Colchester's city status 'like winning the lottery', says former MP Bob Russell

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Colchester being awarded city status has been likened to winning the lottery, by a former MP.

The town's High Steward Sir Bob Russell - who served as the member of parliament between 1997 and 2015 - has been campaigning for years for city status.

Colchester is one of a record eight places awarded city status through a competition, as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

"It's not quite like winning £184m on the Euro lottery but for Colchester, this is like winning the lottery," said Sir Bob.

"This is going to be good news for Colchester and indeed good news for the whole of Essex, the Kingdom of the East Saxons.

Colchester will now be in the third city in Essex Credit: ITV News Anglia

It will become the third city in the county after Chelmsford was awarded the honour in 2012, while Southend officially received its royal patent in January following the death of MP Sir David Amess.

"From no cities 10 years ago, we've got three and that is unprecedented in British history for one county to get three cities in such a short period of time."

It is not the first time Colchester has been a city, however.

In AD49 Colchester was the first place in Britain to be given the status of a Roman Colonia - the status of being a Colonia being similar to modern-day city status.

Colchester was also the first capital of Roman Britain until the area was destroyed until the Boudican revolt and the capital was moved to London.

Colchester Garrison Commander Lt Col Ed Rankin helped in the bidding process Credit: ITV News Anglia

The fact Colchester has military links was a crucial part of its bid, and was cited by the government in its announcement.

Lt Col Ed Rankin, the garrison commander, spoke of his pride in being involved.

"We are an important part within Colchester. I was absolutely delighted to provide a testimonial and our unequivocal support for the bid of city status.

"I know the service personnel and their families will be absolutely delighted at the news and we are looking forward to celebrating with the people of Colchester."

Why was Colchester chosen?

The government cited three reasons for each successful applicant - praising Colchester for its history, military links and cultural infrastructure.

  • History: Colchester is Britain’s first recorded settlement and its first capital.

  • Military links: a Garrison Town for the past 165 years, Colchester has, for the past 21 years, been home to 16 Air Assault Brigade, the UK’s rapid response force, which recently saw 750 soldiers from Colchester deployed to Kabul to help with the evacuation of UK citizens and others.

  • Cultural Infrastructure: Since the original submission for city status, Firstsite, Colchester’s contemporary Art Gallery has been named the winner of Art Fund museum of the Year 2021 securing the award and £100,000 prize.