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A Guide to the Basingstoke Canal
- Roger Cansdale, Dieter Jebens

1984 edition 1986 edition

1984 edition -
booklet front cover (21K)

CONTENTS
Woodham - Woking
St John's - Hermitage Woods
Brookwood - Deepcut
Deepcut - Mytchett
Ash Vale - Aldershot
Aldershot - Fleet
Fleet - Winchfield
Winchfield - Greywell
Greywell - Basing
Basing - Basingstoke

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map (40K) WOODHAM - WOKING
(3 miles)

* The entrance to the 37-mile long Basingstoke Canal is two miles south of Weybridge. A footbridge linked the two towing paths until it was demolished in the1950s.

* Restoration of Lock 1 has been undertaken by members of the Guildford and Reading branch of the Inland Waterways Association. Volunteers from the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society have been restoring the Woodham locks since 1975.

* Houseboats line the canal bank between locks 1 to 3. The homes were built on narrow boat hulls brought down from the Midlands in 1950. At least one boat arrived already converted with David Horsfell and family aboard. His entertaining book 'Adelina' recounts life afloat. The boat is still moored below lock 3.

* West Byfleet Station, a few minutes walk from Lock 3, makes a convenient starting point for exploring the bottom end of the canal. Three walks are suggested in the Society's book 'Walks along the Basingstoke Canal'.

* The last commercial barge came up the canal in 1949 loaded with timber for Spanton's Yard which was sited below Monument Bridge.

Houseboats on the canal below Scotland Bridge (David Robinson)  (19K)


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map (41K) ST JOHN'S - HERMITAGE WOODS
(2-1/2 miles)

* Woking Council plans to landscape the canal-side as part of the re-development of Brewery Road car park, immediately above Chobham Road Bridge (also known as Hospital, Victoria, or Wheatsheaf Bridge). The plan includes a quay, boatyard, mooring facilities and information centre around a canal basin.

* At Arthur's Bridge, a sixteenth century timbered barn has been sensitively developed and opened as a steakhouse and pub called the 'Bridge Barn' on the banks of the canal. With a children's play area (away from the water), picnic tables and mooring bollards, the full potential of this new hostelry will emerge when the canal is cleared.

* The 'Wheatsheaf' adjacent to Chobham Road Bridge, and the 'Rowbarge' at St. John's make alternative refreshment stops.

* Restoration of the Goldsworth locks (now often called St. John's) is due to the efforts of local Canal Society voluntary working parties, and visiting groups from the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, Waterway Recovery Group, Southampton Canal Society and members of the IWA's Kent and East Sussex Group.

* Above Hermitage Bridge, on the opposite side of the towpath, the gaunt 19th century asylum, today known as Brookwood Hospital, overlooks the canal. Soon to close, the establishment was once entirely self sufficient, growing its own produce in the extensive grounds.

Volunteers restoring Lock 11 at St Johns restoring Lock 11 (18K)


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map (39K) BROOKWOOD - DEEPCUT
3-1/2 miles

* Proceeding up the canal, the last public houses before Mytchett are the 'Nags Head' near Brookwood Bridge, and the station hotel which retains much of its Victorian character.

* Lock 15 is the start of the Deepcut 14 flight of locks raising the canal 97 feet over a distance of 2 miles. The massive restoration task was largely done bv unemployed young people working under a variety of Manpower Services Commission training schemes between 1977-53. Voluntary workers also made a significant contribution including laying a temporary mile-long railway supply line.

* Above Pirbright Bridge, just past the canal-side cottage, are the brick piers of a steel viaduct demolished in 1980. It carried a branch line between Brookwood station and Bisley rifle ranges. The line closed in 1952.

The canal passes close to the Guards Depot at Pirbright. The brick walls of a former Army swimming pool can be seen edging the canal between Locks 22 and 23.

* The two aits are named after their creators in recent times, the late Roy Fowles, and Fred Hill who dredged the Deepcut flight.

* Lock 28 was the site of a former wharf and dry dock. The latter has recently been restored. Adjacent is the lock-gate construction workshop built over an old swimming pool.

Restored lock 15 seen from Pirbright Bridge  (15K)


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map (39K)

The canal on the western side of Mytchett Lake. western side of Mytchett Lake (20K)

DEEPCUT - MYTCHETT
(3-1/4 miles)

* The 1,000-yard long cutting above Lock 28. which gave Deepcut its name, is 70 feet deep in places. Mature trees including beech and sweet chestnuts add even more shade to this seemingly remote length ot the waterway.

