Skip to content

North-South Dividing Line – Your thoughts please!

An issue that I have not successfully resolved is the dividing line between the North and South of United Kingdom, from the perception of Northern StartUp 2.0. The services provided by Northern Startup 2.0 is for the digital startups in the North of England. At present it excludes Midlands and South Wales due to the perception that companies in these regions may well be aligning themselves with the South instead of the North.

Danny Dorling of the Sheffield University argues that drawing a line is near impossible. You can read his article here.

Click on the image for a detailed map

So the questions are:

1. Should we treat startup companies which are located above the line but below North West, Yorkshire and Humberside as Northern Companies?
2. Secondly, do they want to be treated as Northerners?

Appreciate hearing your thoughts on this subject.

Published inOther
  • Hi Manoj, interesting thought there. Is a North/South dividing line really appropriate here – isn’t it more of a London & SE and the rest of the UK. There seem to be pockets of activity all over the country with the main hubs being London and Manchester. Is there really that much of a geographical split North vs South?

  • Hi Manoj, interesting thought there. Is a North/South dividing line really appropriate here – isn’t it more of a London & SE and the rest of the UK. There seem to be pockets of activity all over the country with the main hubs being London and Manchester. Is there really that much of a geographical split North vs South?

  • Perhaps you are right. I am re-vising first principles. When Northern StartUp 2.0 was setup (at the time North West StartUp 2.0), the idea was to create events for the four regions excluding London. Ivan Pope was supposed to lead South and I was supposed to lead North with Sam Sethi promoting through TechCrunchUK at the time.

    I would love to include startups such as Next2Friends, if so the rules I introduced need changing. Hence seeking thoughts from individuals such as you, my friend.

  • Perhaps you are right. I am re-vising first principles. When Northern StartUp 2.0 was setup (at the time North West StartUp 2.0), the idea was to create events for the four regions excluding London. Ivan Pope was supposed to lead South and I was supposed to lead North with Sam Sethi promoting through TechCrunchUK at the time.

    I would love to include startups such as Next2Friends, if so the rules I introduced need changing. Hence seeking thoughts from individuals such as you, my friend.

  • Matt Grest

    You’ve opened a geo-political can of worms here Manaoj.

    >1. Should we treat startup companies which are located above the line
    >but below North West, Yorkshire and Humberside as Northern Companies?

    Humberside no longer exists as a region, and you’ll not find many folk who shed a tear when it was abolished 12 years ago. It only existed for 22 years and tried (and failed) to unify the areas north and south of the Humber; traditionally areas of the country that were not particularly fond of each other in the first place and, prior to the Humber Bridge opening in 1981 were literally hours apart. As a result, very few people will claim to be “from Humberside”.

    >2. Secondly, do they want to be treated as Northerners?

    This is the key point; people either consider themselves to be firmly ‘Northern’ or firmly ‘not-Northern’; there’s no real middle ground. It’s not a matter of whether you treat companies as Northern or not, it’s 100% down to whether they consider themselves Northern.

    Regarding the accuracy of the North/South divide on your map; based on my earlier point of whether people consider themselves Northern/Southern, I’d strongly disagree with the placement of the line on the Eastern extremity. My home-town is fractionally above the line and I know that every single one of the inhabitants of that town considers themselves to be 100% Northern. This sentiment continues many, many miles south of here.

    If I was to give my view on the Eastern extremity of the line, then I’d take it down to at least the northern edge of The Wash, maybe even further. Do people from Kings Lynn consider themselves Northern? They do get Yorkshire TV down there…

    It’s not a matter of whether you treat companies as Northern or not, it’s 100% down to whether they consider themselves Northern.

  • Matt Grest

    You’ve opened a geo-political can of worms here Manaoj.

    >1. Should we treat startup companies which are located above the line
    >but below North West, Yorkshire and Humberside as Northern Companies?

