Little Details

A Fact-Checking Community for Writers

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
British regional stereotypes
i'd write the ending without any sorrow, biting my truant pen
grey_gazania wrote in little_details
Time/Place: Britain, 1990-ish to the present
Googled: "British stereotypes", "British regional stereotypes", "stereotypes in Britain", "Manchester stereotypes", "Crawley stereotypes", "West Sussex stereotypes", "Sussex stereotypes", "you know you're from Manchester when", "you know you're from Crawley when", "you know you're from Sussex when"; I also looked through the community's Britain tags.

I'm looking for for the sort of stereotypes modern-day British people would hold about people from other parts of Britain - analogous to the whole "New Yorkers are rude, Vermonters are all hippies, anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line is a hick/redneck" thing in the USA. Specifically, I'm looking for things about Manchester and Crawley, or West Sussex in general if there isn't much specific to Crawley. My google search did turn up some things - some stuff about Manchester on Yahoo Answers and a handful of Facebook groups, but the latter seem to be written by the people who inhabit the given area, which isn't what I'm looking for.

(Information about other regions is welcome as well, of course.)


(I live in Worcestershire, so am not particularly near either place, which may have some bearing on this.)

I can't think of any real stereotypes for Crawley in particular: it isn't a big enough place (pop about 100,000) to be lodged in the public consciousness for those who live any distance away. I don't think I've ever heard anyone make a joke about a person from Crawley where the location has been an integral part of the joke. This may of course be different for people who actually live in the region, but it's not a place that impinges much on the Worcestershire consciousness.

As far as other parts of Sussex go, there are some stereotypes I'm familiar with even in the Midlands. Brighton is a notable case: the stereotype of it up here is somewhat similar to Blackpool: a loud, brash, party town. The gay community there is substantial, but I suspect Londoners factor that into their stereotypes more than we do up in the Midlands. Conversely, Eastbourne is often seen as one large convalescent home for retired people. Bognor Regis is similar, though it's sometimes put into jokes simply because it's perceived as having a funny name.

(Only Bognor Regis of the above places is actually in West Sussex, but nobody I know, at least around here, considers "West Sussex" to be a proper county, any more than "Hereford and Worcester" used to be!)

The stereotypical "Manc" when I was a teenager in the early 1990s was Terry Christian, partly because he presented an extremely popular music show (The Word) but in no small part because of his accent, which was very strong, distinctive and easy to do bad imitations of. Mancunians would be stereotyped as like him: brash and rather loudmouthed, probably not suitable for anything demanding tact or refinement but interested in football, music (eg the Madchester bands, then Oasis etc) and eating lots of kebabs.

Edited at 2009-07-18 01:26 am (UTC)

Thanks; this helps a lot! Especially the bit out Sussex vs. West Sussex; I'd gotten the sense from Wikipedia that West and East were considered distinctive places. I'll edit accordingly. :)

Edited at 2009-07-18 01:50 am (UTC)

EAST Sussex is certainly considered a distinctive place. Maybe not to people much further afield than Kent, but certainly in the immediate region. (I've lived there, and am now moving back. I'm not quite so sure about West Sussex, but I would imagine it's the same.)

Anyway, the main thing about Sussex? Sussex won't be druv

Maybe not to people much further afield than Kent

...which is of course the point: the closer you are to somewhere, the finer distinctions you tend to draw - and where I am, hardly anyone has more than the haziest notion of a distinction between the two parts of Sussex. After all, I'm sure many Kentish people wouldn't distinguish between north and south Worcestershire, yet I most certainly would as their characters are very different.

Of course, that doesn't affect the point I made about about "proper" counties: to me, and as far as I can tell to most people in this part of the world, Sussex is a county, as is Yorkshire; East Sussex is no more a "proper" county than North Yorkshire, regardless of how distinctive they might very well be. We're being asked for stereotypes, after all, not carefully considered views!

