Published On: Sun, Mar 17th, 2024

The huge UK town home to nearly 200k people that’s somehow not a city | UK | Travel

When the Government last announced which towns were going to become cities, it featured Bangor, Colchester, Doncaster, Dunfermline, Milton Keynes, Wrexham, Douglas, Stanley, and Southend-on-Sea.

While these changes were welcomed by the local governments in these areas, there was a surprise omission from the list, Reading, which has become famous for not being a city.

Despite having a council and a large population – greater than cities such as Oxford, Bath, St Albans, Preston, and Lincoln – it has still not been listed as a city.

It isn’t for lack of trying as the town continues to campaign to be upgraded. Following a failed attempt in 2022, Labour MP Matt Rodda said: “We have a rich history, a diverse culture and a bright future.

“I am incredibly proud of the place that is my home, and the people who live here and I know we have so much to look forward to. I also want to take a moment to thank everyone who worked on Reading’s bid.”

One theory as to why Reading doesn’t have city status is because it doesn’t have a cathedral, but said this was an urban myth and that it was by Royal Charter that city status was granted.

This is reflected by the Government. They said: “A cathedral is not a requirement for city status to be conferred, though Birmingham was the first town without a cathedral to become a city, in 1889.”

As a result, the way towns become cities is through a competitive bid submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

While it is possible to gain city status it is also possible for a city to lose it. The most famous example is St Davids which lost it in 1886. It wouldn’t be until 1994 that the city of just under 2,000 people would regain its standing.

Officially the UK’s smallest city, it has a beautiful cathedral at its heart. Visitor Mike S wrote on TripAdvisor: “Wow what a stunning little cathedral. Free to enter with a suggested donation of £5 per person. This cathedral is set in a stunning valley location beside a river and ford.

“There are two gift shops and a cafe. For a small cathedral, it is full of interest, a must-see if visiting the UK’s smallest city.”

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