A new north south divide map places Hull in the Midlands. Deborah Hall is having none of it.
I’m a proud northerner, born less than two miles from the North Sea in bracing Bridlington. My home is in the north, most of my family are in the north and my heart is in the north.
So I can’t say I’m very happy with a questionable new map doing the rounds of social media trying to show where ‘the Midlands’ ends and ‘the North’ begins. Yes the squiggly hand-drawn line places my birthplace of Brid just inside the north, thank you, but never in a month of Sundays should Hull find itself roped in with the Midlands.
While Michelle Bayly, whose viral tweet triggered this dormant north-south debate, was trying to emphasise that north of London doesn’t mean North (correct, Michelle) and that Midlands companies should declare themselves just that, her call for agreement on the north being “Leeds and above” doesn’t pass muster.
The fact is in the north we know where we are. And whether that’s Hull, Goole, Doncaster, and even across the Humber Bridge, this is definitely NOT the midlands.
Everything about is us is northern and proud. I have a northern accent, though I’ve been told it’s hard to pinpoint, given the joint influences of my East Yorkshire/West Yorkshire parentage – and there’s definitely some Hull in there as that’s where I’ve spent most of my working life.
I’ve not wandered far from my northern roots, with my journalism training and career since all having taken me no further south than Sheffield, and I’ve spent the past 38 years back in East Yorkshire. Travelling for pleasure more often than not takes me and my (proud Hullensian) partner north to the Dales and the Lakes.
Yes, we have enjoyed perfectly pleasant stays in southern – even midland – counties, but the north is our natural gravitational pull. When we stray south there is always something reassuring about following signs for “The North” on our motorway journeys homewards.
So it’s not really about science or economics. It’s about an instinct and your heart.
In one of the hundreds of responses to Michelle’s map was a glacial definition brought into the argument by James Dyson suggesting the north begins where the ice ended. But looking at the lines drawn there, it shows what are surely northern places lumped in with mid-England or the south. That reckoning would even bracket an area between Port Talbot and Cardiff with the North. Madness.
There are certainly some grey areas for me as to where some places fit. Look at Grimsby, for example, part of the Midlands (surely not) in this trending map on Twitter. Even the Government’s view is that northern Lincolnshire, bringing in the likes of Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe, is part of the Yorkshire and Humber region, so surely a firmly northern area.
A few years ago, a university-led study tried to pinpoint the north-south divide by analysing population data – and the conclusion was the north of Britain officially began in Leicestershire.
The findings said the UK’s centre of population, so a pivotal point on the north-south axis, had moved from Upper Midway in Derbyshire to Snarestone in Leicestershire, due to an increasing number of people moving from cities in the north to the south-east for better employment opportunities.
Now by my reckoning that’s 112 miles south-west of Hull. So let’s leave it to the Midlands to debate whether they’re in the north or the south. Because up here, there’s no question; we know where we are.