SOUTH Downs MP Nick Herbert cut the ribbon to open the re-commissioned Lordings Waterwheel on the Wey and Arun Canal on Sunday.
Mr Herbert, a vice-president of the trust, was joined by members, local residents and many other supporters to open the refurbished waterwheel at a special launch event.
It is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country and is located near Adversane on the canal. Built to lift water from the River Arun into the canal, it has not been working for almost 140 years.
After the official ribbon cutting by the MP, the gathered crowds delighted in seeing the waterwheel begin rotating once again. Lifting 1,800 gallons per hour, the brick and stone chamber began to fill as the wheel turned.
Mr Herbert addressed the visitors after the ceremony and commended the hard work and patience of all involved with the project. He highlighted the goal of the Trust, to achieve the restoration, as a public amenity, of the navigable link between the rivers Wey and Arun.
Sally Schupke, chairman of the Wey and Arun Canal Trust, also spoke at the event. She praised the incredible achievement of all those involved, and thanked those who donated to the project. She also paid special thanks to the local landowners, Henry Ayre and Jill Scrase for for their kind co-operation on the day, and to the boat owners who ran a rally on the canal.
The foundations of the waterwheel chamber were first exposed ten years ago by a work group led by Winston Harwood. The project to rebuild the waterwheel then began, led by project manager Tony Turnbull. Mr Turnbull’s engineering expertise was invaluable because there were no archives and no waterwheels like this in country to work from.
Mr Herbert said: “I have been so impressed by the hard work and dedication of all those involved with the renovation of this waterwheel.
“I am very proud to be a vice-president of the Wey and Arun Canal Trust because I genuinely love canals. I remember many happy childhood holidays spent on them.
“This is a beautiful stretch of water and countryside, and it is wonderful to see it enhanced by this restoration.
“I am very grateful to all the volunteers who donated their time, and the generosity of patrons who donated funds to make this project possible.
“I look forward to the opening of the next section of canal, as the trust works towards its ultimate goal of making the whole waterway navigable once again.”
Following the visit Sally Schupke said: “We were absolutely delighted to welcome Nick to the opening of our re-commissioned waterwheel. We appreciate the support he gives to this volunteers-led charity. Our aim is to restore the canal in and around his constituency so that it can be fully enjoyed.
“It has been a successful and well-supported event, and we hope that many people will come to see the work for themselves.”