The highway surveyors

  • Derek Fraser


This review of parochial and township institutions may be concluded by a brief glance at the political role of the boards of surveyors of highways. The highway surveyor was the least attractive of the local offices of parish administration and in view of its relatively low status did not normally command any great political interest. However, the surveyors were responsible for levying highway rates and where public expenditure was involved there was some potential popular concern. Whereas churchwardens were to a large extent prevented from levying rates during the early Victorian years, the surveyors continued to spend public funds well into mid-century. Three West Riding examples, those of Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield, illustrate the ways in which even this humble office could become politicized. In Bradford the highway surveyors were sucked into an all-embracing party political battle for total local control. Leeds provided a case study of political interest generated by men whose social status made access to superior offices difficult Finally Sheffield was perhaps a unique case in using the highway surveyors as the lynch-pin of a theory of local self-government.


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  1. 17.
    For Ironside see J. Salt, ‘Experiments in Anarchism 1850–1854’, Transactions of the Hunter Archaeological Society (1972), 37 – 53.Google Scholar
  2. 18.
    J. Toulmin Smith, Local Self Government and Centralisation (1851), 86.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Leicester University Press 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek Fraser
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BradfordUK

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