A MAJOR restoration achievement was celebrated when the Wey & Arun Canal Trust officially opened its first two lift bridges in Birtley, near Bramley in Surrey.
This completes the restoration of a 700m section of canal and construction of two lift bridges which means that the causeways that blocked its route have been removed. The official opening by Mary Creswell, Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey, was attended by more than 150 members and guests. Paying tribute to the tremendous amount of work carried out by volunteers on the project, she said: “What a great achievement and an asset for Surrey.”
The two bridges are the biggest piece of the canal trust’s Birtley restoration programme. In 2018 the canal was severely overgrown, inaccessible to the public and blocked by two causeways.
The first task was to open a circular walk taking the path along the new section of canal, and back down the Downs Link path.
This new walking route has been enormously appreciated by local residents and highlighted the benefit of a restored canal. The two bridges are about 600m apart and have the same dimensions – 3m wide with a clear span of 4.5m. The steel decks weigh 3.5 tonnes with 1.5 tonnes of lifting frames and four tonnes of concrete counterweights.
WACT chairman Sally Schupke said this major project for the trust and for Surrey demonstrates the achievements of its volunteers and the benefits to the community. The trust is keen to improve the next section to the south (Fanesbridge/Rooks Hill). This will create more attractive canalside walks and recreation opportunities. An application for planning permission is currently with Waverley Borough Council.