The origins of Twinning in Malmesbury lie in the 1950s. In 1954 Wiltshire was twinned with Schleswig-Holstein to promote youth exchanges with the aim of breaking down prejudices and establishing friendships between the young people of Germany and England. Malmesbury and District was twinned with Niebüll and Kreis Süd-Tondern. The first group of young people arrived in Malmesbury in the summer of 1954 to stay with families for a social, cultural and educational visit. In 1955 it was the turn of a group of young people from Malmesbury Youth Club to go to Niebüll. Cyril Cartmell was the youth leader and he and Peter Kruse from Niebüll actively promoted these youth exchanges, which continued over the next decades.
In 1976 the Town Council initiated a formal Civic Twinning so that adults could benefit from the friendships built up over years and stay with families in their twin towns. The document can be viewed in Malmesbury Town Hall. This agreed to promote friendship and understanding between the two towns. The formal agreement gave birth to the Twinning Association, to assist the Council in promoting exchanges. Youth exchanges have continued through the schools, and twinning exchanges have continued for more than 60 years. Many long-standing friendships have been made.
In 1998 many members and other local residents expressed a parallel interest in a link with a French town, and Gien was identified as a similar town within a day’s travelling distance. This was expedited by the fervent interest of Gien’s then mayor, Jean-Pierre Hurtiger in Malmesbury. After friendly visits in 1998 and 1999 a formal twinning agreement with the Town Council was signed in 2000.
From the late 1990s the local Rotary Club had developed links with its opposite number in the other Malmesbury in the Svartland, South Africa. After exchanges between the town councils in both Malmesburys a friendship agreement was signed in 2006. This has led to regular visits since then od school students from Malmesbury RSA to Malmesbury here in the UK, and of participation of senior students from Malmesbury School (UK) to the International Friendship Summer Camp held in Malmesbury RSA.
To our great delight in 2012 a twinning agreement was also signed between Niebüll and Gien. When we began our link with Gien in 1998 an important consideration was that Gien did not already have a German twin, and from that date we had promoted links between the three towns. It was therefore to our great delight that in 2012 the triple entente was achieved.