Hartford and its French twin town Mornant, near Lyon, celebrated the tenth anniversary of their link with a packed weekend programme of events and the signing of a charter renewing their special relationship.

The festivities were held in Mornant from May 16-18, 1997 when 24 delegates from Hartford made their way by car, air and train to stay in the homes of their French friends.

The reciprocal celebrations in England will be combined with the Vale Royal Festival of Twinning, to be held during the first weekend in July. More than 40 people from Mornant are expected to attend, including a group of cyclists who will make the journey in relays.

The weekend at Mornant started with a concert in the theatre of the new cultural centre organised by the twinning association. The first half was performed by pupils from the secondary school choir and the orchestra of the local music school. The second half consisted of entertainment by the professional folk group Trotwood - a French family who specialise in Irish and Scottish music.

Next day, the English and their hosts visited the Maison de Pays - a 17th century building in the medieval heart of Mornant which has been converted into a museum and exhibition centre devoted to local history and culture.

Afterwards everyone gathered on the nearby Place de la Liberté to enjoy an hour of music by the band of Taluyers-Orliénas, which then led a procession to the town cemetery where national anthems were played. The Mayor of Mornant, M Guy Palluy, and the chairman of Hartford Parish Council, Cllr Shirley Harris, laid wreaths on the war memorial and remembered the dead from both communities who gave their lives during the World Wars.

An official reception was then held at the Salle des Fêtes. The event was inaugurated by the president of the twinning committee, M Alain Meyer and speeches were made by M Palluy and Mrs Harris, who read her oration in both English and French.

The two civic heads signed a charter of friendship echoing the sentiments in the one which marked the beginning of the twinning in 1987. Gifts were exchanged: the Hartford delegation gave Mornant an ornamental wood and metal bench and received a handcrafted terracotta plaque bearing the emblems of both communities.

Later that evening an official banquet organised by the Council of Mornant was held in a restaurant at St Genis Laval on the outskirts of Lyon.

Sunday, May 18 was spent on a trip to Lyon, starting with a whirlwind tour of the masterpieces in the Museum of Fine Arts. Lunch was in the panoramic restaurant at Fourvière which gives a magnificent view of the city laid out beneath it. During the afternoon the French and English enjoyed a conducted tour of the Urban Museum dedicated to the work of French architect Tony Garnier.

His prophetic designs for a modern industrial city, drawn in the early 1900s, have been reproduced as giant frescoes on the walls of blocks of apartments which he designed in the 1930s. Most of the buildings were never built but the designs acted as an inspiration for generations of architects to come, including Le Corbusier.


 People from Hartford and Mornant listen to a guide explaining the unique open-air museum dedicated to the work of Tony Garnier

Chairman of Hartford Twinning Committee. Dr Jack Loader, said: "The official celebrations were marvellous and inspiring. But the most important aspect of twinning is forging links between people from different countries and I know that the abiding memories which the Hartford party has brought home are of the warmth of the welcome and the delight we all experienced in meeting old friends and making new ones."


Text reproduced from the July 1997 issue of Hartford News.

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