The Bristol Bordeaux Partnership was formed in December 2013, building on the foundations of the previous Bristol-Bordeaux Association.
The Bristol-Bordeaux Association was founded in 1947 with the aim of promoting educational, economic and cultural links between the two cities. Inspired by a deep desire to contribute to a peaceful world after the war, two friends, Professors William McCausland Stewart from Bristol and Jean Loiseau from Bordeaux, suggested a linking of the two ‘capitals of the South-West’.
Both civic authorities keenly supported the idea, signing the official twinning charter in 1947. The first schools exchange – with just 27 pupils and two teachers from Fairfield Grammar School – took place in the same year, and, with numbers increasing each year, peaked at over a thousand participants in the late 1970s.
Over the years, thousands of young people have enjoyed their first experience of a language and culture different from their own, with strong friendships forged, some lasting a lifetime. Members included not only individuals but also professional bodies, such as the Post Office, Avon and Somerset Police Constabulary and the Fire Service. Social events such as wine tasting, lectures and informal meals were arranged, as were choir tours and art, sporting and nautical exchanges.
The Bristol-Bordeaux Association always maintained close contact with its Bordeaux counterpart, ‘l’Association Bordeaux Bristol’, as both cities sought to celebrate their maritime, commercial and industrial traditions, encouraging economic development and business cooperation.
In recent years, the Association also initiated the annual ‘mini-assistants’ scheme, where student teachers from Bordeaux encourage the learning of French in Bristol primary schools – also ‘la Route des Vins’, when business students from Bordeaux sail from Bordeaux with a shipload of wine, which they then auction in Bristol, in aid of two charities – one British, one French.
The Bristol-Bordeaux Association became a Trust in 2012 and the newly formed Bristol Bordeaux Partnership seeks to perpetuate the original aims of the Association – to promote understanding, friendship and cooperation between this country and France and to encourage the educational, commercial and cultural links between Bristol and Bordeaux.