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"
  • 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.[3]
    • "Furryboots City"[4] - This is a humorous rendering of the Doric, "far aboots?" ("Whereabouts?"), as in "Far aboots ye frae?" ("Whereabouts are you from?")
    • "The Granite City"[5][6] - the most well-known, due to the copious use of local grey granite in the city's older buildings.
    • "Oil Capital of Europe"[3][7] - There are numerous variants on this, such as "Oil Capital of Scotland" etc.

B[edit]

  • Belfast
    • "Old Smoke" - a reference to the fact that while much of Ireland remained rural and agricultural (except Dublin), Belfast became the island's primary industrial city in the Victorian era.[8]
  • Birmingham
    • "Birmingham Science City" - Birmingham is one of six cities to receive a "Science City" designation from central government. The cities are active in promoting and funding opportunities for scientific enterprise in their locality.[9]
    • "Brum" - shortened form of "Brummagem", one of many variant spellings of the city's name. The derived term "Brummie" can refer both to the people of the area, and the local dialect and accent.[10]
    • "City of a Thousand Trades" [11] - with reference to the city's former industrial might.
    • "Workshop of the world" [12] - 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..[13] 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.[14]
The Wool Exchange, Bradford, reflecting the importance of the wool trade to the city.
  • Bradford
    • "Bradistan" - the 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.[15][16]
    • "Woolopolis" - a reference to the Victorian era wool making industry in the city, in the style of Manchester's "Cottonopolis"[17]
  • 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.[24]
    • "Science City Bristol" - Bristol is another of the six cities to receive a "Science City" designation in 2005 from central government.[25]

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.
  • Cambridge
    • "City of perspiring dreams" - by contrast with Oxford's nickname, "the city of dreaming spires". Coined by author and screenwriter Frederic Raphael in The Glittering Prizes.[26][27] "Perspiring Dreams" was later the title of the Cambridge Student Union's alternative prospectus.[28]
    • "Silicon Fen" - often applied to Cambridge and the immediately surrounding region, because of the large number of high-tech businesses in the area. The name refers to the similarities to Silicon Valley in California, and the location close to The Fens. In contrast to Scotland's Silicon Glen which relates to manufacturing[29][30]

D[edit]

  • Derby
    • "Derbados" - portemanteau of Derby and Barbados
  • Derry
    • "The Maiden City"[36] - the name allegedly attaches since the city's walls were never breached[37]
    • "Stroke City" - referring to a normal form of presenting the two names of the city - Derry/Londonderry[38]
  • Doncaster
    • "Donny" - shortened version of Doncaster.

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.[39]
    • "Auld Reekie"[40] - (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 Ely Cathedral, and that due to the area's low-lying topography, it can be seen from miles around.

G[edit]

  • Glasgow
    • "Dear Green Place"[41] - from one interpretation of the Scottish Gaelic name Glaschu
    • "Red Clydeside" - based on a post World War 1 reputation as a centre of left-wing activity[42]
    • "Second City of the Empire" - a reference to the Victorian era industrial past of the city.[43]
    • "Shipbuilding capital of the world"[44] - another reference to the Victorian period in which the Clydeside shipyards were one of the foremost builders in the world.

H[edit]

  • Huddersfield
    • "Hudds" - shortened version of Huddersfield.
    • "The Big HUD" - common colloquial nickname used by young people in the town.

I[edit]

  • Inverness
    • "Capital of the Highlands"[45]
    • "Invershnecky"[45]
  • Ipswich
    • "County Town of Suffolk"[46]
    • "The Switch"[47]
    • Ippo - A shortened version of Ipswich
    • Ipers - A shortened version of Ipswich
    • "East Anglia's Waterfront Town"[48]

K[edit]

  • Kingston upon Hull
    • "Hull" - A very commonly used shortening of the full name.[49]
    • "Hull on Earth" - A pun on the phrase "Hell on Earth".[50]

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
  • Lichfield
    • "The Three Sticks" - Originally a Citizen Band [CB] Radio reference to the three spires of Lichfield Cathedral.[citation needed]


London's smogs inspired its nickname "The Smoke", as well as this work by Claude Monet.
  • City of London
    • "The City"[57]
    • "The Square Mile" - a reference to the area of the City.[57] Both these terms are also used as metonyms for the UK's financial services industry, traditionally concentrated in the City of London.

