Northern England, also known simply as the North, is the northern part
of England, considered as a single cultural area. It extends from the
Scottish border in the north to near the
River Trent in the south,
although precise definitions of its southern extent vary. Northern
England approximately comprises three statistical regions: the North
East, North West and
Yorkshire and the Humber. These have a combined
population of around 14.9 million as of the 2011 Census and an area of
37,331 km2 (14,414 sq mi). Northern
England contains much of
England's national parkland but also has large areas of urbanisation,
including the conurbations of Greater Manchester, Merseyside,
Teesside, Tyneside, Wearside, South, and West Yorkshire.
The region has been controlled by many groups, from the Brigantes, the
largest Brythonic kingdom of Great Britain, to the Romans, to
Celts and Danes. After the Norman conquest in 1066, the
Harrying of the North
Harrying of the North brought destruction. The area experienced
Anglo-Scottish border fighting until the unification of Britain under
the Stuarts, with some parts changing hands between
Scotland many times. Many of the innovations of the Industrial
Revolution began in Northern England, and its cities were the
crucibles of many of the political changes that accompanied this
social upheaval, from trade unionism to
Manchester Capitalism. In the
late 19th and early 20th centuries, the economy of the North was
dominated by heavy industry such as weaving, shipbuilding, steelmaking
and mining. The deindustrialisation that followed in the second half
of the 20th century hit Northern
England hard, and many towns remain
deprived compared with those in Southern England.
Urban renewal projects and the transition to a service economy have
resulted in strong economic growth in some parts of Northern England,
but a definite North–South divide remains both in the economy and
the culture of England. Centuries of migration, invasion and labour
have shaped Northern culture, and the region retains distinctive
dialects, music and cuisine.
2.1 Natural resources
3 Language and dialect
3.2 Other languages
4.1 The prehistoric North
4.2 Iron Age and the Romans
Anglo-Saxons and Vikings
Norman Conquest and the Middle Ages
4.5 Early modern era
4.6 Industrial Revolution
4.7 Deindustrialisation and modern history
7.1 Public sector
7.2 Agriculture and fisheries
7.3 Manufacturing and energy
7.4 Retail and services
7.5 High-tech and research
7.6 Leisure and tourism
7.7.3 Communications and the internet
8 Culture and identity
11.2 Other faiths
13 See also
15 Further reading
See also: Historical and alternative regions of England
Various gateways to the North
For government and statistical purposes, Northern
England is defined
as the area covered by the three statistical regions of North East
England, North West
Yorkshire and the Humber. This area
consists of the ceremonial counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, County
Durham, East Riding of Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire,
Merseyside, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Tyne and
Wear and West Yorkshire, plus the unitary authority areas of North
Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. This definition will be used
in this article, except when otherwise stated.
England as defined as the historic counties.
Other definitions use historic county boundaries, in which case the
North is generally taken to comprise Cumberland, Northumberland,
Westmorland, County Durham,
Lancashire and Yorkshire, often
supplemented by Cheshire, or are drawn without reference to human
borders, using geographic features such as the
River Mersey and River
Isle of Man
Isle of Man is occasionally included in definitions of
"the North" (for example, by the Survey of English Dialects,
BBC North West), although it is politically and
culturally distinct from England.
Some areas of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire,
Staffordshire have Northern characteristics and include satellites of
Northern cities. Towns in the High Peak borough of
included in the Greater
Manchester Built-Up Area, due to their close
proximity to the city of Manchester, and before this the borough was
considered to be part of the Greater
Manchester Statutory City Region.
More recently, the Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire, Bolsover, and
Derbyshire Dales districts have joined with districts of South
Yorkshire to form the
Sheffield City Region, along with the Bassetlaw
district of Nottinghamshire, although for all other purposes these
districts still remain in their respective
East Midlands counties. The
Danny Dorling includes most of the West Midlands and part
East Midlands in his definition of the North, claiming that
"ideas of a midlands region add more confusion than light".
Conversely, more restrictive definitions also exist, typically based
on the extent of the historical Northumbria, which exclude Cheshire
and Lincolnshire. [a]
Personal definitions of the North vary greatly and are sometimes
passionately debated. When asked to draw a dividing line between North
and South, Southerners tend to draw this line further south than
Northerners do. From the Southern perspective, Northern
sometimes defined jokingly as the area north of the
Northampton and Leicester[b] – a definition which would
include much of the Midlands. Various cities and towns have been
described as or promoted themselves as the "gateway to the North",
including Crewe, Stoke-on-Trent, and Sheffield. For some in
the northernmost reaches of England, the North starts somewhere in
North Yorkshire around the
River Tees – the
Yorkshire poet Simon
Armitage suggests Thirsk,
Northallerton or Richmond – and does not
include cities like
Manchester and Leeds, nor the majority of
England is not a homogenous unit, and
some have entirely rejected the idea that the North exists as a
coherent entity, claiming that considerable cultural differences
across the area overwhelm any similarities.
See also: Geography of England
Relief map of Northern England, showing the
Pennines and river
Through the North of
England run the Pennines, an upland chain, often
referred to as "the backbone of England", which stretches from the
Cheviot Hills on the border with
Scotland to the Peak District. The
geography of the North has been heavily shaped by the ice sheets of
Pleistocene era, which often reached as far south as the Midlands.
Glaciers carved deep, craggy valleys in the central uplands, and, when
they melted, deposited large quantities of fluvio-glacial material in
lowland areas like the
Cheshire and Solway Plains. On the eastern
side of the Pennines, a former glacial lake forms the Humberhead
Levels: a large area of fenland which drains into the
Humber and which
is very fertile and productive farmland.
Scafell Pike, England's highest peak, alongside Wastwater, its deepest
Much of the mountainous upland remains undeveloped, and of the ten
national parks in England, five – the Peak District, the Lake
District, the North
York Moors, the
Yorkshire Dales, and
Northumberland National Park – are located partly or entirely in the
North.[c]  The
Lake District includes England's highest peak,
Scafell Pike, which rises to 978 m (3,209 ft), its largest
lake, Windermere, and its deepest lake, Wastwater. Northern
England is one of the most treeless areas in Europe, and to combat
this the government plans to plant over 50 million trees in a new
Northern Forest across the region.
Urban sprawl in the southern
Pennines and north east coast is clearly
visible in night-time imagery.
Dense urban areas have emerged along the coasts and rivers, and they
run almost contiguously into each other in places. The needs of trade
and industry have produced an almost continuous thread of urbanisation
Wirral Peninsula to Doncaster, taking in the cities of
Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and Sheffield, with a population of at
least 7.6 million. Uniquely for such a large urban belt in Europe,
these cities are all recent; most of them started as scattered
villages with no shared identity before the Industrial Revolution.
On the east coast, trade fuelled the growth of major ports such as
Kingston upon Hull
Kingston upon Hull and Newcastle upon Tyne,[d]  and the riverside
conurbations of Teesside,
Wearside became the largest
towns in the North East. Northern
England is now heavily
urbanised: analysis by
The Northern Way in 2006 found that 90% of the
population of the North lived in one of its city regions: Liverpool,
Central Lancashire, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Hull and Humber
Tees Valley and Tyne and Wear. As of the 2011 census, 86%
of the Northern population lived in urban areas as defined by the
Office for National Statistics, compared to 82% for
England as a
Peat is found in thick, plentiful layers across the
Scottish Borders, and there are many large coalfields, including the
South Yorkshire Coalfields.
Millstone grit, a distinctive coarse-grained rock used to make
millstones, is widespread in the Pennines, and the variety of
other rock types is reflected in the architecture of the region, such
as the bright red sandstone seen in buildings in Chester, the
Yorkstone and the distinctive purple Doddington
sandstone. These sandstones also mean that apart from the east
coast, most of Northern
England has very soft water, and this has
influenced not just industry, but even the blends of tea enjoyed in
Rich deposits of iron ore are found in
Cumbria and the North East, and
fluorspar and baryte are also plentiful in northern parts of the
Pennines. Salt mining in
Cheshire has a long history, and both
remaining rock salt mines in
Great Britain are in the North: Winsford
Boulby Mine in North Yorkshire, which also
produces half of the UK's potash.
Manchester has a reputation as a rainy city, it is far from
the wettest in the North.
See also: Climate of the United Kingdom
England has a cool, wet oceanic climate with small areas of
subpolar oceanic climate in the uplands. Averaged across the
entire region,[e] Northern
England is cooler, wetter and cloudier than
England as a whole, and contains both England's coldest point (Cross
Fell) and its rainiest point (Seathwaite Fell). Its temperature range
and sunshine duration is similar to the UK average and it sees
substantially less rain than
Scotland or Wales. These averages
disguise considerable variation across the region, due chiefly to the
upland regions and adjacent seas.
