Updated plans to secure the future of a historic Northumberland bridge given the go-ahead

Updated plans which will secure the future of a historic transport link between England and Scotland for another 120 years have been given the go-ahead.

Sunday, 24th November 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Monday, 25th November 2019, 2:33 pm
The Union Chain Bridge. Picture from Northumberland County Council

The approval on Thursday, November 21, of an amended application to refurbish the Union Chain Bridge means that work is on track to start early next year.

At the March meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council, members unanimously approved an application for listed building consent for essential conservation and structural repairs to the structure which crosses the River Tweed at Horncliffe.

The condition of the grade I-listed chain suspension bridge is poor and it is listed on the national Heritage At Risk Register. Not only does it require repair and repainting, it needs to be brought up to modern standards if it is to remain in use for vehicles.

Then, in September, it was confirmed that the project had been awarded £3.14million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council contributing another £3.4million in total.

And now, the local area council has unanimously approved some changes to the works that will be carried out, which have come about following further investigations and finalisation work in the wake of the funding success.

The repairs are very extensive, with seven mechanical elements requiring removal, cleaning, inspection, repair or replacement, and a further four non-mechanical pieces needing repair and alteration work.

The wrought-iron structure was designed by former Naval captain Samuel Brown and, at the time of completion in 1820, was the longest single-span iron suspension bridge in the world at 449 feet in length.

It was the first vehicle bridge of its type in the world and to this day is the oldest of its type to still carry regular vehicle traffic.

Brown’s patented chain-link system was pioneering at the time it was developed and the Union Bridge is one of the few remaining structures with the original chains intact.

Elsewhere, an application by Asda in relation to an air-handling unit at its Tweedmouth store was being recommended for refusal, but was withdrawn by the supermarket at late notice.

Councillors were told that the applicant is to remove the unit, which has been the subject of noise complaints, and submit a bid for a new one. The authority will consider enforcement action if the current plant is not taken down.