Local Government & Services
The former Bradford on Avon Town Hall
In the medieval period Bradford was the centre of a Hundred, the land division below the Shire or County and of a large Manor and Parish. Although burgesses and a market were mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086 and two representatives were sent to Parliament in 1295, Bradford does not appear to have received a charter.
Nevertheless, Bradford continued to function as a market town with relevant officers, but no corporation, until a body called the Town Commission was established by an Act of Parliament in 1839. Local government legislation later in the century established a Bradford Urban District Council (UDC) for the town and Bradford & Melksham Rural District Council (RDC) for the outlying areas of both towns (as well as Hilperton and Staverton parishes of Trowbridge). Both councils were seated in Bradford, the former in Westbury House, the latter in Abbey House. Between 1973 and 2009 Wiltshire was divided into a tier of government below the County; West Wiltshire District Council took over the areas of Bradford, Melksham, Trowbridge, Warminster and Westbury. The Wiltshire Council unitary authority now governs, with some functions devolved to the Bradford Area Board -the former Hundred area, minus Atworth and Broughton Gifford, but the addition of the Trowbridge parish of Staverton. The Bradford Town Council, with a Mayor but still no corporation, now has local responsibility for the former UDC area.
The functions of the Hundred were gradually eroded until there ceased to be Bradford magistrates and the large Ancient Parish was broken up into separate Civil Parishes.