Berwick Royal Border Bridge illumination plans submitted

PLANS have been submitted which would fully illuminate an iconic Northumberland bridge, more than a year after it should have been lit up.

The Royal Border Bridge in Berwick lit up for its 160th anniversary
The Royal Border Bridge in Berwick lit up for its 160th anniversary

PLANS have been submitted which would fully illuminate an iconic Northumberland bridge, more than a year after it should have been lit up.

Northumberland County Council has lodged an application which would allow the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick to be completely illuminated – something which was supposed to happen in 2010.

Last night, one of the founders of the project welcomed the prospect of the landmark finally being fully lit up.

The 28-arch bridge, which carries the East Coast Main Line over the River Tweed, was designed and built by famous English civil engineer Robert Stephenson.

The bridge was first opened in 1850 by Queen Victoria.

In 2009, Berwick History Society and Cittaslow held a series of events to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Stephenson’s death in 1859.

The Stephenson 150 committee then decided to permanently illuminate the bridge as part of events to mark the 160th year of its opening in 2010, aiming to provide a new tourist attraction for Berwick.

A grand switch-on was planned for November 2010. But shortly before the event, bad weather and the effects of snow and ice on the river caused damage to underwater cables, meaning some of the lights would not work.

The switch-on was put back a month but when it went ahead that December, only some of the lights were operational.

Over a year later, with some of the lights still not working, the county council – which has taken over the project from the committee due to the costs involved – has now drawn up plans to run cabling over the bridge, which would allow it to be fully illuminated for the first time.

The authority will determine its own listed building consent application in due course.

A spokesperson for the council said: “Severe weather last winter affected the tides and currents in the River Tweed damaging the cabling that was installed to illuminate the Royal Border Bridge.

“In order to prevent this problem reoccurring in the future, we are now planning to route cabling over the bridge.

“Listed building consent is part of the process which will allow this to happen, and once we have this consent and a contractor is appointed we will be progressing with the work as soon as possible.

“We are committed to this ambitious project to showcase Berwick Bridge and when it is finished the lights will give this iconic landmark new prominence for local people and visitors to Berwick for many years to come.

“The lights will be constantly in use, and indeed the sections that are working at present are lit every evening.

“It is also possible to change them to programme them, to different colour schemes for example, for particular events or activities.”

Bernard Shaw, who was part of the Stephenson 150 committee, said: “We will be glad when it is all complete.

“We are confident that going over the bridge on dry land rather than under the river will provide the solution.”

The lights will give this iconic landmark new prominence for local people and visitors for many years to come

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer