Wey and Arun Canal Trust Presentation 23 February

The February meeting had over 80 members and visitors present to hear an excellent presentation from Tony Pratt, a representative from The Wey and Arun Canal Trust. Tony explained that the canal formed the final part of a vital route from London to Portsmouth without going to sea. This became of great military importance, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. Sadly, this was never a commercial success and as railways became the preferred mode of transport for goods, the canal was closed in 1871 and had been little used.

Over 100 years later The Wey and Arun Canal Society was formed which in 1973 became The Wey and Arun Canal Trust. This body of 3,000 members, volunteers and staff have been instrumental in restoring significant stretches of the canal. The Trust has a showcase site at Loxwood, West Sussex where it is possible to book boat trips and where canoeists and paddleboarders are welcome to use the waterway.

The Wey-South Path was one of the Trust’s earliest successes and is a long-distance footpath that runs either alongside or near to the canal route. Along this scenic route an abundance of wildlife can be viewed and also from the canal boats.

After a break for refreshments Graham Tuppen enlightened the audience with news of local wildlife sightings, including Chaffinches, a Brimstone butterfly and a Bumble Bee. The first Newt had been seen and a Heron taking numerous frogs from a pond in a local garden.