South Scotland

Union Chain Bridge work secures increased funding support

Union Chain Bridge Image copyright Friends of the Union Chain Bridge
Image caption Scottish Borders Council has agreed to increase its contribution to the bridge overhaul

A council has agreed to increase its financial contribution to a proposed £7.8m upgrade of a bridge linking Scotland and England.

The Union Chain Bridge - built in 1820 - crosses the River Tweed from Fishwick in Berwickshire to Horncliffe in Northumberland.

It has been on Historic England's Heritage at Risk register since 2013.

Scottish Borders Council had already committed £550,000 to the overhaul but has now agreed to contribute £1m.

When it was officially opened nearly 200 years ago, the structure was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge in the world.

However, it has become structurally unsafe and can now only be accessed by one light vehicle at a time.

Northumberland County Council (NCC), Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and the Friends of Union Chain Bridge are working together on the project to safeguard the future of the bridge near Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Image copyright Friends of the Union Chain Bridge
Image caption The total cost of the upgrade project is nearly £8m

Gordon Edgar, SBC's executive member for roads and infrastructure, said the bridge provided a vital link.

"It is very important that we retain this bridge," he said.

"It connects the communities on both sides of the river so it improves the economy in the area - it increases the job prospects for the people in the area."

He said the historic importance of the structure also justified the level of investment being agreed.

"It is almost 200 years old and it has served the community well for that time," he said.

"It will, if refurbished, serve the community for another 200 years.

"This is an opportunity - at a reasonably economic cost - to retain it for the future."

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