Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places To Live In The UK

Registered by WormyOne of Brighton & Hove, East Sussex United Kingdom on 9/12/2005
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14 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by WormyOne from Brighton & Hove, East Sussex United Kingdom on Monday, September 12, 2005
The blurb reads:

"Crap Towns is the genuinely rough guide to Britain. It names and shames the 50 worst towns on the island, revealing them in all their disreputable glory. From inner-city poverty to self-satisfied middle England, from the dull and lifeless to the ugly and depressing, no concrete monstrosity or phoney heritage centre has been left untouched.

For the first time, Crap Towns will prove that Britain isn't just the place of warm beer, cosy bed and breakfasts and amiable old gits that some travel books would have us believe. With burnt out cars, shell suits, cheap shoe shops and housing estates patrolled by rabid dogs and feral kids, Britain can be every bit as challenging a destination as the places gap year students and 'serious' travellers usually go for their poverty and misery kick

It's funny in parts and I had to mark it down for including Brighton, my favourite city in all the world, at number 22.

Journal Entry 2 by WormyOne from Brighton & Hove, East Sussex United Kingdom on Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Having never run a bookring before, I've decided to start one with an added complication. I'm like that. :-)

Maybe it'll go horribly wrong but we'll see.

I'd like to see this book travel to each of the towns named and shamed within it, IN ORDER, with a participant in each town giving their response to the review of their town (as well as their general response to the book).

It's not going to work, is it? :-)

Well, I can try...

So, if you're in any of the unassigned towns below, and would like to play, please PM me:

St Albans LindyB28
Hinchley Wood Betty22
Widnes CWoods
Barrow-in Furness Brookler (based on a visit), CatrionaMoore's husband (based on visiting it on business) and SwanOfKennet.
Skelmersdale Perditaxknit
Yate DogsApples
Bridgwater SweetF
Alresford RiverWillow
Slough Versavisa
Dagenham VauxhallCrosser (based on working there). An additional player would be good.
Keighley KeighleyMD
Hastings Barnsyard
Huntingdon Candy-Is-Dandy
Reading Rillaith and SilverSkies
Billingham Suedo
Newport Candy-Is-Dandy
South Woodham Ferrers Pickles30
Dover Lutrus
Oxford Cnfotp and Wilksie
Peterhead Vicar-of-Dibley
Tintern DogsApples (based on visiting). An additional player would be good.
Horsham Flambard
Hayling Island PsychJo (based on a day trip). An additional player would be good.
Ipswich SemioticGhost
Leiston (Suffolk) MomRisner and RosieWhippet
Aldeburgh TurquoiseFloyd
Brighton WormyOne
Ascot Versavisa
Cnfotp and ScotsBookie
Peterborough KathyS and RosieWhippet
London LyzzyBee
Islington PennyWhistler (based on working there for a few weeks), SoulBalm (based on living in nearby Hackney) and GeeTheFlea.
Croydon AnglersRest
St John's Wood Kbhr
Crouch End Ruse1966
Stockport Dolph1n
Portsmouth PsychJo
Hackney SoulBalm
Basingstoke DecemberMum
Bexhill-on-Sea NotingNothing
St Andrews GailCM
Liverpool LeeDempsey
Winchester RiverWillow
Morecambe Dolph1n
Cumbernauld JanieMac75 and Marie-Therese
Hull SunflowerGirl and SpaceCadetlv426
...and back to WormyOne

Ring rules as follows:

Please journal the book on receipt, when you've read as much of it as you're going to and when you send it on.

Please keep the ring moving. There are over 50 people on it and I'd like to reduce the chance that those at the end of the list have disappeared by the time the book gets to them. I know real life can get in the way but please aim to move it on within a fortnight of receipt.

Please respond to the review of the town you're covering saying to what extent you agree/disagree with it and why.

Feel free to comment on the rest of the book too but don't feel obliged.

A few people are covering more than one town. If you are one of these, please make journal entries for each town only when they come up in order. For example, Candy-Is-Dandy, who is doing Huntingdon and Newport, should journal Huntingdon when they receive the book. At this point, they should also make a note of what they want to say when Newport comes up but they should send the book on to the next player without making a journal entry relating to Newport. Suedo (who's covering Billingham) will PM them when Newport's next, at which point Candy-Is-Dandy should make their journal entry for Newport and PM Suedo back to ask them to send the book straight to the next player.

