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( crown) Even Doctor Who wouldn't leave the Tardis unlocked in his new home town!
Northampton in General
Member Name: thedevilinme
Northampton in General
Date: 28/02/10, updated on 04/03/10 (535 review reads)
Advantages: Good sports teams
Disadvantages: The crown that went to the guide...
The famous oldie worldy journalist Danielle Defoe once described Northampton as the 'handsomest town in all this part of England'. But that was back in 1676. Its certainly not an asthetically pleasing place anymore, looking like it fell out the ugly tree and hit every branch! Moral is so low the front of the Chicago Rock Café fell off last night in pure desperation as the 'R' landed on the bouncer!
Before Blair got into power the town was neat and tidy enough for Hyacinth Bucket, no less, to live hear in 'Keeping Up Apperances', the town used for locations for the very British sitcom. But Under New Labour Northampton has changed dramatically, going from that traditional upwardly mobile market town to a cosmopolitan but non-descript and boring Midlands town, purely a destination for someone who wants to work, surrounded with huge industrial estates that have acted like giant magnets to Eastern Europe, the worker drones trudging in on the arterial roads every morning like iron fillings to that magnet of hard labour. Although the third largest town in Great Britain without city status its purely a place you come to have a family, not to find inspiration and a good career. The most glamorous thing here is a bloody grave, that of Princes Diana.
Here is my A-Z of the place I was born in, escaped regularly from to seek that excitement and glamour, but will probably end up rotting away in, all very depressing. I'm seriously considering getting involved in local politics now to change that general apathy here as the town has always had great potential. We are one of very few towns or indeed cities with a major cricket, rugby and football team in the country and our location in the heart of England with motorway and train connections should bring far better here. If we do get the World Cup to England then the Poles could base their team here, a home from home, now 30,000 Eastern Europeans living in Northamptonshire. We failed miserably to get the Jamaican Olympic team based here, Birmingham winning out this week, bound to be lumbered with the Ghana team or something. That apathy was summed up when plans for a huge Ikea warehouse to move here and for the Cobblers to expand the football stadium to 20,000 were both knocked back by the moron council.
A is for Abington Street
This is the main shopping street, a predicable generic mix of the usual chain and department stores and those mobile phone places. But what we never had before under the Tory's and John Major was pound stores and pawn shops in the town centre, now three 99p stores and three pound versions in the centre. The pawn shops are everywhere, David Dickenson no less opening one not last week. It has become a 'cheap town' because of its high transient population and it's more working-class than ever. The poshest shop we have is one of those that sells Pot Poirier and monogrammed letterheads!
B is for Balloon Festival
We recently lost our balloon festival, a big summer event and crowd-puller for the town, the council's decision to start charging people after 17 successive years it being free and drawing huge crowds of 200,000 plus the straw that broke the camels back. Although the fee was three quid there was nothing to see, and never was, other than the usual pyramid of young lads on the back of an old motorbike and a kite flying demonstration, the whole event only worthwhile if the weather is good and so the balloons can actually go up. In recent years it became clear the balloonists couldn't be bothered to launch in marginal conditions and they too got bored of the event, resulting in it being dumped last year.
C is for the Charles Rennié Mackintosh
78 Derngate, a rather innocuous house in the town centre, is bizarrely one of our most famous historical sights, a house 'done up' but not owned by the famous Scottish architect. It's CRM only commissioned work outside of London, nicknamed locally, 'the house that Jock built'. There's a much more exciting and Art deco designed house near Abington Park by a German designer but I can never remember the address. Dooyoo member Koshka has written an excellent write up on CRM house if you want to know more.
