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Basingstoke Canal - the Case for Restoration
- Dieter Jebens

[Published 1968, 2nd edition, 1969]

booklet front cover (13K) booklet front cover (10K)

Published jointly by the
Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society
and the Inland Waterways Association

Cover design: incorporates the Basingstoke Canal one shilling token used instead of cash for payment to the workmen who built the Canal.

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canal at Poulters Bridge (27K)
An attractive reach of the Canal at Poulters Bridge, Crookham

FOREWORD by Sir Eric Errington, Bt., JP., M.P.

I am emboldened to write some words about the Basingstoke Canal because during the past few years I have accumulated in my files so much correspondence from organisations and individuals who are anxious that something should be done to prevent further deterioration and, if possible, to restore this stretch of water to its former state of beauty and attraction to residents in the district and those who value visits to an inland waterway.

It is for this reason that I welcome the useful booklet prepared by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society and the Inland Waterways Association which as the result of much work has provided a most valuable set of facts, and I am sure this will be read with interest and instruction by all who are concerned with the countryside round and about the Canal.

The problems which confront those who want to take action for the betterment of the Canal are unfortunately formidable, e.g. physical difficulties, legal, etc.; perhaps the most hard to resolve being the differing views of those who are equally anxious to have an improved water way. It is because of this that though some may disagree with the ideas contained in the booklet, I am glad it has been written even if it produces controversy, for that is infinitely better than the supine inactivitiy which has characterised the last few years.

If broad lines of what should be done could be agreed upon it seems to me that the Countryside Act of this year might well be of assistance in working out some of the problems, and this should repay careful legal examination.

In conclusion I would like to say "thank you" for this factual and stimulating effort by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society.

Eric Errington,
Member of Parliament for Aldershot

August, 1968.
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First published September, 1968 2nd edition January, 1969

Edited by H. Dieter Jebens

The Publishers are indebted to the following for supplying information and material for this publication
P.H.Ogden, Esq., B.Sc., C.Eng., F.I.C.E., M.I.W.E., Honorary Assistant Consulting Engineer to the Inland Waterways Association, for his technical advice
H.B.Humpidge, Esq., B.Sc.(Eng)., C.Eng., M.I.C.E., for his help in producing this publication
R.C.Snell, Esq., for the photographs
S. J.Astridge, Esq., for the lock diagram
P. A. L.Cole, Esq., for the cover design
R.J.Harris, Esq., for the map
Patricia Jebens
Jutta Manser, B.A.
London Branch of the British Naturalists Association
Southampton Natural History Association
Surrey Naturalists Trust
Members of the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society and the Inland Waterways Association for their contributions.


Foreword by Sir Eric Errington, Bt., J.P., M.P.


The need for amenities
The amenity value of the Canal
The increase in pleasure boating
Angling prospects
A long distance footpath
The naturalists' Canal
Has commercial traffic a future?
The sale of water
The geography of the Canal
Present condition of the Canal from
Greywell to the River Wey
The legal position
Existing proposals
Restoration - an alternative policy
Long term restoration work
Restoration of the towpath
How much is the Canal worth?
The cost of restoration
Sources of labour
Maintaining the Canal
The Canal's income
The Canal West of Greywell
Map of the Canal

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In 1895 a group of people banded together to prevent the indiscriminate development of large areas of our more attractive countryside. Because of their foresight there are for our enjoyment many thousands of acres of beautiful countryside, woodlands and coastline, marked by the familiar oak leaf emblem of the National Trust.

Today the need for preservation is even more acute; we have come to realise that the provision of open spaces for leisure activities demands as much planning as the development of urban areas. But unlike the founders of the National Trust, we have more than foresight to act upon. The sophisticated planning techniques of this century provide us with a vast amount of information and statistical data, from which the demands of future generations can be assessed. By using this information to make calculated predictions, we should be able to deploy our resources to meet the changing requirements of our society.

All the indications are that in the South East there will be a grave shortage of the amenities which could be provided by the Basingstoke Canal if it were to be restored to good order.

In presenting their case for the restoration of the privately owned Canal, the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society and the Inland Waterways Association are very conscious of the fact that matters cannot be allowed to rest as they are for much longer. In places the Canal is an eyesore and annoyance to those who live and work near it. We hope that this publication will convince you that restoration is not only the best solution: it could also be the cheapest.
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1769:A 21-1/2 mile long canal is proposed from Basingstoke to the Thames at Monkey Island.
1778:An Act is passed for a canal 44 miles long from Basingstoke through Odiham, Frimley and Woking to the River Wey, with a branch to Turgis Green.
1783:Efforts are made to start work on the canal after a delay caused by the war of American Independence.
1788:Work started.
1792:34 Miles and 24 locks are completed. Plans are being discussed for an extension of the canal to join the River Itchen.
1794:The canal is completed to Basingstoke. There is a variation from the original plan in that the loop around Greywell Hill has been replaced by a 1, 200 yard tunnel through it, and the branch to Turgis Green has not been built. The length of the canal is 37 miles; the waterway falls 195 feet through 29 locks, each capable of passing a fifty ton barge 72 ft. 6 in. long and 13 ft. 10 in. wide.
1810:The Kennet and Avon Canal is opened, thereby completing a direct water route between London and Bristol; some of the traffic formerly using the Basingstoke-overland route is diverted on to it.
1825:The Basingstoke Canal is in a state of decay. A Bill for the Hants-Berks Junction Canal between Old Basing and Newbury fails to pass through Parliament.
1839:The London and South Western Railway is completed from London to Basingstoke. Trade on the canal has revived, mainly because of the requirements of the railway engineers. Frimley Aqueduct is built to pass the railway under the canal.
1866:Basingstoke Canal Navigation Company goes into voluntary liquidation.
1874:The canal is sold for £12,000.
1878:The concern is liquidated, and remains so for twelve years.
1890:There is a breach at Crookham: a small culvert gives out, the banks on either side give way, water floods the country all around and the canal is left dry for miles. The liquidated company is without funds to repair the damage.
1896:Sir Frederick Seager Hunt and others raise £50, 000 to completely restore and deepen the canal, and use it for transport­ ing bricks from the Nateley works. The canal prospers for several years.
c.1900:The railway is widened from two to four tracks, and Frimley Aqueduct is extended proportionately.
c.1905:Nateley brickfields run short of clay; the brick traffic ends, and regular commercial traffic ceases above Aldershot.
1905:The canal is auctioned. It is bought for £10, 000 by a Dorset landowner acting on behalf of the notorious M.P., Horatio Bottomley.
1908:Bottomley floats the "London and South Western Canal Corporation" and sells thousands of shares, many duplicated and worthless. The company goes into liquidation. Bottomley is twice prosecuted for conspiracy to defraud, but neither time convicted.
1911:A private Act of Parliament is passed enabling Woking UDC to carry out repairs to bridges and other canal works, and charge the company with a proportion of the cost. The repairs are proceeded with, and the owners duly approached for their share of the costs. They refuse to pay.
1913:The Court of Appeal rules that the Council cannot claim anything from the company, that the company cannot levy tolls, and that the company is under no liability to maintain the navigation. It is also ruled that such rights and obligations still lie with the concern liquidated 35 years ago but never wound up; every member of that concern is now dead. One of the judges states his opinion that the public right of naviga­tion is not destroyed, but this is not relevant to the case.
1914:By the Railway and Canal Act of 1888, any canal that has not been fully navigated for three consecutive years can be abandoned. Mr A.J. Harmsworth has already twice navigated the Basingstoke to prevent abandonment. His third attempt fails; his narrow boat "Basingstoke", loaded with five tons of sand is forced to stop at Basing.
1923:The canal passes into the ownership of Mr A. J.Harmsworth for £5, 000. He sets up a successful road and water transport service.
c.1925:Frimley Aqueduct begins to leak at the joining of the old and new parts - rumour has it that the fires of steam locomotives passing underneath are being extinguished - it is relined by the railway company. Mr A.J. Harmsworth, who has had no formal training in engineering, constructs a wooden trunk, 190 ft, long, to carry the Canal's water supply past the work­ings and keep the barges going at the eastern end.
c.1934:Drainage culverts from a pond on Greywell Hill have become blocked, water pressure builds up, and a tree on an island in the pond falls through the roof of Greywell Tunnel.
1947:Mr A.J. Harmsworth dies, aged 79.
1949:The Canal is auctioned on March 1st in 37 lots ".. .with boat-houses and cottages, as a going concern above Woking... " It is bought for the reserve price of £187 10s. per mile, a total of £6, 000 by a purchasing committee. Subsequently the New Basingstoke Canal Company is formed. Its managing director is Mr S.E. Cooke.
1964:Mrs Joan Marshall, the general manager, leaves the company, having held the post for 15 years.
1967:The New Basingstoke Canal Company publishes policy proposals which would mean the ending for good of through navigation of the Canal.

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The first report by the South East Planning Council published in 1967 clearly states the necessity for sound planning to prevent sections of this heavily populated region from becoming a vast urban sprawl. The report stresses the importance of providing recreational and amenity facilities. It suggests that urban developments should be separated by "country zones", which would ensure the preservation of large areas of open countryside. Particular attention is drawn in this respect to the area bounded by Frimley, Farnborough, Aldershot and Farnham.

At a national level, concern for the preservation of open spaces and development of recreational facilities is expressed by the Govern­ment's Countryside Bill. The object of the Bill is to widen the scope of the National Parks Commission by creating a Countryside Commission with powers to provide grants of up to 75% towards the cost of establishing open spaces as parks for recreational pursuits. One important aim of the Bill is to encourage local authorities to find land which is suitable for amenity purposes.

Another report providing data in support of our contention that the Canal has a definite amenity value is that published in 1967 by the British Travel Association and the University of Keele. This points out that we are moving towards a Society based on leisure rather than labour. The working week is becoming progressively shorter, incomes are increasing and the standard of education improving. This means that people have more time and money to spend on leisure pastimes and have a greater inclination to use their spare time actively. Many recreational activities, especially outdoor pursuits, need specific facilities which will generate a demand for land and require careful planning if we are to provide it.

