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The Story of Schortens

Every city has its history and stories, so before looking at Schortens as it is now, let’s take a quick look over the past of our Frisian town!

The name “Schortens” was first mentioned in chronicles from 1158 that record the construction of the church of St. Stephanus. Constructed in 1153, this is the oldest church in Jeverland. It was built “high and dry” on top of the Geestland, which enabled the gradually expanding location to survive all of the catastrophic floods that followed unscathed.

In the Middle Ages, Schortens was the home of the Oestringer horse breed, which was world famous at the time. The town’s coat of arms also originates from this time and, like the coat of arms of Lower Saxony, it features a jumping horse. Horses continued to play a crucial role in the rest of the town’s history, for example, there was said to have been a “miracle horse” at the Oestringfelde cloisters estate that carried its owner, Jürgen Schemering, throughout the whole of Europe at the beginning of the 18th century.
More rapid settlement began in Schortens from the middle of the 19th century, stimulated by the completion of the Oldenburg – Jever road in 1837 and, 35 years later, the creation of a Sande – Heidmühle – Jever rail link. However, Schortens benefited most from the development of Wilhelmshaven at the end of the 19th century.

Rapid population expansion began in Schortens from 1946, when more than 4,000 refugees came to the town and surrounding areas. The expansion of the Olympia factory in the Roffhausen district of the city, just in front of the Wilhelmshaven gates, also contributed to increasing the number of inhabitants. In 1948 Schortens had around 8,100 inhabitants and, by 1955, this number had risen to 9,200 and was over the 10,000 mark by 1960. Following local government reorganisation, the communities of Schortens and Sillenstede merged together in 1972. Schortens is now home to nearly 21, 300 inhabitants, in an area spanning 69km2 and encompassing 12 districts.

Town, culture and sports intuitions

Schortens is a rural town with Heidmühle at its centre. In recent years it has worked intensively on developing and redesigning its centre, as part of an urban development programme.

The cultural focal point is the Bürgerhaus (community centre) in Heidmühle, which was built in 1987. It has a large hall that can be divided into smaller areas, plus a generously proportioned stage area. Every year it plays host to more than 300 events of all kinds – from theatre and cabaret to concerts and ballets. The flexibility of the hall ensures that small events are just as welcome here as nationally or internationally renowned artists. There are also numerous multi-purpose seminar rooms.

The Bürgerhaus is also home to the Stadtbücherei (town library). It is one of the most productive libraries in the north of Lower Saxony with 25,000 media units and over 81,000 media units loaned per year.

Schortens boasts institutions that can meet high educational and sports requirements. There is a branch of the Jever Mariengymnasium (grammar school) as well as secondary schools (Realschule and Hauptschule) and the town’s districts are served by seven good primary schools. Schools and sports clubs benefit from the five gymnasiums and three large sports halls. In addition to fitness centres and tennis courts, a large sports stadium with a synthetic running track has also been built at the school centre. The Wilhelmshaven golf club, with its 18-hole course has had its home in Schortens-Mennhausen, right next to the border with Wilhelmshaven, for a few years.

More than 100 clubs and organisations in the municipal area offer their members a variety of opportunities for development – from sports clubs, small animal breeding societies and marching bands to residents’ associations and youth organisations.
The churches in the districts of Sillenstede, Accum and Alt-Schortens are among some of the sights you can see. St.-Florian-Kirche (St. Florian’s church) in Sillenstede was built from granite blocks in 1233 and is the largest and most lavishly furnished church in Jeverland. The Evangelically Reformed church in Accum was built in around 1719. It is the home of the precious, black marble gravestone of the Chief Tido. St.-Stephanus-Kirche (the church of St. Stephanus) in Alt-Schortens was built in 1153, making this Romanesque building one of the oldest in Jeverland. The many-winged altar, dating from the early 16th century, is particularly interesting. It was returned to its former glory after extensive restoration work in spring 2001. The Catholic Dreifaltigkeitskirche (trinity church) with its impressive design and symbolism is also worthy of mention.

Accumer Mühle (Accum mill) is fascinating. It’s a working gallery windmill dating back to 1746. Several “leisure millers” are on hand to give interested guests an insight into how the mill works. The mill also boasts a bakery, where bread is made in the traditional way, as well as a listed barn that has been completely renovated by unemployed young people from Schortens. The renovated mill barn is used for cultural and festive events and, on special request, may provide a setting for civil wedding ceremonies.

Nature, countryside and the environment

Schortens has every right to consider itself a Frisian town that lives in and from the land. Natural areas, whether they are meadows, moors or woodland, are closely observed and tended and developed by specialists. The emphasis is on protection and care of trees and ecological measures in the countryside are financed by the town. Environmental sustainability tests are performed for each measure that is planned.

Schortens is a Regionale Umweltzentrum (RUZ) (regional environmental centre) site. RUZ is an environmental educational establishment that has its head office in Klosterpark, among other things, it provides environmental education for schools in Frisia and Wilhelmshaven. Klosterpark (with yew trees over 800 year old and cloister ruins), Forst Upjever, Barkeler Busch and Mettckersche Wald, with their extensive footpaths, are among the town’s recreation areas. Schortens is also home to the “Huntsteert” recreation area (approx. 8,000m2) that features a large fish pond and community-owned barn for small animal breeders.

In 1993, Schortens agreed on an ecological partnership with the Hungarian community of Nagybajom. This partnership is based on people and ideas in order to find and nurture people, thoughts and community spirit over many miles.

In 2004, a town-twinning agreement was concluded with Pieszyce/Peterswaldau in Poland to express the attachment many Schortens residents feel to their home in today’s Poland.

Living, business and leisure

The town always has accessible building land available on favourable terms for the construction of privately owned homes and rented apartments and for setting up commercial enterprises. The existing trading estates and the Technologie Centrum Nordwest (North West technology centre) that has been developed in Roffhausen provide good development opportunities for trade and industry. The TCN offers an excellent infrastructure with connections to the A 29 motorway to Oldenburg to companies who would like to move to the site of the former AEG Olympia factory in the Roffhausen district.

The Bundeswehr (armed forces) is a major employer in the region. Many of the town’s residents are in the German Navy (Wilhelmshaven).

The Aqua Toll pleasure pool with its 50m long slide, whirlpool, Roman steam baths and various pools attracts visitors from the whole of (east) Frisia and is a big part of the town’s recreational value. Schortens also offers its residents a natural open-air pool in an idyllic location, a bowling green, indoor and outdoor tennis courts and, as mentioned above, a golf course.

Institutions such as seven children’s nurseries, 46 play and football areas, a youth centre, a meeting place for residents, 98 flats for senior citizens and a care home for senior citizens complete what’s on offer for residents.

The town of Schortens has continued to develop thanks to forward-thinking decisions and would appeal to anyone who wants to live in an attractive town that offers lots of leisure activities and a good transport infrastructure.

The needs of the town’s people are taken into account in all decisions and development planning.

The council and administration see themselves as service providers with the on-going task of improving services for residents within the scope of their abilities.