Boat owners had a rare chance to navigate part of the former Arun Navigation on Sunday 11th September when the Wey & Arun Canal Trust held a small boat rally as part of the inauguration of the Lordings Waterwheel.
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert cut the ribbon to open the re-commissioned Waterwheel, which is believed to be the only one of its type in the country.
Driven by the flow of the River Arun, The Lordings Waterwheel lifts water from the river level to the summit level of the Arun Navigation canal, about 3m above. It was originally restored about 10 years ago, and has since been rebuilt with new parts to improve its performance and durability. Prior to the Wey & Arun Canal Trust's involvement, it had not been working for almost 140 years.
The Trust invited local owners of trailable boats to join in the celebrations on the day, where they were given a unique chance to use the Arun Navigation and observe the effectiveness of the waterwheel.
Mr Herbert's address to the visitors after the ceremony raised many smiles as he spoke of his dream to be able to travel from Westminster to Arundel by inland waterway. He also commended the hard work and patience of all involved with the project:
"I have been so impressed by the hard work and dedication of all those involved with the renovation of this waterwheel.
"I am very proud to be a vice-president of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust because I genuinely love canals. I remember many happy childhood holidays spent on them.
"This is a beautiful stretch of water and countryside, and it is wonderful to see it enhanced by this restoration.
"I am very grateful to all the volunteers who donated their time, and the generosity of patrons who donated funds to make this project possible.
Chairman Sally Schupke also spoke at the event, praising the incredible achievement of all those involved, and thanking those who donated to the project:
"We were absolutely delighted to welcome Nick to the opening of our re-commissioned waterwheel. We appreciate the support he gives to this volunteer-led charity. Our aim is to restore the canal in and around his constituency so that it can be fully enjoyed.
"It has been a successful and well-supported event, and we hope that many people will come to see the work for themselves."
Sally also paid special thanks to the local landowners for their kind co-operation on the day.
Further information about the Wey & Arun Canal Trust is available from the Trust's office, on 01403 752403.
Notes for Editors
Further information is available from Bill Thomson, firstname.lastname@example.org
, 07777 668928
For photographs - please contact Sally Schupke, Sally_Schupke@weyandarun.co.uk
(our Press Officer is away on business at present) 01483 560543 (daytime)
The Wey & Arun Canal Trust
The Wey & Arun Canal, "London's lost route to the sea" was originally opened in 1816 between the River Wey at Shalford, near Guildford, and Pallingham, near Pulborough, the head of navigation of the River Arun. It closed in 1871, due to railway competition. Since the 1970s the 23-mile waterway has been the subject of a campaign by volunteers led by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust to restore the route to navigation. Work has been undertaken in a number of locations, most notably the stretch near the Sussex/Surrey border at Loxwood. Over two miles in length, this includes five working locks, two public road crossings, an aqueduct, two farm bridges, and numerous minor works, all built or rebuilt through voluntary effort. Boat trips are available on this stretch, onboard several craft, including the 50-seater electrically-powered Wiggonholt.