Birtley, near Bramley in Surrey, has been the focus of activity after we were able to acquire a 900-metre stretch of abandoned canal in 2018 thanks to the generosity of an overseas member. The restoration of this stretch including the construction of two lift bridges was completed in 2023. The restoration has also opened up a new circular walk taking in the restored section of canal the Downlink / Wey-South path.
Work began in earnest on the first bridge in summer 2019. Visiting working parties and volunteers fenced off the adjacent farmland and created an access track, along with tackling fallen trees and overgrown vegetation. A 300-metre length of three metre-wide surfaced towpath was added, and 350m of canal cleared.
In 2019 three weeks of Waterway Recovery Group Summer Canal Camps, along with the Trust's own working parties, completed the foundations and abutments of Birtley Bridge 1. In 2022 volunteers put the finishing touches to a temporary bridge deck, as well as installing three new gates, allowing the public safe access to the circular walk.
In the latter part of 2022 volunteers began work on Birtley Bridge 2, several hundred metres north of the first bridge. The project first involved relocating a gas main from under the canal and constructing a temporary bridleway for the public to use while construction goes on.
To create a dry surface to work the Trust invested in a Hippo Dam (Aquadam) which when pumped with water rolls out across the canal and creates a seal. This allowed the volunteers to excavate the area and dig a trench for SGN to place the new gas main in.
By the end of 2022 pilings had been installed and the first concrete pour for the foundation walls had been completed.By May 2023, the foundation abutments were completed and an order place for the superstructures for both bridges. The installation of both bridges was completed in October 2023 with an opening celebration taking place on 28th October 2023.