Easting: 653080 Northing: 399760 Latitude:N55:46:16 Longitude: W2:00:19 Show Location Map
BERWICK-UPON-TWEED, TWEEDMOUTH and SPITTAL
The town of Berwick-upon-Tweed is the only part of England which is sited on the north bank of the River Tweed. For this reason, it has had a unique history. Constantly fought over between the English and the Scots because of its strategic position (a stronghold for the English into Scotland and an eastern port and gateway into England for the Scots), the town changed hands at least 13 times before finally becoming English in 1482. Since then, it has enjoyed a unique position in England. A treaty signed by Henry VII of England and James IV of Scotland in 1502 acknowledged Berwick as of but not within the Kingdom of England - an independent state in the middle. This unusual position continued until 1836 when Berwick-upon-Tweed was made a county of itself . It was only officially amalgamated into the county of Northumberland in 1974. Because of its history, it is often said that the town is still at war with Russia.
In the past Berwicks history has been shaped by its continual military occupation and its proximity to the River Tweed.Until the 17 th century, the town was either garrisoned by English or Scots soldiers and even after that date, the English saw it as a useful military base.Until the early 20 th century, salmon fishing on the River Tweed played an important role in the areas economy. from the medieval period, salmon caught at the various fisheries on the River Tweed were exported through the port of Berwick to London and other places. in the early 19 th century, the salmon were transported in ice or live in the hulls of the Berwick Smacks, the fastest vessels sailing on the east coast to London.
Berwick has many historic buildings and monuments which reflect its turbulent past and military importance.It has two sets of fortifications - medieval and Elizabethan.The medieval walls, built by Edward I in 1296 after he captured Berwick, are no longer intact but are visible in the north end of the town.Remains of Berwick Castle can also be seen in the area in and around the Railway Station.The station platform is built on the site of the Great Hall where , in August 1291, Edward I of England met the claimants to the Scottish crown and eventually chose John Balliol in 1292.
Berwicks Elizabethan Walls are intact and were built mainly in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I(1558 - 1603 ).They were planned by Sir Richard Lee and based on an Italian design, consisting of projecting bastions, similar to blunt arrowheads, built of stone andfilled with earth, and joined by a strong curtain wall.This system was meant to protect the town against gunfire although it was never put to the test as Berwick s unsettled history was brought to an end in 1603 when King James VI of Scotland became James I of England.
The Anglican Church of Holy Trinity is sited near the Barracks and the Guildhall.It was built between 1650 and 1652 during the Commonwealth period under Cromwell and is of a distinctive Puritan design.It was one of only two such churches built in England at that time.The Guildhall, often mistaken as a Church, is sited in Marygate, the main shopping street.It is an imposing building with a 150 feet spire which dates from the mid 18 th century.The top floor of the building was originally the Town Gaol but has now been preserved as a Museum.
The River Tweed separates Berwick from Tweedmouth and Spittal and is crossed by three bridges.The oldest bridge, Berwick Bridge, was built between 1611 and 1634 with money granted to the town by King James I of England who was horrified at the state of the bridge he had to cross on going south to be crowned King of England The bridge was the main pedestrian andvehicular access between Berwick and Tweedmouth until 1928 when the Royal Tweed Bridge was opened by Edward, Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII.Further upstream is the Royal Border Bridge, a railway viaduct bridge designed by Robert Stephenson and built between 1847 and 1850.