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'London's Lost Route to the Sea'

Work starts on next lock restoration.

Work has started at Southland Lock, north of Loxwood, near the West Sussex/Surrey border. The Wey & Arun Canal Trust's contractor Burras of Hayling Island has installed piling to reinforce the new lock walls, and has now excavated the lock floor and invert down to the old sandstone floor, enabling work to being on the new concrete base for the lock. Burras will also fill beind the piling with concrete. When this is complete, WACT's volunteers will start work rebuilding the top cill, followed by brick facing to the concrete lock walls.

The site is very restricted; on one side the Trust's working party members are taking particular care to keep disturbance for the local wildlife to a minimum, while on the other side is the towpath, a public right of way. The Trust's own expert team of hedge layers has been busy creating a hedge along the side of the towpath; this hedge is already growing strongly and WACT Chairman Sally Schupke says that: "Hedges and similar wildlife habitats form a very special and important feature of the canal, adding much to the attractiveness of the local area."

WACT project manager Eric Walker says that the contractor's work has progressed ahead of schedule and he hopes it will be completed by the end of August. In the meantime the volunteers have been preparing the site, including cutting hundreds of bricks. 50,000 locally-made bricks have been bought from Wienerberger in Rudgwick, which will be used at Southland Lock, plus the replacement parapets for the Loxwood High Street bridge. The bricks are red multi, sand struck stock, manufactured using local weald clay in one of the last remaining clamp-fired kilns in Europe. They are burnt slowly to create flashes of distinct colour from reds and purples to blues and yellows with a textured finish.

Eric adds: "One of those little but important jobs was to keep the site as dry as possible before Burras came on the site. With serious work beginning, it is equally important to stop the actual work site from turning into a lake of mud. We have installed dams and pumps to keep the site and surroundings as dry as possible."

Fund raising for this project has reached nearly £200,000. If you would like to donate to the new lock, please see www.weyandarun.co.uk and click on the photo of Southland Lock 'Appeal form'.

Further information about the Wey & Arun Canal Trust is available from the Trust's office, on 01403 752403.

Notes for Editors

Further information is available from Bill Thomson, bill_thomson@weyandarun.co.uk, 07777 668928

The Wey & Arun Canal Trust

The Wey & Arun Canal, "London's lost route to the sea" was originally opened in 1816 between the River Wey at Shalford, near Guildford, and Pallingham, near Pulborough, the head of navigation of the River Arun. It closed in 1871, due to railway competition. Since the 1970s the 23-mile waterway has been the subject of a campaign by volunteers led by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust to restore the route to navigation. Work has been undertaken in a number of locations, most notably the stretch near the Sussex/Surrey border at Loxwood. Over two miles in length, this includes five working locks, two public road crossings, an aqueduct, two farm bridges, and numerous minor works, all built or rebuilt through voluntary effort. Boat trips are available on this stretch, onboard several craft, including the 50-seater electrically-powered Wiggonholt.

Last updated  Thursday, 4 August, 2011
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