Architects appointed for historic bridge project

The Union Chain Bridge
The Union Chain Bridge

Conservation architects Spence & Dower have been appointed to advise on the development and delivery phases of the £7.3million project to conserve the Union Chain Bridge.

National Lottery development funding of £360,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was approved in March, enabling the project to progress further.

On completion of this development phase, the project will then submit more detailed proposals to HLF to secure a full grant of £3.1million.

Scottish Borders Council, Northumberland County Council, community group The Friends of the Union Chain Bridge and Museums & Archives Northumberland are working together on the scheme, which is due for completion in spring 2021.

Ponteland-based Spence & Dower handles the conservation of a wide variety of historic structures, from coke works to country houses and war memorials to watermills and is currently working on a large-scale project at Belsay Hall for English Heritage and development work for various listed farmsteads on sensitive archaeological sites.

Spence & Dower’s previous historic bridge projects have included Prebends’ Bridge, Durham (1778) and Chantry Bridge, Morpeth (1869).

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 National Lottery support, it is anticipated that the project can also deliver numerous cultural, heritage, educational and community benefits as well as the upgraded structural work ensuring a further 120 years of use.

It is hoped to stage bicentennial celebrations close to the bridge, during the delivery phase.

As well as securing the status of the historic bridge, the project also aims to raise the profile of nearby attractions, providing learning opportunities for young people inspired by the bridge’s innovative engineering, and developing meaningful cross-border heritage projects and partnerships.

This includes using the bridge and its conservation to develop educational resources and case-study materials for the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths subjects from primary schools up to postgraduate level, to inspire a new generation to choose careers in science and engineering and to follow in the footsteps of Captain Samuel Brown.

For more information about the bridge and to find out further details about The Friends of the Union Chain Bridge group, visit www.unionbridgefriends.com
On Sunday, the Two Nations Run – which features 7k and 1.8k courses and crosses the Union Chain Bridge – takes place.

For more details, including entry information, visit the Friends’ website.