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 urban areas (referred to as settlements in Scotland and 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 figures from the 2011 census are due for publication in early 2013 and will be reported on this website as soon as they become available.
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 (Urban) Populations - 2001 Census
Statistics for urban areas in England and Wales Table KS01 - released 17
Key Statistics for Settlements and Localities Scotland Table KS01 - released 25 March 2003
Northern Ireland Census 2001 Key Statistics for Settlements Table KS01 - released 10 February 2005
Local Council Populations - 2001 Census
Key Statistics for local authorities in England and Wales Table KS01 - released on 13 February 2003
Key Statistics for Council areas and Health Board areas Scotland Table KS01 - released 13 February 2003
Northern Ireland Census 2001 Key Statistics (District Council Level) Table KS01 - released 19 December 2002
Local Council Populations - 2011 Census
2011 Census: KS101EW Usual resident population, local authorities in England and Wales - released 11 December 2012
Table A2 – 2011 Census Day usual resident 1 population estimates by council area - released 17 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 (urban) population of about 445,000 in 2001 but the Leeds Council area also includes the Yorkshire countryside and smaller towns around it, and controlled a population of 715,000. On the other hand the town (urban) population of Reading was about 235,000 in 2001 but Reading Council only controlled about 145,000 people as a large part of the town is controlled by Wokingham Council.
The Councils Table 2 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 2001 Census.
The Councils Table 3 shows the differences that can exist between the urban area of a town and the area governed by the council with the same name at the 2001 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 West Bromwich and Gillingham.
Which are the largest towns without their own councils?
They are West Bromwich (in Sandwell Borough), Huddersfield (in Kirklees Borough) and Sutton Coldfield (part of the area controlled by Birmingham 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 1500 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 about 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 data from the 2011 and 2001 Censuses. Once all the relevant data from the 2011 Census is published in early 2013 the town populations and comparison tables will be updated.
Population & Area Tables
More information about all UK Cities can be quickly accessed below.