During the first 100 years of census-taking, the population of England and Wales grew more than threefold, to around 32 million and a further 4.5 million or so in Scotland, where a separate census has been carried out since 1861.

From 1911 onwards, rapid social change, scientific breakthroughs and major world events impacted the structure of the population. A fire that destroyed census records in 1931 and the declaration of war in 1939, made the 1951 census hugely significant in recording more than 20 years of change over one of the most turbulent periods in British history.

Learn more about the history of each Census, including downloads of the forms from 1841 onwards:

Census 1801 to 1901

Census 1911 to 2011