Burntisland link with Flekkefjord in Norway
In 1886, a local newspaper reported that a party of “ladies and gentlemen” sailed from the harbour in Burntisland in Fife on an excursion to Norway on a commercial vessel mainly carrying coal and other goods. These adventurous travellers, unknowingly, set the scene for more extensive contacts with Norway which developed 60 years later. During the Second World War, Norwegian forces were stationed in Fife and shortly after the end of the war, in 1946, children in Burntisland voted in favour of an association with a community in Norway. Flekkefjord, in the region of Agder in the south of the country, was selected from a shortlist of candidates on account of its comparable size and similar historical background with Burntisland. Both are coastal communities – featuring a sailing boat on their coat of arms – with a history of shipbuilding and herring fishing, today giving way mainly to tourism.
The twinning relationship, one of the earliest in Scotland, was formally initiated at a public meeting in Burntisland in February 1946. An extensive programme of exchange visits over the next half century culminated in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the link during a week of festivities taking place in Burntisland in June 1996. The event, held in conjunction with Burntisland’s annual Civic Week, was attended by over 100 visitors from Flekkefjord. As part of the festivities, a procession through the town included young people from Norway carrying their national flag.
[Photo of procession]
Also, to mark the anniversary, a cairn with a commemorative plaque was erected on The Links in Burntisland.
A further opportunity for celebration arose 20 years later – this time to mark 70 years of twinning. In early June 2016, a sailing boat set out from Burntisland harbour bound for Flekkefjord carrying a formal invitation to the mayor and the young people of the town to attend the festivities in Fife. The journey, covered in about 2 hours by air, took the crew from Burntisland Sailing Club approaching 3 days on a small boat – but the invitation was duly delivered. The celebratory events took place in July 2016, on this occasion in conjunction with the Burntisland Highland Games. Celebrations were continued later in the year when the Flekkefjord Male Voice Choir, who were then performing in Scotland, held a concert in a local church followed by a convivial social evening. Some members of the choir had participated in an exchange visit to Burntisland 45 years earlier.
[Flekkefjord Male Voice Choir]
The extensive programme of exchange visits, mainly involving young people, is only made possible thanks to the considerable fund-raising activity by the Burntisland Town Twinning Committee. This voluntary body not only works to secure financial support from local government and businesses in the area but also organises fund-raising functions such as coffee mornings and evening musical or comedy performances. When arranging exchange visits, one member of the committee found their prior involvement with a link between a church in Burntisland and one in Gdansk in Poland provided useful experience.
[Photo of group on Cairn Gorm]
Following the interruption of contacts by the COVID-19 pandemic, twinning activities resumed in 2023. In August that year, a group of young people from Burntisland, together with a civic delegation, travelled to Norway to participate in the International Week event held in Flekkefjord. Also present at these festivities were delegations from Flekkefjord’s other twin towns in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the USA. Representatives from Burntisland had attended a similar earlier event in Flekkefjord, but the Fife town – where the twinning arrangements are entirely run by volunteers – is unable to reciprocate by hosting a large-scale international twinning event.
[Photo of twining cake]
If you have any additional information about this twinning link that you would like to share with us, please use the form available HERE.
Burntisland Town Twinning Committee Facebook page
English Wikipedia page for Flekkefjord
Flekkefjord coat of arms image, public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Cairn image © Paul Vyšný, CC BY-SA 4.0