Celebrations planned to mark 200th anniversary of iconic bridge linking England with Scotland

A day of digital celebrations is to mark the 200th birthday of the world-famous cross-border Union Chain Bridge.

Wednesday, 22nd July 2020, 7:00 am

There will be a range of online activities sharing the history and heritage of the oldest operational chain suspension bridge in the world still carrying vehicles.

The content will be available on Sunday, July 26 from around 10am on the newly-created Union Chain Bridge project website - unionchainbridge.org and also throughout the day on the Berwick Museum & Art Gallery Facebook page.

Initially a day of celebrations, including family and community events as well as a symposium involving prestigious international guest speakers, was to have taken place at the bridge to mark the occasion, but the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures mean this isn't possible.

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Chain Bridge spanning the Tweed, and the border between England and Scotland at Horncliffe.

Among the highlights of the day will be a short film, commissioned especially for the bicentenary and produced by professional filmmaker Hayley Repton.

The film features recent drone footage of the bridge, costumed interpreters, and the poem ‘The Union Chain Bridge’ by William Molle narrated by local volunteers.

There’ll also be downloadable activities giving younger audiences the opportunity to make a model Union Chain Bridge, the sharing of a collection of people’s memories of the bridge, while a number of local families in Paxton, Horncliffe and the surrounding area will be receiving a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) kit giveaway.

The bridge, which spans the River Tweed between Scotland and England, received £3.14million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund in September 2019.

A major renovation project is planned.

The ambitious funding bid was put together by Northumberland County Council, Scottish Borders Council, Museums Northumberland and community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, following serious concerns about the condition of the world-famous structure.

Both councils have 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.

Cllr Glen Sanderson of Northumberland County Council said: “This will be a great day of celebration for everyone connected with the Union Chain Bridge.

“While we would all have loved to be gathering at the bridge it just hasn’t been possible but I’m sure everyone will enjoy the online activities that are planned.”

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