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The Countryside Afloat
A twice-yearly Review of recent events
Previous issues

July 2001

  CONTENTS
Foot and Mouth Disease
All work on the canal had to stop. More Bridge completed
Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge now completed. More The Drungewick 'Missing Link'
Phase 2 of the Loxwood Link Extension Project. More Special Cruises
Trip boat Zachariah Keppel resumes cruises. More Jobs and Delays
Weather and FMD affects progress. More Coming Events
Summer Camp, Bridge opening, The 'Poddle' sponsored walk. More Get in touch
Contact the Trust. More
 

The Wey & Arun Canal Trust is sorry that it was not possible for us to complete and publish this issue of The Countryside Afloat in May as should have been the case but circumstances combined to frustrate us, not least trying to fix an alternative date for the opening ceremony of the new Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge. We shall try to get back on schedule with the next issue in November 2001.

 

 

FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE
Late in February virtually all work on the canal ceased because of the precautions being taken to prevent the spread of this dreadful scourge. Since much of the canalís towpath is coincident with public bridleways and footpaths, and any decision to reopen these rested with the respective Local Authorities, the resumption of restoration work depended very largely on decisions taken by Surrey and West Sussex County Councils. The Wey & Arun Canal Trust, while inevitably frustrated by not being able to get on with its work fully appreciated the need for these closures. Happily, by earIy June the authorities had declared all of these public rights of way to be open, which allowed restoration and maintenance work on the canal to resume.

The task of the Trustís working parties is now to catch up the time lost, but it has to be recognised that there is a considerable backlog of maintenance and other jobs which has to be dealt with as a matter of some urgency - which, unfortunately, means having less time available to initiate all the further restoration which we would like to put in hand.

 

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BRIDGE COMPLETED
The new Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge was finally completed at the beginning of February, and the lane reopened to traffic. Right to the end this construction was bedevilled by the weather with frequent heavy rain causing the River Lox to flood the site several times during December and January. The formal opening of the bridge was planned for 10 May, and Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of both English Heritage and The Waterways Trust, had agreed to perform the ceremony.

However, this date had to be postponed because of the risk of spreading foot and mouth disease, and Sir Neil has now agreed to visit us for the ceremony on Thursday 20 September. If any readers would like further details of the programme for this event would they please advise the Trustís Office Managers (contact details below).

 

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  CONTENTS
Foot and Mouth Disease
All work on the canal had to stop. More Bridge completed
Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge now completed. More The Drungewick 'Missing Link'
Phase 2 of the Loxwood Link Extension Project. More Special Cruises
Trip boat Zachariah Keppel resumes cruises. More Jobs and Delays
Weather and FMD affects progress. More Coming Events
Summer Camp, Bridge opening, The 'Poddle' sponsored walk. More Get in touch
Contact the Trust. More

 

THE DRUNGEWICK "MISSING LINK"
As many readers will recall, completion of Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge marks the end of Phase 1 of the Loxwood Link Extension Project. Phase 2 is to extend the banks of the canal for almost 100 yards (the "Missing Link") to reach the edge of the River Lox, build a heavy plant crossing at this point to permit access to the Environment Agency's gauging station, and nearby to construct a slipway to allow boats to be launched onto the canal.

ln view of the opportunity, which Phase 2 offers for people, and especially children, to learn about the canalís operation and history, the Trust approached the Countryside Agency, which administers the Local Heritage Initiative in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Nationwide Building Society's Community Award. We are delighted to report that grants totalling £20,000 have been promised, subject to the Trust offering schools the opportunity to participate in a study of the canal.

Accordingly, an Education Pack has been prepared by the Trustís Educational Consultant covering several curriculum periods, which is free to participating schools. Students in Years 3-6 (8-11 years old) are able to study a Victorian family whose members worked on the canal, or lived beside it, or alternatively the history of the canal at the "Missing Link" site and the methods being used to preserve that heritage.

Should any teachers wish to incorporate such a Local Heritage study into a planned curriculum subject there is still time to register for involvement in the project, which also offers a competition with prizes for the whole of the winning class - while the teacher can win a return ticket for a family, with car, to France with P&O Stena Line. For further information please contact either Ian Lauder (01403 752428) or the Trustís Office (details below).

As a result of this wonderful support from the Countryside Agency work has already started to complete the "Missing Link", and the Trust is confident of completing this job within the next 2 or 3 months.

