The Society’s objective today is to secure an environmentally sustainable long term future of the Canal for the benefit of its users and the community.
In other words it is about
and this we intend to achieve by:
- Promoting the future of the Canal
- Protecting our environment
- Providing community leisure facilities
- Preserving our heritage
The background is that the canal fell into decline and by the mid 1960s was completely derelict and threatened with abandonment. A campaign by the then Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society persuaded both Surrey and Hampshire county Councils to buy it and in partnership with an army of volunteers, to restore it as a navigable waterway. It reopened in 1991.
Since then however whilst there is continued funding by the councils and ongoing volunteer work, funding pressures on the councils have put a strain on the canal and today it becomes all the more important that the Basingstoke Canal Society and the local community all get together to help protect the canal. Quite simply if we don’t protect it and keep it alive, there is a risk that we could lose the canal as we know it today.
So what is the Society doing now to protect the canal?
The Society has clear plans to keep the canal alive. We have strengthened how we organise ourselves, and continue to build our team of volunteers which now stands at over 240 enthusiasts and is expanding.
Our plans and work include:
- To run a series of projects to improve facilities for the community and users of the canal. This will include improved Information Points along the canal, access facilities and upgrading our boat fleet with more environmentally friendly boats electric boats along with improved facilities for disabled users.
- Increasing our income to £200k pa to fund these projects. Our income is generated not only from our trip boats but from actively promoting membership, legacies, and donations, along with building strong links and sponsorship opportunities with local businesses.
- Continuing to run our passenger trip boats John Pinkerton II at Odiham and Kitty at Woking which offer a unique view of the canal and which over the years have raised over £800,000 towards the upkeep of the canal.
- Running regular volunteer working parties to help maintain the Canal and towpaths along with projects and building work. We also have over 60 lengthsmen volunteers who regularly walk a section (“length”) of the canal to check all is ok, acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the council rangers.
- Building stronger links with the Council owners to ensure that they are aware, and make the local community aware, of the benefits of this wonderful amenity for health and leisure. We are keen to actively support the Councils in profiling and supporting the Canal for the benefit of all the local residents.
- Raising awareness of the canal with local communities along the canal of the the benefits of this local amenity including boating, canoeing, walking, cycling and angling, all of which provide leisure health and well-being benefits. Additionally we are keen for the Community to be aware of the importance of actively supporting the canal to ensure we protect it for the future, through volunteering, membership and financial support – and telling others about the importance of protecting the canal!
- Helping to identify additional water supplies for navigation in the longer term. We are also working Natural England to help protect the natural beauty of the canal and its species it is recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in respect of its rare species of flora and fauna.
From the above you can see that there is a huge amount of work going on. In this we need everyone’s support so if you would like to find out more about helping Keeping the Canal Alive please get it touch.