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Berwick sets sights on World Heritage status

Other posts by  |  Sheelagh Caygill on Google+ |  February 9, 2012 | 0 Comments
Berwick Ramparts

Berwick Ramparts © English Heritage

The walled town of Berwick-upon-Tweed hopes gain World Heritage status.

Members of Cittaslow, the town’s organisation set up to improve quality of life for residents, said they are realistic about the time it would take.

They estimated they would not be ready to submit their bid to Unesco – the UN cultural body – for several years.

“Tourism is our principal employer – Berwick’s future is in its past,” said retired teacher Bernard Shaw, a resident of the town, which marks the border between Scotland and England.

Its attractions include the well-preserved 1570s Bell Tower, its ramparts ordered to be built by Elizabeth II to defend the town, and the Ravensdowne ice houses, built in the 1780s to keep locally-caught salmon fresh before being transported to London. Its most famous landmark is its Royal Border Bridge, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1850.

The town has changed hands between England and Scotland – usually following battles between the two countries – about 13 times, the last in 1482.

A World Heritage site is defined as a historic monument, group of buildings or site which is of outstanding universal value to the international community. The Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Liverpool’s historic docklands all have World Heritage status.

The resulting prestige of the title means worldwide publicity, as well as grants to help preserve attractions, and restrictions on developments.

Currently 28 sites in the UK which have the status.

Inscription as a World Heritage Site is an acknowledgement of truly global significance of such places. All sites have to be of truly global importance. The World Heritage List is very selective and many places of national or even of international, significance will not make it on to the list.

Mr Shaw said one option to improve the town’s chances of gaining the status was to widen its appeal by widening its borders to include Holy Island or Flodden – the site of famous 1513 battle between the English and the Scots.

He told the BBC: “There are many walled towns in the UK. We need to enlarge our area of geographical interest and focus our attention on taking Berwick out of the walls.”

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