1921 Census – Sunday 19 June 1921
The 1921 Census for England, Wales and Scotland is the next census to be released. The government position is that this will be released in its entirety in 2022.
The Black Friday Strike by coal miners delayed the census by almost two months. This was the first time ever that a UK census had been delayed. This census is covered by the terms of the Census Act 1920 which means it cannot be released for one hundred years. Over the years, there have been a number of government petitions requested its early release, arguing that a period of 70 years is long enough. The most popular petition numbered 23,600 signatures by its cut off date on the 8th March 2007. The government rejected the petition citing privacy concerns and stressing that assurances had been given at the time of the census that the information would not be released for 100 years.
There is an interesting mention of the 1921 census in a letter that has been posted on the National Archives website concerning the fire on 19 December 1942 which destroyed the entire 1931 census. In it, the writer, a W A Derrick of the General Register Office, is clearly very concerned at the circumstances of the fire and the fact that the entire 1931 census has been destroyed, despite six paid fire service ‘watchers’ being employed at the building where the fire broke out. It is clear this concern causes him to ask questions about the whereabouts and state of the 1921 census. His concern is not helped by the fact that he knew the schedules from the 1921 census had already been damaged by water in an entirely separate incident at Leonard Street. He says these schedules had been dried out and ‘scattered over various parts of Somerset House’. Here is an excerpt of that letter:
‘Will you also let us know where the enumeration books and plans of division relating to the 1921 census are stored. The schedules, as you are aware, were damaged by water at Leonard Street and have since been dried out and are scattered over various parts of Somerset House; but no plans or enumeration books were brought from Leonard Street and it is assumed that they were stored elsewhere….’