Nov 1968

Where do we go from here?
Pen is mightier
Coming events
New sub-committee
Recent events
Boats from the Bas's Past -6
Opinion difference
Rambles no. 3

Contact the Society


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Newsletter No. 17November 1968

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? - by Dave Gerry, chairman
Some of you may well be wondering: where is the society going? The society is now two years old - and has practically nothing to show for it. Many members joined to get on with the work. Others joined to give moral support. All we have achieved appears to be a series of social events, the use of a piece of land at Ash for a headquarters, and a booklet published to strengthen our case for restoration of the canal. We are now entering our third year of existence and our position with the New Basingstoke Canal Company is stalemate. What hope, then, for the future?

Please believe me when I write that your committee are the most frustrated members the society has at present. But in spite of everything, we have made some progress. During the past year, the committee has officially had informal meetings with representatives of both county councils, and at least we are confident that our case for restoration is being carefully considered. You may now be quite certain that both county councils are aware of the views and wishes of our 680 members. A county councillor recently described us as "a responsible body of people" and said our booklet was, perhaps, a trifle optimistic, but it was well prepared and we should be very proud of it, since it did us great credit. This is encouraging, but we are still awaiting that vital indication from the county councils: do they intend to buy the canal, fill, it in, or revitalise it and preserve it for posterity.

So, our plan for the future must be to maintain and increase, if possible, the pressures that have been put upon our county councils. We can do this by continuing our policy of educating the general public on the amenity value of the canal, taking an active part in the society's affairs, increasing our membership, and by nagging at our local councillors. Our members have backed us up well so far - keep it up, and I am sure we can get this problem over the top of the hill.
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A reminder to those who have not yet completed and returned the questionnaire sent out with the last newsletter. This questionnaire will be a great help to the committee in planning future activities, and your co-operation will be very much appreciated. Anyone who has mislaid the questionnaire and would like another copy can obtain one by sending a stamped, addressed envelope to the secretary. Completed questionnaires should be returned to Mr. Robert Harris, 33 Crondall Lane, Farnham, Surrey, by December 1.

Almost every week the committee hears, either by letter or from conversation, of people who have grievances about the present condition of the Basingstoke Canal. This was particularly evident at a recent meeting the society held in North Warnborough, where many people were complaining about the canal. In its present position, there is little the society can do to help - although we like to hear of any particular problems people have. But if people with grievances could take them to the right quarter - your local council, your county council, or to the New Basingstoko Canal Company itself - it would not only help the society but also your problem might be expedited. The more letters that local authorities get about the canal and its present condition from disgruntled members of the public, the quicker they will make up their minds about its possible purchase. So please write, and if you don't get satisfaction first time, write again - and keep on writing until something is done. Public opinion is a mighty thing, and people who hold office in local government are there to help you. In case this has spurred someone to put pen to paper, the addresses of the county councils are: Hampshire County Council, The Castle, Winchester; Surrey County Council, County Hall, Kingston on Thames, Surrey. Good luck!
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Saturday November 16: Illustrated talk on the Kennet and Avon Canal by Ray Denyer of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust. Brookwood Memorial Hall (off Connaught Road, Brookwood, near Woking, by junction with Connaught Crescent) at 7.30 p.m.Saturday November 23: Jumble sale, Jubilee Hall, Farnborough, Hants. If you have any jumble or can help on stalls please contact Mrs. Wendy Walker, 6 Carlyon Close, Farnborough. Jumble can also be delivered to the following: Mr. L. Harris, 198 Hermitage Woods Crescent, St. John's, Woking; Mr. D. Gerry, 10 Fairland Close, Fleet.
Sunday November 24: Ramble on the Itchen Navigation, Hampshire, with the Wessex branch of the Ramblers association. Meet 10.15 a.m. outside Winchester Guildhall near King Alfred's statue. This is about three-quarters of a mile downhill from the main line railway station and there are car parks near the Guildhall. The party leaves at 10.30 a.m. sharp, and will ramble downstream for seven or eight miles, finishing mid-afternoon near Eastleigh main line station. Members needing assistance with transport or anyone who is willing to give lifts should contact Mr. D. Gerry, 10 Fairland Close, Fleet, Hants.
Sunday December 1: Another informal get together for members headed by Dave Romaine at Ash Vale Barge Yard, near Ash Vale Station, 3p.m. These meetings will be held regularly on the first and third Sunday of each month.
Sunday December 8: Working party at Ash Barge Yard. Fencing, hedging and ditching. Meet 10a.m. We could do with some barbed wire if anyone has any to spare.
Sunday December 15: Members' get together (as for December 1).
Saturday January 25: Annual General Meeting, Brookwood Memorial Hall, 7.30 p.m.
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Wanted: Postman for Camberley and Yateley/Blackwater areas to deliver newsletter. Please contact the secretary if you can help. Also someone to help with the Farnborough/Cove area. In this case contact the area postman, Mr. E. Tavender, 6 Gravel Road, Farnborough if you can help with newsletter deliveries in this area.

