Census 2021 - interesting facts

Information from past years

Image for census online

With householders this month invited to take part in the digital-first census, we take a look at the history behind the census along with facts it has unearthed.

The census is over 200 years old and a unique survey that happens every 10 years. It’s the most detailed information we have about our society and helps to plan and fund for public services from doctor’s surgeries to bus services.

Here are some fun facts for you:

The census has been carried out every decade since 1801, with the exception of 1941 during World War Two. It even took place following another pandemic - the Spanish Flu in 1921.

It was in that 1921 census - the first one after the First World War - that a question was asked on orphanhood. It is the only time this question has been used in the England and Wales census.

Harry Houdini was visiting a friend on the night of the 1911 census and listed his occupation as Mysteriarch.

The first census was in 1801 and was out to partly ascertain the number of men able to fight in the Napoleonic wars.

The census shows how people's occupations have changed over the years, if the 1841 census is anything to go by. Some of the professions with the lowest counts that year included bee dealer (one man), peg maker (19 males and one female) and artificial eye-maker (eight males and one female).

In Birmingham, the 2011 Census showed that among the most popular professions, there were 10,080 nurses, while at the other end of the scale, there were 98 people involved in footwear and leather working trades.

At the time of the last census in 2011, there were 1,073,045 people living in Birmingham, with 104,634 of those being students and there were 494 different ethnicities.


The 1951 census was the first census to ask about outside toilets as Britain began to clear slums and rebuild housing after World War Two. That question was asked until 1991, when 99,386 households in England and Wales still had no access to an inside WC.

Census day will be on March 21, but households across the country will receive letters with online codes allowing them to take part from early March. They can also request a paper copy.

Anonymised results will be available within 12 months, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.

For more information please visit the Census website

Article posted 1 March 2021

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