The incredibly warm and dry summer which we have enjoyed for the past four or five months has been a
mixed blessing so far as the Wey & Arun Canal is concerned. Certainly it was wonderful to have such
superb weather for the official opening of the Drungewick Aqueduct and Lock on 31 May, and similarly
there were ideal conditions for most of the cruises run from Loxwood by the trip boats Zachariah Keppel
and John Smallpiece for many weeks. However, during August the canal started to suffer from a shortage of
water and some cruises had to be curtailed although, to keep them going for as long as possible, the Trust
was abIe to use the back-pumping facility, which is being built into all the restored locks on the Wey &
Arun, in order to concentrate the avaiIable water in the pound immediately behind the OnsIow Arms pub.
Meanwhile restoration work has continued steadily, however the number of bonfires (once the bird's-nesting
season was over) was severely limited by the fear of such fires spreading in the very dry conditions
Therefore a lot of scrub etc. was left for burning when conditions became rather safer. However, during
October the many tree stumps pulled out at Bonfire Hanger and elsewhere some three years ago were
deemed dry enough to burn which contributed considerable bulk to some of the bonfires once it was safe to
Adjacent to the Drungewick Aqueduct the Trust has built twin slipways and an approach road. One slipway
is designed for hauling WACT's trip boats out of the water for maintenance and repairs etc., while the other
is intended to facilitate the launching of small boats onto the canaI and their subsequent recovery, for
example on the occasion of the annual Small Boat RalIy. The approach road has been named Roger
Dimmick Lane, in memory of the benefactor who left a legacy of £25,OOO which was awarded to the Trust
by the Inland Waterways Association and covered most of the costs involved.
Zachariah Keppel christened the slipway when brought in for her annual overhaul, when
she aIso passed the safety test of the Marine & Coastal Authority.
Visiting supporters have just about completed the new weir in Sidney Wood, while one of
WACT's regular teams has virtually finished the restoration.of Devil's Hole Lock,
which lies about half a mile north of Loxwood.
After opening the two miles or so of canal from the Onslow Arms at Loxwood High Street to the new
winding hole (turning place for boats) below Drungewick Lock, the Trust's directors had to decide whether
to concentrate their limited resources on extending the restoration southwards, towards the A272 at
Newbridge, or norhwards, up the hiIl towards the River Wey. After much discussion it was agreed to head
north and so the first major step wilI to be to get the waterway across the B2133 at Loxwood. This seems
likely to be the most complicated road crossing on the whole canaI since the bridge will have to be
significantly skewed, while just about evey sort of public service facility (water, gas, fibre optic cables etc.)
now passes through the causeway carrying the road over the canal. The Trust is due to receive very soon a
report on the technicaI aspects of this bridge and hopes to be in a position to seek the necessay approval
from the planning authorities early next year. At the same time there will undoubtedly be a major
fundraising operation since all the indications are that this bridge could be at least as costly as the whole of
the Drungewick Crossing (which finally ran out at about £630,OOO), if not more so.