* Wharfenden Lake bordering the canal, is part of the Lakeside Country Club at Frimley.

* The two stop gates below Frimley Aqueduct, and one gate above, were built as safety precautions to seal the aqueduct off in the event of a burst. An earlier safety device was the provision of a gate shaped to the curvature of Mytchett Lake Bridge hole. Fixed on the bed of the canal underneath the bridge, the gate would automatically be raised by a rush of water in the event of the aqueduct being breached.

A house on the opposite bank to the tow-path immediately above the aqueduct was once a boathouse with skiffs for hire. Behind it stands the 'Kings Head', serving snacks and meals. The outhouses were formerly stables for barge horses.

* A new riparian pub/restaurant with picnic area, boat moorings and a slipway has been built above Mytchett Place Bridge.

* Mytchett Lake is Army property. The canal bank is a favourite Spot for pike anglers — 30lb specimens have been caught. Along with Angler's Flash and Great Bottom Flash, the lake is believed to have been a natural hollow which was enlarged to form a canal reservoir.

* Ash Vale Station makes a convenient starting point for the 6-1/2 mile walk along the canal towpath down to Brookwood for the return journey by train.


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map (44K)

Lock gates being installed in Ash Lock (David Robinson) Lock gates being installed in Ash Lock (16K)

ASH VALE - ALDERSHOT
(4 miles)

* Alec Harmsworth, the canal's owner from 1923 until he died in 1947, built barges and repaired them at his yard on the canal just above Ash Vale Station. 15 barges, 72ft 6ins long x 13ft lO-1/2ins wide, capable of carrying 75-80 tons or more, were built between 1918 and 1935.

The large corrugated iron barge building shed, later used as a boathouse. still stands. On the opposite bank barges were repaired — the last, 'Perseverance' was relaunched in 1946.

* The Swan at Heathvale Bridge is one of the few pubs on the banks of the waterway.

* Ash Wharf was once a busy trading centre. Pleasure boating was catered for by Knowles boathouse until 1949. The 'Standard of England' in Ash Hill Road is a convenient pub for food and a drink.

* Ash Embankment carries the canal 1,000 yards across the Blackwater valley. It was breached on the Hampshire side of the county boundary during the 1968 floods. Abandoned for over ten years, it required major restoration work, including re-puddling the water channel, completed in 1983.

* Ash Lock raises the canal to a final 195 feet above its junction with the Wey Navigation, and marks the start of the original 21-mile summit pound to Basingstoke.

* The first Aldershot Camp was established on the banks of the canal in 1854. The Army then purchased 10,000 acres of Aldershot Heath to build a permanent training camp.

* Aldershot Wharf, immediately below Wharf Bridge, was once a busy trans-shipment point far supplies to the Army and nearby market towns. A boathouse on the site was demolished in 1954. Now a slipway is planned for use in 1984.


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map (39K)

Wharf Bridge and the new lower A325 bridge. Wharf Bridge (9K)

ALDERSHOT - FLEET
(4 miles)

* The new bridge alongside Wharf Bridge and the two new bridges at Fleet are the lowest on the canal, with a headroom of 5' 6" above water level.

* There is a clear view of the main runway of the Royal Aircraft Establishment from the towpath at Eelmore.

Famous for the biggest air show in the world organised by the Society of British Aerospace Companies, the airfield started as an army training base for artillery observation ballooning in the 1890s.

Farnborough developed into ihe centre of early military aviation. Col. Samuel Cody's first experimental aeroplane flights were made locally and he used Eelmore Flash for testing waterborne aeroplanes.

* Eelmore is also the haunt of natural flyers — dragonflies. An unusually wide variety of species inhabit the area. Flashes have been set aside as nature reserves for water flora and fauna. The wooded banks were a noted spot for nightingales.

* Situated on the towpath side of the canal, west of Norris Bridge, is a storm water relief weir running into the Gelvert Stream. The let-off was formerly a pumping station supplying water for cooling purposes to the National Gas Turbine Establishment.

* Anyone wishing to explore the canal from Fleet and wanting to park a car can do so on the banks of the canal by Reading Road Bridge. A convenient place to launch canoes.

N.B. Enquiries for boat licences Should be addressed to: Canal Office, Ash Lock Cottage, Government Road, Aldershot, Hants.

