Catalogue description Skelmersdale Development Corporation records

This record is held by Lancashire Archives

Details of NTSK
Reference: NTSK
Title: Skelmersdale Development Corporation records



The selection of the Corporation's records was based on the recommendations of a report produced by a joint working party of the Association of County Archivists and the New Towns Association and was carried out by Corporation, Commission and Record Office staff. Where appropriate, more details about the principles of selection are given in the relevant sections.


In general, most series of records recommended for deposit were deposited, in whole or in part, but there were some exceptions. Particular details are often given in the relevant part of the catalogue but three categories of such exceptions can be distinguished. The first is that of records which had never been kept; thus, there was no grant of arms, and no films or recordings had been made. (but see acc 6711) Secondly, as recommended in the joint working party report, only a selection was made of contracts and plans relating to major building projects. Thirdly, various records were transferred to West Lancashire District Council, in particular many relating to housing, or alternatively were retained by the Commission for New Towns. In the latter case, mention may be made of models, none of which were considered suitable for deposit, and photographs, where it was decided that the Commission should continue to retain the extensive sets of photographs and slides for the time being (now deposited (acc. 6512)). However, some photographs are to be found in the copy housing files (NTSK 5/4) and among miscellaneous records deposited by one of the Corporation's architects (NTSK 11/5/13-22) and occasionally Central Registry files (for example, NTSK 9/1/18). Another important series that was in general retained by the Commission is that of submissions under the various sections of the New Town Acts, namely 3(1) and 12(1) of the 1946 Act, 6(1) and 42(1) of the 1965 Act and 58(1-3) of the 1981 Act. Unlike Central Lancashire, these were not maintained as a separate series but were placed with the files relating to the particular proposal and so were only deposited where that proposal was one of the chosen housing and industrial projects.


Arrangement of the catalogue


The catalogue endeavours to reflect the organisation of the Corporation itself, in accordance with archival principles. The Corporation was not in theory departmentally structured, though a suggested administrative hierarchy, supplied by the Corporation's Librarian, is appended to this. Hence many of the records deposited relate to the Board and Central Registry rather than individual sections or departments. Indeed the Central Registry has a key role in record-keeping, as all sections were in theory required to forward a file copy of their records to it. Because of the Central Registry's key role, it was not considered worthwhile to make extensive cross-references from that part of the catalogue to other parts.


Acting on the presumption that all sections forwarded file copies to Central Registry, very few records were deposited relating to individual sections. Two exceptions are the records of the Legal Section, which maintained its own system for title deeds, and the Planning/Architects section. Records of the latter were particularly useful in documenting certain selected projects.


The latter part of the catalogue (NTSK 9-24) departs from the usual archive principles in drawing together all the records for a particular project under the heading of that project. Certain housing and industrial projects had been selected to represent the Corporation's work in these areas, as explained in the appropriate sections, and because records were then assembled to illustrate the various aspects of a project, it was decided to arrange these records under the heading of each project. It had been hoped to assemble records relating to the Town Centre, as was done in the case of Central Lancashire Development Corporation, but this did not prove possible as it was the Commission's intention to dispose of this at an early date. However, some records relating to the Town Centre are to be found among the Central Registry (NTSK 4) and General Manager's records (NTSK 25).


Production of the catalogue


The compilation of this catalogue was made possible by a grant from the Commission for New Towns, to cover the cost of appointing a full-time archivist for 1 year.


Cataloguing conventions


The terms 'Corporation' and 'Commission' are employed in this catalogue to denote the Skelmersdale Development Corporation and the Commission for New Towns respectively. Catalogue descriptions of files are generally based on the original file title and can only be taken as an approximate guide to the contents of a file. Where a record had a Corporation reference, this is recorded in the final line of each catalogue entry, in round brackets.


Other finding aids


Copies of various Corporation and Commission Aids were supplied to the Record Office during the process of selection and these have now been incorporated in the catalogue (NTSK 26). In addition, a much more detailed analysis of the Board 'Supporting Papers' series was produced in the course of producing the version which appears in the catalogue and this is available for use in the search room, as is an analysis of the precise meeting dates for each Board meeting.


Central Government


New Town corporations had close links with central government. Many records in this catalogue illustrate such links but particular attention can be drawn to the New Town Handbook (NTSK 26/1/1-4) and various Ministry of Housing and Local Government/Department of the Environment memoranda and circulars (NTSK 4/1/5-31).


