Historic town to get a fresh image
By Juliette MaxamFOR years Colchester has marketed itself as “Britain's oldest recorded town”, but all that is about to change.With the addition of just two words, tourism bosses are hoping to persuade would-be visitors that Colchester is actually a thriving, bustling, modern 21st Century town.
By Juliette Maxam
FOR years Colchester has marketed itself as “Britain's oldest recorded town”, but all that is about to change.
With the addition of just two words, tourism bosses are hoping to persuade would-be visitors that Colchester is actually a thriving, bustling, modern 21st Century town.
Those two words are “more than”, making Colchester “More than Britain's oldest recorded town”.
Colchester is steeped in history, with a Norman castle built with rubble from the former Roman temple, a Roman wall surrounding the town centre, the Dutch Quarter and a host of other historic buildings.
But the next five to 10 years will see large-scale redevelopment, with four major regeneration projects set to come to fruition.
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A new community stadium for Colchester United is planned for the north of the town, along with a new A12 junction and a business and leisure park.
In the south of Colchester, a new garrison is set to be built, freeing up space for a mini-village on the existing Army land.
The run-down Hythe area, home to Colchester's now closed harbour, is also undergoing huge regeneration, with new housing, university accommodation and workspaces going up.
In the town centre, a “cultural quarter” will see the St Botolph's area get a complete facelift, including a landmark visual arts facility.
Colchester Borough Council's cabinet member for work and leisure, Theresa Higgins, was one of the people behind the new-look tourism campaign, due to be launched later this month.
She said: “If you always talk about the past, people think we haven't anything modern. We're also a town for the 21st Century. We have got modern things. Yes, our history is fantastic, but we have got to move on from there.”
The new slogan was welcomed as a positive step forward by John Jowers, from the Colchester 2020 local strategic partnership, which is planning the town's long-term future.
“If we are going to be a regional centre of excellence and strategic place, we have got to build up the modern side of Colchester,” he said.
“It's a very sensible thing to do, it's long overdue. We can't just rest on our laurels. We look both ways, we've got the best of both worlds, the historic and the modern.”
Colchester town manager Chris Rawlinson added: “There's so much happening now in Colchester, with big regeneration projects. Getting the balance right is what's important.
“We can't hark back to the past and not look to the future. Colchester has a fabulous tradition, but this is a huge opportunity to look towards the future, it's a very exciting time for the town.”
Bob Russell, the Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, said: “We are Britain's oldest recorded town, but there's more to us than that.
“I've no problem with that, my only observation is that we don't do enough to promote the town's distinctive features that are unique to Colchester.
“No other town has its town centre entirely surrounded by a 2,000-year-old wall. It's regrettable it's being allowed to crumble away.
“There is more to Colchester than being Britain's oldest recorded town - it's an evolving town, which is to be welcomed. But we must never forget that our single most distinctive difference is we are Britain's oldest recorded town.”