Edited at 2009-07-18 03:11 am (UTC)

East and West Sussex are separate counties. Stereotype-wise they may blur, but it's important not to create confusion.

Agreed, and of course I apologise if any offence was caused. Mind you, in cricket Sussex has never been split, so the stereotype of one county is correct in that specific case!

East and West Sussex are two separate counties (and Brighton & Hove is a Unitary Authority) and have been for at least a thousand years. I'm really surprised people don't know that since they have very different characters, settlement types and of course councils.

Firstly, same response as I gave above: apologies if anything I said there came across as rude - "proper counties" was a pretty bad choice of phrase. I know that the administrative divisions between W and E are ancient (though the Unitary Authority isn't!) but people up here simply don't think about their different characters, and for stereotypes that's what matters. That's something relative locals think about, whatever part of the country is being discussed.

Sussex is a cricketing county, though, and has never been split in that regard.

No, no offense taken :-) I was just amazed it wasn't common knowledge. Though thinking about the cricket I can see why it might confuse some. I guess for us it'd be like someone confusing Yorkshire and Lancashire or Cornwall and Kent :) On the ground the differences are so obvious you could almost plot the border simply by looking at the house styles and the layout of villages.

Well, that kind of depends where in Manchester you're from. If you're from Salford people will think you're a thug. Actually I think Mancunians have quite an aggressive reputation because of this - it's totally undeserved, they're really friendly people, especially compared with Londoners.

East and West Sussex are two separate counties and are very different. You can tell by housing style, road surfacing and general look when you move from one to the other, just as you can tell when you cross the border into Kent or Hampshire or Surrey. For people in Brighton, Crawley has a very distinct stereotype. The people who actually live there, rather than work in its high-tech industries, are uneducated chavs, lower class roughs, racists and homophobes who are too stupid and/or poor to move out of an area which is under the Gatwick flight path. There is a general belief that Crawley people are poor, that the schools are bad and that no one who had a choice would live there. The town itself is very run down, industrial, and dirty.

Of course it's all prejudice but it's how Crawley is thought of and reported in the local papers.

From a southerner's point of view, Manchester, these days, is a party city fueled by drink, drugs and an obsessive love of football. Lots of bling both on its footballers and the teenage gangs whose gun crimes make the press every few days. Not workshy backward looking thieves like their Liverpudlian neighbours but a city moving forward and embracing the modern world (and all its flaws).

Edited at 2009-07-18 07:15 am (UTC)

Yup, I concur with eleanorb - I live in Brighton (well, Hove, actually - there's a very big difference between the two of those, I can assure you!) and the general perception of Crawley is it's full of chavs. I've never been to Crawley, despite living only a gnat's chuff away from it for half my life, but you ask anyone around here about it and the word chav will come up every time.

I don't think there are many general English stereotypes (if you say "British" you would be including Wales, and the Welsh tend to lump all the English together anyway). Mostly it's one area's views of another, usually nearby. From the London pov everything from the southern part of the Midlands up is "northern", but once you get further north you have (still) animosity between Yorkshire and Lancashire and, for example, Liverpool/Manchester attitudes.

The North/South one is the most universal; but the stereotypes depend on where you're looking from. Southerners see themselves as ordinary, sensible people and Northerners as backward plebs with their nose in everybody else's business; Northerners see themselves as ordinary, sensible people and Southerners as big-headed, over-sophisticated and stand-offish.

Yes, seconded; I've lived in a number of areas of the UK (Cambridge, York, Leicester, Oxford, Milton Keynes and now London, to be exact) and I have no particular view of Crawley or indeed of either of the Sussexes; they're just places, but don't know of any stereotypes attached to them. Manchester has the "mad ferrit" stereotype, and I associate it with football (soccer, if you prefer), but that's about it.

No black pudding? No, sorry, that's Bury.

Manchester has its own stereotypes about itself, mostly "can-do" and God help any authority that tries to put people down. The local pop station is more Manchester than it is pop; I really would not expect a pop station to play "The Manchester Rambler" from time to time, but it does.