The survey was conducted amongst a sample of 3,167 respondents of which 328 were children between the ages of 12 and 16. It reveals that team games and most sports taught at school, or acquired outside school, are not continued into adult life. Of the 30 recreational activities listed, swimming came top as the most popular sport pursued by the adult respondents in 1965. Of particular interest to us is the high popularity rating given to activities for which the restored Canal would be ideal. The survey shows that after swimming, fishing and hiking came equal second. Not only is fishing popular amongst the 17-24 and 25-34 age groups, but those who go fishing do so more frequently than participants of almost any other sport.

From the activities the respondents would like to take up, natural history study came first amongst the children. A strong response came from all age groups to take up sailing and boating on inland waters. The 17-24 age group showed a keen interest in sailing, powered craft cruising appealed to the 45-65 group, and a marked desire to take up any form of boating, especially canoeing, came from the children.

One of the conclusions reached in the report is that even a small additional demand for some sports will soon exhaust the present facilities The need to extend the facilities requiring water has already become a necessity.

Lastly, and perhaps most important, is the Government's Transport Bill presented to Parliament in December 1967. Part of this controversial Bill provides for the retention of the majority of our present network of nationalised inland waterways and canals administered by the British Waterways Board for navigation. The most important factor leading to the new policy is the Government's long awaited acknowledge­ ment of the amenity value of our inland waterways system, as detailed in the White Paper "British Waterways : Recreation and Amenity "published in September 1967.
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Open spaces with amenity and recreational value are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Having found them, one must presumably assess their value in relation to other urgent demands for land and the needs of the community.

In assessing the value of the Canal for redevelopment or amenity , use, it is important to note that it has one special feature not shared by other open spaces. Although the waterway covers an area of approximate 200 acres, it is spread over 32 miles and so occupies only a small fraction of land per square mile. Its value for urban development is therefore negligible, quite apart from the obvious problem of first eliminating its present function. But as an amenity the Canal's linear feature is a positive advantage in bringing the amenity within easy reach of thousands of people over a much larger area than a conventional open space, such as Newlands Corner or Box Hill (for instance, Woking is expected to have a population of 100, 000 by 1981). Of particular import­ance are the number of facilities it offers utilising a minimum of space.
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Pleasure boating is no longer a pastime for the rich. Higher standards of living, larger incomes and more leisure time are all con- , trlbuting to a much wider interest in boating. Boats themselves are becoming cheaper to produce with the aid of new materials and less expensive methods of manufacture.

But why are people turning to boating for pleasure ? The basic reason must be that it provides a complete and real form of relaxation from the stresses of modern living. Few other leisure activities can detach themselves so completely from our normal environment. The peace and tranquility of cruising slowly along a river or canal cannot be matched or compared. It provides a unique opportunity for carefree travel combined with a full enjoyment of the passing countryside.

Not only is boating increasing rapidly but ownership is estimated to be expanding, by as much as 20% per annum, and within 30 years it is expected that one in ten of the population will own a boat. Where are all these people going to use their boats? The majority will choose inland waters because they are more accessible. Apart from sailing, canals are ideal for a wide variety of craft from canoes to large cabin cruisers travelling at little more than walking pace. The problem of finding suit­able moorings must also be considered. The Basingstoke Canal has a number of suitable sites at Scotland Bridge, Byfleet; Monument Bridge, Woking; Arthurs Bridge, Woking; Kiln Bridge, St. John's; Hermitage Bridge; Pirbright Wharf; Deepcut Top Lock; Ash Vale (existing boat house); Ash Lock, Eelmore Flash; Reading Road Bridge, Fleet; and Odiham Wharf. Moorings on the Thames and even the adjacent River Wey Navigation are already becoming difficult to find. The Canal could ease the problem by providing safe and convenient moorings, particularly in winter with no risk of flooding.
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The canals of this country provide some excellent coarse fishing, which although not perhaps as exotic as salmon or trout, provide enjoy­ment for many thousands of people and at considerably less cost. British Waterways Board conducted a survey recently on a wet Sunday and found 27, 275 anglers on their waterways. Unfortunately, some canal fishing has been spoilt by pollution, but the Basingstoke Canal is fortunate in having very little industry along its banks. In fact, the water is known to be exceptionally pure. If pollution is not a problem, neglect is. Angling is severely restricted because of the waterway being choked by weed and rubbish. Water levels are often low and some lengths are completely de-watered. Despite this restriction, some sections still provide good sport, particularly lengths of the summit pound in Hampshire.

Most of the usual species of course fish may be caught. The humble Roach is found in most parts of the Canal, and others include : Perch, Pike, Bream, Carp, Chubb and Eels. The waterway is particularly noted for some excellent Tench. Occasionally unusual catches are reported, such as a Golden Orfe which was landed at St. John's, Woking, in October 1967.

At present, the Company leases the fishing rights of approximately! seven miles of Canal and two flashes to five angling societies : Frimley ] Green Angling Club; Farnborough and District Angling Society; Farnhamj Angling Society; Woking and District Angling Association, and Hartley j Wintney Angling Society, with a total membership of approximately 2, 600. | The cost varies between £12.10s. and £20 per mile. The Canal Company; also issues permits to individuals at 2s. per day or 10s. for a monthly j ticket, £1 per season and 25s. per season to include Crookham Deep.

Angling rights to societies are reviewed annually and it is therefore not surprising that these organisations are reluctant to spend time and money on improving the facilities on such short term agreements.

We feel that restoration would bring greatly improved fishing and vastly increased revenue. Bearing in mind the Canal's close proximity to London and the shortage of good inland fishing grounds, a large number of societies would be encouraged to rent lengths. Preferential treatment should be given to local anglers.

It is appreciated that many anglers would prefer waters which are reserved exclusively for fishing, and we acknowledge the animosity which has existed between boating enthusiasts and fishermen. We believe that the canal should be enjoyed by all sections of the community - boaters, anglers, walkers and naturalists, and anyone who enjoys the pleasures of a waterway. In recent times the conflict between boat people and fishermen has shown signs of improvement. The answer really lies in understanding the needs of each other and practising common courtesies. For instance, the cabin cruiser owner who speeds through an angling contest can hardly expect to be popular. Neither can the competitors if they are standing on a recognised mooring spot. We suggest that some practical code of conduct should be established which would take into consideration specific needs of both. But fundamentally, it is a matter of common sense. Both sections need every mile of waterway available and it is in their own interests to give each other due consideration.

There is no doubt that the restoration of the Canal would make it far more attractive to anglers and societies could be expected to pay up to £50 per mile. Any improvement would also justify slightly increased charges to individuals. Many people believe the Canal holds as many fish today as in the days when it was navigable. The problem is to find them amongst the filth, weeds and rubbish.
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There is a tendency to think of a canal only as waterway, and this is wrong. One of the reasons for believing the Canal would be enjoyed by a very large section of the community is the existence of the towpath. Before the advent of powered craft, the barges and narrow boats were hauled by horses and this was the reason for constructing the towpath which follows the line of the Canal.

Here then, is a unique opportunity to establish a long distance footpath; an idea suggested by the National Parks Commission. If the footbridge over the River Wey Navigation at the junction with the Canal were rebuilt, a continuous footpath from the Thames to Basingstoke could be established. Part of the towpath might also provide an extension to the proposed North Downs Way. From Farnham the rambler could proceed by existing footpaths to Crookham, and follow the line of the Canal to Basingstoke and the Berkshire Downs.

A footpath with all the activities and interest of a navigable waterway, passing through many miles of varied and attractive countryside, has an amenity value too good to neglect. It is sufficiently long to interest the serious hiker and yet has enough access points to be enjoyed by the family out for a Sunday afternoon stroll.

If the Canal is left to decay, or is divided up by development, such an opportunity will never present itself again.
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Naturalists in Southern England have long recognised that the Basingstoke Canal is worth special attention. The botanist, the ornithologist, the entomologist, the aquarist have all found specimens to interest them in or along the waterway. For the non-serious student, one who simply desires to spend a pleasant hour or two wandering amongst the trees and flowers along its banks, for him, too, the canal is an ideal venue. But for how long? Already much of the towpath is difficult for the casual walker, whilst naturalists are seriously concerned that the water level will soon become so low as to render the area useless for scientific purposes.

These fears are not unfounded as it is the water itself which is the basis for the great variety of fauna and flora along the canal. Side by side with many dozens of plants that can be found in hedgerows throughout the country are a considerable number of less common species. The Basingstoke Canal is, for many of these, their only habitat in Surrey or Hampshire. Some may appear unexciting to the non-botanist, such as Leersia Oryzoides, a grass about three feet high and slightly hairy, which is found only in the area between Surrey and Dorset. Duckweed is another plant which might well be ignored, but an unusual variety Lemna Polyrhiza can be found on the Canal. In contrast, even the uninitiated would stop to admire the flowering rush, Butomus Umbellatus, with its beautiful pink flowerheads rising three feet or more above the water's edge. Two attractive plants which grow right in the water are frog-bit, Hydrocharis Morsus-Ranae and water soldier, Stratiotes Aloides. The latter is a rare plant, usually restricted to Eastern England, whose presence constitutes a small ecological problem. Though not a native, it now flourishes near Ash Vale, but how it came to be there no one is quite sure. On the other hand the common butterwort, Pinguicula Vulgaris has an unimpeachable pedigree, for it was first recorded by the Canal over a hundred years ago. Despite its name, this delicate little flower, deep violet in colour, is far from common in the south.

For the casual walker, the canal is at its best, perhaps, in the early autumn. The undergrowth is then a little less dense and the leaves are beginning to turn on the sweet chestnuts, the sycamores and beeches, the sallows and many other trees that line the banks.. There are not so many flowers to be seen, but there is still plenty of colour. Blue-black fruits of the wild plum and shining black privet berries tangle with a mass of crimson hips, scarlet woody nightshade and dark red hawthorn berries. Clouds of old man's beard, the wild clematis, entwine the bushes, whilst the most vivid colour of all is provided by the spindle tree with its mass of curiously shaped, brilliant pink and orange fruits.

