When you weigh in at 19 tonnes you are always going to make an entrance, and the Trust's latest acquisition certainly caused a stir when it arrived last weekend.

The secondhand dredger had been purchased from local firm Land & Water Services Ltd - along with two barges and a tugboat - and called for the use of a 250-tonne crane to lift the fleet from land and into the canal at Compasses Bridge, on the canal Summit at Alfold/Dunsfold on the West Sussex/Surrey border.

Civil and environmental engineering experts Land & Water transported the fleet by lorry to the Compasses site from as far afield as Birmingham, along with the crane and 70 tonnes of counterweights.

It was an impressive sight as the tower crane’s boom was extended to 34 metres to lift the boats over the bridge and into the water, with the diesel powered tugboat the first to set sail. It was put to use immediately to push the two 12-metre barges further along the canal as soon as they reached the water. The heavyweight dredger was the last to be lifted safely in.

Wey & Arun Canal Trust volunteers and Restoration Supervisor Supervisor Dave Evans worked with Land & Water staff for the operation, and to ensure the safety of the many spectators who had turned out on a bitter Saturday morning to witness the spectacle.

Land & Water director Richard Maclean handed the keys of the dredger to Summit Project Manager Tony Ford and Dave Evans and its arrival was then honoured in the traditional way by pouring Champagne on its bow and was toasted by supporters.

The equipment will now allow the start of a two-year volunteer-led project to desilt the 500 metre stretch from the newly-built Thriscutt Slipway to Compasses Bridge.

Thank you to Stephen Batey, Julian Nowell and Julian Morgan for the photos.