Colchester, Britain's oldest town, becomes its newest city

A town crier proclaims Colchester's new city status.
A town crier proclaims Colchester's new city status. Credit: ITV News Anglia

A ceremony has been held in Colchester to mark the oldest recorded town in Britain officially becoming its newest city.

The town's mayor was presented with the letters patent, an official document written on parchment which grant the status.

Colchester had previously attempted to gain city status in 1992, 2000, 2002, 2012, before it was successful in 2022.

It was named one of eight towns to be made cities to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

A procession from the Mercury Theatre to the Town Hall was held before the final meeting of Colchester Borough Council and the first meeting of Colchester City Council.

A procession was held through Colchester to mark it becoming a city. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Colchester is the former capital of Roman Britain with more than 2,000 years of history.

Sir Bob Russell, the High Steward of Colchester, said: "I think our historic values are such that we are worthy of having our city status restored.

"I just think we've got it on merit, and deservedly so."

He pointed out that Colchester was "home of the University of Essex, home of 16 Air Assault Brigade, and major garrison town".

The first mayor of the City of Colchester, Tim Young, said: "City Day is a long time coming - a proud moment for us to celebrate all that makes Colchester what it is, what it was, and what it will continue to be: a fantastic place to live, to work and to visit.

"It will be an incredible honour for me to receive the letters patent from the King's representative, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, on behalf of the people of Colchester, but it will also be a poignant moment as the letters patent were granted by her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

"I would like, once again, to pay tribute and offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make this historic occasion a reality."

There was a civic procession of dignitaries and councillors led by the Town Serjeant and Colchester Pipes and Drums, before the town crier delivered a proclamation.

Dignitaries including the town's MP Will Quince and former MP Sir Bob Russell at the Colchester's city day ceremony. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Council leader David King said: "This meeting represents a significant moment in the long history of Colchester, as we change from a borough to a city.

"As our ceremonial procession will show, with the flags of many nations flying, we provide a warm welcome for those seeking a safe and supportive place to live, work or visit.

"Becoming a city will further raise that national profile. It will deliver a major boost to the local economy.

"It will create even greater social opportunities, and it will promote our rich heritage and culture - for the benefit of all our residents, businesses and the many visitors who flock here."

Councillor Pam Cox, portfolio holder for culture and heritage, said today's events would be followed with "a year of celebrations".

She added it will "showcase all the wonderful things our new city of Colchester has to offer and convey to the world that we are a city of culture, compassion and creativity".

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