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A MAJOR step towards completion of a new canal crossing at in Surrey was made when volunteer bricklayers began work.

Following on from contractors finishing the Compasses Bridge structure, the brickies are carrying out the next stage of a project that will see the reopening of a section of historic waterway.

They are laying the brick cladding on the new bridge, which spans the Wey & Arun Canal at the Alfold entrance to Dunsfold Park aerodrome and business complex.

This phase of the work began last weekend (Jan 23-24), when the bricklayers joined the Wey & Arun Canal Trust’s regular working party at the site. As well as cladding the sides and training walls in bricks, they are laying paving on the bridge surface.

“My grateful thanks went out to the team after a fantastic weekend when lots of good work was completed,” said Canal Trust site manager Dave Evans. “We didn’t expect to get so much done two days in a row and the paving in particular looks great.

“There is still a lot to do on the bridge and the canal but we have had an impressive response to our requests for help from volunteers. We have people with all kinds of valuable skills giving their spare time to work at the site.”

The Trust’s northern area working party was bolstered by members of the Newbury Working Party Group, another band of canal restoration volunteers who helped the Trust enormously over the weekend.

Contractors CJ Thorne are due to return next month (February) to prepare for the realignment of the access road into Dunsfold Park, which is planned to take place around Easter.

Once this is done, volunteers will partially demolish the 1930s concrete causeway currently blocking the waterway, part of which will be made into a public viewing area.

The Trust aims to re-open most of the canal between Tickner’s Heath in Dunsfold and Fast Bridge on the A281 at Alfold at the beginning of October. Small boats will be able to navigate that stretch for the first time in more than 150 years.

The re-opening will coincide with the Trust’s celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the 23-mile Wey & Arun Canal being declared open at the Compasses site.

Keep up to date with the Trust’s restoration projects or make a donation to the bridge project at