£15m proposal to develop Berwick Barracks is unveiled

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Berwick Barracks could be developed into an attraction drawing upwards of 60,000 visitors a year, according to a new study.

At present the site, managed by English Heritage, attracts around 10,000 visitors a year.

But heritage and culture specialists Jura Consultants, who conducted the feasibility study, believe that developing a heritage hub on the site could transform its fortunes.

The scheme could cost in the region of £15 million and, due to the large sums involved, would probably be phased.

But it won’t happen overnight, cautions Sir Philip Mawer – chairman of the Berwick Archive and Museum Action Group, which commissioned the feasibility study with Berwick Town Council.

He said: “Turning the vision into reality will take a great deal of both time and money. We’re going to have to raise many millions of pounds, so it will be quite a while before we can be confident that we can make it happen.”

The proposed project would involve bringing the Berwick Record Office and Archive to the site and integrating the three museums and two art galleries currently based in the barracks.

New facilities would include a café, an enlarged shop and education facilities. There could also be studio and retail space for artists, new spaces for community use, and accommodation for holiday lets.

The current museum collections – Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, the regimental museum of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, and English Heritage’s own display, would be reinterpreted and expanded to tell the dramatic and often bloody story of Northumberland and the Borders.

English Heritage’s Alex Sydney said it could take “about four to five years before the complete Heritage Hub would open its doors.”