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 and towns 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.


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"[4]
    • "Furryboots City"[5] – 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.


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
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • "Venice of the North" – a name likening the city to Venice, Italy, in southern Europe, due to both having a large number of canals.[15]
    • "Workshop of the world"[16] – 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 and Birmingham City[17]
    • "The Pen Shop of the World" – Historical, in reference to Birmingham's huge pen trade in the 1800s.[18]
      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.[19]
  • Bradford
    • "Bratford" – the way "Bradford" is pronounced by some Bradfordians.[20][21][22]
    • "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.[23][24]
    • "Bruddersford" – name coined by J. B. Priestley for his fictional portrayals of Bradford.[25][26]
    • "Curry Capital of Britain" or simply "Curry Capital" – a title gained by the city's rich history with curry. It won the Curry Capital of Britain (which ran from 2001 to 2016) a record seven times. It also hosts the World Curry Festival.[27][28]
    • "Woolopolis" – reference to the Victorian era woolen industry in the city, in the style of Manchester's "Cottonopolis"[29]
    • "Wool City" – same reason as above, as it was the former "Wool Capital of the World".[30]
    • "Worstedopolis" – as above, but more frequently used.[31][32]
    • "City of Film" or "Film City" – a title bestowed upon the city in 2009 when it became the first UNESCO City of Film.[33] It has a long history with film and filmmaking, which started with inventors and pioneers of film in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The city has many cinemas, and courses, festivals and other events to do with film. The city is often used as a location for film and TV productions,[34] and is home to the National Science and Media Museum.
  • Brighton and Hove
    • Brighton
    • Hove
      • "Hove actually" – imagined response distinguishing the area from Brighton.[40]
  • Bristol
    • "Bristle" or "Brizzle" – an unusual feature of the Bristol dialect, is the Bristol L (or terminal L), in which an L sound is appended to words.[41]


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
  • Cardiff
  • Chichester
    • "Chi" – shortened version of Chichester, pronounced 'Chy'.[52]
  • Coventry
    • "Cov" - abbreviation of Coventry.
    • "CoVegas"
    • "Britain's Detroit" – arising from its one-time status as the centre of UK car manufacturing; an appellation dating back to at least 1916.[53][54][55][56]
    • "City of Peace and Reconciliation" – branding adopted from 2008 onwards, as part of the City of Sanctuary movement.[57][58]
    • "City of three spires" – referring to the cathedral spire; Holy Trinity Church; and Christ Church's spire.[59][60]
    • "Motor City" – as with "Britain's Detroit", an allusion to the city's motorcar industry.[53][54][61]
    • "Poventry" - Portmanteau of poverty and Coventry - a denigratory reference to Coventry's societal deprivation, urban decay and uglification compared to other British cities. However, in recent times it is regarded as a hub of the 'Midlands Engine', with high levels of employment in modern industries.
  • Cumbernauld
    • "What's it called? Cumbernauld" – used repeatedly in a TV advert[62]


Part of the never-breached Walls of Derry, giving rise to the name "Maiden City"
  • Derby
    • "Derbados"[63] – portmanteau of Derby and Barbados
  • Derry
    • "The Maiden City"[64] – name allegedly attaches since the city's walls were never breached[65]
    • "Stroke City" – referring to a normal form of presenting the two names of the city – Derry/Londonderry[66]
  • Doncaster
    • "Donny"[67][68] – shortened version of Doncaster.
  • Dundee


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, the most visually prominent of which, the incomplete National Monument, was modelled on the Parthenon.[71]
    • "Auld Reekie"[72] (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.


  • Glasgow
    • "Dear Green Place"[73] – 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 I reputation as a centre of left-wing activity[74]
    • "Second City of the Empire" – reference to the Victorian era industrial past of the city.[75]
    • "Shipbuilding capital of the world"[76] – another reference to the Victorian period in which the Clydeside shipyards were one of the foremost builders in the world.
  • Great Yarmouth
    • "Yarco" – simple contraction of the name.




  • Kingston upon Hull
    • "Hull" – very commonly used shortening of the full name.[81]
    • "Hull on Earth" – pun on the phrase "Hell on Earth".[82]


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
    • "Capital of the North"[83][84][85]
    • "Gothic City"[86]
    • "Knightsbridge of the North"[87]
    • "London of the North"[88]
    • "Motorway City of the Seventies"[89]
  • Leicester
    • "City of Kings" due to Leicester being the burial place of Richard III and King Leir (legendary/mythical founder of the city, after whom the city is said to have been named, and inspiration for King Lear) and, tongue in cheek, of the ghost of Lady Jane Grey the "Lady King" who is said to haunt Bradgate Park, just North of the city.
    • "King of the Midlands" from the time when Leicester was reputed to be the second richest city in Europe.
    • "Centre of England" due to the geographical centre of England being in a field just to the West of the city.
  • Lichfield
  • Liverpool
    • "Ireland's Second Capital"[92][93][94]
    • "The World in One City"[95]
      London's smogs inspired its nickname "The Smoke", as well as this work by Claude Monet
  • City of London
    • "The City"[96]
    • "The Square Mile" – reference to the area of the City.[96] 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 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.[97]
    • "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.[98][99][100]


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.[101]
    • "Capital of the North" – the Greater Manchester Built-up Area is the largest metropolitan area in Northern England.[102][103][104][105][106][107][108]
    • "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.[109]
    • "Gunchester" – name attached to the city by media in the 1990s because of the high incidence of gun crime in south Manchester.[110][111]
    • "Madchester"[112] – 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[113]
    • "Manche" - abbreviation of Manchester.
    • "Manchesterford" – portmanteau of Manchester and Salford, began as a fictional setting for Victoria Wood's 1980s series of sketches on BBC TV, Acorn Antiques,[114] 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.[115]
    • "Rainy City" – Manchester is often perceived to have rainy weather.[116]
    • "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.[117]
  • Middlesbrough
    • "Boro" – shortening of "borough", originally used to refer just to Middlesbrough F.C.[118]
    • "Ironopolis" – from the city's former role in the iron industry.[119]
    • "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.[120]
  • Morecambe
    • "Bradford-on-Sea" – because of the numbers of people from Bradford who holidayed at the resort.[121]



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.[130]


  • Padstow
  • Perth
  • Plymouth
    • "Ocean City" – rebranded by Plymouth City Council as of 2013.[132]
    • "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.[133]
    • "Guzz" – naval term, from a south Asian word for a measurement (yard – dockyard – homeport – Devonport – Plymouth).[134]
  • Pontefract
    • "Ponte Carlo"[11] – ironically alluding to the dissimilarity 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, and the city's football club is also nicknamed "Pompey".[135]
  • Preston
    • "Proud Preston" – this nickname was said by Edmund Calamy to have been common in 1709,[136] and it remains in use to this day.[137] 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).[138]


Tower blocks in Salford



See also[edit]



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