County and megalopolis breakdown

As I may have implied, I’m now maintaining my own database of my ratings, due to general rot of all aspects of ratebeer. So I now have the issue of importing all my old RB ratings to a new system. However, I’m having some “issues”, one might say, with counties. It looks like RB uses a mix of ancient ceremonial counties, and some modern inventions - rather ad hoc, and with no solid reason to mimic it. So I’m thinking of rolling my own breakdown that’s also ad hoc, but tries to reflect how people actually percieve and refer to the regions.

For example, here are some principles that I will apply - please shout if you think they’re wrongthink:

  • Bristol is not usefully part of Gloucestershire, and Avon might as well be Avalon - so Bristol will be Bristol, GB-BST the modern unitary authority - hoorah for the useful distinction of “unitary authorities”!
  • A pisshole like Bedford with only 170000 people may be a unitary authoritary, but doesn’t deserve splitting into its own level 2 region, and there’s a clue in the word “Bedfordshire”, and how it’s used in resources like the Good Pub Guide, that implies it is far more sensible when glued back together from its 3 modern parts. Unitary authorities are dumb! Does anyone in the world say “I live in Central Bedfordshire”?
  • Greater things are great still, aren’t they - Greater Manchester, Greater London, we still all know what they refer to - no point splitting them into boroughs in a “one step down from country” view. Metropolitan districts are shrapnel, metropolitan counties are where it’s still at. They’re even still formally defined, there’s a NUTS classification for them - GM is NUTS UKD3, for example. Hooray for NUTS!

I hope the above seem sane, as now I have a controversial one

  • does it make sense to separate Greater London from “Inner London”? I propose that it’s not entirely without merit, if only to avoid a massive explosion of unmanageable sub-divisions (which is what RB has, to be honest, I don’t find them useful at all). If I can deal with all of Greater London at the borough level, then I can have more flexibility to do something different for Inner London with perhaps finer granularity, a granularity I wouldn’t want to apply to the whole of Greater London.

Where does Central London stop and Greater London start?

There are 4 authorities which can answer that question.

  1. Those who defined the County of London, before it became merged with Middlesex.
  2. Those who defined the distinction between Inner London and Outer London after unification
  3. Those who define the modern day statistics-gathering regions of Inner London and Outer London
  4. Those who define postal areas.

(4) can be ignored, as they split boroughs left right and centre and would cause general chaos.

(1) and (2) agree with each other exactly, apart from the subdivision within the two respective parts.

(3) Agree agrees with (1) and (2) except Greenwich is kicked out, and Haringey and Newnham are dragged in.

Yes, I’ve spend 2 freaking days researching this topic.

The old County of London border certainly has a lot going for it - the question is whether it helps people identify where a place is. I’m looking for pragmatics primarily. I know that when I’m thinking of having a “trip to London for beer”, I’m generally not considering Outer London so much (Brodies is the only exception that comes to mind), so separating Inner and Outer would be a good organisation of data for me. However, if it’s a silly concept for the majority, then I shouldn’t get hung up on my own personal preferences.

Cut to the chase … within the M25 ( a most historical and ancient boundary) and it’s Greater London.

There’s strong historical precedent for nibbling away at the edges of your neighbours, that’s what Greater London originally was. I always viewed Watford as ‘local’ when I was growing up in Harrow, it’s only a matter of time before it’s fully subsumed, London is growing.

The whole of the UK is such a mess when it comes to this.

In one of my apps (unrelated to beer) for England we use the current list of 48 Ceremonial counties. I believe all of them are in usage in everyday life. I haven’t compared with Ratebeer but with a cursory glance I see two differences, one being the presence of Bristol which is very valid and one I wish RB would add too, and the other being City of London, which given its relatively small size is probably useless for reasons relating to beer and if there are any breweries there they can be included in Greater London. So if it were me I’d have 47 of them.

The other benefit of using this list for my app was that I needed corresponding flag images. By taking the 36 official county flags and the rest from the unofficial and/or county councils I was able to have a full set. This is irrelevant to beer but the majority of countries have flags for their states/provinces/counties so it’s a nice bit of flair one can include if so inclined.

For Wales, the 22 principal areas
For Scotland, the 32 councils - I’d probably make a couple of small changes to this list, it may cause some confusion for non-Scots like myself (Aberdeen City separate from Aberdeenshire for example) but aside from that it seems a logical breakdown.

Yeah, Ceremonial counties are where it’s at, and RB has it mostly correct. The Citie of Londinium can go shove an pike up its owne arse, I don’t care about its historie, I care about its geography. After wasting far too much time looking at the history of all the regions, my counties will match RB’s almost exactly. Bristol is the clear outsider. After digging right down to the NUTS of things, there are only 4 minor issues that remain in my breakdown:

  1. Bristol - I think it’s worth keeping separate, no county fits properly.
  2. London - 2 layers or not?
  3. Isle of White - could get split from Hampshire, being, as it is, an island
  4. something in the midlands, something, blah blah, not that important.

If I can get reliable people to provide accurate local knowledge, then I’m certainly happy to let my database separate the different counties (and whatever other names they call the same effective division) in Wales, Scotland, and NI. (And anywhere else where I can get an authoritative breakdown.) Modern separation of a population centre from the region that it was once the principle town for is not a split I particularly support, so, without looking at it, I guess I’d program a single Aberdeenshire.

My inlaws live in Harrow and are very firm in the view that it’s still in the long-extinct Middlesex. As a Shires lad, I firmly support the idea that everything inside the M25 is London. Especially (and vocally) when at the in-laws!

My dad is (or at least was) a Middlesex fanboy. I think I once met Russell Grant because of that connection. I’m not suggesting resurrecting the concept, you can’t rewrite history.

  1. Yes, definitely keep separate, Bristol has a pretty big beer scene these days in fact it’s almost certainly bigger than Gloucestershire’s which is what RB puts it under.
  2. Personally I wouldn’t bother, a single Greater London area should be fine
  3. It’s a ceremonial county now anyway so I’d certainly keep it separate, and yes it’s a big enough island and has a couple of breweries so it’s not like it’d be empty.

And yes personally for Scotland I’d merge Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.

Thank you for the input, but contradictory inputs are also invited, this is not a black-white issue. If I can hide the inner/outer london thing, then maybe I can do it for me such that noone else will know!

“Bristol - no county fits properly” - I don’t understand this, it became the County of Bristol in 1373!

OK, it lost that status temporarily in 1974, but the abomination that was Avon was abolished in 1996, and Bristol returned to its rightful status of City and County.

And as mentioned, it’s got a bigger beer scene than Gloucestershire.

Yeah, I meant that all of the attempted shoe-horning of Bristol into other counties doesn’t work. That should have been clear from context. Anyway, SQL’s written, Bristol will be in Bristol.

Today’s task is US states, and puerto rico…

Oh can I add my 2 pence again?

Keep it as a separate country. Same with “Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa”. Unless any of these “unincorporated territories” become a state of the US I feel it’s best to treat them as if they’re an independent country.
They’re treated this way generally anyway, for example in the Olympics, football world cups etc. so why not with beer?

What about Telford & Wrekin, and all the other Unitary Authorities?


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Fuck’em. Not useful.

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