Geschichte der Städtepartnerschaft Dortmund-Leeds – Teil 2: 1969-2019


On the 2nd June 1969, the Lord Mayor of Leeds and the Oberbürgermeister of Dortmund signed a letter confirming the status of Leeds and Dortmund as „Twinned Cities“.

The IPA members of Leeds and Dortmund have a long history together since our first meeting in 1969.

The IPA of both Leeds and Dortmund have participated in every official organised twinning celebrations and have maintained a close friendly relationship since this time. This relationship has resulted in fast friendships and many private visits between the members of the organisation.

Am 2. Juni 1969 unterzeichneten der Oberbürgermeister von Leeds und der Oberbürgermeister von Dortmund ein Schreiben, in dem der Status von Leeds und Dortmund als „Partnerstädte“ bestätigt wurde.

Die IPA-Mitglieder von Leeds und Dortmund haben seit unserem ersten Treffen im Jahr 1969 eine lange gemeinsame Geschichte.

Die IPA von Leeds und Dortmund hat an allen offiziell organisierten Partnerschaftsfeiern teilgenommen und pflegt seit dieser Zeit eine enge freundschaftliche Beziehung. Aus dieser Beziehung sind schnelle Freundschaften und viele private Besuche zwischen den Mitgliedern der Organisation entstanden.

Some of the highlights /einige der Höhepunkte:

Leeds visit to „INKODO“ (Ein Kostümfest in Dortmund, jedes Jahr am letzten Wochenende im Januar)

Dortmund visit to Leeds 50th Anniversary Leeds/Dortmund Twinning

25th Anniversary of the twinning of Leeds and Dortmund
The Resigning of the charter in Leeds Civic Hall in 1995

On the Left is myself, Secretary of Leeds IPA Branch In the middle is Reinhardt Kappelmann, The President of Dortmund IPA branch On the right is Dennis Aldam who was Chairman of Leeds IPA Branch

Lord Mayor’s Partner City Cycle Ride

The Lord Mayor of Leeds is hosting a charity cycle ride to raise money for LOFFTY (Leeds Offers Fun For The Young). Forty keen cyclists wishing to experience what it’s like to ‘ride like a pro’ will take part in the six-day cycle starting in Leeds’  twin town of Dortmund, in Germany, before cycling to another of Leeds’ partner cities, Lille, in France. Cyclists will then return to the UK by taking an overnight ferry to Hull before riding to Leeds city centre alongside hundreds of other cyclists, where a grand reception will await them.

Leeds Offers Fun For The Young (LOFFTY) is a charity which aims to provide fun activities for young people in the city during and after school, at weekends and throughout the school holiday.s.

International Relations will be arranging for the cyclists civic reception with our twin city’s Mayors.

Library Exchange Partnership

October 1, 2018

The European Day of Languages was also a great occasion for us to open a new permanent display in the Information Centre of Leeds Central Library on the second floor. Anyone interested in learning more about Leeds’ partner cities can now find information, literature and travel guides about Lille, Dortmund, Siegen, Hangzhou, Brno and Durban in Leeds Central Library. The material displayed in the Partner City Collection was kindly sent to us by the library services of our partner cities and equally we have shared books about Leeds with them.

German Mayors join Leeds Remembrance Sunday events

This weekend the Mayor of our German partner cities of Dortmund and Siegen joined civic dignitaries and thousands of Leeds residents to mark 100 years since the Armistice, and to remember those who died in the 1st and 2nd world wars.

Mayor Mues of Siegen and Mayor Sierau of Dortmund both laid wreaths at the civic ceremony, alongside the Lord Mayor of Leeds and the Leeds Children’s Mayor.

Earlier in the weekend, Mayor Sierau visited John Charles Centre for Sport to learn about our inclusive sport provision, particularly our “This Girl Can” campaign and our extensive disability sports programme.

He was then joined by Mayor Mues at The Tetley contemporary art gallery where they began a tour of Leeds South Bank, sharing experiences of city centre regeneration, the importance of multi-modal transport infrastructure and lots of discussion around the opportunities for waterfront regeneration.

Youth for Peace and Democracy

May 8, 2018

The key aim of city partnerships is their contribution to international understanding and peace among nations. Where friendships grow between people of different countries there is no room for hatred, intolerance and warfare. This vision of peaceful co-existence has sparked many city twinnings after World War II – like the partnership between Leeds and the German city of Dortmund.

