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Highly picturesque, Berwick is the northernmost town in England, Steeped in history, and fascinating to explore on foot. It is built mainly of stone in grey to pinkish brown. The harbour has swans. The town is piled upon a peninsula at the mouth of the Tweed and it faces the river, rather than the sea. Three great bridges connect it with Tweedmouth on the south side of the estuary: the low stone bridge with 15 arches of varying height and width, completed in 1634; the 1928 concrete span known as the Royal Tweed which has just had a recent facelift and the railway’s Royal Border with its 28 soaring arches, completed in 1850. The town is an entrancing sight from the Tweedmouth bank or the railway bridge. Tweedmouth keeps a feast on the Sunday after 18th July honouring St Boisil, a Saxon holy Man to whom the present St Bartholomew’s Church (1783) was dedicated at its founding in 1143. Today the ‘salmon queen’s’ coronation opens a week of events

 

Here is a picture of the
town's 'Old Bridge' as
seen from the Tweedmouth
side of the River Tweed.

The Town Hall (Guildhall)
stands proudly in background

 

 

Photograph by Colin Thompson

Berwick’s well-worn appearance seems to suit its historical role as a buffer town. It was an important trading centre and international port. The town captured or sacked 13 times before 1482. when it was finally made English. Until 1746 Berwick had a special status as a free borough and was mentioned separately in Acts of Parliament. (So far as records had shown, it was still at war with Russia in the Crimea, having been specifically listed as declaring hostilities in 1854 and having been left out of the 1856 Peace Treaty.)

Berwick was part of the ransom paid by the captured William the Lion of Scotland to Henry II in 1147. It was sold to the Scots by Richard I to get money for his Crusade. I t was destroyed in 1216 by King John in person. When William Wallace (Braveheart) was executed in 1305 in London, one quarter of him was displayed here as a warning to other rebels. I can only assume that the Wallace green was named after him The Countess of Buchan, who had crowned Robert Bruce King of Scotland, was caged for six years in the castle yard from1306.

Berwick has had two sets of protecting walls and the remains of the later ones give visitors their most interesting circuit of the town. The first walls were completed in the reign of Edward II and little is left of them. The town was then fortified by Elizabeth I, starting in 1558, on the new Italian design with great emphasis on effective use of artillery. The walls cost a staggering 128,648 and were the most expensive undertaking of the Elizabethan period. The Berwick walls are the only example of this style in Britain and among the earliest of the type in Europe. Three of the projecting bastions, shaped like flat arrowheads, remain. Cowport is the only surviving original gate. The high ramparts of earth and stone include Meg’s Mount with its superb view of the town, the river and the sea

Berwick upon Tweed

The Historical Walled Town

 

If you look carefully at this picture
you can see the remains of Berwick castle
to the left. It is dwarfed by The Royal
Border Railway Bridge. A bridge which
was built using the stone from a once great
castle. There is a nice walk from the town, up
the river to the castle remains.

 

Photograph by Stuart Brown

 

In the late 18th century the medieval riverside walls were rebuilt with gun emplacements overlooking the river mouth. Most of the old guns were turned into scrap for World War II. A walk along the Quay Walls passes some interesting-looking buildings, and the Customs House.

The Guildhall, built in the 1750s, is possibly the most handsome building, facing and dominating broad Marygate. Of rich brown stone in a Classical design, it has a grand portico with giant Tuscan columns and a tall spire. The bells ring for Holy Trinity Church as well as the curfew. The top floor used to be a jail and prisoners were aired on the balcony round the roof. The restoration of the hall reinstated the buttermarket in the colonnaded rear ground floor and brought in a coffee-bar and small shop

Photo of the Town Hall (Guildhall), at
night looking down the main street (Marygate)
Photograph taken from the Scotsgate part
of the Elizabethan Wall

 

 

 

 

Photograph by Colin Thompson

 

The Barracks were built between 1717 and 1721 in response to town objections to billeting soldiers in public houses. Their design is attributed to Vanbrugh. They contain the museum of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, which is open to the public.

Little is left of the ancient castle. Except for a small ruin of the watch-tower on the riverside near the railway bridge and a length of wall which guarded a flight of steps up the steep bank. Much of the castle stone went into the railway bridge and the station occupies the castle site

Berwick stands at the lowest crossing point of the Tweed. The first road bridge, known today as the 'Old Bridge' was built between 1611 and 1634. The dominating Royal Border Bridge was completed in 1850. Designed by the famous Robert Stephenson, it is one of the finest railway viaductsin the world. The concrete 'New Bridge' was built in 1928 and was the longest concrete bridge of its time.


This picture shows the three
famous bridges of the town.
Begining with
1.The small Old Bridge
2. The concrete New Bridge
3. The tall Royal Border Railway Bridge


Photograph by Colin Thompson

                            

 

Berwick has a market day twice weekly, on a Saturday and Wednesday. It is held in the Marygate in front of the Guild Hall where  stallholders come from as far as Newcastle to sell their goods

Berwick cockles are an old-fashioned peppermint sweet which are still being manufactured down the West street.

Berwick can be used as a central point for visiting other places of history and interest

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