Wey & Arun Canal Trust is nearing the 60% mark for the appeal to carry out its first full restoration project in Surrey.
More than £413,000 has been raised of the £700,000 needed to bring back to life a section of the waterway between Dunsfold and Alfold in Surrey.
They key part of the plan is the building of a new bridge at one of the entrances to Dunsfold Aerodrome, at the end of Three Compasses Lane in Alfold.
De-silting and re-profiling has already been carried out on much of the canal in what is its summit pound, along with work to secure water supplies.
The new bridge will replace the main barrier to navigation in this section – a concrete causeway into the aerodrome which was built during the Second World War.
Once the bridge is ready for use, on a realigned entrance road, the causeway will be demolished and boats will be able to travel freely on the canal for one-a-quarter miles.
Trust chairman Sally Schupke said: “We are restoring part of the canal in Surrey nearly 150 years since it was closed down in the 19th Century.
“There will again be a green corridor between Tickner’s Heath in Dunsfold and Fast Bridge on the A281 at Alfold.”
Waverley Borough Council is considering a planning application for the bridge and road realignment and it is hoped enabling work can start in the early part of 2015.
Mrs Schupke added: “Our aim is to officially re-open the restored section in time for the 200th anniversary of the northern part of the canal being declared open at the Compasses site in September 1816.
“This is an exciting part of the trust’s overall plan for the Wey & Arun, especially as it will bring part of the canal in Surrey back to life. There will be opportunities for everything from narrowboats to canoes and, of course, the canal is great for wildlife, walks in the country and cycling.
Surrey’s new canal section will join around three miles of fully operational canal at Loxwood in West Sussex, where the trust has a visitor centre and around 10,000 people a year enjoy excursions on its boats. It is hoped pleasure trips will also be run on the Dunsfold-Alfold section.
The new bridge project is being run by a trust director, Tony Ford, a chartered civil engineer with extensive experience of designing roads and bridges. The site manager is trust member Dave Evans, who works as an ambulance technician.
The trust is also planning restoration of sections between Shalford and Alfold in Surrey of the 23-mile Wey & Arun. Eventually, there will again be a link from London to the sea at Littlehampton, using the rivers Thames, Wey and Arun and the canal.
Keep up to date with the canal restoration at www.weyandarun.co.uk
Report and picture contributed by Sally Schupke.