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Bradford city and Haworth nominated for new guide to worst places to live
Haworth, home of the Brontes, comes in for some withering slights while Bradford is given a drubbing in nominations to find the worst places in Britain to live for a new book.
The new edition of Crap Towns is due for release next year to mark the tenth anniversary of the first publication of the tongue-in-cheek guide and the editors have been collecting suggestions from unhappy residents of villages, towns and cities across the UK.
In the 2003 edition Keighley and Mirfield came under attack for being “poverty-stricken, dull, lifeless and drab”. Early nominations this year are for Bradford and, perhaps more surprisingly, for Haworth.
The editors will choose from the nominations which towns make it into the final 50. The nomination for Haworth, from someone describing themselves as “Branwell” (the only brother in the Bronte clan) reads: “With mislaid sentimentality we thank Haworth for giving us the Bronte sisters. Really we should be cursing the place for killing them so young. It was Haworth’s unsanitary conditions and hard living that did for them.”
And there are more up-to-date complaints: “The main street is flooded instead with tourists eager to sift through the sisters’ remains. Every other street and building bears their stamp: Heathcliff Mews, The Bronte Bridge, Bronte Cottage B&B, the beautiful (but sadly now derelict) Bronte cinema, the Branwell Bronte tea rooms (also defunct). Bronte biscuits, Bronte fleeces, Bronte flagstones, Bronte toffee. The town has become a theme park, profiting from the very lives it stole.”
The Bradford entry, from “Arfa Teacake” says: “There can’t be many worse cities than Bradford. I look with dismay at what has happened over the years.
“In the city centre many fine Victorian buildings have been demolished. Much of the 60s crap that replaced them has also gone...we have a big hole in the middle where there is nothing!..except promises. A fine 1930s building, a former cinema is threatened with demolition to build anonymous offices.”
Andrew McCarthy, director of the Bronte Parsonage museum, said: “I think ‘Branwell’ is trying to be amusing, so this isn’t something that we’re taking very seriously, especially since it will probably be seen by very few people and influence even fewer. It’s a fairly predictable and lazy take on Haworth.
“I think Branwell’s portrayal of Haworth is slightly disingenuous and it’s interesting to note that quite a few of the buildings bearing the Bronte name that he mentions are either no longer there or are made up. That makes me wonder if ‘Branwell’ is somebody who hasn’t been to Haworth recently, maybe a Southerner with a prejudice against the North.”
And Jane Vincent, one of the co-organisers of the recent Positive Bradford day, announced: “I for one won’t be buying the book.” She added: “Bradford City has some amazing things going for it and great things are starting to happen. Maybe people should put their energy and effort into helping to raise the positive profile of the city they live in rather than being negative.”
One of the editors of the book, Sam Jordison, said: “Crap Towns will provide an opportunity for people to vent and tell the truth about where they live and what’s really happening around them. If ever there was a time for gallows humour, it’s now. Brits seem to have a national talent for laughing at themselves and their surroundings. My granny always said that you should “laugh even though your arse is on fire” which has always struck me as excellent advice. Crap Towns is a way of enabling anyone in the UK to put that maxim into practice.”