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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 August 2006, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
What's so special about Yorkshire?
Yorkshire (Photo: Freefoto.com)

By Liam Allen
Professional Yorkshireman

Tuesday is Yorkshire Day, when men and women from across this historic county gather to celebrate their... well, Yorkshireness - leaving outsiders baffled about why they have such a high opinion of themselves.

Brass bands, flat caps, whippet racing, wrinkled stockings, beef dripping with bread, pie and peas.

The above are just a few of the umpteen cliches associated with "God's own county".

Many people - namely non-Tykes - would say that, as well as being stereotypes, they're also reasons to poke fun at Yorkshire folk. But try to get a rise out of any Yorkshireman or woman by invoking one of the above and your attempts will fall as flat as a Yorkshire Pudding baked by a southerner.

Click on the links below to hear local dialects and accents
Life-long residents of Helmsley, North Yorkshire
Language of our childhood discussed by locals from Leeds
Tourists, travel and swearing discussed by folk from York
Three generations from South Milford, N Yorks

Rather than humiliation, you'll find them beaming with pride. Some will proudly tell you the entire list evokes memories of a happy youth when they could go to t'pub on t'bus and still have brass left for chips wi' bits on t'way 'ome.

The great pride in Yorkshire can be highlighted by considering the etiquette surrounding the first on this list - the brass band.

My own Yorkshireness, while never being in any doubt, was truly galvanised when I signed up for my local brass band. Before joining, I'd known many out-and-out Tykes - members of my family included.

But I'd never seen owt like this before.

What I encountered at the start of that first band practice, and in every subsequent one, was the ritual of bluff Yorkshiremen trying to out-Yorkshire each other with their greetings. Even for me, it was like entering another country.

"'Owdo, tha sees?" ("How are you?")
"Champerton." ("Very well").

The more outrageously, incomprehensibly Yorkshire they could be, the more man points they scored. Needless to say, I can report with great pride that, within a few weeks, I was chelloping away with the best of them. Some even offered to share their "tea" with me.

Yorkshire pudding (Photo: Freefoto.com)
Pancakes... baked, or Yorkshire Pudding, if you like
"Does ta want a piece o' paah?" ("Would you like a piece of pork pie?")

And that made me even prouder.

But pride can come before a fall. Take Yorkshire County Cricket Club, for example.

It was 1992 before the club, once a big beast of the county championship, (reluctantly) changed its rules to allow players born outside of the region to play for Yorkshire (although there had been a handful of exceptions over the years).

For many years rival counties had welcomed talent from whichever corner of the country, or, indeed, globe, it sprang.

But Yorkshire remained true to its roots - a stand that prompted many a story of expectant fathers whisking their heavily pregnant wives to a hospital within the county's boundaries, in the hope the off-spring would turn out to be the next Fred Trueman.

But after 24 years of failure to win the championship, even proud Yorkshire was forced to accede to the realities of the changing world.

To outsiders, such apparently blinkered pride in the White Rose can be interpreted as the self-obsessed collective blowing of a county's own trumpet. After all, which other breed could give its county such a grandiose title as "God's own"?

Being from Yorkshire is as much a state of mind as a geographical fact
Liam Allen
Some might interpret such bluster as, dare it be said, arrogance. (Think Geoffrey Boycott - the ultimate brusque Yorkshireman.)

But what exactly is it about Yorkshire that makes it the proudest county in the UK?

It could be related to the fact that it is so large - at 6,000 square miles it's Britain's largest county (or collection of counties: North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, East Yorkshire and West Yorkshire).

So sprawling is Yorkshire that it's traditionally divided into three ridings - North Riding, East Riding and West Riding - each with their own identity and each bigger in its own right than many of the UK's other counties.

And, perversely, another reason for Yorkshire pride could have something to do with that old foe... Lancashire.

The Wars of the Roses, which took place between 1455 and 1485, saw the throne of England and Wales being fought over by the House of Lancaster and the House of York.

Harvey Nicks
Flat caps, whippets, pies and Harvey Nicks - the new Yorkshire
Needless to say, coming from an area the size of theirs, and with marauding Lancastrians on the warpath, the Tykes, or the Yorkists as they were then known, had to pull together to defend themselves.

The ingrained sense of Yorkshire identity could have its roots in the necessity to dig in collectively.

It goes without saying that regional pride is not unique to Yorkshire. Devon, the Welsh Valleys, the Scottish highlands, Liverpool and Manchester - to name but a few - all have a very strong sense of their own identity. But more than any of these places, and putting explanatory theories aside, being from Yorkshire is as much a state of mind as a geographical fact.

That's just the way it is. And as Tykes, ours is not to question why.

And to any readers who are wondering why Lancastrians, as the ultimate victors in the Wars of the Roses, are not a prouder breed than us Yorkshire folk.

