Mnemonics · Trivia

Quiz Research and Mnemonics: UK Cities, part 2 (England and its 51 cities)

This earlier piece about UK cities contains mnemonics to remind me of the places in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that have official City Status. Most of the following 1,100 words deal with the 51 cities in England.

English cities by Region

Once again, my starting point was this list on Wikipedia: List of cities in the United Kingdom.

It contains a column for “Nation/ Region” and I have used the Regions (North East, England; South West, England and so on) to group the cities. These groups of English cities contain 8 or fewer names, so each one is manageable, especially if you have a basic knowledge of English geography. After these groups by region there is an alphabetical list of English cities.

The North East: 3 (Mnemonic: DNS)

There are only 3 cities in the North East and they have the initials DNS:

Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Sunderland

North West: 7 (Mnemonic: MCC PLLS or Macca Pulls, without the vowels)

There are 7 cities in the North West. They begin with the letters MCC PLLS (or the two words “Macca Pulls”, without the vowels:

Manchester, Chester, Carlisle, Preston, Liverpool, Lancaster, Salford.

Yorkshire and the Humber: 7 (Mnemonic: BRY WLKS, or Bry Walks, without the A)

The 7 cities in Yorkshire and the Humber begin with the letters BRY WLKS (or Bry Walks, without the A):

Bradford, Ripon, York, Wakefield, Leeds, Kingston upon Hull, Sheffield.

Note: “Kingston upon Hull” is the official name of the city often known as “Hull”.

East Midlands: 4 (DLLN)

If you include Lincoln, there are 4 cities in the East Midlands and they begin with the letters DLLN:

Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham.

West Midlands: 7 (Mnemonic: LBW CHWS, or LBW Chews, without the E)

There are 8 cities grouped broadly as the West Midlands, beginning with the letters LBW CHWS:

Lichfield, Birmingham, Worcester, Coventry, Hereford, Wolverhampton, Stoke-on-Trent.

East of England: 6 (Mnemonic: CC PENS)

South of Lincoln and north and east of London are 6 cities that begin with the letters CC PENS:

Cambridge, Chelmsford, Peterborough, Ely, Norwich, St Albans

London: 2 (London and Westminster)

No mnemonics here, just a note that London and Westminster have some form of city status. Many list-based quiz questions clarify whether either of them can be included as answers. For example, in the edition of “Tenable” first broadcast on 22 March 2021 the jackpot round was “The 10 cities in Great Britain with names containing the letter ‘W’”, but part of the clarification stated, “for fairness we are not including the City of Westminster”.

South West England: 8 (Mnemonic: PGT WEBBS)

Grouping cities by regions in this way, the largest number of cities to remember with a single mnemonic is 8, in the South West. PGT WEBBS refers to:

Plymouth, Gloucester, Truro / Wells, Exeter, Bath, Bristol, Salisbury

South East England: 7 (Mnemonic: WCC BOPS)

WCC BOPS will give you the letters of the following 7 cities, grouped as South East England:

Winchester, Chichester, Canterbury, Brighton & Hove, Oxford, Portsmouth, Southampton.

English cities alphabetically

I first learnt the names of the 50 US states over 20 years ago, using the alphabetical lists that were summarized here. In recent weeks I have spent enough time with my mnemonics listed above, for the 51 English cities grouped by region, to make them equally familiar. I am still getting to grips with memorizing them alphabetically, and part of my difficulty here is the mnemonics for cities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is just one list of US states, unchanged since before I was born, but quiz questions about UK cities often relate to specific parts of the union. The following list is for English cities grouped alphabetically, with the most common starting letters first:


[Cambridge, Canterbury, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Chester, Chichester, Coventry / Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Lichfield, Lincoln, Liverpool, London / Salford, Salisbury, Sheffield, Southampton, St Albans, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunderland]

6 W

[Wakefield, Wells, Westminster, Winchester, Wolverhampton, Worcester]

5 B

[Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton & Hove, Bristol]

4 P

[Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston]

3 N

[Newcastle upon Tyne, Norwich, Nottingham]

2 DE

[Derby, Durham / Ely, Exeter]


[Gloucester, Hereford, Kingston upon Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Ripon, Truro and York]

The 11 UK cities that have been granted City Status this century

11 new cities have been created in the UK since the start of 2000. Here they are, in chronological order

3 in 2000: Brighton & Hove, Inverness, Wolverhampton.

4 in 2002: Lisburn, Newport, Newry, Preston.

3 in 2012: Stirling, Chelmsford, Perth, St Asaph

In order of country, the 11 new cities are:

4 in England: Brighton & Hove (2000), Wolverhampton (2000), Preston (2002), Chelmsford (2012).

3 in Scotland: Inverness (2000), Stirling (2012), Perth (2012).

2 in Northern Ireland: Lisburn (2002), Newry (2002).

2 in Wales: Newport (2002), St Asaph (2012).

Recent quiz questions regarding UK cities

  • The “Tenable” jackpot round on Friday 26 February 2021 asked for the “10 cities in England with names containing ‘FORD’ or ‘HAM’”. All 5 members of the team made it to the final and named 6 of them.
  • The jackpot round on Thursday 4 March 2021 asked for the “10 one-word cities in England with names containing the letter ‘U’”. 3 members of the team made it to the final and named 4 of them.
  • In an earlier episode (Thursday 18 February 2021), in Round 4, the question concerned “The 10 cities in Scotland and Wales that start with a consonant”.  The contestant named 6 of them, to add 2.5k to the jackpot.
  • The jackpot round on Monday 22 March 2021 asked for the “10 cities in Great Britain with names containing the letter ‘W’”. The clarification for this question defined “Great Britain” as the island containing England, Wales and Scotland, so the Northern Ireland city of Newry was not an acceptable answer. The 3 team members named 8 of them.
  • In the most recent series of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” there was a question about the number of UK cities that begin with the letter ‘B’. The 4 options were: 4 / 5 / 6 / 7.
    The contestant could think of 5, went for 50/50 and was left the options 4 / 7, so could work out that 7 was the right answer.
  • The first round of “Pointless Celebrities” on Saturday 6 March 2021 asked for UK cities that begin with the letters H O L B or Y. (The show featured actors who have appeared on the hospital-based drama “Casualty”.) There were no pointless answers here but Lisburn (Northern Ireland) was the lowest-scorer (1 point).

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