Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places To Live In The UK
ISBN: 0752215825 Global Overview for this book
14 journalers for this copy...
"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.
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
Barrow-in Furness Brookler (based on a visit), CatrionaMoore's husband (based on visiting it on business) and SwanOfKennet.
Dagenham VauxhallCrosser (based on working there). An additional player would be good.
Reading Rillaith and SilverSkies
South Woodham Ferrers Pickles30
Oxford Cnfotp and Wilksie
Tintern DogsApples (based on visiting). An additional player would be good.
Hayling Island PsychJo (based on a day trip). An additional player would be good.
Leiston (Suffolk) MomRisner and RosieWhippet
Didcot Cnfotp and ScotsBookie
Peterborough KathyS and RosieWhippet
Islington PennyWhistler (based on working there for a few weeks), SoulBalm (based on living in nearby Hackney) and GeeTheFlea.
St John's Wood Kbhr
Crouch End Ruse1966
St Andrews GailCM
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 :-)
Thanks for organising 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...
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.
Received in the mail today. Will read the Widnes entry over lunchtime and report back.
Having said that, the description of Widnes was spot-on!
PM'ing the next person for their address now.
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.
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!
I'll let you know my more detailed thoughts later.
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.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Now on it's way to perditaxknits after a further short delay.
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 :)
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.