Union Chain Bridge: linking engineering
- Author: Gordon Miller 1
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- Source: Proceedings of the ICE - Civil Engineering, Volume 159, Issue 2, 01 May 2006 , pages 88 –95
Civil and marine engineering have long been linked, but perhaps no more symbolically than by the Union Chain Bridge between Scotland and England over the River Tweed. It was built 186 years ago by Sir Samuel Brown, who made the transition from Royal Navy captain to designer of the world's longest iron suspension bridge in one single leap. This paper reports on his remarkable eight-year journey, from leaving the Royal Navy in 1812 to start an anchor-chain business to building the record-breaking Union Chain Bridge in 1820. He went on to design the Brighton Chain Pier and supply Isambard Kingdom Brunel with chains for his Great Eastern steamship, while his company remained the navy's sole chain supplier for over a century. Union Chain Bridge, which still carries road traffic today, thus serves as an inspiration to all engineers of the benefits of cross-disciplinary thinking.