Our ‘Alkmaar 70’ celebration year begins officially on September 1st, 70 years since the first trip to Alkmaar by Bath schoolchildren.
Here’s an update on what’s been happening recently.
The Launch: searching for the “lost” Alkmaar children
We are marking the launch of the Alkmaar 70 year by publicising our search for information on the original Alkmaar children. There are in fact two sets of children on which we’d love to have more information: the 50 from Alkmaar who came to Bath in 1945 and a similar number from Bath who were invited back to Alkmaar in 1946. It was these exchange visits which turned what was initially feelings of sympathy into friendship between our two cities.
Tulips will be bursting out all over.
Our first activity is on a grand floral scale, thanks to our friends in the Alkmaar twinning association, the ‘Alkmaars Uitwisseling Comité (AUC)’, who have kindly donated 5,000 tulip bulbs, echoing the original gift to Bath made by the newly liberated mayor and councillors of Alkmaar in Autumn 1945.
We have been working with ‘Bath in Bloom’ to liaise with the Council’s Parks Department, who will be planting some of the bulbs in the Alkmaar Garden/Orange Grove, and Parade Gardens, both in the centre of town.
In addition, thanks to help from the Rotary Club of Bath, we are offering large bags of bulbs to every school in Bath, for planting by children in the school grounds, or nearby verges or parks. We’ve had a lot of interest from schools across the City.
Educational resources go online
We want more schoolchildren to be aware of the origins of our Alkmaar link. To help teachers across the curriculum, we’ve pulled together some materials to act as stimulants for further creativity and investigation by pupils: the results can be found under the Resources tab on the left-hand side of the BATA website pages.
The resource materials include photos of some of the characters who played a part in linking Bath and Alkmaar, a poem, and an article by Eli Prins’s son, from celebrations a decade ago, and a list of all the ways Bathonians responded to the original Alkmaar Appeal in 1945.
News of the Barrel Organ #2
More news of the legendary ‘Alkmaar Barrel organ’, which played a key part in 1945. Further investigation, including a personal visit to Alkmaar Town Hall, where the instrument now resides – has confirmed it is indeed operational, albeit it very out of tune. Interestingly, we now realise calling it a ‘barrel organ’ is a misnomer: it is actually a barrel piano (confusingly, still often referred to as a barrel-organ, in England at least). We are investigating what it might cost to re-tune the venerable instrument so it can play again (if it won’t collapse under the pressure). If you’re unfamiliar with how a barrel piano sounds, here’s a link to one playing: quite a wonderful noise!
Mayor of Alkmaar to visit Bath in July 2017
The most exciting news in recent weeks has been the confirmation that the Mayor of Alkmaar, Mr Piet Bruinooge, will be paying a formal civic visit to Bath in July next year. This is highly appropriate, given July was the month of the original Alkmaar week in 1945. We are therefore planning to hold a special week worth of events to mark his visit, during 10th to 16th July 2017. We are thrilled the Mayor is coming – formal civic visits are less common now than they were, so it is a great honour for the city, and for our Association.
Alkmaar 70 more special activities: quick update
There are many groups across Bath pulling together plans for doing something special to mark the Alkmaar 70 year. These include several sports clubs, a number of musical groups, and two sets of visual artists.
We’ve been really pleased by how interested so many people are in taking advantage of our friendship with Alkmaar, several new to our Association.
Plans are still being finalised for an array of special activities: as soon as details are ready to announce, we’ll let all supporters and friends know. Suffice it to say, we think it should be quite a year!