Historic link with Shrewsbury's twin town is axed

A centuries-long association with Shrewsbury’s Dutch twin town has come to an end due to budget costs.

Links to the Dutch town go back many years but are now to be severed
Links to the Dutch town go back many years but are now to be severed

Zutphen in Holland officially twinned with Shrewsbury in the 1970s but the links between the two towns stretch back to the 16th century.

Post-war visits involved families from the town coming to Shrewsbury and there remain strong connections, even down to having a major roundabout in the Dutch town named the ‘Shrewsbury Rotunde’.

However, members of Shrewsbury Town Council were told by letter that members of the association in Zutphen had taken the decision to sever all their official links not only with Shrewsbury but with all the other towns around the world that it is twinned with – Satu Mare in Romania, Villa Sandino, Nicaragua and Horstmar in Germany.

Friendship – An exchange visit in 1947, taken on the return visit to Zutphen

Former Shrewsbury mayor Miles Kenny, who has visited Zutphen on a number of occasions said the decision must have been a hard one to take but had been made on the grounds of cost.

He said: “They can no longer afford to do it. They have stopped their twinning associations with towns all over the world. It is a shame.”

Maintain

Mr Kenny added that although he had last visited the town last year it had not been in an official capacity.

“I had been keen to revive it,” said Mr Kenny. “But this was just not possible from their point of view. I know there will be chances and opportunities for us to maintain our links with Zutphen but it will not be in any official way.

"I am pleased that Zutphen has taken the initiative as the association has been very loose for a number of years and visits between the two towns have been sparse.”

The leader of Shrewsbury Town Council, Alan Mosley, said: “Zutphen Council has been reviewing their twinning arrangements and has decided to withdraw or cancel all of the ones that they are involved with – so it’s not just us.

“What they have said is that it’s better to withdraw rather than it dying out. And it has been dying out over the last two or three years. There have been a lot fewer exchanges being made.”

Historic links

The links between Shrewsbury and Zutphen began in 1586 when Sir Philip Sidney lay dying of gangrene at the Battle of Zutphen while trying to liberate the town from the Spanish occupation.

The connection between the two towns was further cemented at the end of the Second World War when the population of Shrewsbury sent aid to the people of the war-ravaged Dutch town.

The official twinning of the two towns came about on May 6, 1977. When the Guildhall, which is now the University Centre Shrewsbury, was built, an open area at the heart of the complex was named Zutphen Square.

Zutphen has one of the best preserved medieval town centres of northwestern Europe, including the remains of the medieval town wall and a few hundred buildings dating from the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.

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