Union Chain Bridge champion wins award

ONE of the people behind the campaign to preserve the historic Union Chain Bridge linking England and Scotland across the River Tweed has been chosen as the winner of the Tweed Forum River Champion Award.

Edward Cawthorn from Berwick was a founding member of the “Friends of the Union Chain Bridge”, which was formed in 2014 to protect the bridge and raising awareness of its engineering and historical importance.

Spanning the Tweed between Horncliffe in England and Hutton in Scotland, the 200-year-old bridge is the oldest vehicular suspension bridge in the world and is recognised as an “International Civil Engineering Landmark”.

It was the world’s longest chain suspension bridge when it opened in July 1820 and was built using innovative manufacturing and engineering techniques that were hugely influential in the development of suspension bridges around the world.

Strategically important at the time for facilitating trade between Scotland and England and connecting communities on either side of the river, the bridge had fallen into disrepair and had been threatened with closure.

The retired local government officer, one-time soldier and community champion became the driving force in a campaign to raise the funds required to save the bridge.

His efforts were instrumental in the friends’ group raising more than £250,000 in funding toward the cost of repairing the bridge.

Restoration work has now begun and is expected to be completed late next year.

Cawthorn said: “I’m delighted to accept the Tweed Forum River Champion Award on behalf of my fellow trustees, the friends members worldwide and the volunteers, partners and funders who have given their time, expertise and generous financial assistance to ensure the survival of this exceptional engineering landmark.

“It’s extremely rewarding to be part of a project that we know will continue to serve Border communities for generations to come and which we hope will inspire school pupils and students to become the engineers of the future.”

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