Dudley – the unofficial capital of the Black Country – has thrown its hat into the ring to be granted city status as part of honours being awarded for the Queen’s 2022 Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Civic leaders for the borough, which failed in a previous bid in 2012, said that with a history and culture most cities “could only dream of”, Dudley has much in its favour, as it announced plans to make a bid on Wednesday – Black Country Day.
Dudley’s mayor Anne Millward said there was “no more fitting day” to make the announcement, adding the council was “confident” it could elevate the town to city status.
“Hopefully on Black Country Day next year we will be celebrating as Dudley City, the capital of the Black Country,” she added.
Arguably the canal-side town’s biggest claim to fame is its role as one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution thanks to its mineral wealth, with coal, iron ore and limestone deposits, leading to a boom in trades like glass-making and metal-working.
That pedigree and history is one of the reasons the borough brings in more than a million tourists every year.
The town also has many famous sons and daughters, not least Manchester United and England forward Duncan Edwards, who died in the 1958 Munich Air Disaster.
A statue commemorating him was put up in Dudley’s marketplace in 1999.
Tennis player Dorothy Round, who was Wimbledon women’s singles champion in 1934 and 1937, was born there in 1909, as well as comedian and actor Sir Lenny Henry, who also hails from the borough.
It is also home to the Black Country Living Museum, where scenes from the popular BBC television drama Peaky Blinders were filmed.
Dudley also boasts a 13th century castle ruin which sits atop a hill overlooking the town, along with a zoo.
The town’s Priory Park is named for the ruins of the town’s Cluniac priory, dissolved in the reign of Henry VIII – now one of Dudley’s 11 scheduled ancient monuments.
Its Wren’s Nest nature reserve – the first such to be announced in England in the 1950s – is part of the Black Country Unesco Global Geopark, a status recognising its geological importance.
Patrick Harley, Dudley Council leader, said: “From our medieval Domesday book reference back in 1086, not to mention the millions of years of geological history, we have a past that most cities across the world could only dream of, and of which we are very proud.
“But we’re also looking to forge a bright new future.
“We recognise there is work to do in that regard.
“But we have a billion pound regeneration programme which is coming to life as we speak to change the landscape of this fantastic place with new developments our people can be proud of.”
He said the formal bid would be submitted later this year.
Other places around the country have already announced plans to submit city status bids including Reading in Berkshire, Boston, Lincolnshire, Swindon in Wiltshire, and Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
Councils have until December 8 to apply and are judged on civic pride, innovation and heritage.
Chloe Smith, Constitution and Devolution Minister, said said the UK’s “brilliance” was “rooted in diverse and unique communities brought together by a shared sense of civic pride, so I have no doubt the competition will be fierce”.
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said the competition – the first of its kind for 10 years – would be “a fitting tribute to Her Majesty’s reign in her Platinum Jubilee year”.