A bridge between Scotland and England is at the centre of a bid to become one of 100 most important sites south of the border.
A bid to receive funding to preserve the Union Chain Bridge was made in December last year, and now it has been put forward for Historic England’s 100 most important places, buildings and historical sites, with a panel of expert judges to decide on its inclusion.
Scottish Borders Council (SBC), Northumberland County Council (NCC) and community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge are jointly working on the £7.3m project to secure its status, ahead of its 200th anniversary in 2020.
The first round HLF bid focuses on conserving and raising awareness of the internationally significant bridge and its nearby attractions, providing sustainable learning opportunities for young people inspired by the bridge’s innovative engineering and developing meaningful cross-border heritage projects and partnerships.
If the project passes the HLF first round, with a decision due at the end of March 2018, it will move into a one year development phase to progress the scheme further, ahead of a second round submission.
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 support from HLF, it is hoped the bridge can also deliver numerous cultural, heritage and community benefits.
Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Local Services with NCC, said: ‘It’s fantastic that such an iconic structure has been nominated for inclusion on this prestigious list.
‘So much joint work has gone on behind the scenes on both sides of the border to submit our HLF funding bid and this nomination is another example of how important the Union Chain Bridge is.’
Gordon Edgar, SBC’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, said: ‘I am pleased that the Union Chain Bridge has been put forward to Historic England for its 100 most important places, buildings and historical sites.
‘Alongside our colleagues at Northumberland County Council and the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, we believe this bridge is of huge historical significance and inclusion on this list would provide further weight to our hopes of maintaining the structure for years to come.
‘A successful HLF bid would also see the Union Chain Bridge deliver a series of cultural, heritage and community benefits for the local area.’
Robbie Hunter, Chair of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, added: ‘Inclusion on the Historic England 100 list would go a long way to enable the bridge to be fully recognised for what it is, one of the most important engineering structures in the UK and one which has had a big impact on the development of suspension bridges around the world.
‘We should hear next month if the first round HLF bid has been successful and I am hopeful we are nearing the end of our journey to save this beautiful bridge.’
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