The Worshipful The Mayor of Boston, Councillor Richard Austin

The Worshipful The Mayor of Boston, Councillor Richard Austin, making the initial address at the first public meeting of the Boston Hanse Group

Seventy people attended the Hanse Group’s first open meeting, which was held at Boston Guildhall on 11 February. The Hanse Group has been formed in a bid to promote Boston’s history, create new international trade links and boost the town’s visitor economy. Boston Big Local is supporting the initiative by providing £3,000 of funding over the next three years.

Boston’s Hanseatic heritage stretches back to the 12th Century, when the town joined the league of merchants known as the Hansa, or Hanseatic League. At its trading peak, the Port of Boston was the second biggest port in Great Britain. Funding from Boston Big Local will be used to help raise awareness of this fascinating Hanseatic history. Promotional activities planned include the publication of a Merchants’ Trail leaflet to help visitors discover key historic sites in Boston.

The Hanse Group is chaired by Alison Fairman, who said: “The objectives of the Hanse Group are to encourage enterprise and provide opportunities for export and international trade. Promoting our local heritage and culture will also bring economic benefits to Boston.

“Another important benefit of this initiative is that it provides young people with a chance to develop new skills by getting involved in the Youth Hansa, an organisation that encourages young people from Hanseatic towns and cities to take part in meetings to exchange their views and experiences.”

The New Hanseatic League was formed in 1980 and boasts a network of 185 member towns. Each year, one town is chosen to host the Hanseatic Days, an event where representatives from the Hanseatic towns and cities can meet up to learn about trading opportunities.

This year the Hanseatic Days will be held between 9 and 12 June in Bergen, Norway. The event will include a market fair with stalls offering culture, food and information from visiting member towns; a street festival and performances; and a programme of cultural activities. The event will also provide a youth programme, and a business event in which Hanseatic towns and cities are invited to participate.

“Representatives from Boston will be going to the business event in Bergen,” Alison confirmed. “In addition, four young people, two from Boston College and two from Boston High School, will be in Bergen to take part in the Youth Hansa meetings. We are also considering having a stall with Kings Lynn from which we will be able to promote tourism in Boston and sell local food produce.”

Here in Boston, the Hanse Group is planning further open meetings, which local residents will be welcome to attend. The Hanse Group will also have a stall at Boston Market in May, where people will be able to find out more about the New Hanseatic League and learn about Boston’s historic heritage.

Photographs by Rachel Lauberts