The earliest records referring to the fisheries date back to the early 12th century when, sometime before 1122, Ralph Flambard, Bishop of Durham, made a grant of the fisheries of “Eldredene” (Allerdean) and “Haliwarstelle” (Hallowstell, or “holy man's fishery”, at Spittal). Hallowstell and the adjacent Sandstell fishery continued in operation until 2000, giving a continuous recorded history of almost 900 years of salmon fishing at the mouth of the Tweed.
Since the early medieval period, the waters of the Tweed have been divided into more than three dozen individual salmon fisheries, or “stations”.
During the 16th century, Berwick’s Merchant Guild regulated all the fisheries from Horncliffe down-river to Spittal, and lettings were restricted to Freemen of the town. The Guild also controlled all the salting, packing and exporting of Tweed salmon. The Regulations of the Guild required that the merchants employ only “sworn packers of salted or dried salmon”, who had to take an Oath before entering the trade.
By the end of the 19th century, the rights to two thirds of the fisheries were owned by the Berwick Salmon Fisheries Company, which was founded originally in 1766 as the Berwick Shipping Company.