Swindon has been expanding as a town since the industrial revolution began back in 1810 when the Wilts and Berks Canal was created, bringing a variety of new trade options for the small market town.

To call the town anything but Swindon Town would now sound wrong, too different, but that doesn’t mean people haven’t tried to turn Swindon Town into Swindon City.

That hasn’t stopped people trying, however, and the town has made several attempts to become a city, the latest being in 2002, and has been unsuccessful in all efforts (clearly, else we would all be going to see Swindon City play at the County Ground).

At the time of the last bid, then Mayor David Cox said: “I thought that we would be in with a real chance, but Swindon will carry on despite this setback.”

And he was not wrong, Swindon did carry on, it became one of the biggest towns with a now-population of just over 180,00, but why hasn’t the town tried to become a city again?

Clearly with the population and size of the town, city status should just be around the corner? But that hasn’t been the case.

Contrary to popular belief (and one that I thought back in school) to become a city you don’t need a Cathedral or a University. Although they do help, they don’t automatically make a town become a city.

A new city is, in fact, decided by the monarch. The Queen has the power to declare a new city with the last cities being announced for her diamond jubilee back in 2012.

But what about now? Why won’t Swindon consider trying to become a city again?

Well it would seem that those in the high office don’t think Swindon needs, or even wants, to become a city.

Cllr David Renard, leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “The average person living in Swindon would not care if they woke up tomorrow in a town or city.

“In fact in May last year, the Advertiser ran a poll asking readers if they would like Swindon to become a city and almost half (48 per cent) said ‘no’ with a further 16 per cent saying they weren’t bothered.

“City status does not come with more privileges or additional powers and the time and money it would take to submit a bid would be better spent on delivering services and projects that will make a real difference to people’s lives in our town.

“We already consistently outperform many cities across the country when it comes to our economy and productivity.

“In fact our performance is so strong, the independent urban policy research unit, Centre for Cities, classes us as a city. Ultimately, what matters is that we are not missing out on opportunities and that agencies, including the Council, have the ability to provide the very best services to residents.

“I am extremely proud of our town and we don’t need city status to achieve our goals. Besides, Swindon City FC doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.”

So, as the leader of the council puts it, Swindon doesn’t need to become a city, it’s doing just fine as a town, and the business sector wouldn’t disagree

Ian Larrard, Director of the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative, agreed with David Renard and said: “While city status would be a ‘nice to have’, in practice it is unlikely to bring any significant economic benefits to Swindon.

“The Centre for Cities - a leading think tank dedicated to improving the performance of UK city economies - already regards Swindon as an ‘economic city’ due to the size and strength of our economy.

“In other words, Swindon operates like a city in all but name.

“Perhaps the main objection I have to this suggestion though is the level of resources required to attain city status, when frankly there are a more important issues to focus on.”

So there you have it, Swindon doesn’t need to become a city, because it basically already is one. However, that doesn’t mean city status is lost forever. Never say never after all.

Does it really make a difference?

While becoming a city might sound like a big, celebratory event, does it really make a difference for the local population?

Back in 2011, Dr Steve Musson from the University of Reading spoke about how recent cities experienced a small economic boom with increasing investment and reducing unemployment.

He said: “The other advantages, which are less easy to quantify, are the international exposure and the buzz created.

“There is an element of pride about becoming a city.”

The big questions for any council wanting to turn their town into a city is whether it is worth the cost.

Back in 2002 Preston spent £30,000 to attain city status, and it could be argued that its reputation hasn’t grown too much.

And that is something Swindon argued back in 2012. The council pulled out of tabling a bid saying that it was better to tackle other issues and not chase titles in the current economic climate.

Ultimately, the real benefit of becoming a city can simply be classified as brand exposure. Other than that, why waste the money?

You can almost guarantee that if the public sees the council spending £30,000 on city status, questions would be asked about its priorities.

Size doesn't matter

This couldn’t be made clearer by the fact that Swindon, with an estimated population of 221,996, is still just a town.

That doesn’t mean that there is a size limit at the other end of the scale either, as there are some cities that are incredibly small.

Britain's smallest, with a population of just 1,841, is St Davids in Wales, which became a city back in 1995.

Despite its size, the city still offers visitors plenty to do, including a tour around its cathedral, hikes along the Welsh Coastal Path and boat tours.

Truro is also one of the UK’s smallest cities.

According to the 2011 census, Cornwall's only city has a population of 18,766 – Swindon's is 10 times bigger.

Closer to home, Bath also has a much smaller population than Swindon, yet is still a city.

The population of Bath sits just under 90,000, over a 100,000 less than its neighbour 30 minutes down the train tracks.