Berwick Old Bridge may soon need to be closed to traffic

Berwick Old Bridge, built between 1611 and 1624, urgently need repairs
Berwick Old Bridge, built between 1611 and 1624, urgently need repairs

Fears have been raised about the deteriorating condition of Berwick’s 17th century Old Bridge spanning the River Tweed.

Repairs are being planned by Northumberland County Council in 2017/18, although the exact nature of the works required has not yet been identified.

A council spokesman said: “Berwick Old Bridge is earmarked for work as part of the £6.7million Government Challenge Funding we received, which involves 130 bridge masonry arches being repaired across the county.

“The work in Berwick is likely to be in the 17/18 financial year but the level of work needed is still to be identified. We will be liaising closely with the town council before any work takes place.”

Town councillors had expressed their concerns after viewing photographs of crumbling stonework taken by local resident Michael Stewart.

Fears were expressed that the bridge was being neglected but Mayor Hazel Bettison said the county council had a duty of care to look after the Grade I-listed structure.

It was also agreed to express its concerns to Historic England. Nevertheless, town councillors recognised that its days carrying traffic could be numbered.

Councillor Ivor Dixon said: “A lot of people feel the time is right to pedestrianise it.”

The sandstone bridge was built between 1611 and 1624 in the reign of King James I.

It currently has one-way traffic and a weight restriction which prohibits heavy lorries to alleviate some of the stress.

Short-term stabilisation works were carried out on large cracks which appeared in 2011. A team of specialists plastered a lime mortar product into the holes.

Councillor David Blackburn said: “We are concerned. Eventually it will have to be closed to traffic.”