Work begins on Union Chain Bridge restoration
Preliminary work has started this week ahead of the restoration of the famous Union Chain Bridge.
Contractors Spencer Group set up a works compound on the English side of the bridge this week, with a similar facility being installed on the Scottish side next week.
Work on the actual bridge, which celebrated its 200th anniversary last month, is due to start in October and take around 18 months.
It is another significant step for the structure which provides a key transport link between Scotland and England and received £3.14million 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 condition of the world-famous structure.
Both councils have committed match funding totalling £5.7m towards the £10.5m scheme, with other fundraising activities continuing to be progressed by the Friends of Union Chain Bridge in support of the project.
Earlier this month Historic England confirmed a £250,000 grant towards the scheme.
As well as conserving the historic structure, the project team has also developed interpretation proposals and a comprehensive programme of community engagement and education activities.
David Renwick, Director, England, North, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to see that the work to ensure the iconic Union Chain Bridge is progressing and that through a programme of ambitious activities, our funding will provide exciting opportunities for people to explore the heritage and stories of this wonderful structure.
“It is heartening for us to see this fantastic heritage scheme that will improve transport links and connectivity for the area extending across the Scotland-England border is well underway, and in turn we hope to see economic growth of the area increase further.”
Northumberland County Councillor Glen Sanderson said: “This is yet another milestone, with work starting in earnest preparing for the main bridge works next month.
“We’re delighted to have got to this point with compounds being set up as there’s been so much work on both sides of the border to get us to this point.”
Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Roads and Infrastructure, Councillor Gordon Edgar, said: This is another momentous day in the history of the Union Chain Bridge.
“To see work now getting underway is fantastic and it will help conserve the bridge for many years to come.”
Rowan Brown from Museums Northumberland said: “We're delighted to be working with Spencer Group, as well as our ever-growing number of Project Partners, to deliver new community resources, engaging activities, shared learning opportunities and to celebrate our incredible Bridge.
Robbie Hunter from Friends of the Union Chain Bridge said: “This year we are celebrating the 200th anniversary of an engineering icon - the opening of this bridge revolutionised bridge building.
“Its importance has been recognised by the presentation of a plaque by the Japanese and American Institutions of Civil Engineers, one of less than 100 engineering landmarks to have received such an accolade.”
Built in 1820 by Captain Samuel Brown, the Union Chain Bridge is the oldest operational chain suspension bridge in the world still carrying vehicles.
The project team would love to hear from anyone who’s got a story to share about the bridge.