Martin Leech

Jun 062019

The Woking Town Wharf on the Basingstoke Canal (right) was officially opened at a short ceremony on Friday 31st May.

Those present at the ribbon cutting ceremony aboard the Society’s trip boat Kitty (below) included Councillor Colin Kemp, Councillor Saj Hussain (Deputy Mayor), Mrs Farra Shahi (Deputy Mayoress) and Philip Riley (Chairman of Basingstoke Canal Society), with around 80 members of the Society, the BCA and the general public in attendance.

Created in 2018, the Town Wharf project was funded as a joint initiative by Woking Borough Council and Surrey County Council with a contribution from Basingstoke Canal Society. River and Canal Services were the main contractor, who are a local specialist company for Inland Waterways. working with James Taylor of the BCA and engineer Steve Williamson.

The new Town Wharf came about as an idea from Woking Borough Council and the Basingstoke Canal Society to attract visiting boaters to stop off in Woking, the idea being to encourage visits to Woking’s many and varied attractions and facilities as part of their longer visit to cruise the Basingstoke Canal.

The wharf also creates an attractive area for all to enjoy by the canal side, whether it be a lunchtime spot away from the office or a place to get a few minutes peace and quiet or a start point for a jog along the canal.

Woking Wharf Interpretation Board

Woking Wharf Interpretation Board (click on image, then on enlargement, and then on “+” symbol for close-up)

It also provides a focal base for the Woking trip boat Kitty and accessible trip boat Maggie G which have provided a new visitor attraction in the centre of Woking enabling all visitors and residents to have an opportunity to explore their local waterway by boat.

An interpretation board describing the history of the wharf area, paid for by the Surrey CC Community Fund, was also unveiled at the event (right).

It was generally agreed that the occasion provided a significant boost for the canal in Woking.

To see newspaper reports, click here and here, and to see Facebook coverage of the event, click here.

Many thanks go to Woking BC and Surrey CC for co-funding the wharf construction, to Richard Kelly for organising the ceremony, to the councillors and other guests who took time out to visit, and to Rob Locatelli of RCS for providing the refreshments.

Apr 252019


The Winter 2019 Edition of the Basingstoke Canal News is now online.

No 261: Winter 2019:

Editorial, Chairman’s report, Appeal to members, Help wanted – events, Winter work, Volunteer activity, QAVS Trophy, Odiham Boat Basin proposal, Murder on the Basingstoke Canal… and other more sedate cruises, Books for sale, BCS books for sale, Events, Canal d’Orléans, Canal Society General Meetings, BCS Membership, BCS information, Woodham Volunteers.

Apr 252019


NOTICE is hereby given that a Special General Meeting of The Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Ltd., (aka The Basingstoke Canal Society) will be held on Saturday 18th May 2019 in the Deepcut Village Centre, Swordsman Road, Deepcut GU16 6TB, Surrey,  commencing at 2.00pm for the following purposes:

To discuss and, if thought fit, to pass the following Ordinary Resolution:

“That a Resolution of the Executive Committee passed on 21st February 2019 pursuant to Article 12 of the Articles of Association of the Society to increase the subscription rates for membership to the following:

£15.00 (£1.50/month) Adult individual
£20.00 (£2.00/month) Joint/Household
£30.00 (£3.00/month) Corporate/Group
£0 Junior (under 18)
£200 Life membership

be approved”

This notice is issued from the registered office of the Company at Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, Buckinghamshire HP5 1WA.  The note appearing in the Notice of the Annual General Meeting setting out the right of a member to appoint a proxy applies to this Ordinary Resolution.


NOTICE is hereby given that the 42nd Annual General Meeting of the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society Ltd., (aka The Basingstoke Canal Society) will be held on Saturday 19th May 2019 in the Deepcut Village Centre, Swordsman Road, Deepcut GU16 6TB, Surrey, commencing at 2.15pm.

The formal Agenda for the meeting is as follows:-

  • To hear apologies for absence.
  • To confirm the minutes of the 41st AGM held on 19th May 2018.
  • To approve the Annual Accounts for the year ending 31st December 2018.
  • To appoint the Independent Accountants.
  • To elect or confirm the appointment of the members of the Board of Directors (Executive Committee).
  • To transact any other business relative to the Annual General Meeting of the Society.

