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Greater London (England)

Ceremonial English County

Last modified: 2024-01-13 by rob raeside
Keywords: london | greater london authority | bexley | hackney | haringey | havering | kingston-upon-thames | newham | sutton |
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Introduction: Greater London

The Greater London Authority (GLA), is the regional governance body of London, with jurisdiction over both the City of London and the ceremonial county of Greater London. It is commonly referred to as "City Hall" by Londoners.

There are 32 local districts that make up Greater London; each is governed by their own borough council. The London boroughs were all created in 1965 by the London Government Act 1963 and now make up Greater London. Twelve are designated below as Inner London boroughs ¹ and 20 as Outer London boroughs ². There are three Royal borough ³ below.

  1. The City of Westminster ¹
  2. Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea ¹/³
  3. London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham ¹
  4. London Borough of Wandsworth ¹
  5. London Borough of Lambeth ¹
  6. London Borough of Southwark ¹
  7. London Borough of Tower Hamlets ¹
  8. London Borough of Hackney ¹
  9. Royal Borough of Islington ¹/³
  10. London Borough of Camden ¹
  11. London Borough of Lewisham ¹
  1. Royal Boroughs of Greenwich ¹/³
  2. London Borough of Brent ²
  3. London Borough of Ealing ²
  4. London Borough of Hounslow ²
  5. London Borough of Richmond upon Thames ²
  6. Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames ²/³
  7. London Borough of Merton ²
  8. London Borough of Sutton ²
  9. London Borough of Croydon ²
  10. London Borough of Bromley ²
  11. London Borough of Bexley ²
  1. London Borough of Havering ²
  2. London Borough of Barking and Dagenham ²
  3. London Borough of Redbridge ²
  4. London Borough of Newham ²
  5. London Borough of Waltham Forest ²
  6. London Borough of Haringey ²
  7. London Borough of Enfield ²
  8. London Borough of Barnet ²
  9. London Borough of Harrow ²
  10. London Borough of Hillingdon ²
The City of London has special Sui generis status and is not a London borough although located within inner London. There are four boroughs that do not have "London Borough" in their names: the City of Westminster, and the Royal Boroughs of Kingston upon Thames, Kensington and Chelsea, and Greenwich. (List of London boroughs)
Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020

The Greater London Authority
The GLA Flags

I've been in touch with the Mayor's Office recently about their flag, and the reply was that the London Assembly does not have a flag, and there are no plans to introduce one at the moment.
Ian Sumner, 16 September 2003

This is perhaps not technically inaccurate. However, it was slightly misleading, as the flags used in the building occupied by the Assembly, as part of the GLA, do bear the logo which is used on their web site. The building and the flags are, however, under the Executive control of the Mayor and not the Assembly.
Colin Dobson, 9 December 2005

The Greater London Authority (GLA), comprises the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. The Mayor of London is responsible for setting the budget and some statutory strategies for five organisations, now known as "the GLA Group". That is, the Greater London Authority, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police Authority, the London Development Agency and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. The London Assembly has a scrutiny role. First elected in 2000, The Mayor and the Assembly are elected by voters registered in Greater London, at the same election, using different voting systems, once every four years.
Even before the GLA moved into its own building, there were questions from Assembly members as to whether City Hall was to have a flagpole. Trevor Phillips, then a (Labour Party) member of the Assembly, asked the Mayor in 2001: "Is it your intention to fly the Union Flag and the London Standard there?" and added "I ask that question for a very specific reason - that the Union Flag should not be surrendered to the British National Party, as it is at the moment."
The Mayor, Ken Livingstone, then in his first term of office, pointed out that he was not responsible for building City Hall, as it was a Government contract and that he had not seen a flagpole on all of the drawings he had seen. However, he was willing to discuss with the Assembly the location of a flagpole. Pressed further by Mr Phillips as to whether he would "instruct" the flying of the Union Flag, he responded: "If we have a flagpole, we will do all the flags that we are supposed to do under whatever the national flag convention is. I am sure there is a Government working party on what flag to fly, which we always did at the GLC. The flag went up and down every day." [Mr Livingstone was the former leader of the Greater London Council].
City Hall was opened by The Queen on 23 July 2002 and is located in a purpose built building, leased from the developers, more London, on the south bank of the River Thames at The Queen's Walk, London SE1 2AA. From that date, there have been three, free standing, flagpoles in the grassed area on the river side of the building. These are located next to each other and fly, from left to right as viewed from the north bank of the River Thames, flags in the proportion of 1:2, as follows:

[Logo of Greater London Authority] image by Colin Dobson, 9 December 2005

A mid to dark blue field, upon which in bold white lettering are the words "CITY HALL."

