1995, the Sevenoaks Town Council received an approach from Rheinbach
about forming a friendship link.
Council-backed open meeting, a Steering Group for 'Friends
of Rheinbach' was
formed, and first met in November 1995. Early visitors to Rheinbach,
including the then Town Mayor, felt that a link with Rheinbach would
be of mutual benefit, and further visits, in both directions, were
arranged. After an active year we held our first Annual General
Meeting in November 1996 and
Group and individual visits continued, including exchanges of musical groups - for example, the Lydian Orchestra helped to celebrate the 700th Anniversary of Rheinbach's incorporation. We also arranged work experience for a few students each year. On 13 December, 1999, both Sevenoaks Town Council and the Council of Stadt Rheinbach resolved to enter into a twinning agreement. This was formalised in ceremonies in Sevenoaks in June, 2000, and in Rheinbach in May, 2001. Charters in both languages now grace the respective Council offices.
So, what and where is Rheinbach? It is a small, pleasant modern town with some earlier features - the attractive inner town has many striking half-timbered buildings, and the remains of a castle. It is a commuter town for Bonn and Cologne. It lies in agricultural environs but includes, on its outskirts, significant and growing industrial and commercial areas. Its population, taking into account the surrounding villages, is about 30,000.
Rheinbach has three grammar schools, a music school, a College of Technology, and a superb sport centre. It is well-known for its glass industry, including a major training facility. Glassmakers from Bohemia moved to Rheinbach in 1945. That connection has been revived, and in 2003 Rheinbach formally twinned with Kamenický enov, formerly Steinschönau.
Rheinbach lies on the A61 autobahn, between the Rhein and the Eifel. It is an easy motorway drive from Calais which, if you use the Tunnel, means a relaxed 500Km trip from Sevenoaks. Or, of course, there are now cheap flights from Gatwick to Bonn/Cologne airport. Here is a route to Rheinbach.
Bonn is about as far away from Rheinbach as Maidstone is from Sevenoaks. From Sevenoaks, you might expect to take visitors to Canterbury or Brighton, or anywhere in between. On the same sort of scale, from Rheinbach you could visit the Rhein from Cologne to Koblenz - and from Koblenz you could take a boat trip up the Rhein gorge with its many castles. You could try the picturesque Ahr Valley, with its rather drier wines; or the volcanic lake and abbey at Maria-Laach; Bad Munstereifel with its Roman wall; and much of the Eifel - not forgetting Phantasialand at Brühl for the youngsters. Cochem, Alf and Zell are wine towns on the Mosel, about forty miles away.
Are you finding this of interest? Why? Because you think European? Because you're making things and want to expand abroad? Because you enjoy wine or you're interested in languages? Because you'd like your choir or music group to exchange live performances? Because you're learning German and would like experience in the country? 'Freunde von Sevenoaks', our partner organisation in Rheinbach, is interested in all of these activities, as are we. They have promoted the link at a variety of events and in a number of ways - including an English tea-shop and the provision of a full English breakfast. We have enjoyed the Spring Market in Rheinbach more than once, and have been able to visit the Christmas Markets in Rheinbach, Cologne and Bonn.
Both Freunde von Sevenoaks and Friends of Rheinbach exist to promote contact at as many levels as possible - between individuals, families, schools, associations, clubs, interest groups of all kinds, companies, trade organisations - if we might be able to help, talk to us. And if your German is rusty, or you don't have any? - it doesn't matter! There are enough bi-lingual people at both ends to smooth out any difficulties, and difficulties are likely to be few. We also arrange a few occasions each year just for our members to meet together and socialise.
The connection with Rheinbach is open-ended. If you want links with people in Germany, come and join us, and let's see what we can do together. You can make initial contact via the Contact us page on this website.
The constitution of the Friends of Rheinbach can be found Here .
A brief account of our activities over the twenty one years 1995-2016 can be found Here.
We are the twinning association between Sevenoaks In Kent, England and the town of Rheinbach in Germany.
We serve to share friendship and cultural understanding between the towns.