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.