Timber decking removed from bridge linking England with Scotland as £10.5m restoration project progresses

Restoration work on the Union Chain Bridge.Restoration work on the Union Chain Bridge.
Restoration work on the Union Chain Bridge.
A new phase of restoration work on a cross-border bridge is underway.

The timber deck, or floor of the Union Chain Bridge, is now being removed piece by piece.

If all the individual timbers were laid end to end they would reach from the Union Chain Bridge to another famous crossing some five miles down river - Berwick Old Bridge.

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Work on the 200-year-old structure, which connects England with Scotland near Horncliffe, got underway in October and will take around 18 months - during which time it’s completely closed.The wire ropes installed in 1903 will also soon be de-tensioned before being cut into sections and lifted off the bridge.

Works will then concentrate on removing the hangers and preparing the chains for removal – a symbolic moment when the bridge will temporarily no longer cross the river.

Cllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “This is the start of a crucial year for the project – one which will see the whole bridge be taken down and slowly be put back together again.

“We have some fantastic teams working on site using a range of innovative techniques as they approach a number of key milestones on this ambitious scheme."

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

It follows 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.

Both councils committed match funding totalling £5.7m towards the £10.5m scheme, with other fundraising activities continuing to be progressed by the Friends of Union Chain Bridge in support of the project.

Built in 1820 by Captain Samuel Brown, the Union Chain Bridge is the oldest operational chain suspension bridge in the world still carrying vehicles - when it’s not closed to traffic for restoration!

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The project team are currently recruiting archival research volunteers to help uncover the untold stories of the bridge.

For more information about the volunteering roles available or for general updates please visit www.unionchainbridge.org

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