Pork pies help build civic links with Muslim town

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A Wiltshire town most famous for producing pork pies has become the first ever in Britain to be twinned with a Muslim Arab town.

Trowbridge, with a population of 30,000 and home of the Bowyer pork pie, has teamed up with Oujda in eastern Morocco, population 500,000.

The Wiltshire town is home to the largest Moroccan population in Britain outside London. Many of the 80 Moroccan families in Trowbridge originate from Oujda, and came to the town in 1960s to work for Bowyers and the bed manufacturer Airsprung.

The idea for the twinning was first broached by the Moroccan Community Association in 2005. The twinning charter between the two towns was finalised last week when a Moroccan delegation visited Trowbridge for the first time.

"I think they liked it," said Trowbridge's Moroccan partnership steering group chairman, Bob Brice. "We took them to Longleat House and the Safari Park, where we showed them the African lions – which they enjoyed. One of the delegates was an architect and he was very fond of our old, well-kept buildings." Mr Brice hopes the twinning will show the rest of Britain how Muslim, Christian and other local communities can get on.

"Here in Trowbridge, we lived side- by-side for many years without any problems, but we hope this project will make integration easier for those in the Moroccan community who have not participated before, and make them feel even more at home here," he said.