Help needed to save Union Chain Bridge

Tthe Union Bridge spans the River Tweed connecting Scotland and England.
Tthe Union Bridge spans the River Tweed connecting Scotland and England.

A new local group aiming to raise money to preserve the Union Chain Bridge have been told new sources of funding are needed.

At their inaugural meeting, ‘The Friends of Union Chain Bridge’ heard from a professor of engineering about the importance of the bridge at Horncliffe, which will celebrate its bicentennial in six years’ time.

The aim of the group will be to help to raise money that will be put towards promoting and raising the profile of the remarkable structure.

It already has premier preservation status in England and Scotland and the cross-border bridge which spans the River Tweed has been listed ‘at risk’ by English Heritage. The cost of its repair and restoration is estimated at £4.7 million.

The bridge falls under the joint jurisdiction of Northumberland County Council and the Scottish Borders Council and there is confidence that the two authorities can work together on a Heritage Lottery bid to secure the bulk of the money needed for the restoration.

An active and strong friends group will give worthwhile support to the scheme.

The bridge was designed by Captain S. Brown RN and was the first of its kind for vehicles.

It is now the oldest surviving swing bridge to carry vehicles in Europe, as well as being rated a world-class icon of early British civil engineering.

However, current funds for any work on it are somewhat restricted as it is difficult to justify cost maintenance from the road repair budget, and thus additional funding from alternative sources is badly needed.