Sunday, 28 September 2014

New Council Logo

As of April next year (2015) my local council along with several councils in Northern Ireland, will merge with neighbouring councils. This is part of a program of reducing the twenty six district councils in the province to about eleven so called super councils. Derry City Council will merge with Strabane District Council.
There will of course be the political winners and losers as a result of this, however my concern is that the Londonderry coat of arms, which in its current form date from the modern city established in 1613, (but elements are possibly much older) may officially become defunct.
The Londonderry coat of arms are:
City coat of arms carving in the Guildhall
I think that the city coats of arms belong to the city rather than council, it is certainly used by various organisations from the city, It was not until 1952 that letters potent gave the Londonderry Corporation, the predecessor of the current city council,  the legal right to use the arms (which it already was doing) and linked to the city, On all documents the arms are referred to as the city coat of arms rather than council or corporation arms. So no doubt the historic arms will legally survive in some form.
For those interested the city arms feature: Sable, a human skeleton Or seated upon a mossy stone proper and in dexter chief a castle triple towered argent on a chief also argent a cross gules thereon a harp or and in the first quarter a sword erect gules
The cross and sword in the chief come from the arms of the City of London, which was added to the original Derry arms of "ye picture of death (or a skeleton) on a moissy stone & in ye dexter point a castle." when the new city was granted its charter and London prefix in 1613. 
The symbolism of figure of death and the castle is debateable, as the exact origins are unknown. The most popular theory is that the castle represents a 14th century castle near Greencastle north of the city, belonging to the Norman Earl of Ulster Richard de Burgh. The Skeleton representing a Norman knight who starved to death in the castle dungeon on the order of the above mentioned Earl of Ulster. 
An official report in 1979 stated that there is no evidence that the figure of death represented any individual but was only "symbolic."
The most recent document in reference to the city arms is in 2002 when the College of Arms and Norroy & Ulster King of Arms issued letters potent restoring the harp to the arms (which appears to have been accidently dropped and forgotten about). 
To stop the coat of arms from disappearing completely from the local government of the city I designed a new logo for this new "super council."

The logo is primarily based on the current Derry City Council logo. The name of the new council hasn't yet been decided, it is currently being called Derry and Strabane District Council. I used Foyle (&) District Council for two reasons. 

  1. It avoids using Derry or Londonderry which have sadly become politicised, where Foyle (as in the River Foyle) is used as a neutral alternative. The electoral constituency is officially called Foyle. the local BBC radio station is called Radio Foyle and the Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners use the corporate brand of Foyle Port, although its official name has not changed.  The River Foyle also begins at Strabane with the merging of two other rivers. 
  2. Derry & Strabane District Council is a lot of words to play with in a logo. Especially if one uses the politically correct (or rather equally offensive lol) Derry/Londonderry rather than one or the other.
The coat of arms features the impaling of the above mentioned Londonderry coat of arms, with a coat of arms for Strabane. The coat of arms of Strabane District Council are:
 This isn't very good to work with so I used an older coat of arms from 1906, that was similar. It featured a boat on a river, below three towers.
The supporters are oak barchs, taken from another heraldic design I did, and reference to the supposed meaning of the word Derry. 
The crest, something I am particularly proud of features a mural coronet, which could reference Londonderry's walls, or symbolise a settlement, which is what it is normally used for in heraldry. Out of this coronet is a red hand of Ulster grasping a fish, reference to the wild life in the Foyle river basin, which is home to wild salmon amongst other species and top spot for fishing. The motto is a new motto neutral to the Vita Veritas Victoria (life, truth, victory) of Londonderry or the Con Cordia Crescit (Let Goodwill Increase) of Strabane. Duos Quasi Unum a Latin motto meaning "two as one" referencing the two councils coming together. 

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