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How to (re-)Build a Canal
Whenever a derelict canal is to be restored, the first practical job is to clear out and remove the growth of trees, bushes etc. which have grown up during the period when the canal was neglected. In the case of the Wey & Arun Canal the period of neglect had been well over a century.
Many of the original brick arch accommodation bridges had been allowed to decay and some had been demolished. A number of the locks which had survived, now had mature trees growing out from the chamber walls. Parts of the canal bed had been filled in and that which had escaped, was now completely overgrown.
Harsfold Bridge Appeal
The Trust is aiming to raise £85,000 to build a bridge at Harsfold, near Wisborough Green, replacing a causeway blocking the canal route. A legal agreement with West Sussex County Council and local landowners has been completed and the next step is to create a bridleway diversion. Work on the bridge is expected to begin in the autumn.
The bridge will be built entirely by volunteers and will carry the farm access track and bridleway path over the restored canal. It will feature a simple concrete bridge deck reinforced using steel beams embedded in the concrete. The proposed clear span of the bridge is 7 metres between abutments to span over the 4.4 metre wide standard canal. The extended span allows the foundations to be constructed at a level higher than the base of the canal, reducing the depth of excavation required during construction and enabling the canal to be formed at a later date. Exposed brickwork will cover the exposed faces of the wing walls and wrap around to the front of the abutments. The abutment face will be plain concrete cast against timber formwork. The top surface of the approach wing walls will be formed using coping stones.
The Trust is aiming to raise £150,000 for its Birtley project, near Bramley, allowing it to create a new circular walk in this picturesque area. The first phase of the work is to construct a lift bridge, for which planning permission was granted in April. Visiting working parties and volunteers have already created an access road and fenced off the adjacent farmland. It is hoped the bridge will be completed by Christmas.
Pictures of the work undertaken so far can be seen at https://weyarun.org.uk/restoration-birtley-album