Bridges update


Following our blog last year on Scotland’s Bridges we thought we update you on the latest bridge news, although this bridge is not exclusively Scottish-it is shared with our English neighbours.

Historic Bridges

Another one of Scotland’s (and England’s) historic bridges hit the headlines recently when it was re-opened after a major re-fit. The Union Chain Bridge was the longest wrought iron suspension bridge in the world when it opened in 1820 and is the world’s oldest vehicle suspension bridge. Spanning the River Tweed, it connected Scotland and England and cut out a long detour either downstream to Berwick-upon-Tweed or upstream to Coldstream.

Designed by Captain (later Sir) Samuel Brown RN, who held patents for the design of the chains, he altered the tower and abutments on the suggestion of John Rennie. Construction began in 1819 and the bridge was completed in less than a year. The opening ceremony saw 700 spectators cross the bridge. Tolls were charged until 1855.

The Future

The recent renovations aren’t the first time the bridge has had major work carried out on it. It has been strengthened and refurbished several times with the bridge deck replaced in 1871 and 1974 and cables added in 1902.

As the years passed the bridge needed yet another refurbishment and in 2013 it was expected to close. However a campaign was started to raise funds to carry out the works needed. With funding from Historic England, Scottish Borders Council, Northumberland County Council Work and the National Lottery Heritage Fund work was started in October 2020, but due to the covid-19 pandemic there were delays. Now with all parts having been removed, checked, replaced or restored the bridge was finally opened again on 17th April 2023. This historic crossing is once again carrying vehicles and pedestrians.

Watch drone footage of the works-

Watch the first pedestrians and vehicles cross the newly opened bridge-

You can find books and articles about bridges and engineering using Library Search




Read our previous post about bridges of Scotland here

By Vivienne Hamilton

photo source Bjorn Snelders