Martin Leech

Mar 152020

14 March 2020

The issues are well publicised. For The Basingstoke Canal Society, there are two main concerns.

  • The safety of all our volunteers, their families and those we come into contact with, and
  • Doing what we can to help reduce the risk of any additional pressure on the medical services and the NHS.

Accordingly with immediate effect, we plan to implement the following:

  • Boat trips – Our trip boats Kitty and John Pinkerton will temporarily cease operations. We will be contacting those who have already booked trips where required.  For more information, see the John Pinkerton Canal Cruises website.
  • Saturday Working Parties – Will be temporarily put on hold.
  • The Annual General Meeting – Which was planned for 16th of May will now either be deferred or conducted by some form of electronic webinar. Further details to follow.
  • Chobham Meetings – The Chobham meetings will be put on hold from the end of this month. All other local events are put on hold.
  • Lengthsmen – Recognising that in this role lengthsmen are meeting the public. Lengthsmen need to be aware of the ‘one meter rule’.
  • Other meetings – We are aware that there are various other meetings and work being done by volunteers behind-the-scenes. It is the volunteer’s choice if they wish to attend any small group meetings (or as above carry out Lengthsman duties). They should ensure they follow appropriate hand cleansing and other guidelines. Where possible we encourage the use of remote working technology including Skype to avoid unnecessary face to face discussions.

The above plans have been coordinated with the Basingstoke Canal Authority who are implementing similar changes.

We will of course review these decisions in line with developments.

We are sure that you fully understand the above and thank you for your help in ensuring that the Society does what it can to protect volunteers and canal users.

The Basingstoke Canal Society.

Aug 082019

If you are interested in seeing what the Society’s work parties, and visiting groups, having been working on over recent years, then see the updated photo album here. It starts with the most recent jobs. (Note that the file is quite large at 11Mb.)

Most of these works have been funded in full or in part by revenues generated by the Society’s John Pinkerton trip boat operation.

Aug 052019


The Odiham Raft Race is back by popular demand on 1 September 2019, following on from the roaring success of last year’s inaugural race. It will take place again from Colt Hill Wharf, Odiham.

Teams will build their own rafts in the weeks before the event, then race against the clock on the day. This year the rafts will set off at 5-minute intervals for a 2.2km (1.4 mile) paddle along the Basingstoke Canal.

It’s a slightly different course this year – rafts start from Colt Hill, turn around at Lodge Farm Bridge and come back again – so the racing will be condensed in a shorter section of the canal, with more overtaking, collisions, mutiny and general maritime mayhem than ever before!

It’s a fantastic day out for spectators young and old. There is no entrance fee, and alongside the fun on the water, there will food and drink, ice cream, activities and artisan produce on offer from stalls at The Wharf. There is car parking available.

The funds raised from this event will be used by The Basingstoke Canal Society to help keep the beautiful canal in the best possible condition so that we all can enjoy boating, walking, cycling and watching the diverse wildlife along its 32-mile length.

To find out more about entering a raft or coming along to watch, visit Galleon Marine’s raft race website (which has plenty of photos of last year’s event) or call them on 01256 703691.  Also, keep up to date with the Raft Race Facebook page.


About the Canal: The Basingstoke Canal is a beautiful waterway that runs for 32 miles across Surrey and Hampshire. The canal is both a popular recreational amenity for the community and an important wildlife habitat. It was restored from a derelict state in the 1970s and 80s by hundreds of volunteers and still substantially relies on volunteers for its upkeep to this day, working in conjunction with the Canal owners’ agent, the Basingstoke Canal Authority. Most of the waterway has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) since 1995, and Odiham lies on one of the most popular and scenic stretches. The Canal originally continued to Basingstoke (a total distance of 37 miles), but is not been passable beyond Greywell (Hampshire) since the Greywell Tunnel collapsed in 1932.

About the organisers: Galleon Marine Boatyard are the organisers and primary contact for the Raft Race. Situated at Colt Hill, Odiham, Hampshire, RG29 1AL, they offer rowboats, kayaks and canoes for hire and refreshments in their picnic garden on the Basingstoke Canal. They also provide boatyard services, boat storage and self-drive narrowboat holidays. The Basingstoke Canal Society are supporting the organisation and promotion of the event. As the guardian of the Basingstoke Canal, the Society promotes and campaigns for the sustainable future of the Canal as a navigation. Through the John Pinkerton Canal Cruises operation, it also raises money which is used to fund maintenance and improvement works undertaken by Society voluntary work parties.

 For more info please contact Ken Sankey, The Basingstoke Canal Society, Tel 07850 652769, or at

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.