French connection: When a Yarmouth band paraded on the streets of Rambouillet
- Credit: Archant
Many of us have driven past the signs declaring how Great Yarmouth has been twinned with Rambouillet since 1956.
Some readers might even recall their first school trips abroad there. But the earliest exchanges between the two towns were not just educational - they were musical too.
These old pictures from our archive capture beautiful scenes from when a Yarmouth band crossed the Channel to perform on the streets of Rambouillet in France.
After the Second World War, the 'Bi-Lingual World' movement promoted adopting two native languages - English and French initially - to foster better international understanding in postwar Europe.
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One of the chief methods used to nurture interest in another country was linking towns through 'twinning'.
After numerous official visits and exchanges in the early 1950s, this is how Great Yarmouth came to be twinned with Rambouillet - a small town 35 miles southwest of Paris - in 1956.
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It was a groundbreaking event at the time because it was the first town twinning officiated and signed by two women mayors.
A musical exchange
In 1957, Yarmouth and Rambouillet further cemented their bond with a cultural exchange visit.
The Yarmouth and Gorleston Silver Band had the honour of being airlifted across the Channel in two French Air Force troop-carrying Dakotas after being invited to take part in the Festival of the Lily of the Valley in Rambouillet.
It was the first time a British band had been asked to perform in the cherished local tradition named after the lilies of the valley that flourish in the surrounding woodlands in spring.
The Silver Band and their bandmaster Albert Watson arrived on Saturday May 18, 1957, staying in a local school. They settled in and later gave an evening concert in front of the town hall near to the chateau which was the French president's summer residence at the time.
The festival took place the next day and in the morning the Yarmouth musicians welcomed people arriving in the town at the train station.
Floral floats glided along the narrow cobbled streets for the main parade accompanied by several bands - including the Silver Band. Flag-waving locals cheered the Yarmouth guests from tree-lined squares.
The celebrations culminated in the Cuban ambassador to France crowning the festival queen in the town hall square.
Afterwards, the Yarmouth delegation then enjoyed the festivities, sightseeing and shopping before returning home the next day - undoubtedly with many happy memories and stories to tell.
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