Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for BERWICK-UPON-TWEED

BERWICK-UPON-TWEED, a town, a parish, and a subdistrict, in the district of Berwick, Northumberland. The town stands on the left bank of the Tweed, adjacent to the junction of the Northeastern and the North British railways, 64 miles by road, and 67 ¼. by railway, N by W of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Its site is a gentle declivity, sloping to the river, about ½ a mile from the sea. A tract of about 8 square miles around it, and including it, was formerly a peculiar jurisdiction, neither in England nor in Scotland; but, by a recent act, was incorporated with Northumberland. The environs are diversified and beautiful; present picturesque views, especially along the Tweed and on the coast; and comprise charming walks and drives.

The town dates from ancient times, but comes obscurely into record, and probably was founded by the Saxon kings of Northumbria. It was taken, in 880, by Gregory of Scotland; given, in 1020, by the Cospatricks to Malcolm IV.; and figured, in the early part of next century, as a place of mark, the capital of Lothian, and one of the first four royal boroughs of Scotland. It was taken from the Scots, in 1174, by Henry II.; restored to them by Richard I.; ravaged by King John; taken, in 1272, by Edward I., who crowned Baliol at it in 1292; taken again, in 1295, by Edward, and made his capital of Scotland; retaken, in 1297, by the Scots under Wallace, while its castle remained with the English; made the scene, in 1305, of the exposure of half of the body of the executed Wallace; the place, in 1310, of the winter residence of Edward II. and his queen; the place, in 1314, of the mustering of the English army before the battle of Bannockburn; taken again, in 1318, by the Scots under Bruce; retaken, in 1333, by the English after the battle of Halidon Hill; surprised and recaptured, in 1353, by the Scots; recaptured, next year, by the English; surprised again, in 1377, by seven Scotchmen, and held eight days against 7,000 archers and 3,000 cavalry; recovered by the Percys, and used by them, in 1406, against the Crown; taken promptly from them through the astounding effect of cannon shot, the first ever fired in England; attempted, in 1422, by the Scots; ceded to them, in 1461, by Margaret of Anjou, after the battle of Towton; receded, in 1482, to the English; and declared, in 1551, a neutral territory, independent of both England and Scotland. It was visited, in 1603, by James I. on his way to Eng land; in 1633 and 1639, by Charles I.; and taken, in 1648, by Cromwell.

Many fortifications, at different periods, were raised round the town; and the latest walls, together with small portions of more ancient works, are still standing. The original walls comprehended a circuit of nearly 2 ¼. miles, and included the present suburb of Castlegate; and a tower belonging to them, used as a watch-tower, with commanding outlook on the surrounding country, and called the Bell-tower, still exists. The present walls comprehend a circuit of about 1⅜. mile; were built n the time of Elizabeth; and consist of a broad rampart, formed of earth, faced with masonry, and defended on the land sides by five bastions; but they were dismantled n 1822, and are now disposed in a pleasant promenade. The castle or citadel stood contiguous on the W, on high ground stooping precipitously to the Tweed; it dates from the same remote times as the town; long possessed much military strength; went into disrepair in the time of Elizabeth; contributed much building material for the town in the time of Cromwell; and has now all disappeared except the dilapidated exterior western wall. The Countess of Buchan was shut up in it, in a wicker age, four years, by Edward I., for putting the crown on he head of Robert Bruce at his coronation.

The town presents a mixed appearance of the ancient and the modern. Two chief lines of street intersect it, the one from N to S, the other from E to W. and divide it into four nearly equal parts. The town hall, at the foot of High-street, was built about 1755 by Dodd; and has a tetrastyle Doric portico, and a steeple 150 feet high. The jail, on the E side of Wallace-green, was built in 1849, at a cost of £8,000; is in the Tudor style; and has capacity for 16 male and 7 female prisoners. The corn exchange was built in 1858, at a cost of about £5,000. The barracks were built in 1719, and enclose a quadrangle of 217 feet by 121. The railway station occupies the site of the castle; is a castellated structure 190 feet long; and has all its offices on the east side. The railway viaduct over the Tweed is 216 feet long; has twenty-eight semicircular arches, each 60 feet in span; is 134 feet high, from foundation to roadway; and commands a superb view. The carriage bridge was built in 1609-1634; is 924 feet long, but only 17 feet wide; and has 15 arches, gradually diminishing in span. The harbour-pier was constructed in 1810, at a cost of £40,000; runs nearly ½ a mile into the sea; and is crowned at the end by two fixed lights, the upper one bright, 44 feet high, and seen 11 miles off,-the lower one red, and seen when the bar has 10 feet water. The parish church was built in the time of Cromwell, on the site of a previous edifice in which David Bruce was married to the sister of Edward III.; was restored and enlarged in 1855, and is a plain neat structure, without a tower. St. Mary's church was built in 1858. A recently erected United Presbyterian church is a handsome edifice. There are eleven other places of worship; a national grammar school, with endowed income of £159; a school, with £156; a freemen's academy; other public schools; a dispensary; a workhouse, altered and enlarged; assembly-rooms, in which concerts, ' are held; and a public subscription library. A nunnery was founded by David I., a friary in 1270, and a priory at some other period; but all have disappeared.

The town has a head post office‡ of the name of Berwick, a telegraph station, four banking offices, and four chief inns; and it publishes three weekly newspapers. A weekly market is held on Saturday; and a fair on the last Friday of May. Iron-working, the trades connected with a seaport, and various kinds of manufacture on a small scale, are carried on. The adjacent fisheries were once worth £15,000 a year; but have decreased in value to £4,000. The town is a head port; and has Alnmouth, Budle, and Holy Island as sub-ports. The harbour is rocky, and suffers much from a shifting bar, but has good anchorage within. The vessels belonging to the port at the commencement of 1868 were 14-small ones, of aggregately 502 tons, and 16 larger ones, of aggregately 1,657 tons. The vessels which entered, in 1867, from the colonies and foreign countries, were 31 British, of aggregately 5,560 tons, and 57 foreign, of aggregately 8,862 tons; and those which entered coastwise were 372 sailing vessels, of aggregately 19,762 tons. The customs, in the same year, amounted to £6,179. The chief imports are timber, iron, bones, hemp, and tallow; and the chief exports, corn, wool, salmon, and provisions. The town held various charters amid its shifting fortunes; but became permanently incorporated by charter of James VI., and now, as a borough, both municipal and parliamentary, includes also the rural parts of its own parish, and the townships of Tweedmouth and Spittal on the right bank of the Tweed. It is governed by a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors; and it sends two members to parliament. Acres, as a borough, 8,767. Direct taxes in 1857, £5,756. Electors, in 1868, 816. Pop., as a borough, in 1841, 12,689; in 1861, 13,265. Houses, 1,883. Stevenson, the writer on commerce, was a native.

The parish comprises 5,606 acres of land and 589 of water. Rated property, £33,541. Pop., 8,613. Houses, 1,249. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Durham. Value, £383.* Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Durham. St. Mary's is a separate benefice, a vicarage of the value of £150, also in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Durham.-The subdistrict comprises all the borough together with Ord township. Acres, 11,335. Pop., 14,027. Houses, 2,038.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a parish, and a subdistrict"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Berwick upon Tweed CP/AP       Berwick upon Tweed SubD       Northumberland AncC
Place: Berwick upon Tweed

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