Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.


Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Scottish Borders
Planning Authority
Scottish Borders
NT 93369 51019
393369, 651019


Captain Samuel Brown, Royal Navy, with advice from John Rennie, 1819-20; improved and strengthened by J A Bean for Tweed Bridge Trustees, 1902-3. Timber carriageway spanning River Tweed suspended from 3 pairs of swept, wrought iron chains of elongated eye bar links. Wrought iron bolt brackets link iron rod suspenders; upper wire cables. Iron railings threaded around suspenders enclosing sides. Channelled pink sandstone, tapering rectangular-plan pylon to W (Scottish) side with keystoned, round-arched opening at centre; mutuled cornice; tall parapet with carved roses and thistles surmounting central block inscribed 'VIS UNITA FORTIOR 1820' to E. Channelled pink sandstone, tapering pylon set into rock face to E (English) side with blocked, pilastered doorway centred at ground framing memorial plaque; mutuled cornice; tall parapet with carved roses and thistles surmounting central block also inscribed 'VIS UNITA FORTIOR 1820'. Rectangular-plan, pink sandstone piers flanking carriageway to W with rubble-coped rubble walls linking pylon to E. Pyramidal-capped, square-plan, pink sandstone piers flanking carriageway to W of E pylon; rubble-coped rubble walls to E.

Statement of Special Interest

The Union Suspension Bridge, erected on behalf of the Berwick and North Durham Turnpike Trust and opened 26 July 1820, is the first road suspension bridge in Britain and the oldest still in use as such (2014). For six years it had the longest span in the world, equal to a rope bridge in Tibet, until surpassed by the Menai Bridge.

Spanning the River Tweed (the county and national boundary between Scotland and England), this elegant chain bridge with sweeping chains and monumental pylons remains much as it was when first complete. Technological innovation enabled suspension bridges to span large widths at a fraction of the cost of their masonry equivalents - the Union Bridge being 368ft long, 18ft wide, 27ft above the water and having cost approximately 7500 pounds to erect. Brown's bolt brackets (patented by him in 1817) are used here for the first time. In 1902-3 the upper wire cables were added in case of a failure in the main chains and further suspenders added to the steel reinforcement at the sides of the timber deck. The deck was renewed in 1871 and again in 1974.

Captain Samuel Brown (1776-1851) joined the Royal Navy in 1795. Following the Napoleonic Wars, he formed a partnership with his cousin Samuel Lennox to manufacture anchor cable made from chain for use on naval vessels. Previously cables were made from hemp. His successful designs and the patents he took out on them meant he was soon the Admiralty's sole supplier of chain anchor cables. Beside his work for vessels, Brown also supplied the chainwork for approximately forty piers and suspension bridges. Brighton Chain Pier (1823) is a well-known example of the former and the Union Suspension Bridge being amongst the best examples of the latter. Suspension bridges using chain were known simply as chain bridges until wire cable suspension came in to use circa 1870; from this date this type of bridge is usually referred to as 'cable suspension bridge'.

The Union Suspension Bridge tollhouse is situated to the west of the bridge (see separate listing). 'Vis Unita Fortior' translates as 'United Strength is Stronger'.

'Union Suspension Bridge (That Part In England)' is also listed, Grade I in Horncliffe Parish, Northumberland.

Formerly a scheduled monument. De-scheduled 20 December 1999.

Listed building record and statutory address updated, 2014.



Thomson's Map, 1821 (Evident - Marked 'Union Bridge').

Sharp, Greenwood & Fowler's Map, 1826 (Evident - Marked 'Chain Bridge').

Ordnance Survey (1857) 25 Inch to the Mile: Ordnance Survey, London.

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Completed 1834, Published 1845) pp161-162.

Groome F. H. (1883) Ordnance Gazetteer, p281.

Lady Furness (1971) 'Netherbyres' Proceedings Of The Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, Vol XXXIX, pp14-15.

Hume J.R. (1976) The Industrial Archaeology Of Scotland, Vol 1 pp82-83.

'Captain Sir Samuel Brown Of Netherbyres' (1986) Proceedings Of The Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, Vol XLIII, pp73-79.

NMRS Photographic Records.

Cruft K, Dunbar J, Fawcett R (2006) The Buildings Of Scotland ' Borders. Yale University Press: London, p739.

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing and if a number or name is missing from a listing address it may still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing can also cover structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority advises on the need for listed building consent and they also decide what a listing covers. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


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Printed: 18/03/2019 19:45