Decent turnout to say happy birthday to chain bridge

Horncliffe’s Chain Bridge Honey Farm hosted a birthday picnic to celebrate the 201st birthday of the Union Chain Bridge’s opening.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 4:13 pm
Rag Bag Morris devised a Union Chain Bridge dance specially to celebrate the bridge. Picture by Jim Gibson.

Musicians Paul Hutchinson and Sophy Ball entertained the socially-distanced audience with music that was popular at the time the bridge opened in 1820, and local dancers Rag Bag Morris premiered their specially devised Union Chain Bridge dance.

Honey Farm products and memorabilia produced by the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge were on sale.

Matt Storey, from the Union Chain Bridge project team, said: “When the bridge opened in 1820, it was with lots of celebration and fanfare, so we were trying to recreate a little bit of that.

The Time-Travelling Tea Tent picnickers dressed for 1820. Picture by Jim Gibson.

“Being outside, a picnic seemed the safest way to hold a birthday party for the bridge – not that it is currently all there, of course!”

Work on conserving the bridge continues, with this month seeing the start of the reconstruction process.

In September 2019, plans to fully restore the bridge received £3.14million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

It followed an ambitious funding bid put together by Northumberland County Council, Scottish Borders Council, Museums Northumberland and community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, after serious concerns about the condition of the world-famous structure.

Musicians Sophy Ball and Paul Hutchinson performed music from the 1820s. Picture by Jim Gibson.

Both councils committed match funding totalling £5.7million towards the scheme, with other fund-raising efforts by Friends of the Union Chain Bridge.

The restored bridge is due to re-open in early 2022.

Picnickers enjoyed the warm weather and historic sights at the Chain Bridge Honey Farm. Picture by Jim Gibson.