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

November 2001


  CONTENTS

From the Editor
More Bridge opened
Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge officially opened. More Schools competition
Educational Multipack supplemented. More Poddle and Small Boat Rally
Postponed events held in September. More Work in Surrey
Clearance in Sidney Wood. More Tickner's Heath
The canal's depot. More Trip boat operations
Public trips and charters. More Get in touch
Contact the Trust. More
 

FROM THE EDITOR
Welcome to another edition of The Countryside Afloat which, I am glad to say, has got back onto its proper publication schedule by appearing in November.

After all the frustration caused by the effects of the Foot and Mouth Disease precautions in the early part of the year, wholly justified as they were, it has been a great relief to get back to normal working to advance the canal's restoration. Happily, rapid progress has been made in the last few months and this should continue into 2002, perhaps even accelerating if things go well.

 

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DRUNGEWICK BRIDGE OPENED
For once the weather was kind so that the new Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge was opened on 20 September in bright sunshine. Greeted by a gathering of getting on for 200 of the Trustís members and their guests, Sir Neil Cossons OBE, Chairman of both English Heritage and The Waterways Trust, had travelled to the site from Loxwood on the Trust's trip boat Zachariah Keppel accompanied by Dr David Fletcher, Chief Executive of British Waterways, and together they unveiled a plaque on the parapet of the bridge.

Welcoming Sir Neil, WACT Chairman Peter Foulger recalled the enormous amount of work done by volunteers to progress the Wey & Arun Canalís restoration to its current stage. He explained that the bridge, costing altogether about £320,000 and built by Messrs Geoffrey Osborne of Chichester with considerable volunteer input, represented Phase 1 of a three-part exercise to get the canal through to Drungewick Lock - an extension of just over half a mile.

Phase 2 had been undertaken this Summer thanks to major support from the Countryside Agency, as administrators of the Local Heritage Initiative in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Nationwide Building Societyís Community Award, which had awarded WACT £20,000. This grant had permitted extension of the canal's banks on the Loxwood side of the River Lox by some 80 yards and the incorporation of a heavy plant crossing to enable the Environment Agency to reach its gauging station on the river.

Work on Phase 2 has now been completed, leaving Phase 3, the construction of an aqueduct to carry the canal across the river, to be tackled next year provided that the necessary funding of some £400,000 can be raised - and Mr Foulger added that almost a third of this amount has been received already.

In his remarks Sir Neil complimented the enthusiastic volunteers who had achieved so much. He spoke of the importance of the waterways as a tourist attraction and as a legacy from the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Sir Neil then boarded the steam launch Esteem to travel along the canal and under the new bridge - the first transit by a boat for about 130 years. Admittedly there was a slight problem in getting under the bridge, because the water level had dropped overnight, but, after lightening the boat by landing most of the other passengers, the transit was successfully completed.

 

  Sir Neil Cossons pouring water from both rivers into the canal (16K) 

 

Sir Neil duly declared this stretch of the canal open - a moment marked by pouring water from both the Rivers Wey and Arun into the canal.[See the full account of the bridge opening]

 

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  CONTENTS
From the Editor
More Bridge opened
Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge officially opened. More Schools competition
Educational Multipack supplemented. More Poddle and Small Boat Rally
Postponed events held in September. More Work in Surrey
Clearance in Sidney Wood. More Tickner's Heath
The canal's depot. More Trip boat operations
Public trips and charters. More Get in touch
Contact the Trust. More

 

SCHOOLS COMPETITION
A condition of the £20,000 grant by the Countryside Agency for the work on Phase 2 of the Loxwood Link Extension Project was that WACT should involve schools in a study of the canalís history and restoration. Accordingly the existing Educational Multipack already available from the WACT Website has been supplemented by a special "Drungewick" Workpack with teachers notes. Several schools participated, with an opportunity to enter subsequent class-work in the competition, which has been running for some time with prizes generously donated by P&O Stena Line. More schools plan visits to the canal in 2001/02. and any teacher wishing to become involved should contact the Trustís Office (01403 752403).

 

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THE PODDLE and SMALL BOAT RALLY
Both of these annual events were postponed from their traditional early summer dates until September because of the foot and mouth disease problem. The Poddle sponsored walk this year followed a route of some 13 miles in the Surrey hills, and 163 walkers raised over £6,000 which is earmarked to go towards the Drungewick Aqueduct due to be built next year.

The Small Boat Rally offers a once a year opportunity for boatowners to bring their craft to the fully restored section of the Wey & Arun at Loxwood and to sail along it and through the two restored locks. This year 28 craft appeared and made a very attractive sight as they moved along the canal. At present the Trust is building a new slipway at Drungewick Lane to permit craft to be launched onto the canal more easily, which should prove a boon for boatowners at future rallies.

 

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WORK IN SURREY
It sometimes appears that the Trust tends to concentrate its restoration work in the southern or West Sussex half of the canal - it may be recalled that the halfway point of the 23-mile canal is within 200 yards of the County Boundary Certainly the medium-term aim is to restore navigation between Loxwood and the River Arun at Pallingham.

However, the Trustís members recognise the vital importance of the Surrey section of the canal and try to work on this whenever opportunity offers. Plans are in hand to build dams at Locks 9, 10 and 11, just north of the County Boundary, hopefully next summer.

Meanwhile in Sidney Wood completion of basic clearance of about a mile northwards from Lock 16, the southern limit of the canalís 5 mile Summit Pound, with upgrading of much of the towpath along this stretch, is expected later in November. Additionally, an opportunity has arisen to work on the canal at Birtley and basic clearance is also in hand here.

 

  newly cleared stretch of canal in Sidney Wood (17K)  

 

Meanwhile in Sidney Wood completion of basic clearance of about a mile northwards from Lock 16, the southern limit of the canalís 5 mile Summit Pound, with upgrading of much of the towpath along this stretch, is expected later in November. Additionally, an opportunity has arisen to work on the canal at Birtley and basic clearance is also in hand here.

 

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TICKNER'S HEATH - THE CANAL'S DEPOT
Every organisation needs a base, but in Surrey such sites are hard to find and cost a lot. Through the generosity of RCR Holdings, which has its headquarters nearby, the Trust is fortunate to be allowed to use some buildings at the Southwest tip of Dunsfold airfield for the storage and maintenance of equipment. Ticknerís Heath has an historic connection with the canal since its wharf handled several million bricks, made in the nearby Sidney Wood - many for the canalís construction. Today the Alfold-Dunsfold road crosses the canal close to the wharf site. Recently a breach occurred in the canalís bank at Ticknerís Heath, which was swiftly repaired by the Trust.

 

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TRIP BOAT OPERATIONS
Perhaps the most obvious sign of the Trustís activities is the regular operation at Loxwood of the trip boat Zachariah Keppel, named after the Alfold builder who undertook the construction of the Wey & Arun Junction Canal in 1813 but found that he had bitten off more than he could chew and went bankrupt in the following year.

From about Easter until October the boat offers public trips on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays which last for about 45 minutes, travelling from the Onslow Arms pub through Brewhurst Lock and under Brewhurst Bridge before returning.

Two-hour trips to Drungewick Lane are arranged on certain occasions, and the boat may be chartered privately for a group of up to 30 people whenever it is not advertised to undertake a public trip The boat is manned by a licensed skipper with two other volunteers, chosen from a panel of over 40 members.

The Trust is most grateful to Southern Counties Fuels Ltd. of Warninglid which provides all the fuel and lubricants for this important operation.

 

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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 December 2001