I think the North/South divide is pretty much old hat these days. People in the north know the south is more than London and posh people and southerners know the north is more thsn industry and scenery. I think the real divide now is urban/rural. The Yorkshire farmer has far more in common with his counterpart in East Sussex than he does with a townie from York or the East Sussex farmer has with an urbanite from Brighton. And everyone, whether they're from Nottingham or Andover, thinks the press concentrate far too much on London.

Edited at 2009-07-18 03:43 pm (UTC)

There are still an awful lot of BBC staff who are leaving rather than moving from London to Salford. For many of them it's because of spouses' jobs etc, but a significant number apparently said they couldn't stand the idea of moving to the North West.

True. But that's Londoners not southerners. London isn't representative of everything south of Oxford, we hate being lumped in with them.

Unfortunately the tail has a bad habit of wagging the dog.

South of Oxford? From the point of view of a lot of people up here, anything south of Birmingham is London.

Sympathise with someone I knew in my childhood. She was from Yorkshire, but her family had moved to Swansea. All the locals referred to her as having a "London accent".

Poor woman.

Mind you the North here is everything north of Patcham (a suburb of Brighton). :)

I've honestly not met any BBC employee who'd prefer to leave than move to another location. The problem most of them are having is with the transfer package itself andd the problems they would have movng back to a higher cost of living area if they get a job in another London based media organisation.

Heh, well, you say that, but my friend from Oop North would invariably phone people from my flat and say "Oh I'm just in London" when she was in a small town forty miles outside London on the border of Kent and Sussex and had taken a long train journey through the countryside in order to get there.

True about farmers though.

Stereotypes about more specific places do exist, but don't travel all that far. Personally my "stereotype" of Sussex in general is the "won't be druv" thing, and a sort of exuberant bolshy anarchism cunningly disguised under a layer of middle-English sedateness.

To the OP: this is a very specific part of Sussex, and in the East, but as I just happened to be writing a description of the people of Hastings to a friend perhaps you'd like to see it?

Still, the people of Hastings are part of the attraction, though (the ones who are not a bit... murdery) they’re all grr and aargh and they like drums and guitars and coloured flags and ribbons, and they like dressing up as witches and pirates for special occasions (i.e about every other Tuesday) and in purple minidresses with matching lacy fishnets for everyday --when they are in their sixties. They’ve got spirit and grit and when they see you battling along the street against horizontal rain they raise an encouraging fist and shout to you, “Keep going, girl! Keep going!”

There are, however, no attractive men in Hastings at all.

I don't know whether the OP could use it, but I was entertained.

Update on Yorkshire/Lancashire: I've just come back from the Saddleworth folk festival. Saddleworth is to the west of the Pennines but in Yorkshire; part of the festival every year is a "Wars of the Roses" cultural event (singing etc) with a trophy awarded to whoever wins, Yorkshire or Lancashire. Things get very heated, and apparently last year Lancashire won, but Yorkshire nicked the trophy while the man looking after it was in the pub loo.

ah, yes, the Wars of the Roses aren't really over, are they? They're just having a tea break.

More recent event, but still a startling story. I came across an account of two villages who, after WWII, needed to rebuild their village halls. Neither could raise enough money, so it was suggested that they build one and share it. The response from one villager was:

"Oh, no, that would never do. They was for King and we was for Parliament."

from Bedfordshire (about 50 miles north of London, to save the non-Brits pulling put their maps):

Sussex is one county not two, down south, nothing to say about it really except it's expensive to live in and anyone from there is probably posh. Crawley is "where? never heard of it."

Manchester is "up north", and a "Manchester screwdriver" is another name for a hammer. I'd expect a strong accent, but not an incomprehensible one.

Yes, ten seconds with Google would inform me better, but this is deliberately the stereotypes that come to mind with no research and before coffee.