[Logo of Greater London Authority] image by Colin Dobson, 9 December 2005

A white field, upon which in bold type, dark blue colour the letters "LOND" and red lettering the letters "ON". This is the same logotype as currently used on the GLA web site.

[Logo of Greater London Authority] image by Colin Dobson, 9 December 2005

A mid to dark red field, upon which in bold white lettering are the words "CITY HALL"

There does not appear to be any official specification of the colour of these flags. Moreover, the logo which is featured on the white flag actually has several different colour specifications when it appears on the GLA web site. All flags are in the ratio of 1:2
In his second term of office, Mr Livingstone was questioned again on the issue on 15 July 2004, this time by a Conservative Party member of the Assembly, who asked if he could "explain why the Union Flag is not being flown outside City Hall?"
His response was: "Whilst I appreciate the sentiment behind your question, City Hall is the home of the Greater London Authority and, as such, has its own unique set of flags. To introduce alternate flags is not a policy I support. To fly one particular flag would inevitably lead to many demands for others, so I have consistently taken the view that it is best to be fair to all by not commencing such a process."

Sources: London Assembly -

  1. Question number 0855/2001 (supplementary question), Meeting date 19 December 2001.
  2. Question number 0914/2004 (main question), Meeting date 15 July 2004.
  3. Mayors Report, 18 September 2002
  4. London Elects web site
  5. Personal observations, 2002 to date./li>
Colin Dobson, 9 December 2005

Greater London Council (GLC)

[Greater London Council Flag] image by Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020

In 1965 the Greater London Council (GLC) became the local government administrative body for Greater London. The GLC was dissolved by the Local Government Act of 1986 and its responsibilities were given to the London boroughs and other organizations. In 2000 a new administrative body called the Greater London Authority (GLA), was established, but it has not officially recognized or adopted this flag. This GLC Flag is still being commercially sold as the "Greater London" flag.
Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020

London County Council 1889-1965

[London County Council and Greater London Council] image by Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020
Based on this photo located by Jan Mertens

From the Port Cities site (National Maritime Museum): The London County Council was formed in 1889. It covered the same area as the former Metropolitan Board of Works, from which it took over control of London's transport infrastructure. It also controlled areas such as education, fire-fighting and sewage disposal. In 1965, the LCC was replaced by the Greater London Council, covering the enlarged Greater London - an amalgamation of the former County of London with the neighbouring districts in Middlesex, Essex, Surrey and Kent. The GLC lasted only 20 years before it was abolished by the Conservative government in 1986. The flag was taken from the LCC sludge boat 'Edward Cruse'.
Jan Mertens, 20 February 2005

This flag with coat of arms may be a flag of the Greater London Council 1965-1986, not of the LCC.
Valentin Poposki, 10 April 2022

[Coat of arms of London] image from Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020

The GLC was granted arms which were used on all civic documents and flown frequently in flag form from County Hall until its abolition by Margaret Thatcher in 1986. London had no self government at all (apart from the residual square mile City of London) until the present Greater London Authority was established in 2000.
James Frankcom, 13 October 2003

[London County Council] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 9 April 2022

I just found a blog showing a newspaper clip showing the first London County Council flag from 1923
Valentin Poposki, 8 April 2022

Image above derived from the following SVG images from Wikimedia Commons:
Tomislav Todorovic, 9 April 2022

Borough of Bexley

[Bexley] image byRandy Young, 22 December 2015

The Bexley Express reported on 19 January 2006 the decease of Terry Musgrave, who had served at Bexley council from 1975 until 1995. "The council's flag will fly at half-mast outside the Civic Offices in Bexleyheath on the day of Mr Musgrave's funeral." So we know that Bexley council has a flag.
Ivan Sache, 20 January 2006

