What Have the Tykes Ever Done For Us?

14 12 2011

OK, so firstly, if you’re not a Monty Python fan, you will probably be unaware of the reference. It’s from the iconic “Life of Brian” where the positive impact of the Roman Empire is being questioned. If you’re not familiar with it… or just want a good laugh, YouTube is the place to visit:

OK, so with that frame of reference you might now have moved on and be wondering what a Tyke is. Well it’s used to refer to the Yorkshire dialect, or people from Yorkshire. Keen on giving my one lost reader as many options to leave as they may like, I refer them to good ol’ Wikipedia: Yorkshire dialect – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

I particularly liked their assertion that “An April 2008 survey found that Yorkshire accents are now ranked above Received Pronunciation for inspiring confidence in the speaker.” With a citation no less! Of course, it was in the Guardian, so it’s not exactly “academic”!

So then I got to thinking… since we Yorkshire-born folk are so confidence-inspiring… what exactly have we done to improve the lot of our fellow-man? Quite a bit, it turns out!

Let’s start with Art and Literature (in fact – let’s go around the Trivial Pursuit cake slices in turn, shall we?): Well, we’ve got the entire Brontë family for a start! Coming from the lovely little town of Haworth, they brought us such greats as Wuthering Heights, named after the real farm of Top Withins. Then there’s David Hockney, an alumnus of my own school in Bradford. He’s into swimming pools and dachshunds, if I recall correctly.

Hockney: A Bigger Splash

Hockney: A Bigger Splash

Hockney: Dog Painting 17

Hockney: Dog Painting 17

Music? Well more recently there’s Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys (who were brilliant playing Malkin Bowl in Vancouver recently). Their new album has a track called “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” – classic stuff.

Also Kaiser Chiefs (from Leeds). They too have played Vancouver. I think the rain here appeals to Yorkshire folk. Also – it’s further from Lancashire. (See Wars of the Roses – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.) But even historically, Yorkshire has given freely of its musical talent: Frederick Delius for example.

OK, so despite strong evidence to the contrary, it seems Yorkshire folk can actually be quite cultured. Like yoghurt, perhaps.

What’s the next Trivial Pursuit cake slice?

Science & Nature:

Ah – now I learned a couple of interesting facts while listening to the Kaiser Chief’s “I Predict A Riot (YouTube)”. Firstly, I learned that John Smeaton (8 June 1724 – 28 October 1792) was from Leeds. He’s famous for building lighthouses that could stand up to the most vicious of storms. Most notably the third Eddystone Lighthouse – now on the Hoe at Plymouth.

Smeaton's Tower - Hoe

Smeaton's Tower - Hoe

The second thing I learned from the Kaiser Chiefs was that someone from Leeds is referred to as a “Leodensian” – the old name for Leeds being Leodis.

Sports & Leisure:

Where to begin? There’s Geoffrey Boycott of course. A great cricketer, but by all accounts not a very nice person. A much nicer cricketing person was Fred Trueman. Then there’s horse-riding: Harvey Smith. More recently swimming: Adrian Moorhouse a contemporary of mine at high school. Also a contemporary was Richard Nerurkar a great long distance runner and co-founder of the Great Ethiopian Run. Unfortunately though he was born in Wolverhampton, so he doesn’t count!  🙂

Also Ashley Metcalfe – yes, another school contemporary. He played for Yorkshire at cricket too… married Ray Illingworth‘s daughter I believe.


More than you can shake a stick at. See James Cook elsewhere, but there’s also John Harrison of particular note. His chronometers allowed mariners to reliably calculate their longitude – something that the stars couldn’t help with. Amy Johnson was the first woman to fly solo from the UK to Australia. History’s not all good though. It turns out that the traitor Guy Fawkes was born in York. At least he gave us an excuse for a bonfire and jaw-aching toffee in the damp evenings of 5th November though!


Possibly the greatest of them all is James Cook – who filled in more of the blank areas of the world’s maps than any other man. His midshipman in 1772-1775 was one George Vancouver… who went on to name a few minor towns up the West Coast of North America! Yorkshire also influences many other countries with it’s names. Here in Canada, we have Halifax and Scarborough to name but two. The US has Bradford in Pennsylvania, and of course New York.


We’ve done Art and Literature, but there’s also film. Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings) is from Sheffield, Sir Ben Kingsley (Ghandi) is from Scarborough and James Mason (North by Northwest) is from Huddersfield. Star Trek’s Sir Patrick Stewart is from Mirfield. My dad got his autograph at Yeadon airport once. Just sayin’…

So that’s it. We’ve done the Trivial Pursuit cake slices, and I think I’ve pretty conclusively shown that Yorkshire has indeed “given” to the world, and undoubtedly deserves the self-ascribed title of “God’s Own County“. Oh – I almost forgot! Monty Python’s Michael Palin is from Sheffield!



One response

22 08 2012
Swiss Army Knife with animals instead of blades – Boing Boing « Quieter Elephant

[…] came up in conversation today. Well, that and IKEA. Simplistic, functional design. “What have the Swiss ever done for us?” I mentioned cuckoo clocks and banking… but forgot two of the BEST things! Chocolate […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: