Newton Abbot has a tripartite twinning link with the towns of Besigheim (Germany) and Ay-Champagne (France). The first pupil exchange in 1976 and the many meetings on both a private and official levelled in 1979 to a solemn resolve for a twinning arrangement between Newton Abbot and Besigheim.
The document stated:
“The elected representatives of the citizens of Newton Abbot and Besigheim have decided to take up the friendly relations of their towns. We want to expand on experience of the pupils of both towns, who have gained connections through numerous exchanges, to the other citizens and to promote this in the spirit of European union. We set up the twinning organisation with the goal of developing scholastic, social, cultural and economic relationships in the conviction that mutual understanding and many friendships will result.”
Besigheim, an historic town dating from the Middle Ages lying at the meeting of the Neckar and Enz rivers, surrounded by vine slopes, is an ideal excursion destination for young and old. Besigheim lies south of Baden-Wuerttemberg between Stuttgart and Heilbronn, is easily reached by the A81 motorway, exit Mundelsheim/Besigheim, and enjoys its own railway connection. Especially worth seeing is the Besigheim Old Town which has an impressive silhouette with bright timber framed houses, two magnificent castle towers, a shop built in 1459, the timber framed Town Hall and the Parish Church with the famous limewood high altar.
Besigheim has also many leisure and sports facilities, for example the “Besigheim Winzerfest” that takes place very two years in September. For four days all kinds of music and culinary delicacies can be found in cellars, pubs, stands and tents. A definite high point is the historical festival procession midday on Sunday with over 50 groups participating. Besigheim is the educational and local government centre for the surrounding parishes.
Ay-Champagne, as the full name indicates, is a small town situated in the heart of the champagne-producing area of France, on the bank of the River Marne, some 80 miles north-east of Paris and 25 miles south of the city of Reims. The town is dependent on the production of champagne for its livelihood and contains many smaller champagne “houses” well known to the connoisseur.
In addition to the champagne interest – from grape to palate – always present in Ay, its position in the mountains of Reims Natural Park area provides beautiful and historic surroundings.
Newton Abbot is fortunate in being represented by an active, self-financing Twinning Association, whos Executive Committee makes the necessary arrangements for annual interchange visits between interested residents of the three towns. Whilst all three have much to offer the tourist in terms of sights and interest, long-term contact and friendships between the residents of the towns is the real object of “twinning”.
Judging from the firm friendships already established over many years, the Newton Abbot Twinning Association is succeeding in meeting these objectives. New members are always welcome – details and information are available from the Secretary of the Twinning Association on 01626 361808.