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.[62]
    • "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.[63]
    • "Gunchester" - a name attached to the city by media in the 1990s because of the high incidence of gun crime in south Manchester.[64][65]
    • "Madchester"[66] - 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[67]
    • "Manchester Science City" - Manchester is another of the six cities to receive a "Science City" designation in 2005 from central government.[68]
    • "Manchesterford" - A portmanteau of Manchester and Salford, began as a fictional setting for Victoria Wood's 1980s series of sketches on BBC TV, Acorn Antiques,[69] 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.[70]
    • "Rainy City" - Manchester is often perceived to have rainy weather.[71]
    • "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.[72]

N[edit]

  • Nottingham
    • "Nottingham Science City" - Nottingham is another of the six cities to receive a "Science City" designation in 2005 from central government.[75]
    • "Queen of the Midlands"[76]

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.[77]

P[edit]

  • Pontefract
    • "Ponte" - shortened version of Pontefract.
    • "Ponte 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.[78]
  • Preston
    • "Proud Preston" - this nickname was said by Edmund Calamy to have been common in 1709,[79] and it remains in use to this day.[80] 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).[81]
    • "P-Town" (often shortened to "P") - a 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
    • "Spirit of Discovery" - a local council backed tag for the city, which relates to the Pilgrim Fathers, who departed from Plymouth for America in the 17th century.[82]
    • "Guzz" - Naval term, from a south Asian word for a measurement (yard - dockyard - homeport - Devonport - Plymouth).[83]

S[edit]

Tower blocks in Salford
  • Sheffield
    • "Steel City" - a reference to the dominant industry in Sheffield in the nineteenth and twentieth century.[85]
    • "People's Republic of South Yorkshire" (or Socialist Republic of...)[86] - a reference to the left wing politics of the city during the 1980s.[87]
    • "England's largest village" - a term coined locally to reflect indigenous pride in the perceived inherent friendliness of the City's inhabitants and its low crime rates.[88]
  • 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 .[89]
    • "The Potteries" - after the city's former main industry.[90]
  • Swansea
    • "Copperopolis" - due to the city's past as a centre of the copper industry.[91][92]

W[edit]

  • Wakefield
    • "The Merry City"- reputation for high alcohol-consumption dates from the 19th century.[93]
    • "Wakey" - shortened version of Wakefield.
  • Worcester
    • "The Faithful City" - reference to the English Civil war.[94]

Y[edit]

The Berrick Saul building at the University of York
  • York
    • "Science City York" - York is another of the six cities to receive a "Science City" designation in 2005 from central government.[95]
    • "Chocolate City", due to the former chocolate factories in the city

