Union Bridge 1820

Union Bridge 1820

The Bridge

The Union Chain Bridge became the UK’s first vehicular suspension bridge when it connected England and Scotland with a crossing of the River Tweed in 1820. The Royal Navy officer, Captain Samuel Brown, had been developing wrought iron chains and realised their use on bridge construction.

The bridge has undergone development and renovation over the past two centuries. Cables were added in 1902 and the deck has been renewed. The bridge is currently undergoing major restoration work.

When Bill Brown delivered his ‘History of Suspension Bridge Design’ presentation to engineering conferences and audiences throughout the world he would begin with a feature on the Union Bridge.

Union Bridge

Chain suspension bridge linking England and Scotland

Key Facts

Wrought iron chains used for bridge suspension

Much cheaper and faster to build than a masonry bridge


Horncliffe in England to Fishwick in Scotland

Across the River Tweed


Captain Samuel Brown


Chain suspension bridge

110m main span

137m total length

Main contractors

Captain Samuel Brown (chains and deck)

John Rennie (masonry towers)


Began in August 1819

Opened July 1820

Other long-span bridges