Continuing the Wey & Arun restoration

Published: Wednesday, 14 December 2022

CONTINUING the Wey & Arun restoration volunteers have begun restoring the restoration of the canal at Birtley in Surrey.

The project near Bramley is a project to remove the current blockage to the canal route, construct a lift bridge and open up the picturesque stretch for canoeists, kayakers and paddle boarders, then eventually boats to use in the future.

BirtleyBegun constructing

It has not been an easy project as water pours into the site from under the west bank and so specialist equipment has had to be brought in and the working area pumped out regularly. The team has now begun constructing the bridge abutments. Image by Junian Morgan.

Apart from specialist piling contractors all the construction work has been carried out by volunteers.

While excavating Birtley Bridge site volunteers came across the foundations of the original bridge and called in the consultant archaeologists to take a look. They found evidence to suggest that unlike the other hump-backed bridges found along the canal, the bridge here was a swing bridge.

Sunday chain

The archaeologists also made another unexpected discovery: an iron stirrup to which was attached a short section of chain. The archaeologists say that this is likely a relic of a ‘Sunday chain’ which would have been stretched across the canal—typically at a lock or bridgeto discourage navigation on Sundays in an age of religious piety.

All the findings have been photographed and catalogued for future investigation.