‘Light-hearted’ study classes Lynn as a northern town

A “light-hearted” study based off of bakery locations has classed Lynn as a northern town.

But the scholars behind it admit their model is flawed, with the most southerly points of Cornwall also put in the same bracket.

Academics at the Sheffield Hallam University have attempted to define the north-south divide in England based on how many Greggs and Pret a Manger stores certain areas have.

The Greggs bakery on High Street in Lynn. The study has classed the town as northern.
The Greggs bakery on High Street in Lynn. The study has classed the town as northern.

This was achieved by using machine-learning algorithms to determine the relative geographical distributions of both companies in regions across England.

Lynn, for example, will soon have four Greggs premises – but there is no Pret a Manger in the town.

The study says: “It assigns the top of Norfolk, including Lynn and the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as northern. Norwich avoids this and remains classified as southern.”

The two bakeries were selected for the study because of “anecdotal” evidence that a town has more “Northern-ness” if there are more Greggs shops, with the company first starting up in Newcastle, and is more southern if it has more Pret stores, of which there are 282 in London alone.

The north-south divide that the findings drew up starts just below the Dorchester area, cutting up diagonally through Peterborough before swinging right and passing along the top of Norfolk.

Academics added: “This light-hearted study is designed to highlight real and important cultural and socio-economic differences between the north and the south of England, and demonstrate that these are in some ways reflected by consumer habits.

“We attempted to align our Greggs-Pret lines with Gross Domestic Household Income with some success.

“However, this is more likely a reflection of the London-centricity of both England’s wealth and its Pret a Manger shops. Additionally, this Greggs-Pret comparison determined that Cornwall – even including the most southern point in England – is actually northern.

“For these reasons, the Greggs-Pret index appears to have significant limitations.”