A quiet watcher may see water voles foraging among the reeds. Though common enough, these timid animals do not readily show themselves. At dusk bats emerge from Greywell Tunnel, whilst near Dogmersfield there is a badger's sett - again dusk is the time of activity. The naturalist, however, is likely to find his most interesting specimens in the insect world.

Butterflies and moths, whose numbers are sadly declining with the wide use of insecticides, still frequent the Canal. Among them are the gay peacock, the silver washed fritillary, the red admiral and the far less common white admiral. Equally beautiful are the dragonflies, which shimmer over the water on a hot day. A dozen or so different species: blue, green and brown varieties, breed here; among them are some rarities. Many other bugs and beetles can be found, again including rarities of great interest to the entomologist.

Bird lovers who long to listen to the nightingale should find no difficulty as several have been noted along the Canal, as well as other fine songsters such as warblers and thrushes. Naturally water birds figure in the records, from the common mallard and moorhen to the reedbunting and great crested grebe and the exotic kingfisher. In the days when the canals were fully used the kingfisher was greatly sought after, for its brilliant plumage was used to adorn ladies' hats. Bargees would try to net the birds as they flushed them out from under the bridges they passed through. In recent years at least one pair of kingfishers on the canal have found the bridges excellent shelter for their nesting site. In the past bittern and bearded tit have also been known to nest in the area.

From what has been said it might seem that the canal abounds in wild life, as indeed it does. Why, then, the need to restore it? Might not restoration upset the natural balance? The answer is definitely no. The value of the area lies in the fact that, alongside the normal fauna and flora of this part of the country, there exists a community of aquatic and marsh-loving plants and animals. These are endangered by the canal's deterioration. It may not appear to demand immediate action; surely these things do not disappear overnight? To take one example : Daphne Mezereon, a delightful shrub with fragrant, deep pink flowers, used to grow wild near the canal. For the past fifteen years it has not been found there - lost permanently. J.E. Lousely, in an official report, stated: "When I first knew this Canal, some thirty years ago, it was still in use for the purpose for which it was built. The water level was maintained, and barge traffic kept the water moving and sweet, and prevented algae accumulating in scum. It was then an excellent place for natural history studies generally - insects, mollusca, fish, etc. were very plentiful, and the plants well grown and plentiful. Now there is very little water and ... most species of interest are now relatively scarce and in jeopardy if the water should fall even lower." That was in 1953. The correspondent who sent this information added: " The Canal has deteriorated considerably since this report was written. It is at present designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest by the Nature Conservancy, but unless the flow of water is restored it will soon be no longer worthy of the designation".

The matter is of some urgency. HAS COMMERCIAL TRAFFIC A FUTURE?

In view of recent legislation regarding the nationalised waterways, the future of Britain's canals is related primarily to their amenity value. In this respect, the Basingstoke has a great deal to offer, but while retaining the navigation for its pleasure uses, it would be sensible to explore any possible demand for its water transport facility.

Canal trading is by no means extinct in South East England. The Basingstoke itself was commercially active up to the sale of 1949. Barges still carry grain regularly to Coxes Mill, on the River Wey, while pairs of narrow boats laden with coal are a familiar sight on the Grand Union Canal.

Seventy per cent of Britain's freight is moved by road and less than 2% by waterway. The choking congestion on Britain's roads is a logical product of this considerable over-emphasis on road transport. In an advanced industrial world, the country with the most poorly balanced transport system cannot expect to enjoy the best economic situation.

What potential has the Basingstoke Canal in the field of commercial transport? It must be remembered that it was part of the agrarian, rather than the industrial revolution; as such, it was invaluable in making fertile the hitherto barren lands through which it passed.

As a freight carrier, its success has never been pronounced. It would be wrong, however, to discard the idea altogether, since there would be great advantages in having even a single barge plying the length of the Canal regularly: weed growth and stagnation would be reduced in the non-cruising seasons; locks would remain in use during winter, thereby lessening the risk of freeze/thaw action and similar damage; a constant watch would be kept on navigation works and at the same time the canal authority would be provided with a small but regular income.

When the Basingstoke is eventually restored, all plans for freight carrying will have to take account of circumstances prevailing at the time. New carrying companies are proving that there is a demand today for their services; it is possible that tomorrow demand will have become necessity.
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In recent years, sales of water or the use of canals as through trunk routes for water supply has been of increasing importance in the economics of the narrow canal system. This use has fallen into two broad categories. First, the leasing of water to industrial concerns for cooling or similar uses, with the full return of the water in a clean condition to the canal, at a charge of 1d - 6d per 1,000 gallons. On many waterways, water is also sold without being returned, at a charge of 6d - 1s 0d per 1,000 gallons.

Initially, only leasings should be contemplated since it is impossible to judge whether the Basingstoke Canal will have any spare water for direct sales after navigation uses, except at the extreme eastern end of the canal.

Secondly, the west-east lay of the canal, the current water shortage in the south-east of England and the need to bring water from the west to supply this part of the country may well lead to the use of the Canal as the eastern section of a main water trunkway, in the same way as the Llangollen Canal is used by the Mid-Cheshire Water Board.

Until recently, the Canal Company had a contract to supply water to the National Gas Turbine Research Establishment at Pyestock.

Canal at North Warnborough (16K)
Fishing and boating on the Canal at North Warnborough, near Odiham

Reading Road Bridge, Fleet (13K)
Looking down stream to Reading Road Bridge, Fleet. An ideal access point to the Canal and a possible site for boat moorings

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Leaving the River Wey Navigation at approximately 58 ft. above sea level, the Canal rises 195 ft. in 15 miles to the summit pound at Ash. The water level is raised by means of 29 locks, each giving a lift of approximately 6-1/2 ft.

About 1/4 of a mile from the junction with the Wey, the Waterway enters the Woodham flight of six locks and climbs to the 100 ft. contour which it follows for 4-1/2 miles passing through Woking town. The Canal passes a mixture of residential areas with rhododendrons lining the banks and the more unattractive patches of waste land in and around Woking. Viewing the rural scene, it is surprising to realise that the town centre is less than a quarter of a mile away. A few rotting barges near Arthur's Bridge are reminders of the days when the Canal was used for commercial traffic. Communities of houseboats have been established at Woodham, Woking and further on at St. John's.

Approaching the Goldsworth locks (a flight of five) the real beauty of the Canal begins. The banks become wooded and the houses are further away. It is unfortunate that the recreation ground of St. John's Lye has not been joined to the Canal by clearing the dividing scrub. A mile and a half through open fields and past Brookwood Hospital is a further flight of three locks, raising the Canal up to the 150 ft. contour.

These are followed by a further flight of 14 locks, spread over two miles taking the level up 90 ft. to just below the 250 ft. contour. Here the Canal runs close to the main railway line but the thickly wooded slopes keep it well out of sight. Part of the charm of this rural waterway must be the great variety of trees which surround its almost entire length, from the Wey to Basingstoke.

After passing the deep cutting giving Deepcut its name, the Canal turns south and crosses the main line railway by an unimpressive yet robust aqueduct. It then enters the northern side of Mytchett Lake, and then a series of small flashes, the largest of which is Greatbottom Flash. Further residential areas of Ash and Ash Vale follow, until the Canal turns west again, crossing the River Blackwater and passing from Surrey into Hampshire.

A high embankment carries the Canal to the hillside on which Aldershot Barracks stand. Here the 29th lock lifts the Canal to a height of just over 250 ft. above sea level, and this marks the beginning of the final 15-mile lock-free pound to Greywell. The redevelopment of surrounding Army property presents a unique opportunity to include the Canal in landscaping the area. After a further six miles of wooded heathland skirting the edge of the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, the Canal passes through Fleet. It is a pity the amenity value of the Waterway has not been considered more carefully in this rapidly expanding town; many parts of it have crowded in upon the waterway with no attempt to take advantage of it.

From Fleet westwards the Canal passes through some of the finest rural parts of the Hampshire countryside. Skirting Crookham Village, it passes under several old brick bridges to Odiham Wharf. The old town is bypassed providing wonderful views of its ancient roof tops and the square, 17th century church tower. A short distance on is Odiham Castle, from which King John set off for Runnymede to seal the Magna Carta.

Beyond the unique lift-up bridge at North Warnborough, the Canal passes over the River Whitewater, and enters a cutting before disappear­ing into the Greywell Tunnel. To the west of the tunnel the Canal contains water for a further mile to Up Nateley. Here a short arm was built to serve the former brickworks. It then becomes progressively more over­grown and derelict. After passing through another smaller tunnel, parts of the Canal have been filled in and bridges replaced by causeways. The end of the Canal is now the site of Basingstoke bus station.

The Canal from east of Brick-kiln Bridge (Up Nateley) to Woodham Junction (near Byfleet) is owned by the New Basingstoke Canal Company Ltd., whose registered office is 52-53 Jermyn Street, London S.W.I, and administrative offices at Trafford Works, North Road, Burnt Oak, Edgware, Middlesex. The Directors are S.E. Cooke, Esq., and E.F.Weston, Esq.; the company's solicitor is H.D. Swales, Esq., whose offices are at 24 Manchester Square, London W.1.

