All of the original bridges along the canal from Chichester to Birdham were iron swing bridges which were opened to allow sailing boats through.
These bridges were built in 1820 by Tickell and Company in Southampton and were identical to today’s only remaining example, Poyntz Bridge. The bridges were named after people who were key to the building and success of the canal and this article will explore some of those people.
Padwick Bridge occupied the site where Poyntz Bridge now stands and was named after William Padwick Junior. William Padwick and his father, also William, owned extensive lands throughout West Sussex and East Hampshire. Padwick Junior was a lawyer and entrepreneur who lived at Warblington House, near Havant.
He was a supporter of and investor in the Portsmouth and Arundel Navigation Company. Padwick also enthusiastically supported the building of a substantial bridge from Langstone to Hayling Island after a navigation channel was dug across the 700-year-old wadeway to facilitate the transportation of goods from the canal at Birdham across the harbours to the canal on Portsea Island.
This bridge opened in 1824, connecting the island to the mainland.
Poyntz Bridge was sited originally at Hunston Common, at the junction of the main line of the canal from Ford to Salterns Lock at Birdham and the spur leading to Chichester.
After being rescued in a decayed state, the bridge was restored by Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society and erected close to the Basin in Chichester. The bridge was named after William Stephen Poyntz, who was the grandson of Stephen Poyntz, a diplomat and courtier at the court of King George II, and the son of the manager of the Prince of Wales’ staghounds.
In 1794, he married the heiress to Cowdray Park, and they lived at his family estate in Berkshire and at Cowdray Park. He sat in Parliament for several different constituencies, including Chichester, between 1823 and 1830, and Midhurst from 1835 until retiring through ill-health in 1837.
Crosbie Bridge, sited at Donnington, was named after Major General Sir John Gustavus Crosbie. Crosbie came from a military family whose seat was at Northland in Funtington, and who owned extensive lands in Sussex. He was appointed deputy lieutenant of Sussex in 1812, and was knighted in May, 1837. He married the daughter of George White Thomas, who was MP for Chichester between 1784 and 1812. His father-in-law was very much against the canal project, and Crosbie also opposed it. They both attended a meeting in 1815 at the Fleece Inn in Chichester to protest against the proposed canal, and both subscribed £200 to a fund to meet the expense of opposing the canal scheme. Despite this, a bridge was named after him as he was a significant landowner.
Dudley Bridge, located between Crosbie and Cutfield Bridges, was named after Joseph Dudley, who was one of the original subscribers to the Portsmouth and Arundel Navigation Company. He lived at Grand Parade, in Portsmouth. He worked alongside Edward Casher on restoring Elective Franchise within Portsmouth, both subscribing to this cause, with Casher giving 10 guineas and Dudley giving 5 guineas in 1820. Both also worked for the Institute for educating poor children. Dudley was the commissioner for paving, lighting and improving the town of Portsmouth and sat on the grand jury for Portsmouth Quarter Sessions. He was chairman of the Victoria Pier Company from its foundation, holding the post for 17 years, tripling its size and increasing its commercial success. Joseph Dudley died in 1869, aged 90.
Cutfield Bridge, which crossed the canal at Birdham, was named after William Cutfield, who owned Bailiffscourt, a significant historic estate of 367 acres at Climping. The estate bordered the River Arun, providing access for the trading of goods coming up the river. He was treasurer and the largest shareholder in the Wey and Arun Navigation Company, with which the new canal connected for travel to London, and he was a significant shareholder in the Portsmouth and Arundel Navigation Company, owning 250 shares in the company.
Both Crosbie and Cutfield swing bridges were replaced by fixed road bridges in the mid 1920s.
Casher Bridge was sited between Cutfield Bridge and the sea-lock at Salterns. The bridge and the neighbouring lock were named after Edward Casher, who was a wine merchant in Portsmouth, trading as Casher & Pope at 24 High Street and supplying wines and spirits to Portsmouth and the Royal Navy. He was an initial supporter of the Portsmouth Fly Barge Company and became the company secretary. He used the non-stop fly barge service to transport wines to London. He was also involved in some shipping to Lisbon, Cadiz and Gibraltar. He held country estates around Sussex, and lived at Froddington Hall, in Fratton. He was a member of the management committee of the Portsmouth and Arundel Navigation Company for over 10 years and together with two partners he owned and ran the Portsea Island Waterworks.
The Heritage Centre is housed in the Old Stable Block, next to the Richmond Arms, and both of these were original buildings at the canal basin, dating from the 1820s. The Heritage Centre is open seven days a week during the cafe opening hours and entrance is free. In addition to independent visitors, Chichester Canal welcomes school, youth and adult groups and tailor these visits to the requirements of each group, including a boat trip along the canal.
For further information see the canal website: chichestercanal.org.uk or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Researched by Moira Cooper- Chichester Canal Heritage Centre
Pic: Chichester Canal Heritage Centre