By order of the Board of Directors,

Terry Inskip, Honorary Secretary, 28 February 2019.

Following the formal business of the AGM there will be reports from the Chairmen of the Canal Society and Boat Company, the presentation of the Robin Higgs Award and probably a showing of a historic waterway film.

AGM Notes:

  • The Society’s formal and correspondence address is: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA
  • Every member of the Society who is entitled to vote at a General Meeting is entitled to appoint a proxy, who need not be a member, to attend and vote in his/her stead. Forms of Proxy can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary.
  • Only paid-up members are entitled to attend and vote at the meeting.
  • Copies of the Accounts can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary prior to the AGM by email request, or upon receipt of an SAE. In accordance with normal practice the Accounts, when approved, will be published in summary in the Basingstoke Canal News.
  • Nomination forms for the election of the Board of Directors can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary.


Jan 092019

The February edition of the Canal Boat magazine published recently carried an 8-page pull-out section about the Basingstoke Canal. It is one of their cruise guides of the waterways around the UK. We thought it was very positive, saying “it’s worth the effort to discover a beautiful and interesting waterway”.

Canal Boat have kindly allowed us to republish the article here, for our readers’ interest. Click image to download.



Words and pictures by Derek Pratt – Copyright © Canal Boat Magazine 2019.


Nov 162018

The Basingstoke Canal Society was very pleased to have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2018, in recognition of the work done by volunteers over 50 years in helping restore and maintain the Canal for the benefit of the local community and visitors alike. HRH The Duke of Kent visited the Canal Centre on 13th November 2018 to meet some of the volunteers and to present the award. The photos and video below are a record of the event. Also, a press release has been widely distributed.


The glass trophy and certificate will be displayed in the reception area of the Basingstoke Canal Centre. The plaque has been moved from its temporary position in the mock-up long boat cabin to an adjacent pillar.

Click on any image above or below to start a slide-show.

Click here to view a video of the event (thanks to David Jackson for this).


Photos by: Roger Cansdale, Derek Taylor, Betty Hansell (BCA), Martin Leech

Nov 132018

HRH The Duke of Kent presenting the QAVS Trophy to Mr Kevin Redway, long time Basingstoke Canal Society volunteer. Also in the photo, the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Mr Michael More-Molyneux (left) and Mr Philip Riley, Chairman of the Basingstoke Canal Society (right).

HRH The Duke of Kent today (13th November 2018) presented the award to the Basingstoke Canal Society in recognition of the work done by volunteers over 50 years in helping restore and maintain the Basingstoke Canal for the benefit of the local community and visitors alike.

This unique UK national honour, equivalent to an MBE for voluntary groups, was created by Her Majesty to mark the golden Jubilee in 2002 and to recognise the outstanding contributions made to local communities by those groups.

It was particularly appropriate that The Duke attended this event since he formally opened the Canal when restoration was completed in 1991. The presentation took place at the Canal Centre at Mytchett, Surrey with around 60 Society volunteers representing the many hundreds who have helped over the years.

The Society was founded in 1966 following the publication of a letter in the local press suggesting that something should be done about then derelict Canal. A volunteer group was formed and they persuaded Surrey and Hampshire County Councils to support the full restoration of the Canal as a navigable waterway with the promise of voluntary labour. This involved extensive recruiting of volunteers and then the mammoth task included clearing the towpath along 32 miles of Canal, an 18 year dredging programme, restoring 29 locks and reinforcing embankments.  Restoration was completed some 25 years later, and the Society celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016.

The Award also recognises the Society’s continued work to support the Canal, including the operation of two trip boats which over the years have brought in about £800,000, monies which are used to fund maintenance and new projects.

Accompanying HRH The Duke of Kent was the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux. The Duke was introduced by the Chairman of the Canal Society, Philip Riley, to some of the 200 current volunteers, including the work parties who do some of the building project work, the crew of the trip boats and volunteers who support the sales and promotional work. He also had the opportunity to go aboard the John Pinkerton II 50-passenger trip boat, which was moored at the Canal Centre. There was no time to go for a trip but it gave HRH a chance to compare the new boat with the original “John Pinkerton” which took him for a trip in 1991. He then presented the glass trophy to Kevin Redway, one of the Society’s longest serving volunteers, who recalled that he had fallen in the canal for the first time at the age of 3.

