List of city nicknames in the United Kingdom

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This partial list of city nicknames in the United Kingdom compiles the aliases, sobriquets and slogans that cities in the United Kingdom are known by (or have been known by historically), officially and unofficially, to locals, outsiders or their tourism boards or chambers of commerce. City nicknames can help in establishing a civic identity, helping outsiders recognize a community or attracting people to a community because of its nickname; promote civic pride; and build community unity.[1]

Nicknames and slogans that successfully create a new community "ideology or myth"[2] are also believed to have economic value.[1] Their economic value is difficult to measure,[1] but there are anecdotal reports of cities that have achieved substantial economic benefits by "branding" themselves by adopting new slogans.[2]

Some unofficial nicknames are positive, while others are derisive. The unofficial nicknames listed here have been in use for a long time or have gained wide currency.

A[edit]

Granite is one of the principal materials used in the architecture of Aberdeen, to the extent that it has become known as "The Granite City"
  • Aberdare
    • "Swît Byr-dɛ̄r (Gwentian Welsh), Sweet 'Berdare (English)"[3] A nickname remembered by the very old in the town, but no longer in general use. Popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Example of its use in 1916: "You do not hear a lot about us, but we are nevertheless doing our duty toward our King and country. I hope that I shall be spared to see Sweet 'Berdare once again. - I remain, B. J. Edwards. Sto. No. I. Mess, H.M.S. Colossus, c/o G.P.O. London."
  • Aberdeen
    • "Energy Capital of Europe" – the "greenwashed" name now being used in the city as it tries to project a "greener" image, not based on oil.[4]
    • "Furryboots City"[5] – this is a humorous rendering of the Doric, "far aboots?" ("Whereabouts?"), as in "Far aboots ye frae?" ("Whereabouts are you from?")
    • "The Granite City"[6][7] – the most well-known, due to the copious use of local grey granite in the city's older buildings.
    • "Oil Capital of Europe"[4][8] – there are numerous variants on this, such as "Oil Capital of Scotland" etc.
  • Accrington
    • "Accy"[9] – simple contraction of the name.
  • Aldershot
    • "Home of the British Army" – connection which led to its rapid growth from a small village to a Victorian town.

B[edit]

Architecturally unredeemed shops in Basingstoke town-centre circa 2009
  • Barnsley
    • "Tahn" or "Tarn" – derived from pronunciation of 'town' in the local dialect, although the term is often used with an increasing sense of irony given the relatively neutral accents of younger people in the town.[10]
  • Basingstoke
    • "Basingrad"[11] – reference to a perceived resemblance of the town to the Stalinist-era architecture of similarly-suffixed Soviet cities.
    • "Amazingstoke" – typically used somewhat ironically. Probably spawned by a YouTube video produced by a local rapper.
  • Belfast
    • "Old Smoke" – reference to the observation that in the Victorian era, while much of Ireland (Dublin excepted) remained rural and agricultural, Belfast became the island's primary industrial city.[12]
    • "Linenopolis" – A now largely defunct Victorian title given the city when it led the World's linen industry.
    • "Titanic Town" – In reference to the ill-fated ship, built in the city
  • Birmingham
    • "Brum" – shortened form of "Brummagem", a local form of the city's name. The derived term "Brummie" can refer both to the people of the area, and the local dialect and accent.[13]
    • "City of a Thousand Trades"[14] – with reference to the city's former industrial might.
    • "Workshop of the world" [15] – also a reference to the city's industrial heritage.
    • "Second City" – used by many traders, politicians, and is the popular name of the derby between the city's two football clubs Aston Villa F.C. and Birmingham City F.C.[16] See, however, Second city of the United Kingdom.
    • "The Pen Shop of the World" – Historical, in reference to Birmingham's huge pen trade in the 1800s.[17]
  • Bournemouth
    • "Bomo" – shortened term of the name Bournemouth. BOMO was the code shown on electric multiple units allocated to Bournemouth railway depot when 4-letter codes were in use.
    • "Boccy" – nickname for the suburb of Boscombe, east of the town centre
    • "Bos Vegas" – another nickname for Boscombe
The Wool Exchange, Bradford, reflecting the importance of the wool trade to the city.
  • Bracknell
    • "Cracknell" – denigratory reference to Bracknell's predominantly lower middle class population, many of whom are assumed to be drug-dealers. However, there is no evidence to suggest that drug use is higher in Bracknell than in any other part of the country.[18]
  • Bradford
    • "Bradistan" – suffix -stan refers to the city's large Asian community, particularly from Pakistan. The nickname is used by white and Asian people alike, and came to many people's attention in the film East is East.[19][20]
    • "Woolopolis" – reference to the Victorian era woolen industry in the city, in the style of Manchester's "Cottonopolis"[21]
  • Brighton and Hove
    • Brighton
      • "London-by-the-sea"[22][23][24]
      • "The Queen of Watering Places"[25]
      • "Skid Row-on-Sea"[26]
      • "The People's Republic of Brighton and Hove" – referring to one of the South East's few Labour MPs, the only Green MP and a Labour council all representing the area.
      • "B-Town"
    • Hove
      • "Hove actually" – imagined response distinguishing the area from Brighton.[27]
  • Bristol
    • "Bristle" or "Brizzle" – Bristol natives speak with a rhotic accent. An unusual feature of this dialect, unique to Bristol, is the Bristol L (or terminal L), in which an L sound is appended to words.[28]

