Birtley, near Bramley in Surrey, has been the focus of activity after the Trust was able to acquire a 900-metre stretch of abandoned canal in 2018 thanks to the generosity of an overseas member.
The ambition is to fully restore this picturesque section with the first phase involving the creation a new canalside walk and the first of two lift bridges (Birtley Bridge 1).
Work began in earnest 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.
The temporary deck will be replaced in due course. Planning permission for a second lift bridge (Birtley Bridge 2) has been granted and we are working to get a design approved in principle for lifting bridges, which will then be used for Birtley Bridges 1 and 2.
Birtley Bridge 2 will replace an existing bridge but a gas main obstructs the area and discussions are underway with the gas company to divert this so work on the bridge can begin. The causeway also needs to be removed, and more fencing installed for the section north of the second bridge.