On 27th March the 2011 Census will take place. It has been held every ten years since 1801 with the exception of 1941.
The first 'modem' census took place in 1801 largely because of government concerns regarding population figures at a time of war with France. That first census asked a limited number of questions such as sex, occupation and families in each household. The information was written down by an enumerator in a book not on forms filled in by the head of the household. Hinckley, that is the town itself, recorded a population of 5,158 in that first census.
In the following century the census figure for Hinckley climbed to 11,304 in 1901. It is worth noting that the greatest rise in population took place in the second half of the 19th Century with the growth in factory production of hosiery. The 1851 Census only recorded a population of 6,177 and indeed the population had fallen by nearly 500 since the 1841 Census in 'Hinckley's Hungry Forties'. The 2001 Census recorded a population of 100,141 for the Borough of Hinckley & Bosworth.
For the 2011 Census questionnaires have been printed for all 25,000,000 households in England & Wales and communal establishments like care homes, military establishments and hospitals. This census will include questions about main language spoken and type of central heating.
The details of individuals in each census remain confidential for a century, but census statistics are vital for all sorts of issues. Provision of local authority funding and services is but one example of the use of census material. There is a legal obligation to be included in the census so that the Office for National Statistics can ensure that the results which are published will be accurate. Much of the future of the nation depends on the success and accuracy of the 2011 Census.
Author: Hugh Beavin
Written for: Hinckley Historian Magazine