The Chichester Ship Canal Trust, the volunteer-led, self-funded charity behind the canal, is celebrating as they’ve been able to secure 75% of the funding needed for the initial phase of the bank restoration programme.
The fund-raising campaign began in autumn 2020, and thanks to individual donors, contributions from local councils, significant grants, as well as income generated by canal activities, this success means that work can begin.
Specialist contractors will restore the most critically-damaged section of the canal bank, which are the very foundations of the canal, underpinning the towpath used by so many people, keeping the waterway safe for all users, and managing water flow. The stretch to be completed first runs from approximately 300m south of the steps to the Canal Walk housing development towards Hunston for about 250m. The Trust are providing excavators, a tug and barge to help with the movement of materials.
The towpath will be closed for safety reasons to all canal users to ensure the contractors can work safely and as effectively and efficiently as possible. The towpath surface, which was resurfaced in 2021 with funding from Donnington Parish Council will be returned to its new high standard.
Mark Stoneham, Trustee, said, ‘We’re obviously thrilled with the funding position, and delighted we can start this work to celebrate our 200th anniversary year. We’ve seen during the pandemic how important the canal is for both physical and mental recreation, whether for dogwalkers, joggers or weekend walkers, and we appreciate that the closure of a very heavily used stretch of the towpath will impact on many local residents. However, it’s really important that this work is carried out safely and promptly, so that the towpath and waterway are safe for users now and into the future’.
The waterway will remain open for licenced paddlers and scheduled boat trips.
Mark continued, ‘The work is scheduled to be completed ahead of our 200th Anniversary Celebration Event on Saturday 9th April, in the Easter holidays, and we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone to the canal to mark this significant milestone’.
The Trust will continue to raise funds and apply for external funding to enable restoration to further stretches of the canal banks to be completed in the next few years.
The towpath will be closed 300m south of the steps to Canal Walk to Hunston, from 7 February for approximately 8 weeks, with an alternative route available via the A27. The closure has been approved by West Sussex County Council Public Rights of Way