D is for Diana
The Princess of Wales is allegedly buried on the island of the family estate, a museum and various attractions in the late 1990s pulling in the punters £££££, mostly menopausal housewives though, any men on the grounds of Althorp being gay or designated drivers. Charlie '£££££' Spencer made a few quid off the back of his mawkish enterprise, making a complete mockery of his infamous speech at the funeral by turning her grave into a tacky tourist attraction (although, as yet, not neon lit at night), the 'Goddess of Hunting' still under halogen flashbulb attack from the tourists in her death (to be fair Diana would have secretly enjoyed that). Everyone exploited Diana and she exploited every single one of them back, her obsession with being the world's most famous woman what killed her. At the time of Spencer's speech lambasting the intrusive media his sister was courting he too was in the media, working as a showbiz reporter for, amongst other publications, Hello Magazine, snooping around in famous people's lives his job. Some say he was jealous of his sister's fame and wanted some of it to rub off, a man of there wives and little respect for women, refusing to even allow his sis to stay at Althorp on the few occasions when Diana genuinely needed to hide away from it all. Last year the visitor numbers (£15 day ticket and £30 family!) dropped away at Althorp House to around 500 a day and the house and grounds is only open in high summer now as the Diana exhibition is now sent around the world to generate more cash.
E is for the Express Lift Tower
It was once the highest building in the UK (we also had the 'lowest' building in the U.K., that of the Groggers Rest pub) but now the tower a disused embarrassment. It was built to test lifts but for some reason the world no longer needs to test lifts in purpose built towers. If your not testing them here then where guys? Please don't tell me you built another tower! It's all very odd and now purely used as a marker for visiting rugby fans to find the Saints home ground just below it.
F is for Famous residents
We have everyone from Burt Reynolds ex wife (Judy Carne) to current gay stand up comedy king (no, not Michael Macintyre) Alan Carr, the son of our most successful recent football manager, Graham Carr, he the leader of the legendary (in our minds) mid 80s Cobblers side, the lads scoring 100 points and 100 goals in 1987!
Miss Marple (Joan Hickson) was born in Kingsthorpe, Northampton, as was the far less talented (always a drink in her hand - in the sitcom) Lesley Joseph of 'Birds of a Feather' fame, very much a sitcom town it seems. Actress Nanette Newman (she was famous once) and Radio One's Jo Whiley are locals as is broadcaster Andrew Collins, who wrote a dire book about the town (and so very accurate). Further investigation on wikipedia reveals that Actor Robert Llewellyn, Kryten from Red Drarwf, lived just around the corner from me as a kid. James Morrison, the poor mans James Blunt, lived her 'for a bit' (presumably where he got his meloncholy from), as did Roger Moore and Des O'conner, where they got their incentive to leave and be very famous. And on that entertainment theme the new Doctor Who is also a Northampton boy, of course, who I tenously know through being a cricket writer. Even Doctor Who wouldn't leave the tardis unlocked here though, why he now has that beep beep electronic lock we saw on the last episode. Marc Warren, Danny Blue from The Hustle, was born just around the corner from Matt by the way. Sport wise we can muster only Greame Swann and Derek Redmond.
G is for Grand Prix
If Diana's bones attracted menopausal women and camp men to the town in the last ten years then Silverstone brings the testosterone and celebrity. The town and county are very proud of having the British Grand Prix and have stopped that little man Ecclestone taking it away on many occasions. It's the home of motor sport and the fact that ten teams build their cars and engines not thirty miles from the circuit suggests by right it's the home of the sport, Cosworth building the generic F1 engine for 2010 in the town. Yes it's expensive to get in Silvers but it is worth it and brings the worlds attention on to this county. When Sly Stallone car breaks down in nearby Towcester and four hairy bikers give him a push on to the A43 then you know glamour is in town!
H is for History
Charles Bradlaugh, the famous 'radical MP'(he was slightly right of Hitler) and town MP of long ago is a name of note here and still celebrated, if those polics float your boat, as is Jerome K Jerome, who just scribbled notes on a boat. Local MP from long ago Spencer Perceval went on to be the last Prime Minister to be shot in the House of Commons, assassin John Bellingham doing the deed in 1812, although we would have no problems with reknewing that noteriorty this year with Gordon Brown or Cameron. John Clare, who went nuts through heavy drinking, was aslo resident in the town and one of the 19th centuries most important poets (think of that Blackadder scene in Mrs Miggins Pie shop!). Northamptons oldest standing building is The Church of the Holy Scepulture, just off the twon centre, one of the biggest round churches in England and designed on the church of the same name in Jeruselum. Its very impressive to look at although the drunks sleep in the grave yard.
