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

November 2002

  CONTENTS
Down South
Lording's Flood Lock Bridge. More Around the border
Work at Devil's Hole Lock and dams in Sidney Wood. More Ownership of the canal
Leases at Dunsfold and Sidney Wood. More Our sponsors
More Cruises from Loxwood
News of the trip boats. More The Lost Wey to the Sea
A new video about the canal. More Get in touch
Contact the Trust. More
 

DRUNGEWICK AQUEDUCT
The aqueduct being built over the River Lox at Drungewick Lane, Loxwood is virtually complete. Finishing touches are still being applied by the Trust’s volunteers under the direction of Eric Walker, who has superintended all three stages of the Drungewick Crossing project (i.e. the Drungewick Lane Canal Bridge, the heavy plant crossing to serve the Environment Agency’s gauging station on the River Lox and now the first aqueduct to be built in Sussex for some 190 years).

The aqueduct is to be opened formally at noon on Saturday 31 May 2003 by Dr Dave Fletcher, the retiring Chief Executive of British Waterways. In order to include a report on this event the next edition of this Newsletter will be delayed for a month until June 2003.

Funding
People often wonder how the Trust raises funding for its work. In this case, for the most costly project yet undertaken in the restoration of the Wey & Arun Canal, the total cost of the three stages of the Drungewick Crossing has been about £600,000. Major contributions to the aqueduct have included £82,000 from the many very generous Charitable Trusts which support the canal’s restoration, £62,000 from the Trust’s 1,500 members, £16,000 from our sponsored walks, £49,000 from Biffaward (formerly UK Waste) under the Government’s Landfill Tax Credit scheme, while legacies and Memorial Funds contributed £6,000, the Inland Waterways Association another £15,000 and Chichester District Council £17,000.

We now hope for a fine day on 31 May 2003. Any reader who would like to witness the opening ceremony is invited to contact the Office once all the timings etc. have been settled, where the necessary details should be available from April onwards.

 

 

DOWN SOUTH
A new bridge has been completed at Orfold Flood Lock by a small team led by Winston Harwood. This site is more than a mile distant from any road (the A272 at Newbridge or Wisborough Green or the B2133 at Adversane) but on investigation proves to be one of the most interesting on the whole canal. The Flood Lock was built by the Arun Navigation Company in 1822, with a rise of only 1 foot, as part of a programme to bring that waterway up to a standard which would permit through traffic from the new Portsmouth & Arundel Canal to move fully laden towards London.

Only some 400 yards to the north lie the remains of Lording’s Lock and its associated aqueduct. Being much involved with aqueducts at the moment, it is worth noting that the latter is of brick construction with three arches - indeed, very similar to the aqueducts built for the Wey & Arun Junction Canal at Drungewick (although the new aqueduct is a single span concrete trough as required for flood prevention reasons, and virtually nothing of the former structure can be seen) and at Gosden, just north of Bramley, where the remains of the brick aqueduct can be readily inspected from the footpath.

Meanwhile, 500 yards or so south of the Flood Lock, repair work was carried out before winter set in in order to stabilise the bank between the canal and the fast-flowing River Arun which tends to scour this bank. At the request of the landowner the intention is to clear the canal southwards from this point as far as Lee Farm Bridge, a distance of almost a mile.

 

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AROUND THE BORDER
Less than a mile below the county border a dedicated team led by Eric Walker - in his spare time from overseeing the building of Drungewick Aqueduct - has completed the restoration of Devil’s Hole Lock. This task, bedevilled by bad weather in previous winters which led to the collapse of the bank behind the lock wall, has been continuing for several years, and everybody in the Trust is delighted to see this lock fully restored, albeit without any gates as yet.

At Bonfire Hanger, immediately north of the border, with generous support from SITA, the dams being built above Locks 9, 10 and 11 have been completed, thus controlling the flow of water along a stretch where the canal drops 24 feet in less than a third of a mile. Two new footbridges have also been completed at this point.

 

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  CONTENTS
Down South
Lording's Flood Lock Bridge. More Around the border
Work at Devil's Hole Lock and dams in Sidney Wood. More Ownership of the canal
Leases at Dunsfold and Sidney Wood. More Our sponsors
More Cruises from Loxwood
News of the trip boats. More The Lost Wey to the Sea
A new video about the canal. More Get in touch
Contact the Trust. More

 

OWNERSHIP OF THE CANAL
For many years the Trust has sought to obtain leases from landowners to cover the various sections of the canal on their respective properties, not least because financial support for restoration work is in many cases dependent upon WACT being able to confirm that it holds such a lease on the length concerned.

The lease on almost a mile of the waterway alongside the former Dunsfold Aerodrome was announced in this Newsletter in 1998 and the Trust can now record that Forest Enterprise has granted a lease on those stretches of the canal which it controls within Sidney Wood. This is expected to lead to the re-routing of part of the canal from the winding hole immediately above the site of Lock 16, slightly to the north-east of its present line, and details are already under discussion with neighbouring landowners.

 

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OUR SPONSORS
As evidenced by the above report about money raised for the Drungewick Crossing project, we are blessed with many generous sponsors - without them the restoration would be light-years behind its current position.

Sponsorship takes many forms from straightforward cash (always welcome!) to the use of plant and material (the Land Rover from Harwoods of Sussex comes to mind) and the supply of such things as fuel.

In the latter context we have for many years enjoyed the support of Southern Counties Fuels of Warninglid who keep much of our plant and machinery running as well as fuelling the trip boats operated by the Trust’s associates W&A Enterprises Ltd (“WAEL” to their friends). We are most grateful for all this help in restoring “London’s Lost Route to the Sea”.

 

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  CONTENTS
Down South
Lording's Flood Lock Bridge. More Around the border
Work at Devil's Hole Lock and dams in Sidney Wood. More Ownership of the canal
Leases at Dunsfold and Sidney Wood. More Our sponsors
More Cruises from Loxwood
News of the trip boats. More The Lost Wey to the Sea
A new video about the canal. More Get in touch
Contact the Trust. More
 

CRUISES FROM LOXWOOD
WAEL has had a record breaking year, greatly increasing the number of charter trips by Zachariah Keppel on the Loxwood Link. With the planned extension of the navigable waterway to Drungewick Lock next year - the first opportunity for boats to navigate here for 130 years, and the first ever for motorised craft - WAEL hopes that there will be more small parties (of up to 12 people) chartering the John Smallpeice (yes, that is the correct spelling!).

Both trip boats will be able to visit Drungewick Lock, and also to service the very popular weekend and Bank Holiday short trips from the Onslow Arms, Loxwood. Newly restored lengths of canal need to be cruised both to help prevent weed growth and to seal the myriad of small leaks which inevitably appear - these sailings will help.

 

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“THE LOST WEY TO THE SEA”
Off The Rails Video Productions Ltd. has just issued a video under this title in which Tony Pratt, a Director of the Trust, retraces the steps of J B Dashwood who travelled by boat from Weybridge to the Solent during the summer of 1867.

Dashwood planned to follow the River Wey, Wey & Arun Junction Canal, Arun Navigation, River Arun and the Portsmouth & Arundel Canal before completing his journey across Chichester and Langstone Harbours but apparently did not know that the Portsmouth & Arundel Canal had been closed some twenty years previously.

The video is an attractive record of the area served by the Wey & Arun Canal and its neighbours, and if any reader wishes to purchase a copy then please contact the Office.

 

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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 2002