Engineers’ visit to Union Chain Bridge

Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers' History and Heritage Committee visited Union Chain Bridge on the Scotland-England border alongside a group of their British counterparts from the Institution of Civil Engineers including Professor Roland Paxton from Heriot Watt University, a patron of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge.
Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers' History and Heritage Committee visited Union Chain Bridge on the Scotland-England border alongside a group of their British counterparts from the Institution of Civil Engineers including Professor Roland Paxton from Heriot Watt University, a patron of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge.

A delegation of American engineers travelled thousands of miles to the Union Chain Bridge over the River Tweed, to hear about plans to conserve the iconic structure.

Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ History and Heritage Committee visited Union Chain Bridge on the Scotland-England border with a group of their British counterparts from the Institution of Civil Engineers including Professor Roland Paxton from Heriot Watt University, a patron of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge.

The Friends group hosted the visit, and discussed efforts to preserve the bridge ahead of its bicentenary in 2020.

The Union Chain Bridge project is currently in a one year development phase after initial support for National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was approved in March 2018, securing a £360,000 development grant.

It meant the £7.3million project could be progressed further, ahead of a second round submission next year, with the bid focussing on conserving and raising awareness of the internationally significant bridge, and the community and educational opportunities.

Engineer Greg Simpson, from Northumberland County Council (NCC), and project co-ordinator Jane Miller were also in attendance to talk about these exciting plans which are being taken forward by the Friends, Scottish Borders Council, NCC and Museums Northumberland.

John Home Robertson, a trustee of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge and the Paxton Trust, then arranged a visit to nearby Paxton House where a painting of the bridge by Alexander Nasmyth and the only known portrait of Samuel Brown – who built the bridge in 1820 - are on display.

Before leaving, the visitors were presented with copies of Gordon Miller’s book ‘Samuel Brown and Union Chain Bridge’ by Robbie Hunter, Chair of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge.

Mr Hunter said: “It was a privilege to welcome this group of renowned engineers from the United States to find out more about the Union Chain Bridge, which remains the oldest suspension bridge in the world still carrying vehicles.

“The visit shows the significance of the bridge and the importance of the efforts of the partners to conserve the historic crossing for future generations.”