Sections of the Canal from Greywell to Basingstoke have been sold and belong to several different owners.
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A canal such as the Basingstoke which is left to deteriorate becomes more than just an eyesore. Neglect may result in the waterway becoming a potential danger to the community. To avoid the overgrown towpath, people are forced to walk nearer the water's edge, treading in and weakening the banks. Evidence of such damage may be seen at Dogmersfield and Odiham. Damage to the banks is also caused by rat holes with more serious consequences. When the water is low in summer rats bore holes at water level which fill up when the level rises. This may result in water leakages and the more serious danger of causing an embankment to burst, especially in the sandy soil found at Fleet, Aldershot and Frimley areas. Saplings growing in the bed of the canal are another source of potential danger. If they are not cut down soon, the roots will get so big that when the trees are eventually felled, the rotting roots will leave small tunnels through which the water can escape. Saplings have also been allowed to grow in and behind the lock walls and wing walls which will cause serious and costly damage to the brickwork. Even more expensive to repair is the damage being caused to the 12 inch square elm beams on to which the wooden aprons are built. The cause? Simply the lack of water in the short pounds between locks. Under water they will last indefinitely, but left exposed they dry out and rot. The upper gates suffer similarly and are also strained because all their weight is taken up by the collar which holds the top of the gate back to the wall. This does not happen if the pounds are kept full because the water pressure holds the gates tight shut. Lack of maintenance is causing a rapid accumulation of silt from ditches entering the canal. Catch pits, which as the name implies, trap the silt before it enters the waterway, have been allowed to fill up and are not cleaned out.

If all these maintenance tasks are neglected for much longer, the cost of restoration will rise by as much as 20 per cent per year. The tragedy is that they are all simple jobs and inexpensive to carry out now. They could all be done by voluntary labour under supervision and save thousands of pounds on the eventual cost of restoration. Fortunately much of the canal is not puddled with clay, as is the usual practice, and dredging the silt and mud would not involve costly repuddling work.

The condition of the watercourse is fairly good. Apart from certain points which will be covered later, the bed of the canal needs very little restoration to pass normal cruiser traffic, although strengthening may be necessary over large culverts and at embankments if heavy com­mercial traffic were anticipated, along with extensive bank protection. The main restriction at present is the extensive weed growth, the ecroachment of saplings and bushes into the waterway and, of course, rubbish which has been dumped in the Canal. The weed is mainly confined to the two long pounds, Deepcut to Ash and Ash to Greywell, where it has completely clogged the waterway. The rubbish is generally confined to the built up areas.

The condition of the 29 locks on the Basingstoke Canal varies. They are neither very bad, nor very good. Most of the deterioration has been caused by failure to keep water in the short pounds, allowing the woodwork and brickwork to become affected by extremes of weather. Frost breaks up the brickwork which should be under water, and the sun dries and shrinks woodwork such as gate timbers and sills. Between Frimley and Brookwood, the gates have been left open and the canal empty, allowing vandals to kick out gate planking and damage sluice gear which would normally be under water.

Many of the lock chambers have as much as 18 inches of silt accumulated in the bottom due to disuse. At the time of writing the upper gates of lockNos. 29 (Ash), 28 (Frimley), 14 (Brookwood), 11 (St. John's Top), 6 (Sheerwater), 4, 2 (Scotland), and No. 1 are holding varying heads of water in the pounds above but the rest are empty. Owing to lack of bank trimming, bushes and small trees are doing serious damage to the lock walls and copings.

Greywell Tunnel, 1,200 yards long, was completed only after great difficulty because of springs which were found in the hill through which it was built. Water leakage has been the main cause of trouble even since. The three ring brick arch was built with sand and lime mortar, which is easily washed out if the pointing on the face of the brickwork is not repaired at regular intervals.

But the main cause of the serious damage was a small pond on top of the tunnel at the western end. In 1876 the pressure of water caused a slight fall which was repaired and the pond drained. As the years passed and the canal changed hands several times, the Greywell to Basingstoke section fell into disuse and the tunnel was neglected for many years. The pond began to fill again and in 1934 another minor fall occurred. It remained in this state until 1955 when a nearby tree fell through the roof and a larger section of the already damaged tunnel collapsed, together with the western facia. Since then earth has continued to fall through the breach and the pressure is extruding it along the inside of the tunnel. We estimate the blockage amounts to approximately 700 feet. The eastern end is still in fair condition. There is a good depth of exceptionally clear water and but for two or three places, the brickwork appears in good condition for about 800 yards from the eastern end to the fall. A number of large trees have grown over the eastern facia and their roots may be threatening the brickwork.

The Canal's water supply comes from springs situated in the waterway just east of Greywell Tunnel and others in the tunnel itself. Further unknown quantities were also obtained until 1869 by pumping from a well at Basingstoke Wharf.

During the First World War the Inland Waterways and Dock Executive assisted in operating the canal, and emergency powers were obtained to divert water from the Whitewater Stream at Greywell. At this time approximately 40 government and private narrow boats and barges were working on the waterway.

In 1928 the Mid-Wessex Water Co. applied for an act to bore a well and build a waterworks at Greywell. Mr. A.J. Harmsworth, owner of the Canal at that time, objected on the grounds that it would affect the supply of water to the Canal. As a result the Act was passed with a clause stating that the water flow into the Canal should be measured and a recorder was built just east of Swan Bridge, Odiham. The pumping station started operating in 1934 without any significant drop in the water supplied to the Canal. When the weeds were cut and the waterway properly maintained, the springs threw three million gallons per day in summer and two million in the winter. We believe that equal quantities of water may be obtained today if the water channel is kept clear and possibly with some dredging over the spring heads. Additional water supplies may also be obtained from Broad Oak Stream (one mile east of Odiham), Cowshott Stream (below lock 16 at Brookwood), and the Rive Ditch at Sheerwater. A further possible supply could be obtained by pumping water from the gravel pits at Ash Vale.

Throughout the time that the Canal was used for commercial traffic, in fact until 1949, only one stoppage due to a natural water shortage was ever recorded. This was during the exceptionally dry summer of 1921.

In recent years the Canal has become progressively more difficult to navigate, though not impossible. In the 1950's the Wey Cruising Club made regular attempts and on one occasion several boats reached within a mile of Greywell using all 29 locks. In 1962 the London & Home Counties Branch of the Inland Waterways Association held a successful rally of boats in Woking. Houseboats have been moved along the lower parts of the Canal as recently as the Spring of 1967 when a 70 ft. narrow boat navigated from Hermitage Bridge to Arthur's Bridge. Since the formation of the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society, most sections of the Canal containing water have been used by powered craft until early in 1968. It was then that the Canal Company refused to re-new or issue any more licences for powered or other large craft.

During the widespread flooding which brought havoc to Southern England, in September 1968, the Canal was breached in two places: a few hundred yards east of Eelmore Bridge and again below the 29th lock, on Ash Embankment. Water from the 35-foot breach near Eelmore flooded part of the Royal Aircraft Establishment's main runway on the eve of the S.B.A.C. Exhibition and Flying Display. The R.A.E. took immediate action to repair the damage with the help of volunteers from the staff and the Royal Engineer's Training Regiment at Cove, the police, fire brigade and contractors. The breach at Ash is of a more serious nature and at the time of writing no attempt has been made to repair it. The embankment has been breached to a level below the Canal bed and until the damage is repaired, water can no longer pass eastwards from Ash lock.

The towpath has lost most of its former width and is now often very narrow, but most of it is firm and well drained. Even after the heaviest rain it is passable. Naturally there are one or two places which could do with repair: one typical spot being opposite Odiham Wharf where the path has sunk into the Canal. In many places people have bypassed the overgrown towpath, giving the impression that it is in need of repair. Clearance of these sections would reinstate the true line and show it to be in good condition. In the thickly wooded areas, the towpath is usually in excellent order because the overhanging trees keep it clear of undergrowth.
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i The legal position surrounding ownership and the right of navigating the Basingstoke Canal is probably unique and certainly obscure. This being so, we shall restrict ourselves to relating the known facts which will show why the position is so complicated.

The Canal and towpath is private freehold property and there is nd public right of way along the towpath except for a short length at Greywell As a privilege, though, the public have been allowed to walk along it since 1880. The question of actual ownership therefore is quite clear. But the owners' rights and obligations are more complicated.

When the Canal was first envisaged, as with every other waterway an Act of Parliament was required. Apart from authorising the construct ion of the Canal, the Act also gave the original Canal company certain powers, rights and obligations and gave all persons the right to navigate the Canal on payment of tolls. The question is - do the provisions of the original Act still apply to the present company?

In 1911, Woking U.D.C. obtained an Act of Parliament giving it powers to repair a number of road bridges which were the responsibility of the canal company according to the original Act. The work was completed but the owner, a Mr.Carter, refused to pay for the repairs and was taken to court. In his defence he claimed that the original Canal Act1 applied only to the original company or its successors. But as that company went into liquidation it had no lawful successor as defined by the Act and that subsequent owners therefore had no legal obligations or rights under the provisions of the Act. The court accepted this argumenl and the Council had to pay for the repairs itself.

Although the matter has never been put to the test, it seems that the owner may enjoy many privileges of ownership without having to accept the usual obligations associated with the control of a navigation. But in the Case mentioned above, although it was not relevant to the decision, one of the judges stated his opinion that "the rights of the Public to use the Canal could not be destroyed by the conveyance" to a purchaser who "could not build over or destroy the Canal".

Accumulated refuse dumped in the pound below Brookwood No. 2 lock
Hiking and boating along the Canal at Dogmersfield

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In July, 1967, the New Basingstoke Canal Co. Ltd. published proposals to be considered by the local authorities for the future of the canal in a document entitled "The Basingstoke Canal: A Practical Policy".

The Company suggests that the 'nuisance' factor of the Canal to development should be eliminated. As the waterway forms an integral part of the drainage system, this would mean replacing the locks by weirs and culverting those sections to be filled in for development. At the same time, the Company recognises the amenity value of the Canal and suggests parts of it should be retained for this purpose and the facilities provided paid for by local authorities.

To implement this policy would mean ending the Canal's unique and basic function as a through navigation. The Canal would be reduced to a series of water-filled ditches or duck ponds. But the most disturbing aspect of all, at a time when the need to retain navigations is widely recognised, is the sad fact that the decision would be irreversible.

It may be that the proposals constitute the most profitable policy for the New Basingstoke Canal Company Ltd. But is it the best policy for the Canal? We believe that a change of ownership could produce a far more practical and exciting future.

As suggested in the Company's policy, the British Waterways Board in their report "The Facts about the Waterways" have also considered installing weirs on canals administered by them. But the government, in recognising the inevitable increase in pleasure boating and the potential increase in holiday cruising which has already taken place on the Norfolk Broads and the River Thames, has decided against such action.

