Bridge between Scotland and England set for closures

A historic bridge linking Scotland with England is to close for up to 10 weeks.

The series of closures of the iconic Union Chain Bridge will be taking place as further progress is made on the second round National Lottery bid.

The closure, which will be intermittent, begins on Monday 10 September and runs from 9am to 5pm, with the bridge open at weekends.
Pedestrians and cyclists will continue to be able to use the bridge but may face short delays at times until it is safe to cross.

In order to minimise the impact for local residents and nearby visitor attractions, and because of the nature of the works, there may be periods during this time when the road is open to all traffic and diversion and advance warning signs will notify drivers of this happening.

A fully signed diversion route will be in place for the duration of the closure, which will allow the development activities to support the second round bid to take place, including a masonry inspection, investigation of the existing paintwork, strain gauge monitoring and handrail works.

The works are required as part of an ambitious project to conserve the historic bridge, which is currently in a one year development phase after initial support for National Lottery funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was approved in March 2018, securing a £360,000 development grant.

It meant the £7.3million project could be progressed further, ahead of a second round submission.

The bid focuses on conserving and raising awareness of the internationally significant bridge, which celebrates its 200th birthday in 2020. Scottish Borders Council, Northumberland County Council, community group the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge and Museums Northumberland – formerly known as the Woodhorn Charitable Trust – are working together on the scheme.

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 National Lottery support, it is anticipated that the bridge project can also deliver numerous cultural, heritage, educational and community benefits.

A spokesperson for the partners of the Union Chain Bridge project said: ‘We realise this is a lengthy daytime closure but it is absolutely essential as part of the second round bid to the National Lottery to help us determine the condition of the bridge.

‘Alongside conserving and promoting the Union Chain Bridge, our project also aims to raise the profile of nearby attractions, providing learning opportunities for young people inspired by the bridge’s innovative engineering, and developing meaningful cross-border heritage projects and partnerships.

‘We hope local people understand the need to closure the road to vehicles during weekdays, with the bridge fully open to all at weekends and still open Monday to Friday for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.’

The Union Chain Bridge project also aims to use the structure and its conservation to develop educational resources and case study materials for the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths subjects from primary schools up to postgraduate level.

This would aim to inspire a new generation to choose careers in science and engineering and to follow in the footsteps of Captain Samuel Brown.