COLCHESTER’S long-awaited shift to city status has been hailed as a historic moment in which “we all share pride”.

As Colchester receives the title at the behest of the Queen, the new city's MP Will Quince said the step will take the area “to new heights”.

A common thread shared by all those reacting to the news was a sense of pride in feeling Colchester’s rich history has finally been recognised.

Mr Quince said: “I am absolutely delighted the UK’s first Roman city has become the UK’s newest city as part of Her Majesty The Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations.

“When the Romans arrived in Britain, Colchester was their first destination to create a garrison which became known as the ‘City of the Victorious’.

“City status will mean our dynamic economy, nationally recognised award-winning cultural and heritage assets and internationally-renowned university can reach new heights.

“We can all share pride in this honour.”

Colchester was recognised in a large part because of its deep links to the country’s armed forces.

READ MORE: Colchester residents urged to 'embrace' city status idea

Reacting to the news, Colchester Garrison’s commander Lieutenant Colonel Ed Rankin said: “The granting of city status to Colchester is fantastic.

“Colchester traces its history as a garrison back to the Napoleonic Wars and is now home to 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, the British Army’s global response force.

“The civilian and military communities have always enjoyed a hugely supportive relationship which has given countless generations of soldiers a launch pad to deploy on operations, safe in the knowledge that their families will be embraced by the community.

“As we at Merville Barracks prepare for the firing of a Royal Salute to mark Her Majesty The Queen’s platinum jubilee on June 2 and the 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team and Colchester Garrison Show on June 25, we look forward to joining together with people to celebrate the granting of city status to Colchester.”

Gazette: Prince Charles at Colchester's Merville Barracks in 2021Prince Charles at Colchester's Merville Barracks in 2021

The competition for city status has taken place in each of the last three jubilee years, with previous winners including Chelmsford, Lisburn and Newport.

Colchester becomes the county’s third city after Southend was granted city status following the murder of MP Sir David Amess.

Business leaders hope the new title will provide a boost to Colchester’s economy and open up new opportunities for its people.

Sam Good, manager of Colchester’s Business Improvement District, said: "We are thrilled.

“This announcement is a positive boost for the local economy and businesses of the borough and gives Colchester a worthy title considering its growth and high quality offering for residents and visitors from far and beyond.

“We hope that this news can support inward investment into the soon-to-be city centre from all sectors alongside highlighting the need for further support from central government and local authorities to invest in the infrastructure of a city."

Professor Anthony Forster, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, said Colchester "already has the buzz of a city."

Gazette: Anthony Forster, vice chancellor of the University of EssexAnthony Forster, vice chancellor of the University of Essex

He said the University has long been "a wholehearted supporter" of the bid for city status. 

"Our first and largest campus is located in Colchester and just like us, Colchester has flourished over the past six decades," he said.

“Achieving city status will bring Colchester the visibility and recognition that it deserves regionally and globally.

"It will help attract new investment that will see it continue to grow and prosper.

“We believe Colchester benefits from having a world-class university on its doorstep and we thrive because of its rich history and vibrant cultural life.

"We know our students and staff, who come from around the world, will be really excited that their home is being awarded city status.”

READ MORE: Queen grants Colchester city status to mark jubilee

David King, leader elect of Colchester Council, called the news "a defining moment" in the long history of the borough.

He said: "It will raise our national profile and attract the kinds of inward investment that is only open to cities. 

"With city status comes more opportunities to boost the local economy, create even greater social opportunities, and promote our rich heritage and culture, to the benefit of all our residents.”

Colchester councillor Darius Laws added: “I’m proud to have led the campaign for city status and am absolutely thrilled that Britain’s first Roman city is set to become one of Britain’s newest cities. 

"What an extraordinary and richly deserved moment for us.”

Steve Mannix, executive director of The Mercury, said: “All of us here at the Mercury are delighted that Colchester has finally gained the great honour of receiving city status."

Gazette: Steve Mannix, executive director of The Mercury theatreSteve Mannix, executive director of The Mercury theatre

He added: “It really goes to show Colchester continues to be an exciting place to live and work – a vibrant centre for culture, heritage and community spirit.

"This award is testament to the strength of partnership-working across the public, commercial and not-for-profit sectors.”

Sally Shaw MBE, director of Colchester's Firstsite gallery, said the awarding of city status recognises "the unique identity of the people who live and work here". 

"Also the high-quality art and culture radiating from here," she said.

"There’s nowhere quite like it.

“Colchester is such an exciting place, full of incredible history but also bursting with new ideas, amazing people and mountains of creative talent, which is celebrated here at Firstsite along with the many other fantastic venues across Colchester."

Gazette: Sally Shaw, director of Firstsite gallerySally Shaw, director of Firstsite gallery

She added: “To be a city really puts Colchester on the international map, opening so many new opportunities for the local community.

"We look forward to welcoming even more people here to enjoy all our fabulous places and spaces and experience the vibrant art and culture scene, created and presented by our diverse communities across Colchester.”

Colchester was one of only three places to have submitted bids to become cities on all five occasions city status has been available: in 1992 for Her Majesty's Ruby Anniversary; in 2000 to mark the Millennium; in 2002 for Her Majesty's golden jubilee; in 2012 for Her Majesty's diamond jubilee, and now in 2022 to mark Her Majesty's platinum jubilee.