East London Line helps heal capital’s cultural divide

Shoreditch station: Gateway to the south. Pic: Diamond Geezer

Despite the north-south London divide, culture-lovers across the capital would consider using the East London Line to visit attractions in other parts of the city, a new survey has shown.

Eighty-five percent of south London residents and 78 percent of their northern counterparts said they’d consider using the ELL to visit cultural institutions on the other side of the city, according to the poll, which was conducted by CultureLine, a joint promotional venture by 10 museums and galleries along the line.

But despite the new possibilities brought by the new Overground line, just over half of north Londoners rarely venture south of the river: 54 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t regularly cross the Thames for either work or leisure.

In contrast, south Londoners are twice as likely to head to North London for cultural pursuits, with 80% regularly making the journey to the other side of the capital.

Janet Vitmayer, Chief Executive of the Horniman Museum and CultureLine spokeswoman, said: “It seems from our survey that some of the old north/south London prejudices are alive and well and that they even extend to our enjoyment of culture in the capital.”

“It is high time these perceptions are challenged and we are inviting all Londoners to try a ‘culture swap’ this summer and cross the river to visit new places and cultural attractions. With the opening of the London Overground line from Dalston to Croydon this has never been easier.”

Mayor Boris Johnson said: “North or south, I urge Londoners to cross the great divide and discover the rich cultural treasures, cuisines and dialects to be found on the other side of the river. London Overground is opening up the capital like never before, making it even easier to get to know our trans-Thames neighbours and discover the gems of the city.”

But Dean Nicholas of the Londonist website criticised the survey’s PR approach, describing it as ‘dubious’ and its conclusions ‘meaningless.’

Despite describing the promotion of local museums as ‘a laudable initiative,’ Nicholas attacked the emphasis on North-South divisions. “It’s high time Londoners began challenging dodgy surveys that use bogus statistics to pigeonhole people into geographical boxes,” he said.

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