What’s it about?
Head north from the dreaming spires of Oxford and you’ll run into Oxford’s sour-faced working-class cousin: Banbury.
Not quite the Midlands, not quite the South, Banbury is like a shit northern town that missed the train home from a non-league game and decided to stay. As such, the people tend to be a bit friendlier but also more likely to glass you.
Nationally, Banbury’s known for two things: a poem about a cock horse, whatever the fuck that is, and having a cake named after it. Though Banbury cake is less a cake, and more a currant-stuffed pastry that tastes like your nan’s arse. Does anyone like it? Or it is a prank the locals have been playing for centuries?
Banbury’s most prized feature is junction 11 of the M40, because most residents are there purely because of its proximity to other towns and cities that still have hope. Its population decreases by about 95 per cent at 8am every weekday, leaving behind only children, the retired and the truly miserable.
Any good points?
For all its flaws, Banbury’s not a bad town for a night out if you enjoy doing cocaine and being stabbed. Wander along Parson’s Street or Southam Road for a nice variety of pubs to can spend your final earthly moments in. Make it out alive? Rectify that at a kebab shop.
Banbury’s also home of the largest coffee processing plant in the world, run by Douwe Egberts. This should fill it with the rich and delicious aroma of roasted coffee beans. In reality the fumes smell like burnt hair and horse shit, and can permeate anything from double-glazing to stone walls.
There’s also a vast Amazon warehouse, providing a great source of employment for locals who love standing up for 12 hours straight and hate going to the toilet.
Notable residents? Gary Glitter was born here, a fact rarely brought up at civic events. And Gordon Ramsay spent his formative years in Banbury, which explains why he’s been angry ever since.
Estate agents may describe it as being ‘on the edge of the Cotswolds’, but it’s fair to say that Banbury isn’t much of a looker. Walk a mile away from the town in any direction and you’ll probably come across some pretty attractive scenery, but the town itself is like someone took a big concrete dump on Mother Nature’s chest.
Hang out at….
Banbury’s town centre has all the shit: Turkish barbers, vape shops and Greggs. But the real joy is the street entertainment. You’re never too far from a blazing argument or a full-blown fist fight. Women fighting over men, men fighting over parking spaces, children fighting over steak bakes; the possibilities as a spectator are endless.
If generic, soulless shopping centres are your thing visit Castle Quay and guess which will be the next chain to close down and leave forever. Lock29 is Banbury’s lazy attempt at gentrification where you can order smash burgers and souvlakis and pretend you’re somewhere better.
Or pop into the massive Tesco Extra where the locals shop in pyjamas and dressing gowns, giving it a decadent atmosphere like an upmarket spa.
Where to buy?
If you want the proper Banbury experience move to Bretch Hill or Grimsbury. Prices are reasonable, due to the risk of being murdered, and your neighbours will always be there when you need them because their court-ordered ankle bracelets prevent them leaving.
Alternatively, you could help further erode what’s left of the town’s character by moving into one of the new estates like Hanwell View to leech off the town’s resources without ever putting anything of value back into the community.
From the streets:
Joe Turner, aged 38, said: “I’ve lived here for nearly ten years now but I’ve still never been to Banbury. I’m on a train to London by 6am and don’t get back till late so, thankfully, I haven’t really had the chance to look around.”