Following on from last Saturday’s Saturday Snapshots here are a few more photos of Berwick-upon-Tweed, which is the northernmost town in England. It’s a Border town that changed hands between England and Scotland 14 times until it finally became part of England in 1482. It’s a walled town; the original medieval walls were built in the 13th century and the Elizabethan Ramparts, dating from 1558 are virtually intact.
The fortifications replaced the medieval wall on the North and East sides of the town. The photo above shows part of the Elizabethan wall that is now the boundary wall of a car park.
Below are two photos of sections of the walls:
The photo below shows a Russian cannon, captured in the Crimea. Before the Second World War this part of part of the walls was once bristling with artillery. All that remains now is this cannon which was brought back as one of the trophies at the end of the Crimean War (1854-56). The top of the barrel of the gun is embossed with the double-headed eagle emblem of the Russian Tzar.
There is little left of Berwick Castle. Ruins are almost as enticing as libraries and bookshops to me. If there are any of these in an area I love to go and explore, so it’s amazing that after living near Berwick-upon-Tweed for over three years the most I’ve seen of Berwick Castle is the view of a wall from Berwick Railway Station. It was the building of the railway that caused the Castle’s final destruction when in 1847 substantial parts of the Castle were demolished to make way for the Station! Apparently the walls were so thick they had to use gunpowder to reduce them to rubble.
We were in Berwick on Wednesday; it was a dismal afternoon as rain blew in from the North Sea, not ideal for taking photos, especially on a camera phone. I’ll go back another day, when the sun is out, to take more photos.
The photo below shows the approach to the Castle ruins from Coronation Park above the River Tweed. The Park was created to celebrate the coronation of George VI in 1937. The area at the top of the Park was known as Gallows Knowe. It was the place of public executions in Berwick, the last being in 1823 – maybe the very place where we stood to take photos.
The Castle was first recorded in 1160, probably built by King David I of Scotland, and was completely rebuilt by Edward I of England, after he captured it in 1296, with a strong circuit of walls, towers and turrets, including royal apartments, a great hall and a chapel. Berwick- upon-Tweed is the most northerly town in England. a border town that changed hands between England and Scotland many times until 1482 when it was retaken from Scotland.
The photo below shows the castle mound, and the remains of the castle walls, including a rounded gun tower . On the right of the photo the White Walls are visible – this was a battlemented wall that still runs from the corner of the castle down to the River Tweed. It was built to defend the river approach to the castle and town around 1297 – 1298. Also, just about visible on the extreme right of the photo is the Royal Border Bridge carrying the railway line into Berwick Station.
The next photo (below) shows more detail of the Bridge and White Walls.
Berwick-upon-Tweed is an interesting English town near the border with Scotland, with three bridges crossing the Tweed. There are the Elizabethan Town Walls, Ramparts, Barracks, a ruined castle and quaint passageways like Dewars Lane, which dates back to medieval times. This is what it looks like today.
The white building on the right at the end of the passageway is now a Youth Hostel, Art Gallery and Bistro. It was built in 1769 and was originally a granary. Its fantastic tilted walls are the result of a fire in 1815, after which it was propped up rather than being rebuilt. It was used for storing grain up until 1985 and was then left unoccupied, gradually becoming derelict. It has recently been restored by the Berwick Preservation Trust.
The artist L S Lowry sketched it in 1936 on one of his many visits to the town and it is now part of the town’s Lowry Trail. Below is Lowry’s pencil drawing of the Lane.
This is the Bell Tower at the northern side of Berwick-upon-Tweed, the most northerly town in England. It was built about 1577, replacing a 14th century tower on the medieval walls of the town. There used to be a warning bell in the tower that sentries would sound at the sight of danger to the townspeople. At one time there used to be a beacon on top, which could be lit if the country was invaded.
These days it’s an odd sight on a grassy mound at the end of a residential road.
But in earlier days it was in a prime position overlooking the sea, the fields and the town. Nearby is Lord’s Mount, a fort built in around 1540 during Henry VIII’s reign. It was orginally on two floors but all that remains are parts of the ground floor and you can see fireplaces, a flagged kitchen floor, a well and a privy.
There used to be guns mounted on the parapet and I climbed what was left of the steps to see the view. I didn’t venture on to the top; it was very windy and I don’t have a head for heights!
I took this photo a few weeks ago through the window of The Maltings Kitchen, in Berwick-upon-Tweed. It shows the River Tweed on its way down into the North Sea, a seagull sitting on top of one of the chimneys below the restaurant, and a crow-stepped gable end of one of the buildings. And on the skyline you can just see the Royal Border Bridge carrying the East Coast Main Line Railway over the Tweed, built by Robert Stephenson and opened by Queen Victoria in 1850.
L S Lowry was an English painter well known for his urban paintings of industrial towns like Salford in Lancashire, scenes peopled by his ‘matchstalk men and his matchstalk cats and dogs‘ (I always thought it was ‘Matchstick’ not ‘Matchstalk’, until I checked the song lyrics today!)
What is less well known (at least to me) was that he also painted many scenes of Berwick-upon-Tweed a seaside town he regularly visited from the 1930s until a couple of years before his death in 1976.
There is a Lowry Trail around the town and here are some photos of one of the locations:
This is ‘On the Sands‘, oil on canvas 1959 (click on the photo to enlarge), showing his matchstick figures. The shelter became dilapidated and was restored in 2001. This is how it looks today:
There is actually a little beach behind this scene: