Last month the Trust launched a consultation to examine ambitious plans to build a new bridge by the Alfold entrance to Dunsfold Park and the Three Compasses Inn. Records indicate that there was once a bridge over the canal (Compasses Bridge), but that during the rapid construction of Dunsfold Aerodrome in 1942 the bridge became a concrete causeway that now blocks the canal.
The Trust is working with Dunsfold Park, Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough Council to examine the options for removing the causeway and constructing a new bridge. The Trust's current preferred option is to build the new bridge directly alongside the existing causeway, then to slew the road across the new route ensuring minimal disruption for road traffic.
With the new bridge in place, the way will be open to regular boat trips on an attractive wooded section of the canal about 2km long, with the possibility of further extensions in the longer term.
The Trust's outline timescale envisages the new bridge being complete and the causeway demolished by 2016 if fundraising, design work and planning permission are all successful. By coincidence, the official opening ceremony for the Wey and Arun Canal took place at the Three Compasses in September 1816, so if all goes to plan there could be another celebration to mark the 200th anniversary.
Already successful boat trips have taken place on the Summit section of the canal with more planned for Saturday 17th August, Sunday 1st September, Thursday 5th September and Saturday 7th September. Trips will depart from the Three Compasses Bridge between 11am and 4pm each day. Ticket prices £4 adults, £2 children.
To book a place telephone 01403 752403 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Trust has reached agreement with landowners like Dunsfold Park Ltd so that restoration work can take place on over half the 23-mile total length. Already, 21 bridges have been reconstructed, two aqueducts reconstructed, 11 locks restored, culverts rebuilt and several miles of canal bed cleared and dredged. Work has been carried out in the Bramley, Run Common, Loxwood, Billingshurst and Pulborough areas.
The Trust is an entirely voluntary organisation, relying on the support of its members and friends, as well as the generosity of local businesses and the goodwill of local councils.
For more information visit: www.weyandarun.co.uk.