I am grateful to Data from A Vision of Britain through Time, (c) University of Portsmouth 2004-8 for permission to reproduce the following data and explanatory text. You can access their homepage and Uttlesford page on the following links www.visionofbritain.org.uk. I am also grateful to UK Statistics Authority for permission to reproduce material from their website at www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk or www.statistics.gov.uk Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller, Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI).

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 A Vision of Uttlesford

1.Uttlesford through time -Population
Population Density (Persons per Hectare)



National here means England and Wales

The population of Britain in 2001 is more than six times the population in 1801, so the country’s overall population density is also six times higher. This is obvious in the time series for districts, but it makes comparing maps over time hard. One problem is that the density bands used in the maps have to change over time, and the bottom four bands in 1801 all fit into the bottom 2001 band. Although the mountains of Scotland and Wales still contain few people, rural England has become much more crowded.

Another problem is that, especially during the 19 century, much of the population was crowded into quite small urban areas that hardly show up on the maps. In 1801, the City of London contained over 400 people per hectare, while in 2001 only two local authorities contained over 100 per hectare. In towns where the main way of getting about was walking, extreme crowding was inevitable. London’s area expanded with the development of cheap trains for ‘working men’ in the late 19 century. Both the bicycle and the bus helped towns spread out, but it was of course the car which made it possible for large numbers to live in rural areas, but with urban jobs and lifestyles. Note that our figures for the area of units as measured in hectares have always been calculated by us from our boundary maps, while all areas measured in acres are figures that were listed in census reports.

2. Rate of Population Change (% over previous 10 years) 

National here means England and Wales

We only present the rate of population growth where we can be sure that changes do not result simply from boundary changes.

In the early 19 century, the most obvious areas of rapid growth were in the industrial districts of Lancashire, where cotton textiles had grown rapidly during the 18th century, and of South Wales. However, other areas also grew rapidly: during the 1810s and 1820s. The fens of northern East Anglia expanded as drainage schemes turned marshes into fertile farmland, while seaside resorts on the south coast developed well before the coming of railways.

By the mid-19 century, the north-east of England was growing fast. Its expansion was driven by mining and new heavy industries. In the second half of the 19 century, the old shipyards building wooden sailing ships on the Thames and the Medway were almost completely replaced by new yards on the Tyne and the Wear building iron ships with steam engines. The very heart of London was starting to lose population, and this trend was clearer by the 1900s. The mining areas of South Wales and the East Midlands also boomed. In the North East and the East Midlands, better mining techniques helped the coalfields move east, where the coal was deeper.

These patterns changed completely in the 1930s, rapid growth becoming focused almost entirely around London. This continued into the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s, but the area of low growth at the heart of the south-east becomes more and more visible. By the 1970s, the region of high growth extended beyond the south-east into both the south west and all of East Anglia. Central Wales and the Scottish Highlands benefited from in-migration which was as much about life-style choices as economics forces, as economic activity became steadily less tied to natural resources. Life-style choices plus the boom in financial services also explain the new growth in inner London, which began in the 1980s and blossomed, especially along the Thames, in the 1990s. The decline of the old industrial areas continued.


Population Percentage aged under 15

National here means England and Wales

Over the last 150 years, the proportion of children has dropped steadily: in 1851, 38% of the population was under 15, but today only 19% is. For any given date, variations between districts are within a much narrower range. In general, areas whose populations were growing fast would have contained a lot of children, because immigrants are generally young adults who then tend to have children. Today, it could also be argued that couples about to have children will try to move to certain kinds of areas ‘good for bringing up kids’: having good schools is a powerful magnet.

Local concentrations of young people in 1851 and 2001 were surprisingly similar, focused on the south midlands with most of London lacking children. However, the pattern at the start of the 20th century was rather different. High proportions of children were found in the industrial areas, reflecting their recent rapid growth, and in some parts of outer London. Of course, if we had included 15 to 19 year olds within this category, areas today with universities would also appear as concentrations of the young.


Population Percentage aged 15-64

National here means England and Wales

Of course, the definition of ‘working age’ has itself changed. Compulsory education to age 10 was established in some areas from 1870, and in all areas from 1880, but enforcement was patchy. The 1918 Education Act established for the first time a national minimum school leaving age of 14, raised to 15 by Butler’s 1944 Education Act (1945 in Scotland) and 16 in 1973. The male retirement age was standardised at 65 only by the 1925 Pension Act, but as far back as the 1870s trade unionists entitled to a ’superannuation’ benefit based on physical decay rather than any precise age typically claimed the benefit at 64 or 65. As the census reported 5-year age bands, defining working age over our whole period as 15 to 64 seems reasonable.

Despite the large change in overall age structure, the proportion of working age has changed relatively little: it was smallest in 1871 and 1881 (59%), and at its greatest in 1931 (69%). What has changed, of course, is the make-up of the so-called ‘dependent population’: in 1851, 88% of those not of working age were under 15, while by 2001 the majority were over 64. As you would expect, the main concentrations of the workforce were in areas of rapid population growth, so in 1851 they were in the industrial districts and London. In 2001, the most interesting pattern is in the south-east, with both the periphery of the region and London itself having high rates, but with a ring of lower rates in between, and along the south coast.

What our choice of rates does not show, of course, is the ratio of young and old within the working age population. Comparing, for example, the proportion under and over 45 would show that declining industrial areas generally have older workforces, and in modern Britain many in this age group are unable to find work.


Population Percentage Aged over 65

National here means England and Wales

The proportion of the population aged over 65 was close to 5% in all censuses from 1851 to 1911, but it then tripled during the 20th century. In the nineteenth century, the elderly can be seen as a residual, concentrated into areas of low mortality and high out migration — in other words, mainly in rural areas. In 1851, this meant mainly the rural periphery: the south west, Norfolk and Suffolk, and most of Wales. The highlands of Scotland, conversely, contained relatively few elderly people due to poor life expectancy while the fenlands were an area of recent in-migration following drainage. Other peripheral areas with low proportions of the elderly, in Cornwall and west Cumberland, were growing because of the mining industry.

By 1911, or even 1931, the pattern in the south was little different, the main change being that the fenlands had aged rapidly once in-migration ceased. In the north, the old industrial cores were still lacking in elderly but their surrounding districts were also now relatively youthful.

