Lost route to the sea that came through city streets

VALUABLE A heavily-guarded bullion shipment on the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal at Hunston, near Chichester. It appears to be horse-drawn and the sail must have been for crossing Langstone Harbour and river sailing.                                                     Picture: Eddy Amey
VALUABLE A heavily-guarded bullion shipment on the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal at Hunston, near Chichester. It appears to be horse-drawn and the sail must have been for crossing Langstone Harbour and river sailing. Picture: Eddy Amey

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It never ceases to amaze me how many people walking some of the streets of Portsmouth do not realise they are following the route of an old canal.

The first section of an ambitious scheme to link Portsmouth with London opened in 1818. The canal was known as the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal and cost £125,000.

ROTTEN The old lock gates at Milton long after the  Portsmouth to Arundel Canal was abandoned

ROTTEN The old lock gates at Milton long after the Portsmouth to Arundel Canal was abandoned

The barges went across Langstone Harbour, north of Hayling Island and Thorney Island. The route then joined the Chichester Canal which went across West Sussex to the River Arun and on towards the Thames via the Wey and Arun Canal.

The original reason for the canal was the fear of the French intercepting seaborne coastal traffic.

Eddy Amey, from Fareham, who provided two of the pictures here, says: ‘A number of city streets still bear witness to the passing of the P&A canal.

‘The route went along the south side of Locksway Road, Milton, along a now filled-in Goldsmith Avenue, Sydenham Terrace and Canal Walk ending approximately at Slindon Street behind Debenhams. In addition, Arundel Street also got its name from the canal.’

A section of the old Portsmouth and Arundel Canal in Yapton, 1979

A section of the old Portsmouth and Arundel Canal in Yapton, 1979

The canal lasted barely 60 years before the railway put it out of business, although before that there were problems with salt water contamination of drinking water sources on Portsea Island.

DEMISE Another view of Milton Locks. The cutting from Fratton to Landport, through which trains now run, is part of the old canal

DEMISE Another view of Milton Locks. The cutting from Fratton to Landport, through which trains now run, is part of the old canal