Central Lancashire Development Corporation


Records of this Corporation were also deposited at the Record Office (NTC) and various differences will be apparent in the two catalogues, in terms of records kept and deposited. For example, the General Manager's records at Skelmersdale were kept within the Central Registry, rather than as a separate series, though there was an exception to this (see NTSK 25). Central Lancashire did not deposit pre-1900 title deeds unlike Skelmersdale, but with this exception the Central Lancashire records are generally a much fuller set, for various reasons. One major reason is that a full survey was made of the Central Lancashire records, and this made possible, for example, a more comprehensive set of records to be assembled to illustrate the selected major projects, especially perhaps on the engineering and public utilities aspects of a scheme.




Finally, two separate records have passed through the hands of the Corporation/Commission to the Record Office since work began on selecting the Corporation's records. A volume containing tithe schedules for Bickerstaffe and Skelmersdale had been passed to the Corporation's Librarian and this has now been classified as a separate deposit, from the parish (accession number 5205, catalogue mark PR 3387). Secondly, a nineteenth century map of Skelmersdale, originally loaned to the Corporation by a private individual, was by agreement transferred by the Commission as a gift to the Record Office (accession number 5657, catalogue mark DDX 1610).




NTSK 1. Designation Order


NTSK 2. Board:


NTSK 2/1 Minutes


NTSK 2/2 Agendas


NTSK 2/3 Supporting papers


NTSK 2/4 Indexes to minutes


NTSK 2/5 Members' files


NTSK 2/6 Basic/Master Plan


NTSK 2/7 Annual reports


NTSK 2/8 Annual accounts


NTSK 3. Board Committees:


NTSK 3/1 Joint Officers' meetings and Joint Committee (with Skelmersdale/Upholland Urban District Councils)


NTSK 3/2 Licensed Premises Committee


NTSK 3/3 Programmes and Progress Committee


NTSK 3/4 Joint Liaison Committee


NTSK 4. Central Registry:


NTSK 4/1 Files


NTSK 5. Planning/Architects:


NTSK 5/1 Plans


NTSK 5/2 Population and Social Survey Reports


NTSK 5/3 (Not allocated)


NTSK 5/4 Copy housing records


NTSK 6. Commercial


NTSK 7. Housing


NTSK 8. Legal:


NTSK 8/1 Compulsory Purchase Orders


NTSK 8/2 Title Deeds


NTSK 9-24. Selected records relating to housing and industrial projects


NTSK 9. Fir Tree 1/2:


NTSK 9/1 Files


NTSK 9/2 Plans


NTSK 9/3 Contract records


NTSK 10. Tanhouse 1/2:


NTSK 10/1 Files


NTSK 10/2 Plans


NTSK 10/3 Contract records


NTSK 11. Chapel House 3:


NTSK 11/1 Files


NTSK 11/2 Plans


NTSK 11/3 Contract records


NTSK 11/4 Architects' files


NTSK 11/5 Miscellaneous records


NTSK 12. Gillibrands: general files


NTSK 13. Pimbo: general files


NTSK 14. Gillibrands, Mark I Standard Factories 1 and 2:


NTSK 14/1 Files


NTSK 14/2 Plans


NTSK 14/3 Contract records


NTSK 15. Pimbo, Mark II Standard Factories:


NTSK 15/1 Files


NTSK 15/2 Plans


NTSK 15/3 Contract records


NTSK 16. Pimbo, Mark III Standard Factories:


NTSK 16/1 Files


NTSK 16/2 Plans


NTSK 16/3 Contract records


NTSK 17. Pimbo, Mark IV Standard Factories:


NTSK 17/1 Files


NTSK 17/2 Plans


NTSK 18. Pimbo, Mark V Standard Factories:


NTSK 18/1 Files


NTSK 18/2 Plans


NTSK 18/3 Contract records


NTSK 19. Pimbo, Mark VI Standard Factories:


NTSK 19/1 Files


NTSK 19/2 Plans


NTSK 19/3 Contract records


NTSK 20. Gillibrands, Mark I Nursery Factories:


NTSK 20/1 Files


NTSK 20/2 Plans


NTSK 20/3 Contract records


NTSK 21. Pimbo, Mark II Nursery Factories:


NTSK 21/1 Files


NTSK 21/2 Plans


NTSK 21/3 Contract records


NTSK 22. Gillibrands, Mark III Nursery Factories:


NTSK 22/1 Files


NTSK 22/2 Plans


NTSK 23. Gillibrands, Purpose-Built Factories:


NTSK 23/1 Files


NTSK 23/2 Plans


NTSK 23/3 Contract records


NTSK 24. Industrial Publicity Material:


NTSK 25. Miscellaneous records: General Manager


NTSK 26. Other miscellaneous records:


NTSK 26/1 New Towns Handbook


NTSK 26/2 Newspaper Cuttings


NTSK 26/3 Skelmersdale New Town Progress


NTSK 26/4 Corporation lists/indexes


NTSK 26/5 Commission for the New Towns

Related material:

Records relating to Skelmersdale New Town after 1985 (ie after the dissolution of the Development Corporation) can be found under CNT

Held by: Lancashire Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Skelmersdale Development Corporation

Physical description: 26 Series
Access conditions:

The records of the Corporation were deposited by the Commission for New Towns at various dates between 2 April 1985 and 12 March 1987. Separate accession numbers were allocated in terms of the records received in each of the years 1985, 1986 and 1987, namely accession numbers 5540, 5812 and 6054, but otherwise no attempt was made to distinguish the different accessions. The records are classified as public records, as provided by the Public Records (Commission for New Towns) Order 1984. As such, all the records are closed to the public for 30 years, including the Board minutes, except for those records which have been published. Records not affected by the 30 year rule include the Basic/Master Plan (NTSK 2/6), Annual Reports (NTSK 2/7), the Annual Accounts (NTSK 2/8) and the Population and Social Survey reports (NTSK 5/2), which have all been published, and title deeds (NTSK 8/2) which are 1900 or earlier in date. Note that certain Central Registry files (NTSK 4/1) were identified by Corporation staff as being of a sensitive nature and may need to be closed for longer than 30 years. Though the records were deposited by the Commission, other successor authorities may well have an interest in and right of access to certain records, in particular West Lancashire District Council as regards housing and community related assets.

Custodial history:

Deposited by the Commission for New Towns at various dates between 2 April 1985 and 12 March 1987


(Acc. 5540, 5812 and 6054)


Skelmersdale Development Corporation


Additional deposits (all by Commission for the New Towns unless otherwise stated):


Accession 6391, 14 Dec 1988, comprises NTSK 4/1/970-971


Accession 6512, 21 Jul 1989, uncatalogued: photographs and transparencies (albums, drawers and loose items)


Accession 6711, 10 May 1990, uncatalogued: publicity fims (transferred to North West Film Archive); financial records; plaques for Housing Design Awards; loose photocopies of press cuttings; and a history of Skelmersdale


Accession 6948, 14 May 1991, uncatalogued: files


Accession 7550, 26 November 1993 (from Liverpool University Archives), uncatalogued: microfilms of social survey questionnaires 1973-84


Accession 8338, 5 Feb 1998, uncatalogued: files

  • Skelmersdale, Lancashire
  • Housing
  • Urban renewal
Administrative / biographical background:

Summary history


The Skelmersdale New Town (Designation) Order was approved 9 October 1961 and the Skelmersdale Development Corporation was formally constituted 25 January 1962. The Corporation was wound up in 1985, with the housing stock being transferred to West Lancashire District Council 1 April, other assets transferred to the Commission for New Towns 2 April and the Corporation itself was formally dissolved 30 June.


For an overall view of the work of the Corporation, the key introductory source is the series of Annual Reports (NTSK 2/7), though the catalogue of the Board 'Supporting Papers' will be found useful in pinpointing the start of major projects and other significant records. Various secondary sources are available in the search room, including Sands, N., The Skelmersdale Story, also copies of the Basic/Master Plan (see NTSK 2/6/1-2 for archive copies) and copies of the Population and Social Survey report for 1965-71, 1973, 1984 (for a full set, see NTSK 5/2).


Skelmersdale Development Corporation




General History


The New Town was set up with the purpose of assisting the relief of overcrowding in North Merseyside. The site, comprising some 1,630 hectaress, was designated by Order dated 9th October 1961 and encompassed almost the whole of Skelmersdale Urban District Council (UDC) and parts of Up Holland and Ormskirk Urban Districts and Wigan Rural District. Skelmersdale Development Corporation (DC) was formally constituted on 25th January 1962.