In 2018, 100 years after the end of World War I, Dortmund has invited youth groups from all its partner cities to participate in an International Youth Summit and join the city festival DortBUNT, a colourful celebration of tolerance and diversity. For seven days young people from Dortmund, Leeds, Amiens (France), Netanya (Israel), Novi Sad (Serbia), Rostov-on-Don (Russia) and Zwickau (Germany) have experienced Dortmund’s diversity first-hand, learned about different cultures and made friends with each other.

On 1st May, the visit started with the May Day events organised by the Federation of German Trade Unions where the young people could learn about the labour movement and the workers’ struggle for a solidary society that values their rights. During the following days, the young people explored Dortmund, learned more about the different partnerships with Dortmund’s twin cities, got to see a German high school from the inside and participated in the DortBUNT festival [bunt meaning colourful]. Sports also featured strongly in the programme Dortmund had pulled together for the young people and so international understanding grew in a match of volleyball and a visit to the Signal Iduna Park stadium, home of the football team BV Borussia Dortmund 09, which mentors children and young people to create a tolerant community free from racism and xenophobia – an idea inspired by the Leeds United Learning Centre.

50 Years Dortmund Leeds. What Connects Us – An online exhibition

Last October we celebrated 50 years of twinning with our German partner city of Dortmund with a host of activities that took place here in Leeds.

Unfortunately many of the planned visits and activities due to take place in May 2020 have been put on hold due to the Covid-19 crisis. But we’re still managing to celebrate with an online photo exhibition that celebrates our friendship.

The exhibition called 50 Years Dortmund Leeds. What Connects Us aims to celebrate and strengthen connections based on cultural similarities. Led by the Dortmund’s City Council and the artist association, Dortmunder Gruppe, the exhibition features a virtual collage made up of photographs from various artists and cultural professionals from Dortmund and Leeds. These images document visits, activities, projects, friendships and partnerships involving residents, institutions or associations from both cities.

How did Town Twinning between Dortmund and Leeds come about?

The beginnings of the partnership between Leeds and Dortmund date back to the end of 1949, when attempts were made to establish a relationship between the West Riding of Yorkshire and the administrative district of Arnsberg, two regions that were very similar in size, population, landscape and economic structure. The first town twinning ties were established in the following years by means of student and teacher exchanges. The town twinning gained decisive impetus through reciprocal visits by official delegations, such as the visit of the then Lord Mayor of Dortmund Dietrich Keuning to Leeds in 1957 and the return visit of Leeds’ Lord Mayor Joseph Hiley and other representatives in the same year.

Yet it was not until the International Culture Days held in Dortmund in 1961 that these encounters, which initially took place on the level of local politics, were gradually expanded to include the cultural, economic and private exchanges. This led to collaborations between students and teachers of the Werkkunstschule Dortmund and the Leeds College of Art, which also resulted in an artistic exchanges between painters, Pitt Moog and Eric Atkinson. Further cultural cooperation, meetings and youth exchanges took place in the following years, strengthening the Anglo-German ties.

It wasn’t until in 1969 that the twinning became officially recognised when on the 2 June the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Alderman Allan R. Bretherick, was presented with a written declaration by Dortmund’s Lord Mayor Heinrich Sondermann, in which the City Council of Dortmund “commits itself […] to cooperate with the City of Leeds to ensure a happy future for the people of both cities, a peaceful world and a united Europe”. A counterpart declaration was presented to Sondermann by Leeds City Council.

Celebrating our partnership with Dortmund through beer and art

As you will probably know by now, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of twinning between Leeds and Dortmund. There’s been lots of exciting activities taking place over the last few months to celebrate the special occasion. And one project has seen the two cities team up to celebrate our joint passion for art, collaboration and brewing.

Both Dortmund and Leeds city councils have supported Leeds based arts organisation East Street Arts to commission an artist from each city to design a limited edition beer mat that celebrates Leeds and Dortmund’s special partnership.

The winning design from Dortmund features the work of Dortmund based artist Sabine Held who believes art is the adhesive we need for a resilient and meaningful partnership. And representing Leeds, artist Tony Tomlin’s design combines the Dortmund and Leeds city crests, the eagle and the owl.

Sabine Held 

Sabine Held is an artist based in Dortmund and is part of the Dortmunder Gruppe, an arts collective who have been working with East Street Arts in Leeds since 2011.  

Commenting on her design Sabine said: “What connects the people of our two cities? What is the glue that holds the partnership together? Of course, such a partnership needs a suitable adhesive. It should create a resilient connection, so that the people of both cities stay in contact.