The prevailing winds across the British Isles are westerlies bringing
moisture from the Atlantic Ocean; this means that the west coast
frequently receives strong winds and heavy rainfall while the east
coast lies in a rain shadow behind the Pennines. As a result, Teesside
and the Northumbrian coast are the driest regions in the North, with
around 600 mm (24 in) of rain per year, while parts of the
Lake District receive over 3,200 mm (130 in). Lowland
regions in the more southern parts of Northern
England such as
South Yorkshire are the warmest, with average maximum
July temperatures of over 21 °C (70 °F), while the highest
points in the
Lake District reach only 17 °C
(63 °F). The area has a reputation for cloud and fog –
especially the east coast, which experiences a distinctive sea fog
known as fret – although the
Clean Air Act 1956 and decline of heavy
industry have seen sunshine duration increase in urban areas in recent
Climate data for the
England N climate region, 1981–2010
Average high °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source: Met Office
Language and dialect
The vowel sound in sun across England. All of Northern England, as
well as part of the Midlands, is included inside the /ʊ/
Main article: Northern
The English spoken today in the North has been shaped by the area's
history, and some dialects retain features inherited from Old Norse
and the local Celtic languages. Dialects spoken in the North
Geordie (Newcastle), Mancunian (Manchester),
Scouse (Liverpool) and Tyke (Yorkshire). Linguists have
attempted to define a Northern dialect area, corresponding to the area
north of a line that begins at the
Humber estuary and runs up the
River Wharfe and across to the
River Lune in north Lancashire.
This area corresponds roughly to the sprachraum of the Old English
Northumbrian dialect, although the linguistic elements that defined
this area in the past, such as the use of doon instead of down and
substitution of an ang sound in words that end -ong (lang instead of
long), are now prevalent only in the more northern parts of the
region. As speech has changed, there is little consensus on what
defines a "Northern" accent or dialect.
Northern English accents have not undergone the TRAP–BATH split, and
a common shibboleth to distinguish them from Southern ones is the
Northern use of the short a (the near-open front unrounded vowel) in
words such as bath and castle. On the opposite border, most
Northern English accents can be distinguished from Scottish accents
because they are non-rhotic, although a few rhotic
remain. Other features common to many Northern English accents are
the absence of the FOOT–STRUT split (so put and putt are
homophones), the reduction of the definite article the to a glottal
stop (usually represented in writing as t'), and the T-to-R rule that
leads to the pronunciation of t as a rhotic consonant in phrases like
get up ([ɡɛɹ ʊp]).
The pronouns thou and thee survive in some Northern English dialects,
although these are dying out outside very rural areas, and many
dialects have an informal second-person plural pronoun: either ye
(common in the North East) or yous (common in areas with historical
Irish communities). Many dialects use me as a possessive ("me
car") and some treat us likewise ("us cars") or use the alternative
wor ("wor cars"). Possessive pronouns are also used to mark the names
of relatives in speech (for example, a relative called Joan would be
referred to as "our Joan" in conversation).
With urbanisation, distinctive urban accents have arisen which often
differ greatly from the historical accents of the surrounding rural
areas and sometimes share features with Southern English accents.
Northern English dialects remain an important part of the culture of
the region, and the desire of speakers to assert their local identity
has led to accents such as
Geordie becoming more
distinctive and spreading into surrounding areas.
There are no recognised minority languages in Northern England,
although the Northumbrian Language Society campaigns to have the
Northumbrian dialect recognised as a separate language. Traces of
now-extinct Brythonic Celtic languages from the region survive in some
rural areas in the
Yan Tan Tethera counting systems traditionally used
Contact between English and immigrant languages has given rise to new
accents and dialects. For instance, the variety of English spoken by
Manchester is distinct both from typical Polish-accented
English and from Mancunian. At a local level, the diversity of
immigrant communities means that some languages that are extremely
rare in the country as a whole have strongholds in Northern towns:
Pashto is spoken natively by 0.08% of the population of
0.7% of the population of Bradford, while Cantonese is the first
language of 0.4% of the population of
Manchester compared to 0.08%
The prehistoric North
Rudston Monolith, from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, is the
tallest megalith in Great Britain.
During the ice ages, Northern
England was buried under ice sheets, and
little evidence remains of habitation – either because the climate
made the area uninhabitable, or because glaciation destroyed most
evidence of human activity. The northern-most cave art in Europe
is found at
Creswell Crags in northern Derbyshire, near modern-day
Sheffield, which shows signs of
Neanderthal inhabitation 50 to 60
thousand years ago, and of a more modern occupation known as the
Creswellian culture around 12,000 years ago. Kirkwell Cave in
Cumbria shows signs of the
Federmesser culture of
the Paleolithic, and was inhabited some time between 13,400 and 12,800
Significant settlement appears to have begun in the
Star Carr in
North Yorkshire generally considered the most
significant monument of this era. The
Star Carr site includes
Britain's oldest known house, from around 9000 BC, and the earliest
evidence of carpentry in the form of a carved tree trunk from 11000
Yorkshire Wolds around the
Humber Estuary were
settled and farmed in the Bronze Age, and the
Ferriby Boats – one of
the best-preserved finds of the era – were discovered near Hull in
1937. In the more mountainous regions of the Peak District,
hillforts were the main Bronze Age settlement and the locals were most
likely pastoralists raising livestock.
Iron Age and the Romans
Hadrian's Wall, one of the most famous Roman remains in Northern
England, is now a World Heritage Site.
Roman histories name the Celtic tribe that occupied the majority of
England as the Brigantes, likely meaning "Highlanders".
Brigantes were a unified group or a looser federation of
tribes around the
Pennines is debated, but the name appears to have
been adopted by the inhabitants of the region, which was known by the
Romans as Brigantia. Other tribes mentioned in ancient histories,
which may have been part of the
Brigantes or separate nations, are the
Carvetii of modern-day
Cumbria and the Parisi of east Yorkshire.
Brigantes allied with the
Roman Empire during the Roman conquest
Tacitus records that they handed the resistance leader
Caratacus over to the Empire in 51. Power struggles within the
Brigantes made the Romans wary, and they were conquered in a war
beginning in the 70s under the governorship of Quintus Petillius
Cerialis. The Romans created the province of "Britannia Inferior"
(Lower Britain) in the North, and it was ruled from the city of
Eboracum (modern York).
Deva Victrix (modern Chester)
were the main legionary bases in the region, with other smaller forts
Mamucium (Manchester) and
Britannia Inferior extended as far north as Hadrian's Wall, which was
the northernmost border of the Roman Empire.[f] Although the Romans
Northumberland and part of
Scotland beyond it, they
never succeeded in conquering the reaches of Britain beyond the River
Anglo-Saxons and Vikings
Great Britain in 878:
After the end of Roman rule in Britain and the arrival of the Angles,
Hen Ogledd (the "Old North") was divided into rival kingdoms,
Rheged and Elmet.
Bernicia covered lands north of
Deira corresponded roughly to the eastern half of modern-day
Rheged to Cumbria, and
Elmet to the western-half of
Deira were first united as
Aethelfrith, a king of
Bernicia who conquered
Deira around the year
Northumbria then saw a Golden Age in cultural, scholarly and
monastic activity, centred on
Lindisfarne and aided by Irish
monks. The north-west of
England retains vestiges of a Celtic
culture, and had its own Celtic language, Cumbric, spoken
Cumbria until around the 12th century.
Parts of the north and east of
England were subject to Danish control
(the Danelaw) during the Viking era, but the northern part of the old
Anglo-Saxon kingdom of
Northumbria remained under Anglo-Saxon
control.[g] Under the Vikings, monasteries were largely wiped out, and
the discovery of grave goods in Northern churchyards suggests that
Norse funeral rites replaced Christian ones for a time. Viking
control of certain areas, particularly around Yorkshire, is recalled
in the etymology of many place names: the thorpe in town names such as
Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe, the kirk in
Ormskirk and the
Grimsby all have Norse roots.
Norman Conquest and the Middle Ages
Durham Castle, half of the Durham World Heritage Site, was a symbol of
Norman power in the North.
