As you may have heard, the question of whether Colchester should apply for status has come up again. The Department for Culture has announced that there’ll be another competition for city status in 2012 to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Colchester applied for city status in the 2000 and 2002 competitions, but was unsuccessful on both occasions.

(For those of you abroad, yes, this is one of those strange British quirks whereby a place can only become a city if it’s designated as such by the monarch – but it’s also quite confusing for us to go the US, for instance, and find places scarcely bigger than a hamlet calling themselves cities)

Supporters and opponents of city status have put forward various arguments as to why we should or shouldn’t apply for it. Some say that we shouldn’t give up our status as Britain’s oldest recorded town to be the newest city, whereas others point out that we were more than just the oldest town, we were Britain’s first city, and we’re claiming back an old title. Some say it would help us promote Colchester and give us a wider profile, while others say we don’t need to do more than we already do and should stay as a regular town.

I’m not revealing which way I lean here just yet as I’d like to hear other people’s views on whether you support it or not and whether you think it’s a good idea.


12 comments untill now

  1. My favourite one in Sydney (Aus follows something closer to the US model) is the City of Blue Mountains, which is the name for the administrative council that runs a national park with a few small touristy towns in it.

  2. City of Blue Mountains sounds like something from a fantasy novel doesn’t it? Or even the title of a book in some trilogy, with the Valley of Gold Trees and Outer Administrative District of Auburn Houses.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jason_Cobb, Nick Barlow. Nick Barlow said: Question for #Colchester people – do you think we should apply for city status? Let me know here: […]

  4. Ray Moore @ 2011-01-28 12:13

    Yes, yes, yes! Colchester should apply to become a city. I have my own Facebook page ‘City status for Colchester’, which i was hoping to gain support for this. I would like to add a few reasons as to why Colchester should apply for the honour to mark Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee next year.

    1. Colchester was the first of such a settlement founded in Britain, and was its original capital.

    2. Colchester lays claim to 3 world-renowned nursery rhymes.

    3. Colchester has a number of Royal links, including a Royal Charter, visits from the Queen as recently as 2004 and 2010, and England’s first Royal Castle outside of London.

    4. Colchester is a military base

    5. Colchester has a modern university

    6. Colchester is the fastest-growing borough in the country, and the second-largest non- metropolitan district in England, after Northampton and not to be a London borough.

    7. Colchester is home to Britain’s oldest city walls; Europe’s largest Norman castle keep; Britain’s only discovered Roman chariot race track; one of Europe’s finest zoos; a fine Victorian architecture; a modern Visual Arts Facility and one of Britain’s nicest urban parks.

    8. It is going for World Heritage Site status.

    Goodness, i could ramble forever…

    Colchester has been ingored and underrated for far too long! It’s time the council put this great place where it belongs…as a city.

  5. Simon Taylor @ 2011-01-30 18:42

    Hello Nick. You know what I think.

    Just a couple of points:

    at the date at which Colchester was “oldest recorded” the distinction between “town” and “city” did not exist. Colchester is Britain’s oldest recorded settlement, regardless of whether it is a city, a town, or a village. At various times, the Romans, Saxons and Normans all referred to Colchester as a “civitas”, the Latin root of the word city. Modern British city status is an honour and most cities are still often called towns. The same would apply to us. We will lose nothing.
    This has not yet been properly explained to the Colchester community.

    and “we don’t need to do more than we already do”… Is this a serious argument?

  6. Simon, it’s an argument that I’ve heard made – I’m not saying I agree with it, but I’m trying to give both sides in this post.

  7. Ray Moore @ 2011-01-30 20:31

    Colchester has all of the things that even some places with city status do not have. Some, not all, feel that city status would have no benefits whatsoever for the town. However, just the status alone is enough to show where Colchester stands in this country.

    How would Colchester look to the rest of the nation if it didn’t enter the competition? I am sure that Colchester has just as much of a chance as say, Reading, Milton Keynes and Blackpool – and, as stated by The Department for Culture website, the Government will not expect large sums of money being spent by bidding towns, and will also accept a standard entry of presentation to make it fairer to judge the competition.

    I’d say 3rd time lucky, but you will never know unless you grab the opportunity.
    Destination Colchester have the right idea, as does Bob Russell.

    Everything about Colchester suggests that it is no longer a ‘market town’, but a large and expanding place with lots going for it – and therefore as i say, it should be finally accepted as a city.

  8. I have no comments what can i say, i’ve got bad news to tell you in a good sort of way.


  9. I joined the Facebook group so i am supporting this for Colchester. Why can’t Colchester be a city already?? Bit silly it has to apply. Anyhow, hope it gets it soon.

  10. Nicky, if you see this, thanks for commenting. At least someone else agrees.

  11. Jo Freebird @ 2011-02-14 10:40

    Like i said on Facebook, Colchester is big enough to be a city, so it would be good to have a city just up the road. Hopefully if it gets it there may be more festivals, as i really enjoyed Colchester Festival @ the Park last year! Make it happen Colchester, go for this now!

  12. Thanks Jo.
    A few people said they’d show their support for this. At least there is a “possibilty” that Colchester may apply. The town has until May 27th i believe to submit a bid, but i am sure that the council and other bodies are working on it…damn i’m so impatient.

    Thanks for commenting.