Cor, blimey! Luton is voted the 'crappiest' town in Britain

The place immortalised by Lorraine 'Luton Airport' Chase is brought down to earth with a snub

First there was Slough, John Betjeman's ideal target for a bombing raid. Then there was Hancock's dreary East Cheam and Lord Gnome's ville noire, Neasden. Now there is a new star in the firmament of vilified British towns: Luton, home to a package holiday airport, a second-rate football team and some of the ugliest architecture in the land.

The Bedfordshire town has just come top - or bottom - of a contest to find the 50 most awful places in the country. The depressing results are revealed in a book published this week, and, according to the publishers of Crap Towns II, Luton won hands down.

"It was the one that really stood out," said the compiler, Sam Jordison, "and the simple reason is that it is incredibly ugly. Architecturally it is the worst town in the country. It is too close to London for there to be any proper facilities. At the same time it's far enough away to generate an other-worldly sense of neglected isolation."

Luton is still more closely associated with the late Eric Morecambe, who claimed to follow the football team, than with anybody who actually lived there. Only Paul Young, the 80s pop star and John Hegley, the poet, owe allegiance to the town.

Hegley yesterday attempted a rearguard action. "Luton is a holy place," he claimed, "and I say that with no more than a healthy amount of irony."

There was plenty of competition, some of it surprising. Bath, Bournemouth and Newbury all make their appearance alongside more predictable targets such as Wrexham, Hackney and Corby. Hull, last year's winner, fell by 31 places.

Windsor is a controversial choice as runner-up to Luton, damned by the snobbery of its inhabitants. "The big thing about Windsor is that its townsfolk believe that by living near the castle they are more or less royalty themselves," one resident complained to the authors.

Sunderland, where "residents shuffle around the town's meagre consumer options like zombies", comes in at number three. Nothing, meanwhile, could divide Glasgow and Edinburgh for dreadfulness, according to the voters, and the cities registered a joint fourth place.

Crap Towns II is published by The Idler, a small magazine dedicated to the pursuit of leisure. The first edition of the book was a surprise hit when it appeared last year, selling 120,000 copies. This time round, say the authors, they have been deluged with contributions and have persuaded 20,000 members of the public to nominate their most hated location.

Shoppers in Luton town centre came to its defence yesterday. Caroline Littler, 30, said it was better than most industrial towns: "Most people only know it from passing through. There are plenty of green spaces, good sports facilities and really nice pubs." Helen Watson, a 21-year-old veterinary nurse, said the maligned town is "not as rough as people say".

But Keith Jacobs, a 34-year-old lorry driver, was uncompromisingly downbeat. He said: "Luton deserves its reputation as a horrible dive. The houses are run down and there's nothing nice to look at."

Natawarlal Lad, a 53-year- old retired medic, was more damning still. "The town is becoming really ugly. There's no future. Once my son has finished university he will go elsewhere to look for a job."

'The Idler Book of Crap Towns II - The Nation Decides' is published by Boxtree, price £10

Additional reporting by Janek Schmidt

The crap 10

1 Luton

2 Windsor

3 Sunderland

4= Edinburgh & Glasgow

6 Clapham

7 Bath

8 Nottingham

9 Corby

10 Middlesbrough

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations and Administration Support Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Solar P...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Specialist

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is changing the way at...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Web Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Business Development Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to develop an ...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor