PUMPING WATER UPHILL - AT NO COST
Pumping water uphill at no cost sounds as if it has come from one of the dodgier advertisements
in the Press. Our predecessors devised a scheme for it and, although it all fell into ruins during the canal's
100 year 'sleep' the scheme has been restored by Trust enthusiasts and is pumping water very satisfactorily.
How did the Trust manage to achieve something for nothing? The power is the force of the river Arun and this
is sufficient to turn a waterwheel which lifts water about 10 feet into the canal. There were not many clues
as to what the wheel looked like and indeed we do not know of another undershot wheel anywhere else on the
British canal system. We hesitate to say it is unique but prefer, at this stage, to say it is PDU - Pretty
Damned Unusual. Where can you see it? Take the footpath south from Newbridge (on the A272 to the west of
Billingshurst) and walk for about a mile and a half along the line of the Arun Navigation (a 4½ canal
completed in 1787 between Pallingham and Newbridge). The replica waterwheel was fabricated off-site,
transported in pieces and assembled beside Lordings Lock. This Lock is remarkably remote, even today,
with the nearest road about three-quarters of a mile away. The wheel turns slowly, at about 4rpm, but
the many vanes each bring up a little water at a time which, over 24 hours, amounts to a considerable amount.
At present we are doing this purely for demonstration purposes so the water goes straight back into the Arun
on the other side of the aqueduct. Well worth a visit for a piece of industrial archaeology which we think
you won't see elsewhere - PDU, indeed.
THE BOAT WHICH RAN ON RAILWAY LINES - TO TIME
May Upton ran on railway lines, to time, going up and down the dual slipway at Drungewick. It was mid- May and a
glorious day with plenty of supporters out to see the culmination of so much planning and work
It seemed a long time ago - three years - that we paid Southern Electric to move the power-cable pole in our
Chairman's field and install a transformer so that we could tap the 11Kv line for something a bit more manageable.
The cable and meter are housed in a ready-use ammunition locker from an RN frigate which Eric Walker found for us
in a Portsmouth scrapyard. It is also from there that the power goes the next half-mile to Drungewick Lock to
run the back-pumps there.
Our Chairman kindly added land to the Trust to join the existing lease. This involved the access lane and the
land for the dual slipways. The layout of the shallower slipway meant that some land had to be taken from the
cattle meadow. If we had not done so the concrete on which the trolleys run would have been too far out into
Alan Johnson dealt with the planning applications which had to be approved by Chichester District Council.
For reasons too long to recount here, this all had to be done twice. Like so much of canal restoration,
this is administrative work which few people realise has to be done and most supporters of the Trust are
quite unaware of the amount of work required. Alan has a full-time job with English Heritage and we are
grateful to him for finding the time and using his architectural expertise, to deal with these planning applications.
The rails for the shallower slipway came from the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway and the cradles
were made for us by Devizes Marina. The construction details were pored over and amended by Roy Sutton,
of IWA, to make sure that we had the right design. The slipways were constructed by Richard Julian, partly
with the help of his sons, in a variety of weather that varied from flood to drought. Steel piling had to be
driven so that the lower part of the slipway could be laid in the dry; the overhead power cables meant that
this could not be done with a crane but by Richard's JCB perched on an innovative design which modified the cradles.
The money to make it all possible came largely from a £25,000 bequest from Roger Dimmock. Roger had been a member
of IWA Middlesex Branch and the legacy was to the IWA for a worthy project. The remainder of the £33,000 cost came
from Trust funds with some additional money provided by the Local Heritage Initiative to pay for what is called
the 'cross-over' where the approach lane joins Drungewick Lane.
The opening ceremony, much delayed for one reason or another, was performed by David Dimmock. A memorial plaque
was unveiled and boats went up and down each of the two slipways. The sun shone and many of the 46 boats which
had come for the Small Boat Rally added colour and spectators to the scene. One more project for the Wey & Arun
completed. It seemed a suitable time for Vaughan Welch, the Chairman of IWA's Restoration Committee, to present
Peter Foulger with the Kenneth Goodwin Trophy - for the canal which had made the most progress in the previous year.
Much applause, to acknowledge how much had been done by Trust members, some of whom are named above.
WHEN DOES A BRIDGE BECOME A TUNNEL?
The Inland Waterways Association says the answer is 18 metres; so by that definition our proposed bridge under
the High Street at Loxwood will, at 21 metres, be a tunnel. A 70-foot-long narrowboat will momentarily be entirely
hidden. The Trust plans to build this bridge to get the canal under the B2133. Some, particularly walkers, might
prefer to see a lifting bridge but the alternative road, while the bridge is up, is a very country road (Drungewick Lane)
and not suitable for emergency vehicles. The cost of maintaining a swing bridge over its long life is also considerable
and the County Council might well demand a swingeing endowment from the Trust if the Council was to adopt the bridge.
The original 1813 bridge was hump-backed but that would meet none of the criteria for sight-lines today. We could have
raised the High Street to get the canal through at its original level, but that proved to be just as expensive and even
more inconvenient for nearby residents than lowering the canal itself. So, in brief, we will reduce the height gained
at Brewhurst Lock, take the canal under the road at this reduced height and then regain what we have lost at a new lock
on the other side of the road to the Onslow Arms. The whole exercise, including the diversion of the Loxwood village
sewer, BT cables and the water main, will cost in the region of £1.2M This is almost twice what the Drungewick
Crossing cost and presents a fundraising challenge which the Trust is starting to pick up. News of its progress will
be in the next editions of Countryside Afloat.