The rule above may mean that, when you PM the next person, they respond to say they've already had the book and will make a new journal entry (covering their second town) without receiving it again. In which case, please PM the person after them and send the book on to them.

Have fun :-)

Journal Entry 3 by LindyB28 from Acocks Green, West Midlands United Kingdom on Friday, April 28, 2006
I received the book yesterday and will make the first entry (on the much maligned St Albans) asap :-)

Thanks for organising it!

Journal Entry 4 by LindyB28 from Acocks Green, West Midlands United Kingdom on Saturday, May 13, 2006
Firstly, apologies for time taken before journalling. My brain forgot to do it.
Well... the entry for St Albans: it seems to me that the criticisms of St Albans are equally applicable to any predominantly middle class town. St Albans isn't unique in its bored middle class youth not quite sure how to rebel [c.f. Solihull!].
In defence of St Albans, it has the Abbey, and wonderfully preserved Roman town of Verulamium. In support of its crapness, it also has the new and not very nice Maltings shopping centre.

Will PM Betty22 to get the book moving...

Journal Entry 5 by Betty22 from Wandsworth, Greater London United Kingdom on Saturday, May 20, 2006
Just received this - the post office didn't want to put it through my door, so had to wait until I could get to the parcel office!
Have read the piece on Hinchley Wood and had a flick through the rest of the book. I'm pleased that Hinchley Wood is so low down on the list, because I don't feel, frankly, that it is deserving of inclusion compared to some other places. It is small, so undeserving of the title of 'town', and unoffensive. Think it was included as there was a huge battle over building a Macdonalds on the site of a disused pub that raised public interest in the area. They eventually built a retirement home there. Think that's preferable to a Maccy D's and all the fall out that would cause.
Hinchley Wood is boring, but, not in my opinion, crap.
There endeth the journal entry according to Betty22!
On to CWoods in Widnes.

Journal Entry 6 by ZET-734626 on Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Widnes correspondent reporting for duty, ma'am!

Received in the mail today. Will read the Widnes entry over lunchtime and report back.

Journal Entry 7 by ZET-734626 on Thursday, June 01, 2006
I found this to be a sporadically funny book which see-sawed between gentle ribbing and venomous diatribe, the later being quite distasteful at times.

Having said that, the description of Widnes was spot-on!

PM'ing the next person for their address now.

Journal Entry 8 by wingBrooklerwing from Powell River, British Columbia Canada on Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Received safe and sound.

Journal Entry 9 by wingBrooklerwing from Powell River, British Columbia Canada on Friday, July 07, 2006
I only spent a few days in Barrow-In-Furness back in the summer of 2000, but I came away with a much better impression of it than the writers of this book.

In spite of their assertion that "Barrow is never without rain for more than a few minutes", I wrote in my journal that "we got into Barrow in sunshine". In fact I'm quite certain that the weather was very pleasant our whole visit. Exploring the town on foot, I put "It was a fine walk, a fresh wind blowing, the streets clean, the buildings delightfully old." Sigh. Makes me want to go back again.

We stayed at a lovely B&B with a "friendly hostess". The photo I have of the street where it was located (Abbey Road) shows a lovely, wide, tree-lined street.

On the down side, Barrow Island was obviously a poor part of town, with slum-like tenement buildings. And once as my son and I carried our luggage down the sidewalk near our B&B, passers-by in a car hooted and heckled at us.

Barrow is located on the ocean, with all the stunning vistas that implies, facing west to the sunsets. Close by are gorgeous valleys. Off the beaten track, I found it very enjoyable, most of the people friendly. I don't think it deserves its negative reputation.

Journal Entry 10 by wingBrooklerwing from Powell River, British Columbia Canada on Wednesday, July 12, 2006
It's on its way to CatrionaMoore. I'll be very interested to read what your husband and later SwanOfKennet have to say about Barrow-In-Furness. I think it's neat that there will be three opinions on this town.

