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 charm to one of the south coast’s most historic and elegant cities. The project’s 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 the trust’s second 32-seater trip-boat, Richmond, nearly 15,000 passengers are carried on the canal annually.
During 2020 and 2021, the Covid pandemic saw many people enjoying the canal for both physical and mental health, exploring locally and gaining a new appreciation for this secret little waterway. Paddleboarding and canoeing licences reached record high numbers. In 2020 the trust embarked on an ambitious fundraising campaign to address the most urgent restoration of the canal banks, to keep the towpath and waterway safe for all users. After securing £150,000, the trust was able to complete the most critical repairs. In 2022, the bicentennial celebration of the formal opening of the canal in 1822, a season of anniversary events was held to help people discover more about the unique heritage and habitat. Events included an art partnership, cultural events including a hugely well-supported Carnival of Lights, a photographic competition, family activities, a guided walk, a year-long exhibition at the local museum, historical talks and a very successful community celebration. The year finished in style with the homecoming of the 1828 Turner image of the canal, on loan from Tate to the Pallant House Gallery.