The Yarmouth band who performed in France after the town twinning

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The sign of welcome to Great Yarmouth as you approach the town.  March 2016. Photo: James Bass


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Many of us have passed the signs showing how Great Yarmouth has been twinned with Rambouillet since 1956.

The sign of welcome to Great Yarmouth as you approach the town. March 2016. Photo: James Bass

– Crédit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

Some readers might even remember their first school trips abroad. But the first exchanges between the two cities were not only educational – they were also musical.

These old photos from our archives capture beautiful scenes of a band crossing the Channel from Yarmouth to perform in the streets of Rambouillet in France.


Gt. Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Gt. Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

A French brass band performing in Rambouillet, France. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant


Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

A peaceful scene in Rambouillet, France. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant

Bilingual beginnings

After World War II, the “Bi-Lingual World” movement promoted the adoption of two mother tongues – initially English and French – to foster better international understanding in post-war Europe.


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One of the main methods used to generate interest in another country was to connect towns through ‘twinnings’.


Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Riders and packs of dogs marched through the streets in honor of St Hubert, patron saint of hunters, in Rambouillet, France. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant


Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Riders and packs of dogs marched through the streets in honor of St Hubert, patron saint of hunters, in Rambouillet, France. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant

After many official visits and exchanges in the early 1950s, this is how Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet – a small town 35 miles southwest of Paris – in 1956.

It was a revolutionary event at the time as it was the first town twinning officiated and signed by two women mayors.


Extract from the EDP journal archives consulted on Local Recall.

Extract from the EDP journal archives consulted on Local Recall.

Excerpt from EDP newspaper archives of article announcing Great Yarmouth’s twinning with Rambouillet, viewed on Local Recall. Learn more and subscribe at localrecall.co.uk. Dated November 1, 1956.
– Credit: Archant Library

A musical exchange

In 1957, Yarmouth and Rambouillet strengthened their bond with a cultural exchange visit.

The Yarmouth and the Gorleston Silver Band had the honor of being transported across the Channel in two French Air Force Dakotas after being invited to participate in the Muguet Festival at Rambouillet.


Yarmouth and Gorleston Silver Band pictured at Horsham St Faith RAF station 1957

Yarmouth and Gorleston Silver Band pictured at Horsham St Faith RAF station 1957

Yarmouth and Gorleston Silver Band pictured with French Air Force crew at Horsham St Faith RAF station before flying to Rambouillet, France. Printed in EDP April 20, 1957. Explore old articles and photos with Local Recall. Learn more and subscribe at localrecall.co.uk.
– Credit: Archant Library

It was the first time that a British band had been invited to perform in the beloved local tradition named after the lilies of the valley that bloom in the surrounding woods in spring.

The Silver Band and their conductor Albert Watson arrived on Saturday May 18, 1957, staying at a local school. They settled in and then gave an evening concert outside the town hall near the castle which was the summer residence of the French president at the time.


Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Evening show in front of the town hall of Rambouillet, France. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant


Gt. Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Gt. Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Gt. Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant

The festival took place the next day and in the morning Yarmouth musicians greeted those arriving in town at the station.


Gt. Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Gt. Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Crowds of visitors to Rambouillet, France for the Lily of the Valley Festival. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant


Gt. Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Gt. Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Walking the streets of Rambouillet, France. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant

Floral floats glided along the narrow cobbled streets for the main parade accompanied by several groups – including the Silver Band. Locals waving a flag cheered Yarmouth guests from the tree-lined plazas.

The celebrations culminated with the Cuban Ambassador to France crowning the queen of the festival in Town Hall Square.


Gt. Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Gt. Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

The queen of the lily of the valley festival in Rambouillet, France. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant


Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

The queen of the lily of the valley festival in Rambouillet, France. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant


Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

The queen of the Muguet Festival with dignitaries in Rambouillet, France. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant


Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

Great Yarmouth was twinned with Rambouillet in 1956. Photo taken in Rambouillet, France.  Dated May 1957.

The queen of the lily of the valley festival in Rambouillet, France. Dated May 1957.
– Credit: Archant

Then the Yarmouth delegation enjoyed the festivities, sightseeing and shopping before heading home the next day – no doubt with many happy memories and stories to tell.

For more photos and old articles on Norfolk’s history and heritage, subscribe to our new bimonthly newsletter Through the Decades. Register by clicking here.

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