What’s the worst hometown in the country?
Admit it, you lie about where you’re from
You spend your entire summer complaining about it, but you still drearily trudge to their clubs, walk zombie-like down their lacklustre high streets and speak in monotone to all your abandoned school friends about how good it is to see them again. If you really think your home town experience is worse than everyone else’s, prove it. Vote for our definitive worst home town and feel bad about it when you next see your mum.
Guildford is great – if you’re rich, old, dull and wealthy. It’s full of an RHS, GHS and Tormead elite who flock to Exeter in term time to be the most boring, garden variety poshos in the world. With a mediocre chain-store swamped high street and potentially the worst clubbing scene in the world, the town is essentially a large roundabout. Every trip back home is filled with the chavs from school at Popworld and MNG, with a £6 and a £17 taxi journey to welcome you home. Perfect for middle class families, if you have any semblance of a personality, you’ll be bored to death in around an hour and a half of arriving.
If you like long walks on beach trying to avoid rusted cans of Stella, rainbows in the ocean caused by runoff from the steel works and nutters shouting at you at the bus stop, then Swansea is the place for you. Since the mines were closed all it boasts is heroin, alcoholism and unemployment. Home to the notorious Wind Street, now the town is plagued with Valleys bints and their cohorts, who line the streets with pavement pizza every Friday and Saturday night without the faintest idea of the wonder that used to evolve from the buildings they’re in. Even the once beautiful views of the bay are ruined, littered by endless council houses. It’s full of people who can’t see any life outside Port Talbot, and everyone is on drugs – and not in a good way.
The transport is fucked and the trams are lethal, but the people are even worse. Recently, a Croydon man made news for carrying on a rave even after losing a thumb, a kid stabbed a teacher with scissors, a mate had her ponytail cut off on a bus – which pretty much sums up the locals.West Croydon and South Norwood are literal ghettos, while the population of Shirley is exclusively pensioners, small children, and annoying dogs. Both lack decent shops. You can’t win. The clubs are shit and it holds the dubious honour of being the place where the London riots reached their worst. Get out while you can and don’t come back.
Full of Janners who never stop going on about how they “made America” on The Mayflower, the only way you can survive being from Plymouth is by concealing your accent and telling everyone you’re from Exeter instead. The seaside is nice but the views are ruined by local nudist hotspot Lion’s Den. In fact the actual picturesque parts of Plymouth are either near impossible to get to or invaded by chavs and goffs. The local high street’s highlight is Primark, and you can’t even get near there without being spat on by 12-year-olds from Lonsdale.
Don’t be fooled by the idyllic setting in the Peak District, Ashbourne is a town of barely 7,000 people, and everyone there is totally backward. Sure it’s quaint, but it’s full of farmers – you can see sheep literally loose in the streets – and with nothing to do, you’re stuck relying on shit village buses which only swing by once every few hours to take you to see your boring mates. And if you’re looking for diversity, skip Ashbourne – the residents are 99 per cent white, and there’s a “lynched head” in the middle of the town by the quaintly named Green Man and Black’s Head Royal Hotel.
Ever since TOWIE’s finest Gemma Collins said “I’m just a local girl from Romford” the grimmest part of Essex has hit rock bottom. Known for its historically great nightlife and fantastic local market, both have now fallen so low they’re simply full of chavs, reality TV wannabes and slow people trying to get the best deal on oranges. The streets are full of piss, sick and homeless people, and everyone is inexplicably topless.
Stuck miles away from anywhere important, apart from the Isle of Wight Rutland is the smallest and shittest county in the land. It doesn’t even have a city centre, just two shit market towns full of expensive private schools notorious for teachers snogging pupils. With a non-existent crime rate and farming as the main activity, it goes without saying there’s not much to do. Even the scenery is dull, with the most noteworthy attraction being a pond. There are more tractors than people and everything smells like manure.
Once a thriving naval town, Medway now only spawns chavs instead of literary greats, and is affectionately known as “the pile of manure in the middle of the garden of England”. The Medway Girl, a more extreme bastardisation of the Essex Girl, is in her natural habitat here, brawling in the street and wearing foundation on their lips. But at least you can go out and have fun – the “Cleavage weekender” at the local club is something to behold.
Tell anyone you’re from Middlesbrough and they’ll react with a cautious shiver before walking away. Known affectionately as Smoggies thanks to the cloud of smog covering the town, ‘Boro homes a growing breed of chav you can regularly spot outside Mima with a bottle of Hammers, or occasionally appearing on Jeremy Kyle. Location Location Location were right when they named it officially the worst hometown in 2007 – it hasn’t improved since.
As if being mistaken for being from Birmingham isn’t bad enough already, you then have to leave the sort of smart city centre, with its funky Selfridges and sophisticated Moor Street Station, to the dark depths of the Black Country. Everyone’s got their brand new white trainers on (which they bought on their day trip to Kidderminster last week) and the highlight of their day involves queuing up at the job centre to have a natter with their mates. You’ll then see them all down the local at 5pm, necking Bathams and stumbling home. There might be more canals here than in Venice, but they only meander past deserted warehouses, and the nicest sight you’ll see is some chavs from the local estate shagging in the weeds, probably without a condom.
