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West Sussex, England

Wey & Arun Canal Trust

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  We are living in a world were we are becoming adjusted to the steady erosion of everything around us - schools, old pubs, churches, etc...But here is yet another of the growing groups, bringing back another lost amenity

In the 19th century it was possible to travel by boat from London to Littlehampton on the south coast of England via Weybridge, Guildford, Pulborough and Arundel. Part of a once-extensive system of inland waterways covering England and Wales. The route was via the rivers Wey and Arun by the 23-mile Wey and Arun Canal. The Wey and Arun Canal formed a vital link, the only one between the south coast and the Thames, linking London and the busy river Thames with the English Channel.
Following the Industrial Revolution, trade on the canal increased to 23,000 tons in 1839. However, the railways were becoming established as the new form of transport. The first railways in Sussex had little impact, but by 1868 canal traffic had virtually ceased, and in 1871 this caused an Act of Abandonment to be passed.
By this time parts of the canal were almost derelict although occasional traffic carried on after official closure. Further south, the Arun Navigation managed to survive until the start of the 20th century before it too succumbed.
On abandonment the canal was sold off and although neglected, in the few places where it meandered close to civilisation it was still regarded as a feature of local interest. For most of its length, however, the canal became no more than a stagnant, muddy overgrown depression in the ground.
In 1970 a few enthusiastic individuals formed the Wey & Arun Canal Society. More supporters were quickly gained, and in 1973 the Society became a charitable Trust Company, the Wey & Arun Canal Trust Limited.
The aim of the Trust is to achieve the restoration, as a public amenity, of the navigable link between the Rivers Wey and Arun, and so recreate the direct water link between London and the South Coast.
Already [2010], 21 bridges have been reconstructed, 2 aqueducts reconstructed, 11 locks restored, culverts rebuilt and several miles of canal bed cleared and dredged.
The Trust is entirely voluntary, relying on the support of its members and friends, as well as the generosity of local businesses and the goodwill of local councils.

Visit their website here or better still have a day out & visit them in person.
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  All images on this page © Wey & Arun Canal Trust

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