By 1951, we begin to see a new pattern as the elderly ceased to be a group left behind as young people moved away. Instead, as people began to expect a lengthy retirement in which some could live where they pleased, the elderly themselves became migrants, moving to rural areas and especially to seaside areas. By the end of the 20th century, the country was almost ringed by a necklace of districts with c. 20% over 65.

3. Uttlesford through time - Social Structure Employers and “Educated Men” (1831 definition)

 National here means England and Wales

The 1831 census was the first to provide some information about individual occupations, but was also the last not to be based on a detailed door-to-door survey: it still relied heavily on the network of parish priests, but they seem to have been diligent in gathering this information. The available data cover males over 20 only. The nine categories they used were as much to do with different industries than with social status. However, here we present the percentage of males over 20 who were described either as “Agriculture: Occupiers employing Labourers” or as “Capitalists, Bankers, Professional and other Educated Men”.


 ”Middling Sorts” (1831 definition)

 National here means England and Wales

The 1831 census was the first to provide some information about individual occupations, but was also the last not to be based on a detailed door-to-door survey: it still relied heavily on the network of parish priests, but they seem to have been diligent in gathering this information. The available data cover males over 20 only. The nine categories they used were as much to do with different industries as with social status. However, here we present the percentage of males over 20 who were described as farmers “not employing Labourers”, as “Employed in Manufacture, or in making Manufacturing Machinery”, and as “Employed in Retail Trade, or in Handicrafts as Masters or Workmen”. This is certainly not a modern notion of “the middle class” as it includes many skilled manual workers, but it is very roughly what people at the time would have called “middling sorts”.


Labourers and Servants (1831 definition)

National here means England and Wales

The 1831 census was the first to provide some information about individual occupations, but was also the last not to be based on a detailed door-to-door survey: it still relied heavily on the network of parish priests, but they seem to have been diligent in gathering this information. The available data cover males over 20 only. The nine categories they used were as much to do with different industries as with social status. However, here we present the percentage of males over 20 who were described either as “Labourers”, both agricultural and non-agricultural, or as “Servants”.


Social Status, based on 1831 occupational statistics

1831 Occupations grouped by Status 1831
Employers and Professionals 285 
Middling Sorts 548 
Labourers and Servants 2,125 
Others 130 


 The 1831 census provides information, down to parish-level, on the occupations of males aged over 20 using nine categories. Here we reorganise this information to provide a crude measure of social status, based more on contemporary ideas than on modern definitions of social class: “middling sorts” combines small farmers not employing labourers with both masters and skilled workers in urban manufacturing and handicrafts.

Uttlesford Hundred: Males aged 20 and over, in 9 occupational categories

Occupational Categories 1831
 Farmers employing Labourers 211
Farmers not employing Labourers 31 
Agricultural Labourers 1,976
Manufacturing  1 
 Retail and Handicrafts 516
 Capitalists, Professionals 74
Labourers (non-agricultural) 79 
 Servants 70 
 Other 130


The only information provided by the first three censuses was a three-way categorisation of families. In 1831, this more detailed categorisation was published, although it was limited to males aged 20 and over (although numbers of male servants under 20, and of female servants, were also listed). These are the most detailed parish-level occupational data ever published by the census. Information on the precise occupations of workers in retail trade and handicrafts was also published at county-level.


Uttlesford Hundred: Males aged 20 and over, in four industrial categories


1831 Occupational Categories (simplified) 1831
Agriculture 2,218 
Retail and Handicraft 516 
Other 353 

The 1831 census provided information at parish-level on the number of males aged over 20 in each of nine occupational categories. Here we re-organise those nine categories into four to get some sense of the distribution of agriculture, of the new manufacturing industries and of the urban “trades”. “Agriculture” is quite well-defined here, combining large- and small-scale farmers with agricultural labourers. “Manufacturing” is narrowly defined, excluding labourers and “capitalists”, and focuses on the new factory-based industries. “Retail and handicrafts” covers the many workers in small businesses who sold products at the front of their shop and made them at the back. The “other” category covers “capitalists” and professionals, labourers outside agriculture, servants and “others”.



Year Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 4 Class 5
1841 160  1,672  5,503  6,503  902 
1881 197  1,757  2,810  7,085  758 
1931 224  2,100  4,349  4,140  1,708 
1951 694  2,630  6,406  4,247  1,490 
1971 1,080  4,145  6,657  3,169  899 
1981 1,290  6,260  7,030  2,270  680 
1991 1,520  7,430  7,300  2,030  660 
2001 2,905  4,601  5,253  1,593  2,007

Year Social Class Total
1841 14,740
1881 12,606
1931 12,521
1951 15,467
1971 15,950
1981 17,530
1991 18,940
2001 16,359

Year Classes 1 & 2 Class 3 Classes 4 & 5
1841 1,832  5,503  7,405 
1881 1,954  2,810  7,843 
1931 2,324  4,349  5,848 
1951 3,324  6,406  5,737 
1971 5,225  6,657  4,068 
1981 7,550  7,030  2,950 
1991 8,950  7,300  2,690 
2001 7,506  5,253  3,600 


The first census in 1801 simply divided people into those employed in agriculture and those in trade or manufacturing, and the 1841 census, the first to gather detailed occupational data, imposed no real order on it at all. However, the first occupational classification, introduced in 1851, was clearly concerned with social status as well as with what people made: it began with the Queen, followed by government officials and then by ‘the learned professions’.

In the twentieth century a separate system of social classes was devised. Originally created to help understand mortality, the Registrar General’s Social Classification was tabulated by the census from 1951 onwards. To provide a longer perspective we have re-organised earlier occupational information to the same system. Like the published 1951 data, all our figures are limited to men.

This is only possible where we have very detailed occupational statistics at district-level, so these earlier censuses are limited to 1841, where the replies to the occupational question were tabulated almost raw; 1881, where we can use complete data from the enumerator’s books; and 1931, which produced the most detailed of all occupational reports. The 2001 data are based on a rather different system, so comparisons over time are tricky.


