Restoring the Wey & Arun Canal - the first four decades.
Much has been written about the construction and operation of the Wey & Arun Canal but now a new book draws together the efforts over the last four decades to restore the canal to its former glory.
'The Wey-South Project' by John Wood MBE records the work started by the Wey & Arun Canal Society in 1970, which is continued today by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust (WACT), through to the opening of the new B2133 Loxwood Crossing in 2009.
John is well qualified to chart the history of the restoration work as he first became involved in 1971 and was awarded his MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours in June 2000 for his work on the canal. His wife, Joy, and their two sons regularly spent their Sundays in the 1970s "jungle busting" and he has also taken on the roles of honorary secretary, company secretary and, more recently, vice president of the Trust over the last 40 years.
"Nobody could be better qualified to tell the story of the canal's restoration," said fellow WACT volunteer Geoff Perks. "The book presents the history on a year by year basis and one can follow the progress made with each of the restoration projects. It is interesting to learn of the problems encountered in the early stages."
Another WACT volunteer Peter Foulger added: "It is to be applauded that John has committed his memories to paper so that we can appreciate how an idea by a small group in 1970 could grow to where we were in 2009 and still to this day be expanding into ever more ambitious projects."
Copies of the book are available from the Canal Centre at Loxwood for £17.50, or by mail order from the Trust office for £22 (cheques payable to W&A Enterprises Ltd, The Granary, Flitchfold Farm, Loxwood, Billingshurst, West Sussex, RH14 0RH).
Further information and photographs in the form of JPEG files can be obtained from the Wey & Arun Trust's Public Relations Officer: Sally Schupke (01483 560543): email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wey & Arun Canal Trust
The 23-mile Wey & Arun Canal was built between 1813 and 1816 to link the Rivers Wey and Arun, thus forming an inland barge route between London and the south coast in order to provide a safe inland route for military supplies to the fleet in Portsmouth. However, after the Napoleonic Wars, it became a largely agricultural canal, carrying goods including coal, chalk, lime and farm produce. The coming of the railways finally sealed the canal's fate, the waterway being abandoned in 1871.
Since 1971, the Wey & Arun Canal Trust, a registered charity, has been working to re-open navigation along the waterway and, once fully restored, to again link Littlehampton on the south coast with the River Thames via the River Wey.