The Chichester Canal is a near example of a canal which has been weired at locks and culverted under roads. Large quantities of weed grow in the canal and parts are overgrown with reeds which block the channel and make fishing difficult. The basin in Chichester is an overgrown, stagnant eyesore in summer and the canal and town would have benefited from visiting boats with temporary moorings in the town.

Older residents along the Basingstoke Canal remember that when barges used the locks on the canal the water was clear and the fishing excellent. The use of locks effectively flushes out floating weed, mosquito larvae and dirty water from the area above each lock where it collects most. The British Waterways Board estimated in 1964 that the cost of weiring a lock would be about £300 (a figure many people regard as far too low) for a 14 ft. wide lock and that the maintenance on each lock chamber would be about £20 oer annum after weirs were installed.

Locks on the Basingstoke Canal are generally in much worse condition that most locks owned by British Waterways, and even with weirs, additional works would be required to make them safe and durable. The additional works include: removing mud and rubbish, cutting out trees and saplings from the brickwork, and repairs to brickwork and stonework. The unusual construction of the aprons to locks on this Canal would require especially deep foundations to the weir or dam at the head of each lock. Sluices would be necessary in each weir to control the amount of water in each pound during excessively dry or wet weather.

It is estimated that the average cost of weiring and adequately repairing each lock on the Basingstoke Canal would amount to about £700 each lock. The average cost of restoring the present locks and lock gates using volunteer labour would be approximately £530 per lock. It is therefore cheaper to restore locks with volunteer labour than to instal weirs with paid labour.

It is unlikely that volunteers will be found willing to construct weirs or, for that matter, carry out any work on the Canal if weirs are installed. Quite apart from the cost of installing them we believe that altering the Canal in this way would considerably reduce the amenity value. It would turn away a large potential income from cruising boats and do little to improve conditions for anglers.

There are also people who at various times have advocated filling in the Canal, making a road or building on the reclaimed land.

The Canal carries a large volume of rainwater from the many estates, private houses, property and fields which border its banks. If it were eliminated, other means would have to be found to dispose of this water. The only practical solution would be to pipe the Canal and connect all the outfalls which run into it. The design scheme for such a project would have to take account of the worst possible conditions that could be expected so that flooding of large areas would be avoided. The pipes or culverts would have to be of such dimensions that blockages did not occur and the clearing of silt and rubbish facilitated. Culverting would therefore be an expensive operation.

Filling the Canal with suitable material would be a lengthy process There is a general shortage of clean filling material throughout the country. Clean material is essential, since contaminated water which eventually discharges into the River Thames would not be permitted by the Thames Conservancy.

The value of the reclaimed land is debatable. Special foundations would be required for roads or buildings built over the bed of the Canal. The wet nature of the canal bed and the consolidation of filling material would cause considerable settlement over several years. The Canal is by no means straight throughout its length and it is doubtful if yet another road would serve any useful purpose, bearing in mind the cost of the necessary preparatory works. Bridges would either have to be raised where they crossed the new road or new intersections made with existing roads.

Although the Wey and Arun canal was closed in 1871, only parts have been filled, while others remain as a semi-stagnant ditch, or dry bed with undergrowth and trees growing in the canal. Similar conditions exist on parts of the Basingstoke Canal above Greywell Tunnel. In these cases there has been no problem in disposing of surplus surface water, but the "reclaimed" land has in most cases remained an unsolved, unsightly problem for many years. Towns in the north of England and Midlands have experienced similar problems when they have disposed of their canals.

The British Waterways Board estimated in 1964 that the cost of eliminating a typical rural wide canal is £9,000 per mile. This assumed that filling material could be brought in at 5s. per cubic yard. This figure does not include the cost of culverting a canal where it is part of the land drainage system. Piping or culverting the Canal would add a further £30,000 - £50,000 per mile to the cost. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the cost of eliminating, piping and filling in the 32 miles of the Basingstoke Canal would be in the region of £2,000,000.

It would be virtually impossible to abandon the Canal east of Greywell to the process of natural decay in the same manner as the section west of the tunnel. The main part of the Canal owned by the company has many more surface water streams and ditches draining into it, particularly in the pounds between Aldershot and Woking. If the Canal is left to decay, alternative sources of discharge would have to be found involving heavy expenditure of public money.

So far we have outlined three methods of dealing with the future of the canal. To abandon the waterway is not practical because of its drainage function for which alternatives would be expensive to provide. To eliminate the canal completely would be far too costly even to consider. We are therefore left with the Canal Company's policy which, in view of the special nature of the waterway, places the Company's interests before that of the canal. Against this background we propose a much more exciting future policy for retaining and restoring the Basingstoke Canal to a fully navigable state. We believe that our policy would be less expensive to implement, make the control and ownership far more acceptable, and greatly increase the amenity value of the canal.
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The first step to restoration and use of the waterway is to halt further rapid deterioration. We propose the following plan of action:

1. All the pounds should be filled with water. To do this the upper lock gates need wedging up, defective sluice boards replaced and one sluice put in working order. Sluice holes and weir sills would have to be cleared and rat holes filled with clay to allow the free flow of excess water. Some of the deal planking on lock gates needs replacing and together with new sluice boards and wedges, the total cost of materials would be approximately £150. This work could be completed within three months.

2. The next priority is for undergrowth and saplings to be cleared from lock brickwork. The more overgrown sections of the towpath also need immediate attention and the vegetation in the short pounds must be cleared.

3. Thickly weeded, silted and rubbish filled patches must be cleared to allow the free flow of water.

All this work is ideal for unpaid volunteer labour.

4. Badly worn banks and towpath sections need to be made up and we estimate the cost of deal planking for facing work will be around £100. The weir at Ash Vale, for which British Rail is responsible, and Fleet weir must be put into efficient working order. Repair work to the latter is estimated at £200 to make it useable.

If this work is carried out now further decay by natural causes will be reduced to a minimum. All the work could be carried out immediately by volunteer labour under skilled supervision. Delay will mean greatly increased cost of full restoration.
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The cuttings and embankments on the Canal are on the whole in good condition with no slipping. The largest cutting at Deepcut, 1/2-mile east of Frimley Green, would require trimming at regular intervals especially near the water. The highest embankment, between Ash and Aldershot, is just over 1/2-mile long and nearly 40 ft. high. This should be kept trimmed and burnt off so that any rat holes may be easily seen and leaks detected. The south side of the embankment has been worn away in several places and before the Canal is used with a full head of water these places will need to be made up. All the embankments on the canal should be kept trimmed to make inspection easier and quicker. Once they have been extensively trimmed, the ground can easily be kept clear.

It is estimated that about 4-1/2 miles of heavy dredging (that is a depth of 18" or more of silt to be removed) will be required initially, during restoration, at the following sites: 2 miles through Woking, 1 mile from Frimley Lock to the aqueduct; 1/2 mile between Greatbottom Flash to the railway bridge at the start of Ash embankment, and 1/2 mile downstream from Broad Oak Stream near Odiham.

These are the most severely silted areas which are likely to require heavy dredging equipment. Other smaller areas in the vicinity of bridges, and points where ditches enter the Canal will also need attention. It is proposed to clear the small accumulations using volunteer labour and a dredging punt. With a winch and dredging spoon it is possible for four men to remove and dispose of 28 cubic yards per day. The silt in the short pounds may be dug out when the pounds are drained for lock repairs. The dredging at Broad Oak should be done first as the silt is reducing the flow of water from the spring heads at Greywell. The protection of the spring heads should also be considered, especially those situated in the tunnel itself.

Weed cutting is of paramount importance on the Basingstoke Canal. Water used in locking craft through at the eastern end of the Canal has to be replenished by the springs at the western end. If weed is allowed to grow in profusion, the flow of water down the Canal is impeded. Furthermore the weeds draw up a considerable amount of water. One bullrush, complete with roots, will take up as much as one gallon of water in 24 hours. For boats and anglers to make the fullest use of the Canal, the weeds must be cut at least once, preferably twice a year, until the number of boats is sufficient to keep the growth down during summer months.

Some anglers have expressed concern at the possibility of heavy weed clearance, saying that it destroys the fish's natural food and that weed helps to purify the water. However, there would always be sufficient weed left at the edges and in the wider pounds and flashes. When the Waterway was used commercially before the 1914-1918 war, there was virtually no weed and it is reported that fishing was much better than it is today.

Weed cutting is best carried out with weed cutting knives, operated by two persons on each bank pulling the knives back and forth while moving slowly forwards. As the knives lie on the bed of the canal, the weeds are cut off at the roots and so it takes quite a long time for them to grow to the surface again. Cutting with a boat is less successful as the weeds are severed just below the surface and soon branch out even thicker than before.

Before weed cutting can start, it is necessary to clear most of the rubbish out of the canal. A team of four men, cutting weed, and two clearing rubbish and the cut weeds, can clear up to 1 mile per day.

The 29 locks on the Canal are of brick and stone construction with wooden gates and wooden aprons. The aprons are platforms upon which the sills are spiked and against which the gates close. Because of the sandy soil the locks were constructed with wooden aprons which would swell up and become completely watertight. The upper and lower aprons are of similar construction. Wood planking is spiked on to four 12" square elm beams which are built into the brickwork either side and go right across the back. The space underneath the apron is filled tightly with Broad Oak clay and wooden buck piling is driven down in front of the apron to a depth of at least 5' 6". The buck piling also swells to stop any water blowing under the apron and so along underneath the lock and into the lower pound. We believe this method of apron construction should be used during restoration as it is a cheap and well proven method. During the 1930s some of the locks were repaired and concrete upper and lower aprons were installed, but nearly all of them gave trouble. Leaks had to be constantly stopped and caulked with clay and at the time the canal was put up for sale in 1949 the owner was in the process of breaking out the concrete and remaking the aprons to the original style. The best example of the trouble caused by concrete aprons on the Basingstoke Canal occurred at the 17th lock at Cowshott Bridge in 1934. Water from the upper pound percolated under a concrete apron, then underneath the lock chamber and so into the lower pound.

