Be realistic about marina hopes, says harbour chief
Berwick must be realistic about its ambitions for a marina on the River Tweed, believes the chief executive of the harbour commssion.
Alan Irving, who has been involved in activities around the harbour for over 40 years, was making a presentation at Berwick-upon-Tweed Civic Society’s annual Question Time session in the Parish Centre last week.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s it was possible for the Victorian dock to contain six or seven ships at the same time.
Since then though, ships have got bigger and, with the harbour entrance widened, it can now deal with vessels up to 16 metres in width and 3,500 tonnes.
Work is, however, required on the ageing structure, in particular the wooden jetty. Should this collapse, the port would be closed.
A need was seen to diversify the cargo. In past times the trade was mainly in fertiliser, cement and timber.
Nowadays, agricultural commodities provided the core business and a need was seen to diversify.
Stone quarries and biomass were seen as possibilities.
Beyond that it was suggested that a mini-marina capable of handling 40 to 50 small craft could be used to bring ashore cruise passengers in tenders.
He also felt more could be done with regard to river trips and said the reinstatement of net fishing should be an attraction.
However, he urged people to be realistic.
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Berwick was never going to rival the Tyne port or any of today’s superports. the realistic aim was to make more of what we have already..
In response to a question about the proposed mini-marina, Mr Irving referred to a town plan some while ago which had suggested that up to 300 craft could be accommodated in one.
This, he said, was quite unrealistic.
Comparisons with Amble were not valid as its marina had been built in conjunction with neighbouring property, something not possible in Berwick.
Around 20 would be more feasible, he said.
Having small boats in the dock area itself was out of the question as smaller craft could be crushed.
Economics too showed why the focus had always been on large ships in that it would take 1,200 small craft to bring in the same payment as that for one vessel for a night’s mooring.
Still, although the North Sea was not for most sailors and the river itself is tricky, Berwick could be a stop on the way to Scotland or to travel down the east coast of England.
One member of the audience was keen to see a return of the ferry across the River Tweed.