Historic bridge closed to vehicles

The Union Chain Bridge
The Union Chain Bridge

An iconic border bridge is being closed to vehicles to allow a funding bid to move forward.

The Union Chain Bridge, the oldest operational suspension bridge in the world, was built in 1820 and spans the River Tweed between England and Scotland.

A four-week daytime closure of the bridge starts on Monday, to allow an inspection which is required before a further bid is made for more lottery funding.

The principal inspection will see the bridge at Horncliffe shut to vehicles from 9am to 3.30pm on weekdays, with the road open at weekends. Pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians will still be able to use the crossing during its closure.

The inspection is required as part of a project to conserve the historic bridge, which is currently in a one-year development phase after initial support for National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was approved in March, securing a £360,000 development grant.

It means the £7.3million project could be progressed further, ahead of a second-round submission where a final decision is made on the full funding award of £3,140,000.

Scottish Borders Council, Northumberland County Council, the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge and Woodhorn Charitable Trust are working together on the scheme.

A spokesman for the project partners said: “We were delighted to pass the first-round HLF stage, with our bid focusing on conserving and raising awareness of the internationally-significant bridge, which celebrates its 200th birthday in 2020.

“We are now working hard on our second-round submission, which this closure is a vital part of. While we realise it will have an impact on local people, efforts have been made to minimise the disruption as much as possible.”