Bangor to become a city at special event

New era begins

By Julie Waters

A NEW era for Bangor will begin when the former seaside town is officially crowned as a city at a special conferment ceremony tomorrow.

The seaside town was awarded city status to mark Queen Elizabeth Platinum Jubilee and the official ceremony to present the Royal document to the Mayor, Karen Douglas, will be held on Friday at the town hall.

After the presentation of the Letters Patent, a civic reception will be held for specially invited guests including council members, the Lord Lieutenant and other dignitaries.

With plans in the pipeline for the long-awaited £50m regeneration of Bangor’s seafront as well as a £40m waterfront development, it is hoped the conferment of city status will be a welcome boost to tourism, the local economy and the wider community.

As one of the newest cities in Northern Ireland, Bangor will join Belfast, Londonderry, Armagh, Lisburn and Newry who all hold city status.

Bangor was one of eight towns to have been awarded city status as part of the former monarch’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and council chief Stephen Reid has stressed the importance of carrying out the official ceremony in this landmark year.

Bangor Central councillor Alistair Cathcart, who pushed for Bangor’s bid, said the conferment of city status was a ‘wonderful honour for Bangor’.

However, he stressed the city of Bangor was ‘only at the start of its regeneration’. “It is a new dawn for our new city but it is important to recognise that this is not the culmination of efforts, that the Bangor project is far from over.

“Our city is not the place that we want it to be, we are only at the start of its regeneration project. We are on the cusp of its revival, with the Queen’s Parade redevelopment, the Bangor Waterfront scheme, the Flagship reopening and the arts and culture revolution with Open House and Seacourt leading the charge.”

He said: “We are getting there but we need to see this through to delivery. Bangor’s city status is an opportunity, an additional lever to pull to help us in our journey into making our new city into the place that we know it can be.”

After the passing of Queen Elizabeth earlier this year, revisions of the Royal Warrant and Letters Patent were carried out to recognise the passage to the throne to King Charles.

A total of 38 bids were made for city status, and with Bangor’s pitch focusing on ‘heritage, heart and hope’ this significant accolade was successfully secured for the seaside town.

An application was made as part of the 2022 Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours Competition, with applicants asked to talk to an expert panel about the distinct identity and community which they felt meant their area deserved to become a city, as well as links to royalty.

Its application pointed out that in 1961, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited Bangor Castle and had lunch at the Royal Ulster Yacht Club, before the duke raced in the regatta.

In 1903, Edward VII visited Bangor with Queen Alexandra following a tour of Ireland as part of his Coronation celebrations. In its bid for city status, the application from Bangor said it was the first council in Northern Ireland to add health and social care staff to its list of Freemen of the Borough.

It also said it had a rich naval heritage due to its location at the mouth of the Belfast Lough and it became a key site for Allied Forces during World War II.#

More recently, Bangor has developed an unrivalled musical and cultural history and is home to many of Northern Ireland’s finest creatives from the late Derek Bell of the Chieftains, Snow Patrol, Foy Vance as well as writer and former County Down Spectator deputy editor Colin Bateman.