The Canal Group

This is part of Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society and membership of one provides membership of the other.
The aims of the Group are to promote the preservation and restoration of the remains of the Portsmouth and Arundel Navigation between Ford and Hunston and  between Hunston and Birdham that part not the responsibility of the Chichester Canal Society.

The Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society  (SIAS)  between 1982 and 1997, restored to working order possibly the only remaining cast iron swing bridge of its age in the UK. It was made for the Portsmouth and Arundel Navigation by C&H Tickell of Southhampton.
Research has shown that within the Sussex line of the canal there were originally 14 such swing bridges and a further 18 brick arch bridges when the canal opened in 1823.
Various sites of engineering works on the derelict Ford to Hunston section have been located , excavated,  recorded with photos, and detailed drawings by Roger Reed. At Barnham Court Farm, the land owner, Mr. Bill Forse, is seeking funding to re-open a short length of canal and to restore the Hollinsworth bridge to working order using as many original parts as possible.

Recent Work and Activities

St Giles Bridge (Merston)
A total of 427 man-hours has been put in on this project and during 2009 completed the water proofing of the arch, installation of rabbit proofing chicken wire,  and sowing of short grow grass on top. During the year the east parapet and the north east pilaster have been built up to their finished height. The parapet has been rebuilt to two courses above the double string courses and the pilaster to full height to match the pilaster at south end. The cap stone has been raised and bedded down onto the top. The effect is to make this elevation symmetrical and show the curve of the bridge.

Merston Culvert
The site has been cleared of undergrowth again and surveyed to monitor deterioration.

Hunston Tramway Bridge
The site was cleared of jungle, the soil level was reduced by some 300 mm and WEDEX, ballast and sleepers were laid. 
Rails kindly provided by Amberley Museum, were painted in order to preserve them and spiked down to the sleepers.
Two original spikes (found during excavations) and two “gold” spikes were driven by our celebrity guests at the opening ceremony on the 4th May 2009.  
A ramp and hand rail (using the spoil from the the top) were constructed at the rear to assist access for this occasion.

Casher Bridge (Birdham)
In January  three test pits were dug on the site of the Magnatometry survey (that had been carried out by Chichester and District Archaeology Society). Unfortunately nothing was found. The following week a pit was dug some 5ft x 6ft and 7ft 4ins deep and still found nothing.  The group has now managed to identify the owner of the land on which the bridge was built and have gained permission to remove the bridge remains for our further use in the reconstruction of Hollinsworth bridge. These remains include the transom and upper bearing, and five counter weights.

Cutfield Bridge (Birdham Road)
The site of another swing bridge, long believed still to contain the lower bearing was excavated and the lower bearing was indeed found in situ.
Also in situ was the “packing ring” which has now been  retrieved. Virtually all the coping stones here are intact.
An old AA road sign, c 1940s was discovered during this work and it has been presented to the Amberley Working Museum.

Stewart Bridge  (Barnham)
There was an excavation beside the lower bearing stone, which is out of level, to find out what was below it and surprisingly found it was sitting on a brick foundation some 5ft or more in depth and tied into the adjacent abutment wall. There appears to be little scope for a re-leveling-exercise!

The group are working with an engineer (Peter Willmott) from Archibald Shaw and Partners, a Chichester civil engineering consultancy, who has volunteered to produce drawings for  the proposed restoration of the Hollinsworth Bridge on this site. Interestingly it would appear that this same company were responsible for the design of the restoration of Poyntz Bridge. He has been supplied with all the relevant drawings of this bridge and site that have been produced by Roger Reed.

New found culverts
A new culvert was found at  grid ref  SU 949 035 just west of the Bognor branch railway line.
It is some 2ft 6ins in diameter and still in use carrying a stream under the canal bed.
A known culvert at Groves Farm was cleared of undergrowth and rubble, and has been photographed and recorded and drawn up by Roger Reed.
This culvert is also still in use.

Guided walks and open days
For details see the Programme pages on this website and publicity.

Canal talks
Talks can be arranged for various groups as required.

The History of Chichester’s Canal
Alan Green’s book has now been re issued in its third, and extended, edition.
This is well worth buying as it contains some new information especially on the pumping stations.

Work Parties
These parties are coordinated by Adge Roberts and should you feel that you could help on any of these sites in any way, from brick laying to general labouring and gardening please contact him at  01903 721762 or by email   
If you would like more information about these sites or on any other aspect of the history of the canal you are welcome to call or email.

Plans for 2010

St Giles Bridge   (Merston)
To complete the coping to the east parapet wall and to prepare and re-point almost all of the bridge (a mammoth task)  and to carry out several small repair jobs to the brickwork.

Casher Bridge  (Birdham)
Recover the remains of the Casher Bridge (by whatever means) from its home at Birdham and transport it to Barnham for use in the restoration of Hollinsworth Bridge.

 The team wish to express their continued thanks to the landowners and managers for allowing us access to their land and for their permission to study and conserve the surviving engineering features of the Portsmouth and Arundel Navigation.

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Last modified: January 12, 2019