|Scottish Gaelic: Bearaig (Bearaig a Deas)|
|Scots: Barwick (Sou Barwick)|
Part of walls of Berwick Castle
and Royal Border Bridge
Berwick-upon-Tweed shown within Northumberland
|Population||11,665 (2001 Census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||North East England|
|List of places: UK • England • Northumberland|
Berwick-upon-Tweed (pronounced /ˈbɛrɨk əpɒn ˈtwiːd/ ( listen) BERR-ik-ə-pon-TWEED) or simply Berwick is a town in the county of Northumberland and is the northernmost town in England, on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. It is situated 2.5 miles (4 km) south of the Scottish border.
Founded during the time of the kingdom of Northumbria, which was part of the Heptarchy. The area was central to historic border war between the Kingdoms of England and Scotland for centuries; the last time it changed hands was when England reconquered it in 1482. Berwick remains a traditional market town and it also boasts some notable architectural features, in particular its defence ramparts and barrack buildings.
The origin of the town's name is of Norse, or Old English, with the second element "wick" either coming from "vik" meaning a bay, or a "wic" meaning a settlement. The first element is also ambiguous, and may refer to either barley (baer) or the headland ("bar") which cuts across the Tweed estuary. Another interpretation claims "Corn Farm" as the meaning of Berwick.
In the post-Roman period, the area may have been inhabited by the Brythons of Bryneich, who were in turn conquered by the Angles, who created the kingdom of Bernicia, which united with the Kingdom of Deira to form Northumbria.
Either 973 or 1018 Northumbria north of the Tweed (known as Lothian) was ceded to Scotland. In 1018 the Scots defeated the Northumbrians at the Battle of Carham, which occurred across the River Tweed opposite Coldstream to secure possession of Lothian.
Berwick's strategic position on the English-Scottish border during centuries of war between the two nations and its relatively great wealth led to a succession of raids, sieges and take-overs. Between 1147 and 1482 the town changed hands between England and Scotland more than 13 times, and was the location of a number of momentous events in the English-Scottish border wars. One of the most brutal sackings was by King Edward I of England in 1296, and set the precedent for bitter border conflict in the Scottish Wars of Independence.
In the 13th century Berwick was one of the most wealthy trading ports in Scotland, providing an annual customs value of £2,190, equivalent to a quarter of all customs revenues received north of the border. A contemporary description of the town asserted that "so populous and of such commercial importance that it might rightly be called another Alexandria, whose riches were the sea and the water its walls." Amongst the town's exports were wool, grain and salmon, while merchants from Germany and the Low Countries set up businesses in the town in order to trade.
The Scots also had a mint at Berwick, producing Scottish coinage. In contrast, under English rule, Berwick was a garrison town first, and a port second. In around 1120, King David I of Scotland made Berwick one of Scotland's four royal burghs, which allowed the town's freemen a number of rights and privileges.
Berwick had a mediaeval hospital for the sick and poor which was administered by the Church. A charter under the Great Seal of Scotland, confirmed by King James I of Scotland, grants the king's chaplain "Thomas Lauder of the House of God or Hospital lying in the burgh of Berwick-upon-Tweed, to be held to him for the whole time of his life with all lands, teinds, rents and profits, etc., belonging to the said hospital, as freely as is granted to any other hospital in the Kingdom of Scotland; the king also commands all those concerned to pay to the grantee all things necessary for the support of the hospital. Dated at Edinburgh June 8, in the 20th year of his reign."
In 1174, Berwick was paid as part of the ransom of William I of Scotland to Henry II of England. It was sold back to Scotland by Richard I of England, to raise money to pay for Crusades. It was destroyed in 1216 by King John of England, who attended in person the razing of the town with some barbarity.
Eddington remarks, "Berwick, by the middle of the 13th century, was considered a second Alexandria, so extensive was its commerce." However, Berwick appended its signature to King John Balliol's new treaty with France, England's old enemy, and on 30 March 1296, Edward I stormed Berwick after a prolonged siege, sacking it with much bloodshed. His army slaughtered almost everyone who resided in the town, even if they fled to the churches, some eight thousand inhabitants being put to the sword. "From that time", states Eddington, "the greatest merchant city in Scotland sank into a small seaport."