C[edit]

Two of the three spires of Coventry: Holy Trinity Church to the left, and the remains of the 14th Century St. Michael's Cathedral to the right.

[48]

D[edit]

Part of the never breached Walls of Derry, giving rise to the name "Maiden City"

E[edit]

The National Gallery of Scotland, an 1859 neo-classical construction
  • Edinburgh
    • "Athens of the North" – a reference to the many new public buildings of the Greek neo-classical style built in the eighteenth century.[57]
    • "Auld Reekie"[58] – (Scots for Old Smoky), because when buildings were heated by coal and wood fires, chimneys would spew thick columns of smoke into the air.
  • Ely
    • "The Ship of The Fens" – referring to the size of the city's cathedral, and that due to the area's low-lying topography, it can be seen from miles around.

G[edit]

  • Glasgow
    • "Dear Green Place"[59] – from one interpretation of the Scottish Gaelic name Glaschu. The name has older British Celtic (Brythonic)roots, reflected in modern Welsh as Glas-coed or -cae. (Green wood, or hollow). The Britons of Strathclyde (Ystrad Clud) were gradually displaced by the Dal Riata Scots, originally from Ireland, in the sixth and seventh centuries.
    • "Red Clydeside" – based on a post World War 1 reputation as a centre of left-wing activity[60]
    • "Second City of the Empire" – reference to the Victorian era industrial past of the city.[61]
    • "Shipbuilding capital of the world"[62] – another reference to the Victorian period in which the Clydeside shipyards were one of the foremost builders in the world.

H[edit]

I[edit]

K[edit]

  • Kingston upon Hull
    • "Hull" – very commonly used shortening of the full name.[65]
    • "Hull on Earth" – pun on the phrase "Hell on Earth".[66]
  • Kettering
    • "K-Town" – commonly used shortening of the full name by youth.
  • Knaresborough
    • "Crag Rat Town" – allusion to the fact that Knaresborough is largely built on a crag above a gorge through which the River Nidd runs.
    • "Rough Knob Arse" – amusing anagram that has been latterly adopted as a nickname.

