Monday, 30 October 2017

Walking the waterways (14) : Wey Navigation

The River Wey was made navigable from the Thames at Weybridge to Guildford in 1653 [1]. Twelve locks were built between Weybridge and Guildford. The Wey Navigation was later connected to the Basingstoke and Wey & Arun Canals and the river navigation was continued to Goldalming to form the Goldaming Navigation in 1764.

The ability to much more easily send agricultural and manufactured products to London was a great boon to Guildford which prospered as a town and the navigation bought in healthy toll receipts for decades as thousands of tons of goods travelled along it. However the navigation declined with the arrival of the railway to Guildford in 1845 and improved roads though tonnage and receipts remained acceptable well into the 20th century (over 25,000 tons carried in 1948 for example).

The navigation went into terminal decline with the collapse in trade from the Basingstoke Canal and the decline of the London docks. The last commercial traffic travelled on the Wey Navigation in 1969 (apart from some traffic between Tilbury and Coxes Mill in the early 1980s). Ownership of the navigation transferred to the National Trust and now it is used for leisure activities.
On the edge of Guildford

Desirable river side properties in Guildford

Dapdune Wharf, Guildford

Town Wharf, Guildford

Walnut Bridge, Guildford
[1] P.A.L. Vine, Surrey Waterways (Middleton Press, 1987) p. 67