Borough of Hackney

[Borough of Hackney] image from Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020 (source)

I saw a white flag with a coat of arms flying from the Hackney Town Hall yesterday. I assume it was the flag of the Borough of Hackney, but since I did not get a particularly good view of the flag, and haven't been able to find out anything about the coat of arms of Hackney, I can't confirm this or give any more information.
Jonathan Dixon, 6 October 2003

After having had a good look at the flag, I can confirm that the flag is white with the arms of the London Borough of Hackney, as found at the International Civic Heraldry site . The arms, granted in 1969, 4 years after the former boroughs of Shoreditch and Stoke Newington were added to the borough, have the shield divided in three horizontally, black over white over red. Over the black and white bars is a Maltese Cross countercharged white and red. The Cross and colours used represent the Knights of St John, who held the manor after it was held by the Knights Templar. On the black chief there are also two gold oak trees, taken from unofficial arms of Stoke Newington. On the red bar are three gold bells, symbolising St Leonard's church in Shoreditch and the three former boroughs. The shield has a border of wavy blue and white bars, symbolising the River Lea and the canals in the borough. Above the shield are a helmet with red and white mantling, above that the crest - the tower of St Augustine's church from the previous arms, on a green mound representing the island on the River Lea on which Hackney was founded on a red and white torse.
Jonathan Dixon, 19 September 2005

The flag of the London Borough of Hackney features the coat of arms (source) on a white horizontal flag.
For additional information you might try the Hackney's (official website).
Esteban Rivera, 22 December 2015

Borough of Haringey

[Haringey flag] image by Jonathan Dixon, 31 August 2006

Haringey, is in North London and was formed in 1965 from areas that were previously part of Middlesex. A colleague observed a flag flying at Crouch End Town Hall a few weeks ago. The flag was gold/yellow with a black stylised electric flash. This is a banner of arms with the colours reversed. The blazon of the arms is given at (Haringey London) as "sable eight rays issuing from the fess point throughout Or and for the crest on a wreath of colours in front of a demi-sun in splendour or a demi cogwheel sable." This page also explains that the colours black and gold represent stability (earth) and enterprise and that the rays revolving around the centre of the symbol symbolise action reaching out to the boundaries of the borough and movement. They also allude to the first television transmission in Britain, which was from Alexandra Palace, which is within the borough.
Jonathan Dixon, 31 August 2006

Borough of Havering

[Haringey flag] image located by Valentin Poposki, 21 June 2011

The flag of the London Borough of Havering is white with coat of arms on it.
The coat of arms:
"When the London Borough of Havering was formed in 1965, application was made for a coat of arms, and the heralds combined some of the symbols from those previously held by Romford and Hornchurch, and the Royal liberty of Havering which extended over most of the area from 1465 to 1892."

Heraldic Description Of The Coat Of Arms:

  • ARMS: Per saltire Argent and Azure a Gem Ring Or set with a Ruby proper.
  • CREST: On a Wreath Or and Azure a Castled Gateway with three Towers Or masoned Sable the windows and middle Tower domed Azure ensigned with a Cross Gules and the outer Towers each with a Steeple Azure issuant above the port a Bull's Head and Neck affronty proper.
  • BADGE: A bull's head caboshed proper within a gem ring Or set with a ruby proper.
  • Motto: "LIBERTY".
  • Granted 1st March 1965.
Source: The Mayor and the Coat of Arms.
Valentin Poposki, 21 June 2011

Royal Borough of Islington

[Bexley] image by Olivier Touzeau, 3 December 2020

The London Borough of Islington was formed in 1965 by merging the former metropolitan boroughs of Islington and Finsbury.