* Anglers also need a licence to fish in the canal. Day or monthly tickets are on sale locally e.g. J.H. Barratt, newsagent, adjacent to Reading Road Bridge. Fish for carp at Pondtail, tench in Crookham Deeps and pike at Odiham, plus chub, gudgeon, perch, roach, rudd and bream. For further information send large SAE to: HBCAA, 24 Hampton Court, Woolford Way, Basingstoke, Hants.


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map (42K)

Dredging the canal adjacent to Dogmersfield Park Dredging the canal (14K)

FLEET - WINCHFIELD
(5 miles)

* The thirsty towpath walker [or boater] has only to cross the lawn of the 'Fox and Hounds', on the western outskirts of Fleet, to get refreshment.

* Slightly further from the canal but with closer ties is the 'Chequers' — a free house, a minute's walk from Chequers Bridge. The pub has been owned by the same family since the early 1800s and its existence mav well have prompted the original canal company to establish a wharf and winding hole at the bridge. Barge horses were stabled at ihe cottage by the bridge. The wharf is now an attractively laid out car park and picnic area.

* For a drink and a bite to eat the 'Barley Mow' at Winchfield is a good resting place. The adjacent canal-side car park also makes a convenient spot from which to explore the canal in either direction. Construction of a slipway is planned in 1984.

* Between Crookham and Dogmersfield, pill­boxes, concrete tank-traps and concrete footings in the towpath are reminders of defences hurriedly installed in fear of invasion by Hitler's Army.

* Dogmersfield House, originally the site of a medieval Bishop's palace can be seen across its own parkland from a point close to Blacksmith's Bridge. Replaced several times, the House was the scene of the first meeting between Henry VII's eldest son Arthur and Katherine of Aragon.

* The 'Great Gabion Wall', consisting of wire baskets filled with 1,500 tons of Oxfordshire stone, was built as a retaining wall to stabilise a cutting on the towpath side west of Blacksmiths Bridge. The 600-yard wall cost £80,000 to build.


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map 40(K)

'John Pinkerton' cruising near North Warnborough 'John Pinkerton' cruising (14K)

WINCHFIELD - GREYWELL
(5 miles)

* From Winchfield the canal follows the northern perimeter of Dogmersfield Park. Thankfully developers have not yet penetrated this remote, often densely wooded and tranquil length of the navigation. As many as five brick-arch accommodation bridges span the two miles between Barley Mow and Colt Hill bridges.

* Colt Hill was formerly a busy wharf. Such was the activity that 'The Cricketers', overlooking the canal and long since a private home, became too small a pub and the nearby Waterwitch' — formerly the 'New Inn' — was built. The small brick building opposite 'The Cricketers' was the original Wharfinger's Office.

* Cars can be parked at Colt Hill which is the operating base for the Canal Society's traditional style 56-seat trip boat 'John Pinkerton' named after the contractor who built the canal. Flowing boats and punts may be hired from Benford's Boat Station.

* A lift-bridge at North Warnborough was built by H.C.C. to replace an earlier swing-bridge. Boaters need a B.W.B. key to operate it.

* Some imagination is needed to visualise how the remains of King John's Castle once appeared. The King rode to Runnymede from the Castle to seal the Magna Carta in 1216. An aqueduct carries the canal over the Whitewater trout stream which once fed the Castle's moat.

* The 1230-yard Greywell Tunnel takes the canal 140 feet below ground level under Greywell House, home of the Earl of Malmesbury. Greywell is a typical and attractive Hampshire village. The 'Fox and Goose' has canal associations.


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map (43K)

Little Tunnel Bridge now a preserved building Little Tunnel Bridge (17K)

GREYWELL - BASING
(4 miles)

* In 1934 part of Greywell tunnel's roof fell in and the western portal collapsed. The final 5 miles of the canal were subsequently abandoned. Although the western entrance is now no more than a hole in the ground, the eastern end was given a facelift to commemorate European Architectural Heritage Year in 1976.

The Canal Society is considering various methods of restoring the tunnel so that a new terminus basin could, perhaps, be landscaped in the vicinity of Penney Bridge or Little Tunnel Bridge — now a listed structure.

* A 100-yard long arm was dug from the canal just west of Slade Bridge to serve the Hampshire Brick and Tile Company formed in 1897. The brickworks brought a short new lease of life to the canal.

