Harpenden Census 1871 and 2001

Snapshots of Harpenden

By Eric and Paul Brandreth

Harpenden Census 1871

Written in 1978 by Paul Brandreth, Pupil at Wood End School

Photo:A page from the Harpenden 1871 census

A page from the Harpenden 1871 census

Our class looked at a census taken in 1871 which was lent us by my father. A census is a chart showing the jobs of all the people in an area on a certain date. The population of Harpenden in 1871 was 2608, which has now increased by almost 25000. 

Here are all the jobs of the people working in Harpenden 100 years ago.

  •     453 were involved in straw hat making
  •     405 were working in agriculture
  •     205 were doing domestic service
  •     84 were shopkeepers
  •     82 were in the building trades
  •     66 were craftsmen (boot and shoe makers, tailors
  •     40 were professional and public service workers
  •     16 were railway workers
  •     11 were temporarily unemployed
  •     45 people were of independent means

This census shows that 1407 people were old enough to be working and 1201 of the population were children.

A Snapshot of Harpenden on Census night April 2001 by Eric Brandreth

  • Total population was 27,686.  13,489 males and 14,197 females
  • Resident household population was 27,286 (400 people were transient visitors that night) living in 10,979 households (or families).  The average family size was 2.5 people.
  • Of the 10,979 houses (or units) 9,138 were owner occupied, 760 were Local Authority houses, 184 were provided by Housing Associations.  636 were privately rented, and 261 were described as “other”.
  • 13,325 people aged between 16 and 74 were “economically active” (i.e. working).  1558 worked from home.
  • The others travelled to work: 2,751 by train, and 1653 by bus. 7,656 went by car (7,185 drivers and 471 passengers).  There were 81 motorcyclists and 143 pedal cyclists.  919 people walked to work, and 64 were described as going by “other means”.  (Your guess is as good as mine: horseback? Boat? Aircraft? Roller-skates?
  • The 10,979 households owned (or possibly more accurately had the use of) 16,272 cars.  1,295 households (11.7%) did not have a car, so 9,684 had 16,272 cars between them, an average of 1.68 cars per family.  In fact 40.7% of all households had 1 car, 37.8% had 2 cars, and 9.8% had 3 or more.
This page was added by David Hinton on 05/11/2010.
Comments about this page

Harpenden 1851 Census - the population had grown by over 500 by 1871

Total population          1980

  • Born in Harpenden and Wheathampstead          64%
  • Born in Hertfordshire       24%
  • Born in other parts of England 19%

Men’s occupations:

  • Gentry                               11
  • Farmers                              27
  • Local manufacturers             28
  • Providing consumer goods    80
  • Personal servants                44
  • Building trades                   34
  • Labourers                           327 (at least half were just casual labourers)

Women’s occupations    

  • Gentry, independent women 15
  • Plait & hat industry             421 (mostly working at home)
  • Domestic service                69
  • Cooks                               8
  • Laundress etc                      9
  • Sewing                            23
  • Consumer services            11 (shop, weaving, shoemaking, etc)
  • Toll collectors                   2    
  • Farmers                            2
  • Dairy maids                      2
  • Governesses                      3
  • Teachers                            6
  • Nurses                               3
By Gavin Ross
On 17/12/2010

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