In accepting the QAVS award, Mr Riley explained how when restoration of the Canal began, no-one knew how to do it, how long it would take or how much it would cost, but the early volunteers nevertheless all shared a passionate commitment to see the job completed. He said that having undertaken this huge effort, the Society membership have great affection for the Canal and wish to see it prosper and develop. On behalf of the Society, he expressed his sincere thanks for the award.


Click here to see photos and a video of the event. 


The Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society was founded in 1966 to campaign for the Basingstoke Canal to be taken into public ownership and restored to a navigable standard. This campaign was successful and the canal was acquired by the Surrey and Hampshire County Councils in the early 1970s. Following its acquisition, the Society entered into a partnership with the County Councils to restore the derelict canal.

The Society organised volunteer working parties which undertook a wide range of tasks. These included dredging 12 miles of canal in Hampshire, rebuilding 28 locks in Surrey, rebuilding bridges and weirs and clearing the towpath and offside banks. The work was completed in 1991 and the canal re-opened from the River Wey Navigation in Surrey to Greywell in Hampshire that year.

The Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society sees itself today as the guardian of the Basingstoke Canal.

It exists to:

  • Promote the use of the Canal as a navigable waterway and general amenity
  • Campaign for the responsible ownership of the Canal (this includes long-term sustainable funding, maintenance, water supply)
  • Support the managing authority (this includes fundraising, organising voluntary work groups etc)
  • Protect and conserve the Canal for the benefit of all
  • Seek opportunities for development and improvement of the Canal

The Society decided to re-name itself as the Basingstoke Canal Society last year to clarify its interests. Its original name was the result of a desire to avoid confusion with the New Basingstoke Canal Company that it was in conflict with in the 1960s over the Company’s intention to close the canal. Happily, the Society is on much better terms with the current owners, the Surrey and Hampshire County Councils, and both share a common aim for the future of the canal as a navigation and much appreciated local amenity.


Nov 112018

The Society was extremely disappointed to receive the recent announcement by Surrey and Hampshire County Councils to the effect that the proposed transfer of the Basingstoke Canal to the Canal & River Trust was not considered to be viable at the present time. In the opinion of the Society, the transfer would offer the most attractive option to secure the long-term future of the canal by integrating it more fully into the national waterways network.

The Society has supported the canal, both financially and in terms of volunteer effort, for over 50 years and it is fully committed to continue that support and to play a very active role in the Canal Partnership. In view of the recent decision by the County Councils, the Society believes that all the members of the partnership, including the District Councils and the special interest groups, should renew their undertakings to work with the County Councils in promoting the benefits of the canal and in supporting initiatives which will increase its income.

Philip Riley, Chairman of the Canal Society, said: “Clearly this is a significant set-back for the canal and leaves it in a position where there must be some uncertainty over its future. However, the fortunes of the canal have always been subject to wide fluctuations and this is just the latest chapter in its long history. I have no doubt that the canal has a bright future and we will enthusiastically work with our partners and with the local communities to achieve the secure and stable long term future which we all seek and which the canal deserves.”


Philip Riley, Chairman, Tel: 01256 702109. E-mail:


Notes: This is the text of the message from the Chairman of the Basingstoke Joint Management Committee to the members of the JMC:-

I would like to update you on recent developments regarding the potential transfer of the Basingstoke Canal away from the ownership of Surrey and Hampshire County Councils. During early October Senior Officers of Hampshire and Surrey County Council met with Canal and River Trust (the Trust) – it was  agreed that a transfer of the Basingstoke Canal assets was not viable at this time. We have agreed the canal operating and maintenance costs with the Trust, however neither landowning authority are in a position to raise the capital sums or take forward any of the alternative funding options offered by the Trust, to create the sustainable income for the canal necessary to facilitate the transfer.

The Trust has undertaken some work to assist in understanding the risks associated with owning and operating the canal. Our view is, based on initial feedback, that the risks are perhaps lower than our previous perception. This also weakens the case for transfer.

Officers agreed that there would continue to be cordial relations with the Trust, and will continue to tentatively explore alternative options with them, however, there are no immediate solutions that would be mutually beneficial to all parties. The Trust has confirmed that it is willing to explore other ownership and maintenance options that the councils wish to propose.

