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Residents tell of pride over Bangor’s city status award to mark Platinum Jubilee

Ards and North Down Mayor Mark Brooks and Melissa Doherty, 12, celebrate the announcement (Brian Lawless/PA)
Ards and North Down Mayor Mark Brooks and Melissa Doherty, 12, celebrate the announcement (Brian Lawless/PA)

Residents in the seaside town of Bangor in Northern Ireland have told of their pride after it was awarded city status to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Bangor is one of eight places across the UK and beyond that triumphed in a competition to receive civic honours.

Geoff Thompson, president of Bangor’s Chamber of Commerce said: “This is a a beautiful spot and on a sunny Friday, it looks even better.

“I think it’s a great honour, a great accolade that we have been given city status. It’s a great way of raising the profile of Bangor.

“The feedback has been very positive since we heard the news.

“All the residents are getting behind the fact that we are going to become a city, many of them are very proud.”

DUP MLA Stephen Dunne added: “Bangor is a wonderful place to live, visit and do business, with its marina, coastal walks, vibrant independent businesses and excellent schools.

“Bangor also has a proud royal connection down through the years as it has hosted many royal visits, particularly with its strong maritime tradition.”

Bangor Ulster Unionist councillor Craig Blaney said: “Bangor’s transformation heralds lots of exciting opportunities, particularly for the younger generation. 

“As someone who has lived in Bangor my whole life I am more excited than ever about what the future holds.”

Mayor Mark Brooks said the award for the Co Down town was “extra special” due to its association with the Jubilee.

Mark Brooks
Mark Brooks said he was ‘proud’ of the new accolade (Brian Lawless/PA)

“I am delighted by the news of Bangor’s success in the City Status Competition,” said Councillor Brooks, who is mayor of Ards and North Down Borough Council.

“It would be an honour for the town and people of Bangor to receive at any time but coming as part of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations makes it extra special.

“City status isn’t judged on the size of your town and isn’t dependent on having particular assets such as a cathedral, rather it’s about heritage, pride and potential.

“When putting forward the case for Bangor we found evidence of each of these in abundance.

“I would like to put on record my thanks to all those who contributed to Bangor’s application – both in terms of their words of support but more importantly in terms of their practical and ongoing work in the local area.

“Bangor has been given a great boost today and I’m extremely proud of this new and significant accolade for our borough.”

Its pitch for city status was founded on three main pillars – heritage, heart and hope.

The bid highlighted its medieval monastic influences, Christian heritage, industrial exploits and innovation and its proud naval tradition.

Due to its location at the mouth of the Belfast Lough, Bangor was a key site for the Allies 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 newly named city also has significant royal links.

UFO sightings in Northern Ireland
Boats tied up at Bangor Marina (Liam McBurney/PA)

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited Bangor Castle in 1961 and after lunching at the Royal Ulster Yacht Club that day, the duke took part in a regatta race.

In 1903, Edward VII visited Bangor and sailed out of the harbour on the Royal Yacht with Queen Alexandra following a tour of Ireland as part of the coronation celebrations.

Bangor has also been credited with strong community spirit.

In 2018, the local council honoured health and social care staff as “freemen of the borough”, the first local authority in Northern Ireland to recognise healthcare workers in such a way.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis welcomed the award.

“Bangor has a strong community focus and so much to offer, including its beautiful coastline, a thriving marina, and a resurgent cultural and arts sector that is drawing people from across Northern Ireland and beyond for events,” he said.

A sign showing a guide to the North Down Coastal Path
A sign showing a guide to the North Down Coastal Path at Bangor (Brian Lawless/PA)

“I’m delighted that Bangor has secured city status, and this well-deserved honour will provide a further boost to tourism and to the economy, creating new opportunities for the community and recognition for the area.”

Eight is a record number of locations to be awarded city status in one competition.

The last contest for civic honours was run 10 years ago to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

This year was the first occasion it was open to applications from the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories, with Stanley on the Falkland Islands and Douglas on the Isle of Man among the winners.

The other five newly named cities are Colchester, Doncaster and Milton Keynes in England, Dunfermline in Scotland and Wrexham in Wales.