Bridge restoration scheme enters its final phase
Painstaking work to fully restore the famous Union Chain Bridge connecting England and Scotland is entering its final stages.
Restoration of the 202-year-old structure, the oldest vehicle suspension bridge in the world, got underway in October 2020 and teams of engineers have worked through a global pandemic and the extremes of British weather to reach a point where the project is nearing completion.
After a lengthy process to dismantle the crossing point, inspect, repair and refurbish all the bridge’s components, work is now complete on installing all the chains and the deck hangers and engineers are now rebuilding the timber bridge deck.
After that, handrails and the deck running surface will be re-instated and the bridge will once again be opened to pedestrians, cyclists and cars this autumn.
Northumberland County Council Cabinet Member for Local Services John Riddle said: “It’s fantastic to see this amazing project entering the final stages and really looking like a bridge again.
"It has been and remains a very technical and challenging scheme and everyone working on the bridge deserves credit for finding solutions to issues and never wavering in their enthusiasm to restore this magnificent structure back to its former glory.
“We’re really looking forward to the bridge re-opening in the near future.”
Councillor John Greenwell, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Roads Development and Maintenance, said: “After so many years of partnership work to bring this project to fruition, including sourcing all the necessary funding, it is wonderful to see the progress being made on the Union Chain Bridge to bring it back into use shortly.”
Robbie Hunter from Friends of the Union Chain Bridge said: “It is so exciting to see the bridge restoration nearing completion. The last 18 months with the bridge closed has shown how much the communities on both sides of the river rely on it and thank goodness it has been saved for future generations."
The structure which is a key transport link between Scotland and England and received £3.14million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in September 2019.
David Renwick, Director, England, North, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support the restoration of the iconic Union Chain Bridge, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players. It’s fantastic to see that the work is nearing completion and that the reopening of the bridge is in sight.
“We’re also very proud to have supported the fantastic programme of ambitious activities that have run throughout the project allowing people to explore the heritage and stories of this magnificent structure.”
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.
As well as conserving the historic structure, the project team has also developed a comprehensive programme of community engagement and education activities.