SURREY AND HAMPSHIRE CANAL SOCIETY
Newsletter No. 15September 1968.
In the coming months, members may notice some changes in the newsletter. It will continue to keep abreast of society activities and any matters involving the future of the Basingstoke Canal, but it is hoped to widen the scope of the editorial content to include a correspondence column and contributions from members other than the committee.
At present, the printing of the newsletter is a mammoth task, involving duplicating some 700 copies. Up to now this has been done on a borrowed machine. But in view of the rapid growth of the society, and the increasing amount of paper work involved, the society has purchased its own, electric duplicator. This will enable us to present a bigger, brighter newsletter in future.
A newsletter Editor has been appointed: Miss June Sparey, 76 Basingstoke Road, Reading, Berks, and any editorial material should be sent to her as soon as you receive this and future newsletters for inclusion in the next edition. The newsletter will be produced at regular, six-weekly intervals in future.
The Editor welcomes any comments - or criticisms - you may have about the Society and its work, together with any ideas for future activities, or questions on Society policy.
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Once again we welcome many new members who have recently joined. As a canal society, the Surrey and Hampshire must be unique for the cross-section of public interest it represents.
Our membership can probably be split into three categories: boat owners and canal enthusiasts: naturalists - including anglers, ramblers and lovers of the English countryside: and our "moral" supporters.
The committee greatly values and appreciates the support given by all our members, whether they take an active part in supporting society activities, or offer moral support by joining as a means of protest at the condition of the Basingstoke Canal. The strength of the Society lies in the many voices of public opinion it represents, and their diversity of interest.
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BASINGSTOKE CANAL: THE CASE FOR RESTORATION
A reminder that this Society publication is being launched on September 26. It gives all the facts about the history of the canal to the present day, and gives in detail our policy and the facts upon which we base a case for its restoration. The booklet contains estimates of three alternative schemes for restoration, maps, photographs and diagrams. Members can obtain copies at a reduced price of 4s. each, including postage, by filling in the application form enclosed and return≠ing it to the secretary before October 1.
As far as the present position on the canal's future is concerned, a joint meeting between representatives of Surrey and Hampshire County Councils was held at the beginning of August. No statement was issued after this meeting, and we can only assume that it was a preliminary discussion on the question of whether the canal should be taken into public ownership.
However, delegates at the meeting had before them a draft copy of our publication, which was welcomed by several of the councillors to whom it was sent. One county council member described it as "quite the best and most constructive" document on the Basingstoke Canal that he had read - which gives some encouragement.
The Society is to some extent boxing in the dark as far as the county councils' attitude to the possibility of the canal being taken into public ownership is concerned. And it looks like being some time before any light is shed on the subject.
But here our members can most definitely help. We have it on good authority that a positive decision - one way or the other - will be taken. But these things take time. If you can spare a moment, please write to your county council representative, asking what the position is, when a decision will be taken and other pointed questions. It may be that by sheer weight of public opinion we can speed up what is too often a lengthy process.
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September 2 1-22: A reminder that this Society is supporting the effort by the Inland Waterways Association and the Peak Forest Canal Society in clearing part of the Peak Forest Canal in the Manchester suburbs. All accommodation, is being laid on, but if you want to join this working party and would like further details, please write to: Robin Higgs, 18 Barnsford Crescant, West End, Woking, Surrey, tel: Chobham 7155 (day tine).
September 29: The Wey Cruising Club has invited us to their annual watermanship competition between Newark and Papercourt Locks on the River Wey navigation. Both competitors and spectators are invited, and additional information can be obtained from; Mr. Michael Grimshaw, Smalldrinks, Dartnell Avenue, West Byfleet, Surrey.
October 5: The Society is holding a members' boat trip on the River Wey. A fleet of boats will leave Mill Mead, Guildford, at 10.15 am (near Plummers store, ample parking facilities) and cruise to Godalming for lunch. The return trip will start from Godalming at approximately 3p.m., arriving at Guildford about 6p.m. There will be room on boats for members, and if you want to bring your own boat please contact Mr. L. Harris, 198 Hermitage Woods Crescent, St. John's, Woking, for details.
October 10: One of our committee members, Mr. Dieter Jebens, will be speaking to Southampton Canal Society. Any of our members in the Southampton area who would like to attend should contact the secretary of Southampton Canal Society, Mr. Pearce, 4 Somerset Avenue, Bittern, Southampton (Tel: 49660) for details of venue etc.
October 12 & 13: The narrow boat Jason is making two trips on October 12 and 13 from Little Venice, London, along 30 miles of the Grand Union Canal and via eight locks to Rickmansworth, Herts. This is a one-way trip and anyone wishing to go is advised to take a picnic lunch and hot drink. The cruise departs at 9.30 from Little Venice and anyone wanting tickets at £1 each should apply to John James (Little Venice) Ltd, Canaletto Gallery, opposite 60 Blomfield Road, London W. 9.
November 23: Members are given advanced warning that we are holding a jumble sale at the Jubilee Hall, Farnborough, Hants. Mrs. Wendy Walker, 6 Carleon Close, Farnborough, is willing to collect jumble and hear from helpers.
