New length of Wey & Arun opened

Published: Friday, 08 March 2024

REMOVING the silt from the Dunsfold Park section of the Wey & Arun as resulted in 2km of fully navigable canal.

This has resulted in a fully navigable unobstructed wide and deep channel, down to Tickner’s Heath, together with a towpath, our being told:

Our volunteers had made huge progress with restoration here over many years, but we were set back by Covid. So we were very happy to step back when the final stage was taken over by Dunsfold Airport Ltd, which is behind the transformation of Dunsfold Aerodrome (now known as Dunsfold Park and which borders the canal here) into a new village, where 1,800 homes and further commercial zones will emerge. The first stage of new housing will border the canal.

The principal contractors for removal of the silt were Sir Robert McAlpine. They called on Land & Water Group Ltd, recognised commercial experts in such work.

Unexploded ordnance

The aerodrome was built in the Second World War by and for Canadian forces. During the dredging, the contractors encountered unexploded ordnance from that time which required professional disposal.

At the moment the canal is within the secure perimeter of Dunsfold Park and will not be open to the public until the housing development is underway. However, Dunsfold Park will allow us to run special events on this stretch of canal and organise guided walks. The Trust has a slipway within Dunsfold Park to launch small boats.

At the southern end of this section is Tickner’s Heath where the route of the canal is blocked by the causeway which carries Dunsfold Road. To overcome this obstruction a new road bridge will be built and a new canal cut excavated to rejoin the original canal to the west of the old crossing.

New footbridge

A new footbridge was built in 2022 but then work had to be put on hold while we awaited highway approvals for a temporary road and for a water main to be re-routed. The trust hopes to restart this project later this year.

Of the work carried out, Sally Schupke (Wey & Arun Canal Trust Chairman) enthused:

“We are delighted with the work carried out by Dunsfold Park and their support to ensure the canal becomes an important feature and community asset within the Dunsfold Park Masterplan.”