I is for Immigration
To show how rigged central governments assessment is of how much money you get to deal with the asylum and immigration surge, my town is assessed as being 88.7% White. In that 87% white is a huge mass of Poles putting a stress on services, having one-in-five of the babies born in the general hospital. But we have a lot of black African asylum seekers here too and both those groups are not reflected in the statistics so to avoid extra funding coming our way to deal with it, why the council tax goes up and up every year. I would say about 70% of the town is English now. Anyone who lives here should be able to confirm that to you. Northampton officially has the 4th highest concentration of overseas residents outside of London. Before Blair we were 75th in GB in that statistic.Im not complaining about the place being cosmopolitan as most of these guys work and some even pay council tax but I am the fact we are getting bigger and bigger in negative ways as far as services go.
To be fair you don't see those guys in the dole office and the Poles have a cracking work ethic, many second hand cars packed with young lads in fluorescent jackets heading out to graft on the many industrial estates here in the morning, proudly preferring to go home when the work dries up or gets boring rather than sign on like certain other racial groups tend to in the U.K. I recommended to my MP in 2008 that we should repay that Polish work ethic to the town by officially adopting Poland as the town's team after England failed to qualify for the European Championships. With 30,000 plus of them here doing most of the tedious temp work on behalf of our 2000 plus long term unemployed it seemed a good commercial idea, people with some extra cash ready to spend. The council sent me a letter and said no, not even sanctioning some footy banners over the high street, yet again a chance to mix and make friends with our new comers blighted, the long term unemployed the ones who would probably complain on racism grounds.
J is for Jobs
There is surprisingly low unemployment here and we have weathered the recession, the HQ's of Carlsberg, Nationwide and Barclaycard notable employers. We are not too reliant on public service jobs and there are plans to make cuts by selling off the peripheral ones like parks and gardens and refuse. A guy I know who litter picks on the parks gets a mind boggling £334 a week for 37 hours (no weekends) and a tasty pension to! It can take up to two years to fire union slackers. They even employed a mass murderer just out of prison on the parks and gardens here, forgetting to ask him what he had done in the previous 21 years, the guy repeating the same murder of a prostitute in only this third week of employment, and with a Borough Council hammer!
K is for Killers
Northampton has the highest number of dangerous people incarcerated here bar Rampton Mental Prison, St Andrews the countries most exclusive and expensive top security hospital hidden in the most idyllic of town centre locations. The facility has its own cricket ground and nine hole golf course and so all the more innocuous, but sure to have some dark secrets, the countries Shutter Island, possibly! We have had two serving Royals in there and the celebrities that are too far gone for The Priory, Paul Gascoigne's own room dusted down and ready. It is the only building in the town that had those double red lines outside on the road, absolutely no parking on any circumstances or you will be shot type deal. About ten years ago one patient escaped and immediately blew up a litter bin with a pipe bomb outside of the perimeter fence, a concern indeed.
L is for Lawmakers
Northampton has surprisingly low serious crime and very rarely do the cops discover firearms that can or have been used, only the occasional bank heist in the news. As we are a transient town on the M1 the drugs seem to just whiz through between London and Birmingham. We don't have any criminal gangs and most crime is delinquent stuff. Muggings are up here as they are nationally because we now carry more valuable items on the person that these guys can pawn than we do in the house. Burglary is down 8% here and muggings are up 10% to bare that out.
It was Northamptonshire Police who recently discovered that over 50% of Burglars who left a footprint at the crime scene wore Reebok trainers. Apparently it's because they are light and silent and aid speedy getaways. It's not an agreed strategy in the robbing community to wear these so to confuse the coppers as they are too thick to consider that. Sadly we are slashing beat bobbies and replacing them with the community wardens here, up to 19 of them walking Nptons streets today but managing just ONE arrest between them in 2008. Still today our most famous criminal moment is the fact the Great Train Robbers got off here and legged it.
M is for the Market Square
Its one of the countries biggest (we think the biggest), dating back to the 13th century, and still smelling like that in the summer! The council ripped up the ancient cobbles ten years ago (health & safety) and put new cobbles in (still compo claims going in). They have also reduced the traditional market stalls by 50%, causing uproar amongst traders, believed to be a compromise for traditional retailers paying higher rents to sell the same tat. The council's traffic warden blitzkrieg policy has driven shoppers out of town and into Milton Keynes and so the feeling is the council covertly wants to get rid of the market through a war of attrition and extend the shopping centre on top of it, it valued at £122 million.
