From the earliest days of war between the English and Scottish. Berwick was an important military town. Soldiers of the garrison were for many years billited in local taverns and private houses, which placed a heavy financial burden on the people of the town. Complaints to the Government led eventually, in 1717, to the building of the first purpose built infantry barracks in England. Designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, Berwick Barracks were completed in 1721.
Today the Barracks hosts a number of attractions, including 'By Beat of Drum' - an exhibition on the life of the British infantryman. While there, visit the King's Own Scottish Borderers Museum, the Contemporary Art Gallery and the Berwick Borough Museum.
This one is ideal for anyone into military history. Allow yourself several hours as there is a lot to see here. Perfect for that rainy day.
In the care of English Heritage.
Very little remains of what was once the most important of all the border castles. Begun in the 12th century, few castles can have seen as much military action and changed hands as frequently as Berwick. Over the centuries that England and Scotland were in conflict, the castle was a key objective for the armies of both nations. From 1296 when Edward I of England successfully besieged the Scottish castle at Berwick through until the end of hostilities between the two countries, ownership of the castle changed frequently.
In later years the castle ruins were used as a quarry, providing stone for the adjacent Royal Border Bridge and the town barracks, and a large part, including the Great Hall, was cleared to make space for the railway station. The main surviving remnant is the White Wall that descends from the railway to the banks of the River Tweed. Built in 1297, it guards a steep flight of steps known as 'Breakneck Stairs'.
Lord's Mount is a 16th century stone two storey artillery tower, founded by King Henry VIII. This enormous circular fortification, which probably supported an embrasured parapet, flanks the north-east angle of the medieval town wall. The surviving lower floor, has casemates for six long swivel guns and an accommodation range which includes, a garderobe, a kitchen and a well. The upper floor, with its platform for six more large guns and the captain's apartments, were dismantled in 1558 when the Elizabethan Ramparts were begun.
The Gunpowder Magazine was built in 1749, to store the powder for the nearby Barrracks. it was specially designed with safety features to prevent explosions, and blasts were directed upwards through the roof should the worst have happened, instead of destroying the town. Forunately it survives to this day.
The Main Guard is a Georgian military guardhouse, built in 1815, which contains an exhibition of the history of the town and Royal Berwick. It is situated near to the Quayside.
In the care of English Heritage
Open 1- 5
The old bridge was built by James I (James VI of Scotland) to link his two kingdoms after the Union of the Crowns.
The bridge was built in 1634 and was the main highway of its time into Scotland.
The bridge has since been superceded by a modern road bridge over the Tweed, but the old bridge is stil open to traffic in one direction.
Quay Wall as the name suggests is a fortified wall built on the banks of the River Tweed to protect the town from attack from the river.
Nearby on the Quayside is a new development which contains shops and eating establishments.
The Royal Border Railway Viaduct was built in 1850 to bridge the River Tweed and carry the railway into town.
The bridge still provides an important link between England and Scotland and provides a good vantage point from which to see the town if you are travelling by rail.
The Bell Tower is an Elizabethan stone octagonal four storey tower, founded in 1577. It flanks the line of the medieval town wall and is built on a circular base, of 1392. Over the centuries, it has been considerably repaired and altered, with the doors that gave access to the parapet walk, showing the original height of the wall. As the name suggests, it was used to warn the defenders of the Elizabethan Ramparts of a raid.
The Cumberland Bastion is one of five bastions, or fortifications, along the ramparts that surround the town. It is named after the Duke of Cumberland, who defeated the Scottish Jacobite army of Bonny Prince Charlie in 1846.
Until the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Berwick's walls bristled with artillery. The one cannon remaining on the riverside fortifications is a souvenir of the Crimean War.
This Russian gun is a link with the story that Berwick is still at war with Russia today! The tradition has its origins in the fact that the town used to be mentioned separately on documents and international treaties. It is said that Berwick was included in the declaration of war with Russia in 1854, but was accidentally omitted from the peace treaty two years later.
The painter, L S Lowry (1887-1976), used to visit Berwick Upon Tweed for his Summer Holidays until the year of his death in 1976. To him visiting Berwick and seeing the sea was a escape from industrialised Salford and Manchester!
He did a lot of paintings and drawings in Berwick. He stayed in the Castle Hotel and once considered buying the property, The Lions, in the town because of the possibility of being attracted to the sea views from the windows.
You can learn more about the artist via this link.
Today visitors can do the Lowry trail in the town centre and it takes up to 3.5-4 hours and covers 5 to 6 miles. I had fun doing the trail and I got to appreciate more the town and it's surrounding villages from sights where Lowry painted (Please see my travelogues 1, 2, 3 and 4 ). You can either obtain a trail leaflet from the Berwick Tourist Information Centre.
I visited Tweedmouth when I did the Lowry Trail and which is part of Berwick Upon Tweed. As well as a village there is a Berwick Harbour and also noted the sites where Lowry painted.
There are great views of the river, the sea and Berwick Town Centre from Tweedmouth and the village is accessed from crossing the Old Bridge.
Responding to fears over the 1715 Jacobite Rising, along with complaints from the Berwick citizenry over quatering soldiers led to the construction of the Barracks between 1717-25. The were first of their kind in England, providing a permanant home for over 600 men. The last remaining residents, the King's Own Scottish Borderers, vacated in 1964.
Inside is a fascinating look at British army life, chronicling the various wars as well as delving into the ordinary and everyday activities of a solider.
First mentioned in 1160, Berwick Castle today is a mere shadow of its former self. Once containing nine towers, much of the original stone was used in the construction of Berwick's buildings and bridges.
Most of the castle is inaccesable. The parts that are (The White Wall and the appropriately named Breakneck Stairs) require much caution.