Although details of the population recorded in the 2021 census will not be published for one hundred years, some information has been released. This includes the population numbers by sex, ages in ten-year bands, countries of birth, ethnic group and religion. In this short article, a comparison is made of the residents of Wickhamford in 2021 with the results recently published for the village a hundred years previously, in 1921.
In 2021, Wickhamford had 721 residents on census night; 360 were recorded as male and the same number as female. One resident did not record their sex. This population number had been very steady for the previous twenty years, being 735 in 2001 and 747 in 2011. In 1921, the census figure was 305, of whom 160 were male (52%). A major difference was the population increase in the preceding 20 years, from 171 in 1901 and 259 in 1911. This coincided with much house building in that period.
(As with all Censuses, there are some cases of households having visitors on the night the records were taken and some residents may have been away that night and so were not counted.)
The 2021 data published shows the age distribution in Wickhamford in nine age bands and these can be compared to the information published for the 1921 census.
|AGE GROUP||Number in 2021||% in 2021||Number in 1921||% in 1921|
|80 or over||57||7.9||1||0.3|
This data shows that in 1921 the population in the village was, on average, considerably younger than that in 2021. Those aged 19 and under made up almost a half of the residents, compared to only 15% a hundred years later. At the other end of the age scale, in 1921 just one resident was over 80 years old and the over-60s only totalled 17 (5.5%). By 2021, there were 57 over-80s and the over sixties were 293 (ca 40%). Overall, the approximate average age of the Wickhamford population in 1921 was under 30 years, whereas by 2021 this had risen to around 50 years.
This change would be partly due to the decline of workers in horticulture and agriculture in the village.
Property occupancy rate
In 1921, the 305 people recorded in the census lived in 70 properties (in a few cases two families per house). This meant that each household consisted of, on average, four to five people. In 2021, the population of 721 lived in about 330 houses in the village, only a little over two per house on average.
Countries of birth
Most of the residents in both censuses were born in the UK. In 2021, 694 were born here (96%) with 26 born in an EU country, 4 from the Middle East/Asia, 4 from Africa and four from elsewhere. In total 38 residents. Surprisingly, the figures for those born overseas from 1921 are very similar. Five were refugees from Austria (see Hermann Zapula, Austrian Refugee in Wickhamford), three from southern Ireland, one from Switzerland and one from South Africa; the latter two were both British Nationals, born abroad. This made a UK born population of 97%.
Religion and Ethnic Group
No details of religion were collected in the 1921 census, but it is probably safe to assume that most would have considered themselves Christian. In 2021, of the population of 721, 428 were recorded as Christian, 258 gave no religion, there was one Hindu, three Sikhs, and two ‘others’.
The whole village population in 1921 would have given white ethnicity, if asked. In 2021, 715 did so (97.8%) with five recorded as Asian, nine as ‘Mixed’ and two ‘others’.
Going back to 1821, Wickhamford’s population was 130 in the census that year. No details of the residents were taken at that time, but an attempt was made to identify the villagers – see Wickhamford 1821. Based on that work, the average age of villagers was about 23 years, almost equally divided between male and female. Of about 110, who might have been identified from parish records, the following age distributions are estimated:
- Under 9 years – 34 (31%)
- 10-19 years – 15 (14%)
- 20-29 years – 33 (30%)
- 30-39 years – 14 (13%)
- 40-49 years – 6 (5%)
- 50-59 years – 2 (2%)
- 60-69 years – 5 (5%)
- 70 -79 years – 2 (2%)
- Over 80 years – 0 (0%)
The village populations at the 1801 and 1811 censuses were 125 and 137, so fairly steady in that period.
Tom Locke – October 2023