Union Chain Bridge up for top 100 rating
The Union Chain Bridge has been nominated for a list of the 100 most important historic places in England.
Following the submission of a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to safeguard the future of the structure in December, the bridge has been put forward for Historic England’s 100 most important places, buildings and historical sites.
Scottish Borders Council (SBC), Northumberland County Council (NCC) and community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge are jointly working on the £7.3million project to secure its status, ahead of its 200th anniversary in 2020.
The first round HLF bid focusses on conserving and raising awareness of the internationally-significant bridge and its nearby attractions, providing sustainable learning opportunities for young people inspired by the bridge’s innovative engineering and developing meaningful cross-border heritage projects and partnerships.
If the project passes the HLF first round, with a decision due at the end of March, it will move into a one-year development phase to progress the scheme further, ahead of a second-round submission.
Built by Captain Samuel Brown in 1820, the Union Chain Bridge is currently the oldest operational suspension bridge in the world still carrying vehicles, and through securing support from HLF, it is hoped the bridge can also deliver numerous cultural, heritage and community benefits.
Coun Glen Sanderson, cabinet member for the environment and local services with the county council, said: “It’s fantastic that such an iconic structure has been nominated for inclusion on this prestigious list.
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“So much joint work has gone on behind the scenes on both sides of the border to submit our HLF funding bid and this nomination is another example of how important the Union Chain Bridge is.”
Robbie Hunter, chairman of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, added: “Inclusion on the Historic England 100 list would go a long way to enable the bridge to be fully recognised for what it is, one of the most important engineering structures in the UK and one which has had a big impact on the development of suspension bridges around the world.
“We should hear next month if the first-round HLF bid has been successful and I am hopeful we are nearing the end of our journey to save this beautiful bridge.”
Gordon Edgar, SBC’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, said: “Alongside our colleagues, we believe this bridge is of huge historical significance.”
He added: “Inclusion on this list would provide further weight to our hopes of maintaining the structure for years to come.
“A successful HLF bid would also see the Union Chain Bridge deliver a series of cultural, heritage and community benefits for the local area.”