The DC appointed L. Hugh Wilson, as Consultant Architect/Planner on 1st November 1962 for the preparation of the Outline Plan. The Skelmersdale New Town Applications Directive was issued on 2nd July 1962, this allowed for all planning permissions for development within the designated area to be referred to the DC for comment. The first phase of the DC's offices at High Street were formally opened on 10th October 1963. An Interim Report on planning proposals was presented to the DC by L. Hugh Wilson on 20th September 1963. At this juncture the DC prepared proposals for residential development at New Church Farm, a scheme comprising approximately 600 dwellings with garages and shops on a 16 hectares site to the east of the existing town. The Lord Mayor of Liverpool laid the first brick of the first dwelling on 24th June 1964. The first dwelling was completed on 11th November.


The Master Plan was submitted to the Minister of Housing and Local Government (Rt. Hon. Richard Crossman) on 18th June 1965. By 31st March 1966 a total of 296 dwellings had been completed, mostly at New Church Farm. Work started on 385 dwellings at Little Digmoor in August 1965. The Master Plan received approval from the Minister on 26th May 1966. By the end of March 1967 all 612 dwellings in the New Church Farm contract had been completed. Within twelve months three further housing schemes had been completed at Little Digmoor, Chequer Lane and Pennylands (a total of 634 houses in the year).


The Minister made the Skelmersdale New Town (Designation) Amendment Order 1969 on 5th February 1969, which enlarged the designated area by approximately 38.2 hectares, of which 37.8 hectares extended the Pimbo Industrial Area. At the end of the 1960s (31st March 1969) the estimated population of the New Town was 18,450. A total of 1,816 dwellings had been completed for letting and a further 154 for sale. In terms of industrial and commercial development, 163,140sq. m of industrial space and 11 shops had been completed.


By 31st March 1970 the contract for Tanhouse 1 and 2 in the Hillside area was substantially completed. Construction of the first phase of the retail shopping centre and bus station started on 1st February 1971. During the following twelve months work started on the Birch Green 3, 5, 6 and 7 areas. The DC received a High Commendation for its Tanhouse 4 housing scheme in the Department's Good Design in Housing 1971.


By 31st March 1973 building contracts were completed at Holland Moor 2, Tanhouse 5 and Birch Green 1 and 2. During the year 1972-3 two new primary schools were opened, Delphside County Primary School at Tanhouse 5 and St. Jon's R.C. Primary School in Birch Green. The Birch Green 7 contact was completed during the following year as was the Clough Fold Country Primary School in Birch Green 5. The Concourse Shopping Centre, the first phase of the Town Centre development, opened for trade on 11th June 1973. Twin cinemas in the bus station building at the Town Centre were opened in January 1974.


The population of the New Town at 31st March 1975 was estimated at 39,900. A total of 7,048 dwellings had been completed for letting and a further 730 for sale by this date. In terms of industry, 348,649sq. m. of industrial floor space had been completed and in addition 133 shops. By the end of March 1976 the Westbank and High Street were completed. Housing schemes at Ashurst 1, Birch Green 10 (south) and Birch Green 4 and 8 were completed by March 1977.


During April 1977 the Secretary of the State for the Environment (Rt. Hon. Peter Shore) announced that the New Town would not be extended and that subject to necessary consultations the DC would be wound up within five years. In turn this meant that the ultimate target population would be reduced to about 61,000. By March 1978 the scheme at Chapel House 3 was completed, which was the last sizeable site for housing development in the Old Skelmersdale area. By the following March schemes were completed at Chapel House 3, Birch Green 10 (North) and Ashurst 3A and 3B. In September 1978 the DC handed over to the Co-operative Bank Ltd., Phase 1 of the Delf House office development, comprising 3,930 sq. m. in the Town Centre.


At the end of the 1970s (31st March 1979) the estimated population of the New Town was 39,500. During the lifetime of the DC 8,829 dwellings for letting had been completed and a further 968 for sale. Phase 2 of the Delf House office complex, comprising 3,600 sq. m. of floor space, was completed during 1979-80. During the following year the Minister (Rt. Hon. Michael Heseltine) announced that the dissolution of the DC had been postponed until 31st March 1985. The housing schemes at Ashurst 4A1, 4B (304 dwellings) were completed by March 1981.