“For me, the passion for art is such a glue. And it has already proven itself. For years, it has ensured a connection between the two artists groups East Street Arts and the Dortmunder Gruppe, providing a wonderful opportunity to get to know artists from Leeds and to look at the world through their perspective.  

“The components of this unique adhesive are: curiosity, openness and interest. But Super-Art-Glue can do even more…Using the glue can help to widen your horizon, it can lead you to meet lots of nice people, and to see the world, through the contemplation of art, with different eyes.

“Of course you can also use other types of glue for further connections. Try Super-Music-Glue, Super-Sports-Glue, or Super-Having-a-drink-together-Glue.”

Below you can see some examples of Sabine’s other work Mixed Forest. 

Sabine uses the German saying ‘Er sieht den Wald vor lauter Bäumen nicht’ or Can’t see the wood for the trees’ in English. 

This saying means that you sometimes get lost in too many details and lose sight of ‘the whole thing’. Sabine starts with the question of whether it is possible for us to comprehend such a complex space as the forest. Can we dominate nature? Can we capture its complexity? 

In the series Mixed Forest Sabine works with the classic subject of the forest and transforms it into abstracted paintings. She doesn’t aim to reproduce the landscape, but the work begins in the forest itself, through pencil and charcoal sketches and colour studies. This on site documentation serves as starting points for the painting process back in the studio.

Tony Tomlin

East Street Arts have been working with artist Tony Tomlin for over ten years. A well-known character in Leeds, Tomlin’s prolific output could be described as Outsider Art. Using felt tips, biros, cardboard, and poster paint, Tony creates drawings on paper and canvas creating interweaving surreal and real narratives.

His work is often autobiographical, frank and funny. Street scenes in Chapeltown, conversations, wordplay, socialism, religion, identity, and the role art plays in his life are all regular themes in his work. 

Tony loves art education and improving his technical skill set. East Street Arts supports Tony with sessions at Union 105 in Chapeltown and he has enrolled in art courses from entry level to higher education.

We are happy to introduce Tony’s beer mat- one of his ‘thumbnail’ drawings. Tony makes hundreds of these, reminiscent of comics or storyboards they capture ideas and create a small but vibrant window in to Tony Tomlin’s wonderful mind.

There is a film about Tony and his life in Chapeltown which there is a link to below. The story is told through the eyes of Tony’s friend, barber and first time film maker, Dave Peel.

Dortmund and Leeds International Police Association branches mark 50 years of partnership

June 3, 2019

Today, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Eileen Taylor, welcomed a visiting group of retired police officers from Leeds’ partner city of Dortmund. The visit formed part of celebrations taking place throughout 2019 to mark 50 years of twinning between Leeds and Dortmund.

Over 40 retired police officers from the Dortmund branch of the International Police Association (IPA), a global network of retired and serving police officers, along with their counterparts from the West Yorkshire IPA branch were hosted by the Lord Mayor at a reception held in the Civic Hall.

The cities two IPA branches have a longstanding relationship that dates back to the very start of the twinning process and has seen numerous exchanges between the two groups over the last 50 years.

Commenting on the event Lord Mayor, Councillor Eileen Taylor said: “This year is a very special year for our partnership with Dortmund, as we celebrate 50 years of twinning.

“The link between the two cities’ police officers has been one of the most active partnerships over the last 50 years.

“Over 40 retired officers travelled all the way from Germany via ferry and coach to be in Leeds today – a fantastic effort that underlines why the partnership between our two cities is still so strong 50 years later.”

Leeds Dortmund 50

Having heard from the Mayor of Dortmund about the Leeds-Dortmund partnership in an interview with BBC Radio Leeds, today’s guest blog is from Peter Spafford.  Peter is working on a literature project linked to the 50th anniversary of the city partnership, supported by Leeds 2023.

Many people in Leeds know about The Barrel Man in Dortmund Square. Apart from anything else, he’s been a well-used meeting place for years, Leeds’ answer to Eros in Piccadilly Circus. But the story of why The Barrel Man exists is not so well known.

This year, 2019, Leeds and Dortmund will have been twinned for 50 years. The Barrel Man statue was a gift from the city of Dortmund, a token of our ‘sisterhood’ (as the Germans call it) and an acknowledgement of our shared brewing heritage.

