Hexham is a picturesque market town in England’s most northerly county – Northumberland. It lies in the middle of the country, with Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the east and Carlisle to the west. Like Newcastle, it is situated on the river Tyne and lies only a few miles south of the great Roman Wall built by Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD. In fact there are plenty of other Roman remains nearby, including the fort of Housesteads and the civilian and military complex of Vindolanda. Even its splendid, mainly 12th century abbey contains some Roman stones in its Anglo-Saxon crypt and a statue to a Roman standard-bearer, Flavinus! While Hexham Abbey dominates the centre of Hexham, it has other historical buildings, too. These include the 15th century Moot Hall - once a gatehouse and part of the town defences and later on a courthouse - and the 14th century Old Gaol, the oldest of its kind in the country. In the market place stand the covered market stalls, where a twice weekly market is held, as well as regular farmers’ markets.
With a population of over 11,000, Hexham is smaller than its 2 twin towns but what it lacks in size it more than compensates for in vitality. Arts and culture have a high profile in the town, largely focussed around the Queens Hall, the art deco Forum cinema and the abbey itself, which hosts a very popular annual music festival in September. The Hexham Community Partnership works to draw together the various community strands and to organise events. A highly successful multi-lingual theatre company called Théâtre sans Frontières is based in Hexham and is building links with our twin town Noyon. While the majority of the Town Twinning Association members come from Hexham itself, others live in surrounding villages such as Corbridge, Humshaugh and Allendale. Currently our membership stands at 71 but we’d love more!
Hexham’s twinning arrangements are unusual in that it is not only twinned with Metzingen and Noyon, but these two towns are also twinned with one another. As one of our members put it – we’re triplets! Each year we host one of our twin towns and visit the other; the following year it’s the other way round. This arrangement works really well and means that we visit each twin town every alternate year: Noyon in even years, Metzingen in odd ones. The visits aren’t long, so they fit more readily into the lives of both students and working members. Typically they take place over a long weekend from a Friday to a Monday, including travel time. The mayor or his representative always accompanies the party and a civic welcome and a reception form an important part of each visit. Visitors stay in the homes of twinning members of the hosting twin town and during their stay are taken to nearby places of interest, as well as being entertained. Other visits to the twin towns are made on an ad hoc basis when a particular interest group, such as a theatrical group, a Morris Men’s team or sporting club may be invited to participate in an event. Once friendships are established between members of each twin town, extra exchanges often occur, too. Last year a couple from Hexham did a very successful house swap with their friends in Noyon. Another year a student did a 2-month work placement at a Hexham business, staying in the home of town twinning members.
Twinning with St. Lunaire, Brittany, France. Arranged in 1968
Twinning with Brande, Denmark arranged through the Rotarians.
Twinning with Metzingen, Germany
Metzingen was twinned with Noyon, France in 1979.
Hexham was approached by a town in Northern Germany in 1986. Discussions held with Ingrid Whale, teacher of German at Queen Elizabeth High School resulted in building on existing contacts between QEHS and Metzingen Schonbein Secondary Modern School. Exchanges between the two schools had been taking place for many years and officials from Metzingen had asked informally about the possibility of broadening the links with Hexham and the eventual twinning of the towns. Richard Boaden, on behalf of Hexham wrote to Metzingen to ask for their views.
Students who travelled to Metzingen in October 1987 became ‘ambassadors’ of the town as well as of their school. The Mayor of Metzingen, Gotthard Herzig sent a message back expressing an interest in twinning.
In March 1988, Mayor Gotthard Herzig visited Hexham together with Metzingen Councillors and Metzingen’s orchestra and a concert was held in the Queen’s Hall.
The Mayor of Hexham, Ian Hepple, was invited to visit Metzingen together with a party from Hexham in October 1988 with a view to official signings in Hexham in March1989 and in Metzingen in early 1990 to coincide with the opening of their new Town Hall.
Twinning with Noyon, France
Mayor, Bertrand Labarre, came on a visit in August 1991. On 31st October 1991 to 3rd November, the Mayor , deputy Mayor and President of the Twinning Association in Noyon, J.M. Lelong plus 49 people came to Hexham. Two members from every association in Noyon represented their organisation and the present President, Jacques Douville de Fransuu, and Danielle Esposito, who replaced Jean Marie Lelong in 1995? as President, came.
As there had been several attempts to obtain a response from St. Lunaire concerning twinning, it was decided to end this connection and to pursue the possibility of twinning with Noyon in November 1991.
On 6th to 9th December 1991 there was a visit to Noyon led by Chairman of Hexham Town Twinning Association, Richard Boaden. It was agreed to arrange a visit to Noyon by Hexham at Easter 1992 when the twinning between Hexham and Noyon would be made official.
