Northern town names – pronunciation guide

pronunciation guide

Jump to our pronunciation guide to Northern towns with counterintuitive pronunciations (below).

As a child my parents often took me on camping trips around the north of England. Getting lost is one of my abiding memories. With no sat nav to hand in those days, we would often resort to pulling over and asking someone for directions. As is often the case this didn’t always go smoothly…

Travelling up the East coast, we were heading for a coastal town called Staithes. We had been in the car for quite some time when we started to wonder if we’d missed the town altogether. My Dad pulled the car over and asked a passing gentleman “excuse me, do you know where Staithes is?”, “never heard of it” was his response.

After much confusion and more than a hint of pedantism from the passer by, my Dad resorted to writing the town name on a piece of paper. “Oh, you mean Steers” he said, in a sudden light bulb moment. It turns out we were 10 minutes away.

Now, I don’t for a second think that this man really couldn’t understand what my Dad meant. What is more likely, is he had been asked the same question by many tourists and simply enjoyed the opportunity to be awkward. There is no way that – without some local knowledge – you could possibly deduce that Staithes is pronounced Steers.

My point is, there are a lot of places out there, a lot of which have odd pronunciations and in these towns live pedants who love to “not understand” what you’re saying.

Below is our pronunciation guide to Northern towns with counterintuitive pronunciations. Please feel free to comment with your suggestions or corrections.

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