FIFTY years of twinning between Ilkley and the French town of Coutances is to be celebrated at Ilkley Manor House this year.

May 18, 1969 was the date of the signing of the charter establishing a Civic Twinning link between Ilkley and Coutances, in Normandy.

May 18, 2019 sees the opening of an exhibition at Ilkley’s Manor House, celebrating that event, the 20 years of unofficial friendship that preceded it and the half century of subsequent links.

That twinning is alive and well in Ilkley was demonstrated just recently, in the hugely successful joint concert at Christchurch in April when Appel Gospel from Coutances and Ilkley Moornotes raised the roof.

A Civic Visit is scheduled for June 8-10, when a delegation of 23 - old friends and new recruits - will arrive from Coutances for a weekend of visits and celebrations.

The Manor House exhibition will run from May 18 until early July and will trace the various links established over the years.

Some are sporting, some are musical. Some are highly personal, notably a marriage now heading for its own golden wedding in 2020.

Ilkley’s Twinning Committee Chairman Judith Dunn told the Gazette: “This exhibition will be a work in progress, starting with the documentation we already have, but will be supplemented over the weeks by any new material that may come to light.

“So please, if you have any memories, photos or whatever to share, do get in touch at

“Meanwhile, save the date: Saturday, May 18, 11am at the Manor House.

“After the (very short) opening ceremony, the Ilkley Singers will be celebrating our entente cordiale with a short performance of relevant ditties in both languages.

“The exhibition will be in the house body, with exhibits also in the cases next door. “

For the Manor House opening times, see the website