Twin towns are a form of legal agreement made between towns, districts, counties, prefectures, provinces, regions, states and even countries in geographically specific areas to promote cultural, social and sometimes commercial ties. It has therefore been instrumental in promoting tourism and business links.
The concept of Twinning was conceived in 1947, shortly after the end of the Second World War to establish understanding and friendships between former foes. It was, and still is, designed to bring ordinary people together in order to foster tolerance and contribute to world peace. The TTA has a history of town twinning stretching back over almost 50 years.
Clacton Urban District Council as it was then known was approached by Valence in south-eastern France in 1968 as they were seeking to establish a link with a coastal town in England. With agreement from local organisations, including the Council, the Oath of Allegiance was signed in 1969 in Valence who at the time was already twinned with Biberach in Germany and Asti in Italy. In the same year Valence came to Clacton and signed under seal their allegiance.
With enthusiasm and commitment, the twinning project incorporated many organisations in the town – the Chamber of Trade, Sports Council, the Fire Service, Law Enforcement and many businesses and hotels to name but a few.
The national local government changes in 1974 lead to the twinning organisation becoming known as Tendring Twinning Association – which has broadened the area that our twin towns are linked with. The intervening years saw twinning flourish and many exchanges were organised between the towns leading to a formal twinning with Biberach in 1991. This was a natural link as Valence was already in a partnership with them. Asti and Tendring have an official Friendship Link, which has not yet been formalised into a twin town due to administrative considerations in Italy.
Because of the successful partnership Biberach had with Swidnica in Poland, in 1999 Tendring District signed an Oath of Allegiance with our third twin town.
Town twinning has enabled many people to build lasting friendships and establish life-long relationships: it has helped countless people to experience different cultures and learn to accept those whose language and lifestyle are different to our own. It has given musicians, dancers, drama groups, school exchanges, Sea Cadets and sporting associations and countless other individuals the opportunity of sharing our traditions and talents with our partner towns.
Our desire is to see town twinning continue to flourish – perhaps not in all the same ways, but new ones which reflect the changes that have evolved in each of our countries since its inception almost 50 years ago. This short history of our town twinning belies all the ways that people have worked tirelessly to provide the funds to permit visits to our twin towns where the hospitality we receive is consistently very touching. We have not even begun to describe all the plethora of activities that Tendring District has ceaselessly committed itself to! You would need to come and find out for yourself.
Valence gave us the opportunity to renew our commitment to twinning as we in the TTA work toward our own celebrations in 2019
The potential is exciting – our history and experiences are a sound foundation on which to build the future; when it is more important than ever to appreciate each other’s differences, demonstrate tolerance when we may sometimes feel a little exasperated and never forgetting the important opportunity that we have of show-casing all that Tendring District has to offer.
Summer 2016: written by Bert Foster, Carol Oleggini and Joy Phillips