Hastings - Dordrecht Twinning Association

Dordrecht is a stunning town - just what you expect a Dutch town to look like, with steeply gabled facades flanking the narrow streets and canals in the old town. Thanks to its position on the banks of the Maas where that river is joined by two others, Dordrecht was a very wealthy and important trading town in the middle ages, since all goods travelling up or down the six main waterways had to be unloaded, stored, sold or transhipped there. It was granted civic rights in 1220, and so can claim to be Holland's oldest city; and it was in a room in Dordrecht that the foundations of the modern state of The Netherlands were laid in 1575, when the Dutch towns resolved to break free from Spanish rule. Dordtenaren (as the residents are called) are proud, too, that the National Synod met there in 1618-19 and decided to have the Bible translated into Dutch.

Today, the city is a marvellous blend of the old and the new, with dozens of handsome old buildings, quirky shops in back-streets, modern stores and - on the edge of town - the Biesbosch, a vast nature park where you can ramble, cycle or take a boat and explore the many waterways. If you'd like to find out more about the town, see the official website:

How is it that Hastings is twinned with Dordrecht?.

Immediately after World War II, Hastings and Dordrecht residents played water-sports together - water polo and competitive swimming - and this broadened out into a vibrant sports exchange, so that many friendships blossomed. Eventually, the two town councils recognised the strength of this inter-community relationship, and a formal twinning charter was signed in 1982. In the early 1990s, the Hastings-Dordrecht sports exchange would still last a whole week, and cultural events, especially choir and youth orchestra exchanges, were common. Somehow, it all ran out of steam in the mid '90s and the committees folded up on both sides. The twinning officers of two town councils kept things ticking over, and a few clubs have maintained their annual exchanges: notably the Seagulls water polo players, and the Beauport Park Riding School. There have been some fascinating visits, for example when the Old Timers brought 40-odd WW2 vehicles to Hastings and displayed them on the beach at Rock-a-Nore.

In 2006 a new Hastings-Dordrecht Twinning Association was set up on the Hastings side, to try to relaunch the link. There have been a small number of tourist trips to Dordrecht. We tend to visit when there's something particularly interesting going on there, like the biennial Steam Weekend, or 'Dordt Monumenteel', when the town's wonderful old buildings are thrown open to the public and host all kinds of cultural events. On the way home (Dordrecht to Calais is about 3 hours on the road), we make sure to take in another attractive place to visit. It was a pity the trip in Autumn 2008 was cancelled at the last minute because of the fire in the Channel Tunnel. Most recently, Peter and Catherine Wellington and Robin Gray took a van-load of Christmassy goods to Dordrecht to sell at the Kerstmarkt or Christmas Market, in order to publicise the link. The whole town centre is given over to scores of brightly decorated stalls, and the 3 days of the market are enlivened with bands and entertainers.

Please Email the Dordrecht Secretary from the contact page if further information is required.