As one who has lived in the area for 25 years, and a member of the Inland Waterways Association for 40 years, it has always seemed extraordinary that neither West Sussex County Council nor Chichester District has not long since funded the re-connection of this waterway. It is not as if it is a major task compared with the now hundreds of miles of canals which have been restored in other parts of the country.
It does, after all, involve just two bridges and one lock. The lock itself could be moved and rebuilt on the other side of the Birdham road bridge to both increase the canal headroom and reduce the necessary height of a new bridge. Do I hear ‘a new lock, a new bridge’?
Take a look at the Inland Waterways Association Journal: there are literally dozens of new locks and bridges on restored canals in the Midlands and north of England, with more being opened every year. The restoration groups involved in these would laugh at the apparent difficulties of re-opening the Chichester Canal.
It is a reproach to our local authorities that they have not given financial support to this waterway nor, as far as one can see, any impetus to the project. One would have thought the city of Chichester would have wanted to have a waterway connection to the sea allowing visiting boats to moor in the city centre. As it happens I am also a boat-owner and like many others would jump at the chance of being able to moor up in Chichester Canal basin for a night (and pay the overnight mooring charge for doing so). So come on WSCC and CDC, what is your policy on this rather obviously desirable amenity project, right on your doorstep?