Seen from across the river a distinctive clock tower dominates the Berwick skyline.

 

 

The tower, with its six sided spire and octagonal look out above the clock, belongs not to a church but to Berwick Town Hall.

 

 

There’s been a town hall on this site in the middle of the high street since the sixteenth century. The current grand building, dating from 1754, was designed to be the hub of civic life with council chamber, courtroom, gaol and market hall all under one roof. The town council still meets there but the town hall has been sidelined by local government reorganisation and most local services are now provided by the county council.

The high street itself has been sidelined too, with town edge retail parks sucking trade from high street shops, but there are a few promising signs of regeneration. The big name chain stores may have deserted the town centre but there are an increasing number of small, independent businesses including a cafe and a second hand bookshop in the old market hall in the town hall undercroft. Now if the council could just sort out a couple of pedestrian crossings on the high street…