Edward I went again to Berwick in August 1296 to receive formal homage from some 2,000 Scottish nobles, after defeating the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar in April and forcing John I of Scotland (John Balliol) to abdicate at Kincardine Castle the following July. (The first town walls were built during the reign of Edward I.) The "homage" was not received well, and the Ragman Roll as it was known, earned itself a name of notoriety in the post-independence period of Scotland. Some believe it to be the origin of the term "rigmarole", although this may be a folk etymology. An arm of William Wallace was displayed at Berwick after his execution and quartering on 5 August 1305. In 1314 Edward II of England mustered 25,000 men at Berwick, who later fought in (and lost) the Battle of Bannockburn.
On 1 April 1318, it was recaptured by the Scots; Berwick Castle was also taken after a three-month siege. In 1330 "Domino Roberto de Lawedre" of The Bass, described as Custodian or Keeper of the Marches and the Castle of Berwick-upon-Tweed, received, apparently upon the termination of his employment there, £33.6s.8d, plus a similar amount, from the Scottish Exchequer.
The English retook Berwick some time shortly after the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333. In October 1357, a treaty was signed at Berwick by which the Scottish estates undertook to pay 100,000 marks as a ransom for David II of Scotland, who had been taken prisoner at the Battle of Neville's Cross on 17 October 1346.
In 1461/2 Berwick was recovered by the Scots and Robert Lauder of Edrington was put in charge of the castle. Scott relates: "About 1462 Berwick Castle was put into the hands of Robert Lauder of Edrington, an important official and soldier in Scotland at that time. Lauder kept his position uninterruptedly until 1474 when he was succeeded by David, Earl of Crawford. In 1464 Robert Lauder was paid £20 for repairs made to Berwick Castle."
On 3 February 1478 Robert Lauder of The Bass and Edrington was again appointed Keeper of the castle at Berwick-upon-Tweed with a retainer of £250 per annum. He continued in that position until the last year of Scottish occupation, when Patrick Hepburn, 1st Lord Hailes, had possession.
In 1482 the town was captured by Richard Duke of Gloucester, the future King Richard III, although not officially merged into England. England has administered the town since this date.
In 1551, the town was made a county corporate.
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, vast sums — one source reports "£128,648, the most expensive undertaking of the Elizabethan period" — were spent on its fortifications, in a new Italian style (trace italienne), designed both to withstand artillery and to facilitate its use from within the fortifications. Although most of Berwick Castle was demolished in the 19th century to make way for the railway, the military barracks remain, as do the town's rampart walls — one of the finest remaining examples of its type in the country.
In 1603, Berwick was the first English town to greet James VI of Scotland on his way to being crowned James I of England - upon crossing Berwick Bridge, James is supposed to have declared the town neither belonging to England nor belonging to Scotland but part of the united Crown's domain.
In 1639 the army of Charles I faced that of General Alexander Leslie at Berwick in the Bishops' Wars, which were concerned with bringing the Presbyterian Church of Scotland under Charles' control. The two sides did not fight, but negotiated a settlement, "the Pacification of Berwick", in June, under which the King agreed that all disputed questions should be referred to another General Assembly or to the Scottish Parliament.
Holy Trinity Church was built in 1650–52, on the initiative of the governor, Colonel George Fenwicke. Churches of the Commonwealth period are very rare. The church has no steeple, supposedly at the behest of Oliver Cromwell, who passed through the town in 1650 on his way to the Battle of Dunbar.
Berwick was never formally annexed to England. Contention about whether the town belonged to England or Scotland was ended, though, in 1707 by the union of the two. Berwick remains within the laws and legal system of England and Wales. The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 (since repealed) deemed that whenever legislation referred to England, it applied to Berwick, without attempting to define Berwick as part of England. (England now is officially defined as "subject to any alteration of boundaries under Part IV of the Local Government Act 1972, the area consisting of the counties established by section 1 of that Act, Greater London and the Isles of Scilly.", which thus includes Berwick.)
Berwick remained a county in its own right, and was not included in Northumberland for Parliamentary purposes until 1885.
The Redistribution Act 1885, reduced the number of Members of Parliament (MPs) returned by the town from two to one.
On 1 April 1974, the Borough of Berwick-upon-Tweed was created by the merger of the previous borough of Berwick-upon-Tweed with Belford Rural District, Glendale Rural District and Norham and Islandshires Rural District.