The 1066 defeat of the Norwegian king
Harald Hardrada by the
Harold Godwinson at the
Battle of Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge near
York marked the beginning of the end of Viking rule in England, and
the almost immediate defeat of Godwinson at the hands of the Norman
William the Conqueror
William the Conqueror at the
Battle of Hastings
Battle of Hastings was in turn the
overthrow of the Anglo-Saxon order. The Northumbrian and Danish
aristocracy resisted the Norman Conquest, and to put an end to the
rebellion, William ordered the Harrying of the North. In the winter of
1069–1070, towns, villages and farms were systematically destroyed
across much of
Yorkshire as well as northern
Lancashire and County
Durham. The region was gripped by famine and much of Northern
England was deserted. Chroniclers at the time reported a hundred
thousand deaths – modern estimates place the total somewhere in the
tens of thousands, out of a population of two million. When the
Domesday Book was compiled in 1086, much of Northern
England was still
recorded as wasteland, although this may have been in part because
the chroniclers, more interested in manorial farmland, paid little
attention to pastoral areas.
The ruins of Fountains Abbey, now another World Heritage Site
Following Norman subjugation, monasteries returned to the North as
missionaries sought to "settle the desert". Monastic orders such
Cistercians became significant players in the economy of
England – the Cistercian
Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire
became the largest and richest of the Northern abbeys, and would
remain so until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. A significant
Flemish immigration followed the conquest, which likely populated much
of the desolated regions of Cumbria, and which was persistent enough
that the town of
Humberside still had an ethnic enclave
called Flemingate in the thirteenth century.
During the Anarchy,
Scotland invaded Northern
England and took much of
the land north of Durham. In the 1139 peace treaty that followed,
Prince Henry of
Scotland was made Earl of
Northumberland and kept the
counties of Lancashire, Cumberland,
Westmorland and Northumbria. These
reverted to English control in 1157, establishing for the most part
the modern England–
Scotland border. The region also saw violence
The Great Raid of 1322 when
Robert the Bruce
Robert the Bruce invaded and raided
the whole of Northern England. There was also the Wars of the Roses,
including the decisive Battle of Wakefield, although the modern-day
conception of the war as a conflict between
Lancashire and Yorkshire
is anachronistic – Lancastrians recruited from across Northern
England, including Yorkshire, while the Yorkists drew most of their
power from Southern England, Wales and Ireland. The Anglo-Scottish
Wars also touched the region, and in just 400 years,
Berwick-upon-Tweed – now the northernmost town in
changed hands more than a dozen times. The wars also saw thousands
of Scots settle south of the border, chiefly in the border counties
Early modern era
After the English Reformation, the North saw several Catholic
uprisings, including the
Bigod's Rebellion in
Cumberland and Westmorland, and largest of all, the Yorkshire-based
Pilgrimage of Grace, all against Henry VIII. His daughter
Elizabeth I faced another Catholic rebellion, the Rising of the
North. The region would become the centre of recusancy as
prominent Catholic families in Cumbria,
Lancashire and Yorkshire
refused to convert to Protestantism. Royal power over the region
was exercised through the
Council of the North
Council of the North at King's Manor, York,
which was founded in 1484 by Richard III. The Council existed
intermittently for the next two centuries – its final incarnation
was created in the aftermath of the
Pilgrimage of Grace
Pilgrimage of Grace and was
chiefly an institution for providing order and dispensing justice.
England was a focal point for fighting during the Wars of the
Three Kingdoms. The border counties were invaded by
Scotland in the
Second Bishops' War, and at the 1640
Treaty of Ripon
Treaty of Ripon King Charles I
was forced to temporarily cede
County Durham to the
Scots and pay to keep the Scottish armies there. To raise enough
funds and ratify the final peace treaty, Charles had to call what
became the Long Parliament, beginning the process that led to the
First English Civil War. In 1641, the
Long Parliament abolished the
Council of the North
Council of the North for perceived abuses during the Personal Rule
period. By the time war broke out in 1642, King Charles had moved
his court to York, and Northern
England was to become a major base of
the Royalist forces until they were routed at the Battle of Marston
Salts Mill in Saltaire, West Yorkshire, one of two industrial World
Heritage Sites in the North
At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, Northern
plentiful coal and water power while the poor agriculture in the
uplands meant that labour in the area was cheap. Mining and milling,
which had been practiced on a small scale in the area for generations,
began to grow and centralise. The boom in industrial textile
manufacture is sometimes attributed to the damp climate and soft water
making it easier to wash and work fibres, although the success of
Northern fabric mills has no single clear source. Readily
available coal and the discovery of large iron deposits in
Cleveland allowed ironmaking and, with the invention of the Bessemer
process, steelmaking to take root in the region. High quality steel in
turn fed the shipyards that opened along the coasts, especially on
Tyneside and at Barrow-in-Furness.
Pier Head, now part of the
Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City World
Heritage Site, greeted migrants from around the world.
The Great Famine in Ireland of the 1840s drove migrants across the
Irish Sea, and many settled in the industrial cities of the North,
Liverpool – at the 1851 census, 13% of the
Manchester and Salford were Irish-born, and in Liverpool
the figure was 22%. In response there was a wave of anti-Catholic
riots and Protestant Orange Orders proliferated across Northern
England, chiefly in Lancashire, but also elsewhere in the North. By
1881 there were 374 Orange organisations in Lancashire, 71 in the
North East, and 42 in Yorkshire. From further afield, Northern
England saw immigration from European countries such as Germany,
Italy, Poland, Russia and Scandinavia, and from East Asia and Africa.
Some immigrants were well-to-do industrialists seeking to do business
in the booming industrial cities, some were escaping poverty, some
were servants or slaves, some were sailors who chose to settle in the
port towns, some were Jews fleeing pogroms on the continent, and some
were migrants originally stranded at
Liverpool after attempting to
catch an onwards ship to the United States or to colonies of the
British Empire. At the same time, hundreds of thousands
from depressed rural areas of the North emigrated, chiefly to the US,
Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Deindustrialisation and modern history
The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, formerly an industrial
building, is a symbol of the regeneration of Gateshead.
First World War
First World War was the turning point for the economy of Northern
England. In the interwar years, the Northern economy began to be
eclipsed by the South – in 1913–1914, unemployment in "outer
Britain" (the North, plus
Scotland and Wales) was 2.6% while the rate
England was more than double that at 5.5%, but in 1937
during the Great Depression the outer British unemployment rate was
16.1% and the Southern rate was less than half that at 7.1%. The
weakening economy and interwar unemployment caused several episodes of
social unrest in the region, including the 1926 general strike and the
Jarrow March. The Great Depression highlighted the weakness of
Northern England's specialised economy: as world trade declined,
demand for ships, steel, coal and textiles all fell. For the most
part, Northern factories were still using nineteenth century
technology, and were not able to keep up with advances in industries
such as motors, chemicals and electricals, while the expansion of the
electric grid removed the North's advantages in terms of power
generation and meant it was now more economic to build new factories
in the Midlands or South.
The industrial concentration in Northern
England made it a major
Luftwaffe attacks during the Second World War.
The Blitz of
1940–1941 saw major raids on Barrow-in-Furness, Hull, Leeds,
Manchester, Merseyside, Newcastle and
Sheffield with thousands killed
and significant damage to the cities. Liverpool, a vital port for
supplies from North America, was especially hard hit – the city was
the most bombed in the UK outside London, with around 4,000 deaths
Merseyside and most of the city centre destroyed. The
rebuilding that followed, and the simultaneous slum clearance that saw
whole neighbourhoods demolished and rebuilt, transformed the faces of
Northern cities. Immigration from the "New Commonwealth",
Pakistan and Bangladesh, starting in the 1950s reshaped
England once more, and there are now significant populations
Indian subcontinent in towns and cities such as Bradford,
Leeds, Preston and Sheffield.
Deindustrialisation continued and unemployment gradually increased
during the 1970s, but accelerated during the government of Margaret
Thatcher, who chose not to encourage growth in the North if it risked
growth in the South. The era saw the 1984–85 miners'
strike, which brought hardship for many Northern mining towns.
Northern metropolitan county councils, which were Labour strongholds
often with very left-wing leadership (such as Militant-dominated
Liverpool and the so-called "People's Republic of South Yorkshire"),
had high-profile conflicts with the national government. The
increasing awareness of the North–South divide strengthened the
distinct Northern English identity, which, despite regeneration in
some of the major cities, remains to this day.
The region saw several IRA attacks during the Troubles, including the
M62 coach bombing, the
Warrington bomb attacks and the 1992 and 1996
Manchester bombings. The latter was the largest bomb detonation in
Great Britain since the end of the Second World War, and damaged or
destroyed much of central Manchester. The attack led to
Manchester's ageing infrastructure being rebuilt and modernised,
sparking the regeneration of the city and making it a leading example
of post-industrial redevelopment followed by other cities in the
region and beyond.
