Jaywick once again named Britain's poorest town

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/09/jaywick-once-again-named-brita.html

1 Like

“And you may find yourself
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself
In arse-end of the world
And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a rusting automobile
And you may find yourself in a clapped-out house
With a disappointed wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?”

Jaywick? How did I get here? I guess something like this just creeps up on the inhabitants. You maybe get moved there by the council and then find that you just can’t escape.


Today I Learned what a shotgun shack is.

shotgun shack

(chiefly Southern United States slang) A one-story house in which each room is in a straight alignment with the others, connected by a continuous hallway running from the front to the back of the residence.


Uncommon in the UK, perhaps here the result of it having started out as a private development. Similar communities in Britain (crappy housing behind eerie beaches) usually comprise of post-war prefab trailer homes. They ended up permanently inhabited because they were, paradoxically, rather well-made given their temporary purpose.


There’s a string of employee housing homes in my town that have lasted decades longer than the employer that built them. Now they’re relatively affordable starter homes in a good school district that otherwise would be out of reach. Pretty much the opposite effect of why they were built in the first place.


There’s a little row of war time Prefabs close to where I live. They are Grade II Listed buildings now :smiley: Build out of asbestos, and temporary housing will out last the inhabitants… erm… correlation isn’t causation.


…up-close has an eerie League of Gentlemen energy: there’s a sandwich bar named “Goodfillers” (with the wrong Mafia movie font) right next to a tattoo parlor named “Pain ‘n’ Pride”…

Those are local shops for local people. There’s nothing for you there!


For all it isn’t, Jaywick is FAR better than the countless half-abandoned small farming and ranching towns of the American southwest. Likewise, Blackpool is also FAR better than the forgotten cities of the American rust belt that are stacked end-to-end with urban blight and corporate abandonment. The UK clearly has issues, but all-in-all, I’d rather be a citizen of Jaywick than say Trent, TX or Blackpool over East St. Louis.


I wish our worst was that nice… it honestly looks like a nice little town.


My Wife grew up in North Texas, which is to say not even the worst part of Texas. When we visit her relatives it’s shocking to see how poorly some of the people in the tiny towns an hour outside of DFW live. True poverty with little or no incoming help to change that, and they most of them will still be quick to give you a “God Bless Texas”.

By the same token, where I live (Boulder, CO) has seen a huge influx of well-off English retirees. They come for the dry climate and the 300 days of sunshine a year, which is understandable. It makes me wonder if I can take their place in in Jaywick on the cheap.


There are are a few extra Things to Consider you don’t really see in footage of Jaywick (and other “coastal grim Britain” places) that really stick the knife in:

  • soul-draining sunless gloom
  • the north sea is a weird angry presence when the weather’s bad or windy, which is often
  • dark undercurrents in the politics
  • unreported crime
  • asbestos everywhere: you can’t renovate the houses and you can’t knock them down
  • extremely tiny lots, no gardens, no garages, can hear the neighbors whispering
  • built in places not settled before the 20th century: half-drained fens, coastal floodzones, hostile and unyielding microclimates mostly involving dampness
  • subtly isolated. “Next to everything but you can only get there by one road” is a common feature of run-down UK communities.

That said, it is true that there is a certain social cohesion and welfare-state safety net in these places in the UK that is missing the US.


Having read your list, I’m thinking that Jaywick would make an ideal setting for “Stranger Things: UK”. Maybe it is time for some proper, unnerving 1970’s style kiddies TV.

1 Like

Not to say the US doesn’t have exactly the same problems in its poor isolated communities.

It’s just that the particular combo of “moisture, asbestos anxiety, temporary housing, gloom, isolation in plain sight, crap solaris sentient ocean hating you” is so very British


Oh yeah, Scarfolk-at-Sea for sure


Have you ever been to Avonmouth? It’s Bristol’s Dorian Grey picture. Grim as fuck.

No, but I notice an outlying swamp-surrounded nieghborhood is called the “Chittening” and I can’t wait.

1 Like

Middlesbrough, not Middlesborough.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.