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History of the Link
The link between Croydon and Arnhem has existed since 1946. It was in May of that year when a Dutch journalist, Albert Milhardo and his friend Joe Yapp arrived in Croydon and met members of the Council and Captain Cummings.
Both towns had suffered extensive bomb damage during the recently ended war and there was considerable interest in Croydon in establishing links with the people of Arnhem. Within a few weeks of the first meeting in May, a small group from Croydon met representatives from Arnhem at Schipol airport where the basis of the link was established.
The link, established in 1946, would not for many years be recognised by any formal twinning agreement between the two Municipalities but was an informal organisation. The founding members of the Croydon arm of the link were Alderman Lewin, the then Chief Education Officer, Captain Cummings, Mr and Mrs Secrett and Mrs Barlow. The purpose of the link was to foster friendship between the people of Croydon and Arnhem.
It would be impossible to mention everyone that worked so hard in those formative times to make the link successful, but in the early years both Alderman Bronkhurst and Adrian Selier, a Dutchman who lived in Croydon, took particular interest in its development.
Over the years many organisations have established links with their counterparts in Arnhem. These organisations include schools, sports clubs, youth groups and those that comprise business people. Once contact is established, organisations decide for themselves how frequently they wish to hold exchanges with their counterparts in Arnhem. There is no central programme of activities as this enables each organisation to pursue their own exchanges without any unnecessary bureaucracy.
In 1985, after 39 years of being informally linked, both Municipalities agreed to formally twin with each other. Ceremonies were held in Arnhem on 9 April and Croydon on 9 May at which the Deeds of Twinning were signed by the then Mayor of Croydon, Councillor Maureen Horden and the then Burgomeister of Arnhem, Dr J Drijber. Since then all Croydon Mayors and Dr J Drijber and his successor, Dr Paul Scholten the Burgomeister until June 2001 have supported and encouraged wider links between the two towns. The new Burgomeister Pauline Krikke is equally keen to ensure that the links between our towns continue to develop. With the advent of the Internet contacts continue to grow.
The link between the people of Croydon and Arnhem therefore remains a vibrant one and is being continued in the new millennium. The two Municipalities enjoy annual ceremonial links. The Burgomeister continues to invite the Mayor to the annual commemorations of the Battle of Arnhem held in September each year and the outgoing Mayor invites the Burgomeister or her representative to attend the Annual Council meeting held every May. Officers in each Municipality also enjoy periodic contacts with each other on matters of mutual interest concerning the role of their local authorities in their respective communities.
The Military Connection
Perhaps surprisingly, the link between the two towns was not based on any direct connection between Croydon and the then volunteer 10th Battalion Parachute Regiment (now part of 4th Battalion Parachute Regiment, Territorial Army) which has for many years had (and continues to have) a Territorial Army unit based in Croydon. The significance of the Battle of Arnhem must not be understated. The Mayor annually represents Croydon at some of the many commemoration ceremonies held in and around the town of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Ede and Driel. Even today hundreds of local school children place flowers on the graves of British soldiers at the annual service of Remembrance held at the Military Cemetery in Oosterbeek each September. This act, together with the warm welcome received by veterans and their families, who make the pilgrimage to Arnhem, is an indication of the continued bond of friendship between the people of Arnhem and those that sought to liberate them.
In September 1944, 10,000 parachutists (including a Polish Brigade) and glider borne troops landed around the town of Arnhem as part of Operation Market Garden aimed at ending the War by Christmas of that year.
Some veterans of the battle continue to live in Croydon, representing both parachute and airborne contingents.
The Council has lodged a range of documents concerning Arnhem with the Local Studies Library based at the Central Library Katharine Street, and these are available for research by prior request to the Local Studies Librarian.
The city of Arnhem comprises a population of some 160,000 people and the Municipality encompasses communities living on both sides of the river Rhine. Despite the war time damage, there still remains a significant part of the old town, although areas in the town, notably at the northern end of the John Frost Bridge (John Frost Brug) have been completely redeveloped since 1945. The area around the Korenmakt comprises many bars, café and restaurants and is the centre of the towns nightlife. There is a stunning view of Arnhem and its hinterland from the top of the tower of the former Eusebius Kerk, adjacent to the Town Hall. A market is held in the Kerk Plein on Friday's and Saturday's. Tourist attractions around the outskirts of Arnhem include, the Airborne Museum on the road to Oosterbeek, the open Air Museum, the Burgers Zoo and the Kroller-Muller Museum.
The Korenmarkt area of Arnhem
Fontein Janssingel bij Avond
Aerial Photograph of Arnhem
Thursday, 29 January, 2015