Moss Side Estate. Greater Manchester. Teenagers huddled on street corners while others ride up and down on bikes outside long deserted boarded-up shopfronts.
The North of England has a tinge of sadness to it. From the gun crime that has dominated estates like Moss Side since the early 1990s to old cobbled town’s whose cotton mills have laid dormant for years. This is an area of the UK with so much to give and to be proud of. Brilliant scenery, friendly locals and a refreshing lack of pretentiousness which can’t be found anywhere in London.
I didn’t fully appreciate how much the rest of the England, and particularly the North, was neglected as opposed to the Capital. I am constantly reminded of this fact by northern friends, but until I jumped ship to move up here I had no idea. Governments past and present have failed these people. A sea of ghost towns have been created by the loss of industry, leaving it wide open to be homogenised by the usual Tesco, McDonalds, et al.
The only southern equivalent to be found are the washed out seaside resorts located on the south coast. With crumbling piers, and sunshine providing the only real source of income, these towns have also been neglected. The fundamental difference between them and their northern counterparts, is that they never had much to offer in the first place.
Consider places like Burnley, Oldham, Rochdale. Once upon a time these milltowns provided a steady source of employment to skilled and unskilled workers alike. Times change, but when we lost the mills, we lost a fundamental sense of community and camaraderie, similar to the Welsh miners. These are towns that are now taken over by greedy property developers, creating a concrete jungle that is more akin to some kind of Gilliam-esque dystopian phantasmagoria. It saddens me more than the lonely seaside resorts, because there was once something beautiful here.
Looking at the redbrick and wonderfully precise York Stone buildings, one is aware of a gold mine of local history. It says a lot about governments past and present that they continually try to embrace the modern in order to improve and maintain Britain’s global standing. I think far more respect would be given to them by the people of this country if they instead invested more in nurturing tradition, as well as revitalising local governments which are in stasis and promoting localised issues.