With its first major construction project in Surrey planned to start soon, the Wey & Arun Canal Trust is stepping up fundraising and publicity for the northern part of the 23-mile long waterway it is restoring.
A new fundraising and publicity group has been formed, to focus at first on boosting the Compasses Bridge Appeal.
This has so far raised nearly 60% of the £700,000 needed to build a new road crossing on the canal’s summit pound (the highest section above sea level).
Trust fundraising officer Rob Searle and member Margaret Jack, an experienced fundraiser with several other organisations, are working together on new initiatives for hitting the target, with the help of Trust chairman Sally Schupke on the public relations side.
A new bridge is needed to replace one of the main barriers to navigation on the summit pound, a wartime concrete causeway at the Alfold entrance to the Dunsfold Aerodrome complex.
A planning application for the bridge and a road realignment is being considered by Waverley Borough Council and it is hoped work can start before the spring.
The first initiative of the new team was to place a large “fundraising thermometer” near the causeway, to draw the attention of people going to the aerodrome and passers-by to the appeal. This indicator of the amount raised is echoed on the home page of the Trust’s website.
Publicity posters are being reviewed and the amount of information provided to the local press and other news media is being stepped up, encouraging the public to take an interest in the northern section and donate to the appeal.
Bequests have become a major source of income for appeals, so the team is urging supporters to consider leaving a legacy to the Trust. Its deputy chairman, Jim Phillips, commented: “Major restoration projects on the canal need an ‘angel’ to get them half-way, or more, to meet the cost.
“The building of Compasses Bridge is one such project and a generous bequest from our member Peggy Gledhill in 2014 provided more than half the funding needed, and a vital boost to raising the remainder.”
Construction of the new bridge will open up one-and-a-quarter miles of restored canal between Tickner’s Heath at Dunsfold and Fast Bridge in Alfold.
The Trust intends to re-open this section in the summer of 2016, ahead of the 200th anniversary of the official opening of the original canal.
Report contributed by The Wey & Arun Canal Trust.