As of the 2011 census, around one quarter of the UK population lived
in Northern England.
Other English regions
Other Home Nations
As of the 2011 census, Northern
England had a population of 14,933,000
– a growth of 5.1% since 2001 – in 6,364,000 households, meaning
that Northerners comprise 28% of the English population and 24% of the
UK population. Taken overall, 8% of the population of Northern England
were born overseas (3% from the European Union including Ireland and
5% from elsewhere), substantially less than the
England and Wales
average of 13%, and 5% define their nationality as something other
than a UK or Irish identity.[h]  90.5% of the
population described themselves as white, compared to an
Wales average of 85.9%; other ethnicities represented include
Pakistani (2.9%), Indian (1.3%), Black (1.3%), Chinese (0.6%) and
Bangladeshi (0.5%). The broad averages hide significant variation
within the region:
Redcar and Cleveland
Redcar and Cleveland had a greater
percentage of the population identifying as White British (97.6% each)
than any other district in
England and Wales, while Manchester
Bradford (67.4%) and
Blackburn with Darwen
Blackburn with Darwen (69.1%) had among
the lowest proportions of White British outside London.
Bilingual English/Chinese signage in
95% of the Northern population speak English as a first language –
compared to an
England and Wales average of 92%[i] – and another 4%
English as a second language
English as a second language well or very well. The 5%
of the population who have another native language are chiefly
speakers of European or South Asian languages. As of the 2011 census,
the largest languages apart from English were Polish (spoken by 0.7%
of the population), Urdu (0.6%) and Punjabi (0.5%), and 0.4% of the
population speak a variety of Chinese: a similar distribution to that
in the whole of England.
Redcar and Cleveland
Redcar and Cleveland has the largest
proportion of the population speaking English as a first language in
England, with 99.3%.
At the 2011 census, the North East and North West had the largest
proportion of Christians in
England and Wales; 67.5% and 67.3%
respectively (the proportion in
Yorkshire and the Humber
Yorkshire and the Humber was lower at
Yorkshire and the Humber
Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West both had
significant populations of Muslims – 6.2% and 5.1% respectively –
while Muslims in the North East made up only 1.8% of the population.
All other faiths combined comprised less than 2% of the population in
The census question on religion has been criticised by the British
Humanist Association as leading, and other surveys of religion tend to
find very different results. The 2015 British Election Survey
found 52% of Northerners identified as Christian (22% Anglican, 14%
non-denominational Christian, 12% Roman Catholic, 2% Methodist, and 2%
other Christian denominations), 40% as non-religious, 5% as Muslim, 1%
as Hindu and 1% as Jewish.
Life expectancy at birth in
England and Wales 2012 to 2014. Lighter
colours indicate longer life expectancy.
One major manifestation of the North–South divide is in health and
life expectancy statistics. All three Northern England
statistical regions have lower than average life expectancies and
higher than average rates of cancer, circulatory disease and
Blackpool has the lowest life
expectancy at birth in
England – male life expectancy at birth
between 2012 and 2014 was 74.7, against an England-wide average of
79.5 – and the majority of English districts in the bottom 50 were
in the North East or the North West. However, regional differences do
seem to be slowly narrowing: between 1991–1993 and 2012–2014, life
expectancy in the North East increased by 6.0 years and in the North
West by 5.8 years, the fastest increase in any region outside London,
and the gap between life expectancy in the North East and South East
is now 2.5 years, down from 2.9 in 1993.
Before the 19th century there were no universities in Northern
England. The first was the University of Durham, founded in 1832 and
sometimes counted with the ancient universities of Oxford and
Cambridge, although it post-dates them by many centuries. The
next universities built in the North were part of the wave of redbrick
universities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, there
are seven Northern institutions in the
Russell Group of leading
research universities: Durham, the redbricks of Leeds, Liverpool,
Manchester, Newcastle and
Sheffield and the later plate glass
university of York. These universities, together with plate-glass
Lancaster, form the N8 Research Partnership.
A North–South divide remains in education at all levels. There is a
significant attainment gap between Northern and Southern schools, even
after controlling for the economic difference across the country, and
pupils in the three Northern regions are less likely than the national
average to achieve five higher-tier GCSEs. Northern students are
under-represented at Oxbridge, where three times as many places go to
Southerners as to Northerners, and other Southern universities while
Southerners are under-represented at leading Northern universities
such as Sheffield,
Manchester and Leeds. There are calls for the
government to invest in education in disadvantaged parts of Northern
England to redress this.
Like the UK as a whole, the Northern English economy is now dominated
by the service sector – as of September 2016, 82.2% of workers in
the Northern statistical regions were employed in services, compared
to 83.7% for the UK as a whole. Manufacturing now employs 9.5%,
compared to the national average of 7.6%. The unemployment rate
England is 5.3% compared to an England-wide and UK-wide
average of 4.8%, and the North East has the highest unemployment rate
in the UK, at 7.0% as of December 2016, more than one percentage point
higher than any other region. As of 2015, the gross value
added (GVA) of the Northern English economy was £316 billion,
and if it were an independent nation, it would be the tenth largest
economy in Europe. The region does have poor growth and
productivity rates compared to Southern
England and to other EU
Growth, employment and household income have lagged behind the South,
and the five most deprived districts in England[j] are all in Northern
England, as are ten of the twelve most declining major towns
in the UK.[k] The picture is not clear-cut, as the North has
areas which are as wealthy as, if not wealthier than, fashionable
Southern areas such as Surrey. Yorkshire's Golden Triangle which
extends from north
Harrogate and across to
York is an
example, as is Cheshire's Golden Triangle, centred on Alderley
Edge. There are major disparities even across individual
Sheffield Hallam is one of the wealthiest constituencies in
the country, and is the richest outside London and the South East,
Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, just on the other side of
the city, is one of the most deprived. Housing in Northern
England is more affordable than the UK average: the median house price
in most Northern cities was below £200,000 in 2015 with typical
increases of below 10% over the previous five years. However, some
areas have seen house prices fall considerably, putting inhabitants at
risk of negative equity.
To stimulate the Northern economy, the government has organised a
series of programmes to invest in and develop the region, of which the
latest as of 2017 is the Northern Powerhouse. The North has also been
a significant recipient of European Union Structural Funds. Between
2007 and 2013, EU funds created around 70,000 jobs in the region, and
the majority of
Northern Powerhouse funding comes from the European
Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank. The
loss of these funds following Brexit, combined with potential
reductions in exports to the EU, has been identified as a threat to
The public sector is a major employer in Northern England. Between
2000 and 2008, the majority of new jobs created in Northern England
were for the government and its suppliers and contractors. All
three Northern regions have public sector employment above the
national average, and North East has the highest level in
20.2% of the workforce in the public sector as of 2016 – down from
23.4% a decade earlier. The austerity programme under the
David Cameron saw significant cuts to public services,
and the reduction in public sector employment resulted in job losses
for around 3% of the Northern
England workforce with significant
impact on the regional economy.
Agriculture and fisheries
Sheep, such as these Teeswaters, are a major part of Northern English
There are 2,580,000 hectares (6,400,000 acres; 25,800 km2;
10,000 sq mi) of farmland in Northern England. The
rough Pennine terrain means that most of Northern
England is unsuited
for growing crops; like Scotland, Northern farming has traditionally
been dominated by oats, which grow better than wheat in poor
soil. Today, the mix of cereals and vegetables grown is
similar to that of the UK as a whole, but only a minority of land is
arable. Only 32% of Northern farmland is primarily used for growing
crops, compared to 49% for
England as a whole. Conversely, 57% of the
land is given over to rearing livestock, and 33% of England's cattle,
43% of its pigs and 46% of its sheep and lambs are reared in the
The only part of the region that is predominantly given over to crops
is the land around the
Humber estuary, where the well-drained fens
result in excellent quality land. The lowland
is mostly given over to dairy farming, while in the
Cheviots grazing sheep play an important role not just in agriculture
but also in land management more generally. Heather moorland in
the Pennine uplands is home to driven grouse shooting from 12 August
(the Glorious Twelfth) until 10 December every year. In the twentieth
century, numbers of red grouse and black grouse in the area fell
significantly, but improved gamekeeping practices have resulted in
both species making a comeback in the region.