During the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, the volunteers showing people around were issued with uniforms, including very useful little bags and folding umbrellas - sensible given the Manchester climate, essential that year. However, they were told NOT to refer to them as umbrellas, as that would give a negative impression (correct, but still negative).

So now a "Manchester parasol" is an umbrella.

I'm originally from Somerset (now Bristol), and the only thing that springs to mind with any mention of Sussex is Brighton. I've certainly never heard of any stereotypes ascosiated with the counties themselves or Crawley.

I'd also agree with sollersuk about the north/south stereotype, it's more influential than any specific stereotypes.

I've been trying to think about specific stereotypes.

There's the annotation on files "NFN" - "normal for Norfolk", which has the connotation of intellectually challenged.

And in my mother's childhood (I don't know if it's still the case) it was alleged that Cornish people have tails. Also, Devon people tended to view them all as wreckers (glossing over the fact that Devon people were, in the past, equally liable to lure ships into shore to get wrecked so that the goods could be taken).

As for Liverpool... if you have ever seen "Red Dwarf", attitudes to Dave Lister just about sum up general stereotypes.

Yes, looking at other areas as well, we have the Essex Girl

The Welsh: jokes about relationships with sheep are common, as are those about burning holiday homes. The Flanders and Swann song covers it nicely.
"..little and dark, more like monkey than man,
He works underground with a lamp in his hat,
And he sings far too loud, far too often, and

(Before any passing Welsh get too upset: my husband is Welsh, and the only part of this that fits is the quality, not quantity, of his singing).

Indeed, there isn't actually a Welsh chromosome for singing, much though we would like to believe there is.

A common Manchester stereotype is the 'Manc Scally' which is a variant of the 'Liverpudlian scally' and is probably somewhere on the evolutionary tree towards 'all out chav' (though chavs get everywhere in Britain). For this stereotype you are looking at shellsuits, chunky jewellry, car stereo stealing, drug dealing, listening to the Happy Mondays while speaking in a Manc accent, acid house raves, the Hacienda, Oasis, Robbie Williams etc etc. I can't write a Manc accent very well but Ben Elton writes a perfect one in both High Society (Tommy Hanson) and Dead Famous (Moon). Both books can give you an idea of some regional stereotypes and accents

As for Sussex... speaking as a northerner, don't they all speak posh, like? :) [Seriously, there is an ongoing perception between north and south that all southerners are posh, no matter which part of the south east they come from. My wife, who is from Luton, gets really annoyed by this...]

I grew up just on the Surrey West Sussex border, and while I can't think of anything that would be particularly well known outside of the immediate area, the general attitude towards Crawley was less than favourable - with it usually being older people disliking Crawley and the younger ones thinking it was alright becaue it actually had some form of nightlife.

I remember a big fuss being made about not building on the land between the towns of Horsham and Crawley, not so much because it was greenbelt, but because Horsham didn't want to be connected to Crawley any more than they already were (railway line).
Horsham being rather upmarket and one of the more expensive places to live in West Sussex, and was certainly in the late 80's - mid 90's nicknamed locally as Sun Allience city after the large insurance firm based there who employed a lot of people.

The northern part of West Sussex, where Crawley is is more built up, lots of towns and villages, while the southern part is mostly rural until you get down to the coast and places like Bognor.


1. We all love Oasis and say "do you know what I mean" at least 50 times a day.

2. We support either City or United, and watching football is the primary objective of any Saturday afternoon.

3. The only foreign place we have ever been to is Spain.

4. Anything below Birmingham is unchartered territory.

5. We hate the Scousers.

6. We all wear Adidas trainers and 60/40 Parka's.

7. We love house music.

8. We live in council houses and all own a gun.

9. We go to Rusholme at least once a month to indulge in a good curry.

10. We take drugs when given any oppertunity, breakfast, visiting grandparents, our kids birthday parties is no exception.

Hope this helps.


Log in