Engineering / Construction, Bridges
The Union Chain Bridge over the River Tweed is the oldest surviving iron chain suspension bridge still in use in Europe. It was also the first major bridge of its kind to be designed for vehicles.
This remarkable bridge was built by retired naval Captain Samuel Brown in 1819-20. Brown had pioneered the development of wrought iron anchor chains and rigging whilst still in the navy and had subsequently registered patents for chain links and for ‘improvements in suspension bridges’.
The bridge links Horncliffe on the English side, to Fishwick in Scotland. It took less than a year to build and, with a record- breaking span of 137m and cost just £7,700, it was significantly cheaper and quicker to build than a traditional stone bridge.
The bridge was christened ‘The Union Chain Bridge’ because it linked England and Scotland at a time when relations between the two countries were relatively prosperous following a century of ‘the Union’.