Time capsules buried at historic bridge
21 Sep 2023
Time capsules have been buried at each end of the award-winning Union Chain Bridge connecting England and Scotland.
Restoration of the 203-year-old structure, the oldest vehicle suspension bridge in the world was completed earlier this year after every single piece was removed, checked and restored or replaced before being carefully reassembled.
Now, capsules have been lowered into the inspection chambers at both sides of the bridge, providing a fascinating insight of life in the UK in the 2020s and the work that went into the painstaking restoration scheme
The specially sealed canisters contain numerous items, from newspapers, to postcards, schoolwork about the bridge created by local students and even a selection of UK currency – which may or may not be in circulation when the capsules are unearthed by future generations.
Also inside the two capsules is a specially commissioned piece by Borders artist Rosemary Everett, where the two halves of the piece can be put back together using fish hooks once the containers are eventually opened.
Becki Cooper, Learning and Outreach Officer (STEM) with Museums Northumberland explained: “The time capsules will prove a fascinating find in years to come as and when the community decide to open them – which might be 150 years from now.
“The community has played a key role in this, putting forward ideas and contributing items for consideration. We’ve involved local schools, residents from both sides of the border and local interest groups – all of whom have items now buried.
“It was fitting so many people could join us to see the time capsules go underground on the bridge’s two hundred and third birthday celebrations.”
Councillor John Riddle, Cabinet Member for Highways at Northumberland County Council, said: “Now restoration is complete, this fantastic bridge should outlast all of us but it’s great that these capsules will give people in the future a glimpse into how we lived and what the restoration involved.
A spokesperson for Berwick Preservation Trust said: “It has been a pleasure to be involved with the renovation of the Union Chain Bridge over the years but particularly helping with the time capsules that have been buried on site.
“It should be fun for local people of the future to open these and see what life was like in Berwickshire and Northumberland in the 2020s!”
The structure which is a key transport link between Scotland and England and received around £4.5million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in September 2019.
The ambitious funding bid was put together by Northumberland County Council, Scottish Borders Council, Museums Northumberland and community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, following serious concerns about the long-term future of the world-famous structure.
Both councils committed match funding towards the scheme, with other fundraising activities progressed by the Friends of Union Chain Bridge in support of the project.
Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Union Chain Bridge is a testament to the UK’s remarkable industrial heritage, and it is fantastic that after more than 200 years this amazing structure, which connects Scotland and England, is still at the heart of many stories for the community and further afield.
“We are thrilled that the Heritage Fund, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, was able to support the painstaking and innovative restoration project to secure the bridge’s future ensuring it is valued, cared for and sustained for everyone’s future.
We are also delighted that our funding also supported an exciting programme of community engagement activities, including the creation of the time capsules, which we hope to see inspire the next generation of engineering enthusiasts to continue to build on this fascinating heritage.”