July 1968

Secretary's report
Case for Restoration
Boats fr the Bas's Past -4

Contact the Society



Newsletter No. 14July 1968

The Society now has a membership of about 600, after less than two years, which is a record to be proud of. But what of the future? All of you know the problems associated with the Basingstoke Canal, and that as a Society we cannot do any constructive physical work to preserve it.

But your committee has tried several ways of keeping members' interest, and at the sane tine doing something for the waterway. Our last working party for some time was held at Ash Vale on June 30 and this was followed by a barbecue which was well supported. People who turn up for working parties have always managed to find plenty to do, but after our few attempts we have found it is only the die-hards who continue to arrive, and it is obvious they are only interested in serious work. For this reason, we are supporting the Ashton-under-Lyne Canal's working party in September, details of which are included in this newsletter.

We appreciate that many of our members are only interested in the canal as it affects their immediate vicinity, and have little interest in sections a few miles away - yet alone other canals. Perhaps this was the reason we had only four enquiries when the proposed narrow boat trip on the Kennet and Avon Canal was suggested. This has had to be cancelled for lack of support.

One of our other activities has been the manning of Bowers Lock on the River Wey. Last year it wag manned every Saturday and Sunday from Easter to the beginning of October. This year we have had members there for only three days. They were all new members: Messrs. Cook, Bower, Green and Miss S. Crow. Where have all our old lock keepers vanished to?

We appreciate that there is little physical work taking place, but there is plenty of campaigning to be done. But this is your society - and we would walcome any suggestions from members on things they feel we ought to do. So if you have any bright ideas, tell us.

We note with regret that this will be the last newsletter for some of our founder members who have not renewed their membership. We hope they have just forgotten!

Regarding latest developments on the Basingstoke Canal: wo know there is to be a joint meeting of the relevant committees of Surrey and Hampshire County Councils this month. This is certainly a step in the right direction, and we will keep you informed of any developments.
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This is the publication that officers of the Society have been working hard on during recent months, and which we are publishing in September/October. It contains historical facts about tho canal, details of its present condition and a strong case for restoring the canal as a through and working waterway, based on our policy for restoration with a breakdown of restoration costs, maintenance and income. Tho booklet will contain 50 pages with maps, photographs and other illustrations.

We are now taking advance orders from members only for our book. The price after publication date will be 4s.6d. but for orders received before October 1 we are charging 4s. including postage. A form is included at the end of this newsletter for advance orders. Receipts and acknowledgements will be sent only if the order is accompanied by a stamped, addressed envelope. Copies will be sent as soon as we receive them from the printers.
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August 17-18: Canal ramble organised in conjunction with the Inland Waterways Association. Meet August 17 at Brookwood Station, 1O.45 am. Ramble will go from Brookwood via Deepcut, Frimley Aqueduct to Ash Barge Yard (adjacent to Ash Vale Station) to stay overnight. On the 18th, we leave Ash Vale at 10.30 am. continuing through Ash and Aldershot to Fleet.

Anyone wishing to camp the night is invited to make use of the barge yard land, although many members will probably find it more convenient to return home.

September 20-22: Ashton-under-Lyne Canal working party. This is a Mammoth effort by the Inland Waterways Association and the Peak Forest Canal Society and has the blessing of the British Waterways Board. Volunteers - about 500 they hope - will be clearing out one and a half miles of this canal in the Manchester suburbs. The working party will be highly organised, with accommodation (in huts) provided, cooking facilities and some equipment laid on. This is a project well worth supporting as it is vital to the Cheshire Ring canal system.

Coaches are leaving from London at 30s. return, or there nay be some vacant car seats going. If you want to join this working party, please contact the secretary immediately, or write to Robin Higgs, 18 Barnsford Crescent, Went End, Woking, Surrey (Tel: Chobhan 7153 during the day) for more information.
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As usual, our thanks are due to Dick Snell who has carted the Society stall around to fetes at one place or another almost every Saturday since the fete season started. We visually got several new members, and the stall does publicise the society's name in the areas it visits.

Mr. Snell also towed the pontoon - decorated as a canal sailing barge - in the Basingstoke Carnival. We have very few members in that area, and we hope it had a good effect.

The barbecue was well attended and helped raise money for Society funds - due mainly to Mr. David Vickers of Chiddingfold who provided the sausages and Mr. Paul Buck of Alton for the bread rolls. Our sincere thanks to them both.
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Many of our newer members will not be aware of this fund, since we have not publicised it except in the newsletter. Our object is to raise 150 to start building lock gates suitable for use at Ash Lock. The fund at the moment stands at 52 15s. so we are a third of the way there already. Any donations should be sent to tho Treasurer, Mrs. Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey.

Crovalds Services Ltd, of 105 Straight Road, Old Windsor, Berks. (Tel. Windsor 60393-4) have kindly offered members 10 per cent off orders over 5. They sell trailers, engines, boat chandlery etc.

Hostelcraft Ltd. 2 Waverley Road, Fordingbridge, Hants, run narrow boat holidays. They have offered members 10s. a week discount. Please mention the Society if you write to them.
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Brief history of the Basingstoke Canal, with map - 1s.
Basingstoke Canal: The Case for Restoration, 4s. post free if ordered before October 1.
English Canals Part II - Engineers and Engineering, 15s. post free if ordered through the Society.
We can also supply any of Messrs. David & Charles or Messrs. Ian Allen's publications post free.
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Tho narrow boat "Robin", now sunk in Angler's Flash, Ash Vale, was supplied to the Inland Water Transport Executive by C. W. Beckett of Kingston and came fron the Grand Junction Canal in 1915 under the emergency powers existing at that time. It was used extensively on the Basingstoke Canal during the First World War, and was based at Aldershot.

It was sold by tender in 1920 and was bought by Mr. A. J. Harmsworth. The cabin was taken off and the boat was put into service as a lightening craft, working between Weybridge and Woking carrying timber and coal. At the outbreak of the second World War it was moored in Mytchett Lake and used as an anti-invasion obstacle, and was moved to its present position in 1945 where it consequently sunk.
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BOOK REVIEW - by Flo Woolgar
English Canals Part II - Engineers and Engineering, by D. D. Gladwin, and J. M. White (published by tho Oakwood Press, 15s.)
For me, a mere woman, to digest a book on engineering would seem most unlikely, but I must say I found this book very readable and entertaining. It left me in awe of the engineers who perfomed what to me seem near miracles in the days when canals were dreamed up and became realities.

The book is illustrated with copious maps, diagrams and photographs, and many references are made throughout the text to typical engineering achievements which can be visited. I was very interested to learn how a canal evolved, how locks came to be invented, and the ingenuity behind lifts and inclines, few of which unfortunately remain today. A section on "dreams" - canals which were projected but never came to fruition left me dreaning of what could have been. Still, better get the Basingstoke restored first!

Sec: E.J.Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey. Tel: B'wood 4064
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Last updated April 2005