Political and business leaders have welcomed German officials for a visit they hope will help to renew West Norfolk’s historic overseas trade links.
Members of the Hanseatic League arrived in Lynn on Wednesday for talks with borough council chiefs and traders’ representatives over ways in which the league’s historic ties can help to generate economic growth now.
West Norfolk Council officers believe it is the first visit of its kind by a modern league member to specifically promote trade alliances.
And the council’s leader, Nick Daubney, hopes the area will be able to cash in on the development.
He said: “King’s Lynn has been built on the historic power of the Hanseatic League, but it’s not just an important part of our heritage.
“I believe that with 182 member cities, spread across 16 countries, comprising a market of approximately 25 million people and two million businesses, it offers real opportunities for modern trade.
“I’m keen to explore how it can help West Norfolk to prosper in the future.”
Mr Daubney has also been invited to attend a four-day gathering of league member towns and cities, known as the International Hansetag, in Herford, Germany this summer. The event will include a two-day trade conference.
Manfred Schürkamp, the Westphalian Hanseatic League’s manager, and Marion Kohn, the economic development manager for Herford City Council and project manager for the conference in June, met Mr Daubney and borough mayor Geoffrey Wareham at the town hall on Wednesday afternoon.
They then joined council chief executive Ray Harding to meet representatives of major companies operating in the area.
Yesterday, further discussions were held at Lynn’s Bishop’s Lynn House with officials including West Norfolk Chamber of Commerce president Heather Garrod and Pat Smith, of the UK Trade and Investment Partnership.
And Mr Daubney said he was “very excited” by the potential of the renewed link, which he believes may have come at the right time to overcome the continuing economic difficulties.
“I think we have all felt for some time that our membership of the Hanseatic League could be used to much bigger advantage.”
He added that the link would also enable companies to share innovative working practices, as well as generating additional sales in potential new markets.
As a historic League member during the Middle Ages, Lynn was considered to be one of England’s most important ports.
Dodging the numerous pirates that plagued the seas at the time, timber, furs, flax and honey were imported into England while cloth went in the other direction.
There are still two Hanseatic warehouses in the town, which are the only two League buildings left in the country.