IT is famous for the giant ocean liners, the Spitfire and Matt Le Tissier’s right foot.

Now Southampton can lay claim to the title city of smiles after its residents were named the friendliest and most welcoming anywhere in the UK.

We topped a league table of 30 cities ahead of Norwich, Exeter, Brighton and Plymouth. South coast rivals Portsmouth were tenth while national capital London was rock bottom.

According to the study of 4,000 people commissioned by hotel chain Jurys Inn for British Tourism Week, Southampton residents think nothing about stopping to help someone with heavy shopping, have excellent customer service skills and remember to say please and thank you.

Southampton comedian and football fan Mike Osman is a man who spends his life putting a smile on people’s faces.

He told the Daily Echo: “This is great news and I think completely true. I have worked at cities all around the country and when I’m away all I can think about is get home to Southampton, it is a great city with lovely people.

“You can open the Daily Echo on any day of the week and see how much charity work goes on and I think we should be proud of that.

“There is so much to be happy about for Southampton people; we are near the water, near the New Forest, possible the most attractive place in the country.

“We have a fantastic theatre in the Mayflower, amazing restaurants and shops and look at the way Saints are playing at the moment – it’s got the lot.”

Southampton Jurys Inn boss PJ Kenny said: “It is great news but I am not surprised.

“I’ve always found the city to be very friendly and welcoming and I think that probably explains why more people are picking it as a destination.”

Ten most friendly cities

1. Southampton
2. Norwich
3. Exeter
4. Brighton
5. Plymouth
6. York
7. Oxford
8. Nottingham
9. Derby
10. Portsmouth

Ten least friendly cities

1. London
2. Glasgow
3. Bradford
4. Birmingham
5. Liverpool
6. Manchester
7. Aberdeen
8. Wolverhampton
9. Belfast
10. Leeds