Phase 3 of the Loxwood Link Extension Project involves the construction of a replacement aqueduct over the River Lox to link the two restored sections of the canal. The first stage of this involves removing the foundations of the original brick aqueduct which was dismantled in the 1950s - it is now hoped to effect this work during this summer, ahead of the original schedule. Meanwhile fundraising for the aqueduct, the single most cost]y structure which the Trust has tackled to date, is proceeding well.

 

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SPECIAL CRUISES
Although it seems a long time ago. back in December a series of Santa Cruises proved very popular, attracting over 400 visitors. The Trustís trip boat, Zachariah Keppel, carried passengers to Brewhurst Lock where Santa came on board to present gifts to all the children, while accompanying adults received a glass of sherry. Unfortunately plans to offer Easter Bunny Cruises had to be cancelled because of the foot and mouth disease precautions.

With the approval of West Sussex County Council and the landowners concerned, the Trustís programme of Summer Cruises was able to start at the end of April from the landing stage behind the Onslow Arms pub in High Street, Loxwood. This attraction received a further boost when the refurbished pub reopened on 23 May.

Because most of our visitors prefer a fairly short cruise. this summer's schedule is based on a trip of about 50 minutes, through the restored Brewhurst Lock and on to turn below Brewhurst Bridge and return. However, 2 hour Enthusiastsí Cruises are also being offered on the first Saturday of each month which extend through a second lock to the canal's temporary terminus at Drungewick Lane.

 

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  CONTENTS
Foot and Mouth Disease
All work on the canal had to stop. More Bridge completed
Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge now completed. More The Drungewick 'Missing Link'
Phase 2 of the Loxwood Link Extension Project. More Special Cruises
Trip boat Zachariah Keppel resumes cruises. More Jobs and Delays
Weather and FMD affects progress. More Coming Events
Summer Camp, Bridge opening, The 'Poddle' sponsored walk. More Get in touch
Contact the Trust. More
 

JOBS AND DELAYS
Quite apart from the effect of the foot and mouth disease precautions, the Trustís work was seriously hindered by last winter's wet weather. We did manage to complete the clearance of the bed of the canal from Drungewick Lock to the new Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge, but access for machinery to Gennets Weir, located right on the county border, where water had split the structure away from the surrounding bank, had to wait until May/June.

Happily this repair has now been completed and the public bridleway has been reopened. In Sidney Wood. Alfold another 300 yards of the canal has undergone initiaI clearance and a weekend camp in April involved volunteers in further work on the towpath at this point.

Apart from delaying completion of Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge, the floodwaters caused some damage on the Loxwood Link section, not least to the pumps at Baldwinís Knob Lock which have had to be stripped and cleaned. Such pumps, which are being installed at all locks on the restored Wey & Arun Canal, serve to back-pump water into the pound above each lock thus making maximum use of the water available.

The one job which did continue through the period of foot and mouth disease precautions was the repair of a breach in the canalís bank close to the road at Ticknerís Heath, and we are happy to report its completion.

 

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COMING EVENTS
Each year the Trust organises a Canal Camp for volunteers who are willing to spend a week working on the Wey & Arun. This yearís Camp is from 4-11 August and the principal task will be to complete the 'soft engineering' repair of the narrow bank between the canal and the River Arun just south of Harsfold Bridge near Wisborough Green. This job was started in 1999 and involved planting willow spikes in the bank of the Arun and weaving withies between them to create a living wall. Now the space between the living wall and the bank will be infilled and the towpath raised to its designed height.

Apart from the formal opening of Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge, two other WACT events had to be postponed from May to September because of the foot and mouth disease precautions.

Our annual Sponsored Walk, 'The Poddle', will now take place on Sunday 23 September over a course in the Surrey hills. This is the Trustís major public fundraising event and has contributed enormously to the restoration work achieved to date. This year the start/finish point will be the Cranleigh Showground and we look forward to welcoming all walkers whether members of WACT or not.

The other deferred event is the annual Small Boat Rally, which offers boat owners an opportunity to operate their craft on the canalís Loxwood Link - this will now take place on Sunday 30 September when we hope to see quite a flotilla of small craft enjoying the waterway. For further details of either of these events do please contact the Office (01403 752403).

Thanks to a generous grant from SITA. and the support of Waverley Borough Council, the Trust plans to improve the temporary dams now in place at Locks 9, 10 and 11, which are located at Bonfire Hanger just north of the County Border.

The major operation this summer, however, is Phase 2 of the Loxwood Link Extension Project, as described above - and we must hope for some decent weather!

 

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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 answerphone available at other times, so please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

   

  The Countryside Afloat -
written by: Geoff Perks.

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Last updated August 2001