Where tourists seldom tread part 9: four more British towns with secret histories

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Railway nostalgia, the world’s oldest football, fenland skies and a little-known bard are among the highlights of Crewe, Stirling, Boston and Barnstaple

These oft-bypassed towns have all been, at some period in history, influential if not necessarily powerful; wealth-creating though hardly opulent; and vital to the nation’s wealth and security while never fully rewarded for it. Communications and trade once gave some urban centres the edge over others. Churches and marketplaces were social magnets. Today a brand-name art gallery, celebrity residents, or media chatter are most likely to generate appeal, however specious. What if estate agents sold houses using poetry, memories, polyglotism, ruins and rust?

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