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UK Suspension Bridge Celebrates Bicentenary

Friday, July 31, 2020

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The Union Chain Bridge—a 200-year-old link between Scotland and England over the River Tweed—celebrated its bicentenary last week with an international historic civil engineering landmark designation by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The celebration will continue with its 10.5 million-pound ($13.7 million) restoration project, due to begin in August.

Bridge History

The 450-foot structure opened on July 26, 1820, and is the first transport-bearing suspension bridge in Europe and was designed by Captain Samuel Brown. (The bridge still carries vehicular traffic, making it the oldest traffic-carrying suspension bridge in the world.)

Mark Hope, CC-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Union Chain Bridge—a 200-year-old link between Scotland and England over the River Tweed—celebrated its bicentenary last week with an international historic civil engineering landmark designation by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Brown invented and patented the design for iron chain cables, originally used as anchors, during his time in the Royal Navy. After he came up with the design for the bridge, the Berwick and North Durham Turnpike Trust came up with the 7,700 pounds needed to construction the bridge.

Construction began in August 1819, and the bridge was complete a month earlier than the estimated 12-month schedule.

Restoration

The project, which is slated to take 16 months, is partially financed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (3 million pounds) and the Northumberland County and Scottish Borders councils (5.7 million pounds). Other funding efforts are still underway.

Other than a deck replacement in 1974, the bridge has needed little maintenance throughout the years, and the restoration project seeks to ensure it stays that way.

“The Union Chain Bridge was the first of its kind in the world when it was built and needs to be maintained for perpetuity because it is an iconic structure,” said Joe DiMauro, project manager for general contractor Spencer Group. “It’s been in place for 200 years and this work will enquire it will remain for another 200.”

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Maintenance + Renovation; Restoration

Comment from John Forrest, (7/31/2020, 1:44 PM)

I wish there had been more information regarding how the bridge works - I have never heard of a "chain cable bridge". Also, more information as to what exactly was to be done to restore it.


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