Past and Future

History of Twinning

The original purpose of twinning to promote friendship, tolerance, understanding, and cultural and educational exchanges between towns and their citizens has been diluted and its relevance to cities and their citizens across the UK has diminished largely due to improved telecommunications, the internet and cheap travel. Schools now develop their own relationships with other schools of their choice around the world. There is no need to limit partners to twin town schools.

In some respects, Preston is an exception with some of the most enduring twin town relationships in the country. Preston boasts relationships dating from the post-war era to the present day, specifically, Almelo (Holland) 1948, Nimes (France) 1955, Recklinghausen (Germany) 1956, Kalisz (Poland), 1989.

The spread of the English language globally has contributed to a decline in interest in the UK for learning other languages and engaging in two-way exchanges. While there remains much interest in international students visiting Preston to learn or improve their English it is extremely difficult to elicit similar enthusiasm among Preston students to visit its twin towns. This is exacerbated by the relative obscurity of Preston’s twin towns and difficulty in accessing them when presented with a multitude of cheap flight alternatives to well known holiday destinations.

However, while twinning, in general, has not moved with the times and has disappeared in many UK towns, twinning is thriving in towns and cities outside the UK where the commercial and inward investment benefits complement the towns’ cultural advancement. Nimes, for example, has recently extended its network to include Fort Worth in Texas making a total of 9 relationships in total.

Today, in Preston, twinning provides the only consistent international marketing activity dedicated to promoting the city. PTP initiated inward and outbound civic, individual and group visits from and to Preston’s twin towns are a regular occurrence and do much to promote the city, its attractions, history and culture.

Plans are underway to attract other partner towns to include those that would appeal to a diverse range of Prestonians, making twinning more relevant and accessible to a larger number of citizens.

Preston Twinning Partnership is funded almost entirely by Preston Council. The intention is to develop additional sources of income and to become self-funding.

That twinning in Preston has survived and even thrived is largely due to the dedication and voluntary efforts of a small number of members of the Preston Twinning Partnerships (PTP) committee. However, it is under threat due to aging membership of the PTP committee, lack of funding, absence of clear strategy for future development and a lack of engagement with the broader Preston community where awareness of Preston’s twin towns, or even their country location, is depressingly low.

The PTP considers that change is now vital to bring twinning up to date, fit for purpose and capable of realizing its potential to benefit the city and its citizens.

"Some of our personal and professional relationships have lasted for decades and we are always pleased to welcome visitors from our twin towns to Preston. It is an opportunity to renew friendships and promote Preston to an international audience. We are also welcomed with open arms when we visit our twin towns.'
Derek Smith
Chairman, Preston Twinning Partnership

The Preston Twinning Model

Preston Twinning aims to:

  • Stimulate interest in foreign cultures, countries and their people, fostering friendships, tolerance and understanding between citizens of Preston and those of their partner towns.
  • Serve the city by providing relevant and popular opportunities for a significantly larger number of citizens to benefit from twinning activity and relationships.
  • Contribute to a net inflow of revenue into the city from its activities.
  • Promote Preston as internationally aligned and accessible, culturally tolerant and enlightened, commercially innovative and dynamic with an innovative twinning model adapted to the present day.
  • Publicise Preston’s civic heritage, history, traditions and geographical location to stimulate tourism, inward investment and cultural, educational and sporting exchanges.

These aims will be achieved by:

Increasing relevance

  • Expansion of the number of twinning or sister city relationships to include popular and accessible locations. Initial focus on the twin towns of Preston’s twin towns ie. Prague (twinned with Nimes) that have well-established, inexpensive and reliable transport links with the North West
  • Diversify the demographic of PTP membership : Attract younger members, ethnic minorities, school representatives, public bodies and private sector businesses via membership options, paid and unpaid, and benefits (below)
  • Facilitate sporting, cultural and educational exchanges with international partners : Arts, music, theatre, photography, dance, sports tournaments

Generating revenue, inward investment and employment opportunities

  • Assist in the promotion of Preston’s products and services internationally with particular emphasis on increasing visitor numbers to the city and stimulating exports
  • Hosting selected international conferences (third sector, social care, special educational needs schools’ best practice, aerospace etc).
  • Increased tourism and visitor stays and multiplier effect on Preston’s income
  • Encouraging work experience opportunities for Preston citizens in twin tows and for those citizens of its twin towns in Preston


  • Improved communication of the benefits and ethos of twinning to the city and its citizens
  • Greater visibility of twinning in the city : Retail shop frontage in the city centre stocking items from twin towns and providing information about twinning and Preston’s twin towns as well as tourist information about Preston for foreign/out of town visitors
  • Revitalising promotion of school, college and university exchanges for students and teachers.
  • National leadership status for Preston on international partnership development
  • Positioning as internationally aligned and accessible, culturally tolerant and enlightened, commercially innovative and astute and a model for others to follow
  • Reinforcement of Preston’s positive image, complementing the Preston Model


Preston Twinning Partnership is funded almost entirely by Preston Council. The intention is to develop additional sources of income and to become self-funding.

  • PTP to receive agency fee for inbound student enrolments to UCLan
  • Access to international funding for twinning activity
  • Revenue from retail sales/shop activities
  • Twin town contributions from shop activities and promotion of their towns
  • Continued contribution from Preston City Council
  • Membership fees from public and private sector as well as individuals

Benefits of membership

  • Development of international contacts and friendships
  • Exposure to foreign countries, their people and cultures
  • Eligibility to participate in visits to twin towns and involvement in visits to Preston
  • Participation in functions and activities
  • Access to work experience opportunities in twin towns
  • Product placement in twin towns
  • Promotion of Preston products and services
  • Networking with importers/exporters from twin towns
  • Market research
  • Discounted travel and/or accommodation
  • Access to homestays
  • Access to study opportunities