Journal Entry 11 by appletreen from Coalville, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Received today, luckily after we have returned from a week in Cumbria. My husband is in Egham at the moment and will return for the weekend before returning to Barrow-in-Furness on business next week.

Journal Entry 12 by appletreen from Coalville, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Friday, September 22, 2006
Apologies for still having this book. A combination of illness and work has meant that we just hadn't got around to doing what we needed to do.

Without further ado.....

Barrow-in-Furness has a reputation for being the town at the end of the longest cul-de-sac. This is the twisting A590, the aptly titled worst road in Cumbria, where drivers who don't know the road become impatient and take risks overtaking slower moving traffic, often resulting in tragedy. If you dare to venture down the A590 though you will find a town desperate to shrug off its tainted past. Barrow has a lively town centre, beautiful coastline beaches, access to the Lake District National Park, a number of historic landmarks, submarines, some good restaurants, a cinema, a bowling alley, an ice-skating rink, a park, a zoo, a few nice churches and buckets of rain. There is significant investment being made to redevelop sites, demolishing old forgotten and abandoned buildings and rebuilding new modern shopping and office buildings. The dock hall over shadows the town, reminding it once of its thriving ship building past, now though a small fraction of the workforce remain and much of the site is being demolished and sold off. Night life in Barrow is not so bad, lots of pubs and a street full of nightclubs and late bars. The main haunt is the Blue Lagoon night club, on board the Princess Selandia. What Barrow lacks is the possibility of people just passing by, I mean, you're not likely to just pass through Barrow by chance since it's located at the end of a peninsula. I think that what Barrow needs is tourists!

Off to Rosie next!

Journal Entry 13 by SwanOfKennet from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria United Kingdom on Tuesday, September 26, 2006
After two reviews of the place the book finally landed in Crap Town #47 this morning, under blue skies on a gloriously un-rainy, un-windy autumn day!

I'll let you know my more detailed thoughts later.

Journal Entry 14 by SwanOfKennet from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria United Kingdom on Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Whoops! This has been with me rather longer than I intended! Anyway, where to begin...

The biggest thing that ever happened to Barrow happened in 1955 when the local Rugby League team went to Wembley and won the Challenge Cup for the first and only time. The town even boasts a statue of Willie Horne, the skipper on that heady day.Barrow has been trying its darndest to stay firmly in 1955 ever since, although it's losing its grip on the past. The post-war industrial boom collapsed long ago taking the steelworks with it. The end of the cold war meant that nobody wanted submarines any more either, so Vickers shipyard, now BAE Systems, is but a shadow of its former self.

All this isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's not grimy any more, for a start. You can see stars, and smell the sea. Barrow is all about the sea, it's surrounded by the stuff and the rhythm of the tides enters your consciousness in a way that it doesn't in any other seaside place I know. The shopping centre looks shabby at first, and then you realise that because the big chains don't want to know, there's loads of little independent shops and cafes.

When all's said and done, though, Barrow town is a dump. The true glory of Barrow is Walney, and Walney is special magic! The view from the bridge is one of the finest in all England, and heaven must be something like the 15 kilometres of beach on the seaward side.

This book is on it's way to the other end of Lancashire just as soon as I get an address from perditaxknits.

Released 12 yrs ago (10/30/2006 UTC) at Mikasa Street Post Office in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria United Kingdom



Now on it's way to perditaxknits after a further short delay.

Journal Entry 16 by perditaxknit from Sheffield, South Yorkshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Received this morning. I've enjoyed reading the the journal entries for this :)

OK, firstly, my connections with Skelmersdale are tenuous. I went to college in Winstanley, which is reasonably close. Richard Ashcroft, listed as one of the town's celebrities, actually went to my college but left the year before I got there. As luck would have it though, I went through this lovely town last weekend with my mum and dad, so had the chance to refresh my memory.

I think the accusations in the book are pretty justified really, I would add that it's motorway links and road system are convoluted and unfathomable. The town's charming local nickname 'Skem' is widespread enough to appear on many road signs (presumably when people couldn't be bothered to write out the name in full), and kind of sums up the town in a single grubby sounding syllable.

