Restoration of the 202-year-old structure, the oldest vehicle suspension bridge in the world, got underway in October 2020 and teams of engineers have worked through a global pandemic and the extremes of British weather.
Northumberland County Council earlier this year said that due to the complex nature of the bridge, which spans the River Tweed near Horncliffe, and the delicate measures required to ensure it is refurbished and restored to its former glory, the scheme was taking longer than expected.
The local authority was able to give a positive update this week. After a lengthy process to dismantle the crossing point and inspect, repair and refurbish all the bridge’s components, work is now complete on installing all the chains and the deck hangers and engineers are now rebuilding the timber bridge deck.
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After that, handrails and the deck running surface will be re-instated and the bridge will once again be opened to pedestrians, cyclists and cars – set to be this autumn.
Cabinet member for local services, John Riddle, said: “It’s fantastic to see this amazing project entering the final stages and really looking like a bridge again.
“It has been and remains a very technical and challenging scheme, and everyone working on the bridge deserves credit for finding solutions to issues and never wavering in their enthusiasm to restore this magnificent structure back to its former glory.
“We’re really looking forward to the bridge re-opening in the near future.”
The project received £3.14million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in September 2019. The ambitious funding bid was put together by the county council, Scottish Borders Council, Museums Northumberland and community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, following serious concerns about the condition of the structure.
Robbie Hunter from Friends of the Union Chain Bridge said: “It is so exciting to see the bridge restoration nearing completion.
“The last 18 months with the bridge closed has shown how much the communities on both sides of the river rely on it and thank goodness it has been saved for future generations.”