Cranberries and crumpets: Twin towns exchange in the works

Jun 4, 2024


Organizers in two Warehams, separated by 3,200 miles and the Atlantic Ocean, have begun plans to bring their two towns a little bit closer together. 

Wareham, Massachusetts has a twin town of the same name in Dorset, a county in the southwest of England. 

According to former mayor of Wareham, England, Hilary Goodinge, the town “was in Saxon times the base for the king to fend off the Viking invasions,” and today is “a normal town with a cinema, railway station and individual shops.”

A Massachusetts committee led by former Wareham, Massachusetts Town Moderator Claire Smith is working with its counterpart across the pond to arrange an exchange of visits. 

The current plan is to send Bay Staters over to Wareham, Dorset in the spring of 2025. 

“We’ll put you in touch with a host family, and you write back and forth so you get to know them, and you end up staying with that host family, and then they take you all around to all of the important sites that would be great to visit,” said Smith. 

A follow-up trip in the fall of 2026 would bring Britons to ‘the town before the bridges’ “during cranberry season, [with] foliage they don’t get,” she said. 

While the work to organize a trip has started just recently, the idea of an intercontinental jaunt was floated as early as 1989. 

That year, the Wareham, Massachusetts Select Board signed a proclamation that extended “warm greetings and an open visitation invitation to the citizens of Wareham, Dorset.”

The Select Board signed the proclamation “asking them to come over and visit, and welcoming them, and the town never did anything,” said Smith. 

Three years ago, Smith made an official visit to Wareham, Dorset in her capacity as Town Moderator. On that trip, the town showed her the 1989 proclamation. 

Then, said Smith, “last summer, [Goodinge] contacted me and said, ‘We really have people that want to come visit you. We have this invitation, but nothing’s been done.’”

Goodinge said, “We have already been running a twinning association for a German Town and also a French town, but it is obvious we should be twinned with Wareham USA, and at a recent meeting I found there was an enormous amount of enthusiasm to get this new twinning underway.”

Smith went to the present day Select Board of Wareham, Massachusetts, which asked her to put something together, she said. 

Smith and a small committee are now ironing out the details for the trip exchange. They’re looking for people who are interested in going over to visit Wareham, Dorset, as well as people who want to host English Wareham residents in their homes. 

The committee will also raise money to entertain the guests from England when they visit the states. 

“We would love to develop an ongoing relationship between the two towns,” said Goodinge. “I have been to the states but not your area, so I am looking forward to visiting you and establishing firm links.”