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12:39pm on Saturday, 4th August, 2012:

Let's Move To...


I still get The Guardian at the weekend, so I have an excuse to procrastinate before going to Sainsbury's to spend my wife's money on groceries. There's a section in the magazine each week called "let's move to", in which they pick a town and tell you why you should move there. This normally involves things such as house prices, school ratings, local amenities, transport connections and the like.

This week, the featured town was my home town, Hornsea. Except, it wasn't quite that:

OK, so they lumped Hornsea in with Withernsea and Holderness. I can see why someone who doesn't live there might do that (although calling Hornsea and Withernsea "townlets" when Hornsea has a population of over 8,000 is a bit much). However, as is the way in isolated parts of the world, places that seem close to the non-local are a world apart to locals. People in Hornsea are quite happy to be called part of Holderness, and very proud to be in East Yorkshire. However, they're in North Holderness; Withernsea is in South Holderness. They're as separate in the minds of their inhabitants as Liverpool and Manchester. They look close on the map, but the populations rarely mix. Despite growing up in Hornsea, I can't have been to Withernsea more than 3 or 4 times in my life.

The reason for this is because the only reason anyone goes to either town is because they want to go there. Hornsea is the largest town in the UK not to have an A road to it. You don't just pass through it, you actually have to want to go there to be there. It has four roads leading out of it: to Bridlington, Beverley, Hull and Withernsea. Few people taking the Withernsea road actually go there, though — they go perhaps as far as Aldborough, or if they're really adventurous might continue to Spurn Point (but they wouldn't go through Withernsea to get there). Likewise, the people in Withernsea use the A1033 to get to Hull and Patrington and their other two roads to get to Roos and to Hull and Hedon, but they have no real reason to go to Hornsea. The whole section between the two towns has such a staggering level of coastal erosion that there's nothing really much of interest on the shores between them.

As for what the Guardian said, its opening line was "This is where Britain runs out", which is actually a pretty good description of Holderness. "Wild seas, big skies", yes, that's right too. It's also freezing cold because of the winds that whip up in Siberia, swirl round the coast of Norway then make landfall there, but they didn't mention that. The reporter was ambivalent about the melancholy air, didn't like the erosion, didn't think much of the communication links, was so-so about the schools, liked the village pubs, liked the fact big houses are cheap (by the standards of the rest of the country) and noticed that Hornsea Mere was a feature.

Lumping us with Withernsea, though...

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Copyright © 2012 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).