Dr Derek J. Ripley examines the age old question - who's better, Lankies or Tykes?
PUBLISHED: 00:05 13 August 2013 | UPDATED: 18:01 19 January 2016
Which is better - Lancashire or Yorkshire? It's a question which has been debated for centuries. There was once only one way to find out - fight. And fight they did, for 30 long years in the Wars of the Roses until the decisive battle at Bosworth on August 22, 1485.
The Yorkists should have been clear favourites to win as they outnumbered the Lancastrians by two to one, probably because the battle took place at the height of the holiday season when many fun-loving Lancastrians were in Blackpool, while the parsimonious Yorkists were more likely to have stayed at home.
Led by Henry Tudor, the brave men of Lancashire prevailed. Despite his noble background, Henry had a tough upbringing. He came from a single parent family - his father Edmund died three months before Henry was born - and his mother Margaret was clearly something of a wild child as she was only 13 when she gave birth to him. But Henry was a man of destiny. Tall and rugged with typical Lancastrian good looks, he no doubt cut a dashing figure striding purposefully across the battlefield, unflinching as the arrows flew past him, like a medieval Brad Pitt. Richard, by contrast, was short and squat, hideously deformed, and cowered pathetically behind a tree, calling for a horse to make his escape. I will not gloat over a famous Lancastrian victory, suffice to say that Henry not only won the crown but proved conclusively the supremacy of the red rose over the white.
That the victorious Lancastrians buried Richard in a car park in Leicester, rather than give him a proper military burial in Barnsley or Doncaster, is without doubt a reflection of the depth of the emnity which existed.
With typical Lancashire magnanimity, Henry married Richard’s niece, Elizabeth of York, a minor royal who ran a bridal shop which still exists to this day and has its own website: ‘Our approachable, friendly and experienced staff will be glad to assist you in your search for the perfect gown whatever your budget’. The wedding would have been a magnificent affair with Elizabeth taking her pick of the extensive range of dresses in the shop, but the reception would have been marred by the mother of all brawls as the bride and groom’s families settled old scores. Such scenes are rare these days: the fight which broke out at the 1954 Southport Flower Show when a white rose won first prize in the Flower Of The Year category was, thankfully, an isolated incident.
But the most shameful chapter in the recent history of the Wars of the Roses was the Hollinwood witch hunt. Cllr Joan McCartney was an ambitious politician who ran for mayor of Lancashire in 1947. Her opponent, Cllr Frank Hobson, was an affable, pipe-smoking Independent who had worked tirelessly for his constituents for over 20 years. When she discovered that Cllr Hobson had been born in Yorkshire, she launched a vicious campaign against him and scored a resounding victory on a platform of ‘Lancashire for Lancastrians’.
Following her election, she announced a prohibition on the sale of rhubarb and set up the Committee on Un-Lancastrian Activities to root out the pernicious influence of Yorkshire values such as parsimony, arrogance and the excessive consumption of alcohol and the promotion of Lancashire values such as thrift, hard work and the excessive consumption of alcohol. Concerned at the perceived influence of Yorkshire values in the films produced by the Hollinwood film studios of Twentieth Century Spatchcock, the committee introduced a test paper which all Hollinwood employees were required to take. Hollinwood responded by making a number of anti-Yorkshire propaganda films such as I Married A Yorkshireman From Outer Space, I Was A Spy For The West Riding Tourist Board and How To Spot A Tyke.
But attitudes are changing, at least on this side of the Pennines. Last year, the Tripe Marketing Board conducted a poll which asked ‘Is it ever acceptable for a Lancastrian to marry someone from Yorkshire?’ Only 28% of respondents said it was not.
Forgotten Lancashire and Parts of Cheshire and the Wirral is by Dr Derek J Ripley. To purchase a copy go to www.forgottenlancashire.co.uk