Union Chain Bridge scheme clears first funding hurdle

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Image source, Scottish Borders Council
Image caption,
The bridge links Scotland and England across the River Tweed

A £7.3m project to overhaul a historic bridge linking England and Scotland has achieved a key financial goal.

A first round Heritage Lottery Fund bid for the Union Chain Bridge project has secured a £360,000 development grant.

It allows the project to move forward ahead of a submission for second round funding.

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

The funding bid was submitted by Scottish Borders Council (SBC), Northumberland County Council (NCC), Woodhorn Charitable Trust and community group Friends of the Union Chain Bridge.

The two local authorities have both committed £1m to the scheme.

Image source, Friends of the Union Chain Bridge
Image caption,
The two councils said a lot more work needed to be done to secure second round funding

It is hoped the upgrade could be completed by 2020 in time for the bridge's 200th anniversary.

SBC's Gordon Edgar welcomed the development grant approval.

"A significant amount of hard work by both councils, the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge and other parties has gone into getting the project to this stage, and there is a lot more to do to pass the second round," he said.

"However, the support we have had from across the globe shows the importance of the bridge, and I am positive that if successful this project can provide significant cultural, heritage, educational and community benefits."

Image source, Friends of the Union Chain Bridge
Image caption,
The project has been described as a "transformative" one for communities on both sides of the border

Glen Sanderson of NCC called it "fantastic news".

"So much work has gone on behind the scenes on both sides of the border over the past year to allow us to submit such a strong bid," he said.

"This must be one of the first projects of this size to be cross council and it's great to be able to do away with the border between England and Scotland to reach common ground.

"We're now looking forward to moving into the next round with renewed enthusiasm."

Rowan Bridge of the Woodhorn Charitable Trust described it as a "transformative project" which would benefit communities on both sides of the border.

"I am confident that the restoration will provide great opportunities and benefits to this area and I look forward to seeing this project through to its conclusion," added Robbie Hunter who chairs the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge.

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