Colchester has been awarded city status as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Today’s announcement that Colchester is one of a record eight places to have been granted prestigious city status was welcomed by the Mayor of Colchester and other civic representatives who had joined together last year to support Colchester’s bid.
The Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Robert Davidson, said: “On behalf of everyone in Colchester, I would like to thank Her Majesty for this wonderful honour in her Platinum Jubilee year. I would also like to pay tribute to everyone who backed Colchester’s bid, including HM Lord Lieutenant of Essex Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, and all those who worked so hard to make city status a reality in this extraordinary year.
“We hope that this wonderful announcement will offer new opportunities for local people and provide a bright future for generations to come.”
Cllr David King, Leader elect of Colchester Borough Council, said: This is truly great news. A defining moment in the long history of our borough that will raise our national profile and attract the kinds of inward investment that is only open to cities. With city status comes more opportunities to boost the local economy, create even greater social opportunities, and promote our rich heritage and culture, to the benefit of all our residents.”
Cllr Darius Laws said: “I’m proud to have led the campaign for city status and am absolutely thrilled that Britain’s first Roman city is set to become one of Britain’s newest cities. What an extraordinary and richly deserved moment for us.”
Will Quince, MP for Colchester, said: “It is an immense honour for Her Majesty The Queen to have granted Colchester city status.
“This will mean that our dynamic economy, nationally recognised award-winning cultural and heritage assets, and internationally renowned university can reach new heights. Colchester is dynamic, diverse and open for business. We can all share pride in this honour.”
Simon Blaxill, Chair of We Are Colchester, said: “Today’s announcement puts Colchester firmly on the map as a place to do business and to provide even greater opportunity for recovery and growth. Business resilience and collaboration over the past two years have been very impressive, with the council, businesses and other bodies working closely together. City status is recognition of what a great place Colchester is to live and work.”
Colchester Garrison Commander Lieutenant Colonel Ed Rankin said: “The granting of city status to Colchester is fantastic news. Colchester traces its history as a garrison back to the Napoleonic Wars and is now home to 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, the British Army’s global response force. The civilian and military communities have always enjoyed a hugely supportive relationship, which has given countless generations of soldiers a launchpad to deploy on operations, safe in the knowledge that their families will be embraced by the local community.
“As we at Merville Barracks prepare for the firing of a Royal Salute to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee on 2nd June and the 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team and Colchester Garrison Show on 25th June, we look forward to joining together with local people to celebrate the granting of city status to Colchester.”
Steve Mannix, Executive Director of The Mercury, said: “All of us here at the Mercury are delighted that Colchester has finally gained the great honour of receiving city status.
“It really goes to show Colchester continues to be an exciting place to live and work – a vibrant centre for culture, heritage and community spirit. This award is testament to the strength of partnership-working across the public, commercial and not-for-profit sectors.”
Sally Shaw MBE, Director of Firstsite gallery in Colchester, said: “Colchester is such an exciting place, full of incredible history but also bursting with new ideas, amazing people and mountains of creative talent, which is celebrated here at Firstsite along with the many other fantastic venues across Colchester. To be awarded city status recognises the unique identity of the people who live and work here, but also the high-quality art and culture radiating from here. There’s nowhere quite like it.
“To be a city really puts Colchester on the international map, opening so many new opportunities for the local community. We look forward to welcoming even more people here to enjoy all our fabulous places and spaces and experience the vibrant art and culture scene, created and presented by our diverse communities across Colchester.”
The Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst, said: ““I am so delighted for Colchester. It’s a wonderful town with many notable features: its long and ancient history, its Garrison, home to 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, a centre for the Arts with Firstsite and a vibrant, newly refurbished Mercury Theatre, as well as the internationally recognised Essex University. It has wonderful historic buildings including the Castle set in the beautiful Castle Park. Congratulations Colchester!”
Colchester was one of only three places to have submitted bids to become cities on all five occasions city status has been available: in 1992 for Her Majesty's Ruby Anniversary; in 2000 to mark the Millennium; in 2002 for Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee; in 2012 for Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee, and now in 2022 to mark Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee.