Lottery bid for Chain Bridge

Councillors Gordon Edgar (SBC) and Glen Sanderson (NCC) with pupils from schools on both sides of the border -  Swinton and Norham.
Councillors Gordon Edgar (SBC) and Glen Sanderson (NCC) with pupils from schools on both sides of the border - Swinton and Norham.

Swinton Primary and Norham First School pupils joined the celebrations to mark the submission of a Heritage Lottery bid to safeguard the future of the Union Chain Bridge.

They were joined at the cross border bridge over the River Tweed by the community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders councillors and members of the project team, who have been working together on the project and the first round Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) application.

Built by Captain Samuel Brown in 1820, the Union Chain Bridge is currently the oldest operational suspension bridge in the world still carrying vehicles, and through securing support from HLF towards the £7.3 million project, it is hoped the bridge can continue to do so, plus deliver numerous cultural, heritage and community benefits.

The HLF bid focuses on conserving and raising awareness of the internationally significant bridge and its nearby attractions, providing sustainable learning opportunities for young people inspired by the bridge’s innovative engineering and developing meaningful cross-border heritage projects and partnerships.

If the project passes the HLF first round, it will move into a one year development phase, ahead of a second round submission.

Gordon Edgar, SBC’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, said: “This is a significant moment for the Union Chain Bridge and the campaign to safeguard its future and provide various benefits to the community.

“Both Scottish Borders and Northumberland County councils are fully committed to this project, and have each pledged £1 million to the overall costs.

“A lot of work has been carried out to get to this stage, and there is still a lot to do, but working alongside Northumberland County Council and the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, I am confident this project can be a success.”

Robbie Hunter, chair of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, is hopeful of a positive outcome and added: “We look forward to hearing the HLF board’s decision next year.

“I have been very impressed by the level of support we have received from the local community but also internationally particularly from bridge engineers.

“It would be a tragedy if we cannot start the restoration of the bridge in time for its bicentenary in 2020.”