Aberystwyth officially greatest town in the UK


Aberystwyth was officially crowned a “Great Town” at the prestigious Academy of Urbanism 2015 Awards in November 2014.

Aberystwyth picked up the Great Town award for its leading work in promoting its location, economy and community.

Key to the result swinging in Aberystwyth’s favour was the attitude judges encountered towards creating and sustaining local partnerships, exemplified by the town’s response to the storms that devastated the seafront at the beginning of 2014.

Tim Challans, lead assessor for the great town award, said: “The town’s resilience in recovering from the winter storms demonstrates how its people are passionate about their home.”

Described by the Academy as “a modest town that punches above its weight”, Aberystwyth pipped English rivals Beverley (Yorkshire) and Bury (Lancashire) to win the award.

The ceremony was attended by Aberystwyth Town Cllrs Brenda Haines, mayor of Aberystwyth, and Wendy Morris, immediate past mayor, Cllr Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, and Allan Lewis, Ceredigion’s head of economic and community development.

Cllr Haines was presented with the award which was a framed copy of a poem “Aberystwyth” by Ian McMillan, Poet in Residence at the Academy of Urbanism. She said: “It is absolutely brilliant for Aberystwyth to be recognised in this way - the people of Aberystwyth can be very proud.”

Aberystwyth as seen from the university


by Ian McMillan (Poet in Residence at the Academy of Urbanism)

Place of learning, place of water, place of sky;
Place where the Gulf Stream warms your bones
Place where the Welsh-speaking seagulls fly
Place of a castle built from ancient stones....
The railway came and brought the world,
To sit on the beach or listen and learn
To raise Education’s flag, unfurled
To walk down the promenade, stand then turn
And face the streets that can reinvent
The idea of what a small town can achieve;
Aberystwyth’s a statement of intent
About coming for a term, never wanting to leave;
If Wales is a body I think Aber’s the brain;
Why, even the rain is intellectual rain!