A major restoration achievement was celebrated on Saturday 28th October 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 700 metre section of Canal and construction of two lift bridges which means that the causeways that blocked the route of the canal have been removed. At the official opening by Mary Creswell, Deputy Lieutenant of Surrey atended by over 150 members and guests she paid tribute to the tremendous amount of work carried out by volunteers on the project and said “What a great achievement and an asset for Surrey”.
The two bridges are the biggest piece of the Canal Trust’s Birtley current 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 distance between the two bridges is about 600m. The two bridges have the same dimensions. They are 3.0m wide with a clear span of 4.5m. The steel decks weigh 3.5 tonnes with 1.5 tonnes of lifting frames and 4 tonnes of concrete counterweights.
Chairman Sally Schupke comments that this project is big for the Canal Trust and big for Surrey and really demonstrates the achievements of our volunteers and what can be done and really benefits the community.
The Canal Trust is keen to improve the next section to the south (Fanesbridge/Rooks Hill). This will create more atractive canalside walks and recreation opportunities. An application for planning permission is currently with Waverley Borough Council.