From Boudicca to Blur: What you need to know about Colchester, Britain's newest city

Colchester has become Britain's newest city.
Colchester has become Britain's newest city. Credit: PA/ITV News Anglia

From Boudicca to Blur, Colchester's long and fascinating history has now been recognised after Britain's "oldest town" became its newest city.

ITV News has put together a list of what you need to know about Colchester after it was made a city to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

Dating back more than 2,000 years, the former capital of Roman Britain and was known as Camulodunum, meaning 'Fortress of the War God Camulos'.

As well as its Roman history, the city is now famous for its seafood, its contribution to Britpop and architecture.

It was an important military base for the Romans and the Colchester Garrison remains integral to the country's Armed Forces today.

A soldier from 16 Air Assault Brigade based at Colchester. Credit: MOD / PA

Colchester Garrison

The Merville Barracks in Colchester is home to 16 Air Assault Brigade, a specially trained group of soldiers ready to be deployed by parachute, helicopter and air-landing anywhere in the world.

Recent years have seen the Brigade’s soldiers on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as supporting civilian authorities in UK.

Colchester is famous for its native oysters grown in Mersea Island. Credit: PA


Colchester is famous for its native oysters which are actually grown at nearby Mersea Island.

The annual oyster feast is held on the last Friday in October and dates back to 1845. Colchester also holds an Oyster Fair in Castle Park and celebrates the opening of the fisheries on the first Friday in September.

The Jumbo water tower is a familiar landmark in Colchester. Credit: ITV News Anglia


The Jumbo water tower is a familiar landmark in Colchester. Designed by engineer Charles Clegg, the structure is just over 40 metres tall and built from 1.2 million red bricks.

Construction was completed in 1883 and was the second largest water tower in England.

After a century of service the water tower was sold off by Anglian Water in 1987 and has had multiple owners since.

The North Essex Heritage Trust plans to adapt the listed tower to house a restaurant and visitor centre.

Britpop band Blur formed in 1988 after meeting at school in Colchester. Credit: PA


Lead singer Damon Albarn and guitarist Graham Coxon met at Colchester's Stanway School and went on to form Blur in 1988.

The Britpop band released eight studio albums, six of which hit number one in the UK charts. They played their first gig at East Anglian Railway Museum in Wakes Colne and returned to the venue in 2009.

Their third studio album Parklife, released in 1994, was certified four times platinum in the United Kingdom.

A sculpture is being built in memory of the Taylor sisters who wrote the poem which became Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

The famous nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star was written by Colchester sisters Jane and Ann Taylor.

Jane wrote a children's poem called The Star in 1806 which later became the lyrics to the nursery rhyme.

The sisters lived on West Stockwell Street from 1796-1810 and plans are in place for a bronze statue to honour their work.

Colchester Castle is the largest Norman keep in Europe. Credit: PA

Colchester Castle

Colchester Castle is the largest Norman Keep in Europe. It was constructed on the foundations of the Temple of Claudius, built when Colchester was the first Roman capital of Britain.

In AD60 Queen Boudicca of the Iceni, led a major rebellion against the Roman rulers and the Temple of Claudius was burnt to the ground.

Today, the castle museum is home to numerous Roman artefacts.

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