Saturday, September 11, 1999 Published at 21:14 GMT 22:14 UK
Disney to save Pooh Bridge
Fans have flocked to the bridge to play Poohsticks
The Disney film company has stepped in to help save classic children's character Winnie the Pooh's favourite bridge.
Pooh Bridge, an old wooden bridge in Ashdown Forest near Hartfield, East Sussex, was immortalised by author AA Milne as the venue for the game Poohsticks in his stories about the honey-loving bear.
Now East Sussex County Council is set to replace it with a new structure - thanks to a "substantial contribution" to the estimated £30,000 cost from the Walt Disney Company.
The original bridge, which dates back to 1907, was partly rebuilt in 1979. It will now be replaced by a timber structure of the same style.
Construction of the replacement is set to take about four weeks, starting in mid-October.
Financial and practical support for the project has also been received from British building firms and members of the public.
A council spokeswoman said that the new bridge would have a plaque placed on it to thank all those who had contributed funds towards it.
Disney's honey pot
The Walt Disney Company has made huge sums of money from Winnie the Pooh, turning the honey-loving bear's exploits into a cartoon, and winning lucrative merchandising rights.
It is now working on a new feature-length cartoon Winnie the Pooh movie, which is due out in cinemas next spring.
East Sussex County Council had originally approached the company for help, saying that the cartoons had helped attract the thousands of visitors who have worn out the bridge.
However, it is not clear how much of the estimated £30,000 cost of renovating Pooh Bridge will come from Disney.
A spokeswoman said on Saturday: "I can't say how much we will be contributing yet because it's under discussion.
"The building contractor has also agreed to underwrite part of it."