However in 2009 Alan Beith, the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick, said the move would require a massive legal upheaval and is not realistic. However he is contradicted by another member of his party, the Liberal Democrat MSP Jeremy Purvis, who was born and brought up in Berwick. Purvis has asked for the border to be moved twenty miles south (i.e., south of the Tweed) to include Berwick borough council rather than just the town, and has said:
According to a poll conducted by a TV company, 60% of residents favoured Berwick rejoining Scotland. The issue is to be the centre of a new BBC comedy-drama series, A Free Country, commissioned in 2008 from writer Tony Saint.
In 2009, the Borough of Berwick-upon-Tweed was abolished as part of wider structural changes to local government in England. All functions previously exercised by Berwick Borough Council were transferred to Northumberland County Council, which is the unitary authority for the area.
Berwick was originally the county town of Berwickshire, but from 1482 (when Berwick became part of England) to its abolition in 1975, Berwickshire had the unique distinction of being the only county in the British Isles to be named after a town in another country. After 1482, Berwickshire's administration was conducted at Duns or Lauder until Greenlaw became the county town in 1596. When a county council was established in 1890 the county town once more became Duns.
The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 incorporated Berwickshire into the Borders Region, which existed from 1975 until 1996. One of its four districts was named Berwickshire but was not identical in area to the county.
The town of Berwick was a county corporate for most purposes from 1482, up until 1885, when it was fully incorporated into Northumberland. Between 1885, and 1974, Berwick (north of the Tweed) was a borough council in its own right, and then on 1 April 1974 it was merged with Belford Rural District, Glendale Rural District and Norham and Islandshires Rural District.
During these periods, Berwick Borough Council and Berwickshire County Council (or District Council) existed, both named after the same town, but covering entirely different areas.
The Borough of Berwick-upon-Tweed was abolished on 1 April 2009. From that date, Northumberland County Council assumed its functions, and those of the other districts in its area, to become a unitary authority.
A new Berwick-upon-Tweed Town Council, a parish council, has been created covering Berwick-upon-Tweed, Tweedmouth and Spittal. It is expected to take over the former Borough's mayoralty and regalia.
Slightly more than 60% of the population is employed in the service sector, including shops, hotels and catering, financial services and most government activity, including health care. About 13% is in manufacturing; 10% in agriculture, and 8% in construction. Some current and recent Berwick economic activities include salmon fishing, shipbuilding, engineering, sawmilling, fertilizer production, and the manufacture of tweed and hosiery.
Berwick Town Centre comprises the Mary Gate and High Street where many local shops and some retail chains exist. There is a small supermarket in the vincity too. A new office development is due to be built in the Walker Gate.
There is a retail park in Tweedmouth consisting of some units. Berwick Borough Council refused a proposal from ASDA in 2006 to build a store near the site , later giving Tesco the green light for their new store in the town.
The old A1 road passes through Berwick. The modern A1 goes around the town to the west. The town is on the East Coast Main Line railway, and has a station. A small seaport at Tweedmouth facilitates the import and export of goods, but provides no passenger services.
The town is represented by Berwick Rangers F.C., who despite being located in England play in the Scottish Football League to make travelling shorter. The home stadium of Berwick Rangers is Shielfield Park.
Motorcycle speedway has taken place in Berwick in two separate eras. The sport was introduced to Shielfield Park in May 1968. A dispute between the speedway club and the stadium owners ended the first spell. The sport returned to Shielfield Park in the mid-1990s. The lack of a venue in the town saw the team move to a rural location called Berrington Lough. The team, known as The Bandits, have raced at all levels from First Division to Conference League (first to third levels).
Berwick is unique for an English town in that both their football and rugby teams play their matches in the Scottish leagues, although at one point the Scottish town of Gretna used to play games in the English football leagues.
There is a curious apocryphal story that Berwick is (or recently was) technically at war with Russia. The story tells that since Berwick had changed hands several times, it was traditionally regarded as a special, separate entity, and some proclamations referred to "England, Scotland and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed". One such was the declaration of the Crimean War against Russia in 1853, which Queen Victoria supposedly signed as "Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, Ireland, Berwick-upon-Tweed and all British Dominions". However, when the Treaty of Paris (1856) was signed to conclude the war, "Berwick-upon-Tweed" was left out. This meant that, supposedly, one of Britain's smallest towns was officially at war with one of the world's largest powers – and the conflict extended by the lack of a peace treaty for over a century.
