Decorative ceremonial walking stick presented to the former Mayor of Barking and Dagenham, Jack Thomas and his wife Maisie by the former Mayor of Witten, c.1991. Is a reproduction of the one used as a badge of rank in the coalmines in the Town od Witten. Possibly presented by the then Burgermeister of Witten, Klaus Lohmann. Barking and Dagenham and Witten were first linked in 1947 when Dagenham youth leaders Phoebe Kirk and Arthur Durrant invited German prisoners-of-war from the Harold Wood camp to social events at Kingsley Hall. This initial contact inspired Mrs Kirk to instigate regular exchange trips for young people between the borough and Germany. Witten, an industrial town on the river Ruhr was seen as a suitable twin. Witten lies on the outskirts of Dusseldorf as Barking and Dagenham does to London and is surrounded by countryside dominated by forests, hills and woods of the upper Ruhr Valley. The town grew as a coalmining community and although the mines are now defunct. The town suffered badly in WWII, about 80% of the houses were destroyed by bombs. The official twinning document, which saw the launch of the Witten Club, was signed by both towns in 1979, with the intention of expanding the benefits of the twinning to all members of the communities. Witten's Burgermeister (mayor) Klaus Lohmann (1984 – post 1998) stayed with Mrs Kirk in her Dagenham home as a youngster as part of the exchange scheme.
Wooden walking stick with a decorated brass handle. The handle has a curved point and is decorated with scene of coal mining in progress. One side shows figures hammering the coal and pushing cars full of coal, and the other side shows the machinery used to lift the coal to the surface. The wooden stick is slightly tapered and has a brass foot.
Whole length: 1000mm
Stick Diameter: 23mm
Handle width: 105mm
Axe head: Brass
Axe Foot: Brass
Entry Number 1677/2 (2007-01-19)