Upstream of the road bridge, at the north-west end of the village green, there is now just one channel: this is the original line of the river and the canal was excavated to its south-west (on the left looking upstream) between the river and Bridge Cottage on land that is now part of the latter’s garden. 70 yards beyond the road bridge, the railway crosses the river on its own bridge next to the level crossing at the station. There has never been any accommodation for the canal which fell into disuse nearly 40 years before the railway was built.
Upstream of the railway, the line of the canal is on the southern bank between the river and the railway. Old Ordnance Survey maps surveyed in 1871 showed that about 2 acres in this area had become allotment gardens which seem to have been abandoned after the Second World War and have since become overgrown as woodland. As a result, all traces of the canal for over 200 yards have disappeared. A public footpath to East Grimstead crosses the River Dun by means of a footbridge "NG Ref: SU255271. WGS84: 51° 02′ 36″ N, 1° 38′ 11″ W. approached along the drive to Church Farm past King George’s Hall.
Most guides to the remains of the canal omit to mention, or gloss over, a major feature of the canal in this area. This is the sizable cutting that lies between a large pond to its north and the railway line to the south. The cutting passes through a spur of higher ground and it is a matter of speculation as to why this route was taken.
The origin of the pond is not certain: on the one hand the land owner is said to have maintained that it was a fish pond belonging to the church but others have claimed it was built around 1760 as a reservoir for an irrigation scheme for water meadows downstream near East Dean. Either way, there are a number of possible reasons why the canal was not routed north around the spur.
It might have proved difficult (if not impossible) to pass north of the pond without crossing the River Dun on the level or very nearly so. Elsewhere, it seems that interference with the river’s water, which was used for milling and for irrigation, was avoided by staying south of the river.
The water supply for the pond seems to have come southwards from the river near the west end of the pond. The canal might have interfered with this. However, interestingly the 1843 tithe map does not show any river north or west of the pond. It is probable that the river was not considered important enough to show on a map concerned with property boundaries and areas rather than indicating it didn’t exist.
The landowner of the time might not have wanted to lose some his rich meadow land to the canal or for it to pass too close to Church Farm. The landowner may have refused to entertain the canal taking such a route or to sell that land at a reasonable price.
Whatever the reason, it seems that the impecunious canal company was forced to take a costly route south of the pond through a deep cutting.
During the construction of the railway and its deeper cutting through the same spur of land in the 1840s, the navvies dumped much of their spoil between the railway and the canal cutting with some partially blocking the latter in several places. Together with several chalk pits within area of the wood, this makes the ground quite confused.
One further feature of this area needs mention. There were two locks at West Dean (Locks 7 and 8) as part of the canal’s climb from Kimbridge to Alderbury. Over 20 years ago, members of the Southampton University Industrial Archaeology Group established by levelling that the difference in level between the village green and the cutting is in the region of 5 metres (about 16 or 17 feet) which is the equivalent of 2 locks. Their position is uncertain but it seems most likely that Lock 7 was just south of the later railway Approximate position NG Ref: SU256270. WGS84: 51° 02′ 32″ N, 1° 38′ 08″ W. and that Lock 8 was at or near the eastern end of the cutting to reduce the volume of earthworks required Approximate position NG Ref: SU254271. WGS84: 51° 02′ 35″ N, 1° 38′ 16″ W..
About 150 yards beyond the western end of the cutting, the railway crosses the course of the canal NG Ref: SU250271. WGS84: 51° 02′ 35″ N, 1° 38′ 38″ W.. Some 150 yards beyond the railway, the River Dun leaves the course of the canal to pass under the railway on its passage around the north side of the hill to the village of West Dean. The River Dun used to occupy a separate course north of the canal for nearly a mile west of this point but since at least 1871 and probably since the construction of the railway in the 1840s, the water has been diverted into the old canal and the old course of the river is only discernible after very wet weather. The canal is slightly higher than the bottom of the valley.
Some 500 yards west of the railway crossing and just north of Windrush Farm is a modern culvert carrying a farm access over the canal. This consists of four corrugated iron tubes with some brickwork on the south side. Whilst this is the site of an original bridge over the canal, the bricks appear to be more modern. The original bridge here was probably a drawbridge (one of 16 between Kimbridge and Salisbury that Joseph Hill included in his estimate of 1794). A short distance west of the culvert is the probable site of Lock 9 Approximate position NG Ref: SU245271. WGS84: 51° 02′ 35″ N, 1° 39′ 06″ W., but other than a slight change in ground level, there is no visible evidence of its existence.
Windrush Farm to Dean Road crossing
About 350 yards west of the Windrush Farm culvert, the canal was diverted from its original line to pass under the railway in a brick culvert.
Continuing westward for about another 200 yards, the canal is crossed by a small brick accommodation bridge allowing access to a field between the railway and canal. Probably replacing an original wooden drawbridge, the current structure was probably built at the same time as the railway. It seems to have had little maintenance over the years. Its arch is far too small to allow the passage of boats.
