Stuart Maconie, a BBC 6 Music presenter and a regular on TV, travelled to Hyndburn while writing Hope and Glory to retrace the history of the Accrington Pals, who fought in the First World War.Sounds a lot like Southend!
However, the book paints a less-than-flattering portrait of the town today, complaining of ‘pallid youths’, ‘chain-smoking women’, graffiti and the prevalance of shops like Cash Converters that offer payday loans.
Maconie writes: “The main street is a crowded, unlovely hotchpotch of cheap shops, minicab offices and fast-food outlets that can fur your arteries just by looking at their logos and a few desultory and cheerless pubs.”Oh, no, not really that much like it, then. We mostly have coffee shops…
But the description hasn’t gone down well with the worthies in Accrington:
Michael Whewell, a chamber of trade member and owner of Whewells of Accrington in Bridge Street, said: “I live and work in Accrington and it is not very comforting to have these sorts of comments from outsiders. It is insulting.Wow! A Marks and Spencer AND a Costa Coffee! Accrington’s going up!
“The town centre has had its problems but we have tried to improve its image.
“Cash Converters is a national chain. We also have a Costa Coffee and a Marks and Spencer but I notice he doesn’t mention those.”
Hyndburn Council leader Miles Parkinson added: “We would all like to be like Knightsbridge or Monte Carlo but we are a hard-working town that’s going through change to make it better.The comments – usually vociferous in condemning the outside, are surprisingly in favour of Mr Maconie’s outlook, though...
“It is very easy to knock from the outside.”