Latest news from Berwick History Society
In April, Berwick History Society's AGM provided a forum in which to announce that our chairman of the last eight years, Bernard Shaw, has decided to step down.
His former deputy David Conway, who takes up the reins, paid warm tribute not only to Bernard’s dedicated service, but also to that of his wife Margaret.
The society is glad not to be parting company with the Shaws altogether – Bernard will continue to be a member of the committee and Margaret has kindly offered to help keep track of the finances.
The AGM was followed by a fascinating and well-attended talk on Incendiary Letters and Iniquitous Practices: Smuggling on the North East Coast in the 18th Century, by Dr Tony Barrow.
The letters were addressed to usually woefully outnumbered customs officers by highly organised and often well-armed gangs of smugglers, who exploited the remote bays and inlets of this coastline to land major cargoes of commodities, such as tea and gin.
Boulmer was a village whose economy was at one time completely given over to illicit trade in contraband. Eyemouth’s secret cellars and passageways led to its being described as a “Swiss Cheese”, with almost as much scope for moving goods below ground as above.
And the astonishing figure of £7million is placed on the total value of smuggled goods (not only in the North East) in 1764.
Our first meeting of the 2017-18 programme will be held jointly with the Civic Society, in the Parish Centre, the Parade, at 7.30pm, on October 18.