The condition of the locks varies but most of the restoration will involve re-gating, putting in new concrete hollow posts with wood cappings, repairing aprons (in the manner described above) and new wooden sills. An average of about 2,000 bricks will be needed to repair each lock and the brickwork requires extensive re-pointing. Twelve pairs of gates will give good service for about another 10 to 15 years with some repairs, replanking, new irons, collars and other fittings. The remainder will have to be replaced. We have been offered the help of a director of the pre-1949 company to advise on how to lay out, build and instal lock gates, aprons, etc. A very detailed survey of the condition of the locks below water level has not been possible so far as we have not been allowed to clear the lock chambers. The general condition of locks appears better than was first thought possible, but they will deteriorate faster with each passing year of neglect.

The aqueduct at Frimley is in excellent condition and the only restoration required is minor dredging and a new wooden capping piece for the hand rail.

The condition of bridges does not affect the programme for restoration but it is important that sufficient headroom is allowed in the event of rebuilding. If the restored Canal is to be used by as many craft as possible, the headrooms of new bridges must not be reduced below the level of the existing older constructions. Already two bridges at Fleet (Reading Road and Pondtail) have been rebuilt by Hampshire County Council with restrictive heights of only 5 ft 10 in and 6 ft above the present low water level.

The Basingstoke is a broad canal and because of its proximity to the Thames would make ideal additional cruising ground for Thames boats. However, many such boats are themselves barred from the river above Oxford by a low bridge at Osney of 7 ft 7 in headroom.
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First and foremost the towpath needs to be cleared of all scrub and undergrowth to a distance of 6 ft. from the true waterline. All overhanging branches should be cleared from above the towpath to a height of 8 ft. from ground level. An assessment of the surface condition of the true towpath must then be made, and the necessary repair work carried out.

The Canal passes through heathland containing considerable gravel close to the surface. Permission would be sought to dig this gravel for shipment by water to parts of the towpath where it is required.

The towpath in the Dogmersfield area is unpleasant to walk on due to the remains of wartime tank traps. The towpath needs building up in this area. The footbridge over the spillway at Aldershot Road, Fleet, will be completely reconstructed when the weir is rebuilt. All towpath work is well within the scope of volunteer labour although a few specialised tools would need to be purchased.

Companies previously owning the Canal have used large amounts of the excellent stands of timber surrounding the waterway. By expert forestry practice and careful felling, the natural beauty of the canal has not, however, been impaired.

As was done in the past, oak and scotch fir could be used for repairs to lock gates, bank protection and barge building. During the 1914-1918 war large amounts ol oak were cut and transported by water to Paddington basin on the Regents Canal. Many hundreds of tons of fir were cut in 1916 at Potters Pool, Mytchett, and also transported to the London timber yards for planking. In the 1920s and 1930s oak from Coxmoor, Crookham, was used for building barges and lock gates at Ash Vale.

A valuable income could be derived for future use by planting soft woods along the banks of the Canal.

dia of a lock (13K)

The unique hydraulically operated lift bridge over theCanal at North Warnborough. Designed, built and installed by Hampshire County Council
Beech trees surrounding Sheerwater Lock, Woking

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The market value of the canal is difficult to assess and in any case we do not intend to quote figures. We can, however, point to the factors which have a bearing on the valuation.

In 1949 the Basingstoke Canal was auctioned and sold for £6,000. With the purchase of adjoining land and canal properties, the total paid came to approximately £9,500 (plant and equipment were bought later). We may therefore conclude that this was the value of the Canal, being the most anyone would pay for it. Since then, the Waterway has deteriorated and it can be reasonably argued that its value as a canal is reduced. But if the nature of the Canal were altered and it became suitable for development, the value would doubtless rise.

However, we believe that under the original Act of Parliament authorising the Canal, the right of navigation still exists. To close or abandon the Waterway would therefore require further legislation or a Ministerial order and any development would also need local authority planning permission.

On this basis, we conclude that the canal can only be sold as a waterway and must therefore be valued as such.
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If the Canal is to be restored for use by the community, we believe that it should be transferred to public ownership or a non-proft distributing company limited by guarantee and registered as a charity. Unlike public or private ownership, such a company would be able to accept grants and donations from individuals, charitable organisations and public authorities. It is suggested that it should be controlled by a 'commission' made up of representatives from local and county authorities, the Thames Conservancy, and other interested parties such as the Inland Waterways Association, the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society and angling clubs. This would be responsible for the expenditure and administration. A further organisation in the form of a Trust would then be founded to act as a 'supporters club' raising funds for restoration and maintenance and promoting the facilities offered. We would hope that subscriptions and normal fund raising activities would provide some £500 per year from this source - quite apart from any major appeal.

1960 in a condition far worse than the Basingstoke. Led by a Coventry architect, the 13-mile canal was restored in only three years. About a dozen of the 36 locks had to be completely rebuilt and all of them needed new gates. Much of the work of restoring the canal was carried out by canal enthusiasts anxious to help in the worthwhile project of restoration. The army also supplied volunteers from the Royal Engineers, who used their machinery such as draglines, pumps and cranes.for dredging and replacement of lock gates. A third group came from an unusual though equally energetic source - H.M. Prisons. Prisoners contributed a great deal to the work, especially those who were skilled carpenters and bricklayers.

The canal was reopened by the Queen Mother in 1964. Another restoration scheme was started in the same year. This was on the 12-mile Stourbridge Canal which includes a flight of 16 locks. The work was done by British Waterways Board staff and volunteers and was reopened in 1967.

Other projects are in progess today. On the Kennet and Avon Canal work is being done near Reading, Newbury, Devizes and Bath. Again volunteers, particularly from youth clubs, the Royal Engineers and prisons are all contributing under the supervision of British Waterways Board staff. Less spectacular though equally necessary work is being done regularly up and down the country.

These are positive examples of the successfully completed projects carried out by volunteers. And we purposely say "completed" for these people are not publicity seekers, they just want to get on with the job of restoration. Over the past two years their numbers have been increasing rapidly and regular parties are organised to work wherever help is most urgently needed. Only recently, nearly 100 volunteers turned up to paint Denham Bridge on the Grand Union Canal. The overwhelmed British Waterways Board staff quickly had to find additional work to keep everyone employed.
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Maintaining 32 miles of waterway or linear park with a small staff would appear to be a formidable task, as one has to take into account walking, boating, fishing and many other interests, as well as the day to day problems of regulating water levels, bank repairs, trimming and weed clearance, etc.

The most efficient way to use a small staff is for them to travel the waterway continuously and do repairs or maintenance wherever it is seen to be necessary. This is best carried out by a powered dredging punt or barge, as large as is practical, containing bricks, cement, timber and tools. The advantage of this system is that the boat crew is fully equipped to deal with repairs on the spot. The action of the boat passing along the canal once or perhaps twice a week continuously throughout the year keeps the waterway clear and the weeds to a minimum. Any brickwork needing attention or gate and paddle gear adjustments may be dealt with as the men pass through each section. If more extensive repairs are necessary the boat may be stopped for a few days and a whole canal staff, including the working manager and yard staff concentrate on the big job in hand. (See Appendix B)
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The New Basingstoke Canal Company's hostile attitude towards powered craft seems all the more puzzling when we consider the potential income to be derived from licence fees, lock tolls and mooring charges. This section of the canal's users would contribute the highest proportion of the total income.

If the canal is administered by a commission as we have suggested, income would be obtained from two basic sources.

First, from licences and fees charged for navigation, moorings, angling and the other facilities provided, such as camping sites and car parks. The second source would be from grants made by the canal trust and local authorities. If the canal is fully restored and controlled by a commission representing the community, it would seem reasonable to expect local authority contributions for such facilities as public use of the towpath, water for fire fighting and surface water drainage. Whilst it is difficult to give precise income figures, especially for boating, we have estimated the potential income by comparison with the nearby River Wey Navigation. It is anticipated that this would reach £17,000 per annum. A detailed account is listed in Appendix C.

The eastern portal of Greywell Tunnel

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Public opinion as represented by our organisations, the New Basingstoke Canal Company Ltd., and public authorities are all agreed on one basic point: the future of the Basingstoke Canal must be resolved. Each passing year brings further decay and an increasing accumulation of rubbish, making it an ever increasing eyesore.

The Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society was formed in 1966 with the object of arresting further decay of the Canal and, in co-operation with the owners, developing its amenity value. Despite strenuous efforts by the Society to achieve friendly relations with the New Basingstoke Canal Company, co-operation has proved impossible.

The Canal Company want to relinquish the function of the waterway as a through navigation. This would reduce the Canal to a series of 'duck ponds', interspersed with culverted sections, possibly filled in for development. We cannot believe that the radical changes proposed by the Company will make the amenity facilities any more desirable than they are at present. As the owners admit, the public has a greater interest in the Canal than in most other private enterprises since many thousands of people live by or near its banks.

We contend that restoration would provide'a far more exciting and useful future to the community. Not only would the potential for recreational activities be far greater, but it would also create an improved visual amenity. In essence the Canal would become a waterway park for the enjoyment of those who wished to use it and give added attraction to the areas through which it passes.

We have shown that the cost of restoration could be as low as £26,000. Our costings have been based on realistic estimates made for other waterways and in particular the Kennet and Avon Canal. The existence of our organisations and the work already being carried out up and down the country show that a large number of people would be prepared to devote their time and money to restoring the Canal.

If it is accepted that full restoration is an attractive proposition, how can it be achieved? As the present owners appear to be unwilling or unable to develop the full potential of the Canal, we believe it should be transferred to public ownership or a trust set up for the purpose. The way would then be open for people who care about the environment in which we live to put their cash and energies to good use in restoring one of the few canals in the South East of England.

