5th Jul, 2020

City's 400th anniversary could lead Worcester's COVID-19 recovery

Rob George 3rd Jun, 2020

A LEADING city historian and leader of the Labour group on Worcester City Council has called for the 400th anniversary of Worcester’s birth to lead the economic and social recovery from the Coronavirus crisis.

Dr Adrian Gregson delivered the rallying call ahead of the 400th Mayor of Worcester’s election in next May and said any celebration, along with the numerous rescheduled events which have been postponed due to COVID-19, would put tourism at the heart of the city’s fightback from the virus.

Labour’s Coun Jo Hodges became the 399th Mayor of Worcester at a ceremony last month meaning 2021 is the 400th anniversary of a charter incorporating the City of Worcester and creating a first citizen for the first time with Edward Hurdman the first take this role.

A Worcester Charter Festival was held at Pitchcroft in 1971 to mark the 350th anniversary but in a letter to the Observer, Coun Gregson admitted the current pandemic had changed a lot of things.

“Most of the arts events planned for this summer including open studios, Nozstock, the Elgar Festival, Three Choirs, Arches Project, are looking to come back next year,” the Rainbow Hill councillor said.

“We know arts, cultural and hospitality are the sectors who may find it hardest to recover. Tourism is a key plank of the Local Enterprise Partnership’s recovery plan. So let’s make next year a Charter Year for Worcester.

“Let’s brand the whole year and its events and activities as part of the 400th anniversary of the city and showcase what’s great about Worcester.

“Schools, community centres, neighbourhoods, the Arts Workshop, Worcester Live, museums, attractions, cricket, racing, arts groups, festivals, shops and businesses can all take part and benefit.

“Let’s use the celebration as a rebirth to drive the economic and social recovery here in Worcester,” the deputy leader of the city council added.

Charters began in 1189 when Richard I bestowed rights upon the city. Subsequent monarchs reissued charters over the years, adding new rights for Worcester.

James I gave the city the right to elect a Mayor and designated it a ‘county corporate’ in 1621, giving it freedom from local government for the first time.

From this point, Worcester was governed by a mayor, recorder and six aldermen while councillors were selected through invitations from current members to outsiders.

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