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Our postage bill is likely to rise by about 30 per cent when the new postal rates come into force. At present, we make a considerable saving through the kindness of a volunteer band of members who deliver newsletters within a short radius of their homes. Through this, only a third of our newsletters have to be sent via the GPO.
But we need additional postmen for the following areas: Aldershot, Woodham/Shearwater and Church Crookham, and in Fleet - the areas near Pondtail (nine deliveries only required) and between Fleet Road and the railway.
The only work involved is making sure that members in your area get their newsletters every six weeks. Anyone who can help is asked to contact the secretary or, in the case of Fleet members, the area postman Mr. D. Gerry, 10 Fairland Close, Fleet. Your help can save us more money - an excellent cause!
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As some members may know, the Society has the use of a piece of land at Ash, close to Ash Vale Station. The land possesses a hut, and one of our members has had the idea that others might like to join him there for informal get togethers on certain evenings, for a chat and a bit of decoration if they feel like it. This is a splendid idea, and one which should be encouraged, since it not only makes good use of the property but enables members to meet informally.
Anyone interested should contact Mr. D. Romaine, 65 Church Road, Addlestone, Surrey, who has offered to do the organising.
While on the subject of our hut at Ash - we urgently need a Tilley lamp for illumination. Can any member oblige?
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The secretary urges members NOT to send loose cash through the post, but preferably to send cheques or postal orders by registered mail. There have been one or two instances where letters containing cash have gone astray.
Anyone requiring a copy or copies of our revised constitution should send a stamped, addressed envelope to the secretary.
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THE RAMBLERS' ASSOCIATION
Our rambling members might be interested to know that the Wessex branch of the above society is supporting our plans for the establishment of a long distance footpath along the Basingstoke Canal. They are paying particular attention to the Basingstoke end, and recently held a ramble over public rights of way and the tow-path west of Greywell Tunnel.
BOATS FROM THE BASINGSTOKE'S PAST - 4 - by Tony Harmsworth
I have been asked on many occasions about the two old iron narrow boats which lie in the small flash above the bottom lock of the flight of fourteen locks at Brookwood. But very little is known about them.
They are thought to be the "Maudie" and "Ada" - owned by Nateley Brickworks and offered for sale between 1906-7. They were bought by a man from Richmond, who collected them from Nateley with his wife and children. The family, living in the cabins, began bow-hauling the boats down the canal. Maintenance work was being done on the bottom lock of the fourteen, so they had to wait above the lock. While they waited, the family contacted diptheria.
The children were taken to an isolation hospital in Guildford and the parents left the boats. The tolls and dues were not paid, and the owner never returned.
The boats were later moored in the flash, where they later sank, a reminder of a canal tragedy.
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LEARN ABOUT THE BASINGSTOKE
Many of our members must only know the Basingstoke as it affects their own particular area. And if they live in a place where weeding up and silting has become severe, they might like to explore some of the more attractive parts of the canal.
We would like to urge ALL our members to "discover" the canal - and use it. A short walk along the towpath once a week can help to keep it clear, and members may remove anything which impedes their progress, such as brambles or saplings - but gently, of course!
But it is important that the canal - even in its present state - should be used, and that it should be seen to be used. With this in mind, we are starting a series of articles about interesting features of the canal and where to find them. They will provide an idea for an afternoon's outing, and may help members appreciate what an amenity the canal could be. In view of the interest shown in Tony Harmsworth's series on old Basingstoke boats, it is hoped to issue these as a separate publication in the near future.
Our first suggested ramble covers the area taken by the Ramblers Association. Anyone intending to follow our advice and take a stroll along the Basingstoke would find the relevant section of the Ordnance Survey map useful.
Start from Up Nateley Church, near where one can park the car. Take the unmade cart track opposite the church and follow the lane down a slope for a quarter of a mile to a typical humped canal bridge. Turn right on to the old towpath, which has recently been cleared to give access. In less than half a mile Eastrop Bridge is reached, with some excellent samples of rope wear in the brickwork caused by the towing barges that once used the canal.
Press on through the overgrown towpath and in another quarter of a mile the western end of Greywell Tunnel is reached. Traces can be seen of the old towpath where barge horses would turn off to cross the hill to the other end of the tunnel. You can now walk on over the hill or go back to the car. If you decide on the latter, either retrace your footsteps, or walk back to Eastrop Bridge and cross the canal, following the lane for 200 yards when the lane turns sharp left. Now turn right along a public footpath across the fields to Nateley Church and the car.
Total distances: About 2 miles there and back.
Details of other short walks to places of interest along the canal will be included in future newsletters.
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A reminder that we would be grateful if members who see anything in their local newspapers about the Basingstoke Canal could send cuttings to Mr. Paul Dyson 53 Wyke Avenue, Ash, Aldershot, Hants. The committee manages to see most local papers but there are one or two blank spots and we would appreciate members' co≠operation in keeping us informed about what others are saying.
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