Where tourists seldom tread, part 7: five more UK towns with secret histories

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From Slough to Stockton-on-Tees, these provincial towns have been derided, mocked and caricatured. But there are so many reasons to visit places that are snubbed by the guidebooks

part one | part two | part three | part four | part five | part six

There’s Crap Towns. There’s UK Grim. There’s John Betjeman. And then there’s James Cleverly, the Lewisham-born MP for Braintree. British towns get punched from above, below and the side – even from inside: if you serially humiliate people, they’ll begin to loathe where they come from in a twisted lunge for self-esteem. What riles when a politician slags off a place he doesn’t know or care about is the lack of self-awareness: anything and everything that is wrong with provincial Britain is a result of decisions taken by politicians over decades. Austerity, though, was the biggest, heaviest wrecking ball since deindustrialisation. These five “seldoms” are towns that have seen plenty of demolition and all have been derided, mocked, ignored, caricatured and dumped at the bottom of specious rankings. Seen through a thoughtful, engaged, flaneur-minded filter, however, they are wondrous, poetic, musical places.

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