Hexham Town Twinning Association History
1986 – 88
Twinning with Metzingen. Arranged through Richard Boaden [Secretary]
18th March- 20th March. 1988
Visit by Metzingen to Hexham, including 27 members of Metzingen Chamber Orchestra and students hosted by QEHS students. Burgermeister Gotthard Herzig, Mayor of Hexham Ian Hepple.
5th – 12th November 1989 Visit of Brande to Hexham
10.3.89 – 13.3.89 Visit of Metzingen to Hexham.
Official Signing 11.3.89. Party included 18 folk dancers and 48 Metzingen Band members. Mayor of Hexham, Ian Hepple, Burgermeister, Gotthard Herzig
23rd-26th June 1989 David Oliver attended the 10th Anniversary of the Twinning between Noyon and Metzingen in Metzingen. He was in discussions with Bertrand Labarre Mayor about a link between Noyon and Hexham but at that time Hexham was still twinned with St. Lunaire.
7th – 11th April 1990
A party of 40 members from Hexham, including a team of footballers, visited Metzingen, travelling by coach and ferry, Official Signing.
11th-15th August 1990, visit to Hexham of Bertrand Labarre, Mayor of Noyon.
21.9.91 Meeting between Hexham and Metzingen officials in Hexham. Interest in Metzingen clubs in linking with Hexham clubs.
27 – 29th October 1991
Official Delegation from Noyon to Hexham which included the Mayor, Bertarnd Labarre and Jean Marie Lelong, President of Twinning. John Lynch was the Mayor of Hexham.
In November 1990, the Committee decided to recommend to the Council the termination of the connection with St. Lunaire as there had been no response to correspondence for some time.
19.9.91 – 22.9.91, 51 visitors from Metzingen. A ceilidh was held with David Oliver and Hedgehog Skin.
20-23.3.92 Visit of leaders of organisations in Noyon to Hexham
23.9.1992 Easter a party visited Noyon for the official signing and included the Hexham Morris Men.
1992-3 Hexham Middle School link with Brande
21.6.92 Visit of Brande Rotarians to Hexham
8th -12th July? 1992 visitors from Brande, Metzingen and Noyon to Hexham. Visit to Wallington, Lunch at Middle School, Reception at the race course, barbecue and parade. Money received from the European Commission.
Easter 1993 60 Noyon visitors to Hexham including the orchestra Harmonie. Official signing at the Wentworth attended by 2 reps from Brande. Visit to Belsay.
1993 Visit to Metzingen included Hexham Morris Men.
1994 Easter. Visit of Hexham to Noyon
13th-16th July 1994 Visit of Noyon Children’s Council to Hexham
23rd to 26th September 1994, 52 visitors from Metzingen visited Hexham and attended the Candlelit Concert in Hexham Abbey and visited Beamish Museum
7th – 10th April 1995 Visit of Noyon to Hexham check
26th-30th May 1995 17 visitors to Metzingen. Visit to Ludwigsberg and Esslingen
October 1995 32 visitors from Noyon. Visit to Durham. Social evening at Corbridge Village Hall.check
5th-8th April 1996 58 visitors from Hexham to Noyon.
June 1996 Visit from Rotarians from Brande. Mayor of Hexham, Norman Reed.
13th-16th September 1996 Metzingen visit to Hexham Visit to Raby Castle. Northern Symphonia Concert, Ceilidh at Corbridge Village Hall.
16th – 19th May 1997 43 visitors from Noyon to Hexham Visit to Alnwick Castle and Social Evening in Corbridge Parish Hall.
12 – 15.September 1997 visit of 72 members and relatives of the Posaunanchor, Neuhausen, played in the Bandstand in Hexham and in St. Mary’s Church.
October 1997 17 visitors from Hexham to Metzingen. Visit to the Binhof at Neuhausen, to the Weinfest and to Stuttgart Art Gallery. Irmela Lehman, Information Officer involved.
10th – 13th April 1998 40 people from Hexham including 12 from QEHS Sixth Form visited Noyon. Visit to Compiegne.
July 1998 40 visitors from Metzingen including Herr Herzig participated in Hexham Fair Parade. Mayor Mrs. Hutchinson. A Ceilidh was held in the Winter Gardens at QEHS.
3.4.1999 Visitors from Noyon went to Raby Castle and attended a Ceilidh at the Community Centre.
May 1999 Visit to Metzingen for the Celebration of 20 years of twinning Metzingen with Noyon, 10 years with Hexham, 7 years with Nagykallo. Jubilee Ball Saturday, Sunday Art Market.[Kunstmarkt]. A park bench was donated from Hexham to Metzingen.
21.4.2000 40 visitors from Hexham to Noyon.
August 2000, 13 visitors to Noyon for the Eclipse
23rd – 25th September 2000. Visitors from Metzingen attended the Candlelit Concert in Hexham Abbey. A Ceilidh was held in the Winter Gardens, QEHS.[Nibbles provided, own wine taken]. Mayor George Ferguson.
