Currently there are two major projects on going in the branch area.
The Trust’s Autumn meeting took place at Alfold Village Hall on 27th October. The Chairman, Sally Schupke, welcomed members to the EGM and, after confirming the minutes of the AGM, spoke about the major achievements of the past six months.
These included the completion of the Loxwood Bridge parapets, the restoration of Southland lock and the introduction of public boat trips on the summit pound. She thanked members of visiting groups and local volunteers for theircontributions to these achievements. In closing, she pointed out that a huge amount of money would be needed to maintain/increase the pace of restoration, coupled with sensitive negotiations to acquire both land and permissions. While grants were being sought from various funding bodies, it was inevitable that members would be asked to make further contributions. This was reinforced by the Treasurer, Jim Phillips, who urged members to give small amounts of money through ‘local giving.com’, which is linked to the Trust’s web page. After the Poddle trophies were awarded, Philip Oliver (who has taken over the Bramley Link responsibilities from Chris Harrison) presented plans for a small section which will link to the River Wey. This will involve a new channel for the canal. Possible plans for another project - the re-building of Compasses Bridge on the summit pound - were outlined by Tony Ford.
New guide to exploring the Wey & Arun Canal
The WACT recently published a new guidebook Visiting the Wey & Arun Canal that aims to make it easier for visitors to use the canal for leisure activities and to find out more about the canal’s history and its route. The 72-page guide includes colour photographs, as well as maps and details of how to access parts of the canal by road and by public transport.
Sally Schupke, chairman of the Trust said “This marvellous little book is an absolute must for anybody wishing to visit the Wey & Arun Canal. They will have the opportunity to see where original canal structures still stand, newly restored areas, and explore its path through Surrey and Sussex countryside”.
The new guidebook is priced at £5 and is available at the Loxwood Canal Centre (telephone 01403 753999, email email@example.com) or by mail order (plus £1.50 P&P) from the WACT office, The Granary, Flitchfold Farm, Loxwood, RH14 0RH (01403 752403).
Opening of Gunpowder Store at Shalford
There was a lot of public interest in the opening of the Gunpowder Store at Shalford as part of the Heritage Weekend in September. The good weather encouraged many for the guided walk to Bramley such that there were sufficient numbers for there to be two groups, conducted by W&ACT members.
Small Boat Rally on the summit pound
On a bright and breezy Saturday morning at the end of October around a dozen assorted craft took part in the Trust’s Small Boats Rally, the keenness of the crews being matched only by that of a biting northerly wind. Launching near the causeway over the canal at the Compasses, the boats were able to travel along the canal through Farnhurst Bridge and onwards to the A281 road crossing at Fast Bridge. Close by the start they passed the moorings of the John Smallpeice, the small trip boat with which the Trust successfully began public cruises on this section of the canal early in September following extensive work by various volunteer working parties. Regular use of this section of the canal marks another milestone in the Trust’s achievements and their aim to build on the successful operations already well established at Loxwood.
THE SECOND PROJECT is the restoration of the last traditional Wey Barge Perseverance IV.
DThe traditional boats on the Wey were wide timber barges; not the brightly painted narrow boats you see on most inland waterways today. A Wey barge could carry up to 80 tonnes. They had no engines and rarely used sails, mostly they were towed by rope and sometimes poled or rowed.
In the 1890s the Stevens family established Dapdune Wharf as the Navigations’ main boat yard. Eleven Wey barges were built here between 1910 and 1940. The first barge built here was called Perseverance and since then, there has always been a Perseverance at Dapdune. The one you can see moored up by the island is Perseverance IV. We are currently launching an appeal to raise funds to protect her for the future.
Dapdune Wharf was the home of barge building on the River Wey in the days when there was regular commercial traffic on the river. In the skilled hands of the Edwards family, Wey barges were built and maintained at Dapdune up until the mid-1960s.
According to the Trust, this barge helps to illustrate the important role of Britain’s industrial waterways and is now one of only three vessels, of the original batch of eleven, still in existence. Reliance is one of the other original Wey barges and is now in a dry dock at Dapdune Wharf in Guildford. Perseverance IV was built in 1935, ending her working life in 1982, and has been moored, half submerged, since the 1990’s on the River Wey at Guildford.
The immediate aim is to raise £200,000 to create a maintenance fund. This would enable the Trust to maintain Perseverance as she is until a further £300,000 can be raised for full restoration in the future.