    Humberside no longer exists as a region, and you’ll not find many folk who shed a tear when it was abolished 12 years ago. It only existed for 22 years and tried (and failed) to unify the areas north and south of the Humber; traditionally areas of the country that were not particularly fond of each other in the first place and, prior to the Humber Bridge opening in 1981 were literally hours apart. As a result, very few people will claim to be “from Humberside”.

    >2. Secondly, do they want to be treated as Northerners?

    This is the key point; people either consider themselves to be firmly ‘Northern’ or firmly ‘not-Northern’; there’s no real middle ground. It’s not a matter of whether you treat companies as Northern or not, it’s 100% down to whether they consider themselves Northern.

    Regarding the accuracy of the North/South divide on your map; based on my earlier point of whether people consider themselves Northern/Southern, I’d strongly disagree with the placement of the line on the Eastern extremity. My home-town is fractionally above the line and I know that every single one of the inhabitants of that town considers themselves to be 100% Northern. This sentiment continues many, many miles south of here.

    If I was to give my view on the Eastern extremity of the line, then I’d take it down to at least the northern edge of The Wash, maybe even further. Do people from Kings Lynn consider themselves Northern? They do get Yorkshire TV down there…

    It’s not a matter of whether you treat companies as Northern or not, it’s 100% down to whether they consider themselves Northern.

  • Matt, excellent argument. I also believe the second point is the most important. But would like to hear from others. In the past I had advice to keep it to the three Northern RDAs (not from RDAs I must add).

    Disclaimer: I have not been exposed to the history as I lived the first 20 years of my life outside UK. Been in Greater Manchester for 8 years, Leicester for 1 year, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne for 5 years and Brighton for 3 years. I know what Brightoners thought of Newcastle at the time.

  • Matt, excellent argument. I also believe the second point is the most important. But would like to hear from others. In the past I had advice to keep it to the three Northern RDAs (not from RDAs I must add).

    Disclaimer: I have not been exposed to the history as I lived the first 20 years of my life outside UK. Been in Greater Manchester for 8 years, Leicester for 1 year, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne for 5 years and Brighton for 3 years. I know what Brightoners thought of Newcastle at the time.

  • Generally, in geographic terms, ‘The North’ is usually descriptive of the North of England, not the UK. Your map swallows up two entire nations – Scotland & Wales – as well as the Midlands…I’m pretty sure residents of those regions won’t self-identify as ‘Northerner’s!

    Geographically, The ‘North’ is generally accepted to be the footprint defined by the three Northern RDAs and oriented around Yorkshire, the North West and North East. As architect Will Alsop wrote in his ‘SuperCity’ essays, around 25% of Britain (15m people) live within an hour or so of the M62 corridor. Also, five of the UK’s 8 core cities fall into this area – Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle & Sheffield. People tend to self-identify with their cities, rather than regions and metro boundaries.

    Despite this, I see the North not as geographic but as conceptual. Historically, this region was the global technological and commercial heart of the Industrial era – the ‘Imperial Silicon Valley’ – from shipbuilding & international ports, to heavy industry, textiles, agriculture & engineering.

    Today’s Silicon Valley isn’t really a place – physically, it’s a bunch of towns that happen to be connected by Highway 101. The prior question for us isn’t really ‘where’ is North, but ‘what’ is North. And perhaps more critically, what does ‘North’ mean globally, not just to Northerners.

    Is it simply a bunch of towns connected by the M62, and M1? With some great urban hubs and strong universities but lacking the global vision, entrepreneurial will and risk-taking innovation embodied by the Valley and earlier eras?

    As Alsop commented – places need stories, heroes and mythologies to become legend.

  • Generally, in geographic terms, ‘The North’ is usually descriptive of the North of England, not the UK. Your map swallows up two entire nations – Scotland & Wales – as well as the Midlands…I’m pretty sure residents of those regions won’t self-identify as ‘Northerner’s!

    Geographically, The ‘North’ is generally accepted to be the footprint defined by the three Northern RDAs and oriented around Yorkshire, the North West and North East. As architect Will Alsop wrote in his ‘SuperCity’ essays, around 25% of Britain (15m people) live within an hour or so of the M62 corridor. Also, five of the UK’s 8 core cities fall into this area – Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle & Sheffield. People tend to self-identify with their cities, rather than regions and metro boundaries.

