Taunton has been officially twinned with the German town of Königslutter, in Lower Saxony since 1992. However, when the two groups, The Friends of Königslutter and The Friends of Taunton, came together in May 2017 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Twinning, members were stunned to learn that the towns had ‘twinned’ in 1949.
Arnulf Baumann, Past Chair of the Friends of Taunton was approached by a lady from Frankfurt, Ursula Ernst, who wished to join the Anniversary visit to Taunton. Arnulf was puzzled as to why a resident of Frankfurt would wish to join the Königslutter Twinning Group.
Arnulf investigated further, and discovered that Ursula, as a child had lived in Königslutter. As a young girl of thirteen, in 1949, she had been sent to Taunton, on a three month ‘twinning’ visit. The trip had been organized by a workplace charity in Brunswick, a childrens care organization. The project was known as “kindertransport” or “childsending”. Children from Königslutter, Schöningen and Büddenstedt, were, sent to the UK to enjoy a relaxing break, make new friends, and develop international understanding. Exactly the same aims of today’s ‘modern’ twinning groups.
Arnulf has been unable to discover why Ursula was sent to Taunton. Ursula could remember arriving at Bishops Lydeard Station, where she was met by the Dinwoody family, who took her into their home in Colin Street, Taunton.
Ursula joined the Königslutter Twinning visit in May, staying with FoK Hosts, Angela & Ken Winter. Angela & Ken were eager to help Ursula retrace her steps in Taunton. They went to Bishops Lydeard Railway Station. Ursula didn’t recognize it, until Angela recalled that the Main Entrance had been changed since 1949. Having found the original entrance, Ursula soon got her bearings and remembered arriving and meeting her new family. Ursula was also taken to Colin Road. They were fortunate enough to meet the current owner of the house where she stayed, who showed her round, and confirmed her memories of features which have since been changed.
Ursula recalled a close friendship with a young girl called Jennifer Mumford. Her hosts were unable to trace her during the Twinning visit. She has since been traced, and she and Ursula have been in touch. Jennifer said she had, only recently, been thinking about Ursula, and wondered what had become of her. She was amazed to hear from her friend after 68 years, and even more amazed to receive a German newspaper cutting with her photograph, taken in 1949.
Something has been ‘lost in translation’ Jennifer Mumford has become ‘my friend Tenniford’.
The Friends of Königslutter are fascinated by this story of an early twinning between Taunton and the German town, and would love to more. Does anyone in Taunton or Bishops Lydeard know any more about German children arriving here in 1949? If you do know anything please contact FoK member, Mary Hayward email@example.com. We would love to hear from you.