1819: Construction Begins on a Suspension Bridge Between England and Scotland

August 2, 1819

Construction began on the Union Bridge, which spans the River Tweed between the village of Horncliffe in England and the parish of Fishwick in Scotland. This structure was designed by Captain Samuel Brown of the British Royal Navy. Brown, who would be knighted by Queen Victoria in 1838, was a pioneer in both the design and construction of suspension bridges in the United Kingdom.

Nearly a year after construction on it had begun, the Union Bridge (also known as the Union Suspension Bridge) was officially opened. As part of this dedication ceremony, Brown drove a horse-drawn curricle (a two-wheeled carriage resembling a chariot) across the newly completed bridge. The curricle towed a dozen carts altogether. Approximately 700 people then crossed the bridge by foot. (The above painting of the Union Bridge was created that same year by Scottish artist Alexander Nasmyth.)

At the time of its opening, the 449-foot (137-meter)-long Union Bridge was the world’s longest wrought iron suspension bridge. In addition, it was the first vehicular bridge of its kind in the entire United Kingdom. The Union Bridge remains in service today, and it has the distinction of being the oldest suspension bridge still carrying road traffic.

Image Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the Union Bridge, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Bridge,_Tweed

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