Britain's worst places for culture named

Warrington was found to have no listed parks, areas of natural beauty, battlefields, historical ships or listed pubs

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The Independent Online

Warrington is Britain’s worst town for culture, according to a list that evaluated different areas' interesting features compared to their size.

Despite boasting a Victorian art gallery, a 14th Century church and being the final resting place of George Formby, the Cheshire town ranked at number 325 in the Heritage Index, behind Luton, Milton Keynes and East Midlands district North Kesteven.

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Luton Town Centre

The list was calculated by tallying up different areas' cultural assets and dividing them by its size.

Using over 100 data sets, the Heritage Index took a range of features into account, including nature reserves, heritage open days, archaeological groups, blue plaques and designated local foods such as Cornish Pasties.

Warrington was found to have no listed parks, areas of natural beauty, battlefields, historical ships or listed pubs by the Royal Society of Arts, contributing to its low ranking.

Luton, which came 324th, has no registered battlefields, only one grade one listed building and no areas of natural beauty.

North Kesteven, 323rd, has no grade one listed parks and gardens and had no heritage open days last year, while Milton Keynes, 322nd, operates no sight-seeing tours or visitor centres.

The RSA said the list did not aim to embarrass towns such as Warrington, but to demonstrate that by taking advantage of their assets they could boost their cultural capital.

Jonathon Schifferes, associate director of the RSA, said Warrington could increase its score by registering historic buildings with English Heritage and its pubs with Campaign for Real Ale.

He added that Warrington is strongest in the heritage aspect called “cultures and memories”, relating to local history and “intangible” heritage.  

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The Barbican Centre in London

The area most abundant in cultural assets was the City of London, enhanced by the Barbican arts centre and 201 English Heritage blue plaques.

Kensington and Chelsea, Hastings, Oxford, Worchester and Cambridge also ranked in the top 10.

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Watergate Bay near Newquay in Cornwall

Half of the top 20 districts in the Index have a coastline, such as Cornwall, North Devon, and Scarborough, while no link was discovered between heritage and deprivation.

Mr Schifferes said: “A comparison between local areas’ heritage should generate a healthy debate about how to make the most of heritage.”

“The Heritage Index helps – showing relative strengths and weaknesses across a broad definition of heritage, letting us see where strengths could be consolidated and capitalized upon; or areas where under-performance might be addressed.”

“The goal is a shared and richer understanding of what makes a place unique.”

 

Bottom 10 towns for culture

Warrington

Luton

North Kesteven

Milton Keynes

St Albans

Darlington

South Kesteven

South Tynside

Leeds

 

Top 10 towns for culture

City of London

Kensington and Chelsea

Hastings

Oxford

Worcester

Cambridge

Barrow-in-Furness

Southend-on-Sea

Portsmouth

Torbay

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