Colchester is a city in the East of England, situated on the River Colne. The city’s history dates back to before the Roman occupation of England, making Colchester the oldest recorded town in Great Britain.
Visitors to Colchester can explore its preserved history, from ruins that date back to the days of the Roman Empire to the Baroque-style town hall building constructed in the Victorian Era. Colchester is also known for its nature reserves and wildlife parks, along with many walking and cycling trails for visitors to explore.
Anyone planning on visiting Colchester must be aware of the new ETA requirements for travelling to Great Britain. In order to make visiting easier, here is some information about the city, as well as some details about the UK ETA for Colchester.
The History of Colchester
Early Roman and Saxon History
Colchester’s history dates back over 2,000 years, with original Iron Age settlements eventually growing into a significant town in the region by the time of the Roman conquest. By the early 1st century CE, King Cunobelin had taken control of much of early Britain, with his seat of power in Colchester, then called Camulodunon.
The Romans conquered Britain within a few years of Cunobelin’s death, and by 49 CE, was given the status of Colonia by Emperor Claudius, making it a major centre for promoting Roman culture in the region. Colchester soon became the first capital of Roman Britain, a status it held until it was burned by the armies of Queen Boudicca in 60 CE.
The city was rebuilt by 80 CE, and by this point, it had been mentioned in the writings of Pliny, the Elder, making it the oldest known recorded town in Britain. Even after the fall of the Roman Empire, Colchester continued to be a significant town, with the arriving Anglo-Saxons renaming the city from Camulodunon to Colneceaste.
Medieval Period to Today
By 1189, Colchester (or Colcestra as it was known at the time) had been granted its first known royal charter by King Richard I. This charter allowed the city’s burgesses to elect their own bailiffs and a justice to oversee matters of law.
By the 13th century, Colchester had become an important port of trade, with cloth-making becoming a major industry by the end of the 14th century. During the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, Flemish weavers were encouraged to settle in Colchester. This made Colchester one of the most prosperous towns for textile-making, along with its oyster trade.
While the cloth-making and weaving industries have declined, they have been replaced with industries such as technology, printing and manufacturing. Much of the city’s modern economy revolves around tourism, from its preserved history throughout the ages to surrounding regions made famous by landscape painter John Constable.
What to See In Colchester
Constructed in 1076 over the ruins of the Roman Temple of Claudius, Colchester Castle is the largest existing Norman Keep in Europe. Today, the castle serves as a museum, with coins, statues and artefacts on display. These date from Celtic and Roman times to the English Civil War. Visitors can take guided tours of the castle grounds, as well as the nearby Castle Park, which was established in the Victorian era.
For visitors looking for one of Colchester’s contemporary attractions, there is Firstsite. Firstsite is the East of England’s home for contemporary art projects and includes a large collection of artworks, films and workshops. Exhibitions change frequently, and all visitors have free access to the museum.
Just north of Colchester lies Dedham Vale, which is currently the only designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the region. The area inspired many landscapes painted by the 19th-century artist John Constable, leading to this region becoming known as Constable Country over the years. Visitors can explore the village here, take a boat on the River Stour or hike through one of the region’s scenic trails.
Weather in Colchester
Colchester has a drier climate compared to the rest of the UK, with an average annual rainfall of 456.7 mm. The hottest month is July, with an average temperature of 19°C. January is typically the coldest month, with an average of 5°C. December is usually the wettest month, with an average rainfall of 47.8 mm.
Getting to Colchester
There are several options available for travelling to Colchester. If arriving by rail, there are three main stations in the city: Colchester North, Colchester Town and Hythe. Colchester North is the mainline station and is reachable via the London Liverpool St to Norwich line.
Coaches run daily between London Victoria Coach Station and Stansted Airport to Colchester Bus Station. From there, you can take the local bus network to get around the city, explore on foot or rent a bicycle to ride through one of the National Cycle Network Routes running through the city.
If arriving by car, Colchester can be accessed via the A12, M25 and A14. There is a Park and Ride service just off Junction 28 on the A12 that runs every 15 minutes.
Introducing the New UK ETA for Colchester
The UK government has announced plans to introduce a new border entry system called Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA). This system is based on similar entry systems used in other countries. It is intended to streamline the border entry process for foreign visitors while giving border control officers the tools to work more efficiently. As such, all visitors to the UK will need to be aware of the requirements of the new ETA system before they travel. Here are some details about the UK ETA for Colchester for foreign visitors.
Who Needs To Apply for the UK ETA for Colchester?
Currently, there are 92 countries whose citizens will require an ETA before they can enter the UK. The UK ETA site has a full list of which countries have ETA eligibility at this stage. All British nationals and passport holders are exempt from the ETA, including those from overseas territories and protected persons. Currently, Irish passport holders are also exempt from the ETA. The ETA system is due to come into effect by 2024.
What are the UK ETA Requirements?
According to the list of ETA requirements, all visitors must have a current electronic passport from an eligible country that does not require a visa to enter. Travellers must only be visiting for tourism, business or transit purposes and must not stay in the UK for longer than six months at a time. In addition, visitors must have no immigration violations or criminal histories that would deem them a threat to security. Finally, all eligible visitors must complete the ETA application, pay the associated fee and obtain approval before commencing travel.
What is the Purpose of the UK ETA?
The UK government hopes that the new UK ETA system will improve security by logging and tracking each individual visitor to the UK. The system will record when they enter the country, their activities within the country, and when they leave. The ETA is designed to collect and retain the travel behaviours of visitors to the UK and offer efficient pre-screening of visitors deemed potential risks. For visitors to the UK, it is hoped that this process will also reduce time spent on the entry process. For border control officers, it intends to give them the tools and information they need to screen each traveller.
How to Apply for the UK ETA
As well as payment information for the associated fee, the UK ETA Application process will require information related to an individual traveller, including their passport, home address, employment and eligibility. Personal information includes name, date of birth and gender. Passport information includes country of citizenship, passport number, issuance and expiry dates, and any other nationalities or citizenships. Contact information includes home address, email and phone number. Visitors may also be required to fill in work details, such as their employer’s name, address, email and phone number. Finally, eligibility relates to any prior criminal or immigration history and health-related questions. Applicants will then need a valid payment card to submit the application for processing.
What to Do When the UK ETA is Granted
It will take the ETA system a few days to process each application. Once the application is successful and an ETA is issued, the applicant will be allowed to commence travel to the UK. This information will also be accessible by carriers. They will only be allowed to let passengers board if they have a valid ETA. The ETA will remain valid for up to six months from the date of issue, and upon expiry, a new ETA will be required before the visitor can re-enter the UK.
More information on the ETA system can be found on the ETA FAQ website.
Colchester is a popular destination in the UK for its preserved history and nature reserves. All visitors to the UK need to be aware of the new UK ETA system if they plan on visiting Colchester in the near future.