The sunken hull of an old steam powered narrow boat, abandoned in Brickworks Arm at the turn of the century, was partially excavated in 1983 and parts of the 90-year old single cylinder 10 h.p. Haines steam engine recovered.

* 800 golden guineas were dug up below the walls of Basing House when the canal was being built. It was part of treasure, said to be worth £3 million, buried during Oliver Cromwell's epic 2-year siege of the fortified House.

* The line of the canal can be traced to Basing and beyond. Basing House Bridge is still intact and Slaughter or Red Bridge is visible although the bridge-hole has been filled in.


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map (49K)

A one shilling Basingstoke Canal token issued to the navvies who built the canal as wages for exchange at local shops (David Robinson) Basingstoke Canal token (14K)

BASING - BASINGSTOKE
(2 miles)

The canal terminated in a basin which is now the site of Basingstoke's bus station. The 'Goat and Barge' pub is a modern reminder of the town's former waterway link. More historic evidence can be found from photographs in The Willis Museum in New Street.

Built to serve the development of agriculture in central Hampshire, the canal was opened in 1796. In less than 30 years, the navigation was already in a state of decay and might not have survived but for numerous speculative plans to link it with other waterways. Unexpected developments also contributed.

In 1839 the waterway was used to carry materials for constructing the London and South Western railway. The establishment of Aldershot Camp brought a further revival of trade in 1854, Thirty two years later the canal was again restored to carry bricks frorn Up Nately.

Survival into this century was due to Alec Harmsworth who bought the canal in 1923 and operated it as a part of the family's haulage business.

The canal was sold by auction for £6,000 in 1949 and the New Basingstoke Canal Co. Ltd. emerged.

Restoration of the canal started in the 1970s under the ownership of the two riparian county councils with the active support of the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society formed in 1966, and other voluntary groups.

Join the Society and give your support to the canal's restoration. Write for details to: Bob Trott, Membership Secretary. 24 The Greenwood. Guildford. Surrey.

Maps based upon the Ordnance Survey with the sanction of the Controller of H.M. Stationery Office. Crown Copyright reserved.


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1986 edition -
booklet front cover (18K)

CONTENTS
Basingstoke - Basing - Mapledurwell
Up Nateley- Greywell - Odiham
Winchfield - Fleet
Pyestock - Aldershot - Ash Vale
Ash Vale - Mytchett - Deepcut - Pirbright
Pirbright - Brookwood - St Johns
Woking- Byfleet
Useful information

map (25K)

BASINGSTOKE - BASING - MAPLEDURWELL
(4-1/2 miles)

map (20K)
map details (17K)
Maps based upon the Ordnance
Survey with the sanction of the
Controller of H.M. Stationery
Office.
Crown copyright reserved.

canal token (14K)
One shilling token issued for
payment to navvies who dug the canal. The tokens were accepted by local shops and public houses.

* The Basingstoke Canal, opened in 1794 at a cost of £153,463, was 37 miles long from its junction with the River Wey Navigation at Byfleet to a basin in Basingstoke's town centre which is now a bus station.

* The canal was built to serve the development of central Hampshire's agricultural trade. Barges loaded with coal and fertilisers came down from London docks — returning with timber, chalk and farm produce.

* The line of the canal can be traced to the village of Basing and beyond. Visitors to the ruins of Basing House cross Basing House Bridge which is in a good state of repair. Red Bridge, sometimes known as Slaughter Bridge, is still visible although the bridge-hole has been filled in. The canal bed is plain to see in several places where it crosses roads in Basing village.

* 800 golden guineas were dug up beside the northern boundary wall of Basing House when the canal was being built. They were part of a treasure, said to be worth £3 million, buried during the Civil War. Defended by John Paulet, the 5th Marquis of Winchester, Basing House was besieged bv Roundheads for two years, falling to Oliver Cromwell in 1645.

Basing House, the largest private house in Tudor England, was completely destroyed — two small towers and the north wall are all that remain today.

* Construction of the M3 motorway irrevocably ended any hope of reclaiming the route to old Basing which was last navigated in 1913. The canal was threatened with closure due to lack of use and to prove that the Statutory Navigation still existed. Alec Harmsworth attempted to take his narrow boat Basingstoke through to the terminus. The trip from Ash Vale took 15 days and finally ran out of water in Old Basing, but the closure was averted. The last barge to reach Basingstoke wharf tied up in 1910.

