Work set to begin on £10.5m restoration of historic bridge linking England and Scotland

Plans for a £10.5m restoration of the Union Chain Bridge linking England with Scotland have taken a big step forward.

Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 3:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th July 2020, 3:14 pm

Spencer Group have been appointed main contractor for a major programme of repairs on the oldest traffic carrying chain suspension bridge in the world.

The British company specialises in large engineering projects ranging from the design and build of green power stations, work across the UK rail network and construction and maintenance of complex suspension bridges.

The 200-year-old bridge, which spans the River Tweed between Horncliffe and Paxton, near Berwick, received £3.14million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in September 2019.

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Carol Whinnom, Museums Northumberland; Coun Glen Sanderson, Northumberland County Council; Coun Gordon Edgar, Scottish Borders Council; Glen Smithson, Spencer Group; Robbie Hunter, Friends of Union Chain Bridge.

Coronavirus restrictions meant the main works contract has been delayed but with restrictions now being relaxed, Spencer Group can now start on site in August, with social distancing and additional hygiene measures being followed.

The ambitious funding bid was put together by Northumberland County Council, Scottish Borders Council, Museums Northumberland and community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge.

Both councils have committed match funding totalling £5.7m towards the £10.5m scheme, with other fundraising activities continuing to be progressed by the Friends.

Gary Thornton, managing director of Spencer Group, said: “We’re delighted and honoured to have been selected to carry out such an important project and to have been given the responsibility to restore this precious structure for future generations.

“We appreciate fully the historical significance of the Union Chain Bridge and will be dedicated to giving it a new lease of life, while being meticulous in our work to retain its heritage.”

Coun Glen Sanderson of Northumberland County Council said: “This is a truly great project which must be the largest and most ambitious cross border and cross council joint endeavour ever.”

Coun Gordon Edgar of Scottish Borders Council added: “This is another hugely positive step forward for such an important project.”

David Renwick, Director, England, North, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We hope to see a positive economic impact on the area in the very near future.”

The 200th anniversary of the opening of the bridge is on July 26.

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