Celebrations due as canal trust volunteers finish lock

Volunteers have completed a two-year project to restore Gennets Bridge Lock near Loxwood, with the date set for an official opening ceremony to be held in April.

Volunteers at the Wey and Arun Canal Trust at the completed Gennets Bridge Lock.
Volunteers at the Wey and Arun Canal Trust at the completed Gennets Bridge Lock.

The lock restoration project also marks the retirement of Eric Walker, MBE, who led the volunteer team working on the lock for the last two years.

Dennis Gillen, who worked alongside Eric, said it had taken roughly 15,300 man hours to restore the section and bridge during the team’s meetings on Thursdays and Sundays.

He said: “It’s nice for us to complete for Eric, not just for us.

“He’s had 16 years in the canal trust and he’s seen many a lock refurbished and this was his last one.”

Particular challenges included an endangered species of newt being found at the lock site, for which the team had to put in alternative habitats and safety fences to ensure the newts weren’t hurt during construction.

For the bridge, the team had to pump concrete to form the crossing in two parts and make sure the structure met highways requirements.

Dennis said: “It had to be exactly to the drawings and exactly to specifications. It looks very good now it’s finished.

“Normally we just build a lock, we don’t often build bridges but it’s worked out very well.”

Chairman of the Wey and Arun Canal Trust, Sally Schupke said contractors were asked to carry out some of the crucial concrete work at the start of the project, with the rest of the work completed by volunteers.

All are invited to attend the opening celebrations for the lock on April 21.

Parking will be available at Loxwood North Hall (on the B2133 in Loxwood village), a short walk from the lock, for the celebration at midday.

A map and souvenir brochure will be available from the trust’s publicity stand.

For further details about the project visit www.weyandarun.co.uk