Canal boats will be able to travel to the Sussex-Surrey border on the Wey & Arun Canal for the first time in over 145 years when a new fundraising appeal launched by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust (WACT) proves successful.
WACT hopes to raise £365,000 and the Trust estimates that volunteer work will reduce the cost by at least 50%.
The Trust hopes to start work on restoration of Gennets Bridge Lock in mid 2013. The construction of this lock will ultimately allow boats to travel northwards from the popular Loxwood Canal Centre in West Sussex up to the Surrey border for the first time since the canal was abandoned in the late 19th Century.
"This is the next stage of an ambitious environmental and heritage conservation project in West Sussex," said WACT director and project manager Eric Walker MBE. "Restoration of the lock will extend the recreational amenity that the canal offers to the community, will enhance the natural environment and promote biodiversity."
Reconstruction of Gennets Bridge Lock marks the next stage in the efforts by the Trust's members who have been working to restore the Wey & Arun Canal between Guildford in Surrey and Pulborough in West Sussex since 1970. The lock will be on the 136-mile Sussex Border Path and the 36-mile long Wey South path.
Planning permission for the work at Gennets Bridge Lock was granted by Chichester District Council in October 2011 but fundraising could not start in earnest until construction on the previous lock, Southland, neared completion.
WACT has already spent £20,000 on surveys and other preliminary activities.
"Most of the work will be undertaken by volunteers but some critical parts of the construction project will need to be undertaken by contractors," said Eric. "We hope to have raised enough money to enable these elements of the work to be carried out this Summer, 2013, to take advantage of dry weather conditions."
To contribute to the project, or to keep a track of the fundraising progress, please visit www.weyandarun.co.uk.