That said, and this is a criticism of quite a bit of this book, it seems that many of the criticisms of the towns in here boil down to towns being poor, which feels pretty distasteful. I'm sure Skelmersdale would be a more pleasant place if its populace was more affluent, and this book's constant harping on chavs and teenage mothers smacks of people who would rather whinge about/mock a section of society than try to do anything about helping them/addressing a problem.

However, some of this book is very funny. I particularly liked the entry on Horsham, where my partner's parents live. I once got lost there for hours because all the suburbian houses looked the same and I kept going round in circles.

PMing DogsApples for her address now :)

Journal Entry 17 by dogsapples from Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria United Kingdom on Monday, November 20, 2006
Arrived Saturday, thank you very much!. My connection with Yate is a bit remote, but it is only the other side of Bristol and i have been there a few times. It's not that bad really but there is a lot of new boxy houses. The surrounding countryside is very nice so to my mind that is a good reason to go there.

What a sad little entry for Tintern, which a lovely place and not even a town really. It has a beautiful Abbey, which is spectacular to look at and the backdrop of the Wye valley is gorgeous. I can recommend The Sloop Inn just past Tintern to the North if you are heading that way.

Going to be interested to see what sweetf has to say about Bridgewater, another place not so far away and that I've visited.

Sending on to sweetf as soon as I have her address.

Journal Entry 18 by sweetf from Bridgwater, Somerset United Kingdom on Saturday, February 03, 2007
Ok, here goes my entry on Bridgwater. Some of the stuff written about the town is pretty much true, but I felt I should come to the town defense in some instances. Now Cellaphane has shut visitors are no longer greeted with the once familiar stench as they enter the town. I think the entry on Carnival is a bit unfair, whilst the carnival isn't everybody's cup of tea, it attract 1000s of visitors each year some of whom come to see it year after year, although, I wouldn't recommend going anywhere near the town on the following Sunday when all the clubs go on their pub crawl. Bridgwater also has a good quality college which has expanded enormously in recent years.

Now to the pad points missed in the book - only residents of Bridgwater born and bred are allowed to insult the town, all residents bitch about it to each other but if someone else has a go, we do generally feel obliged to spring to it's defense. In recent years a huge number of housing estates with build by numbers houses have sprung up wherever there used to be an unused open space, similarly we have every major supermarket in the town except Tesco's and Waitrose and the farmer's market is rubbish.

All in all Bridgwater isn't as bad it sounds to live in, it's relatively cheap to buy houses and rent in compared to some of the other towns in Somerset and is within an easy commute to Bristol, Taunton and Exeter and at least it isn't as crap a town as Weston Super Mare. I think on the whole the book missed the mark, and became as others have said quite distasteful at times and unfair to some of the towns.

Will post on to RiverWillow ASAP

Journal Entry 19 by riverwillow from Beckenham, Kent United Kingdom on Saturday, February 10, 2007
Book arrived this morning. I'll make entries on Alresford and Winchester shortly.

Journal Entry 20 by riverwillow from Beckenham, Kent United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 21, 2007
This rating relates to the review on Alresford only, with a small hint of my opinion of the book itself. Although I concede that the reviewer may have a point as Alresford is one of those rural towns where there is nothing to do for the young, well except for the young farmers and lets not go to that particular place, but in this respect it is not very different to rural towns across England, Scotland and Wales, and yes there needs to be some thought about rural regeneration, but at least the local residents do care about their town. Oh yes and if you can buy watercress from Alresford do as it is the best in the country. But putting it at number 42, just above Slough, is ridiculous - I went to school in Slough and look forward to Valer1e's comments - the site of my old school, which relocated to Ascot in the 1990s, is now one of the biggest Tesco's in the land, which just about sums it up.

I can think of many towns that haven't made the cut for the book that are worse than Alresford and where 'hundreds of bored Gangsta Rap enthusiasts congregate outside the chemist on the High Street and threaten passersby' - I offer you Bromley where its the whole blooming High Street and the only comfort from the CCTV is that your grainy murder may pop up as an appeal on Crimewatch.

So all in all I think this very small entry is unfair to Alresford.

Journal Entry 21 by riverwillow from Beckenham, Kent United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Going to write my JE for Winchester and keep it on my desktop for when it comes up in the list and then will post the book off to Valer1e today.

