BYGONE HARROGATE with Malcolm Neesam

AS MAY be seen from the publicity album preserved in the library's department of local history, Harrogate Council went to extraordinary lengths before and after the Great War to ensure the town was publicised abroad.

One lasting result of such activity was to ensure that Harrogate maintained good relations with other resorts, and this climaxed after the Second World War with schemes to "twin" with foreign resorts.

Some Harrogate people may recall that the French Spa resort of Luchon twinned with Harrogate in 1953, and that all sorts of French themes were introduced to Harrogate during the annual French Week, such as school class exchanges, art exhibitions, street markets, sporting contests, and French Weeks in the big hotels.

A little later, in 1969 to be precise, an old link was revived when Harrogate twinned with the Italian Resort of Montecatini, which had welcomed a Corporation delegation including Alderman Francis Barber, when they visited Montecatini in 1927.

A few years later, members of the Wells and Baths Committee even managed to meet Mussolini during a visit to Italy. Italian Week in Harrogate never developed to the extent it deserved, and the whole matter of twinning has always been bedevilled by lack of money.

There have long been plans for a German twin, because of the economic potential of links with Germany, but when the Burgomeister of Baden Baden approached Harrogate in about 1958, he was rebuffed, largely because of racist views held by certain members of the Council.(What would we give today for a link with wealthy Baden Baden, but that happy resort has more than enough twins).

But during the early 1980's plans were advanced for links with Germany, including approaches to Detmold, Bad Hersfeld, Frankenthaul, and Baden Baden (too late!), and on March 2nd 1984, Conservative Councillor Neville Farmer was reported by the Advertiser as supporting a move for Harrogate to twin with the Russian resort of Stalingrad, a move suggested by Labour Councillor Keith Bertenshaw.

I am unaware of any plans for a Harrogate Russian Week. As I have very little information about Italian week activities, I'd welcome memories from readers. I am grateful to Mr. G. Mercer for this week's photograph.