The Council of the Royal County of Berkshire, also known as the Berkshire County Council, was the top-tier local government administrative body for Berkshire from 1889 to 1998. The local authority had responsibilities for education, social services, public transport, planning, emergency services and waste disposal, and had 87 members. Berkshire County Council shared power with six lower-tier district councils, each of which directed local matters.
On 1 April 1998, under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1992, it was abolished and replaced by its six former districts, the unitary authorities of West Berkshire, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham, Bracknell Forest, Reading and Slough.
From ‘’’A History of the first Berkshire County Council’’’:
There can be little doubt from reading the debates in Hansard that many advocates of elected County Councils thought they would bring about a new heaven and a new earth, and it is also clear that many others regarded the new County Councils as local parliaments. Both schools of thought were in time to be disillusioned.
Berkshire County Council sat originally in the Crown Court of the Assize Court in Reading (a practice that was followed in Pembrokeshire as recently as 1938) In 1903 they moved briefly to Nisi Prius Court, before finding a more permanent residence in 1911 at Shire Hall in Reading. Following the Local Government Act 1972, the council found a need to move to bigger premises at Shire Hall in Shinfield Park in the winter of 1980/1981, at an estimated cost of £27.5 Million.
Berkshire County Council had both a council leader and the mostly ceremonial role of chairman (no women are known to have been chair during the council’s existence).