Scottish village has its sights set on city status

Millport is little more than a seafront strip and the only town on the tiny isle of Great Cumbrae, in western Scotland.

However, that isn't stopping the hamlet from considering whether to launch a bid for city status when the next competition is held by the monarch.

It would use the move to assert its claim to house the country's smallest cathedral. Built in 1851, the Cathedral of the Isles has a nave that measures 40ft by 20ft and seats just 70 people.

If Millport's bid were to be successful, the pretty tourist town would be able to promote itself as Britain's smallest cathedral city, something it believes could do wonders for the local economy.

The title for smallest cathedral city is currently held by St David's, in Pembrokeshire, home to 2,000 people.

The Queen is currently considering the latest round of bids from towns applying for city status. The winners will be announced next year to coincide with her diamond jubilee.

Millport is too late to be included in the latest round – bids closed on Friday – but is considering launching a challenge when the next competition is held.

The campaign to bid for city status is being championed by Patrick Boyle, a trustee of the Cathedral of the Isles.

Boyle said it was time the building was officially recognised. He is seeking a meeting with local officials and residents to discuss launching a bid for city status and has gained support from local councillors and officials.

“The cathedral of the Isles is the smallest cathedral in Britain and probably in Europe,” he said.

“Being designated as the smallest cathedral city in the country would be a tremendous marketing asset and would do wonders for the local economy. It’s a fantastic building and I would like to see it being visited and viewed by many more people.”

Alex Gallagher, councillor for the North Coast and Cumbraes, said: "I think everyone knows the Cathedral is a wonderful building and a great asset to Cumbrae. It would be tremendous recognition for it to gain entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

“It would also be great for Millport to be named as the smallest cathedral city in Britain and I would certainly lend my support to that.”

David Todd, warden of the cathedral, said he welcomed the proposal which he hoped would help to raise the profile of the town.

“Anything that gets people talking about Millport is a good idea. There are those who will say that, clearly, Millport is not a city and it’s difficult to argue but it’s harmless and, who knows, it could be successful.”

The association between the presence of a cathedral and city status dates back to the 1540s when Henry VIII, having newly founded the Church of England, created six cathedral towns and gave them all city status by letters patent.

The list of towns vying for city status this year include Bournemouth, Luton, Milton Keynes, Reading, and the only Scottish contender, Perth.

In the last competition, held to mark the Queen’s golden jubilee in 2002, Inverness was successful in being elevated from a town to a city.

Previous winners have reported a boost to local investment, jobs, and their profile.


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