Friends of Chain Bridge call for community support

Heather Thompson  at  Chain Bridge.

Heather Thompson at Chain Bridge.

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With cross-border links very much under the spotlight, a new group has been founded to support the preservation of the Union Chain Bridge.

The historic suspension bridge spanning the River Tweed between Horncliffe and Fishwick - and linking England with Scotland - is approaching its bicentenary.

The Friends of the Union Chain Bridge aim to raise funds to publicise the bridge and commemorate its 200th anniversary in 2020.

An open letter penned by founder members Heather Thompson (Chain Bridge Honey Farm), Martha Andrews and Georgina Home Robertson (Paxton House) is encouraging local residents to join the group.

They said: “Designed and engineered by Captain Samuel Brown R.N. and opened in July 1820 this small suspension bridge is the earliest example still in use of a bridge type which led on quickly to the Clifton Bridge and eventually to the great suspension bridges of today.

“Its importance and significance as a unique example of early iron engineering innovation makes it so much more than a much loved local landmark and link between England and Scotland.

“While it already attracts many interested visitors the Friends would like to work together with both Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council to ensure that the bridge is restored, maintained and advertised as a major asset to the area. Our aim is to achieve the restoration in time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of its completion.

“Originally underwritten by a group of local individuals to promote trade and friendship across the area and supported by a toll charge for its use, the bridge eventually became the shared responsibility of the two regional councils.

“Although they are now in charge of its restoration and maintenance this will only be achieved if there is, once again, local demand, support and enthusiasm for its continued existence.”

The group’s first meeting is at Paxton House on June 25 at 7pm. It is being billed as an opportunity to show your support for the bridge and, if you wish, to become a member of the friends group by donating £5. Council heritage officer James Fell is due to attend.

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