The 2021 Census is a vital tool for recording the history of Wigan Borough


The 2021 Census is a vital tool for recording the history of Wigan Borough
Households across Wigan Borough are being urged to take part in history and fill in the census later this month.

The information provided not only helps authorities make plans for public services, it is used for generations to come as a snapshot of our communities.

Alex Miller, Wigan Council’s archives and local studies lead officer, says the national surveys are a vital tool for historians, allowing them to jump back in time.

He said: “Census records are the bread and butter for anyone tracing their family trees back through the generations.

“Expert volunteers at Wigan Family & Local History Society and Leigh Family History Society have done some amazing work in supporting local residents in their research, as well as those from further afield. If you’re trying to trace the history of your house, skipping back through the census returns will show you who lived there in the past and how the area changed.”

The first official census to record names of all individuals in a household or institution came in 1841 but Wigan Borough’s archives team has uncovered documents that date as far back as 1765.

Alex added: “Census’ from 1801 to 1831 were largely simple headcounts but one fascinating document from around 1811 does appear to show the first census of the borough’s population. It took place just as the town was on the brink of transformation into an industrial centre, though only names and few occupations were recorded.”

These records are now helping people to trace their ancestors and discover new information about their family tree.

Councillor Chris Ready, cabinet member for communities and neighbourhoods, said: “The census is a snapshot on a particular day, once a decade, but that information has gradually become more and more detailed, recording occupations, addresses, ages and places of employment.

“All this information is invaluable to our local communities and historians who want to go back through time to see how our borough and its residents have evolved over time. Furthermore, it is invaluable in helping authorities plan and deliver the important local services that matter most to our communities today. I would really encourage everyone to make sure they take part.”

The 2021 Census will take place on Sunday, 21 March.

Every household should receive a unique code through the post enabling them to fill in the survey online.

More information can be found at