Union Chain Bridge to shut for two weeks

PIC PHIL WILKINSON.
TSPL / JOHNSTON PRESS

The Union Bridge (also Union Chain Bridge ) is a suspended-deck suspension bridge that spans the River Tweed between Horncliffe, Northumberland, England and Fishwick, Borders, Scotland.
PIC PHIL WILKINSON. TSPL / JOHNSTON PRESS The Union Bridge (also Union Chain Bridge ) is a suspended-deck suspension bridge that spans the River Tweed between Horncliffe, Northumberland, England and Fishwick, Borders, Scotland.

The Union Chain Bridge over the River Tweed at Horncliffe will be closed to traffic for two weeks while site investigation work is carried out.

Funding for an £8m conservation and engineering programme for the bridge, the world’s oldest single-span suspension bridge still open to traffic, is being sought.

Scottish Borders Council and Northumberland County Council have each committed around £500,000 to the project, and site investigation work under way since Monday should yield a greater understanding of the status and condition of the bridge, on the English at-risk register since 2013, ahead of a bid for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The bridge, opened in 1820, will be closed to vehicles on weekdays from Monday, July 3, for a fortnight.

Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, said: “I am pleased we are seeing progress in the bid to retain the Union Chain Bridge as the world’s oldest single-span suspension bridge still used by traffic.

“The iconic crossing has provided a vital link between Scotland and England for almost 200 years, and we want that to remain the case.

“The short-term closure of the bridge to vehicles will cause some inconvenience but will provide important information for its long-term future.”

Robbie Hunter, chairman of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, said: “It would be an unforgivable tragedy if we failed to save this engineering icon.”

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Northumberland County Council cabinet member for environment and local services, said: “Along with our colleagues in Scotland we are committed to safeguarding its future and status, both as a key transport link and as a contributor to the local tourism economy.

“The site investigation work is vital ahead of any major project starting and engineers will be working to keep disruption to a minimum throughout.”