School of Modern Languages

History

History

Alliance Française de Newcastle Upon Tyne was founded in 1941 as a means to unite the British and Free French war effort in the region. It helped to spread an understanding of the French position after the defeat of 1940.

The Alliance Française had left occupied France to join the Free French in London, which became its temporary headquarters.

The first Minutes Book records that five founding members (Madame Delacourcelle, Mrs Hume, Miss Ridley, Mr Wilson and Mr Tripp) met as a Bureau provisoire on 20 February 1941.

They organised an inaugural meeting of the Newcastle Alliance on 14 March 1941 in the News Theatre lecture room (now the Tyneside Cinema) in the presence of the President of the British Federation of Alliance Française, M. Pierre de Malglaive, and its General Secretary, Mlle Yvonne Salmon.

78 people joined. Monthly talks in French and social meetings began.

Letter from future president Charles de Gaulle

On the anniversary of the first meeting, correspondence from General de Gaulle was received. A letter (received in 1942) and telegram (received in 1943) are in the association’s archives. They congratulate the local association on its work.

At the first annual general meeting, on 12 June 1942, the statutes of the Newcastle upon Tyne Committee of Alliance Française were ratified.

The provisional President, Mr Alan F. Wilson, was replaced by Mr T M Grant and the Secretary, Madame Doris Delacourcelle, was re-elected.

Lord and Lady Eustace Percy became Présidents d'honneur. Small conversation classes were begun and funds were collected to help the Free French.

A telegram sent to the Newcastle Branch of Alliance Française in the 1940s.
The telegram from General de Gaulle, 1943.

The association has been in constant operation from its foundation to the present day. Twice, in 1950 and in 1991, it hosted the annual conference of the British Federation of AF committees.

Revolution celebration

The 4 July 1989 was a proud moment in our reflection and celebration of France in Newcastle. We commemorated the bicentenary of the French Revolution with a parade of school children (West Jesmond Primary) in costume around the centre of Newcastle.

Its statutes were updated and brought into line with the Alliance Française de Paris policy with the advice of le délégué général du Royaume-Uni, M Michel Hospital, in the early 1990s.

They were then further modified at the local Assemblée Générale of 23 April 1998, with the advice and in the presence of M Pierre Labbe, the délégué général de l'Alliance Française au Royaume-Uni.

Awards

The Newcastle association received two awards at the 2003 British Federation AGM. One was for the best collaborative event (the University Public Lecture) and one for the most informative website among the non-teaching 'Cercles'.

In 2012 the new statutes of the Newcastle committee were submitted to the new governing body, the Fondation Alliance Française.

On 7 July 2015 Monsieur Jérôme Clément sent us a letter from the Fondation Alliance Française, Paris, via M. Xavier Lavry, Délégué général, to inform us that the new statutes had been approved.