Percentage of Working-Age Males in Class 1 and 2

National here means England and Wales

Class 1 covers ‘Professionals’ while class 2 covers, broadly, ‘Managers’ so this can be seen as a measure of the ‘middle class’. Because ‘working class’ occupations are generally defined as manual work, as more and more people worked in the services sector and in offices the proportion counted as ‘middle class’ rose steadily, from 14% in 1841 to 47% in 2001.

In 1841 and 1881, the most obvious pattern was that remoter rural areas were strongly middle class, but this was almost entirely because farmers were all placed in class 2; in these areas, there were relatively few farm labourers. The lack of geographical detail in the original 1841 occupational statistics mean we cannot look at detailed patterns within most counties, but Surrey was already identifiable as a high status area. Industrial communities like Stoke on Trent, Oldham both 8%) and Blaenau Gwent (6%) had the lowest proportions of middle class. The highest proportion of all was the City of London, with 24%. Our more geographically detailed figures for 1881 show that, once sparsely-populated farming areas are excluded, the middle class was strikingly concentrated within London: with the exception of Tower Hamlets (15%), all inner London districts contained at least 23% in classes 1 and 2, even Southwark (23%), Islington (26%) and Hackney (27%).

Right up to 1971 remote rural areas visually dominate the map, but a clearer north-south divide was starting to emerge by 1931: the districts with low proportions of the middle class were almost all in the north and South Wales, while most districts in the south east has relatively high proportions. The exceptions were in London, where the middle class had abandoned districts like Southwark (8%) and Islington (9%) for suburban areas like Harrow (24%) and Barnet (28%).

From 1971 onwards, the areas with the highest proportion of middle class workers became more and more concentrated into the south east, so that by 2001 only two other districts made it into the top forty, Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire and East Renfrewshire in Scotland. Within the south east, inner London had generally low proportions, but from 1951 a steadily larger part of western central London was also in the highest band: initially just Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea, by 2001 this included all central districts apart from Southwark, Town Hamlets and Hackney.


Percentage of Working-Age Males in Class 3

National here means England and Wales

This class combines clerical workers and skilled manual workers. By some definitions, the first are ‘middle class’ and the second ‘working class’, but skilled manual workers generally had higher earnings than clerks. For some years, separate figures are available for the two groups.

In the 19 century this group consisted mainly of skilled manual workers, and as you would expect they were mainly concentrated into the big cities and industrial districts, including the coalfields. In 1881, mining districts like Easington and the Rhondda had over two-thirds of their workers in this category while farming areas had under a third.

Over the twentieth century, the proportion of all workers in the sector remained almost constant up to 1991, and the geographical focus was increasingly on industrial areas away from the south east, numbers in the London area declining and being increasingly focused into districts along the Thames east of London. The figures for 2001 show only that we have so far failed to identify the equivalent group within the latest census data!


Percentage of Working-Age Males in Class 4 and 5

National here means England and Wales

These two classes cover semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers. In practice, this covers labourers, including farm labourers; domestic servants; and many workers in transport. In the 19 century, these classes included something over a third of all male workers, declining to a quarter in the mid-20th.

In 1841, the geographical distribution is dominated by farm labourers, concentrated into the south east away from London, although the highest rates were found in textile centres like Oldham (60%) and Calderdale (Halifax) (58%).

Farm labourers remained important in 1881 and 1931 although the concentration in the south east was weakening. The area immediately around London had fewer and fewer districts with high or even medium proportions in these social classes, apart from a handful of districts along the lower Thames. In 1991 and 2001, the original pattern is almost exactly reversed, manual workers seemingly almost banished from the south east. South Wales, originally a concentration of skilled manual workers, i.e. miners, had become a concentration of the unskilled.

One explanation of these patterns is that over time management and technical work has become more and more concentrated into the south east of England, pushing unskilled work out to the periphery.

4. Uttlesford through time - Industry

Even the first census of 1801 divided the population into those ‘chiefly employed in agriculture’, those ‘chiefly employed in trade, manufacturers or handicraft’, and others. From 1841 onwards, information was gathered on each person’s occupation and this formed the basis for very detailed tables. The 1841 occupational tables, used here, listed over 3,000 different occupational titles. This was partly because no advance plans had been made for dealing with the enormous range of job titles people gave, but by 1881 the more organised classification used in the county level tables covered 414 categories. Unfortunately, because of the need to reorganise these statistics into different areas, for 1971 to 1991 we must work with data for over 10,000 wards, and only a very simple industrial classification is available for these. We therefore present long-run industrial change using just six broad sectors.

In general, early census reports applied just one classification to occupations, which led to three separate issues getting mixed up: social status, what the individual worker did, and what their employer’s business was. Modern censuses have separate tables for each of these. NB our 1841 data are geographically crude, which results in some districts in the same county having identical figures.



Year Agriculture Mining Manufacturing Construction Utilities Services Unknown
1841 6,575  70  2,105  696  1,171  4,122   
1881 7,798  13  1,847  913  993  4,831   
1931 5,894  31  1,654  1,056  1,246  5,335  851 
1951 5,179  14  2,209  1,305  2,476  7,065  91 
1971 2,350  80  6,620  1,980  1,570  11,190   
1981 1,730    6,660  2,670  2,170  14,600   
1991 1,540  870  5,550  2,520  2,700  18,400  170 
2001 1,004  59  5,171  2,575  2,894  21,771  1,572 



Year Empl. in all industries
1841 14,740 
1881 16,395 
1931 15,216 
1951 18,248 
1971 23,790 
1981 27,830 
1991 31,580 
2001 33,474



 National here means England and Wales

‘Services’ cover a very wide range of activities, obviously including shops, hotels and catering, but also financial services and most government activity, including health care and defence. In 2001, two-thirds of all workers were in this sector. We tend to think of the service sector as a 20th century creation, but even in 1841 almost as many workers were employed in services as in manufacturing, and both were substantially larger than agriculture. This may seem surprising, especially when you realise that many people who worked in shops but also made what they sold are classified as ‘manufacturing’. However, it reflects the enormous number of domestic servants, mainly women, working not just in the houses of the rich but also in most middle class households and even for the best paid skilled manual workers.

This is reflected in the geography of services in 1841. Some districts were as dominated by this sector as the textile towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire were by manufacturing. Within London, 58% of Westminster’s workers were in services, and 56% of Kensington and Chelsea, and Hammersmith and Fulham. Outside London, services employed 54% of Cheltenham’s workers and 51% of Brighton’s. Concentrations of military personnel explain why 53% of Medway’s workers were in the sector, 52% of Greenwich’s and 51% of Gosport’s. Meanwhile, factory towns like Blackburn and Oldham had under 15% of their workers in services, with obvious consequences for their quality of life.

Over time, the sector grew in size but its basic geography has altered little. People sometimes speak as if services cannot provide an economic base for a locality, unlike manufacturing or agriculture, but this is clearly untrue of many areas of modern Britain. Firstly, even services which rely on face-to-face contact with customers form the main economic basis for tourist areas, such as seaside resorts. Other areas benefit from concentrations of government spending, and both the armed forces and the Civil Service are concentrated around London. Perhaps most important of all, London’s financial sector sells its services to the world, explaining why financial services are a substantially larger sector of Britain’s economy than in other European countries.



 National here means England and Wales

Despite Britain’s reputation as the ‘workshop of the world’, manufacturing employed only slightly more people than services in 1841, and by 1881 it employed significantly less. Of course, if we ignore women workers, and especially all the female domestic servants, manufacturing seems larger. It is also true that our 19 century data tend to overstate the size of manufacturing, because many goods were made not in factories but in small workshops behind shops: the same people made the goods at the back and served at the front, but are counted as in ‘manufacturing’. This pattern meant, of course, that every major town would have a significant ‘manufacturing sector’.

However, in 1841 this meant most districts having 20-30% of the workforce in manufacturing, with some rural areas and seaside resorts dropping to around 12%. A relatively small group of districts had over 50% of their workforces in manufacturing, and mostly in a single dominant industry: textile towns like Blackburn and Oldham, with over 70% in manufacturing; the pottery towns now in Stoke on Trent, with 62%; the shoe-making centre of Leicester, with 56%. Of course, with the exception of London manufacturing was concentrated mainly in the north and midlands.

Such extreme concentration on single industries inevitably meant a poor quality of life, in communities so lacking in services for their populations. As the new industrial towns matured, both the overall proportion in manufacturing and the numbers in their dominant industries declined. The concentration of manufacturing into the north continued up to 1931, but new industrial centres based on consumer goods were growing in the south. Slough, whose population grew from 20,285 in 1921 to 52,590 in 1939, is a classic example. In 1881 it was a rural area, with 13% of its workers in manufacturing, but by 1971 this was 53% — making the subsequent decline to 16% in 2001 striking evidence of Britain’s de-industrialisation.

That decline has not brought poverty to Slough! In modern Britain, the most prosperous areas contain few factories, but this does not mean they are not involved in the manufacture of goods. Instead, they have become centres of management, marketing and research for goods which are physically manufactured somewhere else. That ’somewhere else’ may well be outside Britain altogether, maybe in the booming industries of eastern China. If it is in Britain, it will probably be somewhere where the labour is cheaper. One interesting feature of the map of manufacturing in 2001 is its expansion in some of the old mining areas, such as South Wales. Of course, if the ‘goods’ are, for example, music CDs, we may have a different idea of what ‘making it’ means, taking more interest in the recording studio than the pressing plant. Much the same is true of IT products and high fashion goods, and the south-east’s dominance of IT and fashion is striking.



National here means England and Wales

Today agriculture (including fishing) is a tiny sector, employing under 2% of the workforce. Even in 1841 it employed only 20% of workers and only three districts in England and Wales, all in Cambridgeshire, had over 50% of their workers in the sector (more geographically detailed 1841 data might raise this number). Britain was then still a fairly rural society, but large numbers of rural workers were employed in mining, manufacturing and services. Employment in the sector dropped as a proportion of all workers from 21% in 1841 to 12% in 1881 and 5% in 1951, but the actual numbers fell much more slowly, from 1.2m in 1841 to 1m. in 1951. However, mechanisation of farms in the 1950s and 1960s led to a much more rapid decline, so there were only about half a million workers left in 1971.

Between 1851 and 1951, the geographical distribution of agricultural workers changed little: the highest proportions were in East Anglia. In the late 20th century, however, parts of that area saw rapid population growth based on firms moving out from London and new high-tech industry, and agriculture became less important. By 2001, the highest proportion of workers in the sector (25%) were in the Orkney islands of Scotland, with the second highest proportion (2%) in the South Holland district of Lincolnshire.



 National here means England and Wales

Mining has never been a large part of the national economy. Even at its peak in the early 20th century it employed under 10% of the workforce, while in 2001 it employed about a quarter of a percent. Because of its relatively small size nationally mining is not always easy to measure, and in areas where it was unimportant this rate can behave erratically. However, it must be included here because in some localities it was enormously important and defined their character. Many communities grew up around particular mines and lacked alternative employment, so the industry’s decline had a large human cost.

The extreme example is Easington in Durham. Our 1841 data are tricky, but we estimate 26% of the workers there were miners. More reliably, in 1881 it was 48%. However, as better technology enabled mines to be extended under the sea, the proportion grew to 64% — and this rate is for the whole district so some villages would have had even higher rates. By 1971, the proportion was still 31%. Unfortunately, our data do not allow us to separate mining from utilities in 1981 but by 1991, after the 1984-5 strike and the following mine closures programme, only 2% of Easington’s workforce were in mining, and today it is only half a percent. Similar stories can be told for many other districts in the North East, Yorkshire and South Wales.

In 1841, mining was not totally dominated by coal. In Cornwall and in parts of the northern Pennines, in districts like Teesdale, it meant mining lead and tin. By 1881, coal was dominant and we start to see districts with around 50% of their workers in the sector. The industry peaked just before the First World War, with British coal being shipped around the world. However, for now our next set of data are for 1931, by when the industry was already in decline. Its geographical distribution was also changing, as old mining districts like Lancashire and Staffordshire began to run out of coal, and new pits were developed in the East Midlands and, in extreme isolation, north of Dover in Kent.

By 1971, the industry’s distribution was therefore quite different from 1881. However, rapid decline then began, and by 2001 the remaining workers in the sector were mostly not in traditional mining at all: the two largest concentrations are around Aberdeen — servicing North Sea oil rigs — and in Restormel in Cornwall, where tin mining still goes on.