Having followed a generally westerly direction since West Dean, the canal bends to follow a south-westerly course but in little more than 100 yards the canal is crossed yet again by the railway. The River Dun enters the course of the canal at this point having run along the northern boundary of railway for some distance. The site of Lock 10 is also in this area, probably lying under the railway embankment or immediately south of it Approximate position NG Ref: SU237272. WGS84: 51° 02′ 37″ N, 1° 39′ 43″ W.. The canal continues in a south-westerly direction until it meets Dean Road that runs between West Dean and East Grimstead.
Dean Road crossing to East Grimstead
The course of the canal crosses Dean Road at an oblique angle to the south side entering a shallow cutting and then swings through 90 degrees to the north-west to run alongside the road.
The Ordnance Survey Old Series One-Inch map surveyed in 1807 does not show this road as far west as this point on the canal but ending near Lock 10. Although today there is a bridge for the road under the later railway, it seems that there might not have been a bridge over the canal here. However, the fact that on the south side of the road the canal entered the cutting as it swung to the north-west would point to some feature being present otherwise why not build the canal along the contour?
The line of the canal comes beside the road as it passes under the railway embankment just a few yards west of the railway bridge. From here it continues for about ⅔ mile running beside or close to the south side of the West Dean to East Grimstead road. The first 150 yards or so of the canal bed after the railway has been infilled but beyond this much of the canal bed remains reasonably intact albeit overgrown. Somewhere along this section is the site of Lock 11 probably about 500 yards (450m) west of the railway bridge Approximate position NG Ref: SU230273. WGS84: 51° 02′ 41″ N, 1° 40′ 21″ W. but its exact location is yet to be verified. For about the last 250 yards (225m) from Dillons Farm to Holy Trinity Church, the ‘dry’ canal enters a cutting about 10 feet (3m) deep.
The village of East Grimstead is situated to the north of the canal and the infant River Dun. Its church is Grade II listed and lies on the south side of the village between the river and the remains of the canal in its shallow cutting. The present church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, was built in 1857 on the site of a medieval chapel-of-ease to the church at West Dean.
Spanning the canal here is the only remaining original Southampton & Salisbury Canal bridge which is itself listed as Grade II. Built in about 1796-7, the listing says it was constructed with English bond brick and now has a concrete coping to the parapet. It has a plain segmental arch with parapets and slightly swept revetment walls. These days the cutting in the vicinity of the bridge is rather overgrown.
In May 2012, Network Rail replaced the railway bridge NG Ref: SU225271. WGS84: 51° 02′ 35″ N, 1° 40′ 49″ W. a little south of the canal bridge. In order to give access for heavy machinery including a very large crane and materials, a temporary causeway was constructed across the canal cutting just east of the bridge.
East Grimstead to West Grimstead
West of the bridge at East Grimstead the bed of the canal is quite well preserved for nearly a quarter of a mile until the canal becomes involved again with a modern-looking ditch carrying some of the flow of the River Dun. After about 100 yards NG Ref: SU220273. WGS84: 51° 02′ 42″ N, 1° 41′ 14″ W., we find that the river and canal share a common course and will do so for about the next 1000 yards (900m). As was the case for part of the line between East Grimstead and West Dean, the river once had a separate course to the north of the canal.
About 200 yards (180m) upstream Approximate position NG Ref: SU218273. WGS84: 51° 02′ 41″ N, 1° 41′ 23″ W. is the site of lock 12 where the stream has a slight wiggle to the south. About 65 yards (60m) west of the site of the lock, a farm access track crosses the river / canal NG Ref: SU217273. WGS84: 51° 02′ 41″ N, 1° 41′ 26″ W.. After another 365 yards (330m) NG Ref: SU214272. WGS84: 51° 02′ 39″ N, 1° 41′ 43″ W. a public footpath passes north - south over the former canal.
Yet another 375 yards (340m) further west, lies the junction of the canal and the diverted infant River Dun NG Ref: SU211271. WGS84: 51° 02′ 35″ N, 1° 41′ 58″ W.. Lock 13 was south west of this junction. The existence of any remains of this structure is unknown but should be at about Approximate position NG Ref: SU210270. WGS84: 51° 02′ 33″ N, 1° 42′ 02″ W.. South-west of the lock, between NG Ref: SU210270. WGS84: 51° 02′ 32″ N, 1° 42′ 05″ W. and NG Ref: SU208270. WGS84: 51° 02′ 31″ N, 1° 42′ 14″ W. the railway was built on top of the remains of the canal.
Both the line of the canal and the railway pass on the north side of the village of West Grimstead. The canal crosses Green Drove, the road from West Grimstead towards Farley, about 30 yards north of the railway bridge. There was a wharf at West Grimstead and it seems that this would have been on the south side of the canal and west of the road. Apart from the period when the temporary wooden horse railway was in use to reach the Southampton Road (1803-4), this wharf would have been the effective terminus of the canal from late 1802 until the cessation of traffic in about 1808.