20th Century Population

1. Introduction

The start of the twentieth century saw a significant change in the collection of the census, with wards (where they existed in towns and cities) being used as enumeration districts instead of civil parishes from 1911.  This could be seen as the electoral system now dominating the older pattern of parish local government within cities like Lincoln.

The shift from parish to ward for census enumeration must have been planned before the 1901 census report was written, since there are comparative tables for wards and parishes in both the 1901 and 1911 census reports.  For the parish comparisons, please see Table 4.  The 1901 ward information can be found in Table 6.

2. Lincoln Wards

Under the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, Lincoln was divided for electoral purposes into two wards – Minster and Bridge.  In 1845, these were replaced by three wards: Upper, Middle and Lower.  These wards were in use until 1900 when six wards were created: Abbey, Carholme, Castle, Minster, Park and Witham.  The 1901 census records Lincoln’s population by both parish and ward and, following the consolidation of all civil parishes within the city in 1907, the 1911 census primarily uses wards (although parishes are included for comparison purposes: see Table 4).  The censuses thereafter until 1981 give ward figures in the printed volumes.

3. Changes in Ward and District Boundaries

Each census used wards current at the time so, in order to make comparisons, it is important to understand how these changed over the twentieth century.  The Lincoln city boundary also changed.  An extension in 1920 took Boultham and parts of North Hykeham and Skellingthorpe parishes into the city and led to the creation of Foss ward, specifically for these new electors.  When the city boundary was further extended in 1959 to take in Skellingthorpe airfield (the site of Birchwood), this area was also added to Foss ward.  The seven wards were changed in 1967, when there was also a boundary extension mainly to the east of the city.  The history of wards from that point on is complex (see Table 5).

4. Ward Populations and Census Maps  (see the Maps)

Lincoln ward populations as enumerated can be seen in Table 6. The extensive changes to ward boundaries during the period mean that this table should only be used to view the relative sizes of wards within Lincoln at each census. For comparisons of particular wards over time please see explanatory notes below and tables 7-10. Ward maps, however, have been prepared relating to the census enumerations from 1901-2011. These maps also show the expansion of the district boundary in 1920, 1959 and 1967.

    1921-61 (see Table 7)

The changes in ward boundaries were triggered by alterations in the size of the electorate, but they also indicate a movement of population within Lincoln which is not always obvious from overall figures.  For example, between the 1921 and 1931 censuses, Lincoln changed in size by 201 (0.3%).  At the same time the (inner) wards of Abbey, Carholme, Castle, Park and Witham decreased in size by 5,053 (10.3%), whereas the (outer) Foss and Minster wards increased by 5,254 (31.2%). 

Between 1931-39 the five inner wards continued to decrease in population (by 6,332, 14.3%).  This was partly caused by slum clearance, which moved some 3,500 people from these wards to Minster and Foss where the council estates of St Giles and then Boultham were under construction.  The Lincoln population rose after WWII and house building rapidly commenced in the new council estates of Hartsholme and Boultham Moor (in Foss ward) and Ermine (Minster and Castle wards).  The construction of Ermine West gave Castle ward a dramatic increase in population, going from 8,291 in 1951 to 10,198 in 1961. 

    1961-2011 (see Tables 8-10)

During the 1960s slum clearance continued in the inner area and where rebuilding was made, this was mostly at a lower density.  Most new housing within the city was on the fringe in the Birchwood area (Hartsholme ward until 1967), much of which was council built.  In the early 1960s, Lincoln’s population stalled and then started to decrease.  This was attributed at the time to a lack of land for private housing which encouraged people to buy new houses in the nearby villages (see Table 8).  The construction of a large number of private houses off Brant Road, which started in the late 1960s, began to change the situation and is clearly shown in the near-doubling of Bracebridge ward from 4,125 in 1971 to 8,026 in 1981 (see Table 9).  Birchwood ward started to grow rapidly from the late 1960s, especially from the late 1970s onwards when the final council housing was completed and the construction of private houses in the Doddington Park area was starting in earnest.  This can be seen by the increases of 69.8% (4,656 to 7,905) between 1971 and 1981 and a further 68.6% (13,330 estimated) to 1991.  Housing was also being developed in the Glebe Park area of Minster ward, during the 1980s, which resulted in a new Glebe ward being created in 1999. 

The 1990s appears to be another period of stagnation or decreasing population in Lincoln, but the undercount in the 1991 census and the lack of ‘back calculating’ by ward from the 2001 to 1991 censuses, makes it difficult to use any meaningful figures.  Ward calculations have been made, however, from 2001 onwards, including re-calculations taking account of the boundary changes of 2007. 

The first decade of the 21st century shows a substantial increase in two wards – Carholme and Abbey (70.5% and 39.1% respectively) whilst Birchwood also increased by 13%, representing the completion of house building there (see Table10).  The increase in Carholme is undoubtedly due to the opening of the University of Lincoln in the ward in 1996.  Student numbers have built up so that in the 2011 census there were over 6,000 full-time students in the ward, with almost two-thirds in purpose-built student accommodation.  The increase in Abbey ward was due to the extensive Bunker’s Hill housing development, at the northern edge of the ward.

5. Ward Comparisons Over Time

The boundaries of Lincoln wards (with the exception of Foss) were static from 1900 until 1967 and comparisons can be easily made.  They show a steady movement of people from the inner area to the outer suburbs (as they are constructed).  From 1967, the multiple changes in ward names and areas make comparisons more difficult, but it is possible to compare most censuses with the previous one across boundary changes where this has been ‘back calculated’.  This is a complex operation, carried out by the Office of National Statistics (and predecessors) where wards which have changed their boundaries since the previous census are shown as if the new boundaries applied to the earlier date.  Trends can therefore be seen.  In Lincoln this showed continued movement outwards to the suburbs until these are completed, the exception being the student accommodation in Carholme ward from the early 2000s.  As housing developments are finished, it might be expected that ward populations might settle down: and hopefully (for local historians), ward boundaries might follow suit. 

6. Note on sources

Ward boundaries are included on Ordnance Survey maps

The Local Government Boundary Commission has extensive information on current and former boundary reviews (starting from 1974) on its website: http://www.lgbce.org.uk/

Printed census volumes until 1981 are available in Lincoln Central Library and Lincolnshire Archives

Census and other information is also available up to 1937 on http://www.histpop.org/

Vision of Britain contains additional information and some later censuses http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/

Reports on population (or containing information as background) produced by Lincoln City Council and Lincolnshire County Council are available in Lincoln Central Library

From around 2000, most population information can be found on the Lincolnshire Research Observatory http://www.research-lincs.org.uk/

Information is also available from the Office of National Statistics http://ons.gov.uk/ and their Neighbourhood Statistics site http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/