    Despite this, I see the North not as geographic but as conceptual. Historically, this region was the global technological and commercial heart of the Industrial era – the ‘Imperial Silicon Valley’ – from shipbuilding & international ports, to heavy industry, textiles, agriculture & engineering.

    Today’s Silicon Valley isn’t really a place – physically, it’s a bunch of towns that happen to be connected by Highway 101. The prior question for us isn’t really ‘where’ is North, but ‘what’ is North. And perhaps more critically, what does ‘North’ mean globally, not just to Northerners.

    Is it simply a bunch of towns connected by the M62, and M1? With some great urban hubs and strong universities but lacking the global vision, entrepreneurial will and risk-taking innovation embodied by the Valley and earlier eras?

    As Alsop commented – places need stories, heroes and mythologies to become legend.

  • Imran points out that people in Wales, Scotland and the Midlands probably don’t consider themselves Northeners. Not sure if you ask the average Londoner whether they’d have the same opinion though.

  • Imran points out that people in Wales, Scotland and the Midlands probably don’t consider themselves Northeners. Not sure if you ask the average Londoner whether they’d have the same opinion though.

  • What is important is who feel they are Northern? And how can we draw a line? We need people from Midlands to comment. A site worth visiting http://www.englandsrdas.com/visit_rdas/

  • Steve Brumwell

    Not really sure if being divisive in terms of geography is at all practical, slightly nambie pambie utopian led thinking, which is the last thing I can normally accused of. I certainly dont think of myself as a Northerner but as from Birmingham, when you say you are from the Midlands to Americans, 80% have not got a clue, and generally they think I am Australian anyway. In terms of creating a level of focus and interest through regional promotion, I agree with the notion of Northern Start Ups focusing on everything outside of London and the “Silicon Fen”, perhaps Northern could be “Northern” to bring a level of Irony to the proceedings. As a head hunter it is much much more difficult to recruit for non SE start ups, however having said that, I have successfully done this with YuuGuu. I think if “Northern” start ups can utilise a level of geographic elasticity in their recruitment plans then all will benefit, the company gets the best people and the Southerners become more aware of the World outside Watford Services.

  • Not really sure if being divisive in terms of geography is at all practical, slightly nambie pambie utopian led thinking, which is the last thing I can normally accused of. I certainly dont think of myself as a Northerner but as from Birmingham, when you say you are from the Midlands to Americans, 80% have not got a clue, and generally they think I am Australian anyway. In terms of creating a level of focus and interest through regional promotion, I agree with the notion of Northern Start Ups focusing on everything outside of London and the “Silicon Fen”, perhaps Northern could be “Northern” to bring a level of Irony to the proceedings. As a head hunter it is much much more difficult to recruit for non SE start ups, however having said that, I have successfully done this with YuuGuu. I think if “Northern” start ups can utilise a level of geographic elasticity in their recruitment plans then all will benefit, the company gets the best people and the Southerners become more aware of the World outside Watford Services.

  • What is important is who feel they are Northern? And how can we draw a line? We need people from Midlands to comment. A site worth visiting http://www.englandsrdas.com/visit_rdas/

  • I’m with Imran. The North doesn’t include Scotland or Wales, any more than it includes the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. Scotland and Wales are different *countries* where one (arguably two) speak a different language.

  • I’m with Imran. The North doesn’t include Scotland or Wales, any more than it includes the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland. Scotland and Wales are different *countries* where one (arguably two) speak a different language.

  • I like the notion of Steve, “everything outside London” but need more justification, especially from people who runs startups in these contested regions. Know anyone who might be interested in commenting?

  • Manjo – the hint in your last comment should be in the URL ‘england’.

  • Manjo – the hint in your last comment should be in the URL ‘england’.

  • I like the notion of Steve, “everything outside London” but need more justification, especially from people who runs startups in these contested regions. Know anyone who might be interested in commenting?

