It is named after its main settlement, Newcastle-under-Lyme, where the council is based, but includes the town of Kidsgrove, the villages of Silverdale and Keele, and the rural area surrounding Audley. Most of the borough is part of The Potteries Urban Area.
The present town is originally a Roman settlement. In the Middle Ages there was a large castle here, owned by John of Gaunt, and a major medieval market. In 1835 Newcastle-under-Lyme Municipal Borough was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 which required that rate payers elected councillors. In 1932 it took in what had been the Wolstanton United Urban District, covering the parishes of Chesterton, Silverdale and Wolstanton, also taking the parish of Clayton from Newcastle-under-Lyme Rural District.
The district was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, as a merger of the Newcastle-under-Lyme Municipal Borough, the Kidsgrove Urban District, and Newcastle-under-Lyme Rural District.
Up to the time of the passing of the Municipal Reform Act an election of a mock mayor occurred annually after the election of the real mayor.
The borough contains 24 wards.
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) also made gains in 2007 and 2008 but in 2011 and 2012 losing all seats they were defending, including their Group Leader, Derrick Huckfield.
The Council was led between 2006-2011 by Conservative Councillor Simon Tagg.  Stephen Sweeney served as the Conservative Leader from 2011-2012. .
This Labour Party regained its majority on the Council in 2012. The Council is now led by Labour Councillor Elizabeth Shenton.
After the 2014 election results Labour retained their majority on the council, down one to 32 seats. The Conservatives retained their position as the largest opposition party with 16 seats. Both UKIP and the Green party made gains, 5 and 1 respectively mainly at the expense of the Liberal Democrats losing 5 seats bringing their total to 6.
As of April 2018, the political make-up of the local council was as follows:
|Party||Number of Councillors
|Borough Independent Group||5|
|Kidsgrove Independent Group||2|
|Comparative Census Information|
|2001 UK Census||Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme||England|
In the 2001 census, the borough was recorded as having a population of 122,030 with 51.5% being female. 78.% identified themselves as Christian, 13.1% having no religion, 0.5% Muslim, 0.2% Hindu or other and 0.1% stating Jewish or Sikh. 61.2% were classed as economically active, with 22.6% working in manufacturing, 18.5% in wholesale or retail, 11.6% in health/social work and 11.6% in financial and other business related activities.
Newcastle-under-Lyme was chosen for the campus of University College of North Staffordshire, established in 1949 at Keele Hall in the village of Keele, two miles from the town centre, and which was granted full university status as Keele University in 1962. Keele University Medical School is based in the grounds of the University Hospital of North Staffordshire at Hartshill in Stoke-on-Trent, about a mile from the centre of Newcastle-under-Lyme.