From Academic Kids

For other uses, see Berwick-upon-Tweed (disambiguation).Template:GBmap
Missing image
Berwick-upon-Tweed from across the river

Berwick-upon-Tweed, (pronounced "Berrick") situated in the county of Northumberland, is the northernmost town in England, situated on the east coast on the mouth of the river Tweed. Although in that region the Tweed forms the border between England and Scotland, and Berwick is located on the northern, Scottish, side, the modern boundary diverts itself around the town to keep it in England. In 1991 the town had a population of 13,500. It is the administrative centre of the borough of Berwick-upon-Tweed. The town proper lies on the north bank and to the north of the River Tweed, and was formerly the county town of Berwickshire in Scotland.

Berwick is a market town and, if it is taken to include the village of Tweedmouth on the southern bank of the Tweed, a very modest international seaport. For a period of 300 and more years from the mid 11th century the town was an extremely important strategic asset in the wars between England and Scotland. The architecture of the town reflects its past, in particular in having one of the finest remaining defensive walls - albeit one much repaired in the late 18th Century - and in the Barracks buildings.

The town's population in the 2001 Census was 11,665 (including Spittal, Tweedmouth, Ord &c; this within a borough population of 25,949). 59.5% of the population are employed, and 3.6% unemployed. 19% are retired. [1] ( 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 [2] ( Some current and recent Berwick economic activities include salmon fishing, shipbuilding, engineering, sawmilling, fertilizer production, and the manufacture of tweed and hosiery.

It is unique for an English town in that its football team Berwick Rangers F.C. plays its matches in the Scottish Football League.

The local dialect known as 'Tweedside' is a combination of Scottish and Northumbrian accents, although it is recognisably more Scottish. This may reflect the fact that Berwick is slightly closer to Scottish capital Edinburgh than North-Eastern centre Newcastle.



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 thirteen times, and was the location of a number of momentous events in the English-Scottish border wars. 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 [3] (

  • In 1174, Berwick was paid as part of the ransom of William I of Scotland to Henry II of England.
  • It was sold 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.
  • On March 30, 1296, Edward I stormed Berwick, sacking it with much bloodshed. He slaughtered almost everyone who resided in the town, even if they fled to the churches.
  • Edward I went to Berwick in August of 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 in July. (The first town walls were built during the reign of Edward I.
  • One of the arms of William Wallace was displayed at Berwick after his execution and quartering on August 5, 1305.
  • In 1314 Edward II of England mustered 25,000 men at Berwick, who later fought in (and lost) the Battle of Bannockburn.
  • On the 1 April 1318, it was captured by the Scottish; Berwick Castle was also taken after a three-month siege.
  • 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 October 17 1346.
  • In 1482 the town was claimed for England by Richard III, although not officially merged into England. It has been administered by England since this date.
  • During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England, vast sums - one source reports "128,648, the most expensive undertaking of the Elizabethan period" [4] ( - were spent on its fortifications, in a new Italian style, designed both to withstand artillery and to facilitate its use from within the fortifications. Although most of Berwick Castle was demolished in the nineteenth 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.
  • In 1639 the army of Charles I of England 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.
  • In 1746 the Wales and Berwick act was passed, under the terms of which it was deemed that whenever legislation referred to England, this encompassed Berwick. Berwick remained a county in its own right however, and was not included in Northumberland for Parliamentary purposes until 1885.
  • The Reform Act 1832, which dealt in large part with the problem of rotten boroughs, reduced the number of MPs returned by the town from two to one.

In contemporary times, there continues to be demand for Berwick's return to Scotland. [5] (

At war with Russia?

Various proclamations promulgated before 1885 referred to "England, Scotland and the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed". One such was the declaration of war against Russia in 1853, which Queen Victoria signed as "Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, Ireland, Berwick-upon-Tweed and all British Dominions". But when the Treaty of Paris (1856) was signed to conclude the war, "Berwick-upon-Tweed" was missed out. Was it still at war with Russia or not? In 1966 a Soviet official waited upon the Mayor of Berwick, Councillor Robert Knox, and a peace treaty was formally signed. Mr Knox is reputed to have said "Please tell the Russian people that they can sleep peacefully in their beds."

Places of interest

  • Berwick Barracks, now maintained by English Heritage, and built between 1717 and 1721, the design attributed to Vanbrugh.
  • The ramparts or defensive wall around the town centre
  • The Old Bridge, 15 spans of sandstone arch bridge measuring 1,164 feet in length, built between 1610 and 1624, at a cost of 15,000. The bridge continues to serve road traffic in one direction only. The bridge was on the main route from London to Edinburgh and was ordered by James I of England.
  • The Royal Border Bridge, designed and built under the supervision of Robert Stephenson between 1847 and opened by Queen Victoria in 1850 at a cost of cost 253,000, is a railway viaduct with 28 arches standing 126 feet above and carrying the East Coast Main Line for 720 yards across the River Tweed.
  • The recently refurbished Royal Tweed Bridge, built in 1925 and in its time having the longest concrete span in the country at 361 feet, and originally designed to carry the A1 road traffic across the Tweed; the town has now a road bypass to the west. In the early 2000s, its fabric was renovated, the road and pavement layout amended, and new street lighting was added.
  • The Union Bridge (five miles upstream), the world's oldest suspension bridge.
  • The Guildhall, built in the 1750 in a Classical style, and formerly housing the town's prison on its top floor.


External links

Template:River Tweed


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