What is the best source of data for finding populations of UK Towns and Cities?
Due to the widespread interest in information about towns and cities, and for comparisons between urban populations and with those living outside towns, the government at each census, produces reports giving key statistics for built-up areas (referred to as localities in Scotland and settlements in Northern Ireland). These separate the populations of towns and cities from the populations of the area controlled by the local councils bearing their names and also gives population figures for towns which don't have councils with the same name.
The populations of local councils are published in separate reports which give key statistics for local authorities (referred to as council areas in Scotland and local government districts in Northern Ireland). The figures from the 2011 have now been published and are reported below.
Town (Built-up Area) Populations - 2011 Census
2011 Census, Key Statistics for Built-Up Areas in England and Wales, released by the ONS on
28 June 2013.
The 2011 Census populations of Scottish localities were published on 26 September 2013 and are included in the list.
The figures for Northern Ireland have yet to be published so Settlement Population Estimates, total population, 2008 published by NISRA on 30 June 2010 are being used.
Local Council (Local Authority) Populations - 2011 Census
2011 Census: KS101EW Usual resident population, local authorities in England and Wales - released 11 December 2012
Population and Household Estimates by Local Government District for Northern Ireland - released 19 September 2012
Is the Population of a Town the same as the Population controlled by its Council?
No, the population of a town is not same as the population of its council. E.g. Leeds had a town (built-up) population of about 475,000 in 2011 but the Leeds Council area also includes the Yorkshire countryside and smaller towns around it, and controls a population of 750,000. On the other hand the town (built-up) population of Leicester was about 445,000 in 2011 but Leicester Council only controls about 330,000 people as a large part of the city is controlled by surrounding Councils.
The Councils Table 3 below shows the differences that can exist between the population of a town and the population of the council with the same name at the 2011 Census.
The Councils Table 4 shows the differences that can exist between the area of a town and the area governed by the council with the same name at the 2011 Census.
Additionally some well-known towns don't even have a council with the same name and therefore would not be acknowledged in a list of populations which only showed council populations such as Huddersfield, Birkenhead and Gillingham.
Which are the largest towns without their own councils?
They are Huddersfield (in Kirklees Council), Birkenhead (in Wirral Council), Sale (Trafford Council), High Wycombe (Wycombe Council), Sutton Coldfied (Birmingham Council) and Gillingham (Medway Council)
How can a town's population boost civic pride?
A large population gives the citizens of a town the satisfaction of saying they live in a "big" city, but even having a small population can be a reason for being proud. For example, St. David's with about 1400 residents is the smallest town with city status in the UK and hence claims the title of the "UK's smallest city".
The size of the population can also decide the ranking given to a city. The best example of this is the fact that both Birmingham and Manchester claim to be Britain's second city, but in population terms Birmingham has the stronger case by having over twice the population of it's rival.
Another source of pride is when individuals making up the population go on to become nationally and internationally famous and bring prestige to their home town. Some are subsequently honoured by being given the freedom of their town or city for their achievements.
The following tables have been created using availabale data from the 2011 Census.
Population & Area Tables
Towns & Cities
More information about all UK Cities can be quickly accessed below.