Following our look at The People newspaper from 1911 census day, we’ve turned our attention to The Times from 3 April 1911 - the day after the 1911 census was taken.
In an article called ‘The Taking of the Census’, the newspaper describes the royal household’s completion of the 1911 census. It reports that the royal family ‘set an excellent example in the careful and accurate filling up of the Census schedules.’ Not all the credit should go to the royals themselves, however, as the article goes on to say, ‘the Royal Family did not supply the details personally, but the necessary particulars were carefully compiled and returned on their behalf.’
Looking at a very different section of society, the article then focuses on how homeless people were recorded in the 1911 census. It reports that the Salvation Army walked the streets of London on census night ‘to gather men in from the highways for food and rest and enumeration and classification.’
Regent’s Hall was ‘prepared for some hundreds of wanderers’ and, although midnight was given as the official opening time, ‘an hour earlier scores of men, shabby in appearance and too poor to pay for a bed in the cheapest “doss-house,” had lined up on the pavement in front of the Westminster shelter.’ It’s easy to understand the incentive for these men to be included in the census: after being enumerated, each man received soup and bread and a place to sleep until 4am when they were sent back to the streets with ‘two big hunches of bread and margarine’.
The police had orders to take a census of anyone they found living on the streets on census night but the Salvation Army’s work had ‘practically cleared the streets of its usual nomads’. We discovered 10 homeless men who were recorded in the 1911 census as being ‘found in open air’:
In another article in the same newspaper, ‘A Last Word on the Census’, The Times poignantly comments: ‘We are all, by faithfully writing a line or two in the great Book of the Nation, helping each other; and, to an extent and in ways in which we can now imperfectly realize we are also helping ages to come.’ We couldn’t have put it better ourselves!