First boats across the border on the Wey & Arun Canal

The Surrey/Sussex border near Alfold (Surrey) and Loxwood (Sussex) was the scene of celebrations on 21st April with the completion of Gennets Bridge Lock by volunteers.

After the ceremony, small boats were able to navigate across the county border, possibly for the first time since the late 19th century.

The Canal Trust has invested about £375,000 and a huge amount of volunteer effort in the lock rebuilding project. Local landowner Nigel Gibbons unveiled a plaque on the bridge and said “When the Canal Trust first approached me, the project manager promised to create a showpiece site. That promise has certainly been fulfilled and the surroundings look magnificent”.

The lock is faced with locally made bricks so that its appearance is similar to the original lock that disappeared in the early 20th century. Earlier, volunteer colleagues had presented a card and gifts to Eric Walker, MBE, who retired as project manager earlier this year.

As well as rebuilding the lock, the volunteer team constructed a new arched bridge to take the Sussex Border Path across the canal and restored the canal channel northwards towards the Surrey border. After returning from a boat trip across the Surrey border, Chairman Sally Schupke commented “This was a short but historic voyage, marking another milestone in the restoration of the canal link between London and the South Coast”.

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