Whatever decision is made about the future of the Basingstoke Canal it must be remembered that once a portion has been built on or culverted the decision is irrevocable. It will then never be possible to have second thoughts about restoration.
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As outlined earlier, three alternative costings have been considered to restore the canal to a reasonable navigable standard. In each, the cost of dredging 4| miles of canal by professional contractors (£ 10,000) is included, though this figure could be substantially reduced or removed entirely if the Ministry of Defence were able to help.

1. Volunteers making lock gates and doing all works themselves except heavy dredging:£
Locks:23 pairs top and 23 pairs lower lock gates @ £500 per lock 11,500
Repairs to sills and aprons of 29 locks @ £ 100 per lock2,900
Bricks for 29 locks, 2,000 per lock at £15 per 1000870
Cement, sand, bolts and misc. materials300
Frimley weir200
Bank works at Mytchett and Great Bottom Flash200
Fleet weir200
SAY £26,000£26,170
2.All gate frames required to be purchased from a contractor. Volunteers to plank gates and do all other works themselves except heavy dredging.
Locks:23 pairs top and 23 pairs lower gates @ £700 per lock£16,100
Wood for planking @ £50 per lock1,150
Repairs to sills and aprons on 29 locks @ £700 per lock16,100
Wood for planking @ £50 per lock1,150
Repairs to cills and aprons on 29 locks
@ £100 per lock
Bricks for 29 locks, 2,000 per lock at £ 15 per 1000870
Cement, sand and misc. materials200
Frimley weir200
Bank works at Mytchett and Great Bottom Flash200
Fleet weir200
SAY £32,000£31,820

3. All major works on locks, weirs etc. to be done by paid contractor in addition to dredging. On this scale all locks would be regated.
29 locks at £2, 800 per lock81,200
Frimley weir 800
Bank works at Mytchett and Great Bottom Flash800
Fleet weir800
SAY £94,000£ 93,600

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Manager (working)£1,500
Secretary (part-time)600
Carpenter's mate600
General Mechanic
Lock-keeper/Labourer (with house)700
" " "700
" " "700
Total labour cost£7,800
Materials, fuel oil, rates, etc.3,000
33-1/3% overheads for employment costs, upkeep of buildings, etc.2,600
Grand Total£13,400

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Boating Licences

In 1965 the London & Home Counties Branch of the Inland Waterways Association analysed the number of boats registered on the River Wey between Godalming and Weybridge, and concluded that of a total of some 700 craft the breakdown appeared likely to be as follows:-
Private - unpowered craft30%
Powered craft under 25 ft40%
Powered craft over 25 ft5%
Hire craft (mostly unpowered)19%
Youth organisations and clubs6%

In 1967 the total figure was nearly 1,100 and taking the breakdown on the basis set out above, using the combined registration and locks pass charges proposed for private boats on the River Wey for 1969, the following potential revenue for the Basingstoke Canal results:-

Unpowered craft: 605 @ £ 1. 5s.£756
Powered craft:
Say 220 under 20 ft. @ £4£ 880
Say 220 20 ft. to 25 ft. @ £4.10s.£ 990
Say 55 over 25 ft. @ £5.10s.£302

It is probable that in the case of craft hired out, a different basis might be used, but this is unlikely to have a substantial effect. These figures do not include casual visiting craft from which a further income would be anticipated.

Mooring Payments

From comparisons with the River Wey, it seems likely that of the unpowered craft perhaps one third, and of the powered craft perhaps one half would be based permanently on the Canal, the remainder being trailer-borne or moored on nearby waterways. On the River Wey the charge for moorings is generally 6d. per foot per week, while houseboats on the Canal pay an inclusive charge of £50 p.a.

Allowing for a 25% reduction in the case of boats moored to property let to their owners (perhaps half the total moorings) the following possible revenue might be obtained:-

Unpowered craft (average length 10 ft.)100 @ £13£1,300
100@ £9.5s£925
Powered craft (average length 20 ft.)125 @ £26£3,250
125 @ £19.10s£22,437
Houseboats - say 40 @ £50£2,000

In some cases mooring fees would probably be paid to commercial boatyards, and the income be rather in the form of rents than in the form of mooring fees as such.

A small additional income could be made from suitable sites used for camping, say £25.

Rents and Wayleaves

Although we have no knowledge of the canal company's income from these sources, by using comparable figures for the Kennet & Avon Canal, we estimate £1,000 may be obtainable.


Allowing for short pounds between locks, we estimate that the restored Canal would provide 20 miles of good fishing. Assuming that lengths reserved for individual anglers would bring in the same total income per mile as those leased to clubs at £50 per mile, the total income would be - £1,000 p.a.

Grant from Canal Trust

As outlined earlier, an annual grant would be made to the administrative commission by the canal trust - £500 p.a.

Drainage Grant

The restored Canal would provide an efficient and reliable area for surface water drainage for which it seems reasonable to provide a suggested grant of - £500 p.a.

Reservoir for Fire Fighting

An additional valuable function of the Canal would be to provide water for fire fighting for which a grant should be made. A reasonable figure might be - £300 p.a.

Towpath Grant

To maintain the restored towpath in good order and clear from obstructions for walking purposes, we suggest that local authorities might contribute towards a total grant of £1,000 p.a.


The total estimated income from all the potential sources listed amounts to a little over £17,000 p.a. Additional revenue may be obtainable from car parks, sales of timber and water irrigation.

Although income shows a healthy surplus over maintenance expenditure, we have purposely not made a direct comparison. It will take some time for income to build up to this level following restoration. Our prime purpose is to show the variety of sources from which a substantial income may be derived; certainly enough to demonstrate that full restoration is a viable proposition and that the cost of maintenance for amenity purposes would be met by an earned income and not by subsidies.
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All the 29 locks are of brick and stone construction with wooden gates and wooden aprons. They were designed to accommodate craft of 73 ft. long by 13 ft. 10-1/2 ins. wide, drawing 3 ft. 6 ins. of water. The depth from the upper water level to the bottom of the lock is 12 ft. The lower gates are 12 ft. 6 ins. high and the upper gates 5 ft. 6 ins. high. The lock walls are of brick and stone construction and built with a batter of 3 ins. in 12 ft., i.e. the locks are 6 ins. wider at the top than at the bottom. All the locks on the Canal are of the same dimensions except the upper gates of Frimley and Ash locks which are 6 ft. 6 ins. high instead of 5 ft. 6 ins. The depth of the chambers remain the same at 12 ft.
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ApronThe ground surface at the entrance to a lock.
AqueductA bridge carrying a canal.
BargeA term including a variety of vessels, both sailing and non-sailing, in use on canals and rivers, whose beam is approximately twice that of a narrow-boat. The term is often applied wrongly to all types of canal vessels.
Broad CanalA canal with locks 14 feet wide or over.
CulvertAn enclosed channel or pipe for carrying water.
FlashAn adjoining lake or enlarged section of the water channel.
Flight of LocksA number of locks in series.
LockA device for overcoming changes of level in the navigation of rivers and canals.
Lock ChambersSection of lock enclosed by upper and lower gates.
Narrow BoatA craft measuring approximately 70 ft. long by 7 ft. beam.
Narrow CanalCanal designed for use by narrow boats.
PaddleA sluice valve the opening or closing of which, causes water to be passed or held back.
PortalArchway or entrance.
PoundThe stretch of water on a canal between two locks.
PuddleClay worked up with water and spread in layers on the bottom and sides of a canal or reservoir when situated in porous strata, for the purpose of making it watertight.
SillThe bar of masonry or wood below water against which the bottom of the lock gates rest when closed.
SluiceOpening through which water passes when lock is being filled or emptied.
Summit PoundThe highest pound of water in a canal.
WayleavePermission to pass over another's ground or property.
WeirAn artificial barrier for holding up water.

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Throughout this publication we have only advocated restoring the Basingstoke Canal from the River Wey to the eastern end of Greywell Tunnel. In doing so we have briefly mentioned the five mile section west of the tunnel to Basingstoke.

We accept that restoration of this section presents some very different physical problems which would be costly to overcome. However, having restored the 32 mile section east of Greywell, we feel that there would be good reasons for considering an extension to the work. The development of Basingstoke and the projected population of 100,000 would make the Canal an attractive and useful amenity. Furthermore an extension would provide the opportunity to improve the restored section by providing a terminus for boat moorings and embarkation, rather than an abrupt end because of an obstruction.
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The towpath ended just short of the eastern tunnel portal, and continued as a horse path over Greywell Hill, passing by a number of chalk pits. Chalk from these was carried east on the canal to be used as fertilizer for the barren lands which the canal served. There was a timber yard on the towpath side of the canal just before it entered the tunnel.

The canal was originally planned to loop around Greywell Hill, but the 1,200 yard tunnel was driven, partly to shorten the route, but mainly to cut into underground springs, and thereby increase water supply. The whole pound between Aldershot and Basingstoke was cut on a single level close to the natural 250 ft. contour.

On leaving the western portal, the canal remained in a deep cutting, passing under Eastrop Bridge, then in shorter cuttings through Slade Bridge, Brick Kiln Bridge and Penny Bridge, which carried a road from Greywell to Hatch. The length of canal from the tunnel to Penny Bridge was bounded on the right by clay pits and the extensive Nateley brickfields.

Beyond this, the canal passed through a second tunnel, the Little Tunnel Bridge, 99 feet long, and considerable excavation here suggests that a great deal of trouble was had with earth slipping. The tunnel itself has been lengthened at some time by about 10 ft. probably for this reason.

Following this was a slight embankment, leading to Mapledurwell swing bridge, a timber platform moving on a pivot. The canal rejoins the natural contour, looping around Hatch and passing by many more chalk pits. Bridges were, successively : Lukes swing bridge, Hatch swing bridge, Hatch footpath swing bridge, Hatch bridge and Cuckoo Bridge.

