Exhibition celebrates 50 years of Cleethorpes' twinning with Königswinter

Fifty years of twinning between Cleethorpes and Königswinter - a wealth of history
-Credit: (Image: LDR)


An exhibition at Cleethorpes Town Hall has celebrated 50 years of the coastal resort's twinning with a German riverside resort.

Cleethorpes became twinned with Königswinter in west Germany in 1974. As well as a visit by a delegation from Königswinter on July 12-15, an exhibition is being held this week, looking at the history of the twinning.

Copies of the first correspondence between representatives of each town, newspaper clippings, photographs of visits, and information about Königswinter features. There are also take home recipes for the likes of German cheesecake and Gurkensalat , German cucumber salad.

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The star element, though, are several first-hand experiences of the first cultural and school exchanges between the towns. This includes Cleethorpes area pupils who visited the German town in 1975.

Well over 20 people reached out to share their memories, after an appeal partly through the Grimsby Live. "There's not many, I'm told by the Foreign Office, local authorities that have got an active twinning with a town in Europe still active after 50 years," said Cllr Keith Brookes, chair of Cleethorpes Charter Trustees.

Each town hall has a room named after its twin. "This remains like this all the time and it's well used for meetings of the council," said Cllr Brookes, as he showed the Königswinter Room at Cleethorpes Town Hall. Pictures of past visits and burgermeisters of the German resort adorn it, and a stack of files in one corner highlighted the archives of the 50-year twinning.

Königswinter Room, Cleethorpes Town Hall - the sturdy files on the table are archives of the twinning between the towns
Königswinter Room, Cleethorpes Town Hall - the sturdy files on the table are archives of the twinning between the towns -Credit:LDR

Cllr Brookes explained the twinning came at a time when it was popular to do so, as links were forged across the country at a local level, with European towns, particularly in West Germany. "After a war, you want to make sure it never happens again, you want to build those friendships and relationships."

Experiences of some of the first exchanges include former teachers, a member of Grimsby, Cleethorpes and District Youth Orchestra and school pupils.

"I've heard now that some of those families that did exchange have now had children and they're in touch with their children," said Cllr Brookes. "It's really gratifying to us," he said of the experiences shared. "It shows it was worth doing."

"Cleethorpes especially has forged pretty strong relationships with Königswinter, and we've carried it through," said Sandra Reffell, clerk to the Cleethorpes Charter trustees. Detail about Königswinter includes its Winterfest in October which finishes with the "ceremony of the order against excruciating thirst".

The shared memories of pupil exchanges in the exhibition stand out - including a marriage that would never have happened without one exchange
The shared memories of pupil exchanges in the exhibition stand out - including a marriage that would never have happened without one exchange -Credit:LDR

The exhibition started today and is also open on Thursday, May 30, from 10am to 2pm. Among councillors to visit was Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Cllr Steve Beasant.

"Things like twinning are very important, not just for Cleethorpes but obviously Königswinter and many other towns up and down the country. We learn more about their culture and heritage," he added. "Credit due to everybody who's been involved in that process.

"To be honest, it's absolutely marvellous that we continue it and we need to continue it for the good of both towns."

The school exchanges ceased around the Millennium, with a major stumbling block being criminal checks legally required on the UK side.

In an adjacent room to the twinning exhibition is a display by Grimsby, Cleethorpes and District Civic Society. The non-political organisation is focused on community pride, particularly preservation and promotion of heritage. This includes donating to the Weelsby Woods lion's restoration.

"The Civic Society is there to give people a voice," said Malcolm Morland, also a councillor. It hosts talks throughout the year, free for its members who pay £15 a year, and is keen to hear from schools and interested young people. More society details can be found here.