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Population overview

The current population of Herefordshire is about 170,000 people. The city of Hereford has about 65,000 inhabitants, with none of the other market towns being larger than 10,000.

The population graphs are fairly typical of a rural county, with a rise in population until the 1870s and then a decline. These figures do not show the influx of people during hop- and apple-picking time, when the resident population increased by almost one third. They also hide the massive rise in population and emigration to other parts of the country (and indeed the world) that occurred in the 19th century. In 1851 migration from the county was as much as 19,000 per year, of which 6,000 people went to London and 2,000 to Lancashire (J. Phillip Dodd, "Herefordshire Agriculture in the Mid-Nineteenth Century", Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club, Volume XLIII Part II, 1980, p. 220). Large families, low wages, poverty and discontent lie behind these statistics, but this fascinating and important subject has been little studied in Herefordshire (but see E. Taylor, Kings Caple in Archenfield, 1997).

The city of Hereford, on the other hand, is not so typical. It grew steadily until the late 20th century, with no quick expansion in the 19th century or following the arrival of the railway in 1853. The railways came because of the population, not the other way round. In the late 20th century there was a very rapid and large rise, and this is continuing in the early 21st century.

[Original author: Miranda Greene, 2003]