There are a few options that we are now considering to secure the long term financial sustainability of the Canal:-

  1. Continue exploratory talks with the Trust and identify if there are any further options for working closely together
  2. Develop an ‘invest to generate income’ programme (based on the approach Hampshire County Council are taking with their Country Parks)
  3. Explore potential partnerships with other organisations to align and exploit skills in order to reduce costs

If you have any questions, please do get in touch with either myself, James Taylor or Richard Plummer.

Mike Goodman
Acting Chairman – Basingstoke Canal JMC

Sep 172018

On the first Sunday in September we had the first ever Odiham Raft Race. Seven teams competed over a course that started at the North Warnborough lift bridge and ended some 2km East at Colt Hill. The fastest time of just over half an hour was set by the BCA team (right, and below right), thanks to the muscle power of four rangers and a cunning raft design that featured a wooden framework wrapped in layers of, yes, clingfilm. It looked flimsy but “Raft for Life” was very stable and inexplicably held together; well done Mark Foster, designer, builder and paddler.

Second fastest time, 47 minutes, was logged by “In Deep Ship”, just beating “BAD Idea”, the Basingstoke & Deane Canoe Club entry; the club also did a great job of providing canoe escorts for all the rafts. Fourth place went to the Galleon Marine entry “Blues & Twos” after surviving a capsize before they had even started. Just behind them came another two-man crew aboard the “John Sinkerton”, finishing well despite its name and a very low freeboard. Last in were the “West Street Wafters” and “Crafty Bu**ers”, who might have gone faster if their beer supply hadn’t run out.

Finally, there was a short race for children’s teams, with BAD Idea doing well again, hotly pursued by the West Street Wafters.

A trophy for the winners and medals all round were presented by Air Chief Marshal Sir Joe French, one-time Commander-in-Chief of RAF Strike Command (right, with the winning team). A great crowd turned out to watch the fun (below) and there seems to be plenty of support for making this an annual event.

Thanks are particularly due to Odiham Parish Councillor David Stewart, whose idea it was, Philip Riley, Chairman of the Basingstoke Canal Society, and Fiona Shipp, the Canal Manager, for allowing the lunacy to take place!  A special thanks should go to organisers and sponsors Arthur and Karen McCaffery of Galleon Marine for all their hard work preparing for and promoting the event. Arthur declared the day “a fabulous success”.

Thanks to everyone who took part – more than £500 was raised for the Canal Society to benefit the canal. For lots more photos and race report , see the Galleon Marine Raft Race website, and the newpaper report here.

Sep 172018

Those following the Society’s Facebook page may know that the results of the photography competition have been announced, and the resulting calendar for 2019 has been published and is now for sale.

There were a large number of entries (over 200) and the quality of photos submitted was very high. See for yourself the winning images that made it into the calendar.

To obtain your own copy, click this link and follow the instructions.  These will of course make ideal Christmas presents!


Sep 012018

To celebrate our very proud achievement of a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, around 150 Society volunteers, both past and present, recently gathered at the Basingstoke Canal Centre for a celebratory barbecue come hog-roast. It was a joint event with, and hosted by the Canal Authority, and we thank them for their involvement with setting up and providing some of the refreshments.

It was an opportunity for a lot of people who were involved with the restoration of the Canal to meet once again.

We put up several gazebos just in case it rained, but thankfully it stayed fine. Clearly if we hadn’t bothered with the cover then of course it would have bucketed.

HRH The Duke of Kent aboard JP I at the Canal re-opening in 1991, with then chairman Robin Higgs OBE.

As Chairman Philip Riley explained, it was initially thought that the QAVS award (which consists of a glass trophy and certificate signed by Her Majesty) was going to be presented at the event by perhaps the Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey. However we subsequently heard that a senior royal had taken an interest in making the presentation, and we have been notified that HRH The Duke of Kent will be doing this on November 13th. Further details about the arrangements for this event will be announced. It is of course fitting that The Duke should be attending the Canal again since he was present at the original re-opening in 1991 (right).

All in all, the celebration event seemed to go well – and all the pork was eaten!

If you would like volunteer on the Basingstoke Canal, read about the various ways you can become involved.