Dusseldorf 75

Reading and Düsseldorf Celebrate 75 Years of Friendship

  • Reading will welcome The Lord Mayor of Düsseldorf, Oberbürgermeister Stephan Keller, and representatives from Düsseldorf City Council
  • The Mayor and the Oberbürgermeister will re-affirm the friendship link at a Civic meeting on Sunday afternoon

READING will mark the 75th anniversary of its friendship link with Düsseldorf this weekend with a series of special celebrations.

The link with the German city was instigated in 1947 after the Second World War by the then Mayor of Reading, Phoebe Cusden, and is now the oldest Anglo-German city friendship. 

This week, Reading Mayor Cllr Rachel Eden will welcome The Lord Mayor of Düsseldorf, Oberbürgermeister Stephan Keller, and representatives from the Düsseldorf City Council.

Among the planned festivities, The Mayor and the Oberbürgermeister will re-affirm the friendship link at a Civic meeting on Sunday afternoon, in front of members of the Reading Düsseldorf Association (RDA) and Reading and Düsseldorf Churches Interchange, representatives from the groups in Reading who currently carry out twinning exchanges, and guests from Düsseldorf itself who have travelled to Reading for the weekend. In addition, Phoebe’s grandson, Richard Thom, will be attending the event.

There will also be an opportunity to view a new photo exhibition at Central Library in honour of the occasion. Entitled ‘Dorf & Ding’, and collated by local photographer and historian, Chris Forsey, this exhibition focuses on the iconic ‘Cartwheeling Boys’ sculpture which was sadly damaged in the recent storm Eunice.

‘Dorf and Ding’ features many striking vistas of Reading and Düsseldorf from Chris’ own photos, and many from the RDA archive.

In addition, the ‘Head Over Heels’ display by the RDA is being hosted in Reading Museum, charting the history of the twinning links with Düsseldorf.

Head over Heels exhibition

Cllr Rachel Eden, Mayor of Reading, said:

I'm very much looking forward to welcoming friends from Düsseldorf back to Reading for this special celebration.

“At seventy-five years our friendship with the city of Düsseldorf is one of the longest standing between British and German communities. The links were forged following the devastation of the second world war and reflected the strong desire of our Mayor at the time Pheobe Cusden for reconciliation but over the years the relationship has only strengthened. 

"It’s a testimony to the work done by the Reading-Düsseldorf Association and to the many organisations and individuals who have formed friendships. I'm also very grateful to the city of Düsseldorf for their real commitment and desire for friendship with Reading. 

I hope this weekend will be an opportunity to remind everyone of the brilliant opportunities for international links our friendship with Düsseldorf brings".

Cllr Jason Brock, Leader of the Council, said:

“Our close friendship with Düsseldorf was forged after Reading came to their aid following the second world war, and our willingness to support people caught up in conflict was repeated once again more recently with the welcome and support the town is providing to Ukrainian nationals fleeing conflict in Europe.

“Over the last 75 years, hundreds and hundreds of people in both Düsseldorf and Reading have been enriched by these links. We’ve learned about other people’s way of life, which has strengthened our understanding of each other. It’s so important we hold on to this as we look to the future.”


Notes to editors

Notes to editors:

The friendship between Reading and Düsseldorf started after the Second World War in 1947. Major General Jack Collins, Colonel of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, was stationed in the Rhineland and appealed to councils in Berkshire to adopt and aid towns of the Rhineland devastated by heavy bombing.

Phoebe Cusden, the then Mayor of Reading, travelled to Düsseldorf to see the situation for herself. On her return, she rallied support from residents and arranged food parcels clothing and toys to go to the area. She also arranged for friends to offer hospitality for three months to an undernourished Düsseldorf child and the following year, 25 children came to Reading and 60 children went to Düsseldorf that summer.

These regular exchanges have continued right up to today and are supported by the Reading Düsseldorf Association, which has been in existence since 1948.