Wey and Arun Canal restoration: Boats back in Surrey

A section of the canal in West Sussex The canal was built from 1813 to 1816 to link the Rivers Wey and Arun

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Boats are to set sail on a recently-restored section of canal in Surrey for the first time in more than 140 years.

The Wey and Arun Canal Trust will start running trips from Alford on Saturday along the edge of Dunsfold Park near the Three Compasses pub.

The charitable trust already runs trips at Loxwood in West Sussex.

The 23-mile (37km) canal closed in 1871 because of competition from the railways, and its restoration has been under way since the 1970s.

Once fully restored, the trust hopes to again link Littlehampton on the south coast with the River Thames via the River Wey.

'Major triumph'

Chairman Sally Schupke said crossing the border into Surrey was a "major triumph".

"It's tremendous news for us because it means this is one step further on restoring the canal to link up with the national network and the River Wey navigation in Guildford, Surrey," she said.

"We're putting the pieces together. Some places we can restore, but some are more difficult - especially the major road crossings.

"A lot of canal bridges were flattened, so we have to restore navigation underneath the main roads, which is very difficult."

A 12-seater boat called the John Smallpeice has been restored by the trust for the trips in Surrey, starting on Saturday and Sunday.

The canal was built from 1813 to 1816 to link the Rivers Wey and Arun, and runs through Shalford, Bramley, Cranleigh and Dunsfold in Surrey, and Loxwood, Wisborough Green and Billingshurst in West Sussex.

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