During June 1981 the scheme at Ashurst 4A2 was completed. A month later Marlborough Court, a sheltered housing scheme was completed at Ashurst 2. These two completions marked the end of the DC's continuous rented house building programme. (A sheltered housing scheme at Tanhouse 4 was commenced during 1983-4). By March 1983 a total of 1,728 dwellings had been sold to sitting tenants - a policy which had started in May 1979. Within a year the figure had risen to over 2,000, representing 23% of the DC's rented housing stock.


In July 1983 the Minister formally directed the DC and West Lancashire District Council to consult about the housing transfer. Following further consultation with the Minister a scheme was drawn up with a transfer date of 1st April 1985 - in effect a housing stock of 7,296 dwellings was transferred. After formal consultation with Lancashire County Council and West Lancashire District Council, the Minister made an order, dated 5th March 1985, to transfer our assets and liabilities to the Commission for the New Towns (CNT) on 2nd April 1985.


During the lifetime of the DC 9,417 had been completed for letting and 1,484 for sale. A total of 488,067sq m. of industry space; 127 shops; and 20,820sq. m. of office space had also been completed. The estimated population of the new town was 41,800 at time of transfer to CNT.


Staff Numbers and Key Officers


Staff in post as at 31st March 1963 totalled 33, divided as follows:


General Manager 1


Chief Officers 2


Administration 7


Finance 2


Architectural, Planning and Quantity Surveying 8


Engineering 9


Manual workers 4




As at 31st March 1965 staff numbers totalled 195 in post with a further 22 appointments made but duties not yet commenced. Staff in post were divided as follows:


General Manager's 2


Estates 2


Legal and Administrative 25


Finance 12


Architectural and Planning 81


Engineer's 52


Manual and Domestic Staff 21




During the year 1967-8 administrative reorganisation took place. The Chief Quantity Surveyor was deemed as having a position, which warranted independent status and direct access to the General Manager. Therefore a separate section was created.


At the end of the 1960s (31st March 1969) staff in post numbered 429 (a further 7 were still to commence their duties), divided as follows:


General Manager's 7


Estates 14


Legal and Administrative 40


Finance and Housing 36


Architectural and Planning 92


Engineering 103


Quantity Surveying 19


Manual and Domestic Staff 118




Staff numbers as at 31st March 1975 totalled 373 managerial, professional, technical and clerical staff; and 259 manual and domestic employees (164 full-time and 95 part-time). At the end of the 1970s (31st March 1979) staff numbers totalled 383 managerial, professional, technical and clerical staff; and 198 manual and domestic employees (116 full-time and 83 part-time).


The total number of employees at 31st March 1982 was 477 (full time equivalents). To reach this level the DC had to make redundant 35 members of staff mainly in the technical departments. When the Planning Director, Miss Evans, retired in 1983, A.D. Hall took over a new post as Technical Director responsible for the department of planning and architecture and the engineering department.


As a result of housing transfer and dissolution of the DC 135 manual and non-manual staff were made redundant.




A.J. Kentish Barnes (1962-9) retired


G.H. Heywood (1969-75)


A.J.E. Taylor (1975-8)


W.A.D. Windham (1979-85)


Deputy Chairmen


G.H. Heywood (1962-9)


Robert Foulkes (1969-77)


W.A.D. Windham (1977-9)


A. Waterworth (1979-85)


General Manager (Managing Director from 1976)


George G. Watson (1962-6) d.1966


Richard W. Phelps (1967-71) (n.b. took up similar position at Central Lancs DC)


Ian Gray (1972-6)


Edgar Bradbury (1976-85)


Chief Finance Officer (Financial Director from ?1974)


K.A. Wallis (1962-74)


S. Spencer (1974-85)


Chief Engineer


C.H. Garside (1962-72) (n.b. took up similar position at Central Lancs DC)


A.D. Hall (1972-83)


Chief Legal Officer


A. Bradbury (1963-76)


H. Humphryes (1976-85)


Chief Architect and Planning Officer (Planning Director and Chief Architect from 1974: Technical Director from 1983)


W.D.C. Lyddon (1963-7)


R.W. Colwell (1967-71) (n.b. took up similar position at East Kilbride DC)


J.D. Procter (1971-4) (n.b. took up similar position at Central Lancs DC)


Miss R.B. Evans (1974-83)


A.D. Hall (1983-5)


Chief Estates Officer


B.E. Cresswell (1965-80)


B.E.L. Roberts (1980-5)


Chief Quantity Surveyor


W.C. Taylor (?-1983)


A.W. McNaught (1983-5)

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