It’s Yorkshire Day, so here’s a definitive ranking of the best towns and cities in God’s Own Country

Tour d'Yorkshire, 2014. Image: Getty.

It’s Yorkshire Day, a.k.a. the best day of the year, which warrants an excessive consumption of pints and a dose of Indie music taken from the 2003-07.

God’s Own Country is an idiosyncratic mess, a white rose that should be watered into full bloom by the people who know it best. Anyone from Yorkshire bleeds Yorkshire, and the pride of its people is out in force on this, the holiest of days.

So the celebrate, here’s an official ranking of the socioeconomically vulnerable yet beautiful cities that make up this county, produced by a Yorkshire native.

14) Ripon

Ripon, I hear you cry. Does Ripon even count? Does Ripon even know it’s born?

Ripon, which is basically Harrogate, betrays Yorkshire by being a painfully Tory stronghold. Go visit the cathedral for a day trip, but pay no attention to the plummy accents that taint an aesthetically pleasing city. You have entered the Bermuda triangle of Yorkshire. I fear it might be ruining our reputation.

13) Grimsby

Rivals. Cod heads. Bastards. If I push it, I suppose I could say thanks for not burning down your side of the Humber Bridge.

The Humber Bridge. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

(Editor’s note: Grimsby was historically in Lincolnshire but is now in the Yorkshire & Humber region so still qualifies for this ranking. By the same token, Middlesbrough has been excluded. Sorry, but I don’t make the rules.)

12) Harrogate

Same as Ripon, but with worse tea-shops.

The Harrogate Cenotaph. Image: DS Pugh/Wikimedia Commons.

Fucking Betty’s.


11) Rotherham

Rotherham gets a hard rap, and is often framed in right wing sensationalist rags as the epicentre of obesity, teenage pregnancy and depravity. Jamie Oliver used to frequent it to make himself look good.

Rotherham, in all honesty, doesn’t give a shit what you think of it, and I believe will exist in humdrum monotony when the apocalypse has taken the rest of us down.

10) Huddersfield

Hudds is weird, man. I don’t feel like I’ve given Huddersfield the time it deserves, but then I think most people don’t dwell on Huddersfield and it’s generally for good reason.

Huddersfield. Image: Richard Harvey/Wikimedia Commons.

Huddersfield doesn’t have a grand identity like the rest of the cities on the list. It’s the kid that got the fourth places badge in the egg and spoon race. Huddersfield, try harder. You have it in you.

9) Doncaster

Doncaster, aka God’s Waiting Room, is a purgatorial space that people only visit because of the connective powers of its train station. Gains several points for its nickname, Donny, which sounds like a teenager who got sacked from their weekend job for trying to sniff boot polish in the store room.

8) Sheffield

Sheffield likes to pretend it isn’t really a part of Yorkshire proper, like it stands alone somehow, and it sometimes feels like it shits on its less hilly cousins in order to get there. People set comedies in Sheffield when they don’t understand the rest of Yorkshire. It pisses me off.

Sheffield by night. Image: Benedict Hunjan/Wikimedia Commons.

It did spawn Pulp, mind, and in recent times, its local politics have shunted it up the list. Its current lord mayor is the brilliantly-named Magid Magid, a Green party rep who invites his constituents to come see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again with him. Coincidentally, he is the only man I am willing to marry.

While we’re here, I should remind you that the Tory government took the Northern Powerhouse jobs stationed in Sheffield, plonked them in London and told Sheff’s employees that they could commute. Will you kindly fuck off, London.


7) Halifax

Halifax is all about the Eureka! National Children’s Museum. Go there, watch an electronic Archimedes shout ‘Eureka!’ In the bath, produce some counterfeit money, and leave again. 

6) Wakefield

Wakefield is pure Yorkshire, in the way that the city that spawned The Cribs would have to be. The Hepworth Gallery is an obvious win, but as the city’s main attraction it is a bit of an attention seeker.

Wakefield Westgate, c1900. Image: public domain.

Wakefield, however, does well for its size, and its close connection with the Pennines (a range of hills unfortunately shared with the north west, boo hiss) is somewhat of a plus.


5) Barnsley

Barnsley is home to one of the best accents in Yorkshire. A small, post-industrial town often forgotten thanks to Sheffield’s peacocking, it is a place that has struggled and is often misunderstood.

