Croydon celebrated its historic ties and twinship with the Dutch town of Arnhem during a special ceremony to formally name the foyer in the newly-refurbished Fairfield Halls in its honour.
Special guest the Mayor of Arnhem Ahmed Marcouch joined Mayor of Croydon Councillor Humayun Kabir at the venue on Saturday (12 October), to unveil a plaque dedicating the Arnhem Foyer – which will host a year-round programme of free cultural events – to everyone in Croydon.
Croydon’s ties with Arnhem go back to 1946, when business and cultural links were formed following the war and the towns have been formally twinned since 1985. Both towns were heavily bombed during the war and there was a common bond which formed over the years of recovery and rebuilding.
Croydon’s relationship with Arnhem always been celebrated at the Fairfield Halls, where prior to the venue’s multi-million pound refurbishment the Arnhem Gallery was named in its honour. When the gallery was transformed into a new live music space – The Recreational – as part of the refurbishment, the council and BH Live renamed the foyer in Arnhem’s honour instead.
The Arnhem Foyer now hosts a year-round programme of free, diverse entertainment, funded by operators and social enterprise BH Live through commercial activities at Fairfield Halls.
In his speech Mayor Marcouch paid tribute to ‘our heroes’ – the thousands who lost their lives in the Battle of Arnhem in 1944, when Allied paratroopers –including those from Croydon – bravely attempted to liberate the town through Operation Market Garden.
Mayor Marcouch said: “It is truly an honour for me to be here and attend the reopening of the Arnhem Foyer. It is hard to describe how grateful we are for their support and I cannot stress enough how important this connection between Croydon and Arnhem still is, even today. Croydon also was bombed and had to be rebuilt.
“The connection our cities is deeply emotional and deeply felt. I am excited and to see and hear about the cultural activities that will take place in the Arnhem Foyer.”
“Our shared history and our relationship with our twin town continues to be incredibly important to us, and I’m delighted that their Mayor has been able to join us at this special time, as we look to our borough’s future. It’s particularly fitting that the Arnhem Foyer has been named in honour of this special relationship as it will be a place of opportunity for generations to come.”
Councillor Humayun Kabir, Mayor of Croydon