L[edit]

The construction of inner-city motorways in Leeds such as the Inner Ring Road (pictured) and the M621 in the 1970s led to its nickname motorway city of the 1970s
  • Leeds
  • Lichfield
    • "The Three Sticks" – originally a Citizen Band [CB] Radio reference to the three spires of Lichfield Cathedral.[citation needed]
  • Liverpool
    • "The Capital of Culture 2008"
    • "The World Capital City of Pop"
    • "The Second City of the British Empire"[72]
    • "The Centre of the Creative Universe"[citation needed]
    • "The Pool of Life" – credited to Carl Jung, who said "Liverpool is the pool of life"[73]
    • "Capital of North Wales"[citation needed]
    • "The Pool"
London's smogs inspired its nickname "The Smoke", as well as this work by Claude Monet.
  • Llanelli
    • "Tinopolis"
  • Llantrisant
    • "The hole with the Mint" - a play on a Polo mint advertising slogan and the fact that Royal Mint is situated in Llantrisant.
  • City of London
    • "The City"[74]
    • "The Square Mile" – reference to the area of the City.[74] Both these terms are also used as metonyms for the UK's financial services industry, traditionally concentrated in the City of London.
  • London
    • "The Great Wen" – disparaging nickname for London. The term was coined in the 1820s by William Cobbett, the radical pamphleteer and champion of rural England. Cobbett saw the rapidly growing city as a pathological swelling on the face of the nation.[75]
    • "The Smoke" / "The Big Smoke" / "The Old Smoke" – air pollution in London regularly gave rise to pea soup fogs, most notably the Great Smog of 1952, and a nickname that persists to this day.[76][77][78]

M[edit]

Manchester earned the nickname "Cottonopolis" in the 19th century due to its large number of cotton mills, as shown in this 1857 painting Manchester from Kersal Moor.
  • Manchester
    • "Cottonopolis" – originated in the 19th century, in reference to the predominance of the cotton industry there.[79]
    • "Granadaland" – coined from the region's commercial TV operator, Granada Television, which is based in the city at Granada Studios, it was also used as a moniker for Manchester itself, especially in the media world.[80]
    • "Gunchester" – name attached to the city by media in the 1990s because of the high incidence of gun crime in south Manchester.[81][82]
    • "Madchester"[83] – the name arising from a musical scene in the city in the late 1980s and early 1990s; and which has been attributed to Shaun Ryder, of the Happy Mondays[84]
    • "Manchesterford" – portmanteau of Manchester and Salford, began as a fictional setting for Victoria Wood's 1980s series of sketches on BBC TV, Acorn Antiques,[85] but gained colloquial popularity, especially on the gay scene and was immortalized in iron and song lyrics during a 2005 staging of a stage musical version of the TV sketches.[86]
    • "Rainy City" – Manchester is often perceived to have rainy weather.[87]
    • "Manny" – shortened version of Manchester.
    • "Warehouse city" – also emerged as a nickname in the 19th century thanks to the large number of warehouses constructed (1,819 by 1815), particularly concentrated in a square mile around the city centre. Many of these were noted for their scale and style.[88]
  • Mevagissey
    • "Fishygissey" – because of the town's pervading odour of fish.
  • Middlesbrough
    • "Boro" – shortening of "borough", originally used to refer just to Middlesbrough F.C.[89]
    • "Ironopolis" – from the city's former role in the iron industry.[90]
    • "The Steel River" – not a specific nickname for Middlesbrough itself but rather the River Tees owing to the areas expansive steel industry on both sides of the river.[91]
    • "Infant Hercules" – After a quote from William Gladstone that went "This remarkable place, the youngest child of England's enterprise, is an infant, but if an infant, an infant Hercules."
  • Morecambe
    • "Naples of the North".
    • "Bradford-on-Sea" – because of the numbers of people from Bradford who holidayed at the resort.[92]

N[edit]

O[edit]

An aerial view of Oxford city centre, showing some of the spires that give the city its nickname.
  • Oxford
    • "The City of Dreaming Spires" – a term coined by poet Matthew Arnold in reference to the harmonious architecture of Oxford's university buildings.[95]

P[edit]

