Chichester Ship Canal
Just 4½ miles long and connected only to the sea, the Chichester Canal is an unusual survivor of the great waterway age. Slowly it is being brought back to life by the Chichester Ship Canal Trust, adding additional charm to one of the south coasts most historic and elegant cities.
The projects biggest leap forward came in 2007 when a new residential development overlooking the basin gained planning permission. This included a generous Section 106 grant that paid for a new canal centre at the heart of the basin. Completed in 2012, the development included a shop, café and heritage centre, and transformed business.
In 2016 the trust commissioned a brand-new wide-beam 22-seater trip-boat, Kingfisher, which is fully wheelchair accessible, with disabled toilets. Together with their second 32-seater trip-boat, Richmond, they carry nearly 15,000 passengers on the canal annually.
The trusts next ambition is to unite the three separate lengths, through two blockages: the Donnington and Cutfield lowered bridges. Initial plans were for a swing-bridge at the quieter Donnington road site, and a heavier lift-bridge at Cutfield. However, local opposition on the latter – now a very busy route to Itchenor and the Witterings – has led to a rethink, perhaps to lowering part of the canal pound from the sea lock to go underneath Cutfield Bridge, rising up in a brand-new lock just beyond.
The trust signs a new 25-year lease from the canals owner, West Sussex County Council, in 2020 and will be celebrating its 200th anniversary of opening in 2022.