N is for Northampton Town FC
With a couple of promotions in the last ten years the football team are as yo-yo as ever, the affluent owners in the Cardoza family incredibly patient or just plain stupid. They want to develop the land around the Sixfields Stadium site and build a hotel and casino. But the council won't let them and so the owners have stopped buying good players in retaliation, all loans and out-of-contracts deals now. We are safe this season but if this continues its Conference football by 2012. The purpose built 7000 seat stadium is the sum of our aspirations, football wise.
O is for Overspill
Northampton is growing faster than a pensioner on Viagra in a Thai Brothel! New houses are being built on flood plains and we intend to expand to city status by 2025, big John Prescott demanding another 30,000 houses as immigration pushes the big city overspill up and down the M1as the country swells to 70 million people. 95% of the British population lives in the cities and towns and Labour are coming after the Tory stronghold of the countryside with these mini new towns.
P is for Pop
The King of Pop Michael Jackson wasn't born here but Feye Tozer from Steps was! No, me neither, presumably the one on the end. Some of you older ones may remember Bauhaus (formerly 'Jack Plug and the Sockets', believe it or not) and no one has heard of non entities 'Slipstream', (alternative college Indie band). Rebecca Hunter, a singer from pop group allSTARS*; Pat Fish, leader of the 'Jazz Butcher', and 'The Departure, a rock band who have gone on to gain mainstream success, complete the walk of fame on the Market Square. (as yet no money found to fund that that walk although I'm sure they will find it soon).
Q is for Queen Eleanor's Cross
There were twelve wooded crosses King Edward placed on the funeral route across England to commemorate his wife Queen Eleanor's death, the cortège moving from Charring to Lincoln, an impressive romantic gesture. Only three crosses survived, now decorated in stone, and Northamptonshire has two of them. They are in the same state as the Queen though.
R is for Rugby
The Saints are having an amazing season and sit second in the league and still in all three cups. Ben Foden has been a revelation as have other signings over the summer. I'm not a huge fan of rugby and so rarely watch although you do tend to get cracking women watching rugby which you don't at lower league football.
S is for the Speeding and traffic tickets
Northamptonshire has the most cameras for a shire and the fifth most in the country for a city or town. The speeding partnership between council and the police love it and they are coining it in, one camera actually attached to the police station and another making one million pounds just by itself! Because we are an arterial location many cars are transient and so not from the county and so easy targets. To put it in context, in 1998 the cameras bagged £148,000 grand and in 2008 it had risen to £2.5 million in just one year.
Northampton is the fifth most parking ticketed place in England with wardens handing out a peak of 72,500 yellow tickets in 2005, the first year of private wardens. Pretty much everyone in the town has been ticketed and the system is very advanced, the wardens allowed to fully utilizing the towns very advanced CCTV system to catch drivers. If you briefly stop on a patrolled area, yellow lines etc, without a warden to see you a camera can snap you there and then for the fine. The CCTV system is being abused and not used to catch the bad guys, why our police have one of the worst crimes clear up rates for street robbery and burglary in the country.
Northampton also pioneered the supermarket car park scams. Because 1.4% of the population are disabled and so access to a blue badge the law states supermarkets with less than 200 parking places must offer at least two disabled places for every one hundred on offer. But the supermarkets are sneaky and offer far more, meaning many are in priority places close to the entrance of the store but remain empty. It's pretty obvious that most people who use the blue badge are not always the owner of the blue badge and have 'borrowed it' to go shopping or to park on double yellows outside the bank. The point here is that the people, often young mums with kids, who can't find a spot for young mums with kids near the store- 50% of shoppers in the day time- dive in there and then get snapped on the car park cameras for using a disabled space. I worked out a well known store about ten years ago and they make hundreds of thousands of pounds through parking enforcement, Northampton also pioneering out of town stores and car park fining.
