Bridge hosts meeting of engineering minds

A delegation of eminent American engineers has travelled thousands of miles to the Union Chain Bridge to hear about plans to conserve the iconic structure.

Friday, 9th November 2018, 10:30 am
Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers History and Heritage Committee visited Union Chain Bridge on the Scotland-England border alongside a group of their British counterparts from the Institution of Civil Engineers

Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ History and Heritage Committee visited the bridge, spanning the River Tweed on the Scotland-England border, alongside a group of their British counterparts from the Institution of Civil Engineers.

The Friends group hosted the visit and discussed the efforts to preserve the bridge ahead of its bicentenary in 2020.

The Union Chain Bridge project is currently in a one-year development phase after initial support for National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund was approved in March 2018, securing a £360,000 development grant.

It meant the £7.3million project could be progressed further, ahead of a second round submission next year, with the bid focussing on conserving and raising awareness of the internationally significant bridge, and the community and educational opportunities.

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Robbie Hunter, chairman of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, said: “It was a privilege to welcome this group of renowned engineers from the United States to find out more about the Union Chain Bridge, which remains the oldest suspension bridge in the world still carrying vehicles.

“The visit shows the significance of the bridge and the importance of the efforts of the partners to conserve the historic crossing for future generations.”

Among those in attendance were Professor Roland Paxton from Heriot Watt University, a patron of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, engineer Greg Simpson, from Northumberland County Council (NCC), and Project Co-ordinator Jane Miller who spoked about these exciting plans which are being taken forward by the Friends, Scottish Borders Council, NCC and Museums Northumberland.

John Home Robertson, a trustee of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge and the Paxton Trust, then arranged a visit to nearby Paxton House where a painting of the bridge by Alexander Nasmyth and the only known portrait of Samuel Brown – who built the bridge in 1820 - are on display.

Before leaving, the visitors were presented with copies of Gordon Miller’s book ‘Samuel Brown and Union Chain Bridge’ by Robbie Hunter, Chair of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge.

Mr Hunter said: “It was a privilege to welcome this group of renowned engineers from the United States to find out more about the Union Chain Bridge, which remains the oldest suspension bridge in the world still carrying vehicles.

“The visit shows the significance of the bridge and the importance of the efforts of the partners to conserve the historic crossing for future generations.”