Beacon repair plan sparked by Queen's birthday

Repairs need to be carried out to the beacon on Berwick's ramparts if it is to be lit for the Queen's 90th birthday next month.

Friday, 11th March 2016, 8:17 am
Repairs to the beacon on the town walls will hopefully take place before the Queen's birthday
Repairs to the beacon on the town walls will hopefully take place before the Queen's birthday

Berwick Town Council has agreed to investigate the situation and has requested three tenders for the work before it is taken back to the finance committee for further discussion.

Councillor Alex Gibson said: “It came up at a Berwick in Bloom meeting. They thought it would be a good idea to light up the beacon for the Queen’s 90th birthday but it turns out the column is unsafe. It’s corroding and there are holes in it.”

He got in touch with local joiner Michael Lee, whose firm put the beacon in place some 20 years ago, to find out about the costs involved but was informed by other councillors that two more quotes would be needed to meet council procedure.

If tenders are received in time, it will be put on the agenda for the April finance committee and the full council meeting. It was acknowledged this might not give enough time to get the beacon fixed in time for the Queen’s birthday on April 21.

Councillors also noted that consent might be needed from Historic England which would make the timescale even more difficult to meet.

It was suggested that Berwick Rotary Club might be able to advise. It was the lead organisation when the beacon was last lit for the Queen’s diamond jubilee in 2012.

“They did the risk assessment for that so I suggest getting in touch with them,” said Mayor Hazel Bettison.

However, local resident John Haswell felt that Berwick’s effort in 2012, done with a gas canister, was disappointing compared with those along the coast at Holy Island and Bamburgh.

Councillor David Blackburn added: “Unfortunately I think a really good idea could be destabilised by timing issues.”

Meanwhile, the council has agreed to plant three commemorative trees in Berwick, Tweedmouth and Spittal.

It has been suggested that Malus Royalty trees are bought. They would grow to 13-14 feet high with purple foliage, pink blossom and dark red fruit in autumn.

Members agreed to contact local garden centres and ask if they have the trees available.

Councillors felt Berwick in Bloom was best placed to decide where the trees should be planted.

It is planned to buy commemorative plaques to be dedicated at each location by the Mayor on April 21, or during the three day celebrations planned in June.