T is for Tunnels
Northampton has a much darker history under the streets (and I'm not talking about the sewers), a lattice of old crumbling tunnels, crypts and vaults linking various ancient houses and churches around the town lying unseen and mysterious. Clashes between church and state in the medieval times happened regularly and so the tunnels were believed to have been built by the church to escape the king's forces over the decades and centuries. The battle for Northampton Castle was one of the most pivotal in the War of the Roses, King Henry himself captured in the town by Yorkists! It's believed the once Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Thomas a Becket, may have fled from Northampton's now derelict Castle (torn down by King Charles's 11 for our support of the parliamentarians in the English Civil War) through a tunnel to the central All saints Church so to make haste to France and freedom. In fact the castle was the countries parliament in the 12th century when the Normans were in charge. Bloody immigrants!
U is for University College Northampton
Our first university was established as early as 1261 by scholars from Cambridge (no media studies then!). It briefly flourished, but was dissolved by Henry III in 1265 apparently as it posed a threat to Oxford. University College Northampton poses no threat to Oxford now. Its most popular course is 'American Studies'.The English course probably lists University College Northampton under the example of an 'Oxymoron'. It has been accussed of taking students on just for funding reasons rather than academic ones and has one of the worst of those cheap cinema adverts in history. To get its uni status (previously the less erudite Nene College) it had to get the Privvy Council to overturn King Henrys decree that their should be no higher learning here. Margeret Thatcher opened Nene College back in 1972 and it has climbed to 87th in the good university list (well take that! I never even knew there was that many universites). 74 million pounds of recent spending has taken it form 107th postion in 2006. Northamptonshires star-and now ex-cricketer- riki Wessels played for their extremly succesful hockey team. Honorary degree recipitants included Former F1 world champion and president of the British Racing Drivers' Club Damon Hill, Kettering born comedian Hugh Dennis, fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, Andrew Collins, Joe Willey and singer Joan Armatrading.
V is for Vision
The town planners have finally grasped the nettle and set to utilise the River Nene that runs through the centre of the city likea sewer. If you ever wonder why Carlsberg beer tastes so horrible its because the brewery is here and they suck up the green and brown water to make the beer. The river is quite nice in places and yet theres never been a riverside pub in the town centre. Theres one up the river near the industrial estate and that used to be crammed in the summer and a cool place to go. Cute women loved it as it means guys with cars. With plans to build a marina on the old Avon Cosmetics site in the towen (they moved to Poland for cheap labour, all very ironic...) the signs are good that the riverside will become cool and we will bring in some trade. We have more water around the town going spare than after a Kate Winslett acceptance speech at an awards ceromoney but we just don't use it.
W is for Wantage Rd
Wantage Road is the home of Northamptonshire County cricket, my beloved team, and who I write on for the local paper. We had a good season last year when the better players finally made an effort for the whole campaign and if you want to taste some one-day cricket then get down to your local county ground for some T20. Its £15 for three hours cricket and when the beer is flowing and when the sun goes down under our new floodlights it's a good night out with a surprisingly high number of pretty girls going. We do Sunday afternoon games to for the same price and the more erudite 4-day cricket in the week.
X is for XXX
If you want to get laid then Northampton on a weekend is no different to any other market town, although don't expect your conquest to be sober. It's a white working-class town on the whole and so the pubs geared to that demographic, tinny dance and pop music 'banging' out in pretty much every bar on the main town centre drag. There's one or two 'studenty' bars but they are now up by the university, town centre not the middle-class drinking hub by any means. We have seen some piano bars pop up, a further demarcation in the social class's night out but these places tend to be full of men with sports cars and fake tans and girls wanting to date such men. Even I wouldn't be seen in there!
Y is for the Y chromosome!
Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick, he who helped map the human genome, discovered the Y chromosome, critical in DNA databases. He was born in Northampton and certainly in the right place to find the 'missing link', especially on a Friday Night! We erected a rather modern and out of place metallic statue in tribute to him on the main high street, something more suited to the lobby of a towering Manhattan skyscraper if you ask me, not a graffiti ridden drunken two finger salute to the gene pool between a pawnbrokers and our only local Primak it has become.
Z is for Zebra crossing!
Useless fact of the day! Northampton has the most Zebra crossing and beep beep things outside of the big cities. Apparently a lot of road signage was pioneered in Northampton by town planners. We had the first National Speed limit sign with the black line through the white circle to go with all our speeding tickets!
I await you're A-Z's guys!
Summary: The decay of the market town
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