Sea fishing is an important industry for Northern coastal towns. Major
fishing ports include Fleetwood, Grimsby, Hull and Whitby. At its
Grimsby was the largest fishing port in the world, but the
Northern fishing industry suffered greatly from a series of events in
the second half of the twentieth century: the
Cod Wars with Iceland
and establishment of the exclusive economic zone ended British access
to rich North Atlantic fishing grounds, while the North Sea was badly
overfished and the European
Common Fisheries Policy
Common Fisheries Policy put strict quotas
on catches to protect the almost depleted stocks.
now transitioning to the processing of imported seafood and to
offshore wind to replace its fishing fleet.
Manufacturing and energy
England has a strong export-based economy, with trade more
balanced than the UK average, and the North East is the only region of
England to regularly export more than it imports. Chemicals,
vehicles, machinery and other manufactured goods make up the majority
of Northern exports, just over half of which go to other EU
countries. Major manufacturing plants include car plants at
Vauxhall Ellesmere Port, Jaguar Land Rover Halewood and Nissan
Leyland Trucks factory, the Hitachi Newton Aycliffe
train plant, the Humber, Lindsey and Stanlow oil refineries, the NEPIC
cluster of chemical works based around Teesside, and the nuclear
processing facilities at
Springfields and Sellafield.
Offshore oil and gas from North Sea and Irish Sea, and more recently
offshore wind, are significant components in Northern England's energy
mix. Although deep-pit coal mining in the UK ended in 2015 with
the closure of Kellingley Colliery, North Yorkshire, there are still
several open-pit mines in the area.
Shale gas is especially
prevalent across Northern England, although plans to extract it
through hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") have proven to be
Retail and services
Regeneration has seen
Leeds become the second largest financial and
legal hub in the UK.
Around 10% of the Northern
England workforce is employed in
retail. Of the Big Four supermarkets in the UK, two –
Morrisons – are based in the North. Northern
England was the
birthplace of the modern cooperative movement, and the
Co-operative Group has the highest revenue of any
firm in the North West. The area is also home to many online
retailers, with startups emerging around tech hubs in Northern
With urban regeneration, high-value service sector industries such as
corporate services and financial services have taken root in Northern
England, with major hubs around
Leeds and Manchester. Call
centres – attracted by low labour costs and a preference for
Northern English accents among the public – have replaced heavy
industry as major employers of unskilled workers, with more than 5% of
workers in all Northern
England regions working in one.
High-tech and research
Together, the N8 research universities have over 190,000 students and
contribute more to the Northern economy in terms of GVA than
agriculture, car manufacturing or media. Discoveries and
inventions at these universities have resulted in spin-offs worth
hundreds of millions to local economies: the discovery of graphene at
the University of
Manchester produced the National
and the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials, while
robotics research at the University of
Sheffield led to the
development of the Advanced Manufacturing Park.
Recent decades have seen the growth of high-tech companies based
around Northern England's major cities. There are eleven high-tech
firms worth over $1 billion based in the region, and digital
industries support around 300,000 jobs. Game development,
online retail, health technology and analytics are among the major
high-tech sectors in the North.
Leisure and tourism
Crowded beaches at
Blackpool in the 1890s
The expansion of the railway network in the second half of the
nineteenth century meant most in the North lived within reach of the
coast, and seaside towns saw a major tourism boom. By around 1870
Blackpool on the
Lancashire coast had become overwhelmingly the most
popular destination – not just for Northern families, but many from
the Midlands and
Scotland as well. Other resorts popular with
Morecambe in northern Lancashire, Whitley Bay
Whitby in North Yorkshire, and New Brighton on the
Wirral Peninsula, as well as
Rhyl over the border in North
The same social forces that had built these resorts in the nineteenth
century proved to be their undoing in the twentieth. Transport links
continued to improve and it became possible to travel overseas quickly
and affordably. The Belgian coast at
Ostend became popular with
Northern working-class tourists in the first half of the twentieth
century, and the introduction of package holidays in the 1970s was the
death of most Northern seaside resorts.
Blackpool has maintained
a focus on tourism, and remains one of the most visited towns in
England, but visitor numbers are far below their peak and the town's
economy has suffered – both employment rates and average earnings
remain below the regional average.
The wild landscapes of the North are a major draw for tourists,
and many urban areas are looking for regeneration through industrial,
heritage and cultural tourism: of the 24 national museums and
England outside London, 14 are located in the North.
As of 2015, Northern
England receives around a quarter of all domestic
tourism within the UK, with 28.7 million visitors in 2015, but only 8%
of international tourists to the
United Kingdom visit the
MediaCityUK, home to the Northern operations of the
BBC and ITV
As part of a drive to reduce media centralisation in London, the BBC
and ITV have moved much of their programme production to MediaCityUK
in Salford. Of the four national evening soap operas, three are set
and filmed in Northern
Coronation Street in Manchester,
Emmerdale in the
Yorkshire Dales and
Hollyoaks in Chester) and these
are important to the local TV industry – the commitment to Emmerdale
saved ITV Yorkshire's
Leeds Studios from closure. The region
also has a reputation for drama serials and has produced some the most
successful and acclaimed series of recent decades, including Boys from
the Blackstuff, Our Friends in the North, Clocking Off, Shameless and
Last Tango in Halifax.
The Guardian (formerly The
Manchester Guardian) moved to London
in 1964, no major national paper is based in the North, and Northern
news stories tend to be poorly covered in the national
Yorkshire Post promotes itself as "Yorkshire's
national paper" and covers some national and international stories,
but is primarily focused on news from
Yorkshire and the North
East. An attempt in 2016 to create a dedicated North-focused
national newspaper, 24, failed after six weeks. Across Northern
England as a whole, The Sun is the best selling newspaper, but the
ongoing boycott around
Merseyside following the newspaper's coverage
of the 1989
Hillsborough disaster has seen the paper fall behind both
Daily Mail and the
Daily Mirror in the North West.
In general national readership in the North drags behind that of the
South; the Mirror and the Daily Star are the only national papers with
more readers in Northern
England than in the South East and
London. Local newspapers are the top-selling titles in both the
North East and
Yorkshire and the Humber, although Northern regional
newspapers have seen steep declines in readership in recent
years. Only seven daily Northern papers have circulation
figures above 25,000 as of June 2016:
Manchester Evening News,
Liverpool Echo, Hull Daily Mail, Newcastle Chronicle, The Yorkshire
Post and The Northern Echo.
Communications and the internet
Cumbria is one of many projects to bring fibre broadband to
Manchester Network Access Point is the only internet exchange point in
the UK outside London, and forms the main hub for the region.
Household internet access in Northern
England is at or above the UK
average, but speeds and broadband penetration vary greatly.
In 2013 the average speed in central
Manchester was 60 Mbit/s,
while in nearby
Warrington the average speed was only
6.2 Mbit/s. Hull, which is unique in the UK in that its
telephone network was never nationalised, has simultaneously some of
the fastest and slowest internet speeds in the country: many
households have "ultrafast" fibre optic broadband as standard, but it
is also one of only two places in the UK where over 30% of businesses
receive less than 10 Mbit/s. Speeds are especially poor in the
rural parts of the North, with many small towns and villages
completely without high speed access. Some areas have therefore formed
their own community enterprises, such as
Broadband 4 Rural North in
Lancashire and Cybermoor in Cumbria, to install high-speed internet
Mobile broadband coverage is similarly patchy, with 3G
and 4G almost universal in cities but unavailable in large parts of
Yorkshire, the North East and Cumbria.
Culture and identity
Angel of the North
Angel of the North on the outskirts of Gateshead
The individual regions of the North have had their own identities and
cultures for centuries, but with industrialisation, mass media and the
opening of the North–South divide, a common Northern identity began
to develop. This identity was initially a reactionary response to
Southern prejudices – the North of the nineteenth century was
largely depicted as a dirty, wild and uncultured place, even in
sympathetic depictions such as Elizabeth Gaskell's 1855 novel North
and South – but became an affirmation of what Northerners saw
as their own personal strengths. Traits stereotypically
associated with Northern
England are straight-talking, grit and
warmheartedness, as compared to the supposedly effete
England – especially Lancashire, but
Yorkshire and the North East – has a tradition of matriarchal
families, where the woman of the house runs the home and controls the
family's finances. This too has its roots in industrialisation, when
mills offered well-paid work for women: during depressions when demand
for coal and steel were low, women were often the main breadwinners.
Northern women are still stereotyped as strong-willed and independent,
or affectionately as battle-axes.
