The Federation of Twin Towns and International Friendship Links for North West England and North Wales
Ulverston/Albert Twinning Association

The Association was established in 1976, between the Mayor of Ulverston – Cyril Barker and the Mayor of Albert – Fernand Demilly. Since the inauguration, there have been many visits between the two towns. Delegates from each town are usually accommodated by members of the host Association in their own homes.

Albert is situated on the Ancre River, a tributary of the Somme River in Picardy. The population is similar to Ulverston. A major industry in Albert is making parts for the Airbus.

At each road entrance to Albert, a large road sign welcomes you to Albert. Each sign includes the following information – Ulverston 800 kilometres. Also in Albert is the rue d’Ulverston. Many of the people living in that street made a visit to Ulverston a few years ago and enjoyed a long weekend in the town, hosted by local people.

Around Albert are some significant areas relating to the 1914-18 war.

A major battle in that war was the battle of the Somme, which commenced at 07-30 on the 1st July 1916. The signal to start was a huge explosion at 07-28, made by 24 tons of explosives detonated by the British, close to the village La Boiselle, not far from Albert. The explosion made a huge crater, now known as Lochnagar Crater. The Crater was purchased and preserved by Richard Dunning on 1st July 1978. A Remembrance Service is held each 1st July at 07-28 by the crater, where a large cross has been erected.

The town of Albert was razed to the ground in the war of 1914/18, including the Basilica and the railway station, both were rebuilt between the wars to the original plans.

When Paula Kestleloot was doing some research relating to the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, she studied some trench maps of the area around Thiepval and Orvillers, not far from Albert, drawn up by the military.

The trenches known as “streets” are all named after towns and villages of the Lancashire area, which in those days included Furness, from which some of the soldiers of the era originated. “Ulverston Street” is clearly marked, situated just to the west of the village Ovillers-la-Boiselle.

Once the significance of the discovery was recognised, the townspeople of Albert erected a memorial plaque on the site of the trench. The plaque is inscribed in French, English and German. It is strange to think that although formal twinning only began in 1976, there were Ulverstonians in the area of Albert in 1916.

Mrs Brenda Marr, Mayor Elect of Ulverston unveiled the Memorial in 2007.

It is hoped that each year a delegation from Ulverston will lay a wreath of poppies at the memorial or arrange for one to be laid.

On the 11th November 2008, floral tributes were laid at the site by British and German delegations in the presence of dignitaries from Albert.

Also close to Albert is the Thiepval Memorial, on the site of the village of Thiepval, which was obliterated during the First World War. The memorial is a brick and stone structure designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. The names of 73,000 members of the British and Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave are recorded on the memorial. Occasionally the body of a fallen soldier is recovered, identified and his name taken off the memorial.

In Albert, under the square by the Basilica is an entrance to a series of medieval tunnels. Before the start of the Second World War they were converted into an air-raid shelter. Since then it has been transformed into a museum of the 1914-18 war called Musée Somme 1916. It contains a series of tableaux depicting scenes under which the soldiers lived and there are numerous artefacts on display. One of the artefacts is a kilt, which was in the possession of Walter Pixton, the grandfather of Mrs Brenda Marr, Mayor of Ulverton in 2008.

Every three years a Carnival is held in Albert, in which a feature is confetti, which can be purchased from stewards on the parade. It is scattered liberally amongst the spectators and those partaking in the parade. Ulverston has been represented in the Carnival several times, last year the delegation dressed in Dickensian costumes, in recognition of the Ulverston Dickensian Weekend, The Town Band also attended. They have been several times in the past and are much appreciated. They now cover the ends of their instruments with a mesh to prevent confetti entering their instrument. The Carnival parades through the town for about five kilometres. It finishes in the square in front of the Town Hall, where each entry is judged as they finish. The judges are seated in the square. A prize is given to the winning entry. Villages from around Albert construct a float for entry into the parade. The winning float for 2013 was a model of the Bridge of Sighs (complete with gondola) in Venice. The overall length of the float with towing vehicle was in the region of sixty feet, very impressive.

The people of Albert have been to Ulverston many times since the twinning began, on their last visit, a “French Chestnut”tree was planted in Lightburn Park, to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of the Queens Reign. It was originally planned that Fernand Demilly, Mayor of Albert in 1976, a signatory to the original twinning document would do the planting. Unfortunately he was unable to attend, so his son, Stéphane, current Mayor of Albert performed the ceremony, accompanied by the Mayor of Ulverston, Mrs Brenda Marr.

It is hoped to involve the schools of Ulverston and Albert, as in the past and also to encourage more sporting links. In the past these have included football, swimming and running. Unfortunately we had to withdraw from a football tournament in 2013 between Albert and two German towns – Aldenhoven and Niesky – twinned with Albert. Sadly the contest coincided with the school examinations of the Ulverston pupils.

If anyone is interested in joining the twinning group, Contact the Ulverston Town Clerk - Jayne Kendall – 01229 585778

admin login
Chairman Derek Smith, Secretary Jürgen O. H. Voges, Treasurer Christine Bradbrook, Communications Dave Collier