More than 200 supporters and guests attended the opening of the Canal Centre at Loxwood, West Sussex, on Sunday 1st April. Mike Coleman, Chairman of West Sussex County Council, cut the red ribbon and saluted the exceptional work by all the volunteers.
Sally Schupke, Chairman of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust, said that the history of the Canal Centre went back a long way. The Trust had started by planning a wooden ticket office in the car park, then started thinking about a log cabin. A fortunate meeting with generous sponsors led to more ambitious thoughts and the splendid new building was the result.
The Canal Trust was an environmentally aware group and had wanted a very ‘green’ building – constructed from sustainably sourced materials and with exceptionally low energy requirements. Sussex company Fordingbridge plc had responded skilfully to the Trust’s requirements.
Sally hoped that Loxwood residents would be proud of the canal in their village; she recalled that one of the first jobs canal restorers had carried out in the area was to remove tons of glass from the canal bed behind the Onslow Arms, which had been used as a bottle dump. Later the “black shed”, a corrugated iron lean-to behind the pub, became the Trust’s publicity centre, but by the 21st century it had become completely inadequate. 10,000 passengers enjoyed boat trips on the canal last year and many others visit just for a walk along the peaceful canalside paths.
Sally asked members to remember Tim Jolly, who had sadly died in 2010 at the age of 62. Tim used to spend nearly every Summer Sunday at Loxwood helping on the Trust’s publicity stand and sharing his enthusiasm with visitors. The Trust was also proud of the fact that no public money had been involved as all the fund raising had been done by the Trust’s supporters.
She finished by thanking all those who had been involved in the building: John Pryce, the Project Manager and Ian Burton, the Trust’s Conservation Adviser, who produced the landscaping design. Both are volunteers for the Trust. The Canal Centre is now open every weekend until the Autumn. Further information is available on the website.
Published 6th April 2012
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