The flat cap stereotypically associated with Northern England
The North of
England is often stereotypically represented through the
clothing worn by working-class men and women in the nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries. Working men would wear a heavy jacket
and trousers held up by braces, an overcoat, and a hat, typically a
flat cap, while women would wear a dress, or a skirt and blouse, with
an apron on top as protection from dirt; in colder months they would
often wear a shawl or headscarf. If not wearing leather
lace-up shoes, some men and women would have worn English clogs, which
were hardwearing and had replaceable soles and tips. Factory
workers tapping their feet in time with the click of machinery
developed a type of folk clog dance referred to as clogging, which was
intricately developed in the North.
In the second half of the twentieth century, these traditional clothes
fell out of fashion. Other styles such as "casual" (mainland European
designer clothing brought back by touring football fans) and
sportswear became more popular, and the influence of Northern bands
and football teams helped spread them across the country. In
the twenty-first century, some traditional Northern items of clothing
have begun to make a comeback – in particular, the flat
Fish and chips
Fish and chips with mushy peas
Newcastle Brown Ale
Impressions of Northern
English cuisine are still shaped by the
working-class diet of the early twentieth century, which was heavy on
offal, high in calories and often not particularly healthy. Dishes
such as black pudding, tripe, mushy peas and meat pie remain
stereotypical Northern English foods in the national imagination. As a
result, there is a concerted effort among Northern chefs to improve
the region's image. Some Northern dishes, such as Yorkshire
Lancashire hotpot have spread across the UK, and only
their names now hint at their origin. Among the Northern delicacies
that have achieved Protected Geographical Status are traditional
Cumberland sausage, traditional
Grimsby smoked fish, Swaledale cheese,
Yorkshire forced rhubarb and
Yorkshire Wensleydale.[l] 
The North is known for its often crumbly cheeses, of which Cheshire
cheese is the earliest example. Unlike Southern cheeses like Cheddar,
Northern cheeses typically use uncooked milk and a pre-salted curd
pressed under enormous weights, resulting in a moist, sharp-tasting
cheese. Wensleydale, another crumbly cheese, is unusual in that
it is often served as a side to sweet cakes, which are themselves
well represented in Northern England. Parkin, an oatmeal cake with
black treacle and ginger, is a traditional treat across the North on
Bonfire Night, and the fruity scone-like singing hinny and fat
rascal are popular in the North East and
While a variety of beers are popular across Northern England, the
region is especially associated with brown ales such as Newcastle
Brown Ale, Double Maxim and
Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale. Beer in
the North is usually served with a thick head which accentuates the
nutty, malty flavours preferred in Northern beers. On the
non-alcoholic side, the North – in particular,
Lancashire – was
the hub of the temperance bar movement which popularised soft drinks
such as dandelion and burdock,
Tizer and Vimto.
In recent decades, immigration to Northern
England has shaped its
Teesside parmo is one example, derived from escalope
Parmesan brought to the area by an
Italian-American immigrant and
adapted to the region's taste. There are large Chinatowns in
Manchester and Newcastle, and communities from the Indian
subcontinent in all major towns.
Bradford has won the Federation
of Specialist Restaurant's "Curry Capital" title six years in a row as
of 2016, while the
Curry Mile in
Manchester formerly had the
largest concentration of curry restaurants in the UK and now offers a
wide range of South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
The daffodils of the
Lake District are immortalised in Wordworth's "I
Wandered Lonely as a Cloud".
The contrasting geography of Northern
England is reflected in its
literature. On the one hand, the wild moors and lakes have inspired
generations of Romantic authors: the poetry of
William Wordsworth and
the novels of the Brontë sisters are perhaps the most famous examples
of writing inspired by these elemental forces. Classics of children's
literature such as
The Railway Children
The Railway Children (1906), The Secret Garden
Swallows and Amazons
Swallows and Amazons (1930) portray these largely untouched
landscapes as worlds of adventure and transformation where their
protagonists can break free of the restrictions of society.
Modern poets such as the former Poet Laureate
Ted Hughes and Oxford
Professor of Poetry
Simon Armitage have found inspiration in the
Northern countryside, producing works that take advantage of the
sounds and rhythms of Northern English dialects.
Meanwhile, the industrialising and urbanising cities of the North gave
rise to many masterpieces of social realism.
Elizabeth Gaskell was the
first in a lineage of female realist writers from the North that later
included Winifred Holtby, Catherine Cookson,
Beryl Bainbridge and
Jeanette Winterson. Many of the angry young men of post-war
literature were Northern, and working-class life in the face of
deindustrialisation is depicted in novels such as Room at the Top
Billy Liar (1959), This Sporting Life (1960) and A Kestrel for
a Knave (1968).
Scarborough Fair, a traditional Northern folk song
Harrogate Band playing in Leeds
Traditional folk music in Northern
England is a combination of styles
Scotland – what is now called the Anglo-Scottish
border ballad was once prevalent as far south as Lancashire. In
the Middle Ages, much of Northern folk was accompanied by bagpipes,
with styles including the
Yorkshire bagpipe and
Northumbrian smallpipes. These disappeared in the early nineteenth
century from the industrialising south of the region, but remain in
the music of Northumbria. The
British brass band
British brass band tradition began
England at around the same time: the dismissal of the
Yorkshire military bands after the Napoleonic
Wars, combined with the desire of industrial communities to better
themselves, led to the founding of civilian bands. These bands
provided entertainment at community events and led protest marches
during the era of radical agitation. Although the style has since
spread across much of Great Britain, brass bands remain a stereotype
of the North, and the Whit Friday brass band contests draw hundreds of
bands from across the UK and further afield.
England also has a thriving popular music scene. Influential
Merseybeat from the
Liverpool area, which produced
The Beatles, Northern soul, which brought
Motown to England, and
Madchester, the precursor to the rave scene. Across the
Sheffield is the birthplace of influential electronic pop
bands from Cabaret Voltaire to Pulp, the New
Yorkshire indie rock
movement of the 2000s gave the country the
Kaiser Chiefs and the
Arctic Monkeys, and
Teesside has a rock scene stretching from Chris
Rea to Maximo Park. The press frequently frames music
stories and reviews in terms of cultural and class differences between
North and South, notably in the 1960s rivalry between the Beatles and
the Rolling Stones and the 1990s Battle of Britpop between Oasis and
Leeds is one of the main stadia in the North for both
cricket and rugby.
Sport has been both one of the most unifying cultural forces in
England and, thanks to local rivalries such as the
Yorkshire Roses rivalry, one of the most divisive. As
huge numbers of people moved into recently-built cities with little
cultural heritage, local sports teams offered the population a sense
of place and identity that was otherwise absent.
Many early Northern sports players were working class and needed to
miss work to play, with their teams compensating them for lost wages.
By contrast, Southern teams, drawing from the traditions of public
schools and Oxbridge, put great emphasis on amateurism and the
Southern-dominated governing bodies forbade payments to players. This
tension shaped the sports of association football and cricket, and led
to the schism between the two main forms of rugby. The North is also
associated with the animal sports of dog racing with whippets, pigeon
racing and ferret legging, although these are now far more popular in
stereotype than in reality.
Merseyside derby is the longest running
top-flight rivalry in English football.
The first football club in the UK was
Sheffield F.C., founded in 1857.
Early Northern football teams tended to adopt the
rather than the
Football Association Rules, but the two codes were
merged in 1877. Many of the innovations of
Sheffield Rules are now
part of the global game, including corners, throw-ins, and free kicks
In 1883 Blackburn Olympic, a team composed mainly of factory workers,
became the first Northern team to win the FA Cup, and the next year
Preston North End
Preston North End won an
FA Cup match against London-based Upton
Park. Upton Park protested that Preston had broken FA rules
by paying their players. In response, Preston withdrew from the
competition and fellow
Lancashire clubs Burnley and Great Lever
followed suit. The protest gathered momentum to the point where more
than 30 clubs, predominantly from the North, announced that they would
set up a rival British
Football Association if the FA did not permit
professionalism. A schism was avoided in July 1885 when
professionalism was formally legalised in English football.
The Football League was founded in 1888, and marked its independence
from the London-based
Football Association by establishing
headquarters in Preston – the League retained a Northern identity
even after it accepted several Southern teams into its ranks.
Intense local derbies between neighbouring teams mean that there is
less of a North–South rivalry than in some other sports.
Preston North End
Preston North End fans 'mourn' relegation with the long-running Burial
of the Coffin ceremony.
Many of the powerhouses of English football came from the North – as
of the 2016–17 season, of the 119 top-flight league titles since
1888, 79 (66%) have been won by teams based north of Crewe.
Manchester United and, since 2001,
are among the mainstays of the Premier League, while teams like
Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United and Sunderland have
had more inconsistent runs in recent years, regularly being promoted
and relegated from the top flight.
