Historic bridge restoration moves a step closer

11 Jul 2017

 

An ambitious £8m project to safeguard the future of the Union Chain Bridge near Berwick has moved a step closer.

Northumberland County Council, Scottish Borders Council and the ‘Friends of Union Chain Bridge’  are working together on a scheme to secure funding to restore the crossing to its former glory. 

The internationally significant bridge, constructed in 1820 and spanning the River Tweed on the Anglo-Scottish border requires urgent conservation and engineering repairs to secure its future. It has been on Historic England’s ‘Heritage at Risk’ Register since 2013.

A funding bid for the restoration is now being prepared for the Heritage Lottery Fund, with a maximum of £5m available towards the bulk of the work.

The County Council’s Cabinet today (July 11th) unanimously agreed recommendations to contribute funding over three years towards the scheme, with both Northumberland and Scottish Borders Council ultimately contributing towards the project. Other stakeholders will also be making significant contributions.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet member for environment and local services, said: “The Union Chain Bridge is of international significance but its condition has been of growing concern for a number of years.

“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 bridge itself is a single suspension span of 137m of timber construction supported from wrought iron chains by wrought iron hanger bars. If these vital repairs are not undertaken, the bridge would ultimately close to vehicles, losing its World status as the oldest surviving suspension bridge carrying traffic, causing serious loss to the local community.