Photograph courtesy of Joanne Bradley

Twinning has faded in popular consciousness, though the reasons for setting up the scheme seemed obvious enough after the end of World War 2. ‘Modern town twinning’ (according to Wikipedia) ‘was conceived to foster friendship and understanding between different cultures and former foes as an act of peace and reconciliation’.

Leeds/Dortmund 50 is a celebration of our golden anniversary through the arts, particularly literature. Over the next 6 months, a series of exchanges between writers in Leeds and Dortmund will take place culminating in a weekend festival at Chapel FM and other venues in the city. Dortmund will hold a reciprocal festival in 2020.

The project grew out of a writing exchange I set up last year between myself and a Dortmund poet, Ralf Thenior. Writers in Transit has resulted in mutual visits to each other’s cities and a jointly written book which is being launched this month in Germany, and here in Leeds in March (see dates below).

Ralf and I never intended the momentum to stop with us, so we’re really excited that Leeds 2023 is supporting Leeds/Dortmund 50. This support will enable us to set up creative writing exchanges between primary school children, older people, university students, young people’s writing groups, and members of the thriving Anglo German clubs, as well as published poets and more established writers.

The celebration weekend on 6th and 7th October, timed to coincide with a series of official visits from Dortmund, will feature live performances from Chapel FM which will all be broadcast, thus enabling participants in Germany to be part of the celebration even if they cannot physically attend. There will also be interviews with people, in church groups, choirs, language societies, who have benefited from 50 years of peace and friendship between our two cities.

Leeds Dortmund 50 writing & music festival announces full schedule

September 20, 2019

The LD50 (Leeds/Dortmund 50) literature festival has announced an exciting schedule of music and literature events as part of Leeds’ 50th anniversary celebrations with the city of Dortmund.

With the anniversary celebrations just two weeks away, LD50 will celebrate the occasion with a festival of literature and music involving artists from both Leeds and Dortmund.

With the support of Leeds 2023, and led by Leeds, based writer Peter Spafford, LD50 has been in preparation for over 6 months, with over 70 writers of all ages involved from both cities.

The majority of the events will take place at Chapel FM Arts Centre in East Leeds with many  of them free (see highlights below). All the events will be broadcast live on East Leeds FM and you can listen again on

For the full schedule of events click here:

Commenting on the festival Peter Spafford said: “Since 1969, when The Barrel Man or Drayman statue was gifted to Leeds by Dortmund as a token of peace and friendship, all kinds of people have benefited from this ‘sisterhood’ of our two cities including language groups, theatre companies, scientists, students, school children, sports societies and choirs. In fact, the twinning of Leeds choir Harmony with Dortmund’s Florian Singers goes back all 50 years, with numerous visits and concerts and the Florians will be singing in Leeds during the anniversary celebrations.

But LD50 is as much about the future as the past. Those channels of friendship, deepening over half a century, are still open for new exchanges and projects between people from both cities of all ages and backgrounds. At a time when uptake of German language in schools is said to be falling, this would seem an opportune moment for celebrations like Leeds/Dortmund 50.”

As well as welcoming Dortmund writer Ursula Maria Wartmann to Leeds (thanks to DAAD) this October, LD50 will also be sending two writers to Dortmund in May next year. Watch this blog space for more information.

For radio interviews on “Fifty Years of Partnership between Leeds and Dortmund go to

Mayor of Dortmund visits Leeds to celebrate 50 years of partnership

October 15, 2019

Throughout the month of October, we’ve been celebrating the 50th anniversary of twinning between Leeds and our German partner city of Dortmund. And to cap off our celebrations, last week, we hosted a visiting delegation from Dortmund which included the Mayor, Manfred Sauer.

During the visit the delegation met with some of the organisations that have been cooperating with partners in Dortmund to celebrate the Golden Anniversary. This included East Street Arts who have been working with the Dortmunder Gruppe to produce two commemorative beer mat designs, celebrating our two cities’ passion for art and brewing (more info coming soon!).

The delegation also paid a visit to the fantastic new Quarry Hill campus to meet photography students from Leeds City College who had worked with their counterparts in Dortmund to produce 50 photos that explore the relationships between Dortmund and Leeds. The exhibition is still on show in the Quarry Hill reception area so make sure you don’t miss it!

And if that wasn’t enough, the delegation travelled to Chapel FM in East Leeds to find out more about the LD50 music and literature festival involving artists, writers and musicians from Leeds and Dortmund.

One important area of cooperation with Dortmund is linked to sharing best practice around urban development and this continued with a visit to the Climate Innovation District. Leeds based property developers, CITU, shared details about their award winning approach to sustainable property development which will see areas of the South Bank transformed over the next few years.

