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Canal restoration reopens historic Wey & Arun Lock

Nearly 200 years after Southland lock on the Wey & Arun Canal was built, restoration work is complete and boats can use it once again.

The official opening of the restored lock was marked by a special event organised by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust (WACT) on Saturday 21 June to celebrate completion of the three-year project.

More than 150 people attended the event to see Mr Simon Carter officially open the lock and hear music from the Friary Guildford Brass Band before celebrating with a barbecue lunch.

The lock was originally built between 1813 and 1816 but was demolished in the 1930s when the canal had fallen into disuse and many of the bricks reused on other local building projects.

Reconstruction of the lock was a major challenge for the Trust, not just financially but also logistically as the site is located more than a mile from the nearest public road. WACT chairman Sally Schupke said that the Trust is very grateful for the help of the local landowners in easing the logistics of the work.

"None of this would have been possible without the enthusiasm of the adjacent landowners. Their support made all the difference," she said.

More than £125,000 was reduced from the cost of the £0.5M reconstruction work thanks to the Trust's workforce of volunteers led by Project Manager Eric Walker. Nonetheless, the project still called for the engineering expertise of others including Burras Piling, the main contractor for the piling behind the new lock walls and Hargreaves Foundry in Halifax who made and fitted the lock gates.

With Southlands lock completed, the focus of

the restoration work will now move northwards.

WACT is working on major restoration schemes near Bramley at the northern end of the canal and near Dunsfold at the summit of the waterway.