• Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

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Union Chain Bridge Heritage Lottery Fund bid submitted

Local children have helped mark the submission of a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to safeguard the future of the historic Union Chain Bridge.

Pupils from Norham C of E First School in Northumberland and Swinton Primary in the Scottish Borders were joined at the cross-border bridge by community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, Councillors from both areas and members of the project team, following the submission of the first round Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) application.

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 support from HLF, it is hoped the bridge can also deliver numerous cultural, heritage and community benefits.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC), Northumberland County Council (NCC) and community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge are jointly working on the £7.3m project to secure its status, ahead of its 200th anniversary in 2020.

The HLF bid focusses on conserving and raising awareness of the internationally significant bridge and its nearby attractions, providing sustainable learning opportunities for young people inspired by the bridge’s innovative engineering and developing meaningful cross-border heritage projects and partnerships.

If the project passes the HLF 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.

“Both Scottish Borders and Northumberland County councils are fully committed to this project, and have each pledged £1million to the overall costs.

“A lot of work has been carried out to get to this stage, and there is still a lot to do, but working alongside Northumberland County Council and the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, I am confident this project can be a success.”

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Local Services with Northumberland County Council, 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.”

Robbie Hunter, Chair of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, added: “On behalf of the Friends, we are delighted to see the Heritage Lottery application for funding being 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.

“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.”