The BBC programme Nationwide investigated this story in the 1970s, and found that while Berwick was not mentioned in the Treaty of Paris, it was not mentioned in the declaration of war either. The question remained as to whether Berwick had ever been at war with Russia in the first place. The true situation is that since the Wales and Berwick Act 1746 had already made it clear that all references to England included Berwick, the town had no special status at either the start or end of the war. The grain of truth in this legend could be that some important documents from the 17th century did mention Berwick separately, but this became unnecessary after 1746.
Nevertheless, reportedly in 1966 a Soviet official waited upon the Mayor of Berwick, Councillor Robert Knox, and a peace treaty was formally signed. Knox is reputed to have said "Please tell the Russian people that they can sleep peacefully in their beds." To complicate the issue, some have noted that Knox did not have any authority with regard to foreign relations, and thus may have exceeded his powers as mayor in concluding a peace treaty. However, Jim Herbert of the Berwick Borough Museum said in 2006 that contemporary newspaper reports did not confirm that a treaty had been signed, nor could Knox's remark to the Soviet official be verified, presuming a Soviet official came to Berwick.
Berwick-upon-Tweed is a historic walled town in Northumberland. It is the most northerly town in England,just 2 1/2 miles from the border and its strategic location means that it has changed hands following wars between England and Scotland a total of nine times. Berwick is pronounced 'Berrick'.
Buses run from Newcastle.However the majority of visitors will come from the A1 trunk road from England into Scotland.The old A1 ran into the town, however the modern road bypasses the town to the west.
The town is surrounded by historic walled ramparts, constructed during times of war between England and Scotland.
Low side of middle price. Near the A1 - hence an ideal spot for exploring Northumberland. Rooms and breakfast very good. 
The Berwick Borough Council website  is the best source of general information.
|This article is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!|
BERWICK - UPON-TWEED, a market town, seaport, municipal borough and county in itself, of England, at the mouth of the Tweed on the north bank, 339 m. N. by W. from London. Pop. (1901) 13,437. For parliamentary purposes it is in the Berwick-upon-Tweed division of Northumberland. It is the junction on the East Coast route from London to Scotland between the North Eastern and North British railways, a branch of the company first named running up the Tweed valley by Coldstream and Kelso. The town lies in a bare district on the slope and flat summit of an abrupt elevation, higher ground rising to the north and south across the river. It has the rare feature of a complete series of ramparts surrounding it. Those to the north and east are formed of earth faced with stone, with bastions at intervals and a ditch now dry. They are of Elizabethan date, but there are also lines of much earlier date, the fortifications of Edward I. Much of these last has been destroyed, and threatened encroachment upon the remaining relics so far aroused public feeling that in 5905 it was decided that the Board of Works should take over these ruins, including the Bell Tower, from the town council, and enclose them as national relics. The Bell Tower, from which alarms were given when border raiders were observed, is in fair preservation. There are slight remains of the castle, which fell into disrepair of ter the union of the crowns of England and Scotland. There are no traces of the churches, monasteries or other principal buildings of the ancient town. The church of Holy Trinity is a plain building without steeple, of the time of Cromwell. Of modern places of worship, the most noteworthy is Wallace Green United Presbyterian church (1859). The chief public building is the town hall (1760), a stately classic building surmounted by a lofty spire. Educational institutions include an Elizabethan grammar school and a blue-coat school; and there is a local museum. Two bridges connect the town with the south side of the Tweed. The older, which is very substantial, was finished in 1634, having taken twenty-four years in building. It has fifteen arches, and is 924 ft. long, but only 17 ft. wide.
A unique provision for its upkeep out of Imperial funds dates from the reign of Charles II. The other, the Royal Border Bridge, situated a quarter of a mile up the river, is a magnificent railway viaduct, 126 ft. high, with twenty-eight arches, which extends from the railway station, a castellated building on part of the site of the old castle, to a considerable distance beyond the river. This bridge was designed by Robert Stephenson and opened by Queen Victoria in 1850.
