St Albans slated for lack of culture in Manchester newspaper - plus comment

One of the cultural highlights of St Albans - our cathedral

One of the cultural highlights of St Albans - our cathedral - Credit: Archant

St Albans is one of the least cultural places in Britain, according to new research carried out by a northern newspaper.

The city came second in a list in a list of the least cultural towns and cities with more than 50,000 residents.

Manchester Evening News analysed 50 cities and ranked them according to the number of museums and fine dining restaurants per 100,000 people.

Chelmsford drew the short straw and was placed first on the list of the least cultural cities, while Oxford claimed the prize for the most cultural city.

Top ten most cultural cities:



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Top ten least cultural cities


St Albans










With its own film festival, litfest, fashion show, and boutique cinema you would think anyone calling St Albans uncultured would need to adjust their perspective.

But Manchester Evening News has done just that, placing our vibrant city at number two in a list of places lacking the most in terms of culture.

The newspaper’s in-house data team analysed 50 cities, each with populations over 50,000 and ranked them according to the number of museums and fine dining restaurants per 100,000 people.

This also included other cultural venues including museums, theatres, and Grade I listed buildings.

Manchester is apparently more cultural than London and Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles.

An article praising the city’s culture credentials said: “With more music venues, per 100,000 people, than anywhere else in the country and second for most libraries and cinemas, Manchester sailed into the top ten.”

But the Herts Advertiser’s question to MEN is: what makes a city more cultural, its range of attractions or its residents?

The cities in the top ten most cultural list, including Exeter, Bath, and Norwich, may have lots of restaurants and cinemas lining their high streets, but how many people are actually using them?

It’s also worth noting that many of the places listed are far bigger geographically than St Albans, which skews the results.

At least we can name events and efforts to mark our cultural quality, instead of just listing ‘culturally’ defined buildings, which other cities no doubt have more city central space to accommodate.

Where demand has been shown we’ve gone out of our way to bring ‘cultural buildings’ to the city, for example the Odyssey, or the proposed new city centre museum, which is set to be a ‘cultural hub’.

Also how do you even quantify culture?

It cannot be measured as simply as ‘cultural opportunities’ per person.

The Herts Advertiser is all for data analysis and top ten lists, but if you’re going to assess something as subjective as culture, then you need to analyse and compare more than just the number of buildings and people.

Do you think St Albans being called the second least cultural place in Britain is a fair statement? We would love to hear your opinions.

Email with how you would define culture and what you think our cultural highlights are.