Restoration hopes for historic bridge raised
The Union Chain Bridge at Horncliffe, has moved substantially closer to a full restoration in time for its 200th anniversary in 2020.
Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council, the joint proprietors of the bridge have committed funds to complete the preliminary designs of the refurbishment.
They have appointed Spence and Dower, conservation architects, to ensure all plans and designs meet listed building requirements and to ensure the unique character of the bridge is preserved.
The bridge was an engineering wonder when it was completed in 1820, being the longest suspension bridge in the world and the oldest vehicular suspension bridge in the world.
The full cost of the restoration is estimated to be in excess of £5million and an application is being made to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help finance the project. It is hoped that the results of the HLF application will be known by late summer.
Coun Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services at Northumberland County Council, said: “The Union Chain Bridge is an iconic structure, both in terms of its engineering significance and its role in connecting the two communities either side of the Tweed.
“It is right we do everything we can to conserve the bridge for future generations and to ensure it continues to serve those who live on both sides of the border.
“I would like to thank the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge for their continued efforts to raise the profile of the bridge and Scottish Borders Council for their continued support. We hope that this funding will give us the best possible chance of a successful HLF bid.”
East Berwickshire Councillor Michael Cook said: “Alongside our friends and neighbours at Northumberland County Council, Scottish Borders Council is committed to supporting the Union Chain Bridge project. The bridge is important on a practical level in linking families, friends, and neighbours across the Tweed, and is symbolically significant as a reflection of our shared culture and history.
“The Friends of the Union Chain Bridge have done an excellent job in galvanising support and enhancing the project’s prospects of success.”
Robert Hunter, chairman of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge said: “At last we are building up momentum for the restoration of the bridge in time for its 200th anniversary. If we are successful in obtaining HLF funding this will be one of the most important restoration projects in the region.”
He hoped the work would provide impetus for developing an educational and tourist asset.
It would also keep communities on both sides of the border connected.