A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.
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At the end of the 13th century the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's claimed various liberties in their manor of West Drayton, including view of frankpledge and the assize of bread and ale. (fn. 1) No court rolls appear to have survived from before 1484, and only a few from the late 15th and early 16th centuries. (fn. 2) In 1587 it was customary for the lord to keep a court leet once a year and a court baron once in three weeks. (fn. 3) Records of such courts are preserved to 1760. (fn. 4) In 1464 Drayton or Colham Garden manor was granted a court leet and other privileges, (fn. 5) and a few court rolls of the late 16th and early 17th centuries survive. (fn. 6) Drayton appears, however, to have been subject to the West Drayton court, insofar as the West Drayton lands of the manor were concerned. There were two manorial constables at West Drayton in 1338 (fn. 7) and in 1610, (fn. 8) when the court was also appointing an aleconner and a hogward. Their accounts for 1696 to 1699 show that the constables were then levying a rate and administering the poor law and the settlement Acts. They also paid for repairing gates, possibly the pound gates. Two rates yielded a total of £8 7s. 7d., most of which was spent on relief, particularly, in a time of war, for seamen and soldiers and their dependants passing through the parish. (fn. 9)
The functions of the churchwardens and constables appear to have overlapped before the 18th century, when the constables ceased to play any important part in local administration. The churchwardens were administering a 'church house' for the poor as early as 1549. (fn. 10) In 1587 it was described as a 'parish's house', and stood in half an acre of ground, (fn. 11) and in 1673 one inmate paid 6d. for the rent of a room. (fn. 12) About 1678 the churchwardens bought a new parish house for £20, (fn. 13) and in 1708 another was acquired for £36. (fn. 14) This parish property figures in several 18th-century churchwardens' accounts. It was not then a workhouse, (fn. 15) but a poor-house, or parish almshouse. In 1807 £289 was spent to build 8 poorhouses, a 'round house' and an 'end house', at the north end of the Green, on the corner of Church Road. (fn. 16) A part of these buildings had begun to be used as a workhouse by 1815. (fn. 17) Another part was used as a parish cage, or lock-up. (fn. 18) The churchwardens' accounts, beginning in 1749, show that they were administering the poor law and settlement Acts from that date, but that they were relatively inactive in other spheres of parish government. In 1675 a payment is recorded for mending the 'parish pott', (fn. 19) possibly a dung-cart or barrow, (fn. 20) and in 1763 another in connexion with beating the bounds. In 1775-6 the poor-rate yielded £84 17s. 4d., of which £2 15s. 5d. was a county rate, and £57 2s. 7d. was spent on the poor. (fn. 21) In 1803 a 4s. rate raised £325 15s., £238 of which was spent on the poor. During the year 11 adults and 14 children were in receipt of permanent relief, 17 other parishioners were given occasional relief, and payments were made to 29 non-parishioners. (fn. 22) Poor-relief expenditure rose to a maximum of £758 in 1814, when the rate was equivalent to about 30s. per parishioner, (fn. 23) but it had fallen to less than £200 by 1824. (fn. 24) Between 1833 and 1835 relief cost an average of £292 a year. (fn. 25) Able-bodied men in the workhouse were employed by the parish surveyor on the roads, and the women and children given 'light agricultural work'. (fn. 26) In 1836 West Drayton parish became part of the Uxbridge poor law union, (fn. 27) and the following year the guardians sold the West Drayton workhouse and the adjacent parish property, investing the proceeds to help meet the parish's liabilities. (fn. 28)
Although a vestry order was made in 1747 to regulate the administration of the Poor's Stock, and in 1823 the trustees of the stock were said to have been appointed by a vestry meeting, (fn. 29) the surviving minutes suggest that the vestry was either revived or began its existence as an effective administrative body in 1839. At that date the meeting-place was the Crown Inn; in 1851 it was the 'Swan'. In 1842 the vestry appointed 8 constables: 2 butchers, 2 grocers, 2 shoemakers, a millwright, and a builder. (fn. 30) The influence of wider units of local government began to be felt in the parish about the same time. In 1840 West Drayton was added to the Metropolitan Police District, (fn. 31) and there was a resident policeman in 1841. (fn. 32) From 1840 or 1841 the medical officer for the Hillingdon district of the Uxbridge union resided in the parish. (fn. 33) The Uxbridge union sanitary authority was created in 1875, (fn. 34) and a few years later, in 1886 and 1887, came into conflict with the vestry and the ratepayers of West Drayton, who successfully opposed a plan to create a united drainage scheme with Yiewsley. (fn. 35) Much of the village waste was still apparently carried from a cess-pool on the Green by an open common drain to the Colne, (fn. 36) despite complaints from the Thames Conservancy. (fn. 37) Sewerage and a sewage disposal system were not introduced until after the creation of the parish council and the Uxbridge Rural District Council, which replaced the sanitary authority, in 1894. The rural district council began work on the main sewerage system in 1898. This comprised a joint drainage district for Cowley, Hillingdon East, and West Drayton, with outfall works at Cowley, and cost more than £10,000. The council was also responsible for the beginnings of public housing at West Drayton; 10 'workingclass' houses had been built by 1923, under the Government Assisted Housing Act. (fn. 38) The parish council was active in acquiring land for recreational and other purposes: the Green and the Old Pits allotment site by 1900, the Avenue and the Closes (28 a.) in 1924 and 1928 respectively, and land for a depot by Porter's Way in 1925. (fn. 39)
In 1929 West Drayton was separated from the Uxbridge Rural District to form part of the Yiewsley and West Drayton Urban District. The urban district as finally constituted in 1930 comprised three parishes: Yiewsley, West Drayton, and Harmondsworth, with a total area of 5,276 acres. (fn. 40) Yiewsley became a civil parish in 1895, having formerly been part of Hillingdon, and was an urban district from 1911. Harmondsworth parish, which included the villages of Longford, Heathrow, and Sipson, was transferred from the Staines Rural District in 1930. In 1954 the population of the new district was estimated at 23,500. (fn. 41)
The council administered four departments in 1930: the surveyor's department, the clerk and financial officer's department, the rating department, and the sanitary inspector's department. These employed an indoor staff of 14, and an outside staff of 22. There were also four departments in 1958, employing an indoor staff of 50, and an outside staff of 174, with 11 part-time rent-collectors. The number of standing committees varied over the same period from 7 to 15; there were 10 in 1958. The product of a penny rate rose from £258 10s. 8d. in 1930-1 to £2,858 15s. 10d. in 1957-8, when the rate income, most of which went to the county, was £503,147. Of this the urban district expended £81,475, compared with £17,368 in 1930-1. (fn. 42) Between 1929 and 1954 more than 3,000 council houses were completed, 1,000 of them in the post-war period. There were 110 acres of public parks and recreation grounds in 1954, and 78 acres of permanent and temporary allotments. (fn. 43) Since 1937 (fn. 44) 200 acres, mostly next to the Colne, have also been acquired by the county council as part of the London Green Belt. The urban district council was responsible for building open-air baths in Otterfield Road. (fn. 45) The first county library branch was opened at Station Road school in 1930, (fn. 46) before moving to High Street, Yiewsley, in 1931. (fn. 47)
Party politics were first introduced into the Yiewsley Urban District Council in 1919, when two Labour councillors were returned. (fn. 48) Independents controlled the Yiewsley and West Drayton council from its inception until 1945. An election on national party lines in 1946 resulted in a Labour majority, which was increased in subsequent elections, and there were 18 Labour and 4 Conservative councillors in 1958. There were no Independent councillors after 1947. (fn. 49)