Compasses Bridge Appeal
Work has started on building a new Compasses Bridge that will enable part of the Wey & Arun Canal in Surrey to be fully opened to boats for the first time in more than 150 years.
Contractors are carrying out preparatory earthworks for the new crossing of the canal in Compasses Lane, Alfold, at one of the entrances to Dunsfold Aerodrome – as pictured.
They are first of all forming a working platform using compacted clay and crushed stone to provide a firm surface for their machinery.
Towards the end of June, the contractors will be drilling holes into the ground and forming the piles which will support the new bridge. Then the actual bridge construction can start.
Work on the bridge – which is expected to take about six months – is being done with the co-operation of aerodrome owners Dunsfold Park and local landowners. Newsletters giving regular updates on the work are being circulated to people living nearby.
Over next winter, Trust volunteers will prepare the site for the road into the aerodrome complex to be realigned. Contractors will return to do this in spring 2016, followed by the partial demolition of the causeway.
The bridge will replace a wartime concrete causeway which is now the only obstacle to navigation on one-and-a-quarter miles of the canal between Tickner’s Heath in Dunsfold and Fast Bridge on the A281 at Alfold. Silt clearance and bank reprofiling has already taken place along this stretch of the canal.
It is hoped to reopen the canal between Tickner’s Heath and Fastbridge in 2016, in time for the 200th anniversary of the Wey & Arun Junction Canal being declared open at the Compasses site in September 1816. The regenerated Surrey section will bring more opportunities for Trust boat excursions and boating events.
The Trust has so far raised more than £424,142 – 60 per cent – towards the £700,000 cost of the restoration project.
Further donations are, of course, needed to help the Trust complete the Compasses Bridge Project. Direct donations via credit and debit cards can now be made via the Donate Now button on the home page.