South Scotland

Union Chain Bridge funding bid lodged

Union Chain Bridge Image copyright Scottish Borders Council
Image caption School pupils from both sides of the border helped mark the submission of the funding bid

A funding bid has been lodged for a £7.3m overhaul of a historic bridge linking Scotland and England.

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

Pupils from schools on both sides of the border marked the submission of the Heritage Lottery Fund bid.

If successful, it is hoped the work can be completed in time for the bridge's 200th anniversary in 2020.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC), Northumberland County Council (NCC) and community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge are working on the scheme.

Image copyright Scottish Borders Council

Both councils have committed £1m towards the project.

The HLF bid hopes to conserve and raise awareness of the bridge which is said to be the world's oldest operational suspension bridge still carrying vehicles.

If it passes the first round, it will move into a one-year development phase to progress the scheme further, ahead of a second round submission.

Gordon Edgar, SBC's executive member for roads and infrastructure, said: "This is a significant moment for the Union Chain Bridge and the campaign to safeguard its future and provide various benefits to the community.

"The importance of the bridge is highlighted by the various letters of support the HLF bid has received from across the world, including Canada, Japan and Norway."

Image copyright Friends of the Union Chain Bridge

Glen Sanderson, NCC's cabinet member for the environment and local services, said: "We're delighted to have reached this major milestone in this project.

"So much work has gone on behind the scenes on both sides of the border and I appreciate everything that's been done so far to allow us to submit a strong bid.

"It's a superb example of organisations working together and we look forward to hearing whether our first round bid has been successful next spring."

'Iconic and important'

Robbie Hunter, who chairs the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, said he was "delighted" the bid had been submitted.

"The restoration of this iconic and important bridge would be a very worthy recipient of HLF funding and we look forward to hearing the HLF board's decision next year," he said.

"I have been very impressed by the level of support we have received from the local community‎ but also internationally, particularly from bridge engineers.

"It would be a tragedy if we cannot start the restoration of the bridge in time for its bicentenary in 2020."

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