The reach of the river from the old bridge to the mouth forms the harbour. The entrance to the harbour is protected by a stone pier, which stretches half a mile south-east from the north bank of the river mouth. The depth of water at the bar is 17 ft.. at ordinary tides, 22 ft. at spring tides, but the channel is narrow, a large rocky portion of the harbour on the north side being dry at low water. There is a wet dock of 32 acres. Principal exports are grain, coal and fish; imports are bones and bone-ash, manure stuffs, linseed, salt, timber and iron. The herring and other sea fisheries are of some value, and the salmon fishery, in the hands of a company, has long been famous. A fair is held annually at the end of May. There are iron-works and boatbuilding yards.
The custom of specially mentioning Berwick-upon-Tweed after Wales, though abandoned in acts of parliament, is retained in certain proclamations. The title of "county in itself" also helps to recall its ancient history. The liberties of the borough, commonly called Berwick Bounds, include the towns of Spittal, at the mouth, and Tweedmouth immediately above it, on the south bank of the river. The first is a watering-place (pop. 2074), with pleasant sands and a chalybeate spa; the second (pop. 3086) has iron foundries, engineering works and fish-curing establishments. Berwick-upon-Tweed is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 6396 acres.
Very little is known of the history of Berwick before the Conquest. It was not until the Tweed became the boundary between England and Scotland in the 12th century that Berwick as the chief town on that boundary became really important. Until the beginning of the 14th century Berwick was one of the four royal boroughs of Scotland, and although it possesses no charter granted before that time, an inquisition taken in Edward III.'s reign shows that it was governed by a mayor and bailiffs in the reign of Alexander III., who granted the town to the said mayor and the commonalty for an annual rent. After Edward I. had conquered Berwick in 1302 he gave the burgesses another charter, no longer existing but quoted in several confirmations, by which the town was made a free borough with a gild merchant. The burgesses were given the right to elect annually their mayor, who with the commonalty should elect four bailiffs. They were also to have freedom from toll, pontage, &c., two markets every week on Monday and Friday, and a fair lasting from the feast of Holyrood to that of the Nativity of St John the Baptist. Five years later, in 1307, the mayor and burgesses received another charter, granting them their town with all things that belonged to it in the time of Alexander III., for a fee-farm rent of 500 marks, which was granted back to them in 1313 to help towards enclosing their town with a wall. While the war with Scotland dragged on through the early years of the reign of Edward II., the fortification of Berwick was a matter of importance, and in 1317 the mayor and bailiffs undertook to defend it for the yearly sum of 6000 marks; but in the following year, "owing to their default," the Scots entered and occupied it in spite of a truce between the two kingdoms. After Edward III. had recovered Berwick the inhabitants petitioned for the recovery of their prison called the Beffroi or Bell-tower, the symbol of their independence, which their predecessors had built before the time of Alexander III., and which had been granted to William de Keythorpe when Edward I. took the town. Edward III. in 1326 and 1356 confirmed the charter of Edward I., and in 1357, evidently to encourage the growth of the borough, granted that all who were willing to reside there and desirous of becoming burgesses should be admitted as such on payment of a fine. These early charters were confirmed by most of the succeeding kings, until James I. granted the incorporation charter in 1604; but on his accession to the English throne, Berwick of course lost its importance as a frontier town. Berwick was at first represented in the court of the four boroughs and in 1326 in Robert Bruce's parliament. After being taken by the English it remained unrepresented until it was re-taken by the Scots, when it sent two members to the parliament at Edinburgh from 1476 to 1479. In 1482 the burgesses were allowed to send two members to the English parliament, and were represented there until 1885, when the town was included in the Berwick-upon-Tweed division of the county of Northumberland. No manufactures are mentioned as having been carried on in Berwick, but its trade, chiefly in the produce of the surrounding country, was important in the 12th century. It has been noted for salmon fishery in the Tweed from very early times. There was a bridge over the Tweed at Berwick in the time of Alexander and John, kings of Scotland, but it was broken down in the time of the latter and not rebuilt until the end of the 14th century.
See Victoria County History, Northumberland; John Fuller, History of Berwick-upon-Tweed, &c. (1799); John Scott, Berwick-upon-Tweed: History of the Town and Guild (1888).