* The canal was never a commercial success and owes its survival to speculative plans to connect it with other inland waterways and so link London with Bristol, Portsmouth and Southampton.

Little Tunnel Br (17K)

Local developments provided more practical support to help keep the canal alive. First in 1339. the waterway was used for carrying materials to construct the London and South Western Railway. Then in 1854 the canal was again revived to supply timber to build the first permanent military camp at Aldershot. Thirty-two years later the canal was restored and deepened to carry bricks from the newly opened brickworks at Up Nateley.

Survival into this century was due to Mr. A.J. Harmsworth who bought the canal in 1923 and operated it as a part of the family's haulage business until his death in 1947.

The canal was auctioned in 1949 and sold for £6,000 to a Committee formed by the Inland Waterways Association. In 1950 ownership was transferred to Mr. S.E. Cooke under the New Basingstoke Canal Co. Ltd.

* Restoration of the canal was started in 1973 when Hampshire County Council took over the 15-mile western end of the canal, from Aldershot to Greywell, following the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society's seven year campaign to save the waterway. Three years later Surrey County Council purchased the 16-mile eastern end which includes all but one of the canal's 29 locks.


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UP NATELY - GREYWELL - ODIHAM
(4-1/2 miles)

map (37K)
* The two canal bridges at Mapledurwell were demolished during the 1920s, but Little Tunnel Bridge remains intact and is now a listed building.

* The canal contains water as far as the site of Penney Bridge where the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society proposes a new terminus basin might be built as part of a plan to restore Greywell Tunnel.

* A 100-yard long arm was dug off the canal, just west of Slade Bridge, to serve the Hampshire Brick and Tile Company formed in 1897. The brickworks closed in 1908.

The sunken hull of the steam powered narrow boat Seagull. believed to be over 150 years old, was excavated and floated again in 1985. Parts of its 90-year old single cylinder 10hp Haines steam engine have been recovered and removed to the Waterways Museum at Stoke Bruerne.

* In 1932 part of the roof collapsed in the 1,330-yard long tunnel, 140 feet below Greywell Hill owned by the Earl of Malmesbury. As a result the last five miles of the canal to Basingsloke were abandoned. The tunnel's eastern portal was given a facelift to commemorate European Architectural Heritage Year in 1976. The collapsed western entrance is now no more than a hole in the ground. A colony of bats hibernates in the tunnel.

* Approaching the eastern end of the tunnel, the remains of Lock 30 can be seen. (cont -)

Added after the canal opened, the lock was built to enable the water level through the tunnel and beyond to be raised by 12" or so to assist navigation.

* A lift-bridge at North Warnborough was built by HCC in 1954 to replace an earlier swing-bridge. The present canal crossing is now due for replacement which is expected to be a bascule type bridge.

* The ruins of Odiham Castle stand close to the canal at North Warnborough. King John rode from the ca5tle to Runnymede. in June 1215, to seal Magna Carta. The nearby River Whitewater trout stream once fed the Castle moat.

* Two attractive rural pubs with canal connections are 'The Swan' at North Warnborough and 'The Fox and Goose', close to the tunnel, in Greywell.

* There is a car park at Colt Hill which was once a busy wharf. Such was the activity that the canal-side pub 'The Cricketers' closed when a larger pub 'The New Inn' was built which was renamed "Water Witch' in 1976 after a former narrow boat.

* The Canal Society'strip boat John Pinkerton operates from Colt Hill for part of the cruising season. Named after the engineer who built the canal, the 56-seat passenger boat is available for private charter, and makes public trips. Rowing boats and punts can be hired from Benford's Boat Station nearby.


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WINCHFIELD - FLEET
(8 miles)

map (41K)
* The canal follows the northern perimeter of Dogmersfield Park to Winchfield. Thankfully, the developers haue not yet penetrated this remote, often densely wooded and tranquil 1-1/2 mile length of canal from Broad Oak, featuring six brick-arch accommodation bridges restored to their original state.

* The 'Barley Mow' at Winchfield serves Courage ales, bar meals and snacks. The adjacent public car park and slipway make an ideal centre from which to explore the canal on foot or by boat.

* The 'Great Gabion Wall', consisting of baskets filled with 1,500 tons of Oxfordshire stone, was built as a terraced bank to stabilise a cutting on the towpath side west of Blacksmith's Bridge. The 60-yard long wall cost £80,000 to build.

