Samuel Brown was born in London in 1776. His mother was from Roxburgh in Northumberland and his farther was from Borland in Galloway, so he may have retained local links.
He was an engineer who liked to experiment with new materials and techniques to build pioneering bridges and piers. He designed the worlds oldest vehicular suspension bridge, the Union Chain Bridge, over the River Tweed, in 1820. Despite his engineering achievements, Sam Brown wasn’t a trained engineer at all. In fact, he started out his career in the British Royal Navy.
Samuel Brown joined the Royal Navy when he was 19. At first, he served on the Newfoundland and North Sea stations, however later, he fought in the Napoleonic wars aboard HMS Phoenix and, by 1811, was promoted to commander. (Later, he became retired captain). While in the Navy, he saw an improvement he could make to hemp rigging. He devised and tested iron chain cable which worked so much better than hemp that the Navy adopted his design for the following 100 years.
After leaving the Navy, he developed his iron chain cable designs for use on suspension bridges and piers. He built constructions all over Britain, from Montrose to Brighton, to Kenmare (Co. Kerry), most successful, others less so. Possibly the most famous of his engineering feats still standing is the Union Chain Bridge between north Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. At the time, it was the first chain suspension bridge in Europe to carry wheeled traffic and remains the oldest still in use worldwide.