The question that titles this post is an interesting one. There are a number of indicators found in maps and data around us that point to a ‘yes’ answer of the question; and in this blog post I’ll lay out a few my Dad and I discussed in the conversation that led to this post.
SIDENOTE: I’m writing this on a brand new laptop! Yayy! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year.
So, in my opinion a good place to start with this would be the numbers. London has a population of well over 7 million – a lot of people! It’s followed by:
Birmingham – just over 1 million
Leeds – 730,000
Glasgow – 620,000
Sheffield – 530,000
Every single other city in Britain has a population of under 500 thousand. But it’s the 6 million person gap between our largest city, London, and our second largest, Birmingham, that I’d like to draw your attention to. Is this normal? Take the demographics of Germany’s largest cities. Although not Britain’s direct counterpart, it is fit enough for the purpose of this.
Berlin – 3.5 million
Hamburg – 1.7 million
Munich – 1.2 million
Cologne – 960,000
You see here four cities much closer in size to each other than Britain’s population; we only have one major city, while Germany has three.
Transport is another telling factor. Here is a diagram of Britain’s trains:
The main rail lines come out of London like spokes of a wheel. And at this wheel’s centre? Our capital.
If you look at a map of roads you find pretty much the same effect:
All roads lead to… London?
These maps need to be delved into a bit more. Transport systems are built because people need to travel somewhere. A road would be pretty useless if no one wanted to use it. So therefore the need to travel into London from all over Britain is behind the transport system. Of course, we know that roads and trains do work both ways. But anyone who’s felt the discomfort of a tightly packed commuter train at 8:00 in the morning will know that masses of people commute into and out of London each day. The south of England seems to have become just the outer suburbs of the capital.
I admit I may be exaggerating this slightly. Britain is certainly not Greater London yet, however I do have a strong feeling that it’s heading that way. You would never hear any politician say this though, as the concept has a tendency to make all those not living in London feel excluded and secondary.
So the question is still just a question; and quite a random one at that.
http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/HTMLDocs/dvc193/#sty=false&flow=flow0&period=0&fix=undefined&view=-120,-360,1280,1280&tr=-570.8091175752195,-728.5407484276022&sc=2.105262309418878 – (This one’s a particularly good infographic for the number of commuters in a given area)