Hastings around the world
Twinning in Hastings
Twinning took off in the 1960s as a way to build peace and understanding between European countries in the post-war period. By offering each other hospitality in their own homes, ordinary people can travel abroad fairly cheaply and, above all, get to know another country's way of life in some depth, in a way that mere tourist trips cannot achieve. Hastings has four European 'Twins'.
Dordrecht is situated where three rivers meet. Behind the old-world façades with their typical Dutch gables lies a thriving commercial city and busy port, with a very lively cultural life. While family-to-family exchanges are not as frequent as they once were, several sports clubs continue to meet annually and there are strong links between our Town Halls.
Schwerte lies near Dortmund on the River Ruhr where a gentle stream flows through green meadows with views towards the Sauerland hills. It is a town of some 50,000 inhabitants, with a beautiful Old Town with timber-framed houses dating from the 16th century. This exchange is extremely active, with a group of 100-150 twinners of all ages visiting each others' homes every year. As Schwerte is some 275 miles away, we usually visit our German friends over a Bank Holiday weekend, to give us more time to travel and to enjoy a full programme once we're there.
Oudenaarde is steeped in history with a central market place with a 16th century town hall. Its commercial base is extremely strong, and our twinning colleagues there are always full of ideas. Oudenaarde has never forgotten Britain's support for Belgium during the Second World War, and we always visit our friends there for the VE Day celebrations and include an excursion to a major local attraction, or to one of the many beautiful towns within easy reach, such as Ghent or Brugges.
Béthune is the nearest of our 'twins' - a thriving town only an hour inland from Calais, with a distinctly Flemish air to its main square, though in reality Béthune is as French as French can be. Béthune is certainly the easiest of our twin towns for clubs and school-groups to visit for a day, though a longer visit is preferable. We are always warmly welcomed in the homes of our Béthune friends.
Hastings has one other foreign link with Hastings in Sierra Leone. Though we cannot 'twin' in the usual way, the Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link has been set up to provide humanitarian aid to our West African namesake which suffered terribly in the civil war in the 1990s. We hope this will soon develop into a two-way exchange of friendship and understanding at many levels.
Visit the Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link website to learn more about this project.
Hastings around the world