The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
The idea of the amalgamation of Plymouth, Devonport and East Stonehouse into one town goes back to 1835. It did not find favour then but was discussed again in 1888, when Plymouth also sought to become the capital of a proposed county called South Devon. There was a conference to discuss the issue in 1902, held at the East Stonehouse Town Hall, and the matter was put to a final test with a local ballot being held.
As a result, on November 28th 1913 the Common Seal of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses of the Borough of Plymouth, was affixed to a memorial to the Local Government Board seeking authority for the amalgamation of the Borough of Plymouth, the Borough of Devonport, and the Urban District of East Stonehouse. 
The Memorial stated that the estimated population of Plymouth was 113,314 and that the rateable value of the Borough was £612,751. The corresponding figures for Devonport were 84,371 and £356,484 and for East Stonehouse, 13,748 and £56,332. Devonport covered by far the largest area, 3,373 acres; with Plymouth second, at 2,533 acres; and finally East Stonehouse at 193 acres. 
A public inquiry followed, which started in the Plymouth Guildhall on Wednesday January 28th 1914 under the chairmanship of Major Norton CE. Mr Honoratio Lloyd KC represented Plymouth Corporation, Mr Balfour Browne represented Devonport Corporation and Mr Connell Prance represented East Stonehouse Urban District Council. The main witnesses were Mr J H Ellis, Town Clerk of Plymouth, Counsel for the Borough of Devonport, and Major-General A P Penton, CVO, CB, who as Officer Commanding South West Coastal Defences, made the rather pressing point that in the event of a war, he would be forced to order one of the three bodies to represent them collectively, rather than deal with three separate administrations. This point alone seems to have won the argument, although it was also stated that the existing boundary was rather artificial as in some instances it ran through the middle of houses.
The Inquiry produced 606 foolscap pages of evidence and Devonport Borough Council spent £8,184 15s 3d on its opposition to this union. East Stonehouse did not object to the union.
On May 2nd 1914 the decision of the Local Government Board following Major Norton's report was received, accompanied by a draft Provisional Order uniting the Three Towns but leaving the Poor Law administration untouched. Devonport resisted the union before a Committee of the House of Commons. After nine days of deliberations, which started on July 1st, the Committee confirmed the Local Government Board's decision.
As a result, Devonport Corporation got Sir Clement Kinloch-Cooke to block the bill in Parliament but the local Members of Parliament arranged a whip in favour of the bill, which was read for the third time on July 21st. Devonport continued their resistance in the House of Lords but to no avail.
Devonport and East Stonehouse were amalgamated with Plymouth under Local Government Provisional Order Confirmation No. 18 dated Saturday May 2nd 1914 (yes, people worked on Saturdays in those days!) and a Local Act (5 & 6 Geo V ch.clxxxiii) which received the Royal Assent on Monday August 10th 1914. Plymouth Borough Council held its last meeting on Thursday October 29th 1914 and amalgamation took place from November 1st 1914.
A new Borough Council was elected on November 2nd 1914 and comprised 44 Conservative members, 29 Liberals, and 7 Independents.
The new Council held its Mayor-choosing ceremony at 12 Noon in the Guildhall on Monday November 9th. The out-going Mayor of Plymouth, Mr Thomas Baker, was re-elected and Alderman Edward Blackall, out-going Mayor of Devonport, was appointed as Deputy Mayor. The first meeting of the new Council was held in the Council Chamber after a celebratory luncheon in the Royal Hotel.
Mr J H Ellis, remained as Town Clerk; Mr R J Fittall, of Devonport, became the Assistant Town Clerk; Mr J Paton remained as Borough Engineer; Mr Hoare, from Devonport, was appointed as Chamberlain and Borough Treasurer; Mr F Howarth remained as Water Engineer; Mr Okell, from Plymouth, and Mr J W Spark, from Devonport, were appointed as joint Electrical Engineers.
|© Brian Moseley, Plymouth, UK|
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