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

May 2002

  CONTENTS
The Drungewick Crossing
Aqueduct progress. More New Slipway
Boat access to the canal at Drungewick. More Schools study the canal
A condition of the Countryside Agency's grant. More Annual Small Boat Rally
A brief report. More Devil's Hole Lock and northwards
A brief progress update. More Sidney Wood and Bonfire Hanger
Basic clearance continues. More Further information
Contact the Trust. More
 

THE DRUNGEWICK CROSSING
Drungewick Lane, Loxwood continues to be the center of attention for the Trust. Getting on for ten years ago it was planned that the Drungewick Crossing would be a three-stage operation to get the canal across the River Lox and underneath Drungewick Lane. First came the building of the new Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge in 2000/01, then, last summer, the WACT volunteers constructed a heavy vehicle crossing to serve the Environment Agencys gauging station on the river. Now we are tackling the third part of this project, the building of the new Drungewick Aqueduct to carry the canal over the river.

Those with long memories may recall that the original aqueduct, built in 1813/16, was a three arched brick structure. This gently mouldered away after the canals closure in 1871 until, in 1970, the remains were demolished in order to improve the flow of water in the River Lox. Examples of similar aqueducts can still be seen on the canal at Gosden, between Shalford and Bramley, and Orfold, a mile south of the A272 at Newbridge perhaps the most interesting historical site on the whole canal. For the 21st century, however, the Environment Agency, mindful of the River Loxs propensity to flood at this point, ruled out any sort of multi-arched construction and stipulated that a single span trough should be constructed, which is what is now in progress.

In the design prepared by Messrs Tony Gee & Partners, who have generously helped the Trust for many years, the trough will be supported by 49 concrete piles and the first stage of construction is to install these.

The piling contractors, Messrs Burras, were due to start this operation on 20 May but, thanks to the prevailing good weather at the time, actually began operations on 2 May.

 

 



Good progress is being made and in the first fortnight 15 piles had been driven into the rivers banks.

[digital picture:
Eric Walker]

removing the spoil from the river bed (19K) 

 

After the experience of delays encountered while building the bridge, Eric Walker, who is managing the construction on behalf of the Trust, hesitates to predict a completion date but his present (21 May) estimate is about early August for the construction work, leaving WACTs volunteers to complete the installation of waterproof membranes, guard rails, canal banks, landscaping etc thereafter.

Overall the Drungewick Crossing has been by far the most costly project ever attempted by the Trust. The bridge cost some 318,000, while Phase 2, the extension of the banks and the heavy plant crossing, was about 22,000, most of which was covered by a generous grant from the Countryside Agency as administrators of the Local Heritage Initiative in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Nationwide Building Societys Community Award. The latest estimate for the aqueduct is about 350,000 of which over 75% has been received with less than 80,000 still required and the fundraising team hopes that this can be obtained in good time so that there will be no hold-up in the actual construction.

Following the success of the formal Opening last September of the Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge by Sir Neil Cossons OBE, Chairman of both English Heritage and The Waterways Trust, WACT hopes to organise a similar event to mark the opening of the aqueduct, but, because completion looks likely to be during the Winter months, we anticipate that this ceremony will be in the Spring of 2003.

 

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NEW SLIPWAY
Also at Drungewick a group known as The Friends of the Drungewick Slipway Access has completed the approach from the Lane to the site of the new slipway. This slipway is to be a dual-purpose structure, with two ramps at different angles. The first is designed to allow WACTs trip boat, Zachariah Keppel, to be pulled out of the water for her (sorry but I cannot support the change to it, all ships and boats are ladies! - Ed.) regular surveys, and the second to facilitate the launching and recovery of small craft.

 

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  CONTENTS
The Drungewick Crossing
Aqueduct progress. More New Slipway
Boat access to the canal at Drungewick. More Schools study the canal
A condition of the Countryside Agency's grant. More Annual Small Boat Rally
A brief report. More Devil's Hole Lock and northwards
A brief progress update. More Sidney Wood and Bonfire Hanger
Basic clearance continues. More Further information
Contact the Trust. More

 

SCHOOLS STUDY THE CANAL
To meet one confition of the Countryside Agency's grant towards the cost of Phase 2 of the Drungewick Crossing, the Trust encouraged local schools to study the canal's history and restoration. The opportunity to get involved in this study is still open to such schools (any interested teacher should contact the Trust's Office), and an Education Pack is available as well as a special teacher's pack for classes cruising on the Trust's trip boats.

 

 

A legacy of the Countryside Agency's interest in the canal's restoration, is a series of information posts sited alongside the canal between the Onslow Arms, Loxwood High Street and the Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge.

information post (16K) 

 

These have aroused considerable interest among the many hundreds of people who regularly walk along this stretch of the canal's towpath and we hope that they have appreciated also the work recently done to improve the towpath near Drungewick Lane.

 
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ANNUAL SMALL BOAT RALLY
This years Rally was held on Sunday 12 May when a fleet of 36 small boats visited the canal to cruise along the Loxwood Link. In very pleasant weather a good time was had by all. Next year, of course, we hope that the small boats will be able to extend their trip across the new Aqueduct and on for a further half mile to reach Drungewick Lock. This section of the canal has been restored already, it is only the access over the Aqueduct which is needed. Also, Drungewick Lock was restored over 10 years ago and now awaits some new gates to become fully operative.

 

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  CONTENTS
The Drungewick Crossing
Aqueduct progress. More New Slipway
Boat access to the canal at Drungewick. More Schools study the canal
A condition of the Countryside Agency's grant. More Annual Small Boat Rally
A brief report. More Devil's Hole Lock and northwards
A brief progress update. More Sidney Wood and Bonfire Hanger
Basic clearance continues. More Further information
Contact the Trust. More
 

DEVIL'S HOLE LOCK AND NORTHWARDS
Half a mile north of Loxwood a small team has been working for several years to restore this lock. Earth slips have delayed work quite seriously but the latest of these has now been cleared and the east wall of the lock built up, hopefully to prevent any recurrence. Just north of the lock the Midweek team of jungle bashers and others has been busy effecting basic clearance of the canal up to the next lock (Southland). This sort of work is largely restricted to the winter months in order not to disturb nesting birds etc and consequently is often undertaken in rather damp conditions. In this case the team was unable to complete the clearance by the end of March and so will need to return next winter. During the summer, however, a contractor will drag out the tree roots.

 

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SIDNEY WOOD AND BONFIRE HANGER
As anticipated in the last edition of this Newsletter, basic clearance of the canal for a mile or so north of Lock 16, southern limit of the canals summit section, was duly completed in December. Stumps were removed in most of this section but it seems likely that the remainder will be undisturbed until some time next year, not least because of the need to ensure that rare mosses identified in the area have been successfully transplanted before that clearance.

At Bonfire Hanger, dams are being built above Locks 9, 10 and 11. The necessary reinforced concrete pads have been installed, as have the 10 upright posts needed to support two bridges to permit public footpaths to cross the canal. The next jobs at this site are to finish the dams, burn the remaining tree stumps which have already been dragged out of the canals bed and assemble the superstructures for the two footbridges - a job now well advanced.

 

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FURTHER INFORMATION
The Trust greatly appreciates the interest in its activities which is expressed by so many people and, of course, the sponsorship and financial support which it receives from a great many individuals and corporate bodies. Without this support the restoration of Londons Lost Route to the Sea would not be nearly so far advanced as it is now. We are always happy to answer any questions about the canals restoration and history so please feel free to contact us.

 

   

  The Countryside Afloat -
written by: Geoff Perks.

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Last updated June 2002