  • Philip Oakley

    I would be surprised if either the Midlands or South Wales aligned themselves with “The South” and would agree that it is often London & SE and the rest of the UK. I think that Northern Startup showcases that great Tech businesses can come from outside of London and the surrounding areas.

    I would be disappointed if a business could not be included in Northern Startup activities because they were below or above a certain line. There is no doubt that the West Midlands (and other areas) would benefit from a tech champion like Manoj pushing and pulling like minded people to get together. That said I do not think that having many splintered groups would help the situation so I hope that Northern Startup can include as many people who want to be included.

    I think my line starts at Watford!

  • Philip Oakley

    I would be surprised if either the Midlands or South Wales aligned themselves with “The South” and would agree that it is often London & SE and the rest of the UK. I think that Northern Startup showcases that great Tech businesses can come from outside of London and the surrounding areas.

    I would be disappointed if a business could not be included in Northern Startup activities because they were below or above a certain line. There is no doubt that the West Midlands (and other areas) would benefit from a tech champion like Manoj pushing and pulling like minded people to get together. That said I do not think that having many splintered groups would help the situation so I hope that Northern Startup can include as many people who want to be included.

    I think my line starts at Watford!

  • A comment I received from Twitter “We created this whimsical illustration of the North/South divide a few months ago http://is.gd/17iY

    I like what Philip stated, which gives a larger catchment area. However my thoughts are that some of these startups might not be interested in what Northern StartUp 2.0 is trying to achieve, as they are geographically close to London.

    More comments pl….

  • A comment I received from Twitter “We created this whimsical illustration of the North/South divide a few months ago http://is.gd/17iY

    I like what Philip stated, which gives a larger catchment area. However my thoughts are that some of these startups might not be interested in what Northern StartUp 2.0 is trying to achieve, as they are geographically close to London.

    More comments pl….

  • Interesting debate…

    I am based in the Midlands, but being a northerner (Born in Yorkshire) I’d be more than happy to be aligned with a northern ‘scene’.

    For me, the issue seems to be a split between London and then the rest of the UK, rather than a simple north/south divide.

    The UK is a relatively small country, you can get to most major cities easily in 1 day… we don’t need to be split up the way we are. The problem is that there is so much focus on London as the main tech scene for the UK.

    Isn’t the answer to widen the label? English Startup 2.0 – doesn’t have the same ring to it though!

  • Interesting debate…

    I am based in the Midlands, but being a northerner (Born in Yorkshire) I’d be more than happy to be aligned with a northern ‘scene’.

    For me, the issue seems to be a split between London and then the rest of the UK, rather than a simple north/south divide.

    The UK is a relatively small country, you can get to most major cities easily in 1 day… we don’t need to be split up the way we are. The problem is that there is so much focus on London as the main tech scene for the UK.

    Isn’t the answer to widen the label? English Startup 2.0 – doesn’t have the same ring to it though!

  • Samuel Cotterall

    I don’t think England is big enough to have any real divide, but like most things (music, film and publishing, for example) there is certaintly a greater intensity of something within the M25, bleeding out to the whole of the South West.

    I think our time is better spent doing our own thing – proving great startups are not isolated to one part of the country, rather than debating who sits on what side of this North/South divide.

  • Samuel Cotterall

    I don’t think England is big enough to have any real divide, but like most things (music, film and publishing, for example) there is certaintly a greater intensity of something within the M25, bleeding out to the whole of the South West.

    I think our time is better spent doing our own thing – proving great startups are not isolated to one part of the country, rather than debating who sits on what side of this North/South divide.

  • Samuel,

    this is an important discussion for Northern StartUp 2.0. Northern Stars currently include startups in NW, NE, Yorkshire (also North Wales and Scotland to some extent). The list is not exhaustive. If we are to provide an environment for startups to meet VCs from outside the UK, as we have done on 15th July, they want to be exposed to lot more companies. (Let’s not argue about quantity vs. quality).

    This is also true of bringing Amazon AWS and others to the region. So, I am asking all of you to help me decide which companies to be included. Hope you understand what we are trying to achieve.

