Southampton City is 60

Southampton celebrates 60 years of City Status

60 logo for VS

On 24 February 1964, Southampton was granted a royal charter, which designated it as the City and County of the City of Southampton.

The first informal proposals for city status emerged in the mid-1930s.

It was proposed that Southampton, amongst other towns, should be elevated to city status to honour the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935.

The Second World War and the austerity that followed delayed the next application until September 1958, when a petition was prepared for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The main reasons cited for seeking city status included

  • The growth in size and population of the town
  • Its increasing importance in the shipping world and within the country’s economy
  • Its long history of public administration
  • The efficiency of its municipal services
  • Its record of voluntary service and public service.

Other factors included

  • The practice of charity
  • The preservation of historical records and customs
  • The fostering of a true sense of citizenship

To celebrate, we've rounded up 60 fun facts about Southampton since 1964! Read our dedicated blog post here.

60 years on, Southampton City Council is celebrating this milestone by sharing some of the fantastic achievements from various sectors across the city.

If you would like to join the city’s diamond jubilee celebrations we have developed a special logo in various formats for you to use to help promote your event or activity. For further advice, or to obtain a copy of the logo please email

Tea Party celebrations at the Library

Cupcakes unsplash

On Saturday 24 February, families enjoyed a hot drink, some cake and Southampton themed activities to celebrate 60 years of city status, organised by local friends of libraries groups. 

10am - 12noon: 
Friends of Woolston Library will be hosting a tea party.

10.30am - 12.30pm: 
Friends of Bitterne Library will be hosting a tea party.

2pm - 3.30pm: 
Friends of Portswood Library will be hosting a tea party.

People were encouraged to bring in photographs from the last 60 years to build a historical display at Central Library.

Southampton Archives from the sixties

Charter image for VS

Southampton has a long and rich history with a wealth of written material cared for within the city’s Archives.

It has received around 30 royal grants of rights and privileges from the 12th century to the present.

During medieval times it was the third most important port in England and enjoyed a prosperous and varied commercial life.

In the 19th and 20th century its role in shipping was world-renowned.

But it did not become a city until 1964.

The Council's Archive team have created a webpage of unseen documents and photographs from the last 60 years, including the Royal charters.

The charter itself, (pictured opposite), along with examples of some of Southampton’s charters (going back to 1199) can be seen in this selection of items from their online catalogue.

Highlights from a collection of photographs shown at the Ordnance Survey Photographic Society exhibition ‘Southampton in the Sixties’ can also be viewed. These photographs mostly date from 1962-1963 and show a variety of scenes and activities in the town, just before it became a city.

View the collection here 

Celebrations at Southampton Football Club

St Marys Stadium packed with spectators on Saints FC home match day

Since becoming a city in 1964, Southampton has witnessed many memorable events for both the city and its football club.

The club’s achievements include reaching the top division of English football in 1966, winning the FA Cup in 1976, and playing in several cup finals and European competitions.

The Saints were delighted to celebrate the city’s 60th anniversary and invited fans to join them in a 60th-minute applause at the Southampton v Millwall match on Saturday 24 February. Find out more here.

Celebrate our City

Southampton Heritage Guides

SEE Southampton Heritage Guides marked the 60th anniversary of City Status with a walking tour of Medieval Southampton and wine vaults on Saturday 24 February.

Southampton-based organisations marked the occasion

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  • ABP encouraged ships in Southampton port on Saturday 24 February to sound their whistles and horns at midday to mark the occasion.
  • Port operating company DP World got creative with shipping containers, spelling out ‘Southampton 1964-2024’  Image opposite ©DP World
  • NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight highlighted University Hospital Southampton’s (UHS) place within the city, its contributions, achievements, and ambitions for the future.
  • University of Southampton celebrated alumni stories and other factors that helped them reach the rankings of 12th best university in the UK and 81st in the world. On Saturday 24 February a Special Collections blog - 60 years in the city - reflecting on the University's connection with the city over the last 60 years. It was accompanied by a number of tweets from @hartleyspecialc also scheduled on the same day.
    Turner Sims theatre also shared some of their achievements from over the years.
  • Southampton Voluntary Services (SVS) was founded in 1968. Since then, SVS has helped many voluntary organisations to establish and support countless people to volunteer. SVS will continue to showcase the voluntary sector, celebrate its contributions to Southampton and encourage the city’s residents to help others through volunteering.

60 fun facts about the city

60 years of city status thumbnail cover

At Visit Southampton, we're also celebrating with 60 fun facts about the city from 1964 - 2024. Read it here.

You can also download a free children's activity sheet here.

More to discover

Want to learn more about the city's past? Read about Southampton City History here.

Celebrating Southampton History

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