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The Countryside Afloat
A Review of Recent Events by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust
Previous issues

November 2004



lordings aqueductThe successful small boat event at Lordings in May this year included a demonstration of the Orfold waterwheel. Trust member Winston Harwood had installed this replica waterwheel with grant aid from Horsham District Council. The wheel raises water from the Arun into the canal, but today this water is returned straightaway into the Arun to maintain the status quo. Reconstruction of Orfold Aqueduct, to one side of the waterwheel, continues. The aqueduct, a three-arch brick design, lordings lockwas originally built in 1785/7 and is the only one on the Arun Navigation. The new arches were made using a former to give the correct profile, and were completed just before the river flooded the works in the heavy rainfall of late Summer. The arches held nicely and the aqueduct walls were raised on top. Progress has also been made on adjacent Lordings Lock, one end of which had been truncated by a diversion of the Arun into a new course. A signed footpath leads to the site, which lies about 1 miles south of the A272 at Newbridge.


haybarn swing bridgeAbout three years ago, the Trust was given an ex-Leeds & Liverpool Canal swing-bridge. After much deliberation and consultation, it was decided to install this in place of the low-level bridge at Haybarn Bridge on the Arun Navigation section. To allow this, the public right-of-way crossing this bridge had first to be temporarily diverted and the low-level bridge itself demolished. As this involved the use of some heavy plant, the approach to the bridge had also to be prepared to take the weight.

The swing-bridge itself also required a fair amount of preparation work, cleaning and de-rusting it, making good any ensuing holes and repainting it, which was done off-site. Once the low-level bridge was demolished - not an easy undertaking as it had been well constructed by PoWs in the last war - a concrete base had to be fabricated, incorporating the pintle on which the swing-bridge will eventually swing. Finally the swing-bridge was brought on site and installed. The whole operation was tackled by teams from the Dig Deep Initiative of the Waterways Recovery Group (WRG), as their project for this year, working under the supervision of Trust Project Co-ordinator Graham Baird. They are a specialist team of volunteers who have undertaken various tasks on behalf of the Trust in previous years.


The Trust's current major project is that of providing a navigable crossing of the B2133 at the Onslow Arms, Loxwood, thus extending the length available for operating the Wey & Arun trip-boats and continuing the process of reconnecting the navigable canal to its summit level at Dunsfold. This will involve lowering the top cill at Brewhurst Lock and the pound past the Onslow Arms, taking the canal under the road at the reduced height thus provided and then regaining the lost height with 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 and is being overseen by Trust Project Manager Eric Walker, who previously oversaw the Loxwood Link Extension project, which included the new Drungewick Aqueduct and Bridge.

loxwood-chesterfield bridgeProject planning continues apace, agreeing the engineering details with the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) and the County and District Councils, and also with securing necessary permissions from the landowners affected and the County and District Councils. The Trust's members are also donating generously to the fund, which has already reached nearly a quarter of the total estimated cost.

Phase 1 of the scheme (the lowering of the Onslow pound and reduction of the height at Brewhurst Lock) should start early in 2005. The photograph shows a similar bridge on the Chesterfield Canal, adapted to give an idea of what the new bridge at Loxwood will look like when completed.


model tugboatsSaturday 18th September saw craft on the canal very different to any that had been there before. The craft in question were a number of model tugboats owned by members of the Southwater Dabblers Model Boat Club. They had come to demonstrate the power of these little vessels and they successfully towed the trip-boat, Zachariah Keppel, from Brewhurst Lock to the winding hole by the Onslow Arms. Naturally, it was a very controlled exercise to ensure no damage to the canal or to any of the boats, but it provided an unusual spectacle, which created much publicity for both the Wey & Arun Canal Trust and the Southwater Dabblers Model Boat Club.


visitors to bramley exhibitionAll good stories involve solving the problem of a missing link. In our case, some 2km (1 miles) of the original canal route at Bramley in Surrey were built over earlier this century. An alternative route has therefore to be identified if the canal is to be reconnected with the rest of the waterway system. With this in mind, the Halcrow Group was commissioned to research possible options through the Bramley/Wonersh corridor and look at any related aspects, e.g. environment, ecology and biodiversity. The Halcrow Group is very experienced in such matters and, in 1993, on behalf of the Trust, had previously demonstrated the viability of restoring the whole canal. With the information thus acquired, a public exhibition was mounted in Bramley Village Hall on 8th and 9th October to show the local people what has been achieved elsewhere on the canal and what could be provided in Bramley/Wonersh area. The event took place in partnership with the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Surrey County Council, Waverley Borough Council and the Environment Agency and was well received by those attending. boat at bramley exhibitionOver 700 visitors came through the door and many (some 270 of them) filled in the questionnaire provided by the Trust. Results are still being assessed but a majority of local residents (66%) indicated that they were in favour of the canal being restored through Bramley with the option of using the river route via Cranleigh Waters being preferred by most (75%). Also in attendance were Cllr Victor Duckett and Mrs Janet Maines, the Mayor and Mayoress of Waverley, Sue Doughty, MP for Guildford, and representatives of the EA, IWA and Surrey Wildlife Trust. The exhibition further helped to dispel any fears amongst local residents that the Trust intended to restore the canal along its original route, which, of course, would be completely impractical. The Bramley Link project is being overseen by Trust Project Manager Chris Harrison, ably assisted by the Trust's Public Relations Officer, Sally Schupke.


zk turningAt the Trust's EGM in October, Wey & Arun Enterprises Limited (WAEL), which operates the trip-boats at Loxwood and organises the sales initiative on behalf of the Trust, reported another highly successful year, despite some water shortages in early Summer and too much rainfall at other times. The Easter Bunny cruises in April had been particularly well attended and the number of charter trips this year was also a matter of note. The all-electric dayboat, Pete Wynn, which is available for hire by Trust members, had also been used on a number of occasions. A sizeable donation was made to the Trust funds by WAEL as a result, and they were looking forward to the Santa cruises, which are also very popular in the run-up to Christmas. As an experiment, WAEL intends to run trips on Boxing Day this year.

If you would like to know more about the Wey & Arun Canal, whether in respect of its history or of its ongoing restoration, do please contact the Trust's Office at -
Wey & Arun Canal Trust,
The Granary, Flitchfold Farm,
Loxwood, Billingshurst
Telephone: 01403 752403
Fax: 01403 753991


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