I have a lot of time for Barnsley’s working-class credentials, and like any other city struggling to be seen in a country in the grip of London-centrism, believe that you should visit it to understand how the other half live.

Broke: screaming “Kes!” at its civilians.

Woke: realising that Kes is fifty-years old and the city desperately longs for new working-class representations to depict its idiosyncrasies and socioeconomic struggles.

4) York

Tourist trap. Got a mighty soft spot for it, though. Stunning and feels like Hogsmeade every day of the year. (For those who don’t understand: Harry Potter reference that denotes a city that looks like Christmas all-year round, except for basic bitches.) Roam around the Shambles. Get shouted at by the owner of Mr £wich, who creates the best sarnies in town. Most people leave York knowing that they will never feel that happy again.

The Shambles. Image: Peter K. Burian/Wikimedia Commons.

York loses a few points because awful people go to university there. Despite that, it’s a town for 40-somethings, and now that Willow, it’s Chinese restaurant-cum-karaoke bar has shut down, all nightlife has ceased to exist. Go to Leeds like a normal person.

3) Bradford

Bradford is fantastic. Not only are the curries perfect and the Wetherspoons conveniently located (sorry, I’ve been in London too long, please visit some independent pubs), its aesthetic power lies in the fact that it hasn’t given way to a series of homogenous shop fronts that haunt the city centre with corporate sterility.

Bradford, however, is not an entry-level Yorkshire city. The rag ’n’ bone men, complete with horses, still tour the streets, and people WILL attempt to speak to you. Bradford is authentic Yorkshire, however, and gets extra marks for the way it’s embraced multiculturalism with open arms.

The National Science & Media Museum. Image: Dupont Circle/Wikimedia Commons.

(Note on the author: once got chucked out of the National Science & Media Museum for snogging my boyfriend at the time too passionately in the stairwell.)


2) Leeds

Leeds, the city of the cities, is a hard contender for first place in the list. Leeds absolutely has it all: the architecture, the shopping, the music venues, the art galleries, the cheap eats, the nightlife, maaaaaybe not the transport networks (come on Northern Rail, get your act together) but the people. Top accent, too.

Life starts and ends at the Brudenell Social Club, and The Bridge in Kirkstall is the best pub on earth. I don’t know how a city manages to seamlessly flow between rural landscapes and the packed excitement of the city so well. As you can tell, I dream of living in it again one day. Full marks.  

1) Hull

This cheap, cultural tour de force undoubtedly deserves the number one place on the list. Hull is a phoenix, rising from the ashes of some poor op-eds written by idiots who have never stepped foot out of the M25.

The River Hull Tidal Barrier: Phwoar. Image: Andy Beecroft/Wikimedia Commons.

Despite having recently been known as the shittest town in the UK, the once-thriving maritime hub is now the cultural epicentre of Yorkshire. I mean, don’t just ask me, Hull’s least favourite daughter: ask its Capital of Culture title, which it holds until 2020.

Oh, and it’s cheap. Where else can you pay £60k for a four-bedroom house these days? What other city serves chips in its nightclubs to sober you up after you’ve drunk a £1.25 pint? Hull is home to no-nonsense, friendly, hardworking characters that do not care whether you’re from London or Lyme Regis – as long as you’re not from Grimsby. Every man in town is named Dave, Lee or Paul, and not a single Pret A Manger exists in its confines.

Move Parliament to Hull. Move yourself to Hull. Honestly, it’s great.

Jasmine Andersson is a freelance writer based in London. By coincidence, she is originally from Hull.

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What Citymapper’s business plan tells us about the future of Smart Cities

Some buses. Image: David Howard/Wikimedia Commons.

In late September, transport planning app Citymapper announced that it had accumulated £22m in losses, nearly doubling its total loss since the start of 2019. 

Like Uber and Lyft, Citymapper survives on investment funding rounds, hoping to stay around long enough to secure a monopoly. Since the start of 2019, the firm’s main tool for establishing that monopoly has been the “Citymapper Pass”, an attempt to undercut Transport for London’s Oyster Card. 

The Pass was teased early in the year and then rolled out in the spring, promising unlimited travel in zones 1-2 for £31 a week – cheaper than the TfL rate of £35.10. In effect, that means Citymapper itself is paying the difference for users to ride in zones 1-2. The firm is basically subsidising its customers’ travel on TfL in the hopes of getting people hooked on its app. 

