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Union Chain Bridge becomes International Historic Engineering Landmark

Date
17 July 2023

It is the oldest vehicle-carrying catenary bridge in the world.

Union Chain Bridge becomes International Historic Engineering Landmark
The renovation of the Union Chain Bridge was recently finished. Image credit: Jim Gibson

A 203-year-old bridge that connects England and Scotland has been recognised as an International Historic Engineering Landmark.

The Union Chain Bridge, which connects the two nations across the River Tweed, is the oldest vehicle-carrying catenary bridge in the world.

When it was built in 1820, it was the longest span bridge in the world, at 133 metres.

To celebrate the structure’s reopening on July 6 after a £10.5m refurbishment, a plaque marking its landmark status was unveiled by the American and Japanese Societies of Civil Engineers (ASCE, JSCE), the Institution of Structural Engineers and the ICE.

The refurbishment work was paid for by Northumbrian County Council, Scottish Borders Council, and heritage sources including the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the ‘Friends’ of the bridge, who raised £300,000.

Former ICE Gold Medallist winner and ICE Fellow Professor Roland Paxton and the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge, of which he is patron, were instrumental in the refurbishment and preservation efforts.

Professor Roland Paxton on the Union Chain Bridge
Professor Roland Paxton on the Union Chain Bridge. Image credit: Jim Gibson

'Significant retention of its 1820 fabric'

"This achievement fulfils the promises made at the very first meeting of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge," Professor Paxton said.

"The councils are to be congratulated on restoring the bridge for vehicular use with significant retention of its 1820 fabric."

Director, ICE Scotland, Ben Westland said: "Not only was the incredible achievement of Captain Samuel Brown, the designer of the Union Chain Bridge, celebrated, but the efforts of the Friends of the Union Chain Bridge were rewarded with international recognition of this historic civil engineering landmark."

Projects which have also been named as an International Historic Engineering Landmark include the ICE’s HQ, One Great George Street, the Panama Canal, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Belfast Rail Link in Dublin, the Eiffel Tower and the Forth Bridge.

  • Gordon Brown, communications lead at ICE