National here means England and Wales

Construction is like traditional manufacturing, being dominated by men and involving heavy manual work, but like services in that it has to be carried on near the customer. Over time, the sector has varied remarkably little in size: 6% in 1841, 7% in 2001.

Geographically, it has also varied little in size. In 1841, most districts had between 4% and 7% of their workers in the sector; in 2001, between 5% and 9%. However, the detailed geography does bring out which areas were expanding, and needing the most new buildings. In 1931, this clearly meant the south, especially on the edge of London. In the 1970s and 1980s, this meant the outer south-east, and also the coastal areas benefiting either from in-migration, including retirement migration, or the oil industry. The same was true in 2001, but the impact in Kent and Essex of major “Thames Gateway” construction projects such as the Channel Tunnel rail link can maybe be seen.


5. Uttlesford through time -Work and Poverty

Male Unemployment

National here means England and Wales


In twentieth century Britain, unemployment was the primary measure of economic distress. It has been measured in various ways: by the number receiving unemployment benefit, by sample surveys and, only at ten year intervals but perhaps most accurately, by the census.

The 1931 census came in the depths of the inter-war Great Depression, and several districts like South Tyneside — containing Jarrow — and Merthyr Tydvil in S.Wales had unemployment rates over 25%. The census was carried out in the spring, and rates in the depths of winter would have been significantly higher. Unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire was generally lower but still bad. The highest rate in the south-east was 16% for Tower Hamlets in the east end of London, but most places in the south-east had rates well below 10%.

After the 1939-45 war, new economic policies reduced the impact of the trade cycle, and the 1951 census generally revealed almost full employment: the highest rate was 8% for Merthyr Tydvil, and the most conspicuous feature of the map is the high rates around the coast, due to seasonal unemployment in seaside resorts.

Following the post-war boom of the 1950s and 1960s, unemployment rose over the 1970s and 1980s. In some areas, 1991 unemployment was higher than in the inter-war slump: Knowsley, on the edge of Liverpool, had 15% unemployment in 1931 but 31% in 1991. According to the census, unemployment rates in 2001 were half those of 1991. The most obvious areas of high unemployment were in the north and west, but focusing in on the south-east shows high rates in inner London.


Female Activity Rate

 National here means England and Wales

Nationally, the proportion of women doing paid work has risen fairly steadily from 34% in 1931 to 58% in 2001; meanwhile, the same rate for men had dropped from 91% to 71%, so the difference between the sexes has been greatly reduced. One result is that the number of households with a single, usually male ‘breadwinner’ has declined, and households with two people working and with no-one working have both increased.

In 1931, the highest proportion of women were working in textile towns like Blackburn and Burnley, both with 60% activity rates, and in inner London districts like Westminster (55%), and Kensington and Chelsea (53%) — in these areas both office work and domestic servants were factors. Rural areas had typical rates around 20%, although this may exclude farmers’ wives working on family farms. However, the very lowest rates were in mining communities, where miners expected their relatively high wages to support the entire family: in Blaenau Gwent and Easington, only 12% of women worked.

Over time, female activity rates have risen in almost all areas, but the most striking transformation is of rural central England: almost universally, women now work except for specific periods when they take time off to have children. Two interesting special cases are Tower Hamlets and Newham in London, where the development of a large Muslim community has led to an actual decline in female participation, in Tower Hamlets from 53% in 1971 to 45% in 2001.


6. Uttlesford through time - Learning and Language

Percentage of persons entitled to voluntary schooling attending

 National here means England and Wales

This is about people choosing education, and therefore excludes those required to attend by law. For 1851, when no schooling was compulsory, we compare numbers at school with the total aged 5 to 14. For 1981 to 2001, we focus on those aged 16 and 17, i.e. people over the school leaving age but not old enough to have moved away to university. Obviously, whether or not someone stays on at school depends partly on their own choices, partly on their parents and, often in large part, on economic need.

The 1851 pattern is not easily summarised. The problems of combining data from the special schools census with population totals from the main census are shown by the Scilly Isles having 138% of those aged 5 to 14 at school, but no other district had rates over 85%. Overall, Wales and the south west, and most industrial areas had low numbers at school, while the whole west side of London had consistently high numbers.

Jumping 130 years to 1981, a very clear north-south divide appears. The south east, apart from districts along the lower Thames, had very high rates of children staying on at school, while industrial areas in South Wales, the north and Scotland had much lower rates. For example, 68% of children in Barnet, and Kensington and Chelsea, stayed on at school while only 41% did in Hull and 34% Glasgow. Overall rates for Great Britain rose substantially between 1981 and 2001, from 54% to 77%, but the geographical pattern changed little.


Percentage of 5 to 14 year olds attending Sunday School

National here means England and Wales

This can only be mapped for 1851, and there are clearly problems with combining the main and the schools census, as sixteen districts have rates over 100%. Here the pattern is very different from attendance at ordinary schools, with particularly high rates in Wales and the north, and the low rate around London. The explanation is that Sunday Schools were generally associated with non-conformist churches, so the pattern is very similar to that shown in the Religion theme.

Percentage Unqualified

National here means England and Wales

This can only be calculated for 1951 and 2001, and the measures are actually rather different. For 1951, the figures are for the proportion of people leaving school at or before age 15, i.e. before the ages at which public exams are usually first taken, while for 2001 they are simply for people without any qualifications. Here it is particularly important to remember that, as the figures cover the whole working population, the data do not tell us what was currently happening in schools in 1951 or 2001.

The very high national rates in 1951, 86% of the workforce of England and Wales lacking qualifications other than those acquired on the job, reflect the low priority given to the education of most of the population in the first half of the century, but this was already changing. By 2001, the proportion had fallen to 29%.

A striking north-south divide is clear in both years, and perhaps especially 2001. The south east had least unqualified people, with the usual exception of a belt along the lower Thames. The highest rates were in industrial districts like Sandwell (46%), Blaenau Gwent (45%) and Easington (44%), while the lowest rates were in Kensington and Chelsea (13%) and the City of London (10%).


