Apart from Marlborough’s relationship (a ‘Linking’ rather than ‘Twinning’) with Gunjur in The Gambia, and despite much talk, many searches, numerous discussions, plenty of exploratory trips and detailed evaluation of potential opportunities, Marlborough isn’t yet ‘Twinned’ with any other town. Lots of ‘kicking the can down the road’ but as yet, no goals chalked up.
But this might change, very soon.
Town Twinning, billed originally as a ‘relationship-builder’ to establish cultural and friendly links between towns in Europe after WWII has undergone a recent shift of focus for towns in England. Brexit, with the general antagonistic and acrimonious relationship that now exists between this country and the EU axis of France and Germany (the normal areas for towns ‘Twinned’ with towns from the UK) has led to the realisation of another very different yet exciting possibility.
One fundamental feature of any such ‘Twinning’ arrangement was that to reach the ‘Twin’ Town a border needed to be crossed. There should also be complementary opportunities and culture to be exchanged rather than copied or replicated and friendships to be made.
Marlborough has long been keen to establish a ‘Twinning’ with another Town of similar stature but different culture, one that is somewhere else, and ideally not needing to be reached by a circuitous and arduous journey.
Marlborough.news can exclusively announce that Marlborough’s recently-appointed ‘Town Twinning Officer’, Hugh Jeagow, is at an advanced stage of discussions and negotiations and claims to be on the point of concluding a proposal for such an arrangement with another Town. In another place, where both communities would be able to engage in reciprocal visits whilst benefiting from the complementary nature of what the other respective twin town offers.
The Town in question is……. Hungerford….
Cross the border? Yes, every visit to Hungerford means that the intrepid Marlborough traveller/explorer will have to ‘Break the Border’ into Berkshire by crossing the ‘County Line’ just beyond the Wiltshire outpost of Froxfield. Hungerford is used to Twinning, as the entry sign to the town shows it is (or was?) twinned with the French town of Ligeuil, located almost slap bang in the middle of France. This arrangement commenced in 1980. But Twinning with more than one town isn’t unusual and the change of circumstances in the relationship between this country and the rest of Europe since 2016 maybe makes this new proposal more attractive?
And Marlborough residents won’t have to learn another language. The ‘Berkshire’ dialect of English is recognisable (just) to those well schooled in the ‘Wiltshire’ equivalent, and the reverse goes for the residents of Hungerford as well, or so we are told.
Marlborough has lots of Coffee Shops and a wide High Street; Hungerford has lots of Antique Shops, a canal (with nearby lock) and a railway station. Not to mention an excellent miller of grains nearby (Doves Farm Foods) creating quality organic flour. Perfect for the home bread bakers of Marlborough. In Common – yes, they both have ‘Commons’ – they share Tesco supermarkets, the A4 and both towns are properly signed up to ‘The Great West Way’ initiative so they can each visit the respective twin town as proper ‘Tourists’.
Hungerford residents can come to Marlborough to shop in Waitrose and/or visit the new excellent ‘Parade Cinema’ in The Parade. Marlborough residents can visit Hungerford, not just to catch the train or come away with a boot-load of antiques but also to test drive (and buy?) a new or used BMW or Mini at Dick Lovett, something they can’t do in Marlborough since the Citroen and Vauxhall dealerships closed and the town can’t now boast any new car showroom(s).
Already there are established connections between the two prospective twins: Schools – Marlborough’s St John’s Academy and Hungerford’s John O’Gaunt school are part of the same academy – Excalibur.
A “perfect Twinning”, or so says Marlborough’s Twinning Officer, Hugh, who devised this cunning scheme. It ticks all the boxes. No visas necessary (so far) and it’s a perfect ‘Post Brexit’ Town Twinning opportunity for real cultural exchange without the unnecessary expense and difficulty of attempting to venture far across the English Channel to foreign lands elsewhere in the world. Or ‘Europe’ as it is currently known.
And there is, at present the same currency in use. Hungerford has not, as yet, adopted either the Euro, US Dollar nor created its own ‘HungerCoin’ Crypto currency, but some insiders reckon that may not be too far off. So maybe an additional opportunity for investment? Well, that’s for the people of Marlborough to thoroughly evaluate and then decide.
“Well, what have you been waiting for?” said Town Twinning Officer Hugh Jeagow, ignoring the fact that no actual Twinning arrangement has yet been signed or agreed by either of the two Town Councils. “A mere formality” he added.
Hungerford awaits. So does Marlborough……