A brick edifice in the heart of Hassocks is almost 200 years old and was built in the same year as Waterloo Bridge.
Although not as grand as its London counterpart, Spitalford Bridge on Keymer Road is an important part of the village’s heritage.
Hassocks Amenity Association is working with West Sussex County Council to renovate the bridge, which dates to a time before the Brighton line was built, when Hassocks was little more than fields and woodland.
The neglected bridge runs over a rare chalk stream called the Herring Stream, which is thought to be one of only 200 worldwide. Chalk streams are unique and provide clear water at an almost constant temperature providing important habitats for creatures such as water vole.
Urgent work began last Monday to renovate the bridge, which was built during the reign of King George III and widened in the 1930s.
A tree expert, who was called in to inspect the roots of a giant Poplar that was damaging the southern parapet, has recommended that a large root should be cut.
The tree can be saved, but it will be necessary to cut back some of the branches and reduce the height of the tree up to five metres.
The southern parapet will be rebuilt, with plans to clean the brickwork. The northern parapet with a memorial stone showing that the bridge was built by public subscription in 1817, will also be cleaned and new capstones fitted.
The amenity association, which is funding the capstones, has plans to make the stream more of a feature by widening the pavement by Alan’s Fish Bar on the north side of the bridge and fitting new railings and an information board.
There are plans to erect a wooden bench so that passers-by can sit and admire the stream.
Chair of the amenity association, Margaret Ford, said: “The result should be a great improvement, and will complete the first stage of our project to provide ‘a green heart’ to the village.”
Although the county council is funding essential repairs to the bridge, the association needs funds to carry out the improvements on the north side. Some money will come from a new village lottery starting in December.
There is still time to pick up a lottery form from shops in the village.