The trend for twinning a city or town with one in a distant country started after the Second World War. Twinning was an inexpensive way to repair relationships and forge new ones in a world turned upside down by conflict. However, in the modern era, twinning is just as likely to form part of trade agreements and business deals.
The most iconic twin (or triplet) towns are Dull in Scotland, the Shire of Bland, a community in Australia, and Boring, Oregon, the home of the annual Boring and Dull Day. These three locations epitomise the twinning phenomenon; individually, they’re just oddities in an atlas but, combined, they’re a tourism powerhouse.
Here are a few more twin towns that might have you scratching your head:
Grimsby and Banjul
Grimsby, a Lincolnshire town founded by a Viking called Grim in the 6th century, is the largest fishing port in the UK; Banjul is a peanut and palm exporting city in The Gambia. It’s not easy to find out how these two unlikely friends came together but it probably has something to do with the fact that Banjul used to be a British colony called Bathurst.
Bolton and Le Mans
Bolton, a onetime bastion of textiles in the North of England, is partnered with the motor racing city of Le Mans in France, according to an article written by Voucherbox. Ironically, the relationship between the two cities (and Paderborn, Germany, with whom both cities are twinned) centres on an orchestra exchange program, not racing.
Wincanton and Ankh-Morpork
While Ankh-Morpork might sound like the erstwhile home of an Egyptian pharaoh, it’s actually a trading hub on the River Ankh, somewhere near the Sto Plains and the Circle Sea. Still confused? Ankh-Morpork doesn’t exist. It’s a city in the Discworld series by the late Terry Pratchett. Wincanton, on the other hand, is near the A303.
Olney and Liberal
Olney is a town in Buckinghamshire, UK. Liberal is located in Kansas in the United States. A good 4,642 miles separate these two places but one thing brings them together every year – pancakes. For the past 66 years, Olney and Liberal have competed in the International Pancake Race, with the women from each town striving to get a better time than their distant opponents over 400 yards (365 metres).
Decatur and Boussé
Boussé is a place of dusty avenues, free roaming oxen, and unremarkable stone huts in Burkina Faso. The town’s relationship with Decatur in Georgia, USA, is perhaps the greatest example of the benefits of twinning. The two towns united in the 1980s to destroy a parasite ravaging one of the poorest places on Earth – Burkina Faso.
As a final point:
As the world grew more peaceful in the decades following the Second World War, town twinning fell out of favour. Bishop’s Stortford, for example, a town in Hertfordshire, terminated its relationship with Friedberg in Germany and Villiers-sur Marne, France, at the beginning of the last decade, while Wallingford, Oxfordshire, has fallen out of love with Luxeuil-les-Bains, also in France.
Doncaster takes the cake for ditching its twin towns, however. The South Yorkshire town recently broke up with Dandong (China), Herten (Germany), Avion (France), as well as cities in the United States and Poland. Then-mayor, the controversial Peter Davies, stressed that representatives from Dandong would not be welcome in the town. Relationships are complicated, you know?