Wey and Godalming Navigations
|River Wey and Godalming Navigations|
Catteshall Lock, the southernmost lock on the Navigations at Farncombe, Godalming, Surrey.
|Navigation authority||National Trust|
|Date of first use||1653|
|Start point||River Thames|
|Connects to||Basingstoke Canal
Wey and Arun Junction Canal
|Wey and Godalming Navigation|
The River Wey Navigation and Godalming Navigation, geographically (but not historically) the Wey Navigation, form a continuous waterway which provides a 20-mile (32 km) navigable route from the River Thames between Weybridge and Hamm Court, Addlestone via Guildford to Godalming. The waterway is in Surrey and is owned by the National Trust. The Wey Navigation connects to the Basingstoke Canal at West Byfleet, and the Godalming Navigation part to the Wey and Arun Canal in the Broadford part of Shalford. The Navigations consist of man-made canal and adapted (dredged and straightened) parts of the River Wey. Its adjoining path is part of European long-distance path E2.
The Wey was the second river in England to be turned from wholly unnavigable to navigable for its main town, as it was behind the River Lea; the River Wey Navigation opened in 1653 with 12 locks between Weybridge and Guildford. Construction of the Godalming Navigation, a further four locks, was completed in 1764 connecting a second market town. Commercial traffic (save for exceptional loads for canalside buildings) ceased in 1983 and the Wey Navigation and the Godalming Navigations were donated to the National Trust in 1964 and 1968 respectively.
The Wey was the second river in England to be turned from wholly unnavigable to navigable for its main town. The canal was built by Sir Richard Weston, beginning in 1635. The 25 km from Weybridge to Guildford was made navigable under an Act of 1651 when work completed in 1653, allowing barges to transport goods to and from London. Further improvements were made under another Act of 1671.
Originally the Wey Navigations were used for transporting barge loads of heavy goods to London. Timber, corn, flour, wood and gunpowder from the Chilworth mills moved north along the canal then Thames to London while coal was brought back principally for gunpowder making and smithery.
From 1900 to 1963, the Wey Navigation was owned by the Stevens family, who were commercial carriers on the canal. For various reasons, in 1964 Harry Stevens donated it to the National Trust, which operates a visitor centre at Dapdune Wharf, the main wharf of the canal in Guildford, which formerly had many boat repair yards. The Godalming Navigation was donated to the Trust in 1968. Commercial traffic ceased (save for exceptional deliveries) in 1983.
Features along the canal
This summary is in upstream order from the River Thames. Between the Town Lock (or Weybridge Lock) and Coxes lock is the Blackboys footbridge by Blackboy Farm and, after a railway bridge, Coxes Mill in three Grade II listed blocks. With its little island and accompanying weir which helps to drain the 5-acre (2-hectare) mill pond, Coxes lock is the deepest unmanned lock on the Navigation with a rise of 8 feet 6 inches (2.59 m). Between New Haw Lock and Pyrford Lock is one end of the Basingstoke Canal just before the Woodham footbridge, Byfleet boat club, built in the 1900s, Grist Mill, Parvis Wharf, Murray's footbridge and Dodds footbridge.
Between Pyrford Lock and Newark Lock are the Walsham Gates and the battered walls of Newark Priory on its own long short-grass island. Between Papercourt Lock and Triggs Lock are the Tanyard footbridge, High Bridge (foot), Cartbridge Wharf, Cart Bridge and Worsford Gates. Between Triggs Lock and Bowers Lock are the Send Church footbridge and Broad Oak Bridge. Between Stoke Lock and Millmead Lock are Stoke Mill, Dapdune Wharf and Guildford Town Wharf. Finally between Millmead Lock and Unstead Lock are the Guildford boathouse, a footbridge carrying the North Downs Way and Broadford Bridge.
The towpath is a free access national trail, a local authority-supported, car-free, main north-south route. Linking with the Basingstoke Canal towpath at Byfleet, it has links with many public footpaths and with two National Trails. These are the Thames Path at Weybridge and the North Downs Way at St. Catherines, Guildford. This section of the towpath has been made part of European long-distance path E2. This runs from Galway in Ireland to Nice on the Mediterranean coast of France.
The railway line between Guildford and Horsham, the Cranleigh Line, crossed the Wey just south of the entrance to the Wey and Arun Canal. The line for building materials, agricultural goods, wood and coal was in direct competition with that canal and accelerated its demise. However, the railway closed in 1965, as a result of the Beeching Axe, and the bridge across the combined river and canal was soon after demolished, leaving just the supporting abutments.
With the 21st opening of the Downs Link national trail a footbridge has been constructed at the same location using the existing abutments to link the trails which run along the former trackbed. Opened on 7 July 2006, the Unstead Woods Downslink Bridge, a single-span metal structure provided a cycle and pedestrian connection across the river.
Part of the house where John Donne lived, Pyrford
- Inland Waterways Association (South-East Region) The River Wey and Godalming Navigation: Weybridge to Godalming Inland Waterways Association 1976
- National Trust – Dapdune Wharf and River Wey Navigations
- Environment Agency – River Wey Catchment Flood Warnings
- Guildford Rowing Club
- Wey Kayak Club
- The River Wey and Wey Navigations Community Site
|Next confluence upstream||River Thames||Next confluence downstream|
|River Bourne, Addlestone
River Bourne, Chertsey (south)
|Wey and Godalming Navigations||River Wey (south)|