The beginning of Twinning in Banbury
Twinning in Banbury began on the 26th October 1978, at a public meeting held at the Post-Graduate Education Centre, and called on the initiative of the late Councillor Ron Smith, the then Town Mayor of Banbury. Twenty-four people attended this meeting and five more expressed interest, but could not attend.
A Committee was formed with Ron Smith as Chairman and Bob Griffith as Secretary. Over the next few months a Constitution was drawn up and the Mayors of various towns in France were approached, to see if they were interested in forming a link with Banbury.
On 19th April 1979, two visitors from Ermont made a preliminary visit to Banbury. This proved successful and a month later Ron Smith and John Portergill made a return visit to Ermont on behalf of the Banbury Association. There then followed a rather lengthy period of informal relationship, which included the first major visit, by Ermont Rugby Club, in March 1980.
Meanwhile, efforts had started to find a twin town in Germany and by October 1980 a firm contact had been made with Hennef. This developed rapidly, and in September 1981 a party of members visited Hennef, where on 19th September, John Portergill (Banbury) and Pitt Raderschad (Hennef) signed the first Twinning Agreement between Banbury and Hennef.
A similar agreement was signed with Ermont early in 1982.
Thereafter, twinning with both Hennef and Ermont blossomed rapidly, and organisations representing sport, music, art, drama and schools, as well as many individuals from all three towns, have been involved in numerous visits and exchanges.
From Banbury, these include: Banbury Swimming Club, Rugby Club, Table Tennis Association, Judo Club, Badminton Club, Squash Club, and Canoe Club; a Banbury Youth Orchestra, Bodicote Orchestra, Hook Norton and District Silver Band, Banbury Symphony Orchestra, Barbershop Choir, Banbury Big Band, the Scout Band and the Caledonian Pipe Band; Banbury Operatic Society, Lynden Players, and Banbury Cross Players; Banbury Art Society and Banbury Embroiderers' Group; Banbury School, Drayton School and Kidlington School. Representatives from both Ermont and Hennef have attended the British Legion Festival of Remembrance in Banbury.
The Local Authorities on both sides of the Channel have recognised what has been achieved. In Hennef, the former Railway Station Square has been renamed Banbury Platz. A British Post Office Letter Box stands proudly in front of the railway station and a British Telephone Booth is to be found in the Market Square.
In Banbury, two main roads have been named respectively Ermont Way and Hennef Way, and a Plaque commemorating the Twinning with both towns has been placed in the Pedestrian Zone.
It is sad to record that the founder of the Association, Councillor Ron Smith, died less than a year after the Inaugural Meeting, but we believe he would today be proud of the Association he founded. Likewise, our first Secretary, Bob Griffith, to whose enthusiasm and energy much of the early success of the Association was due, died in 1987, and we can only record with thanks the debt of gratitude that the Association owes him for all his efforts.
The activities of the Association are continually developing and we should always be pleased to hear of any individual or organisation that may be interested in taking part.