The district was created on 1 April 1974 as part of a general reform of local government in England and Wales under the Local Government Act 1972. Among the innovations of the 1974 reorganisation was the creation of a new county of Humberside uniting areas of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire previously divided by the River Humber. Glanford was one of nine districts into which Humberside was divided.
The borough was bounded by the new borough of Cleethorpes to the east, the county of Lincolnshire to the south, the new borough of Boothferry to the west, and had a shore on the River Humber to the north. It entirely surrounded the Borough of Scunthorpe.
The new organization did not meet with the pleasure of the local citizenry and Humberside was wound up in 1996. Following a review by the Local Government Commission for England in 1992, both the County of Humberside and Borough of Glanford were abolished on 1 April 1996. The county council and its nine district councils were replaced by four unitary authorities. Glanford was merged with the Borough of Scunthorpe and part of the Borough of Boothferry to form the unitary authority of North Lincolnshire. For ceremonial purposes North Lincolnshire unitary authority is part of the County of Lincolnshire.
Lincolnshire is very low-lying and land had to be drained for agriculture to be successful. The larger drainage channels, many of which are parallel to each other, became boundaries between parishes. Many parishes are long and thin for this reason.
There is much fenland in Lincolnshire, particularly in the Boston and Horncastle areas. Fenlands tended to be extraparochial before the mid 1850s, and although many sections were identified with names and given the title "civil parish", little information has been found about them. Many appear to be abolished in 1906, but the parish which adopts them is not given in A Vision of Britain through Time. Note the WR category Lincolnshire Fenland Settlements which is an attempt to organize them into one list.
From 1889 until 1974 Lincolnshire was divided into three administrative counties: Parts of Holland, Parts of Kesteven and Parts of Lindsey. These formal names do not fit with modern grammatical usage, but that is what they were, nonetheless. In 1974 the northern section of Lindsey, along with the East Riding of Yorkshire, became the short-lived county of Humberside. In 1996 Humberside was abolished and the area previously in Lincolnshire was made into the two "unitary authorities" of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. The remainder of Lincolnshire was divided into "non-metropolitan districts" or "district municipalities" in 1974. Towns, villages and parishes are all listed under Lincolnshire, but the present-day districts are also given so that places in this large county can more easily be located and linked to their wider neighbourhoods. See the WR placepage Lincolnshire, England and the smaller divisions for further explanation.