Are you a north of the river or south of the river Londoner?

© Yolfran |

Photo: © Yolfran |

There’s a sort of convention in London that you are either a north of the river person or a south of the river person. Wherever you were born in the capital, or where you first lived when you arrived sets a pattern for the area of the city that you call home.

But is there any truth to this? Surely it is only vampires and cab drivers late at night that seem unable to cross running water. Londoners must be more mobile?

So to test the theory at Urbs London we decided to dig into the data on borough to borough moves around the city. Were people really partisan in their choice of Crouch End over Clapham or Southwark over Hackney? Here’s what we found.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics on local authority migration is for 2013 and it shows that 361.000 people moved between London boroughs. With 32 boroughs plus the City of London there are 1,000 possible permutations for those moves. Only 24 of these “routes” saw more than 2,000 people. Here’s the top 10.


Area From To Number
N Haringey Enfield 4,210
N Newham Redbridge 3,770
S Southwark Lewisham 3,650
S Lambeth Wandsworth 3,530
S Wandsworth Lambeth 3,380
S Lambeth Southwark 3,350
S Greenwich Bexley 3,340
N Ealing Hillingdon 3,320
S Wandsworth Merton 3,160
N Brent Harrow 3,020

Most “routes” involve people moving to a neighbouring borough. And there is a general pattern in the “routes” of people moving a step further out from the centre of the city.

We did find some people venturing across the river. 1,880 people from Hammersmith and Fulham moved the other side of Wandsworth Bridge. 1,670 people swapped Hounslow for Richmond, and 1,290 people went the other way, but as Richmond straddles the Thames it is not possible to check if they did cross the river.

The significant movements across the river were between neighbouring boroughs, and those from further afield are measured in hundreds. Only 130 people, for example, wanted to swap Alexandra Palace for Crystal Palace.

So, not crossing running water – make that vampires, cab drivers and most Londoners.

Source data

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