Percentage of persons with university degrees or equivalent

National here means England and Wales

It maybe tells us something about priorities that the census lets us count the unqualified for only two censuses but graduates for five. However, definitions vary a good deal over time: For 1951, our figures are for people who remained in education past age 20. For 1971, the figures are for people with degrees or Higher National Certificates. For 1981, the definition is particularly broad, covering all with “degrees, professional or vocational qualifications”, while in 1991 it is simply degrees. Unsurprisingly. the overall rate for England and Wales dropped from 9.7% to 7.2% between these two years. The 2001 data cover all with degrees, “NVQ levels 4 and 5; HNC; HND;”, or formal medical or teaching qualifications.

Despite these complications, the geographical pattern changes very little over time, districts with high proportions of graduates being strongly concentrated into the south east. The exceptions, like north Cheshire and the Tynedale and Castle Morpeth districts in the north east are also generally constant. Lower Thameside was consistently the area in the south east with fewest graduates: In 2001, Barking and Dagenham, and Thurrock (both 10% graduate) were in the bottom twenty districts, while the highest proportions were in the City of London (60%), Kensington and Chelsea (52%) and Westminster (48%). Kensington and Chelsea were the top two districts in 1951, while Barking and Dagenham, and Tower Hamlets, were the bottom two.


Uttlesford District: Sunday school attendance, redistricted

Whether or not attending Sunday School, redistricted to modern Local Authorities. NB those not arttending have been computed by deducting the number attending from total persons aged 5 to 14, which can only be an approximation to the total eligible to attend.

Sunday School attendance 1851
Attending Sunday School 5,629 
Not attending Sunday School 5,632



Uttlesford District: Educational Level Total

Total number of persons included in ‘level of education’ data. How this was calculated varies between censuses: In 1951 and 1971, it covers all occupied persons, whether economically active or retired. In 1961, it covers all persons over 25, but the data come from a 10% sample. In 1981 and 1991, it covers all over 18 and under the normal retirement age for their sex. in 2001, it covers all aged 16 to 74.

1951 12,653 
1971 51,220 
1981 45,057 
1991 5,022 
2001 49,862


Uttlesford District: Educational Level: Unqualified

Number of persons leaving school with or without basic qualifications. How this was calculated varies between censuses: In 1951, whether they stayed at school to age 15. education’ data. In 2001, whether or not they left school with qualifications.

Obtaining basic qualifications
1951 2001
Unqualified 10,565  10,992 
Qualified 2,088  38,870


Uttlesford District: Educational Level: Graduate

Number of persons with or without a university degree or equivalent qualification

Year Graduate Not graduate
1951 399  12,254
1971 2,700  48,520
1981 6,120  38,937
1991 500  4,522
2001 11,557  38,305




7. Uttlesford District: Land Use Statistics for 2001

These data were published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on February 28th, 2005. They are limited to categories which can be identified from conventional Ordnance Survey mapping, so a very wide range of land uses are included in ‘Greenspace’, including all agricultural land uses and all types of open space.


ODPM 2001 Land Use Categories 2001
Domestic Buildings 282 
Gardens 1,673 
Non-Domestic Buildings 183 
Road 743 
Rail 25 
Path 18 
Greenspace 60,424 
Water 315 
Other 670

  Uttlesford District: Total area, in hectares

These figures give the overall total area, in hectares, of all land uses as published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on February 28th, 2005. This total includes the ‘other’ category, and differs from the overall total area of each administrative unit mainly becase these figures exclude parts of the unit usually covered by the sea.

ODPM 2001 Land Use Categories Total 2001
Total Area 64,332

Uttlesford District: Simplified Land Use Statistics for 2001

These data are a simplified version of the statistics published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on February 28th, 2005. They are limited to categories which can be identified from conventional Ordnance Survey mapping, and then further grouped into just four categories: buildings, transport (road, rail and paths), greenspace and ‘other’.

ODPM 2001 Land Use Categories, simplified 2001
Buildings 465 
Transport 786 
Greenspace including gardens and water 62,412 
Other 670 


8. Uttlesford through time - Life and Death

This theme covers births, marriages and deaths, including changing causes of death. Unlike most of our themes, it is based not on the Census but on the closely related system for registering births, marriages and deaths, established in 1837.

In this first version of the system, the main emphasis is on infant mortality, the number of children dying before their first birthday as a proportion of all births.

Infant Mortality Rate

National here means England and Wales

Deaths per thousand live births. This is a good overall measure of the health of a population, although by the late twentieth century rates had become so low that just one death more or less could have a big impact on a district’s relative performance.


Fertility Rate

National here means England and Wales

Live births per thousand women aged 20 to 49. The General Fertility Rate is usually defined relative to the number of women aged 15 to 49, but in Britain the ages 20 to 49 are generally more appropriate.


9. Uttlesford through time - Housing


Total households, as definedby the relevant census Housing density, simplified to households with over and under 1 person per room, for various dates redistricted to modern Local Authorities Housing amenities, simplified to households without a WC, those with a WC but without some other amenity, and those with all amenities
Year Total Households
1931 10,476 
1951 13,218 
1971 18,417 
1981 21,797 
1991 25,110 
2001 27,519 
Year Over 1 1 or less
1931 1,077  9,399 
1951 1,408  11,810 
1971 582  17,835 
1981 350  21,447 
1991 244  24,866 
2001 951  26,568
Year No WC Lacking some amenity All amenities
1951 5,683  2,238  5,297 
1971 1,961  409  16,047 
1981 492  171  21,134 
1991 112  2,442  22,556 
2001 103  932  26,484

The first census to report on how well people were housed was that of 1891, but the only statistics gathered were on the number of rooms and the number of people in each household. From 1951 onwards, more questions were asked about ‘amenities’, meaning specific facilities that households either possessed or had shared access to.

One interesting measure of progress is the change in the amenities covered by the census. In 1951, these were piped water, a cooking stove, a kitchen sink, a ‘water closet’ meaning a flush toilet, and a ‘fixed bath’, as distinct from a tin bath hung on the wall between uses. In 2001, the list of key amenities was shorter: central heating, and ’sole use of bath/shower and toilet’. Differences in what information was recorded by each census complicate comparisons over time, and none of our three measures are entirely consistent.

Percentage of Households with more than one person per room

National here means England and Wales

These figures record, for most years, how many households had less than one room per person (not counting bathrooms and corridors). How good a measure of living conditions is this?

