Northern England

Northern England

North of England, the North Country
Nickname(s): 
The North
The three Northern England government regions shown within England, without regional boundaries. Other cultural definitions of the North vary.
The three Northern England government regions shown within England, without regional boundaries. Other cultural definitions of the North vary.
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Constituent countryEngland
Counties
10 Largest settlements in order of population
Area
 • Total14,414 sq mi (37,331 km2)
Population
 (2011 census)[1]
 • Total14,933,000
 • Density1,000/sq mi (400/km2)
 • Urban
12,782,940
 • Rural
2,150,060
Demonym(s)Northerner
Time zoneGMT (UTC)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (BST)

Northern England, also known as the North of England or simply the North, is the northern part of England, considered as a single cultural area. It extends from the Scottish border in the north to near the River Trent in the south, although precise definitions of its southern extent vary. Northern England approximately comprises three statistical regions: the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. These have a combined population of around 14.9 million as of the 2011 Census and an area of 37,331 km2 (14,414 sq mi). Northern England contains much of England's national parkland but also has large areas of urbanisation, including the conurbations of Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Teesside, Tyneside, Wearside, and South and West Yorkshire.

The region has been controlled by many groups, from the Brigantes, the largest Brythonic kingdom of Great Britain, to the Romans, to Anglo-Saxons and Danes. After the Norman conquest in 1066, the Harrying of the North brought destruction. The area experienced Anglo-Scottish border fighting until the unification of Britain under the Stuarts, with some parts changing hands between England and Scotland many times. Many of the innovations of the Industrial Revolution began in Northern England, and its cities were the crucibles of many of the political changes that accompanied this social upheaval, from trade unionism to Manchester Capitalism. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the economy of the North was dominated by heavy industry such as weaving, shipbuilding, steelmaking and mining. The deindustrialisation that followed in the second half of the 20th century hit Northern England hard, and many towns remain deprived compared with those in Southern England.

Urban renewal projects and the transition to a service economy have resulted in strong economic growth in some parts of Northern England, but a definite North–South divide remains both in the economy and the culture of England. Centuries of migration, invasion and labour have shaped Northern culture, and the region retains distinctive dialects, music and cuisine.

Definitions

Northern England is located in England
Watford Gap
Watford Gap
Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent
Crewe
Crewe
Sheffield
Sheffield
Richmond
Richmond
Various "gateways" to the North

For government and statistical purposes, Northern England is defined as the area covered by the three statistical regions of North East England, North West England and Yorkshire and the Humber.[2] This area consists of the ceremonial counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, County Durham, East Riding of Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear and West Yorkshire, plus the unitary authority areas of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. This definition will be used in this article, except when otherwise stated.

A map of the historical counties of England, with Northern counties highlighted.
Northern England as defined along historic county boundaries

Other definitions use historic county boundaries, in which case the North is generally taken to comprise Cumberland, Northumberland, Westmorland, County Durham, Lancashire and Yorkshire, often supplemented by Cheshire,[3] or are drawn without reference to human borders, using geographic features such as the River Mersey and River Trent.[4] The Isle of Man is occasionally included in definitions of "the North" (for example, by the Survey of English Dialects, VisitBritain and BBC North West), although it is politically and culturally distinct from England.[3]

Some areas of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire have Northern characteristics and include satellites of Northern cities.[4] Towns in the High Peak borough of Derbyshire are included in the Greater Manchester Built-Up Area, as villages and hamlets there such as Tintwistle, Crowden and Woodhead were formerly in Cheshire before local government boundary changes in 1974,[5] due to their close proximity to the city of Manchester, and before this the borough was considered to be part of the Greater Manchester Statutory City Region. More recently, the Chesterfield, North East Derbyshire, Bolsover, and Derbyshire Dales districts have joined with districts of South Yorkshire to form the Sheffield City Region, along with the Bassetlaw District of Nottinghamshire, although for all other purposes these districts still remain in their respective East Midlands counties. The geographer Danny Dorling includes most of the West Midlands and part of the East Midlands in his definition of the North, claiming that "ideas of a midlands region add more confusion than light".[6] Conversely, more restrictive definitions also exist, typically based on the extent of the historical Northumbria, which exclude Cheshire and Lincolnshire.[7] [a]

Personal definitions of the North vary greatly and are sometimes passionately debated. When asked to draw a dividing line between North and South, Southerners tend to draw this line further south than Northerners do.[7] From the Southern perspective, Northern England is sometimes defined jokingly as the area north of the Watford Gap between Northampton and Leicester[b] – a definition which would include much of the Midlands.[7][9] Various cities and towns have been described as or promoted themselves as the "gateway to the North", including Crewe,[10] Stoke-on-Trent,[11] and Sheffield.[12] For some in the northernmost reaches of England, the North starts somewhere in North Yorkshire around the River Tees – the Yorkshire poet Simon Armitage suggests Thirsk, Northallerton or Richmond – and does not include cities like Manchester and Leeds, nor the majority of Yorkshire.[13][14] Northern England is not a homogenous unit,[15] and some have entirely rejected the idea that the North exists as a coherent entity, claiming that considerable cultural differences across the area overwhelm any similarities.[16][17]