Wrexham becomes Wales’ seventh city as part of Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations
Wrexham has become Wales’ seventh city as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, it has been announced.
The town in the north-east of Wales – population 61,603 – joins Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wales’ smaller cathedral cities, Bangor, St Asaph and St David’s as an officially designated city.
A town becomes a city only by the award of a royal charter. St Asaph was awarded city status as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012, and Newport in 2002. The award of city status is purely ceremonial and does not come with any additional functions.
St David’s in Pembrokeshire remains the smallest city in the UK, with a population at the 2011 census of just under 1,400.
The award for Wrexham is entirely separate from its bid to become the 2025 City of Culture.
It was Wrexham’s fourth bid for city status after missing out on three previous occasions. Wrexham Council’s ruling administration approved the entry to a competition for UK towns to upgrade their status in December of last year.
The move wasn’t universally popular however with 61 per cent of respondents to a consultation saying they did not feel that Wrexham needed to be a city at all.
Plaid Cymru councillor Marc Jones accused the council at the time of chasing a “meaningless label” that would not deliver any clear benefits, and said they should focus on the economy instead.
The award however comes after a year in which Wrexham has made global news. Wrexham Football Club, founded in 1864, has the world’s oldest international ground and gained more attention last year when it was bought by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
It also hit the headlines during the pandemic as the location of the factory where the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine was produced.
The nearby Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a Unesco World Heritage Site and the region, which is a base for firms including JCB and Kellogg’s as well as aerospace giants such as Magellen and Cytec, is to become home to the new National Football Museum of Wales.
Wrexham is one of eight places to be awarded city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, alongside Stanley in the Falklands Islands and Douglas on the Isle of Man.
Bangor in Northern Ireland, along with Colchester, Doncaster and Milton Keynes in England, plus Dunfermline in Scotland have also won the honour.
They are some of the places that “make Britain great”, according Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay, on behalf of the Cabinet Office.
He said: “What was clear to me during the process of assessing each application was the pride that people felt for their communities, local cultural heritage and the Royal Family.
“As we celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s colossal contribution to society, I am thrilled that we are able to recognise some of the many places that make Britain great.
“It is also incredibly reflective of Her Majesty’s global outlook and years of international service that applicants from the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies have been selected as winners for the first time.”
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries described city status as “a huge accolade” adding: “This competition showcases the best of Britain and the Overseas Territories and will act as a lasting legacy of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.”
The Cabinet Office said Perth, which was granted city status in 2012 as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, has seen its local economy expand by 12% in the decade after it secured its new title.
This year has already seen one town granted city status: Southend-on-Sea, which became a city on March 1 as a tribute to the late Sir David Amess MP, who campaigned for the change throughout his career.
Stanley’s award comes as the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War after Argentine forces invaded the Falklands on April 2 1982.
The Falkland Islands has been keen to play up its royal connections for many years, starting with the Duke of Edinburgh in 1957.
The Duke of Cambridge was deployed to the Falkland Islands for a six-week tour as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in 2016.
Richard Hyslop, UK Representative to the Falklands government, said: “Being granted City Status in the Platinum Jubilee year is a tremendous honour, made all the more significant as 2022 also marks the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands and reflects the tremendous transformation that has taken place in Stanley over the last 40 years.”
Douglas on the Isle of Man is a cultural hub where The Royal Hall is home to annual flagship concerts by the Isle of Man Symphony Orchestra, the Isle of Man Choral Society, and the Manx Last Night of the Proms. It stages the annual Manx Music Festival and there is also an Isle of Man Film Festival plus events which celebrate Gaelic culture.
The Queen is patron of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution which originates from Douglas. George IV was the original patron, before it became the RNLI under the patronage of Queen Victoria in 1854.
Douglas has also given its industrial quayside and town centre area and upgrade in a sweep of urban regeneration.
Isle of Man’s chief minister Alfred Cannan said: ‘Douglas being named as one of the eight city status winners, and leading the way for the Crown Dependencies, is a huge honour for the island and celebrates our unique mix of culture, history and heritage.
“The accolade is a marvellous way to mark our relationship with Her Majesty The Queen, our Lord of Mann, while celebrating the Platinum Jubilee.”
The other winners
Doncaster’s bid showcased its community spirit and resilience after the floods in 2019 where locals rallied to provide relief.
It has more than 70 places of worship and its mosques and gurdwaras became pop-up vaccination centres during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was originally a Roman settlement and has an industrial heritage that is built on rail and coal.
Important locomotives including The Flying Scotsman and The Mallard were both built there.
Horse racing fans will know Doncaster as the home of the classic St Leger, founded in 1776, which has been graced by various members of the royal family over the years.
Dunfermline’s bid pointed out that its annual fireworks display attracts around 30,000 local people, while the Christmas light event packed the town centre with 10,000 people.
Dunfermline’s most famous son is Andrew Carnegie, whose steel industry helped build America. His philanthropy started the world’s public library system, and he gave away the equivalent of 65 billion dollars in today’s money.
Bangor, due to being set at the mouth of the Belfast Lough, became a key site for allied forces during the Second World War. In May 1944, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech to 30,000 assembled troops in Bangor, shortly before ships left for Normandy and D-Day.
The Milton Keynes new town includes 27 conservation areas, 50 scheduled monuments, 1,100 listed buildings and 270 pieces of public art. It has 84,500 citizens who are volunteers and the town also claims to have a higher per head of population number of volunteers than any other UK city.
The Open University was established there in 1969.
Colchester is Britain’s first recorded settlement and its first capital. It has been a Garrison Town for the past 165 years and for the past 21 years has been home to 16 Air Assault Brigade, the UK’s rapid response force.
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