Ipswich could get new twin

IPSWICH is considering twinning itself with the American town which, partially thanks to a ship's captain from Otley, became the country's first permanent English-speaking colony.

IPSWICH is considering twinning itself with the American town which, partially thanks to a ship's captain from Otley, became the country's first permanent English-speaking colony.

Jamestown, which was once the capital of Virginia in the US, has approached Ipswich with the suggestion that the two towns develop a formal relationship as twin towns.

Ipswich is now considering sending a delegation to Virginia in December when the idea will be properly considered.

Richard Atkins, an Ipswich borough councillor who has been involved in the initial talks, said: “We have received an invitation from them to attend a meeting in December, during the anniversary of the sailing.

“We're keen to do it. It's a huge possible boost to tourism in the area.”

Ipswich is already twinned with Arras in northern France but the possible link with Jamestown is viewed as opportunity for the town because of the sizeable tourism bonuses which a link to the US market would deliver.

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The towns are connected in the history books because captain Bartholomew Gosnold, who was born at Otley Hall, was at the helm of the Godspeed, one of three ships which embarked in 1606 on an expedition to establish a settlement in America.

They landed in June the following year and founded Jamestown, the first permanent English-speaking settlement on US soil.

Jamestown is gearing up for the 400th anniversary of the sailings and, according to Mr Atkins, the organisers want to formalise its links with Ipswich as part of those celebrations.

He said: “They want to let people know it was the colony in Virginia that started it all.”

Among the ideas already being proposed are twin statues which would be erected in both towns to recognise the union.

There are also suggestions the statues could have live-feed webcams which would enable residents of both towns to watch what is happening in the other town and to hold conversations with those on the other side of the Atlantic.

Mr Atkins said: “The hope is we would be able to commission a statue and there would be two castings, one for them and one for us.”

Already the Rotary Clubs of James City and Yorktown, Virginia, have made links with Rotary Clubs in Ipswich and a delegation of 38 members from the US visited Ipswich in June to kick-off the new friendship.

In January, travel agents from throughout the US visited Otley Hall to see first-hand the links with the origins of Jamestown.

Ipswich Borough Council is keen to test the idea on Ipswich residents to see if they support a formal link with the American city.

If it gets their backing, the union could be formalised next year with a delegation from Ipswich visiting Jamestown. A delegation from James City County would then visit Ipswich to witness the formal acceptance of twin town status.

Weblinks: www.james-city.va.us; www.jamestown2007.org; www.ipswich.gov.uk

N Jamestown was established in 1607 by a group of settlers from England.

N Both the river and the town were named after King James I who had recently taken the thrown in England.

N Jamestown will celebrate what it is calling America's 400 year anniversary with a big festival called Jamestown 2007.

N Jamestown Settlement is now famous as a living history museum because it is the first permanent English settlement which still survives in America.

N There is a statue of John Smith, one of the founders of the colony in Jamestown.

N There is also one of Pocahontas a famous native American who is believed to have saved John Smith's life before marrying another settler and converted to Christianity.

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