A project to restore a stretch of canal in Lichfield has launched a £1million appeal.
The Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust needs to raise the money before 2019 in order to tunnel under a new railway bridge which will be constructed as part of an extension of the city’s southern bypass.
The Tunnel Vision Appeal was launched by David Suchet CBE at the London Boat Show.
The Hercule Poirot actor us Vice President of both the trust and the Inland Waterways Association. He said: “I really do think that it’s very important that people like myself, who are fortunate enough to be in the position to have a very high profile, do give our support to causes that we care for.
“I’m not only a supporter of the inland waterways but I’m a huge enthusiast and a practitioner, I actually use them, and I would like to bring awareness on a national level to the support groups and individuals who not only help to maintain the canals but are actually responsible for bringing these dead canals back to life.”
The Lichfield and Haterhton Canals Restoration Trust is restoring a seven-mile section of waterway linking the Birmingham Canal Navigations near Brownhills to the Coventry Canal at Huddlesford.
It has overcome many obstacles since its foundation in 1988, including the construction of an aqueduct over the M6 Toll Road which Mr Suchet also supported by leading an appeal.
And when the Lichfield southern bypass was built, the Trust raised £490,000 to install a canal culvert under the new roadway.
Plans to extend the bypass are well advanced and these will include a new railway bridge on the cross city line which is likely to be built in late 2019.
The trust is working with Staffordshire County Council to develop plans for the a tunnel – but must raise the money before the new bridge is constructed.
Engineering director Peter Buck said: “This tunnel will not only create a canal link but will also be a vital link for the community.
“There are some proposed housing developments on both sides and this will be the safe community link for getting underneath the railway.”
To donate to the David Suchet Tunnel Vision Appeal, visit the trust’s website.