The Friends of the Union Chain Bridge support
THE UK YEAR OF ENGINEERING 2018
“there is no technical triumph in bridge building more worthy of appreciation than Union Chain Bridge”
Heritage Lottery Fund Success!
The £7.3 million project to repair and restore the Bridge moved a significant step forward this week with the approval, by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), of Northumberland County Council’s first-round bid and the allocation of a development grant of £360,000 to work up the scheme over the next twelve months towards a second-round submission.
The project includes not only the vital repair and restoration of the Bridge but also a raft of cultural, heritage, educational and community activities, providing learning opportunities for young people and developing a range of cross-border heritage projects and partnerships in which the Friends will be closely involved. The essential restoration of the Bridge will be used to develop educational resources for science, technology, engineering and maths subjects , from primary and first schools up to postgraduate level, “inspiring a new generation to choose careers in science and engineering” say the Bid’s main promoters, Northumberland and Scottish Borders Councils.
It is plainly evident that the HLF were impressed by the strength of local support for the bid from the Friends’ 600-strong membership and the local communities on both sides of the River, as well as the large number of letters of support from individuals and organisations throughout the UK and the USA, Japan and Norway. Without this support, the bid would have been that much weaker.
P Gordon Miller
The Trustees of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge announce with great regret the death of their Patron, Gordon Miller, on Saturday February 17th 2018.
Over a period of almost half a century, Gordon Miller had gained an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Union Bridge and Samuel Brown, culminating in the publication, with his co-author, Stephen K Jones, of Samuel Brown and Union Chain Bridge in December 2017.
The Trustees wish to record their gratitude to Gordon Miller for his wisdom and guidance and his devotion to the cause of the restoration project since the formation of the Trust in 2014, and over the preceding decades.
Des Clarke’s Try-athlon Challenge
26th February 2018
On Monday February 26th , comedian and radio presenter Des Clarke attempted to swin the Tweed from the Scottish to the English bank, under the Union Bridge,as part of his Try-athlon challenge in aid of Sport Relief – to learn to drive a car, ride a bike and swim. It was a bitterly cold afternoon and the river was full and, as the BBC’s Sport Relief programme was screened on Wednesday March 21st, we are delighted to report that Des successfully completed the challenge….but we have to warn against attempts to emulate this fete because of the treacherous currents underneath the Bridge. But well done Des!!
Bid to include Union Chain Bridge among 100 most important sites
20th February 2018
The Union Chain Bridge has been nominated for a list of 100 most important historic places in England.
Following the submission of a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to safeguard the future of the structure in December 2017, the Union Chain Bridge has been put forward for Historic England’s 100 most important places, buildings and historical sites, with a panel of expert judges to decide on its inclusion.
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 first round 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, with a decision due at the end of March 2018, it will move into a one year development phase to progress the scheme further, ahead of a second round submission.
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.
Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for the Environment and Local Services with NCC, said: “It’s fantastic that such an iconic structure has been nominated for inclusion on this prestigious list.
“So much joint work has gone on behind the scenes on both sides of the border to submit our HLF funding bid and this nomination is another example of how important the Union Chain Bridge is.”
Gordon Edgar, SBC’s Executive Member for Roads and Infrastructure, said: “I am pleased that the Union Chain Bridge has been put forward to Historic England for its 100 most important places, buildings and historical sites.
“Alongside our colleagues at Northumberland County Council and the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, we believe this bridge is of huge historical significance and inclusion on this list would provide further weight to our hopes of maintaining the structure for years to come.
“A successful HLF bid would also see the Union Chain Bridge deliver a series of cultural, heritage and community benefits for the local area.”
Robbie Hunter, Chair of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, added: “Inclusion on the Historic England 100 list would go a long way to enable the bridge to be fully recognised for what it is, one of the most important engineering structures in the UK and one which has had a big impact on the development of suspension bridges around the world.
“We should hear next month if the first round HLF bid has been successful and I am hopeful we are nearing the end of our journey to save this beautiful bridge.’’
HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND BID SUBMITTED
4th December 2017
The long-awaited bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to safeguard the future of the Bridge was submitted on the 1st December. Pupils from Norham St Ceolwulf’s First School in Northumberland and Swinton Primary School in Berwickshire were joined by Friends’ Chairman, Robbie Hunter and Councillors from both sides of the border on December 4th 2017 to mark thishistoric occasion. It is hoped that an HLF grant will deliver numerous cultural, heritage and community benefits as well as securing the primary objective of the local communities – the repair and restoration of a cherished and invaluable local amenity.
Cllr Gordon Edgar, Scottish Borders Council’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 each have pledged £1 million to the overall costs”
Cllr Glen Sanderson, Northumberland County Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment and Local Services, said: “We’re delighetd 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.”
Friends’ Chairman, Robbie Hunter, added: “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”
The bid focusses on conserving and raising awareness of the imternationally 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 (the decision is due in March 2018) it will move into a one-year development phase to progress the scheme further, ahead of a second-round submission in March 2019.
Definitive History Published
1st January 2018
Gordon Miller and Stephen K Jones’ newly-released history of the Union Bridge and its designer and builder, Capt Sir Samuel Brown, with a “bonus” chapter on the Brown’s chainworks, Brown Lenox & Co., is now available. See our Publications page for further details and a downloadable order form.
Visitors from Japan
12th October 2017
The Friends hosted a visit by two prominent Japanese bridge engineers on the 12th October 2017. Professor Hiroshi Isohata, a civil engineer now Professor ofCivil Engineering at Nihon University, Tokyo, and Dr Kitagawa, a research consultant, formerly of the Agency of Culture of the Japanese government, were in the UK on a study tour and met Friends’ trustees and patrons for a briefing onthe progress of the retoration project. Both had previously visited the Bridge and Professor Isohata, who published an article on the Bridge’splight intheJapanese Bridge and Foundation Magazine in 2015, isinstrumental in promoting a project to recognise the Bridge internationally on its bicentenary in 2020. Friends’ patron, Gordon Miller, briefed the visitors on previous restoration works and on a controversial proposal to remove the wire supporting ropes added in 1902 as part of the forthcoming restoration.