From the Burnley Express Archive: A busy week for Burnley's French 'twins'

The date is Friday, 25th September, 1970, and the location, as you will have observed, is the steps at Burnley Town Hall, on Manchester Road.

Friday, 25th September 2020, 3:45 pm

A delegation had arrived from Vitry on that day. It was at the beginning of French Week for a reception had been organised at Burnley Town Hall.

The Mayor of Burnley, Alderman Ernest James Willis, met the French delegation at Ringway Airport, as Manchester Airport was then known. The delegation consisted of Coun. MM M. Bonnett and M. Dacatti, Mll D. Damiano (Director of Housing) and M. R. Gandilhon (a member of the Twinning Committee).

Fifty years ago, Burnley’s twinning arrangements were very considerable and the French party had a full week ahead of them. One of their first duties was to open Le Petit Escargot, a side-walk café in Centenary Gardens, near the Central Library, which was run by Addison’s, the old established, and much missed, Burnley wine retailers, which had premises on St James’s Street. The café specialised in French wines and champagne.

A civil delegation from Vitry arrived on Friday, 25th September 1970, during French Week to a civic reception at Burnley town hall after being met at Ringway Airport by the Mayor of Burnley, Ald. E. J. Willis. The delegation is Couns. MM M. Bonnett and M. Dacatti, Mlle D. Damiano (director of housing), and M. R. Gandilhon (a member of the Twinning Committee).

On Saturday, they saw a First Division football match at Turf Moor between Burnley and Wolverhampton Wanderers, which Wolves won 3-2, in what was to be Burnley FC’s relegation year. On the evening of the same day, they went to Whalley to a Burnley Swimming Club Dinner.

On the Sunday, the French party watched a netball match between Michelin and Vitry and saw rugby and football matches between Burnley and Vitry teams. There was also a swimming contest between Burnley, Vitry and a team from Lancaster, as well as an Anglo-French concert at Barden School. In the evening they saw Blackpool Illuminations.

The other events included a tour of one of Burnley’s largest textile firms, Qualitex Yarns, a visit to a housing estate and another to local schools. Also included was the Meadow Bank Adult Centre, the Lower Ridge Welfare Hostel and the Haven Children’s Home.

On the Thursday, it was arranged that the group would go to Lancaster, to see the Castle and, the event for Friday, was “A Night in Montmarte” which took place at Towneley Hall. There was still more to do and of the remaining events was a very French cycle race which took place at Scott Park. Another event was a visit to Burnley’s new Market Hall and this was followed by a grand dinner at the Keirby Hotel.

I am sure that I have seen a picture of another event. According to the Burnley Express, there was to be a parade of French-made cars which were to tour the town. There were Renaults, Simcas and Citreons, all of which were supplied by local garages.

One of my friends had bought a Renault, and I had criticised him, so I wasn’t too keen on this. Even in 1970, I was aware that the British motor industry was going down the drain. Mind you, by the time our French friends visited, I was back at University, in London.