Well would you be bursting with pride if you talked funny like they do?

Here is a selection of your comments.

Ah, Yorkshire. Beautiful countryside, great beer and lovely lasses. You'd think with all that going for them the dour Yorkshire menfolk would lighten up a bit!
Mark, Horsham, West Sussex (ex-pat Lancastrian)

I am a yorkshireman but live down south having seen several comments about the lancastrians winning the war of the roses i would like to draw their attention to the colour of their rose because it used to be the same colour as the yorkshire rose but in the battles that took place the lancastrians lost so much blood that it turned their rose red
richard, westbury wiltshire uk

May the lord preserve the rest of us from the 'professional yorkshireman' - Parkinson, Boycott, Trueman and now Liam Allen - who all seem to think that Yorkshire starts and end with the West Riding! The North Riding now, that's a different story.
Les (in exile), Southampton

"If tha ever does owt for nowt, then always does it for thyssen" as my grandad used to say - maybe Tykes share some similarities to the Scots?
Stuart, Warwick (ex pat Yorkshireman)

Being Yorkshire born and Yorkshire bred, thick in the arm and thick in the head I too am proud of gods county. I like many others who are in exile in different locations around the globe will forever carry a part of yorkshire with them and sometimes when the conditions are right they can smell the yorkshire puddings cooking and maybee hear the faint sounds of the brass bands playing.
John Palmer, Banbury/Oxfordshire

I notice many of those extolling the virtues of Yorkshire sign themselves as 'ex-pat'. If it's so good why did you leave? I am originally from the south and now enjoy the northern life and cannot comprehend why people are prepared to pay the exorbitant southern prices. However please stay there and leave the north to those who really appreciate it, Lancashire just as much or even more so than Yorkshire!
CotN, Urmston, Manchester, Lancashire

So, kind of like Texans?
Joan Winslow, Boston, US

What I can't figure out with Yorkshire (and such other allegedly equally pleasant places) is - how come if it's so great, so many people from them come down south? If it's so great, why don't employers set up shop there? Maybe then our overcrowded south would stop sinking under the collective weight of everyone!
Peter, Epsom, Surrey

Why aren't Lancastrians "a prouder breed than us Yorkshire folk"? Perhaps they're happy to put their chips in butties, and not on their shoulders.
Ian Williams, Faversham, Kent

I have been going to Y'shire since I was a nipper and love it like it is my second home. Yorkshire people are proud to be who they are and rightly so as they are welcoming and live in one of the most beautiful places in the country, Yorkshire is a homely place with many attractions and amazing countryside. Don't knock them for being proud of their heritage! Maybe we can all take a leaf out of the same book and start looking at the beauty around us and be proud to be British!
Andrea, Exeter Devon

Yorkie attitude summed up a few words. scene - cricket at Headingley, Yorks v another county. Unbiased cricket lover claps any stroke of note by either side. Elderly Yorkie turns round "is tha from Yorkshire?" answer - 'no'. "Is tha from t'other side then?" answer - 'no'. "Well, it's nowt to do with thee then". It seems aggressive White Rose attitude is caused by inferiority complex. Me? I'm from Lancashire - hooray!
Don Mycroft, OXTED

Yorkshire needs to have it's own day, after all Lancashire has all the rest of the year to celebrate. As my family motto says "I'd rather be a hotpot, than a pudding".
Sean, Halifax, but of Lancaster

As a Lancastrian, I would like to point out that Lancashire won the War of The Roses - nothing in this article mentions this - or that Yorkshire lost!
Martin Hindle, London

Strange you should put a southerner alongside your caption about Yorkshiremen! Compo - Bill Owen - only acted the part of a Yorkshireman!! My great, great grandfather was born in the East Riding of Yorkshire but saw the light and settled in sight of the Irish Sea in Lancashire. I have always found those from the red rose county more approachable and warm than those from Yorkshire, 'tho there are always exceptions anywhere.
Colin, Hove

People's insecurities make them excessively proud of such trivial things like where they come from. The bigger the paranoia, the louder the self-congratulating shouting. If Yorkshire genuinely was 'God's chosen county' then this fact would be clear to everyone and nobody would need to go banging on about it all the time. I suspect this is why you never hear a peep out of the people of Kent.
David Rothwell, Kent

Liam Allen mentions Yorkshire being so large, being divided into thirds (correct tho' no mention of the origin of the word) then makes the cardinal mistake of listing 'South Yorkshire'!!! Sonny Jim, South Yorkshire doesn't exist (except politically) It's North, West, & EAST, always has been, always will be...
Richard Swatman, Kingston upon Hull, East Yorkshire