  • Samuel,

    this is an important discussion for Northern StartUp 2.0. Northern Stars currently include startups in NW, NE, Yorkshire (also North Wales and Scotland to some extent). The list is not exhaustive. If we are to provide an environment for startups to meet VCs from outside the UK, as we have done on 15th July, they want to be exposed to lot more companies. (Let’s not argue about quantity vs. quality).

    This is also true of bringing Amazon AWS and others to the region. So, I am asking all of you to help me decide which companies to be included. Hope you understand what we are trying to achieve.

  • Manoj,

    I think the ‘divide’ doesn’t make any sense.

    BeLocal is based where ?

    I (Founder) live in Suffolk but travel around the UK – in fact most of my time isn’t in Suffolk.

    The CTO (still in discussion) lives in Yorkshire.

    Our Designer is in York

    Our Commercial Director is in the Peaks

    The Servers are in New York

    We use PayPal which is in California

    The development team are in Dorset

    Our advisory board in Brighton, Liverpool and New York

    Is BeLocal a Northen Star ?

    You get my drift…

  • Manoj,

    I think the ‘divide’ doesn’t make any sense.

    BeLocal is based where ?

    I (Founder) live in Suffolk but travel around the UK – in fact most of my time isn’t in Suffolk.

    The CTO (still in discussion) lives in Yorkshire.

    Our Designer is in York

    Our Commercial Director is in the Peaks

    The Servers are in New York

    We use PayPal which is in California

    The development team are in Dorset

    Our advisory board in Brighton, Liverpool and New York

    Is BeLocal a Northen Star ?

    You get my drift…

  • Simon

    The question is do you want to be a Northern Star given that you are based in Suffolk where your company is based irrespective of where individual staff and components live. Obviously, you are an exception as you get plenty of exposure from Mashupevents, etc. Others may not and Northern Startup 2.0 may be able to help them through number of ways. Hence trying to solve the problem of a boundary.

  • Simon

    The question is do you want to be a Northern Star given that you are based in Suffolk where your company is based irrespective of where individual staff and components live. Obviously, you are an exception as you get plenty of exposure from Mashupevents, etc. Others may not and Northern Startup 2.0 may be able to help them through number of ways. Hence trying to solve the problem of a boundary.

  • I live in Leeds, but grew up in Nottingham.

    I can tell you that we believe ourselves to be East Midlanders first (the West Midlands is a whole different ball-game) – but when it comes to North vs South, we are firmly with the North. Nottingham is (was) an industrial city – textiles and coal – and only half an hour from Sheffield.

    I do agree that for most things, it is London versus the Rest, however.

  • I live in Leeds, but grew up in Nottingham.

    I can tell you that we believe ourselves to be East Midlanders first (the West Midlands is a whole different ball-game) – but when it comes to North vs South, we are firmly with the North. Nottingham is (was) an industrial city – textiles and coal – and only half an hour from Sheffield.

    I do agree that for most things, it is London versus the Rest, however.

  • Admin
  • Admin

  • divide

    I think that there is a little North South divide (but Wales and Midlands are in their own ways very seperate). But as people have previously remarked, there is also a London/the rest divide.

    I come from Kent and there is definite difference in social space, accent (marginal) cultural value and friendliness between people from there and London. Of course class and gender are highly relevant to this discussion too. There is a stereotype of Northern working class saltiness, but I have met lots of Northern/rp hybrid speakers with very middle class views. I’ve also met lots of thick-accent working class Southerners. a geographical divide would seem endlessly hard to establish though.

  • I think that there is a little North South divide (but Wales and Midlands are in their own ways very seperate). But as people have previously remarked, there is also a London/the rest divide.

    I come from Kent and there is definite difference in social space, accent (marginal) cultural value and friendliness between people from there and London. Of course class and gender are highly relevant to this discussion too. There is a stereotype of Northern working class saltiness, but I have met lots of Northern/rp hybrid speakers with very middle class views. I’ve also met lots of thick-accent working class Southerners. a geographical divide would seem endlessly hard to establish though.