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Beverley Joins Modern Hanseatic League

Hanseatic League

Beverley has received a much-needed boost to lift the spirits of the town when, after months of negotiation, it was announced this weekend that Beverley had been accepted as a full member of the Modern Hanseatic League. Pictured above celebrating this success at the head of Beverley Beck - the very location that was a thriving part of the original organisation - are Cllr Linda Johnson, Mayor of Beverley Cllr Tom Astell, Beverley's Hanseatic leader Hamish Stewart and Cllr Denis Healy.

Speaking from Germany, the Head of the Hanseatic League, Stefanie Bischof said; "The argument that Beverley used to be a production place for fabric and cloth that was traded with Hanseatic merchants, with direct trade links to Hanseatic ports has been convincing, and I can confirm that Beverley's membership of the Modern Hanseatic League has been approved today."

During the 1300s and 1400s Beverley was a large trading port and one of England’s leading manufacturing towns with thriving wool, cloth, linen and leather industries. At one stage it was the 10th largest town in England. Goods produced in Beverley were transported by barge from Beverley Beck to Hull, ready for shipment to other parts of Europe. Some ships from Beverley even sailed directly from Beverley Beck to major trading ports in Northern Europe and the Baltic.

The Guilds (Hanses) and merchants from towns all over Europe traded very profitably from Beverley. In 1350 the Hanseatic League was formed to establish duty-free trading links between selected ports throughout Northern Europe. Over 200 towns from 19 countries traded through the medieval Hanseatic League which came to dominate maritime trade for the next 400 years.

Beverley merchants made sure that they were fully involved in this free-trade organisation which brought significant competitive advantage to the town by the removal of import and export tariffs. The town’s markets were opened up and this allowed it to maintain its position as one of England's leading towns.

The commercial importance of the Hanseatic League began to fade in the 18thC. However, in 1980 the Modern Hanseatic League was formed to reconnect the original Hanseatic trading towns across Northern Europe for the purposes of business, tourism, education, sport, culture and international friendship. 

To become a member of the Modern Hanseatic League, a town has to be able to clearly demonstrate that it was a full trading member of the original medieval league.

Hamish Stewart, a local retired businessman spent his entire career selling British made goods all over the world, which included all countries trading in the Hanseatic League. He was encouraged by Beverley Town councillors to set about the huge challenge of undertaking the research to prove Beverley's trading membership of the original Hanseatic League. 

Hamish spent many months locating and researching original documents as well as talking to historians, before presenting Beverley's case to the Modern Hanseatic League.  Today, at a specially convened meeting in Germany to examine this application in detail, it was confirmed that Hamish's efforts had been successful and that Beverley had been admitted as the 195th town in the Modern Hanseatic League, the town's claim for being an original trading member of the medieval league having been proven.

On hearing the exciting news Hamish said; "I am absolutely over the moon for the town. The Modern Hanseatic League encourages its members to visit, study and work in the other towns. They arrange sporting fixtures and educational visits to learn about each other's culture. Beverley's schools, colleges and young people's organisations will all derive major benefit from developing links with similar educational establishments and organisations across Northern Europe. The hard work in establishing Beverley’s membership credentials will now pay off for us all in many different ways”

Professor Barbara English, the well-known local historian was equally excited: "I am delighted to hear about the success of Beverley in being admitted to the Hanseatic League. This is a very important initiative which will raise the tourist and commercial profile of our historic town."

Cllr Denis Healy, leader of the ruling Liberal Democrat group on Beverley Town Council said; "I can't thank Hamish enough for the huge effort he has put into researching and proving Beverley's historical trading membership of the medieval Hanseatic League. The decision today will have some very significant tourist benefits, because Beverley's profile will now be raised among the other 194 European member towns, with international tourists wanting to visit us once we recover from this awful pandemic and the town begins to return to normal.  2021 is going to be an exciting year as Beverley starts to benefit from the huge potential that membership of the Hanseatic League gives us, and we will also be celebrating the 1300th anniversary of the birth of the town's founder, St John of Beverley, next year too. The Hanseatic news gives us real hope and confidence to look forward to next year when we hope that tourism will return, trade will thrive and the old normal that we all cherish is once again part of our lives. On behalf of Beverley Town Council, we would like to thank the Hanseatic League for admitting Beverley to membership and to Hamish for everything he has done to get us there."

Click here to find out more about the Hanseatic League via their official website.

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Bertie Beaver

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Beverley Town Council

12 Well Lane

Beverley

East Yorkshire

HU17 9BL

clerk@beverley.gov.uk

01482 874096