* Overlooking Tundry Pond stands Dogmersfield House, once the site of a medieval bishop's palace. Replaced several times, the House was where Henry VII's eldest son Arthur first met Catherine of Aragon. Destroyed by fire in the 1970's, the house was repaired and is now a company's headquarters.

* Pill boxes, concrete tank traps and the footings for other anti-invasion obstacles, between Dogmersfield and Crookham, are the remnants of defences hurriedly installed in fear of invasion by Hitler's army.

At Chequers Bridge the former wharf is now a car park and picnic area. Close by 'The Chequers' pub pre-dates the canal. The free house has been owned by the same family since the early 1800s and remains an unpretentious local. It was once a regular haunt of boatmen who stabled their barge horses at the cottage adjoining the bridge.

* The swing bridge over the canal in Zebon Copse is the last of its kind on the waterway. At Malthouse Bridge the farmland surroundings give way to the conurbation of Fleet.

* Thirsty towpath walkers and boaters need only cross the lawn of the 'Fox and Hounds' on the western outskirts of Fleet, to get refreshments.

* The car parking area and wharf at Reading Road Bridge provide a convenient base for meetings of the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club. Reading Road, Pondtail and Wharf (A325 Farnborough Road) bridges are the lowest over the canal with a headroom of 5ft 10ins above water level.


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PYESTOCK - ALDERSHOT - ASH VALE
(6 miles)

map (44K)
* Situated on the towpath side of the canal, west of Norris Bridge, is a storm water relief weir running into the Gelvert Stream. The let-off was formerly a pumping station supplying water to the National Gas Turbine Establishment at Pyestock, used for cooling purposes.

* The first Aldershot Camp was established on the banks of the canal near Wharf Bridge in 1854. The Army went on to buy 10,000 acres of Aldershot Heath to build a permanent training camp.

* Famous for its air show, the airfield at Farnborough started as an army training base for artillery observation ballooning in the 1890s. It became the centre of early military aviation. Col. Samuel Cody's first experimental aeroplane flights were made locally, and he used Eelmoor Flash for testing waterborne aircraft.

* Aldershot Wharf was situated immediately below Wharf Bridge, once a busy trans­shipment point for supplies to the Army and local markets. On the other side of the bridge stood Hill's Boathouse which was demolished in 1954. There is now a car park and public slipway on the site.

* The original summit pound from Basingstoke ends at Ash Lock. The canal descends 195 feet, through 29 locks, to the junction with the Wey Navigation.

* Ash Embankment carries the canal 1,000 yards across the Blackwater Valley, marking the county boundary. Breached during the 1968 floods and left abandoned for ten years, the embankment required major restoration work, including clay re-puddling, completed in 1983.

* Ash Wharf was once a trading centre and later catered for recreation with pleasure boats for hire at Knowles Boathouse until 1949. For refreshments, cross the bridge to 'The Standard of England' or Poppy's Coffee Shop (opposite the boat chandlery) for Sunday lunch and teas.

* The Swan at Heathvale Bridge is one of the few pubs on the banks of the canal. It has a beer garden, and offers meals and snacks.

* Great Bottom Flash is a haven for wild fowl including the handsome Great Crested Grebe.


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ASH VALE - MYTCHETT - DEEPCUT - PIRBRIGHT
(4 miles)
map 50(K)
* Alec Harmsworth, the canal's owner from 1923 until his death in 1947, built barges and repaired them at his yard just above the railway bridge at Ash Vale station. He built 15 barges at the yard, each capable of carrying up to 80 tons, from 1918 to 1935. New barges were built in the corrugated iron shed, later used as a boathouse, while barge repairs were done on the opposite bank until 1946.

* Ash Vale station makes a convenient starting point for a 6-1/2 mile walk along the canal towpath down to Brookwood for the return journey by train.

* Mytchett Lake is Army property. The canal bank, on the western edge of the lake, is a favourite spot for pike-anglers — 30lb specimens have been caught. The lake, along with Great Bottom Flash and Angler's Flash, is believed to have been a natural hollow which was enlarged to form a reservoir for the canal.

* 'Potters', a new riparian pub/restaurant, with a picnic area, boat moorings and a public slipway, opened in 1984 above Mytchett Place Bridge.

* A house on the opposite bank to the towpath, immediately above Frimley Aqueduct, was once a boathouse with skiffs for hire. Behind it, the 'Kings Head' offers snacks and meals. The outhouses were formerly stables for barge horses.