The flag of Islington is a banner of arms:'actualit%C3%A9/man-puts-out-the-flag'actualit%C3%A9/man-puts-out-the-flag

The arms are blazoned Barry wavy Argent and Azure a Maltese Cross Argent surmounted by an open Book proper edged and on a chief Gules a Crescent between two Annulets Or.
Olivier Touzeau, 3 December 2020

Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames

[Bexley] image by Randy Young, 22 December 2015

The flag of the London Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames is seen here. (source) It features the coat of arms (image) without the shield on a light blue horizontal flag.
For additional information go to the Kingston ( official website).
Esteban Rivera, 22 December 2015

Borough of Newham

[Newham flag] image by Pete Loeser, 23 September 2020
Image based on this photo. (source)

Newham is a borough in the east of London, north of the River Thames. It is one of the host boroughs for the 2012 Olympic Games, and the main Olympic Park will be located in the borough. It has the highest non-white population in the country (source). The borough logo features a red curving ribbon-like shape which resembles the shape of the Thames near the borough, ending in an upward pointing arrow. The text "Newham" appears in a san serif font in a gap in the ribbon.
I have observed a white flag bearing the logo flying at the Old Town Hall in Stratford in March 2006 and this month. At other times the flagpole is often empty, although as I think I have reported before, it has flown the London Olympic bid flag, and during the soccer world cup, the English flag. An news item on the old council site mentions a flag "with the Newham coat of arms".
Jonathan Dixon, 31 August 2006

Borough of Sutton

[Flag of Borough of Sutton, England] image located by Valentin Poposki, 9 December 2011
Source: Flying Colors

This is a banner of arms of the London borough of Sutton.
Olivier Touzeau, 10 December 2011

London Rowing Club

[Flag of London Rowing Club] image by Ivan Sache

Vertical navy blue and white bars are the racing colours of London Rowing Club, based on the Thames at Putney, the start of the annual boat race.
Lionel Willis, 17 February 2004

The London Rowing Club web site, shows photographic evidence of the existence of an actual flag but not the one depicted in the logo at London Rowing Club, nor the [club colours, above] drawn by Ivan. However, it's hard to tell, but I don't think the LRC letters are in italic, as depicted on the logo. It is a dark blue flag, divided into four by thick white vertical lines. From the left, the first segment is black, the second bears the capital letter L, the third segment bears the letter R and the fourth segment bears the letter C. These letters are all depicted in a sans serif typeface.
Colin Dobson, 5 May 2011

[Flag of London Rowing Club] image by Pete Loeser, 27 September 2020
both his flag image and the shield below is based on these images from the LRC website.

A more recent visit to the London Rowing Club website gives us a newer rowing club flag. I have not found one with four segments in black matching Colin's description however.
(London Rowing Club Website)
Pete Loeser, 27 September 2020

[Shield of London Rowing Club] The London Rowing Club Shield - image from Pete Loeser, 27 September 2020

This London Rowing Club shield is used both on the walls of the club house, on their uniforms, and on their website.
(London Rowing Club Website)
Pete Loeser, 27 September 2020

[LRC flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 18 February 2022
based on photo (source) located by Esteban Rivera, 4 February 2022

London Rowing Club (LRC, or colloquially, 'London') is the second-oldest of the non-academic active (that is, rowing university clubs, such as Oxford and Cambridge) rowing clubs on the Thames in London, United Kingdom. It was founded in 1856 by members of the long-disbanded Argonauts Club wishing to compete at Henley Royal Regatta.

It is regarded as one of the most successful rowing clubs in Britain.
Sources: and

Notice that this is a variant displaying four vertical blue stripes and three vertical white stripes, all of them equal in size, plus the initials in white capital letters in the second, third and fourth blue stripes (from left to right).

For additional information go to LRC (official website):
Esteban Rivera, 4 February 2022

On the other hand, the English Wikipedia has:
"The Argonaut Club was an English rowing club based on the Tideway of the River Thames that competed in the middle of the 19th century. ...
Argonaut was one of several clubs on the Tideway including Wandle Club, Thames Club, St George's Club, Meteor Club and Petrel Club. In 1856 there was a move to combine these clubs into a single club that could compete successfully against the Oxford and Cambridge crews at Henley in the four and eight. To achieve this, the London Rowing Club was formed. ...
Under the rules of the Henley Regatta, a club had to be in existence for a year before it could compete at the regatta. For this reason, the London Rowing Club members competed under the aegis of the Argonaut Club in 1856. ...
In 1857, London Rowing Club was able to compete at Henley in its own name when it won the Grand Challenge Cup and the Argonaut Club went out of existence."

Though not precisely at odds, the two seem to paint the situation in different lights.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 May 2022