The University of Leeds also took part in the anniversary celebrations by hosting an event for the visiting delegation, and members of the German community living in the Leeds area, which centred on a research project led by Dr. Claudia Sternberg called Family Narratives of Being German in Yorkshire.

The visit to Leeds finished with a special event at the Civic Hall, hosted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Eileen Taylor, and the German Honorary Consul for Leeds and Manchester, Mark Green. This included a performance from the visiting Dortmund Choir, the Florian Singers, and the Leeds based Upper Harmony choir.

You can also check out all the photos from the following link:

Last year 2019, the cities of Leeds (UK) and Dortmund (Germany) had been twinned for 50 years. LD50 is a project that celebrates our golden anniversary, and our continuing close relationship, through the arts, particularly literature.

A series of exchanges between writers in Leeds and Dortmund will take place culminating in a weekend festival at ChapelFM Arts Centre and other venues across the city.

Click below to find out more, and to see some of the work being created.


This year, 2019, the cities of Leeds (UK) and Dortmund (Germany) will have been twinned for 50 years. Leeds/Dortmund 50 is a project that celebrates our golden anniversary through the arts, particularly writing.

This year, 2019, the cities of Leeds (UK) and Dortmund (Germany) will have been twinned for 50 years. Leeds/Dortmund 50 is a project that celebrates our golden anniversary through the arts, particularly writing.


Many people in Leeds know The Barrel Man in Dortmund Square. The statue was a gift from the city of Dortmund, a token of our ‘sisterhood’ and an acknowledgement of our shared brewing heritage.

The idea of town twinning, which took off after World War 2, was conceived to foster friendship and understanding between different cultures and former foes as an act of peace and reconciliation.

The notion of a literature festival to celebrate the relationship between Leeds and Dortmund grew out of a writing exchange (Writers in Transit) between poets Peter Spafford and Ralf Thenior, which has resulted in mutual visits to each other’s cities and a jointly written book, Reise-Gedanken/Road Markings.

Für weitere Informationen siehe:

Celebrating 50 years of partnership with Dortmund

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of twinning between Leeds and the German city of Dortmund. And to celebrate we’ve got an exciting programme of events lined up over the coming months which includes singing, writing and a prize giveaway for football fans!

Leeds’ partnership with Dortmund dates back to 1969, when, following the end of the Second World War, cities across Europe started to twin with each other to build peace and understanding between one another.

The longstanding link between the two cities has focused on cooperation, peace and citizenship. From choir groups to football fans, the partnership has brought together people from all areas of society. Strong links between the two cities still exist today and recent areas of cooperation include an education cultural project and sharing best practice around the redevelopment of Leeds Station and the Southbank.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, the Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake, and the Lord Mayor, Councillor Eileen Taylor will host an official delegation from Dortmund which will include the Lord Mayor of Dortmund, Ullrich Sierau. A programme of events will take place across two days between the 03 and 06 October.

But there’s lots of ways you can get involved in the celebrations too! More details of what’s coming up can be found below:

  • Photo exhibition – Students from Leeds City College and the UZWEI in Dortmund have been working together to produce 50 photos that reflect the true identity of their cities. The exhibition will go on show from the beginning of October in the Brodrick Exhibition Space at Leeds Town Hall
  • Choir performance – There has been a longstanding link between several choir groups from Dortmund and Leeds which dates back to the start of the twinning process. To celebrate this link a Dortmund choir group, the Florian Singers, will be performing alongside members of the former Leeds Girls’ Choir group at the Civic Hall on Saturday 05 October. Doors open at 19:30 with the performance kicking-off at 20:00
  • Writing project – With the support of Leeds 2023, Leeds based writer, Peter Spafford, has been working on a writing project, called LD50, which engages professional writers, school children, creative writing students and members of language clubs in both Dortmund and Leeds. The writing exchanges will culminate in a festival at the Chapel FM Arts centre between the 30 September-05 October. This will include an open mic event in which 30 Leeds writers will read specially written work on the theme of ‘Neighbourhood’ in a Live broadcast with Dortmund writers.
  • Signed Borussia Dortmund and Leeds United Football shirt competition – Leeds and Dortmund both have a rich footballing history so as part of our Golden Anniversary celebrations we are giving someone in Leeds the opportunity to win a signed Borussia Dortmund football shirt AND a signed Leeds United football shirt.