Thanks a lot BBC, I've just had to inform my very, very proud Lancastrian boyfriend that it is Yorkshire Day today, and he's gone and made the difficult journey over the tops to visit some clients in York. I better go and hide the Tetley Tea, before he gets home. PS: Yes, a bit of Stockport is in Lancashire, we live north of the River Mersey.
Lyn (a London ex-pat in Lancashire), Stockport, Lancashire

I believe the Lancastrians would say there are only two good things to come out of Yorkshire; Yorkshire Pudding and an empty bus. Mind you, the Yorkshiremen say that only two good things come out of Lancashire; Black Pudding and an empty bus. Who is running the bus company, and which County Council is subsidising it?
Ray Lashley, Bristol, UK (Son of a Yorkshireman)

Oh please! We have all got more than enough of Yorkshire with the Dingles! Lets face it Yorkshire is in the frozen north where the men are men and the women are men as well!!
Susan Middleton, Newton abbot

I'll put it in plain english for everyone to read. Yorkshire is a beautiful place. As far as I'm concerned you can keep your foreign lands and I'll quite happily stay here.
Peter Harding, Thirsk, North Yorkshire

As my Granddad always said about Lancastrians, "Tha can't trust them southern folk"
Grahame, London (expat from North Yorkshire)

If thou has t'ask, then tha's to stupid t'understand th'answer.
Mike, Bolton (ex pat Yorkshireman)

What is so special about Yorkshire? I think it is the way it has maintained core traditional values such as farming, a beautifully kept countryside, unique identity, an irrational fear of outsiders, flat caps, whippets, coal mining and toothless idiots sat in local pubs drinking until they pass out and wet themselves to the delight of tourists.
Arnold, Cardiff, Wales

According to a friend (from Leeds), everything in Yorkshire seems to be "best int'world". We went to a chip shop for lunch... "best chippy int'world!", then for a tetleys at the Original Oak... "best pint int'world". Is there actually anything in Yorkshire that's not the best in the world!
Paul, Nottingham, UK

I hadn't met many people from Yorkshire before starting work, but have been very impressed with their general straightforwardness and commitment to hard graft. The original Wars of the Roses has very little actual relevance to the modern counties - the war was a struggle between two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty and was not a war between Yorkshire and Lancashire - more between the various factions in the mostly Norman French aristocracy. However, I suppose it wouldn't be the first time fact hasn't stood in the way of a good myth.
Andrew, London

As a Southerner living in Yorkshire, I wholeheartedly agree that Yorkshire is undoubtedly a beautiful County and a better way of life than the South - East. It has spa towns (Harrogate), beautiful beaches (Whitby/Scarborough), vibrant Cities (Leeds/Sheffield) and the most amazing Countryside (Yorkshire Dales). We are not crammed in like battery hens like those in the South - East and housing/eating out/a pint are a lot cheaper. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't that cold too! The best move I ever made was leaving London for the beauty of Yorkshire. By eck, what a grand place!
James Searby, Harrogate

I've never heard of Yorkshire, is it near Coronation Street?
Lars Elstrup, Denmark

I've never been called a Tyke in my life and I'm from Yorkshire. I may be wrong, but as far I know people in South Yorkshire are known as Tykes, particularly supporters of Barnsley FC!
Emma , Dewsbury, West Yorkshire

As a born and bred Tyke living in Exile in "That the're South", I will be celebrating Yorkshire day as always! Which other county gave England such great things as Yorkshire Pudding (served as a starter), Geoff Boycott, James Herriott and tripe and onions! Be proud, folk of Yorkshire, and celebrate your identity!
Simon Steele, Oxon

Eee, that's a grand story. 'Teks me back to t'good old days in Bratford where we were all: Yorkshire born, Yorkshire bred, Strong in t'arm, thick in . . . .
Chris Harrison, Niles, Michigan, USA

No-one eats beef dripping on bread. Beef dripping is used for frying chips in. Pork dripping is eaten on bread. And pies are mostly associated with Lancashire. You sound more like an amateur Yorkshireman than a professional one.
Jon Laughton, Olney, Buckinghamshire

You forgot to mention us Yorkshire folk are generous to a fault. Many of us put up with whinging Southerners in order to bring civilisation to the poor souls down here. Whether they like it or not!
Chris, Gloucester, UK

Its all true. Being an exile by necessity at times in my life I used to tell the southerners that the M1 was passport control for Yorkshire and the A1 was the yorkshire bypass. Additional to this my regular pilgramage back to yorkshire was to get my Yorkshire passport stamped. The passport giving me the rights to own a whippet, flat cap and to drink beer with a head on it.
Darren, Barnsley

I was born in London, but moved to Yorkshire aged 11. When I was 20 I moved back to London. I'm now 40 but consider myself a Yorkshire lass. You can take the lass out of Yorkshire, but you can't take Yorkshire out of the lass...
Deborah, Ware, Herts.

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