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Muench, David "Wisconsin Community Slogans: Their Use and Local Impacts", December 1993, accessed 10 April 2007.
  2. ^ a b Alfredo Andia, Branding the Generic City :), MU.DOT magazine, 10 September 2007
  3. ^ a b Arnold, James (2003-11-12). "A burst of energy in Europe's oil capital". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  4. ^ "BBC Have Your Say: Regional accents: Your experiences". BBC News. 2005-08-16. Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  5. ^ "The Granite City". Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  6. ^ "Granite City Wanderers Hockey Club". Archived from the original on 2007-04-05. Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  7. ^ "OIL & GAS SITUATION REPORT : UKCS and North East Scotland (Mid 1999)". Retrieved 2007-05-20. 
  8. ^ Rick Steve's Europe - belfast
  9. ^ Birmingham Science City homepage
  10. ^ Birmingham or Brummagem?, Birmingham City Council
  11. ^ Chiefs admit Brum skyline mix-up, BBC News website, 14 August 200
  12. ^ The Workshop of the World - An Outlook for Birmingham, Barclays Capital, 2011
  13. ^ Tongue, Steve (25 April 2010). "No love lost between Firm friends in Second City derby". independent.co.uk (London). Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  14. ^ Pen Trade of Birmingham
  15. ^ Hussain, Yasmin; Paul Bagguley (2005-07-01). "Citizenship, ethnicity and identity: British Pakistanis after the 2001 "Riots"". Sociology 39 (3): 407–425. doi:10.1177/0038038505052493. Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  16. ^ Shackle, Samira (2010-08-20). "The mosques aren’t working in Bradistan". New Statesman. 
  17. ^ Jim Greenhalf, Sir Mark hails our musical tradition, Telegraph & Argus, 20 September 2010
  18. ^ Darwin Porter, Frommer's England 2011
  19. ^ William Davenport Adams, Songs of society, from Anne to Victoria, 1880
  20. ^ John Lane, Talk of the Town
  21. ^ Antram, Nicholas; Morrice, Richard (2008). Brighton and Hove. Pevsner Architectural Guides. London: Yale University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-300-12661-7. 
  22. ^ Brighton's come a long way from Skid Row-on-Sea, The Argus
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  24. ^ Stoke, Harry; Vinny Green (2003). A Dictionary of Bristle. Bristol: Broadcast Books. ISBN 1-874092-65-6. 
  25. ^ Bristol Science City homepage
  26. ^ Frederic Raphael (1976). The Glittering Prizes. 
  27. ^ Graham Chainey (1995). A literary history of Cambridge. CUP Archive. p. 277. 
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  31. ^ City of Arcades, Morgan Quarter website
  32. ^ City of Sanctuary - Coventry
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  35. ^ Iain Soden, A Typical English Churchyard?, BuildingConservation.com
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  37. ^ Images Of Ireland - The Maiden City
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  39. ^ Stana Nenadic, The Rise of Edinburgh, British History in-depth, BBC
  40. ^ Auld Reekie is the most miserable place to live in Britain, The Times, 27 August 2008
  41. ^ Deadly Green Place
  42. ^ Iain Maclean, No Mean City : 1914 to 1950s, from The Glasgow Story website
  43. ^ Victorian Glasgow, BBC
  44. ^ Victorian Scotland - BBC
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  46. ^ University Campus Suffolk
  47. ^ Switch Fringe
  48. ^ All About Ipswich
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  66. ^ Sounds of 1989 - Madchester
  67. ^ Jonathan Schofield, Music Capital City - Introduction, in Music Capital - History of Manchester Pop in four chapters
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  69. ^ Acorn Antiques (DVD), BBCShops.com website
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  71. ^ "Guy Garvey's Rainy City", BBC 6 Music, 2010-10-14 
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  73. ^ Newcastle Science homepage
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  75. ^ Nottingham Science City homepage
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  81. ^ "Civic crest". preston.gov.uk. Preston City Council. 
  82. ^ "A new life in the New World". The BBC. 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  83. ^ "How Plymouth Command Got its Two Proverbial Names". 
  84. ^ Beard, Matthew (2005-10-24), "Salford tries to shake off its image of a 'dirty old town'", The Independent (London) 
  85. ^ Steel City: an Archaeology of Sheffield's Industrial Past, University of Sheffield
  86. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 19 May 1997 (pt 17)". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  87. ^ The rise and fall of socialism in one city, Issue 69 of International Socialism Journal, Winter 1995
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  89. ^ Arnold Bennett - Son of Stoke-on-Trent, The Potteries.org website
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  93. ^ Wakefield facts Wakefield Family History Sharing website
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  95. ^ Science City York homepage