January is when the glossy adverts for summer holidays start to appear – with images of blue seas and beaches. This is the time we begin planning for upcoming events in our lives; not just holidays, but other occasions such as sport, visiting families and other important dates. It does seem that we are in a better place to begin planning these events than we were this time last year, which should give us all a bit of hope.
Here in Carlisle, we will be commemorating at least three significant events this year. The first is a national event – the 70th Anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the throne. It is quite an extraordinary event to commemorate given that the reign of Elizabeth II has seen such huge social and economic change over the past 70 years. To put this into a bit of context, the Queen has reigned over the United Kingdom for well more than a quarter of the existence of the Untied States of America.
The last seven decades have transformed our country from a nation recovering from the ravages of war to a modern 21st century country. The Queen will have witnessed extraordinary revolutions in areas such as society and technology. Throughout it all she has been a constant stable force – and as a result, a source of immense consistency for the whole of the United Kingdom (and beyond, in fact). She has been a unifying personality rising above politics whilst giving the nation a focus. I look forward to the celebrations, and I am sure Carlisle will deliver.
On a more historical note, we will also be commemorating the 1,900th anniversary of the start of the constructions of Hadrian’s Wall by the Roman Emperor Hadrian – marking the furthest north where the Roman Empire effectively operated. Hadrian’s Wall is a World Heritage Site, and it is likely that there could be close to 3 million visitors visiting the wall over the course of the next year. There will be hundreds of activities and events to celebrate – and Carlisle will serve as an important part in these commemorations.
Finally, the year 2022 will see the 900th anniversary of the construction of Carlisle Cathedral. The Cathedral really is one of the jewels of our city. Everyone who visits is awed by the astonishing star-covered ceiling. The Cathedral’s construction began under the reign of Henry I, son of William the Conqueror – and it is amazing to think this happened exactly 1,000 years after the first stone of Hadrian’s Wall was put down.
We are fortunate in Carlisle to have such a rich seam of history stretching back through the Victorian era, the Middle Ages and back to the Roman times. It is important that we celebrate this history by marking these events – and that we share it with the rest of the world. I am sure that there will be many people planning their year ahead by looking to our city as a destination. After all, the history of our city is a far better advertisement than any glossy advert in January could be.