Approaching Basing, another short cutting was entered. There was a wharf at Basing, and the canal then passed round the remains of Basing House, part of whose lost treasure was found during excavation for the canal. The canal then went under Red Bridge, and again followed a contour through the flood valley of the Lodden, under Eastrop Bridge and on to the canal basin at Basingstoke.
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The eastern portal of Greywell Tunnel is intact, and the water is deep and clear. Just before the tunnel is a stop lock, built when the water supply west of Greywell became difficult. The lock gates were closed to hold back a head of water (which would otherwise naturally flow east), thus allowing the passage of a barge to Basingstoke. The gates themselves no longer exist, but the lock chamber remains. The horse path over the hill still exists as a footpath, though not a public right of way.

Inside the tunnel, the structure is sound and the water clear for 2,500 feet. There then rises a mound of clay, which reaches to the roof after 20 ft. This blockage extends for 700 ft but it is not known whether the mound is solid throughout this length. It seems likely that water pressure from within the fall is extruding the clay slowly outwards in both directions. Over the tunnel are two craters, one dating from 1934 when a pond with a tree trunk floating in it, caused the roof to collapse. The other, which is close to it, might also be caused by a collapse. Both craters are often filled with rainwater. The remaining 400 ft. of tunnel is sound, except for the last few yards at the western portal. The weight of tree roots in the surrounding cutting caused a landslip in the 1950s which has demolished this portal and left a large mound of clay, only a small part of the tunnel opening now being visible.

Between the tunnel and Penny Bridge the canal bed still holds a small amount of water, probably caught from rainfall. Slade Bridge, Eastrop Bridge and Brick Kiln Bridge are all in excellent condition; in fact they are the best examples still existing on the whole canal of the original brick bridges.

The brickfields were run down during the last century, until in 1896 a company was formed to exploit them by completely restoring the canal as a cheap way of transporting the bricks. The canal was renovated and deepened at this time, and the Brickworks Arm was built, extending a few hundred yards into the main works. Most of the canal runs through London clay, and is therefore entirely watertight. Its western end, however, runs into chalk and sand, and was lined or "puddled" with clay. The deepening of the canal here scoured out this lining, causing bad leakage towards Basingstoke.

Approaching Basing, another short cutting was entered. There was a wharf at Basing, and the canal then passed round the remains of Basing House, part of whose lost treasure was found during excavation for the canal. The canal then went under Red Bridge, and again followed a contour through the flood valley of the Lodden, under Eastrop Bridge and on to the canal basin at Basingstoke.
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The eastern portal of Greywell Tunnel is intact, and the water is deep and clear. Just before the tunnel is a stop lock, built when the water supply west of Greywell became difficult. The lock gates were closed to hold back a head of water (which would otherwise naturally flow east), thus allowing the passage of a barge to Basingstoke. The gates themselves no longer exist, but the lock chamber remains. The horse path over the hill still exists as a footpath, though not a public right of way.

Inside the tunnel, the structure is sound and the water clear for 2,500 feet. There then rises a mound of clay, which reaches to the roof after 20 ft. This blockage extends for 700 ft but it is not known whether the mound is solid throughout this length. It seems likely that water pressure from within the fall is extruding the clay slowly outwards in both directions. Over the tunnel are two craters, one dating from 1934 when a pond with a tree trunk floating in it, caused the roof to collapse. The other, which is close to it, might also be caused by a collapse. Both craters are often filled with rainwater. The remaining 400 ft. of tunnel is sound, except for the last few yards at the western portal. The weight of tree roots in the surrounding cutting caused a landslip in the 1950s which has demolished this portal and left a large mound of clay, only a small part of the tunnel opening now being visible.

Between the tunnel and Penny Bridge the canal bed still holds a small amount of water, probably caught from rainfall. Slade Bridge, Eastrop Bridge and Brick Kiln Bridge are all in excellent condition; in fact they are the best examples still existing on the whole canal of the original brick bridges.

The brickfields were run down during the last century, until in 1896 a company was formed to exploit them by completely restoring the canal as a cheap way of transporting the bricks. The canal was renovated and deepened at this time, and the Brickworks Arm was built, extending a few hundred yards into the main works. Most of the canal runs through London clay, and is therefore entirely watertight. Its western end, however, runs into chalk and sand, and was lined or "puddled" with clay. The deepening of the canal here scoured out this lining, causing bad leakage towards Basingstoke.

In 1911 the "Basingstoke" passed through to the town with a load of sand, taking three months over the journey because of the canal's poor condition. It was probably the last boat ever to do so. The attempt was made again in 1914, but it is thought that the boat only reached Basing. Penny Bridge no longer exists, and there has been some rubbish dumping in the bed beyond it. The bed is now dry, and is very overgrown, being only just penetrable on foot. Little Tunnel Bridge is intact, but needs some minor patching. A house has been built in the canal bed on either side of the Mapledurwell road. No bridges remain between here and Basing.

The line between Mapledurwell and Lukes swing bridge has been filled and levelled so that no trace remains. After this the bed is dry and overgrown to Hatch, when the canal is again lost until just past Cuckoo Bridge. Between this point and Basing the bed is in good condition, even holding water in parts, although there is still a lot of undergrowth. The towpath is fairly penetrable here. In Basing the canal is filled. The bed is a dry "moat" round Basing House. From Red Bridge onwards to Basingstoke, the canal is partly filled.

By 1930 little of the Canal in Basingstoke remained; there was a timber yard on its site at this time, with a small pool to the east draining through a pipe where Eastrop Bridge used to be. The canal probably retained only a trickle of water at this end by then. Basingstoke Bus Station has now been built on the site, and there is no trace of water between Basing and Basingstoke.
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Work has already begun on the M3 motorway, which will have a great influence on the future course that the canal could take into Basingstoke. The motorway is to run south-west from London. It will pass the west portal of Greywell Tunnel 750 yards to the north. It will then converge on the old line of the canal, crossing it at Hatch, on the site of Hatch footpath swing bridge. Because the canal is non-existent at this point, no plans have been made to accommodate it. In fact, the level of the motorway road surface will be only a few feet above true canal water level.

The Greywell Road (C.58) is to be realigned to cross the motorway at a convenient point, and the new road will be built partly along the line of the canal bed, through the site of Lukes swing bridge. Public footpath "Basing No. 24" will also be realigned; when its course reaches the M3 a new path will run south of the motorway until it meets public footpath "Mapledurwell No. 1" at which point both paths will cross by a new footbridge.
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The large area of derelict canal land which forms a cutting just to the west of Little Tunnel Bridge is ideally suited to the construction of a canal basin of fair size. Apart from the rebuilding of Penny Bridge, the canal bed could be reclaimed up to this site without much difficulty, it is at present unused and derelict. Access to the site is straightforward from the adjacent minor road to Mapledurwell from C.58. The basin could be excavated with a minimum of engineering work. Hidden by the sides of its cutting, it would in no way detract from views of the surrounding countryside. To go further west would involve re-excavation of parts of the canal which have been eliminated and which now have other uses.

To construct a basin to the east would require the use of adjacent farm land, or, if nearer the tunnel, a large amount of excavation would become necessary.
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There are three principal ways whereby the tunnel could be reopened to navigation:

1. By opening out the tunnel and forming a cutting above the blockage including excavating the soil to its angle of repose, forming drainage channels into the canal along the cutting, building new portals to the exposed tunnel entrances, landscaping or re-afforesting the cutting and returning the land to its owner.

2. By constructing shafts down to the estimated or investigated position of roof falls in the tunnel, excavating the blocked earth, making good and strengthening the tunnel roof, forming ventilation shafts to the tunnel above the falls, refilling the soil around the shafts, draining the depressions above the tunnel and rebuilding the western portal.

3. By constructing a protective, moveable shield, erecting it in the tunnel, draining the depressions above the tunnel, removing the fallen clay and other material on barges, strengthening and rebuilding the three ring brick arch roof, moving the protective shield along as work proceeds, and rebuilding the western portal.

The first method is the most expensive and laborious. The third method would appear to be the cheapest, providing no unforeseen hazards are encountered. Method 2 would achieve the same result as method 3 but is proportionately more expensive.
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THE SURREY AND HAMPSHIRE CANAL SOCIETY was formed in 1966 to campaign for the restoration of the Basingstoke Canal. From the outset the committee made continuous and determined efforts to seek the co-operation of the owners in improving the waterway and arresting further decay.

Within 18 months of formation membership had grown to over 500, and continues to rise. As this figure includes many family and corporate subscribers, total membership runs into several thousands. People from all walks of life have joined. The biggest single reason for their interest is a desire to see the Canal improved and a belief that restoration would provide a valuable amenity for a wide variety of recreational activities.

The Society directs its campaign through the Press, letters to editors, exhibitions at local events, lectures and public meetings. For members the Society organises boat trips, rambles, social events and issues a regular newsletter. During the Summer months members assist the National Trust by manning Bowers Lock on the River Wey.
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THE INLAND WATERWAYS ASSOCIATION is a national association open to everyone with an interest in canals and navigable waterways. Its aim is to promote the multi-purpose use, maintenance and development of the inland waterways of the British Isles.

The special aim of the Association is to seek the restoration to good order of every navigable waterway and to encourage the fuller use of them by both commercial and pleasure traffic.

The Association directs its campaign by holding boat rallies, organising public meetings, social activities for members and through the publication of national and regional journals. At the same time the Association believes in co-operating as closely as possible with the owners and administrators of our waterways.

The Association has always shown a particular interest in the future of the Basingstoke Canal. In 1962 the London and Home Counties Branch held the first of its annual rallies of boats on the Waterway at Woking.

For further information on the work of these two organisation and full details of membership write to:-

The General Secretary, The Inland Waterways Association Ltd., 114 Regents Park Road, London N.W.1.

The Hon. Secretary, The Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey.
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"A Strategy for the South East"
A first report by the South East Economic Planning Council published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 1967

"Pilot National Recreational Survey"
Written by H.B.Rodgers and sponsored jointly by the British Travel Association and the University of Keele. 1967

"British Waterways : Recreation and Amenity"
Published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 1967

"The Canals of Southern England"
By Charles Hadfield, published by Phoenix House Ltd.. 1955

"London's Lost Route to Basingstoke"
By P. A. L. Vine, published by David & Charles. 1968
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Last updated April 2006