The figures for 1931 are for ‘families’, not households, and the total number of families excludes those with more than five rooms. The figures seem to show a very clear geographical pattern, with the worst conditions concentrated into both urban and rural parts of the north-east of England. However, this pattern may be a result of the way the census measured crowding, by counting numbers of rooms rather than floorspace. To some extent housing in the north-east resembled that in Scotland, with fewer but larger rooms, while in the north-west of England people lived in terraced houses with lots of small rooms. There was also serious over-crowding in inner London: the twenty worst districts include Tower Hamlets, Islington and Southwark.

In 1931, three districts had over half their households living at over one person per room, but by 1951 only one had over a third. The worst districts were still concentrated in the north-east, but slum clearance schemes in some urban areas meant that the rural west midlands now appear as a problem area. In the 1950s and 1960s very active slum clearance programmes, planned construction of ‘overspill’ estates and new towns, and home-owning middle class families being able to afford better homes all led to great improvements: by 1971, only 6% of households in England and Wales had less than one room per person, compared to 21% in 1931 and 16% in 1951. The concentration of bad conditions in the north-east and London remained, although the north-east then saw remarkable improvement in its relative position during the 1970s.

By 1991, only 2% of households had less than one room per person, and the 2001 census used a new measure of over-crowding. This ‘occupancy rating’ relates the actual number of rooms to the number of rooms ‘required’ by the members of the household, based on their relationships and ages. There is some comparability: a household consisting of a husband and wife, a son and a daughter would require five rooms, and we concentrate on households with an ‘occupancy rating’ of -1 or less. These households were clearly concentrated into the main cities, but the four ‘worst’ districts were affluent parts of London: the City, Camden, Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea. As a single person in a bedsit with separate bathroom and kitchen counts as over-crowded, the new standard may simply be too demanding.

Percentage of Households without sole use of a WC

National here means England and Wales

Most rural areas were greatly improved so the worst areas were all rural, headed by Newham (39%) and Islington (37%) in London. Scotland is included in the 1971 figures, and was generally well-equipped.

By 1991, only 1% of households lacked a WC, while by 2001 it was under half a percent — and that includes households with a WC but without a bath or shower. In 2001, the most poorly equipped areas were either in inner cities — Camden, and Kensington and Chelsea, had the worst rates (2.6%), but districts with large numbers of stud

Once the most over-crowded slums had been demolished, attention turned to ‘amenities’, especially those connected to hygiene and health. Of these, having your own flush toilet is maybe the most important, and every census from 1951 to 1991 lets us calculate the proportion of households without sole use of one. For 2001, we can calculate only the percentage lacking either a WC or a bath/shower.

The geographical pattern in 1951 was complex: the districts with the fewest WCs were in rural areas, like Mid Suffolk (69%), Breckland (68%) and Anglesey (58%), while many northern industrial towns were well equipped. Of course, the lack of sewerage systems in rural areas made providing WCs difficult. Within London, however, the worst rates were in inner city districts like Islington (where 52% of households lacked a WC) and Camden (46%), while outer districts like Hillingdon (10%) and Bromley (11%) were very different.

Between 1951 and 1971, the proportion of households without a WC in England and Wales fell only from 21% to 15%, although this is partly because from 1971 onwards the requirement was for sole use of an inside WC. By 1971, ents also appeared high in the list, so Cambridge (2.1%) and Oxford (1.9%) are fourth and fifth on the list. Of course, they appear so bad because the standard is ’sole use’.


Percentage of Households with All Amenities


National here means England and Wales

These figures are about ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, as the list of ‘amenities’ listed by the census changed over time. In 1951, five separate facilities were required, but all apart from having a cooker were about depended on water supply and sewers. Over time, the list got shorter as running water, for example, became taken for granted. From 1971 onwards, a hot water supply was required, and from 1991 central heating. Unfortunately, the census has never covered other ‘consumer durables, like TVs and fridges, despite their obvious importance for lifestyles.

Unsurprisingly, the 1951 pattern was pretty much the reverse of that for households lacking WCs: the best equipped areas were in the London suburbs, while the worst were either in inner cities or rural areas lacking mains services. By 1971, the very best areas generally contained New Towns, created by the government after World war Two, with all new houses all meeting modern standards: three of the top four were Harlow (99%), Stevenage (98%) and Corby (97%).

By 1981, 95% of households in England and Wales had ‘all amenities’, but in 1991 the requirement for central heating reduced this to 81%, rising to 91% in 2001. The best areas in 2001 were not the most affluent — after all, a bath and central heating do not really define luxurious living — but rather areas with large scale public housing programmes, and few ‘houses in multiple occupation’. The impact of the New Towns programme was still visible: Easington (containing Peterlee), Blyth Valley (Cramlington), Stevenage, West Lothian (Livingston), Basildon, Bracknell Forest, Harlow and Welwyn Hatfield were all in the top fifteen.


10. Uttlesford through time - Roots & Religion  


Attending all churches
total attendences 1851
Attend. all churches 41,780


1851 church ‘attendences’major christian denominations
Baptists 4,109 
Calv. Methodist
C. of England 24,318 
C. of Scotland
Free Presb.
Wesleyan Meth. 639 
Other 12,710


major religious faiths in 2001
Christians 52,838 
Buddhist 157 
Hindu 94 
Jewish 197 
Muslim 290 
Sikh 23 
Other 177 
None 10,474 
Not stated 4,696


This is one of our more unusual themes, because only two censuses have ever gathered information on religion in England and Wales, and they were 150 years apart!

The 1851 Census of Religion was a separate census carried out at the same time as the main Census of Population. It assumed that everyone was Christian, and tried to find out what kind of Christians were most important in each district. It did this by counting how many people attended each church on the census Sunday. Our information has been considerably simplified from the original returns, which counted 35 different religious groups in England and Wales. One result is a large ‘other’ category.

In 2001, a question about religion was included among the questions in the main census for the first time ever. Except in Scotland, where there is separate information on the Church of Scotland, Catholics and ‘Other Christian’, the results lump all Christians together but also gathered information on Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims and Sikhs. People were allowed to write in other religions not included on the census form, but we have no data on the distribution of ‘Jedi’.


