YORK is one of the most beautiful cities in the world - but it is also dull as ditchwater and horribly twee, according to the author of a new 'alternative' history of the city.
The 'chippy Northerners' who were once York's heart and soul have been "shipped out to Selby and the suburbs", says Paul Furness in the introduction to his book York: A Walk On The Wild Side.
"Meanwhile, those mean streets of the inner city which they left behind have become a dumping ground for the southern middle class who… you will hear squealing with barely concealed delight about how lucky they are to be living in lovely York," he writes.
York's history has also been sanitised, Mr Furness claims.
"York has been reduced to a city of drab, makeshift festivals that encourage everyone to dress up as Romans or Vikings and live off expensive chocolate handouts," he writes. "At times, it feels as if we are drowning in an enormous pile of slightly soiled antique lace.
"Yet walk through those same streets on a weekend or when the races are on and it all comes alive again – that magical, foul-mouthed raucous enjoyment of life that is what this old city is really all about.”
Mr Furness' book - published by the York Alternative History Group, of which he is a member - aims to tell the other history of York: the bawdy, raucous and sinister city of prostitutes, thieves and revolutionaries.
Interviewed by The Press, Mr Furness - a library assistant and former museums worker who lives in Clementhorpe - claimed too many people wanted to turn a blind eye to York's raucous past - and present.
The city council was full of 'provincial frumps' who just wanted to get rid of hen parties and were always complaining about racegoers.
People not from York thought the city was a 'frumpy, backward town full of fake Vikings', he said.
But tourism and council bosses in York today sprang to the city's defence.
Visit York head Kate McMullen insisted York was anything but provincial and frumpy.
"York is loved by visitors and residents for its rich history, stunning architecture and vibrant cultural life," she said. "We have world class attractions such as the National Railway Museum and York Minster and nationally acclaimed festivals such as the BAFTA qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival.
"York is passionate about telling its stories from the past and with the opening of the new archive facility at York Explore, containing thousands of unique documents telling the story of 800 years of York’s history, everyone can now access even more of York’s fascinating past.
"York is also benefitting from multi-million pound investments such as the £4 million investment in York Theatre Royal, superb new eateries and hotels such as the Judges Lodging and the £1.1 million investment in the Olympic size velodrome at the University. No other city of its size has so much to offer."
Charlie Croft, Assistant Director of Culture at City of York Council, added: "We all have different perceptions of York which is many things to many people and that’s as it should be. Part of the joy of the place is the mix of people here, more and more of whom are from all over the world. This dynamic diversity has helped make us one of Europe’s most creative cities, and it’s why so many want to live, work, study and visit here.”