Journal Entry 22 by Versavisa from Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom on Saturday, March 17, 2007
Apologies for not journalling this earlier. I was sure I had but the mind is starting to play tricks.

That's just me bragging, as really its been playing tricks for years!

Off for a good look at Slough this week armed with the book, and will get it on its way soon.

Thanks for sending it out - is there anywhere decent left to live?

Journal Entry 23 by Versavisa from Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I never really looked at this book when it was in the shops. I remembering glancing at it once and finding I knew most of the paces so quickly put it back down again. Who wants to be reminded that the plqces you've loved were all seen through a window tinted with the good things that happened, and that really the place was rubbish.

So off i went to see Slough with a pair of fresh eyes.

I regularly worked there until recently and didn't find a lot I liked.The shops could be better, the roads definitely could be. The people are either lovely, or appear uninterested in their town.

The book says there is a plan to pull down the bus station but it is still standing and next to it is now what must be the biggest Tesco in the world. No one likes it. You have to park, and then go up a floor to shop. I've been twice and will never go again. All that hassle is just not worth it. Bring back the Co-op I say.

It is murder to drive through the town from any angle, and parking is a bit of a gamble. A case of park here, dash round the shops you need and get out as soon as possible. Yes, that's the phrase to describe Slough - nothing to linger for. It says it all.

PMing VauxhallCrosser today for address.

Thanks for sending the book out, WormyOne, and apologies again for keeping it too long. I have got my entry for Ascot ready for when it's needed.

Journal Entry 24 by Versavisa from Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire United Kingdom on Monday, March 26, 2007
Already for posting tomorrow. Apologies again.

Journal Entry 25 by VauxhallCrosser from Redbridge, Greater London United Kingdom on Thursday, March 29, 2007
Arrived yesterday. My wife found it opened and had a little giggle, particularly at South Woodham-Ferrers, not far from wher she grew up. I have a friend who attended University in Hull, so I may ask him for a little preview of what SunflowrGirl and SpaceCadet may have to say. I'll journal again once I have composed my piece on Dagenham (pronounced DAH-zhen-hahm) by a very few, and am ready to send on its way northwards (?).
At least I think Keighley is in Yorkshire. I found it hard to find its entry in the book, but managed eventually. Good luck to the doctor who has to journal it there, lol.

Journal Entry 26 by VauxhallCrosser from Redbridge, Greater London United Kingdom on Sunday, April 08, 2007
Back at the time that I arrived in this general area, actually I lived in Chadwell Heath, not quite as nice as it may sound, but a bit of a retirement village a mile or two North of Dagenham, Dagenham was far better than it is now, for one thing the ford plant seemed to be quite busy, and although there was still a feeling of unease walking around the main strip, The Dagenham Heathway (or as a native once confessed to me, locally know as the Druganham Thiefway). Nowdays with the all-but move of Ford to sites elsewhere or general "downsizing" Dagenham has lost what little was left of it's soul. Long ago I remember passing by Jake & Elwoods, the Blues Brothers themed club on the A13, which neatly disects Dagenham town from the vast sprwaling Ford works. When that closed down, what little quirky interest Dagenham ever held fell away. The only slight redeeming feature, if it can be called that is the complex of cinemas, bowling alleys, bingo halls and eateries, I won't dignify them by saying restaurants, that currently inhabit the outskirts of the town. I visited the cinema once or twice before they built a new multiplex in my own town (Ilford). But never did find the experience at all uplifting due to the number of inconsiderate probably ASBO-framers that delighted in making and taking mobile phone calls and having loud conversations, not even about the film in question. I think, had Betjeman visted Dagenham, he would have retargetted at least a large proportion of his warheads here.
I'll contact the next person on the list and hope that they can find the entry for Keighley.
Great idea for a "not your usual ring" ring. Thanks Rachel
One last note that just occurred to me, whatever your feelings on wind turbines, the two huge ones at Ford Dagenham are a spectacular site in my opinion, and I always enjoy seeing them as I speed away from a close encounter with the place.

Journal Entry 27 by keighleymd from Keighley, West Yorkshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Will try get this read and ready to send on to the next person ASAP.

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