JCB has thrown its weight behind Stoke-on-Trent’s bid for UK City of Culture status as the clock ticks down to decision day.
Stoke-on-Trent is one of five cities in the running to be named UK City of Culture 2021, alongside Sunderland, Swansea, Paisley and Coventry. Judges for the competition visited the city last month as part of their tour of the candidate cities and the winner will be announced in Hull and live on BBC’s One Show on December 7th.
Now JCB Chairman Lord Bamford has sent a letter to Stoke-on-Trent City Council endorsing the authority and the city’s bid for the prestigious accolade.
Lord Bamford said: “I am delighted to fully endorse Stoke-on-Trent’s attempt to become the City of Culture in 2021, an accolade which will not only throw the international spotlight on to this most industrious and creative of cities, but one which will also be truly well deserved.”
In his letter to Deputy Leader Abi Brown, Lord Bamford recalled JCB’s very close links with the Potteries since the company’s very early days.
He said: “It’s a well-known fact my father’s first product in 1945 was a hydraulic tipping trailer which today stands proudly in reception at our World Headquarters. It’s a less well-known fact that my father bought the axle for that trailer from a Potteries scrap merchant.
“The scrap merchant wanted £8 for the axle and my father hadn’t got the money to pay, so the dealer agreed repayment terms of £1 a month for the next eight months. So you could say that JCB owes a large part of its success to Stoke-on-Trent and the kindly scrap merchant all those years ago.”
Lord Bamford also has family links with the City; his great-grandmother Ellen Emery, the daughter of a pottery company clerk, was born in the city and lived in Penkhull. She married Joseph Bamford in 1883 at Our Lady of the Angels and St Peter in Chains Church in Hartshill. It was Joseph, himself a great engineer who went on to become Chairman of the family agricultural machinery makers Bamfords Ltd in Uttoxeter.
Lord Bamford added: “It’s for all these reasons, and many more, that I feel a great affinity with Stoke-on-Trent and its people and wish the city well in its City of Culture bid.”
Councillor Abi Brown, bid chair for Stoke-on-Trent 2021, said: “We have talked a lot about the huge economic impact winning UK City of Culture 2021 would have on Stoke-on-Trent and we have seen from Hull the hugely positive force it creates for residents, visitors and businesses alike. Having the support and backing from a business giant such as Lord Bamford and JCB shouts volumes about the credibility of our bid and our ability to deliver in Stoke-on-Trent.
“Being UK City of Culture would help us rewrite the story of Stoke-on-Trent with investment and regeneration going hand-in-hand. Winning would be a game-changer for the city, bigger than anything we can imagine. We’re going to do everything we can this week to make it happen and our thanks go to Lord Bamford and JCB for throwing their weight behind us.”
Winning UK City of Culture 2021 could bring a £73 million boost to Stoke-on-Trent’s economy in 2021 and create more than 1,800 new jobs, according to EY’s (formerly Ernst & Young) chief economist in the UK.
Mark Gregory, who recently led a study into the enormous economic and social impact of Stoke City Football Club being in the Premier League, believes landing the title would have a similarly dramatic effect on the city’s fortunes for years to come.