See also: History of Rugby League
Every Boxing Day,
Leeds Rhinos host
Wakefield Trinity for a local
The Rugby Football Union, which enforced amateurism, suspended teams
who compensated their players for missed work and injury, leading
teams from Lancashire,
Yorkshire and surrounding areas to split away
in 1895 and form the Rugby Football League. Over time, the RFU and RFL
adopted different rules and the two forms of the game – rugby union
and rugby league – diverged. Rugby league's stronghold remains
England along the "M62 corridor" between
Hull. As of the 2018 season, 11 of the 12 teams in the Super
League (the highest level of rugby league in Europe) are from Northern
England and the remaining one is from France, and the 12-team
Championship below it has 9 Northern teams, one London team and two
Rugby union was not entirely driven from Northern England, and in the
1970s the region was home to several strong teams. The high-water
mark of rugby union in Northern
England was the 1979 New Zealand tour
during which the English Northern Division was the only team to defeat
the All Blacks. In the 21st century the region's club sides have
become less popular, with association football, cricket and rugby
league attracting more spectators and talent. In the 2017–18
Sale Sharks and
Newcastle Falcons play in the English
Doncaster R.F.C. and
Rotherham R.U.F.C. play in the RFU Championship.
The pavilion at Lancashire's
Old Trafford Cricket Ground
Old Trafford Cricket Ground is an icon of
Cricket has a strong following in Northern England, and three counties
are represented by first-class county cricket teams: Durham,
Lancashire and Yorkshire. The
Roses Match (named for the Red Rose of
Lancaster and the White Rose of York) between
Lancashire and Yorkshire
is one of the hardest fought rivalries in the sport – the pride of
both sides, and their determination not to lose, resulted in the teams
developing a slow, stubborn and defensive style that proved unpopular
elsewhere in the country. The London-based Marylebone Cricket
Club, which controlled the game at the time, selected few Northern
players for Test matches, and this was perceived as a snub to their
playing style – the anger united
the South and helped cast a shared Northern identity that transcended
the Roses rivalry. This divide was illustrated in the 1924
County Championship, when
Yorkshire beat London-based Middlesex to
claim the title.
Yorkshire of scuffing the pitch and
intimidating the bowlers, while the match with Middlesex was so
vicious that the team threatened to never play in Yorkshire
Jack Sharp on the other hand
was quoted as saying "I'm real glad a rose won it. Red or white, it
doesn't matter." Durham are a recent addition to top-flight
cricket, having only achieved first-class status in 1992, but have won
County Championship three times.
Lancashire were traditionally more relaxed
about professionalism than other counties, cricket did not see the
same regional schisms on the topic that rugby and football did –
there were debates over amateur status in first-class cricket, but
these tensions were given release in the Gentlemen v Players
fixture. Nevertheless, the annual
North v South games were among
the most popular and competitive in the sport, running annually from
1849 until 1900 and intermittently thereafter.
See also: Politics of England
Labour held the majority of Northern constituencies at the 2017
Northern England, as the first area in the world to industrialise, was
the birthplace of much modern political thought. Reports into the
lives of the Northern working class, from Friedrich Engels' The
Condition of the Working Class in
England to George Orwell's The Road
to Wigan Pier, shaped Marxism and, more generally, socialism.
Meanwhile, enterprise and trade at the North's ports influenced the
Manchester Liberalism, a laissez-faire free trade philosophy.
C. P. Scott
C. P. Scott and the
Manchester Guardian, the movement's
greatest success was the repeal of the Corn Laws, protests against
which had led to the 1819
Peterloo Massacre in Manchester.
Durham Miners' Gala
Durham Miners' Gala is one of the largest trade union events in
Trades Union Congress
Trades Union Congress was held in
Manchester in 1868,
and as of 2015 trade union membership in Northern
higher than in Southern England, although it is lower than in the
other Home Nations. Since the Thatcher era, the Conservative
Party have since struggled to gain support in the area.
England is generally described as a stronghold of the
Labour Party – although the Conservatives hold some rural seats,
they have almost no urban seats and as of the 2016 local elections
there are no Conservative councillors on
Liverpool City Council,
Manchester City Council,
Newcastle City Council
Newcastle City Council or
Council. Historically the region was also a heartland for the
Liberals, and between the 1980s and the 2010s their successors in the
Liberal Democrats benefitted from Conservative unpopularity by
positioning themselves as the centrist alternative to Labour in the
At the 2016 EU membership referendum, all three Northern England
regions voted to leave, as did all English regions outside London. The
largest Northern Remain vote was 60.4% in Manchester; the largest
Leave vote was 69.9% in North East Lincolnshire. In total, the
Leave vote in the Northern
England regions was 55.9% – higher than
in the Southern
England regions and the other Home Nations, but lower
than in the Midlands or the East of England. The
Independence Party (UKIP) positioned themselves as the main challenger
to Labour in Northern constituencies, and came second in many at the
2015 general election. UKIP originally struggled in the
region due to vote splitting with the far-right British National Party
(BNP), who exploited racial tensions in the wake of the 2001 Bradford
riots and other riots in Northern towns. In 2006, 40% of BNP voters
lived in Northern
England and both BNP MEPs elected at the 2009
European elections came from Northern constituencies. After
2013, BNP support in the region collapsed as most voters swung to
UKIP. The Northern UKIP vote in turn collapsed following the EU
referendum, with most UKIP voters returning to their former
Campaigns for regional autonomy for the North have seen little
electoral support. Plans by Labour under
Tony Blair to create devolved
regional assemblies for the three Northern regions were abandoned
after the government lost the 2004 North East
referendum against a No vote of 78%. The regionalist Yorkshire
North East Party
North East Party only hold seats at the parish and town
council level, and the Northern Party, which campaigned for a
devolved Northern government with the power to make laws and full
control of taxation and spending, was wound up in 2016.
See also: Religion in England
Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral
Cathedrals of the Archbishop of
York (Anglican) and Archbishop of
Liverpool (Roman Catholic), the highest-ranking church officials in
Christianity has been the largest religion in the region since the
Early Middle Ages; its existence in Britain dates back to the late
Roman era and the arrival of Celtic Christianity. The Holy Island of
Lindisfarne played an essential role in the Christianisation of
Northumbria, after Aidan from
Connacht founded a monastery there as
the first Bishop of
Lindisfarne at the request of King Oswald. It
is known for the creation of the
Lindisfarne Gospels and remains a
place of pilgrimage. Saint Cuthbert, a monk of Lindisfarne,
was venerated from
Nottinghamshire to Cumberland, and is today
sometimes named the patron saint of Northern England. The
Northumbria break from Celtic
return to the
Roman Catholic church, as calculations of Easter and
tonsure rules were brought into line with those of Rome.
Percentage of registered Catholics in the population in
Less than 3%
More than 20%
English Reformation Northern
England became a centre of
Catholicism, and Irish immigration increased its numbers further,
especially in North West cities like
Liverpool and Manchester. In
the 18th and 19th centuries, the area underwent a religious revival
that ultimately produced Primitive Methodism, and at its peak, in
the 19th century,
Methodism was the dominant faith in much of Northern
As of 2016, the list of places of worship registered for marriage for
England included at least 1,960 that are
Independent Methodist, 1,200 Roman Catholic, 370 United Reformed, 310
Baptist or Particular Baptist, 250
Jehovah's Witness and 240 Salvation
Army, as well as many hundreds of churches from smaller
In the ecclesiastical administration of the Church of
entire North is covered by the Province of York, which is represented
by the Archbishop of
York – the second-highest figure in the Church
after the Archbishop of Canterbury. The unusual situation of having
two archbishops at the top of Church hierarchy suggests that Northern
England was seen as a sui generis. Likewise, with the exception
of parts of the
Diocese of Shrewsbury
Diocese of Shrewsbury and Diocese of Nottingham, the
North is covered in
Roman Catholic Church administration by the
Province of Liverpool, represented by the Archbishop of
Methodist church in Leeds, now converted into a Sikh temple
Small Jewish communities arose in Beverley, Doncaster, Grimsby,
Lancaster, Newcastle, and
York in the wake of the
Norman Conquest but
suffered massacres and pogroms, of which the largest was the York
Massacre in 1190. Jews were forcibly banished from
England by the
Edict of Expulsion
Edict of Expulsion until the Resettlement of the Jews in England
in the seventeenth century, and the first synagogue in the North
Liverpool in 1753.