Percentage with No Religion


National here means England and Wales

Given the low numbers actually attending church, it is perhaps surprising that so few claimed they had no religion. Should we conclude from the geographical pattern that the Scots were more godless, or just more honest? Given the small numbers in non-Christian religions, the pattern for ‘no religion’ was largely a mirror image of the pattern for Christians, with lower numbers in the north than the south of England and, perhaps surprisingly, lower numbers in the cities than in rural areas. For what it is worth, the district in Britain with the most non-believers was Aberdeen (42%), and the top seventeen were all in Scotland. The highest rates in England and Wales were Norwich (28%), Brighton and Hove, and Cambridge (both 27%); these are all university towns.


Percentage Christian

National here means England and Wales

Perhaps the most striking finding for 2001 is how many people still described themselves as Christian, over 70% nationally, as compared to 16% claiming ‘none’. The same is true of most individual areas: you have to look hard for the areas where under 50% of the population claim to be Christian, and they are mainly in the large cities. The two lowest percentages are for Tower Hamlets in London (39%) and Leicester (45%), and these figures are explained by concentrations of Muslims and Hindus. The most Christian district in Britain, according to these census figures, was St. Helens in Lancashire (87%).

Percentage Muslim


National here means England and Wales

Muslims were the largest of the non-Christian religions in 2001, but the proportion of the total population may surprise some people: 2.78%. Over two-thirds of them lived in the 44 districts whose populations are over 5% Muslim, and these districts were overwhelmingly urban. The highest proportions were in Tower Hamlets (36%), Newham (24%), Blackburn with Darwen (19%) and Bradford (16%).


Percentage Hindu

National here means England and Wales

Hindus made up 1% of the population. They were strongly concentrated into the Leicester area, where they were 15% of Leicester’s population and 6% of Oadby and Wigston, and parts of London, especially the north-west. The highest rates were in Harrow (20%) and Brent (17%). No area outside London and away from Leicester had over 5% Hindu.

Percentage Buddhist


National here means England and Wales

Buddhists made up a quarter of a per cent of the entire population. They were mainly concentrated into London, but not into any particular part of London.

Percentage Jewish

National here means England and Wales

Jews were about half a per cent of the population. They were strongly concentrated, the majority living in the 16 districts whose populations were over 2% Jewish, and ten of these districts were in London. The highest proportion of Jews was in Barnet (15%), followed by Hertsmere (11%), Harrow and Redbridge (both 6%).

Church of England ‘Attendances’ as Percentage of Total


National here means England and Wales

In 1851, the Church of England was not just another Christian church. It was, and formally still is, the established church, in significant senses part of the state. For example, up to 1831 the census had been carried out in most areas by clergymen, and until 1837 the only way to be legally married was a Church of England service. Given all this, it is maybe surprising how many people did go to other churches: across England and Wales as a whole, almost exactly half of all church ‘attendances’ were at Church of England churches.

Unsurprisingly, this ‘government church’ was strongest near London, and particularly weak in Wales. It was also weak in many of the industrial areas, partly because the construction of new churches had not kept up with the expansion of their populations during the previous century. However, a major building programme focused on London, Yorkshire and the north west had built more than 2,000 new churches between 1831 and 1851.



Roman Catholic ‘Attendances’ as Percentage of Total


National here means England and Wales

Today, the Catholic church often claims comparable membership to the Church of England, but in 1851 under 4% of all attendances in England and Wales were at their churches. This may seem surprising, but the census followed too soon after the mass Irish immigration triggered by the Potato Famine of the late 1840s for many of the new arrivals to show up as church-goers. In the eighteenth century, Catholics had been systematically persecuted, for example being denied the right to inherit property. The most severe penalties were abolished in 1778, but it was only in 1829, 22 years before this census, that they were allowed to sit in Parliament, or join the army.

The main concentrations of Catholics in 1851 were in the north west, where the Irish immigrants had just arrived. They made up 33% of all attendances in Chorley, and 32% in Liverpool. However, significant groups were found in other parts of the country, but overwhelmingly in towns: 12% of ‘attendances’ in Newcastle-on-Tyne; 9% in Nottingham; 6% in Birmingham. There were also significant numbers in London: 11% in Southwark; 9% in Tower Hamlets and Westminster. We cannot distinguish recent Irish immigrants from long-established Catholic congregations in these data, but there were one or two Catholic congregations in most districts, unlike the non-Conformist sects who were often completely absent away from their core area.


Church of Scotland ‘Attendances’ as Percentage of Total

National here means England and Wales

The Church of Scotland was the established church in Scotland, but its membership in England and Wales was limited to districts near the border like Berwick-on-Tweed (10%) and Newcastle-on-Tyne (3%), and congregations in Manchester and, especially, London. 2% of all attendances in Westminster were at the Church of Scotland.

Wesleyan Methodist ‘Attendances’ as Percentage of Total

National here means England and Wales

The Wesleyan Methodists were the second largest group after the Church of England, with 15% of all attendances. Originally led by John and Charles Wesley, by 1851 they had divided into two main sections, the Wesleyan Methodist Association and the much larger Wesleyan Methodist Original Connexion, but our figures combine the two. Their geographical distributions were quite similar, and very different from the Calvinistic Methodists.

Their strongest concentration was in Cornwall, Kerrier being the only district in the country where they made up a majority of attendances. However, most of their members were in eastern Lancashire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the north-east, with strength in both urban and rural areas. They were weak in the south-east, apart from Bedfordshire.


Calvinistic Methodist ‘Attendances’ as Percentage of Total

National here means England and Wales

The Calvinistic Methodists were the followers of George Whitfield (1714-69), who broke away from the Wesley brothers who originally founded Methodism. Their strength was overwhelmingly in Wales, where they built on an earlier religious revival led by Howel Harris in the 1730s.


Baptist ‘Attendances’ as Percentage of Total


Uttlesford District: Voluntary schooling total


year total eligible for voluntary schooling
1851 11,261 
1981 1,836 
1991 1,847 
2001 1,832


Uttlesford District: Voluntary school attendance, redistricted

Whether or not attending school, when eligible but not legally required to, for all residents in the relevant ages, redistricted to modern Local Authorities.

Year Attending school
Not attending school
1851 6,215  5,046 
1981 1,182  654 
1991 1,335  512 
2001 1,561  271