Town twinning developed after the Second World War to promote mutual understanding and friendship.
East Ayrshire is twinned with five European towns. The twinning of local authorities and towns with counterparts in other countries is a well established and proven practice.
About our twin towns
Ales in the Gard region of France (1974)
Ales, a town similar in size to Kilmarnock, is situated in the south of France, in the Department of Gard and in the region known as Cevennes. Ales was twinned with Kilmarnock in 1974. A square at the top of The Foregate in Kilmarnock has been named after the town of Ales. The Charter was duly signed in 1974 and the biggest single twinning celebration undertaken by the former Kilmarnock and Loudoun District Council (now East Ayrshire Council) took place in May 1994, when the 20th anniversary of both Ales and Kulmbach took place.
Kulmbach in Bavaria, Germany (1974)
The town of Kulmbach lies in Northeast Bavaria in a region known as Upper Frankonia. It occupies a picturesque spot among three mountain ranges and at the confluence of two rivers. Dark forests and clear mountain streams surround it. The twinning link goes back to 1948 when Herr Hagen visited Kilmarnock and various representatives of Kulmbach Council visited the area from time to time. Twinning took place in 1974.
Herstal, near Liege in Belgium (1977)
Herstal is near the historic town of Liege, lying on the River Meuse and the centre of the French-speaking part of Belgium. Herstal and Kilmarnock were twinned in 1977.
Joue-les-tours, Touraine region of France (1990)
Joue-les-tours is a town situated in the Touraine region of north central France, near the River Loire. The former Cumnock and District Council formally twinned with the French town of Joue-les-tours on 21 April 1990. The signing ceremony was held in Cumnock and followed an earlier signing in Joue the previous October.
Santa Coloma de Gramenet, near Barcelona, Spain (1994)
The city of Santa Coloma de Gramanet has its name, like many other villages in Catalonia, from the dove ('colom'), the symbol of peace and part of the Holy Trinity. Santa Coloma is situated across a bridge from Barcelona. Santa Coloma was twinned with Kilmarnock in 1994.
Benefits of twinning
Twinning has the potential to help local communities expand into new markets, provide training which expands people’s horizons, learn about different practices in economic development and training, develop joint ventures, technology / expertise transfer, sales and distribution potential, attract inward investment and allow for targeted promotion of tourism. It also, of course, develops real and lasting friendships between communities throughout Europe and beyond.
The twinnings which exist between towns and communities are based on many of the themes which our local poet, Robert Burns, covered in his poetry: friendship, brotherhood and peace among nations.
Charters exist for all five twin towns.
International twinning awards
In September 1980 Kilmarnock and Loudoun District Council (now part of East Ayrshire Council) was presented with the Council of Europe Flag of Honour; this was followed in August 1989 by the Plaque of Honour which is second only to the Europe Prize itself. Both are now kept within the Council's offices in Kilmarnock.
From an economic view point, town twinning has the potential to help local companies expand into new markets, to learn about new practices in economic development in training, develop joint ventures, increase sales and distribution potential, attract inward investment and allow for targeted promotion of tourism.