It’s official: Cambridge is the poshest town in Britain
“The Proprietor begs to inform the Nobility, Gentry and the Public generally, that every article of business can be had at the above Establishment, all of the Best Quality and at Reasonable Prices”.
So reads a pompous Victorian press advertisement for Edward Brown’s Italian Oil and Fish Sauce Warehouse at Wardour Street, Soho, headed with a mock coat of arms attempting to look like a royal warrant.
The ad is typical of its day, and I quote it simply to illustrate that although the florid language may have changed, advertisers, then as now, aspire to the patronage of the gentry.
Addressing the gentry is a little easier in these days of ABC socio-economic breakdowns, posh postcode targeting and customised Facebook advertising, but for those who really want to rub shoulders with the gentry the best place to do so, according to a recent study commissioned by Go Compare, is Cambridge.
The study, which sets out to identify ‘Gentrification Hotspots’, places Cambridge first amongst the top 10 cities in the UK for gentrification based on criteria like salary, property, investment and other services.
Not only does it rank Cambridge first among second cities like Aberdeen, Oxford and Bristol, but before the capital, London itself, when all factors are taken into account.
Of course, the focus of gentrification these days is not so much on the aristocracy as the plutocracy and on this metric Cambridge does extraordinarily well.
The average salary increase over the period from 2010 to 2016 was a whopping 22 per cent for Cambridge compared to a rather less impressive 18 per cent in London and a comparatively poor showing for Oxford at 12 per cent.
But if you think all this talk of money is frightfully vulgar, you’ll be gratified to learn that Cambridge makes a superior showing in the cultural stakes as well.
Others may claim to be the UK’s city of culture, but Cambridge romps home with the prizes. It’s cultural investment per capita towers above the rest at £35, compared with a rather plebeian £33 for Oxford! So, if you’re looking for the patronage of the cognoscenti, you know where to come.
Along with the other hallmarks of yesteryear’s landed gentry, the carriage trade and coffee houses come to mind. The modern equivalent of the carriage trade is, I suppose, Waitrose, with Cambridge scoring high on local branches at 0.77 stores per 10,000 of population, and 0.38 coffee shops per 10,000.
If you don’t believe me that Waitrose is the hallmark of gentrification, check out the ‘overheard in Waitrose comments’ here. My favourites are: “Don’t rummage in the reduced bin, someone from the golf club might see you”; “Darling, do we need parmesan for both houses?” and “Lucas, put the falafel down, you already chose olives as a treat.”