On 15 November 1866 the ratepayers of the township of Sale adopted the Local Government Act 1858, and a Local Board was formed to govern the town in January 1867. From 1889 it was a part of the administrative county of Cheshire. The Local Government Act 1894 reconstituted the Local Board's area as Sale Urban District. An urban district council of 15 members replaced the local board. The neighbouring town of Ashton upon Mersey became an urban district in 1895. In 1930 a county review order merged Ashton upon Mersey Urban District into Sale UD.
In December 1933 a petition was submitted to the Privy Council praying for a charter of incorporation to raise the urban district to the status of a municipal borough. At the time, Sale was the urban district with the largest population and highest rateable value in the county. The petition was successful, and the charter was presented by Sir William Bromley-Davenport the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire on 21 September 1935. The first elections to the borough council were held on 1 November.
The borough council consisted of a mayor, eight aldermen and twenty-four councillors. One-third of the councillors were elected annually, and half of the aldermen were chosen by the council every three years.
The council initially consisted of a number of groupings, with none in a majority. Except for members of the Conservative and Labour parties, Independent, "Owner-Occupier" and "Trader" candidates were elected. In 1946 the Conservatives gained an overall majority, which they held until 1962. Opposition was provided by Labour and Liberal councillors. From 1962 to 1965 the council was under no overall control, with the Liberals forming the largest party. Conservatives regained control in 1965 and held it until 1972. The latter year saw the last election before the borough's abolition, and the final council was hung, with sixteen Conservatives balanced by ten Labour and six Liberal members.