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From Ilkley Gazette, May 21st, 2019

A NEW sign has been installed marking the 50th anniversary of twinning in Ilkley. The sign, made in Bradford’s workshops by Peter Holden and his apprentice, Sam Crowther, can been seen driving into Ilkley on the A65 from Leeds. It was put up by sign fitters Matthew Holmes and Ted Brown. Two more signs will be erected in due course - one on the A65 approach from Skipton, the other on the run in from the Moor on Hangingstone Road. The sign went up just in time for a landmark twinning exhibition at the Manor House in Ilkley. It proclaims both Ilkley’s Fair Trade status and the town’s 50th anniversary of twinning with Coutances in Normandy, France.

Twinning actually goes back to 1946, with the first school exchange, but the official municipal charter was only signed in 1969 on May 18.

That date has been marked in 2019 by an exhibition in the Manor House, which runs until early July.

On Saturday at 11am it was opened by John Grogan MP, in the presence of Sir Rodney Brooke CBE, President of the Manor House Trust, and Ilkley Town Mayor Mark Stidworthy.

Also in attendance were members of the Manor House Trust and Friends of the Manor House and past and present representatives of Twinning and its various links.

Sir Rodney spoke of his pleasure at seeing the Manor House put to such good use for the community: “just as it should be,” he said.

John Grogan – who had clearly done his homework – reminded his audience of various other momentous events from 1969, including Lulu’s Eurovision win.

The twinning exhibition showcases the many attractions of Coutances and traces its civic, social and sporting ties with Ilkley.

A notable guest at the opening was Nancy Hartley, a student at the first school exchange, who remembered the post-war port blockade at Saint-Malo.

The celebration began with music from the Ilkley Singers, led by Catherine Cheater – a brilliant mix of popular French and English tunes. The exhibition is a work in progress, so anyone who has memories, photos or any contribution is welcome to contact Twinning Committee Chairman Judith Dunn on 07939 093154 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.