 (20K)
Looking across Mytchett Lake to the canal along the western bank.

* The two stop gates, at either end of the aqueduct, were built to close it off in the event of a leak occurring in the aqueduct. An earlier safety precaution was a gate under Mytchett Place Bridge. Shaped to the curvature of the bridge-hole, it lay flat on the bed of the canal with the straight edge secured and hinged. The gate was intended to be lifted up by the rush of water resulting from a breach and effectively seal off the canal.

The original aqueduct, said to be lead lined, was extended around 1900 when the railway from two to four tracks wide.

* Wharfenden Lake, bordering the canal, is part of the Lakeside Country Club at Frimley.

* The 1,000-yard long cutting above Lock 28, which gave Deepcut its name, is 70 feet deep in places. Mature trees, including Beech and Sweet Chestnut, add even more shade to this seemingly remote length of the navigation.

* The Canal Cottage at Lock 28 was once a carpenter's shop and forge. The adjacent dry dock was excavated and re-built in 1984 by workers on a Youth Training Scheme after being filled in during 1939. In the nearby woodland, a workshop was built in 1979 over an old army swimming pool where new lock gates are constructed for the canal.

John Pinkerton being inspected in the restored dry dock at Deepcut.  (16K)


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PIRBRIGHT - BROOKWOOD - ST JOHNS
(4-1/2 miles)

map (19K)
 (3K)  (4K)  (4K)  (4K)
(l to r)
Deepcut lock 15 seen from Pirbright Bridge.
October 1986.
John Pinkerton entering Lock 17.
Fitting new gates in Brookwood Lock 17.
Voluntary workers restoring Lock 7 at St John's.

* The two aits are named after their creators in recent times, the late Roy Fowles, and Fred Hills who dredged the Deepcut flight.

* The Canal passes close to the Guards Depot at Pirbright. The brick walls of a former Army swimming pool, built inlo the canal, can be seen between Locks 22 and 23.

* The Deepcut flight of 14 locks lowers the canal bv 95 feet over a distance of two miles. The massive restoration task was largely done by unemployed young people recruited under various MSC train ing schemes, between 1977 and 1983. Voluntary workers also made a significant contribution, including laying a temporary railway supply line along a mile of the towpath.

* Above Pirbright Bridge, just before the lock and canal-side cottage, are the brick piers of a steel viaduct demolished in 1980. It carried a branch line from Brookwood station to the Bisley rifle ranges. The line closed in 1952.

* Proceeding down the canal from Frimley the first public houses are the Station Hotel which retains much of its original Victorian character and the 'Nags Head' near Brookwood Bridge.

* Above Hermitage Bridge, on the opposite bank, are the grounds of the gaunt nineteenth century asylum known today as Brookwood Hospital. It was once entirely self-sufficient, generating its own electricity, with its own dairy herd and growing all manner of produce in the grounds.

* Restoration of the Goldsworth locks (now often called St. John's) is due to the efforts of local voluntary workers, aided by visiting groups from the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, the Waterway Recovery Group, Southampton Canal Society and members of Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group. Great progress has also been achieved by 14-day long summer work camps attracting up to 80 workers.

* At St. John's, just above Kiln Bridge, a new pub 'Capstans' overlooks the canal in a pleasant new development including a wharf and mooring bollards. Across Kiln 3ridge, facing St. John's Lye, Jacey's Tea Room offers tea, coffee, snacks and light meals. In St. John's Road (cross the canal by Woodend Bridge), the 'Rowbarge' once served working boatmen.


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WOKING - BYFLEET
(5-1/2 miles)

map (38K)

* At Arthur's Bridge, a sixteenth century timbered barn has been attractively developed and opened as a steak house and pub named the 'Bridge Barn' on the banks of the canal, with mooring bollards, picnic tables and a children's play area (away from the water). The full potential of this new hostelry will emerge when the canal is cleared.

* Extensive residential development of the former Goldsworth Nurseries on both sides of the canal between Langman's and Goldsworth bridges, the new canal-side Goldsworth Relief Road, Victoria Way and the extensive re-development of Woking town centre have changed the character of the waterway. Least affected, if at all, is the pleasant length between Chobham Road and Chertsey Road bridges although the riparian recreational open space,opposite Brook House, is threatened with a large hotel complex. There's hope in the future use of the Brewery Road car park, above Chobham Road Bridge (also known as Hospital, Victoria or Wheatsheaf Bridge). A town quay, boatyard, mooring facilities and information centre, in a development around a canal basin, has been proposed.