Not a week goes by without a stabbing, burglary or drugs raid, and the boarded up houses right opposite the cemetery really give the place some sparkle. You come back from a term at uni, in an area which is ok but nothing special, to this: a total dump, full of scallies. Forget going home in the holidays for a rest and a spot of fresh air, all you’ll get is a sofa dumped on your street corner and a walk round Sefton Park. Those riots actually made the place look better.
The wide, leafy roads were all you wanted when you were 10 years old. Everyone was friendly, and whenever you went round to your friend’s house for tea you were always welcomed with a glass of organic, homemade lemonade and the freshest fish from the counter in Waitrose. It was idyllic. But after a year at uni, where the coolest kids are working class (or at least pretend to be), you’ve hidden your public school upbringing, swapped gilets for bomber jackets and Hunters for New Balance. Coming home reminds you of your stuffy, over-privileged upbringing which you now loathe. You hate being home, you don’t fit in, and you can’t wait to leave your five bed detached house in the suburbs and get back to your grotty uni basement room, where you can wear your scrunchie with pride.
Lytham St Annes
Golf and geriatrics is pretty much what this spot of the Fylde coast is best known for. Every few years or so, Lytham St. Annes is thrown into the national spotlight when The Open Golf Championship is held there, allowing locals to catch their first glimpse of a foreigner. Proper Daily Mail country, Lytham St Annes rejected a proposal to have a twin town in Japan because residents couldn’t forgive them for the war – in 2009. Being perfect retirement home for the aspirational middle-Englander doesn’t half make it boring.
It’s not the 1920s anymore, Blackpool is no longer the jolly, quintessentially English seaside resort it once was. With a nightlife dominated by the debauchery of 50-year-old Glaswegians, the parts of Blackpool that are actually still open are as tacky as the Fisher Price ‘illuminations’ that are opened by a soon-to-be-disgraced TV personality every year. Still at least it looks better in the flickering light of bullshit christmas decorations than it does during the day. Come to Blackpool, it’s like Benidorm but with 40mph winds instead of glorious sunshine. Your fish and chips taste like shit, the tower offers a view of urban decay like no other landmark in the north and the sea water your paddling in is dissolving your fucking foot. On the plus side, at least the donkeys are having a worse time than you.
Have you heard of Chorley? “Oh, you mean Chorley FM, coming in your ears?” In the North West lies a town so backward that even backward northerner Peter Kay is using it in his material. It’s got all the predictable perks of a very bog standard market town: playgrounds, one pound pubs, a birds of prey meet and greet at the Sunday market. And then there’s the people of Chorl-“eh” (a horrid noise they add to the end of everything). Your average Chorley girl is called Denise: her snogs are the sloppiest, her chubby legs are too far apart on the bus, and her and the girls are drink out of penis straws before a big one at Applejax. Plumber Dave is the sort of person who will actually come in your ears. It’s a wonder everyone’s too embarrassed to ever admit being from C-Town. “I’m from the outskirts”, they lie, “near Whittle-le-woods.” You pal, are Chorley born and bred.
If you could see beyond the fickle exterior of dreaming spires and drifting punts, it would dawn on you that Oxford is a truly sinister place. Picture cackling mums subtly threatening each other at the school gate, bragging about little Hugo’s latest goal for the hockey team or darling Camilla’s latest Greek vocab test scores. Imagine exhausted dads necking iced rosé at another vapid Saturday barbecue, wondering why they ever sold their London bachelor pads for this, a rotation of pilates, expensive cheese and failing to catch the eye of your friends’ teenage daughter. Another glass of Sancerre, there Giles? Course you bloody will. Hitler wanted to make Oxford the capital of Nazi Europe, not because he liked the architecture, but because he was drawn to the utterly hateful, awful residents.
You can’t avoid any conversation at uni without hearing “shutuuuuuuuuup” from the other side of the room. You thought it was embarrassing to admit you study philosophy, try revealing you hail from the depths of TOWIE-land. It’s awful. Everything is covered in glitter. The high street shop fronts in Loughton, Woodford and Brentwood boast shiny black with bold silver calligraphy logos, with names like I Am So Fly, Bonnie & Clyde and La Ruche. Clubs are called Nu Bar, Funky Mojoes, and Edge. Tragic doesn’t cover it. The prices sky rocket every time you go home for the holidays and you can’t help but returning to uni after acting and sounding a bit more Essex every time. It’s a contagious plague and you just can’t escape it.
Once a town of proud historical heritage, now Colchester is home only to loutish squaddies, the criminally under-educated and nutters who stab a person over 100 times when they try to kill them. The majority of residents spent an evening in ten years ago watching The Football Factory and a few episodes of Benidorm and decided “Yeah, that’s probably the pinnacle of human achievement, let’s aim for that”. The result is a bleak mess of fake tan and cheap lager, a town where the cinema only shows Michael Bay movies and Strada is fine dining. As for nightlife, this haunting video sums up the creatures you’ll see in a Colchester nightclub far better than I ever could:
There’s nothing worse than the eternal shame once you admit you’re from the same town as Margaret Thatcher. When people ask where you’re from in the country, you have to reply “the middle – that place you always go through on way to Leeds, Durham, or York on the train.” A once grand high streets overrun with charity shops, a few pubs and a shop called Boyes, which is incidentally also the guys you go out with when heading to one of the five piss-stained clubs here. Admire some bloke’s fresh Superdry t-shirt and you’ll probably get a light smack, before they realise the town is secretly quite middle class and they didn’t ought to be involved in these sorts of things.