennington Park and to Avenue Road, being the southern boundary of the borough. Around the Elephant and Castle area the constituency included Newington Butts and the Metropolitan Tabernacle, but at its narrowest point it was only about 100 yards between the western boundary on Newington Causeway and the eastern boundary on the railway line through Elephant & Castle railway station.

North of Elephant and Castle, the constituency turned to the east and included a second area of Newington between New Kent Road and Newington Causeway in the Trinity ward. The southern boundary of this part of the constituency continued along New Kent Road to divide St George's ward along it and Tower Bridge Road up to the borough boundary with Bermondsey. The northern part of Trinity ward, north of Wickham Place, was not included.[2] The constituency's last MP, future Chancellor Roy Jenkins, described it as "postage stamp-sized".[3]

Members of Parliament[edit]

Election Member Party
1918 James Daniel Gilbert Coalition Liberal
1922 National Liberal
1923 Liberal
1924 Harry Day Labour
1931 Ian Horobin National
1935 Harry Day Labour
1940 by-election John Hanbury Martin Labour
1948 by-election Roy Jenkins Labour
1950 constituency abolished: see Southwark


Elections in the 1910s[edit]

James Daniel Gilbert
General Election 14 December 1918: Electorate 27,699
Party Candidate Votes % ±
C Liberal James Daniel Gilbert 8,060 72.1
Labour Leslie Haden-Guest 3,126 27.9
Majority 4,934 44.2
Liberal hold Swing
C indicates candidate endorsed by the coalition government.

Elections in the 1920s[edit]

1922 General Election: Southwark Central
Party Candidate Votes % ±
National Liberal James Daniel Gilbert 10,522 65.6 -6.5
Labour George Dobson Bell 5,522 34.4 +6.5
Majority 5,000 31.2
National Liberal hold Swing
1923 General Election: Southwark Central
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Liberal James Daniel Gilbert 8,676 45.3 -20.3
Labour Harry Day 6,690 34.9 +0.5
Unionist Charles Louis Nordon 3,801 19.8 n/a
Majority 1,986 10.4 -20.8
Liberal hold Swing -10.4
1924 General Election: Southwark Central
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Harry Day 9,199 40.0 +5.1
Liberal James Daniel Gilbert 7,817 34.1 -11.2
Conservative Charles Louis Nordon 5,937 25.9 +6.1
Majority 1,382 5.9
Labour gain from Liberal Swing
1929 General Election: Southwark Central
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Harry Day 13,318 52.3 +12.3
Unionist Edward Keeling 6,256 24.6 -1.3
Liberal James Robert Want 5,878 23.1 -11.0
Majority 7,062 27.7 +21.8
Labour hold Swing +6.8

Elections in the 1930s[edit]

1931 General Election: Southwark Central
Party Candidate Votes % ±
National Ian Horobin 15,913 65.3
Labour Harry Day 8,466 34.7 -17.6
Majority 7,447 30.6
National gain from Labour Swing
1935 General Election: Southwark Central
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Harry Day 11,098 53.3 +18.6
National Labour Ernest Stanford 9,735 46.7 -18.6
Majority 1,363 6.6
Labour gain from National Swing

Elections in the 1940s[edit]

Southwark Central by-election, 1940
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour John Hanbury Martin 5,285 64.3 +11.0
Anti-War Charles W. Searson 1,550 18.9
National Independent Violet Van der Elst 1,382 16.8
Majority 3,735 45.4
Labour hold Swing
1945 General Election: Southwark Central
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour John Hanbury Martin 9,336 71.9 +18.6
Conservative William Steward 3,654 28.1 -18.6
Majority 5,682 43.8
Labour hold Swing
Southwark Central by-election, 1948
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Roy Jenkins 8,744 65.4 -6.5
Conservative James Greenwood 4,623 34.6 +6.5
Majority 4,121 30.8
Labour hold Swing


  1. ^ "Southwark", in The Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World (1952), New York: Columbia University Press.
  2. ^ "Parliamentary Borough of Southwark" in "Report of the Boundary Commission (England and Wales)", vol. III (Cd. 8758).
  3. ^ Roy Jenkins, "A Life at the Centre", Random House, 1991, p. 70.