Manchester also has a
long-standing Jewish community: the now-demolished 1857 Manchester
Reform Synagogue was the second Reform synagogue in the
country, and Greater
Manchester has the only eruv in the
United Kingdom outside London. In total, there are 84 synagogues
England registered for marriages.
Spiritualism flourished in Northern
England in the nineteenth century,
in part as a backlash to the fundamentalist Primitive Methodist
movement and in part driven by the influence of Owenist
socialism. There remain 220 Spiritualist churches registered in
the North, of which 40 identify as Christian Spiritualist.
The first mosque in the
United Kingdom was founded by the convert
Abdullah Quilliam in the
Liverpool Muslim Institute in 1889.
Today, there are around 500 mosques in Northern England.
Indian religions are also represented: there are at least 45
gurdwaras, of which the largest is the Sikh Temple in Leeds, and 30
mandirs, of which the largest is
Bradford Lakshmi Narayan Hindu
Transport in the North has been shaped by the Pennines, creating
strong north-south axes along each coast and an east-west axis across
the moorland passes of the southern Pennines. Northern
a centre of freight transport and handles around one third of all
British cargo. Both passenger and freight links between Northern
cities remain poor, which is a major weakness of the Northern
The passenger transport executive (PTE) has become a major player in
the organisation of public transport within Northern city regions; of
the six PTEs in England, five (Transport for Greater Manchester,
Merseytravel, Travel South Yorkshire, Nexus
Tyne and Wear
Tyne and Wear and West
Yorkshire Metro) are located in the North. These coordinate bus
services, local trains and light rail in their regions. Following the
passage of the Cities and Local Government
Devolution Act 2016,
Transport for the North
Transport for the North will become a statutory body in 2018, and will
be given powers to coordinate services and offer integrated ticketing
throughout the region.
Wilmslow Road bus corridor
Wilmslow Road bus corridor in
Manchester is one of the busiest in
The Preston By-pass, opened in 1958, was the first motorway in the UK,
and today an extensive network connects the major cities of the
North. The main western route through the North is the M6, part
of a chain of motorways from London to Glasgow, while the main eastern
motorway is the M1/A1(M), which runs as far north as Newcastle. The
M62 links Liverpool, Manchester,
Leeds and Hull across the Pennines.
Other trans-Pennine roads are comparatively minor, and the lack of any
dual-carriageway connection between the east and west coasts anywhere
England north of the M62 has been identified by the Department for
Transport as a significant hindrance to the Northern economy. In
many cases, modern roads still follow ancient routes: the M62 motorway
effectively duplicates the Roman road between
York and Chester, while
the Great North Road, the stagecoach route from London to Scotland,
became the modern A1 road.
Buses are an important part of the Northern transport mix, with bus
ridership above the
England and Wales average in all three Northern
regions. Many of the municipal bus companies were located in
Northern England, and the region saw intense competition and bus wars
following deregulation in the 1980s and 1990s. Increasing car
ownership in the same era caused bus use to decline, although it
remains higher than in most areas of the South.
Trains from Northern and
TransPennine Express at Preston
The North of
England pioneered rail transport. Milestones include the
Middleton Railway in Leeds, the first railway authorised by Act
of Parliament and the oldest continually operating in the world; the
1825 Stockton and Darlington Railway, the first public railway to use
steam locomotives; and the 1830
Manchester Railway, the
first modern main line. Today the region retains many of its
original railway lines, including the East Coast and West Coast main
lines and the Cross Country Route. Passenger numbers on Northern
routes increased over 50% between 2004 and 2016, and Northern England
handles over half of total UK rail freight, but infrastructure is
poorly funded compared to Southern railways: railways in London
received £5426 per resident in 2015 while those in the North East
received just £223 per resident, and journeys between major cities
are slow and overcrowded. To combat this, the Department of
Transport has devolved many of its powers to Rail North, an alliance
of local authorities from the Scottish Borders down to Staffordshire
which manages the Northern Rail and
TransPennine Express franchises
that operate many routes in Northern England. Meanwhile, new
build such as the
Northern Hub around Manchester,
High Speed 2
High Speed 2 from
Leeds to London and
High Speed 3 from
Liverpool to Hull
and Newcastle is planned to increase capacity on important Northern
routes and decrease travel times.
The first tram line in the
United Kingdom was built in
opened on 30 August 1860. Trams turned out to be especially well
suited for Northern cities, with their growing working-class suburbs,
and by the turn of the century, most Northern towns had an extensive
interconnected electric tram network. At the network's height, it
was possible to travel entirely by tram from
Pier Head to
the village of Summit, outside Rochdale, a distance of 52 miles
(84 km), and a gap of only 7 miles (11 km) separated the
North-Western network from the
West Yorkshire network. Starting
in the 1930s, these were largely replaced by motor buses and trolley
buses. With the closure of
Sheffield Tramway in 1960 and Glasgow
Tramway in 1962,
Blackpool Tramway – popular as a tourist attraction
as much as a means of transport – was left as the only public tram
system in the UK until the
Manchester Metrolink opened in 1992.
Today there are four light rail systems in the North – Blackpool
Sheffield Supertram and Tyne & Wear
International airports of Northern England
Manchester Airport serves as the main international hub for Northern
England and is the busiest airport anywhere in the UK outside London,
handling 27.8 million people in 2017. In total, there are
seven international airports in the North; these are (in descending
order of passenger traffic) Manchester, Newcastle,
Humberside and Durham
Tees Valley. Many of these airports were developed during
the boom in low-cost air travel during the early 2000s, but have
suffered since the Great Recession – Durham
Tees Valley is
running at just 3% of its maximum capacity, and
closed as an international airport in 2014. The devolution
Air Passenger Duty
Air Passenger Duty to
Scotland represents a further possible threat
to Northern English airports, allowing Scottish airports to offer
cheaper flights than their English rivals. Few spoke flights
operate between Northern airports and the national hubs at Heathrow
and Gatwick, putting further strain on the smaller Northern airports
and forcing connecting passengers to travel via continental European
airports. The planned
High Speed 2
High Speed 2 station at
Manchester Airport will
offer direct high-speed services to London, allowing spare capacity at
Manchester Airport to take some of the flights which currently serve
busy London airports.
The first modern canal in
England was Sankey Brook, opened in 1757 to
connect Liverpool's ports to the St Helens coalfields. By 1777,
the Grand Trunk Canal had opened, linking the rivers Mersey and Trent
and making it possible for boats to travel directly from
the west coast to Hull on the east coast. Manchester, 40 miles
(64 km) inland, was connected to the
Irish Sea by the Manchester
Ship Canal in 1894, although the canal never saw the success that was
hoped for. The North retains many navigable canals, including the
Cheshire, North Pennine and South Pennine canal rings, although they
are now used mostly for pleasure rather than transport – the Aire
and Calder Navigation, which carries over 2 million tons of oil, sand
and gravel per year, is a rare exception.
Many Northern coastal towns were built on trade, and retain large sea
Humber ports of
Grimsby and Immingham (counted as a single
port for statistical purposes) are the busiest in the UK in terms of
tonnage, serving 59.1 million tons as of 2015, and
Teesport and the
Liverpool are also among the country's largest – in total,
35% of British freight was shipped through Northern ports.
Roll-on/roll-off ferries offer passenger and freight connections to
Isle of Man
Isle of Man and Ireland along the west coast, while east
coast ports connect to Belgium and the Netherlands, although
Northern ports handle only a small percentage of the UK's vehicle
West of England
^ However, at its height
Northumbria did include the Kingdom of
Lindsey, which corresponds to modern day Northern Lincolnshire.
^ Not to be confused with the town of
Watford on the northern edge of
London, which is used to define the North only in London-centric
^ Part of the
Peak District is located in the Midlands statistical
^ Named "Hull" and "Newcastle" respectively throughout the rest of
^ The Met Office climate region "
England N" is defined as the whole of
England north of the 53°N parallel, approximately from Stoke-on-Trent
to the Wash, and also includes the Isle of Man.
^ The Antonine Wall, across what is now the
Central Belt of Scotland,
was even further north, but Roman control over this area was
^ In this context 'Dane', from
Old English word Dene, refers to
Scandinavians of any kind. Most of the invaders were from modern
Denmark (East Norse speakers), but some were Norwegians (West Norse
^ UK and Irish identities include British, Cornish, English, Irish,
Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh.
^ Within Wales, native Welsh speakers are counted with native English
^ Middlesbrough, Knowsley, Hull,
Liverpool and Manchester.
^ Rochdale, Burnley, Bolton, Blackburn, Hull, Grimsby, Middlesbrough,
Blackpool and Wigan.
Newcastle Brown Ale
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