© Mouth of the Tweed 2016
In the 16th century, the Guild of Berwick controlled all the salting, packing and exporting of 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. At that time the English Crown gained one barrel in every twelve exported from the port of Berwick. In 1568, 60 barrels were sent to Queen Elizabeth I as the royalty on the 720 barrels exported that year.
Salmon, grilse and sea-
By the 18th and 19th centuries large quantities of salmon, grilse (young salmon) and sea trout were being sent by sea from Berwick to London.
In the summer, the fish were sent to London ”cured”, or pickled. By the end of the 18th century, the trade in cured salmon had declined and most of the fish were being sent fresh to London, packed in pounded ice which preserved it in good condition for up to six days. The first cargoes of Tweed salmon packed with crushed ice were shipped from Berwick in 1788.
Until the 1830s, the fish were carried to London in fast sailing ships called Berwick smacks, many of which were built at Berwick and Tweedmouth. Some of the vessels had water-
From 1838, a faster and more reliable service was provided by steamships like the ”Manchester” and “Rapid”, both owned by the Berwick Shipping Company, which later became the Tweed Salmon Fishing Company. The Company also owned several smacks, including the “Stately”, “King William” and “Ceres”.