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The Countryside Afloat
A twice-yearly Review of recent events
November 2000


  CONTENTS
The Immediate Priority
Building the new Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge. More Pearl Anniversary
The Trust's 30th year. More It's an Ill Wind
Wet weather allows extended season for trip boat. More Our Sponsors
Tremendous support provides hire of machinery and transport. More Work in progress
Clearance at Drungewick; Tickners Heath breach; clearance in the Bonfire Hanger area and Sidney Wood; dredging north of Newbridge; landing stage at Rowner Lock. More The coming winter
Completion of Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge; further clearance in Sidney Wood; continuing restoration of Devil's Hole Lock. More Secretarial honour
John Wood, past Secretary of the Trust awarded MBE. More Get in touch
Contact the Trust. More
 

THE IMMEDIATE PRIORITY
Building of the new Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge, 1Ĺ miles east of Loxwood village, started on schedule early in August but, like everything else in the district, has been badly affected by the appalling weather conditions.

bridge foundations (12K) 

  flooded bridge site (15K)

The site has been flooded several times and pumping water away has become a regular event. Consequently it now appears that completion, originally planned for the very beginning of December will be delayed until well into that month.

 

 

Final funding of the £250,000 bridge was completed thanks to almost 200 supporters. Major contributors included the Inland Waterways Association, West Sussex County Council and UK Waste Ltd who gave £40,000 from Landfill Tax.

bridge under construction (10K) 

 

Eric Walker, the Project Manager. reports that quite a number of people have visited the site to see what is going on, while passing walkers and riders have also shown great interest. Any reader who would like to check up on progress is very welcome to do so, and Eric would be delighted if you would make yourself known to him. Meanwhile, he points out that public interest in the construction of the other major part of the Drungewick Crossing operation, the new Drungewick Aqueduct, is likely to be even greater since, so far as we can trace, no such structure has been built in West Sussex for well over 150 years. We plan to build the Aqueduct in the Summer of 2002.

 

 

During 2001 the Trust hopes to construct the necessary heavy plant crossing to allow access to the Environment Agencyís gauging station on the River Lox.

gauging station (10K) 

 

Associated with this will be building up the canalís banks between its present terminus and the Aqueduct site, and also the construction of a slipway to provide boat access and launching facilities at this point.

Move mouse over picture to see
approx position of embankment

 

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PEARL ANNIVERSARY
Started in 1970, the canalís restoration reached its Pearl Anniversary this year. The major event was the Anniversary cruise and lunch on 30 April, when the very successful Pearl Anniversary Appeal was launched. This produced the funds to complete the financing of the Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge, a total of over £250,000.

Pearl Anniversary gathering at Drungwick Lane (9K) 

  signing the contract - l to r: Ian Lauder (WACT Fundraising Manager; Roger Hoad (Halcrow Group Ltd); Mike Petter (md Geoffrey osborne Ltd; Peter Foulger (WACT Chairman); Eric Walker (WACT LLEP Director) (7K)

The contract for the construction of Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge is signed.

 

 

Five weeks later the Pearl Poddle, the Trustís annual sponsored walk, was held on a perfect day with sunshine and a nice breeze around a very attractive 15 mile route between Pulborough and Fittleworth, raising over £10,000, again for the bridge.

 

  CONTENTS
The Immediate Priority
Building the new Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge. More Pearl Anniversary
The Trust's 30th year. More It's an Ill Wind
Wet weather allows extended season for trip boat. More Our Sponsors
Tremendous support provides hire of machinery and transport. More Work in progress
Clearance at Drungewick; Tickners Heath breach; clearance in the Bonfire Hanger area and Sidney Wood; dredging north of Newbridge; landing stage at Rowner Lock. More The coming winter
Completion of Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge; further clearance in Sidney Wood; continuing restoration of Devil's Hole Lock. More Secretarial honour
John Wood, past Secretary of the Trust awarded MBE. More Get in touch
Contact the Trust. More
 

Other WACT events this "summer" have included the opening of the gardens of Clock House, Cowfold by Mr & Mrs Anthony Capo-Bianco, which was coupled with a theatrical performance by the Mikron Theatre Company. Also, the Mayor of Arundel, Cllr Don Ayling, kindly invited the Trust, along with the Chichester Canal Society and the Inland Waterways Associationís Solent & Arun Branch, to a reception at Arundel Town Hall for those interested in the history, restoration and future operation of 'Londonís Lost Route to the Seaí.

 
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ITíS AN ILL WIND
Most people are going to remember the last six months as very wet, often windy and generally not one of our better summers. Some activities. however, can gain from such conditions, not least the Wey & Arun Canal. As a result of all this wet weather for the first time it has been possible for the trip boat Zachariah Keppel to maintain passenger services right through from Easter until the end of October.

 
 

At the same time the trip schedule has been altered to provide shorter trips, of about 50 minutes, but with four sailings on each Saturday and Sunday instead of the former two trips of 2 hours each. This pattern has proved popular, especially with families, and is expected to continue next year.

trip boat approaching (10K) 
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OUR SPONSORS
Virtually all of the Trustís work benefits from the enormous support received from our many sponsors, to whom the Trust is most grateful and without whose support the whole restoration project would never have achieved such progress over the last 5 or 6 years.

 

 

Most residents of the area will have seen the Land Rover supplied to us by Harwoods of Pulborough, which is invaluable in moving people, tools and materials around the 23-mile canal.

Landrover (6K) 

 

The Trust also enjoys discounted prices for both the hire of machinery and supply of materials, for which we are most grateful to several local firms.

 

  Orfold - bridge under construction (7K)

Another bridge now under construction is that being built by volunteers at Orfold Flood Lock, thanks to grants from both BAA plc and Horsham District Council. This structure is also benefiting from the very generous donation of 5,000 facing bricks by the Ockley Brick Company.

 

 

Additionally, the Horsham Depot of Kentons, contractors to Southern Water, have let us have suitable offcuts of blue water main pipe on 2 several occasions.

 

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  CONTENTS
The Immediate Priority
Building the new Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge. More Pearl Anniversary
The Trust's 30th year. More It's an Ill Wind
Wet weather allows extended season for trip boat. More Our Sponsors
Tremendous support provides hire of machinery and transport. More Work in progress
Clearance at Drungewick; Tickners Heath breach; clearance in the Bonfire Hanger area and Sidney Wood; dredging north of Newbridge; landing stage at Rowner Lock. More The coming winter
Completion of Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge; further clearance in Sidney Wood; continuing restoration of Devil's Hole Lock. More Secretarial honour
John Wood, past Secretary of the Trust awarded MBE. More Get in touch
Contact the Trust. More
 

WORK IN PROGRESS
Associated with construction of the Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge is the renewed clearance of the bed and banks of the canal between that bridge and Drungewick Lock - a length of some 800 yards.

 

 

This is being done to ensure that water can be held here when the new bridge is opened so that everybody gets some idea of how it will look after the aqueduct is built.

 

 

As a result of continuing high water levels weaknesses in the canalís banks have come to light at two locations. At Ticknerís Heath a breach has formed on the line of an old land drain and water has scoured a large hole in the bank. Meanwhile at Gennets Weir, right on the County border, water has forced a path between this structure and the clay bank, causing a major wash-out around the original piped outfall. Arrangements are in hand to repair these breaches, although machinery access to Gennets Weir must wait for a dry spell.

 

 

Immediately north of the Weir is the Bonfire Hanger area, including the sites of Locks IX, X and XI. which was cleared earlier this year.

looking north from Bonfire Hanger (9K) 

  Lock 10, Sept 2k (10K)

Since then, thanks to grant support from SITA through Waverley Borough Council, the canal has been cleared of all tree stumps and temporary earth dams have been built above each lock. It is planned to introduce more permanent water control measures next year.

 

 

In Sidney Wood some 410 yards of the towpath has been levelled and surfaced so that it is now an 'all weather' walk. This work was supported by Waverley Borough Council, and it is hoped to continue for a further 600 yards during 2001, again with the Councilís support.

resurfaced towpath in Sidney Wood (11K) 

 

Further south, the dredging planned for last Spring, covering a mile or so north of the A272 at Newbridge, finally got done in July when the weather relented briefly. However, this relief was never sufficient to permit work to proceed on the planned second stage of the 'soft engineering' project, using natural materials to build up the towpath in order to protect the canal from the incursions of the River Arun at Harsfold, which has had to be postponed until 2001.

 

 

At Rowner Lock, volunteers from the national Waterways Recovery Group, under the banner of Dig Deep 2000, came close to completing the lockís restoration, including a very smart new landing stage. This Lock now awaits top gates, paddle gear and an electric back pump as soon as funding or sponsorship permits.

 

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THE COMING WINTER
After the weather of the last six months we hesitate to predict what will happen on the canal in the next six! Certainly the Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge will be completed, as will the associated clearance of the canal from that bridge to Drungewick Lock.

 

  near Lock 11 (8K)

Further basic clearance in Sidney Wood should get through almost to the site of Lock XVI - an important point because this was the southern end of the five mile Summit Level and the start of the waterwayís descent to the River Arun.

 

 

Work will continue at Devilís Hole Lock - where we are hoping to entertain representatives of the Royal Canadian Engineers, who blew it up while practising for the Dieppe raid in 1942.

 

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SECRETARIAL HONOUR
John Wood, who was Secretary of the Trust from 1975 until 1997, was awarded the MBE in the Queenís Birthday Honours List last June, "for services to canal restoration and conservation in West Sussex". Of course all members of the Trust were delighted by this news, while, for his part, John wrote that he "would like to share this honour with all the members and friends of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust, past and present, whose tremendous efforts over almost the last 30 years have enabled the Wey-South Project to reach its present exciting stage".

John Wood MBE (6K)
 

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PLEASE GET IN TOUCH
The Trust is always happy to hear from those interested in the canal and its restoration. Our Office is manned every weekday morning from 0900/1300, with an ansaphone available at other times, so please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

   

  The Countryside Afloat -
written by: Geoff Perks.
photos: Dave Kersley, Peter Foulger, Arthur Dungate, Winston Harwood, John Wood.
 

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Last updated December 2000