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The Great North-South Cultural Divide

By Christian Rose-Day (04 Aug 10)
Tags: london underground overground culture north south river thames museum boris johnson mayor music opera theatre dalston hoxton shoreditch horniman whitechapel geffrye piccadilly circle district london underground overground culture north south river thames museum boris johnson mayor music opera theatre dalston hoxton shoreditch horniman whitechapel geffrye piccadilly circle district london underground overground culture north south river thames museum boris johnson mayor music opera theatre dalsto

Header image for The Great North-South Cultural Divide
·        Half of north Londoners never cross the river for work or play

·        North London seen as more culturally rich but South Londoners have more eclectic cultural interests

·        The Mayor of London Boris Johnson urges Londoners to cross the great divide

 

54% of Londoners living north of the River Thames never venture south for either work or cultural pursuits and south Londoners are twice as likely to cross the river for culture. That’s according to a survey of 300 Londoners from both sides of the river published recently by CultureLine, a partnership of 10 museums and galleries along the new London Overground East London route.

 

More than 60% of those surveyed said north Londoners are bigger culture vultures than their southern counterparts and, even when the cultural attractions of central London were excluded, the same number of people felt north London had more to offer in terms of culture.

 

However, the survey found that south Londoners may in fact have more eclectic and adventurous cultural tastes. 55% of north Londoners rated eating out as one of their top three interests, followed by visual arts and popular music. While eating out and visual arts also ranked highly for South Londoners (47% and 38% rated these as top three interests), they were also more likely to enjoy the capital’s performing arts, heritage, classical music and markets.

 

80% of south Londoners cross the river at least once a month for cultural pursuits compared to just 41% of Northerners. 48% of north Londoners visit the south of the capital for culture less than once a month and 7% never do this. Both north and south Londoners, however, are more likely to cross the river to visit cultural attractions with the recent opening of the London Overground East London route which connects Dalston, Hoxton, and Shoreditch in the north with New Cross, Forest Hill and West Croydon in the south. 85% of southerners and 78% of northerners said they would consider using the line to visit museums and galleries on the other side of the capital.

 

When asked which of London’s tube and rail lines they most associated with culture, Londoners rated the District, Piccadilly and Circle lines - which pass by attractions such as the British Museum, the Royal Academy and the V&A - most highly. The new London Overground East London route, which opened in May and passes near venues such as the Geffrye Museum, Whitechapel Gallery and Horniman Museum, was ranked fourth. The Northern line was the line most associated with work.

 

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “North or south, I urge Londoners to cross the great divide and discover the rich cultural treasures, cuisines and dialects to be found on the other side of the river. London Overground is opening up the capital like never before, making it even easier to get to know our trans-Thames neighbours and discover the gems of the city."

 

Janet Vitmayer, Chief Executive of the Horniman Museum and CultureLine spokeswoman, said: “It seems from our survey that some of the old north/south London prejudices are alive and well and that they even extend to our enjoyment of culture in the capital. It is high time these perceptions are challenged and we are inviting all Londoners to try a ‘culture swap’ this summer and cross the river to visit new places and cultural attractions. With the opening of the London Overground line from Dalston to Croydon this has never been easier."

 

Londoners will be able to enjoy a weekend of discovery along the CultureLine from 6-8 August when the 10 museums and galleries involved will be throwing open their doors for a three-day extravaganza of special events. These include a talk on the Alice Neel: Painted Truths exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, Africa Live! - a day of African culture at the Horniman Museum, a day of garden games from Victorian times to the present day at the Geffrye Museum, a Thames Tunnel Fancy Fair at the Brunel Museum, and a guided tour at the Crystal Palace Museum. 

 

There are thousands of fascinating objects in the 10 museums including the Igbo Ijele - Africa’s largest mask, George Washington’s false teeth, and a reconstruction of an East End eel, pie and mash shop.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Lars Plougmann

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