Bed and Breakfast
on the banks of the river Tweed
Chain Bridge House
Just in England............... almost in Scotland
THE UNION CHAIN BRIDGE
The Union Chain Bridge was designed and constructed by Capt (later Sir) Samuel Brown RN at a cost of £7,700 for the Berwick and North Durham Turnpike Trust and was opened on the 26th July 1820 to tremendous celebrations, Capt Brown, in an open-topped carriage, being followed across the bridge by several heavily laden carts to test and prove its strength.
At that time it was the only bridge over the River Tweed between Berwick and Coldstream and it was then the longest iron suspension bridge in the world and was the first in Great Britain to carry vehicular traffic, employing a revolutionary technique to suspend the deck, using iron bar chains instead of cables. However, it seems that in 1902 some concern was felt over the strength of the chains and two wire rope cables and further hangers were added to the structure. There are suggestions that the cables are now serving no useful purpose in supporting the bridge and that all weight is now borne by the chains of the original design.
The span between the towers is 437 feet and the bridge decking is 360 feet in length. On the Scottish side the tower is free-standing while on the English bank the chains are anchored into the cliff face which overlooks the bridge. The toll keeper's cottage at the foot of the English cliff was demolished in 1955 and a small forecourt was built on the cottage's foundations.
The bridge sways noticeably in the breeze; in high winds in 1953 it swung so far that it jammed in an extreme position and required extensive repairs which restrict vertical undulations to some 6 inches.
This graceful bridge, of great value to the local community (occasional closures involve a diversion of 11 miles) is the oldest chain suspension bridge in the United Kingdom carrying a public highway used by vehicular traffic. It is a Grade 1 listed building, a fine example of the pioneering techniques of 19th century engineers and a fitting memorial to its designer.
Look for the intertwined roses and thistles high on the parapets on both sides of the river, symbolising the strength of united kingdoms above the apposite maxim
“Vis Unita Fortior”
United Strength is Stronger