  • Padstow
    • "Padstein" – in reference to celebrity chef Rick Stein's impact on the town[96]
  • Perth
  • Pontefract
    • "Ponte" – shortened version of Pontefract.
    • "Ponte Carlo"[11] – possibly alluding to an alleged architectural similarity with Monte Carlo
  • Portsmouth
    • "Pompey" – thought to have derived from shipping entering Portsmouth harbour making an entry in their logs as Pom. P. in reference to Portsmouth Point. Navigational charts also use this abbreviation. Other derivations of the name exist.[97]
  • Preston
    • "Proud Preston" – this nickname was said by Edmund Calamy to have been common in 1709,[98] and it remains in use to this day.[99] A common misconception is that the "PP" on the city's coat of arms stands for "Proud Preston", though the city council states that it actually stands for "Princeps Pacis" (Prince of Peace).[100]
    • "P-Town" (often shortened to "P") – nickname increasing in popularity during the early 2010s due to its evident abbreviation, and is also used to suggest monetary gain, usually ironically.[citation needed]
  • Plymouth
    • "Ocean City" – rebranded by the government as of 2013.[101]
    • "Spirit of Discovery" – local council backed tag for the city, which relates to the Pilgrim Fathers, who departed from Plymouth for America in the 17th century.[102]
    • "Guzz" – naval term, from a south Asian word for a measurement (yard – dockyard – homeport – Devonport – Plymouth).[103]

S[edit]

Tower blocks in Salford
  • Salford
  • Saint Davids
    • The City of Saints – due to its Whitesands Bay, supposedly being the birthplace of Welsh patron Saint David and his mother Saint Non.
    • Smallville – because it is the UK's smallest city.
    • Tydd/Tyddew – a shortened phrase of the Welsh translation of Saint Davids, Tyddewi. Usually used by locals.
  • Scunthorpe
    • "Scunny" – shortened version of Scunthorpe
  • Sheffield
    • "Steel City" – reference to the dominant industry in Sheffield in the nineteenth and twentieth century.[105]
    • "People's Republic of South Yorkshire" (or Socialist Republic of...)[106] – reference to the left wing politics of the city during the 1980s.[107]
    • "England's largest village" – term coined locally to reflect indigenous pride in the perceived inherent friendliness of the City's inhabitants and its low crime rates.[108]
  • Skegness
    • "Skeggy" – shortened version of Skegness
    • "Skegvegas"
  • Southampton
    • "Soton" – from the shortening of Southampton to So'ton on road signage
  • Spalding
    • "The jewel of the fens" or "inbred country".
  • St Austell
  • Stamford
    • ”The mothership” “Centre of the known Universe”
  • Stoke-on-Trent
    • "The Five Towns" or "The Six Towns" – in the novels of Arnold Bennett the area that was to become the city is referred to as "the Five Towns"; Bennett felt that the name was more euphonious than "the Six Towns" so Fenton was left out .[110]
    • "The Potteries" – after the city's former main industry.[111]
  • Sunderland
    • "Sunlun" – from the local pronunciation of the town's name.
  • Swansea
    • "Copperopolis" – due to the city's past as a centre of the copper industry.[112][113]

W[edit]

  • Wakefield
    • "The Merry City" – reputation for high alcohol-consumption dates from the 19th century.[114]
    • "Wakey" – shortened version of Wakefield.
  • Warrington
    • "Wazza" – shortened version of Warrington.
  • Watford
    • "Watty" – shortened version of Watford.
    • "Grotty Watty"
  • Winchester
    • "The City of Kings and Priests" – reputation as the historic capital founded by King Alfred the Great, as well as being an important religious foundation,[[115]
    • "Wenta" – shortened version of the city's original name back when first established,[116] Caerwenta
  • Wolverhampton
  • Worcester
    • "The Faithful City" – reference to the English Civil war.[117]
  • Worthing
    • "Sunny Worthing" – acquired this nickname in the 1890s, due to the town's location on one of the sunniest parts of the UK.

Y[edit]

The Berrick Saul building at the University of York
  • York
    • "Chocolate City" – due to the chocolate factories in the city

See also[edit]

General:

References[edit]

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  113. ^ "Plans to celebrate 'Copperopolis'". BBC News. 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  114. ^ Wakefield facts[permanent dead link] Wakefield Family History Sharing website
  115. ^ The Pitkin City Guides, Winchester
  116. ^ Winchester A Miscellany
  117. ^ Worcester Cathedral during the English Civil War – 1642 to 1651 – Worcester Cathedral Website.