Last week we welcomed some special visitors from Alkmaar: our counterparts in the Alkmaar Twinning organisation, the AUC, together with members of the committee of ‘Alkmaarders op de Kaart’, who create wonderful illustrated guided tour maps of their city, highlighting locations linked to a special story, or individual: last year, that was Eli Prins and the Bath link.

Our visitors were able to see for themselves the city of Bath (including of course the Roman baths), meet the Mayor, and enjoy some of our hospitality: it was lovely to be able to host them after more than two years of lockdown and Zoom meetings! 

BANG THE GONG!

During the visit we initiated a new tradition in Bath: the ceremonial striking of the Alkmaar Gong on August 31st, to commemorate the day in 1946 when Alkmaar Council formally announced the gift to the city of Bath, in recognition of the support given at the end of the War.

The gong is just outside the Council Chamber in the Guildhall: about 75cm across, it is made of brass, carries the Alkmaar city crest, and is hung from a heavy, cast iron frame, representing the cheese carriers famous at the Alkmaar cheese market. The words of the Alkmaar Mayor, in presenting the gift, still ring true (like the gong):

“May the sounds of this gong remind you, again and again, of a harmony grown in these times – thanks to the noble sentiments of the citizens of Bath – between our cities.”

And here’s the moment itself, as the gong was struck by Hon, Alderman, and former Mayor of Bath, Will Sandry.