* The last commercial barge came up the canal in 1349 with a load of timber for Spanton's yard which was sited just below Monument Bridge.

* West Byfleet Station, a few minutes walk from Lock 3, makes a convenient starting point for exploring the bottom end of the canal. Three walks are suggested in the Society's booklet 'Walks along the Basingstoke Canal'.

* Houseboats line the canal bank from Locks 1 to 3. The homes were built on narrow boat hulls brought down from Ihe Midlands in 1950. At least one boat arrived already converted with David Horsfell and his family aboard. His entertaining book Adelina recounts life afloat. Five other houseboats are moored above Arthur's Bridge and two at Hermitage Bridge.

* Restoration of Lock 1 has been undertaken by members of the Guildford and Reading branch of Ihe Inland Waterways Association. Volunteers from the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society have been restoring the Woodham locks since 1975.

* There are plans to replace the wooden footbridge that spanned the Wey Navigation at the junction to link with the Basingstoke Canal towpath.

narrowboat at Wey junction (14K)
Where boat and wildlife meet.... the canal's junction with the River Wey Navigation.


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USEFUL INFORMATION

N.B. The information given below is as printed in the 1986 booklet, and is, therefore not now valid.

Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society
An independent voluntary organisation formed in 1966 to campaign for public ownership and restoration of the Basingstoke Canal. The Society organises voluntary working parties and a small full time team to restore the canal in partnership with the local authority owners. Activities include a variety of social events. New members are always welcome.

Publications
'Basingstoke Canal —The Western Length' (Hampshire Recreation Department)
'Waterside Inns of the Basingstoke Canal'
'A History of the Basingstoke Canal'
'Towpath Walks by the Basingstoke Canal'
'Basingstoke Canal Restoration' (46 pps. fully illustrated, chronicling the canal's history, the campaign for public ownership and restoration progress since 1973)
Available from the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society.

Angling on the Canal
Organised in Hampshire by the Hampshire Basingstoke Canal Anglers Association. Hon. Secretary: Andre Grandjean,37 Mansfield Road, Basingstoke, Hants. RG22 6DX (Tel: Basingstoke 54381). Permits are issued on a daily or monthly basis from specified local shops. Season tickets application forms also available.

Angling along the restored Surrey length (down to Pirbright Bridge) is managed by the Basingstoke Canal Surrey Anglers Amalgamation. Tickets are available on the banks from bailiffs and Canal Rangers.

Boating Licences
Full details and tariff obtainable from: Boat Licence Clerk, Ash Lock Cottage, Government Road, Aldershot, Hants.

Canoe Club
The Hon. Secretary of the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club is: Mrs Trix Davey,84 Aldershot Road, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants, GU139NT (Tel: Fleet 621381)

Boat Hire
Rowing boats, punts and small motorised launches available for hire at: Benford's Boat Station, Colt Hill, Odiham, Hants. (Tel: Odiham 2895)

Trip Boat Service
The Canal Society operates the 56-seat John Pinkerton traditional-style narrow boat for 2-1/2 hour charter cruises and public trips from Colt Hill, Odiham,and Ash Lock, Aldershot. Bookings Manager: Tony Karavis, 12 Loddon Road, Farnborough, Hants. GU14 9NT (Tel: Farnborough 549037)

Canal Ownership and Management
The 32-mile Basingstoke Canal from Byfleetto Greywell Tunnel, is owned by Hampshire and Surrey county councils who are responsible for its restoration and management. If you wish to contact either local authority on matters relating to the canal, write or phone:

Hampshire County Council, Recreation Dept., North Hill Close, Andover Road, Winchester, Hants, SO22 6AQ. By phone: David Gerry, Canal Manager, Aldershot 313810.

Surrey County Council, County Valuer & Estates Surveyor, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DL. By phone: Gerard Brierley, Canal Land Agent, 01 541 9342.

(Photographs: Dieter Jebens, Clive Durley, David Robinson. Front cover illustration: Jutta Manser).

canal at Old Basing (9K) Odiham Castle (13K)
100 years ago . . . the canal passing through Old Basing . . . the remains of Odiham Castle.

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Last updated April 2006