So what's the company’s gameplan? After a painful, two-year long attempt at a joint minibus and taxi service – known variously as Smartbus, SmartRide, and Ride – Citymapper killed off its plans at a bus fleet in July. Instead of brick and mortar, it’s taken a gamble on their mobile mapping service with Pass. It operates as a subscription-based prepaid mobile wallet, which is used in the app (or as a contactless card) and operates as a financial service through MasterCard. Crucially, the service offers fully integrated, unlimited travel, which gives the company vital information about how people are actually moving and travelling in the city.

“What Citymapper is doing is offering a door-to-door view of commuter journeys,” says King’s College London lecturer Jonathan Reades, who researches smart cities and the Oyster card. 

TfL can only glean so much data from your taps in and out, a fact which has been frustrating for smart city researchers studying transit data, as well as companies trying to make use of that data. “Neither Uber nor TfL know what you do once you leave their system. But Citymapper does, because it’s not tied to any one system and – because of geolocation and your search – it knows your real origin and destination.” 

In other words, linking ticketing directly with a mapping service means the company can get data not only about where riders hop on and off the tube, but also how they're planning their route, whether they follow that plan, and what their final destination is. The app is paying to discount users’ fares in order to gain more data.

Door-to-door destinations gives a lot more detailed information about a rider’s profile as well: “Citymapper can see that you’re also looking at high-profile restaurant as destinations, live in an address on a swanky street in Hammersmith, and regularly travel to the City.” Citymapper can gain insights into what kind of people are travelling, where they hang out, and how they cluster in transit systems. 

And on top of finding out data about how users move in a city, Citymapper is also gaining financial data about users through ticketing, which reflects a wider trend of tech companies entering into the financial services market – like Apple’s recent foray into the credit card business with Apple Card. Citymapper is willing to take a massive hit because the data related to how people actually travel, and how they spend their money, can do a lot more for them than help the company run a minibus service: by financialising its mapping service, it’s getting actual ticketing data that Google Maps doesn’t have, while simultaneously helping to build a routing platform that users never really have to leave


The integrated transit app, complete with ticket data, lets Citymapper get a sense of flows and transit corridors. As the Guardian points out, this gives Citymapper a lot of leverage to negotiate with smaller transit providers – scooter services, for example – who want to partner with it down the line. 

“You can start to look at ‘up-sell’ and ‘cross-sell’ opportunities,” explain Reades. “If they see that a particular journey or modal mix is attractive then they are in a position to act on that with their various mobility offerings or to sell that knowledge to others. 

“They might sell locational insights to retailers or network operators,” he goes on. “If you put a scooter bay here then we think that will be well-used since our data indicates X; or if you put a store here then you’ll be capturing more of that desirable scooter demographic.” With the rise of electric rideables, Citymapper can position itself as a platform operator that holds the key to user data – acting a lot like TfL, but for startup scooter companies and car-sharing companies.

The app’s origins tell us a lot about the direction of its monetisation strategy. Originally conceived as “Busmapper”, the app used publicly available transit data as the base for its own datasets, privileging transit data over Google Maps’ focus on walking and driving.  From there it was able to hone in on user data and extract that information to build a more efficient picture of the transit system. By collecting more data, it has better grounds for selling that for urban planning purposes, whether to government or elsewhere.

This kind of data-centred planning is what makes smart cities possible. It’s only become appealing to civic governments, Reades explains, since civic government has become more constrained by funding. “The reason its gaining traction with policy-makers is because the constraints of austerity mean that they’re trying to do more with less. They use data to measure more efficient services.”  

The question now is whether Citymapper’s plan to lure riders away from the Oyster card will be successful in the long term. Consolidated routing and ticketing data is likely only the first step. It may be too early to tell how it will affect public agencies like TfL – but right now Citymapper is establishing itself as a ticketing service - gaining valuable urban data, financialising its app, and running up those losses in the process.

When approached for comment, Citymapper claimed that Pass is not losing money but that it is a “growth startup which is developing its revenue streams”. The company stated that they have never sold data, but “regularly engage with transport authorities around the world to help improve open data and their systems”

Josh Gabert-Doyon tweets as @JoshGD.