Barnsley is twinned with two communities - the German town of Schwabisch Gmund and Horlivka, also known by Gorlovka, in Ukraine.
Town twinning is a special friendship agreement between two communities, in different countries, supported by both local councils. Twinned communities organise projects and activities, such as exchange visits, that help them understand their historical and cultural similarities and differences.
There are more than 30,000 town twinning links between communities from different parts of Europe and beyond. Visit the European Commission website for more information.
Schwabisch Gmund is the second largest town in East Wurttemberg, part of the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg. It lies on the River Rems and is about 50km from the state capital, Stuttgart.
The town is over 800 years old and is famous for its gold and silver handicrafts, as well as its world renowned Research Institute for Precious Metals and Metal Chemistry (FEM).
Barnsley's twinning link with Schwabisch Gmund was established almost by accident in 1954. Local councillor Guido Bruhi was planning to take a group of young Germans to South Wales, but an outbreak of foot and mouth disease threw their plans into chaos. When the late Barnsley councillor Arthur Williams heard about the group's situation he invited the party to stay at Scout Dyke, with the council's support. This remarkable act of comradeship was the foundation of our link.
Several years of successful exchange visits followed but an official town twinning link wasn't established until 1971, when Barnsley's then mayor and mayoress, Alderman Theodore Hinchcliffe and his wife, made the first official visit to Schwabisch Gmund on the borough's behalf.
Since then groups from both communities, ranging from bands and choirs to sports men and women, have visited each other regularly. The twinning proved so successful that in 1978 the 'Barnsley Schwabisch Gmund Society' was formed, to further friendly links between the two communities.
Horlivka, also known by Gorlovka, is a large mining town in eastern Ukraine, in the Donetsk city region. It was founded in 1867 by Pyotr Gorlov as a small group of mining camps, but grew much bigger during the 1930s.
Barnsley's friendship with Horlivka goes back to the height of the Cold War when, in May 1956, a delegation of miners from Yorkshire briefly stayed in the town during a study tour of the Soviet Union. Similar visits took place in 1972 and in 1984, when the delegation included the late Ron Rigby, former Leader of Barnsley Council. During this visit Barnsley Council agreed in principle to twin with Horlivka.
In 1987 the then Mayor Elect, Councillor Roy Warden, visited Horlivka and signed the official town twinning agreement, followed by a similar ceremony in Barnsley in 1988. Several exchange visits have since taken place, allowing the two communities to share useful information and knowledge.
One of Horlivka's most famous sons is the Cosmonaut Alexander Volkov and, in 1998, Comrade Volkov took Barnsley Chronicle character Sam Barn into space, as the then mascot for the Mir Space Station.