Sunday, 10 July 2011

Fortified Berwick upon Tweed.

Three bridges of Berwick upon TweedThe three bridges of Berwick upon Tweed.

We had planned to take the bus into town this morning but somehow got the times wrong. Another couple at the bus stop said they would walk and knew a short cut so we set off with them. The track we followed lead us down to the area known as Tweedmouth, the original industrial area and docklands. There were signs of redevelopment but the advertising hoarding gave the appearance of having been there quite some time, so perhaps the development has stalled due to the recession.

These signs are on the old road bridge into Berwick upon Tweed.These signs are on the old road bridge into Berwick upon Tweed.

Cobbled alleyways remnants of horse and cart days. L S Lowry painted this scene which has since changed.Cobbled alleyways remnants of horse and cart days. L S Lowry painted this scene which has since changed.

Walking alongside the River Tweed we got some good views of the bridges of Berwick upon Tweed starting with the Old Bridge of 15 arches being a road bridge which of course is far too small for todays traffic. This was built between 1610 and 1624.  The council have had to widen the footpaths and make the traffic flow one way. The second bridge, the Royal Tweed Bridge, was built in 1925 with the largest concrete arch in Britain at that time. It is also for road traffic and seems to be at maximum use with the constant flow of traffic. Then of course there is the Royal Border Railway Bridge carrying the East Coast main line from Kings Cross to Edinburgh. Designed and built by Robert Stephenson, it contains 28 arches and was built between 1847-50.

The fortified walls of Berwick upon TweedThe fortified walls of Berwick upon Tweed

We entered Berwick upon Tweed through this archway called Scots Gate.We entered Berwick upon Tweed through this archway called Scots Gate.

The town is the most northerly town in England being only 2½ miles from the border with Scotland. Its main claim to fame is that it was a walled Garrison town in the time of the Scottish rebellion. Because of constant trouble with the Scots during the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745, 600 soldiers and 36 Officers were permanently garrisoned here. The walls and ramparts were originally built in the reigns of the Tudor Queens, Mary I and Elizabeth I and have been altered many time since. In the 1500’s when it was the Spanish who threatened to invade and later the constant threat of invasion by the French, so Berwick has had a military presence for a very long time.

How the ramparts looked in the 16th century.How the ramparts looked in the 16th century.

A cross fire alley along the walls.A cross fire alley along the walls. Note the large unprotected drop!

We walked right around the ramparts from the town to the estuary and the height of the walls was quite disconcerting with no safety rails. There are signs everywhere about keeping children under control and away from the edges as a fall from there would be very serious indeed. We were somewhat amazed at how some of the gun emplacements were facing each other only a couple of hundred yards apart. We later read that it was deliberate as to be able to catch the enemy in a cross fire as long as each gunner knew the range. Gun emplacements were also on top of the ramparts to fire further away over the top of the lower guns.

Troops entered these gun emplacements through tunnels.Troops entered these gun emplacements through tunnels.

One of many gun emplacements around the walls of Berwick upon Tweed.One of many gun emplacements around the walls of Berwick upon Tweed.

Some of these faced out to sea and out over the river estuary. The latter were to be bought back into use during The Great War (WW I) in case of German invasion. A Berwick upon Tweed Artillery Corps had been founded in 1859 consisting of about 100 locals who trained and manned the guns until 1908 when I presume the Army then took over.

Ravensdowne Barracks built in 1717 are the oldest in Britain. Housing for 600 troops and 36 Officers.Ravensdowne Barracks built in 1717 are the oldest in Britain and were still in constant use until 1964. Housing for 600 troops and 36 Officers.

Gun emplacements like this faced each other to catch the enemy in across fire. Guns were also behind the mounds on top.Gun emplacements like this faced each other to catch the enemy in across fire. Guns were also behind the mounds on top.

For such a small town its has a wealth of history. Even to this day there seems to be disagreement as to wether its an English town or Scottish town as the local soccer and rugby teams play in the Scottish national league, not the English league!

Before supermarkets were thought of, now a victim of corporate takeovers.Before supermarkets were thought of, now a victim of corporate takeovers.

Now in the care of a preservation trust "The Lions" looks resplendant after being saved from demolition.Now in the care of a preservation trust "The Lions" looks resplendent after being saved from demolition. Almost bought by LS Lowry the artist in 1947 when he thought it too derelict.  What would he say now?

2 comments:

bigrab said...

Interested having just returned from Berwick myself. You may like some of my musings and photos of the area http://bigrab.wordpress.com

I have yet to post but I also took a photo of that old shop.

Derek and Dot said...

Hi Bigrab
So we are not the only one who takes odd photos, join the club. Makes interesting reading.