1st – 4th June 2001, 36 visitors from Noyon who attended a Ceilidh at the Torch Centre, lunch at The Beaumnt followed by a visit to Vindolanda.
October 2001 25 visitors from Hexham to Metzingen who attended the Weinfest.
29th March – 1st April 2002 Visit to Noyon for the 10th Anniversary of twinning between Noyon and Hexham. A park bench was donated to Noyon. Hexham Mayor Kaye Clark.
3rd – 6th October 2002 20 visitors from Metzingen to Hexham. Visit to the Baltic and Alnwick Garden.
Easter 2003 Celebration of 10 years of twinning with Noyon. 56 members and 35 members of Harmonie came.Concert in the Queen’s Hall on Saturday.
17thn – 20th October 2003 20 people from Hexham visited Metzingen and also visitors from Noyon. Visit to the opening of the Weinfest and to Bad Urach.
March 2004 Exhibition of Hexham Town Twinning in Hexham Library.
9th – 12th April 2004 43 visitors from Hexham visit to Noyon including the Mayor, Ingrid Whale and members of Hexham Youth Initiative. Visit to St. Quentin and La Familistere social palace at Guise. Meal and dancing at Le Chavelet on Sunday evening.
May 2004 David Oliver in Noyon to celebrate 25 years of twinning between Noyon and Metzingen.
24th – 27th September 2004. 12 adults and 1 child visitors from Metzingen. Lunch at The County. Mayor Ingrid Whale . Councillor Peter Reiff represented the Burgermeister. The visitors attended the Candlelit Concert in Hexham Abbey.
26TH – 29TH March 2005. Party of 39 visitors from Noyon to Hexham. Visit to Beamish on Saturday. Ceilidh in the Masonic Hall on Sunday. Mayor Ingrid Whale. Noyon’s Deputy Mayor, Gerard Deguise.
17th - 19th June 2005. Visit to Metzingen. 25th anniversary of Metzingen’s twinning with Noyon, 15 years of Hexham’s twinning with Metzingen, 13 years of Metzingen’s twinning with Nagykallo, Hungary. Ian Hepple, Michael Way and representatives of Churches Together in Hexham including Rev. Dagmar Winter attended. Dieter Hauswirth was the Burgermeister.
Visit to Ulm and Blaubeeren and Hoheneuffen Castle.
14.10.05.Meeting between David Oliver, Ruth Bramfitt and Tony Webster at QEHS High School on links with twin towns, including a possible link with Metzingen High School. Discussed exchanges with specific focus such as sports teams, drama groups, musicians and choirs, advertising activities in QEHS Bulletin and use of QEHS video conferencing facilities.
Easter 2006 Hexham visit to Noyon. Tree planted in remembrance of Bertrand Labarre and John Lynch. Visit to Senlis and Abbaye de Royaumont. J.B. Jonas and wife attended. Ceilidh with ‘Over the Moon’ Band.
July 2006 Stall at Hexham Carnival displaying posters and photos of visits to twin towns with Ruth Bramfitt, Ann Oliver and Kaye Clark.
2006. No visitors from Metzingen. Note agreement that Metzingen visits Hexham in even years and Hexham visits Metzingen in odd years.]
25.5.07 – 28.5.07 42 visitors from Noyon . Visit to Wallington. Ceilidh at Masonic Hall with Hedgehog Skin, buffet supper.
19 – 22.10.07 party of 16 visitors from Hexham,including 3 sixth formers visited Metzingen. Visit to Bebenhausen Monastery, Schwabian Meal in Tubingen, visit to the Weinfestand and wine tasting with meal.
November 2007 Exhibition of photos in Hexham Library on Town Twinning wwith Metzingen and Noyon.
April 2008 39 people went to Noyon including Hexham Courant Reporter Rebecca Dixon. Visit to Pierrefonds, meal and to the Chateau where filming was taking place for ‘Merlin’. Ceilidh in Le Cavelet, Sunday evening.
April 2008 Visit of 31 Metzingen visitors to Hexham, including Deputy Mayor, Dietmar Betz and many young people. Visit to Vindolanda, Hadrian’s Wall and Carvoran, lunch at pub. Ceilidh with Hedgehog Skin at the Masonic Hall.
May 2010 Visit to Noyon. Visit to Chantilly, meal and Chateau
October 2010 Visitors from Metzingen including 12 young people [2 were 14 years] Meal at The Anglers Arms Roth bury and visit to Cragside.
Esater 2011 50 visitors from Noyon including many families with young children. Meal at the George, Chollerford and visit to Chesters. Ceilidh at Corbridge Middle School.
October 2011 13 visited Metzingen including the Mayor Rad Hare and wife Pat and 1 student from QEHS. Also Chairman Mon Richford and Husband Paul and Cathy Booth , Co-ordinator for Metzingen. Evening at Weinfest and visit to Esslingen