Notice is formally given that the Annual General Meeting of the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society will be held at Brookwood Memorial Hall on Saturday, January 25, 1969 at 7.30 p.m. In accordance with society rules, all nominations and items for the agenda, including amendments to the constitution, should reach the secretary by December 31, 1968.
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A fund raising sub-committee has been appointed to look into ways in which we can increase our income. Mr. Paul Dyson, 53 Wyke Avenue, Ash, Aldershot, Hants. has been appointed the society's sales manager to handle the sales of publications and other items. If any member has a bright idea of how we can raise money, Paul would like to hear of it.

Have any members (or their friends) any old tools or equipment which would be suitable for working parties? For example: spades, shovels, saws, scaffolding, hoists, winches - or a spare lorry. If you have anything along these lines which you would be prepared to lend/give to the society when the time comes, please write to Mr. L. Harris, 198 Hermitage Woods Crescent, St. John's, Woking, Surrey.
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At present there are nine people, including officers, serving on the society committee. Eight of them are seeking re-election at the AGM on January 25. For members who would like to know more about committee members, here are some biographical details of those seeking office next year:

Chairman: Mr. Dave Gerry, 10 Fairland Close, Fleet, Hants.
Dave is a 34-year old production engineer with a firm manufacturing domestic appliances and window blinds. Married, with two young sons, his interest in inland waterways began as a child, when his father took him for walks along the Lee Navigation.

Dave was a founder member of Fleet and Crookham Amenity Society, and served actively on its committee for several years. During this time he organised working parties to clear rubbish from the Basingstoke Canal from Norris Bridge to Malthouse Bridge. A member of the society since its inception and its first chairman, his spare time hobbies are gardening, wine-making and photography.

Vice-chairman; Mr. Les Harris, 198 Hermitage Woods Crescent, St. John's, Woking.
Les's interest in canals and boating began in his early 20s, when he went for a holiday on the Norfolk Broads, graduating to a Thames holiday from Chertsey to Oxford. His canal-side home (chosen specially) possesses a large marquee at the bottom of the garden - a Godsend for people wanting to work on their boats. He has lived at St. John's since 1960 and was a volunteer bailiff under the scheme instituted by Mrs. Joan Marshall, general manager of the New Basingstoke Canal Co., doing this job until her resignation. Les is a founder member and has held two boat licences for the Basingstoke Canal until this year, when the company refused to relicence his craft. He has travelled extensively on Britain's waterways with wife Pat and son Laurence, aged four, in their cabin cruiser Santon; attending national rallies at Stratford on Avon, Leicester and Liverpool. He is employed by the Greater London Council as a building surveyor in its valuation department. His other interests include walking, cycling and Roman roads. At present he is tracing a Roman road from Guildford to Bagshot and beyond, and is also interested in finding the Winchester to London road, traces of which appear to exist today. His ambition: to see the canal restored.

Secretary: Mr. Jim Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent Brookwood, Woking
A letter from Jim to local newspapers back in 1966 really set the society going: it was from the response from other people that the society was formed. Aged 29, he works as a water treatment engineer, spending a lot of time travelling around the country.

He has long been interested in canals, especially the Basingstoke. After spending several years at sea as a marine engineer, he moved to Brookwood because the house had the canal at the bottom of the garden. The society takes up most of his spare time, but he has recently bought a cabin cruiser called (appropriately) the Basingstoke Agitator. He is married to:

Treasurer: Mrs. Flo Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking.
Flo combines her office as treasurer with that of membership secretary and dealing with the innumerable inquiries that come in every day's post. Hailing originally from Co, Durham, she moved south ten years ago and trained as a domestic science teacher until her marriage and the arrival of two daughters. A 28-year old housewife, she has a small part-time job, but most of her spare time goes on the society.

Her hobbies are canals, and she likes cruising less popular waterways. She is especially interested in the traditional decoration found on old narrow boats, and likes to paint these designs. Flo is also literary minded, she has had two articles published in Motor Boat and Yachting, and she enjoys playing tennis and badminton.

Dieter Jebens, 55 Middle Bourne Lane, Famham, Surrey
Dieter is the society's publicity officer and looks after the design and presentation of its literature. He is especially concerned with promoting the society's aims, based on the evidence supporting the need for restoration of the canal. He is also a founder member and represents the society on the London and Home Counties branch of the Inland Waterways Association. Aged 29, he works in advertising, and hobbies include photography, writing, rambling, and Saturday night at the local!

Robert Harris, 33 Crondall Lane, Farnham. Surrey
Rob is a 22-year old architectural student, born under the water sign of Pisces (which he says must be of some significance). Another of the society's literary members, his book "Canals and Their Architecture" is being published next year at 75s. He spent ten weeks on canals gaining information for this work.

His main interest in canals lies in their architectural and engineering features, and their history. Rob has also been with the society since its formation, and at present he is busy analysing the results of the membership survey.

Miss June Sparey, 76 Basingstoke Road, Reading, Berks.
June is Editor of the newsletter - a task to which she was recently elevated after being responsible for typing and duplicating the newsletter almost since the society started. She has two homes: in Reading, where she works as a journalist on a Reading evening newspaper, and her family home at Woking to which she returns at weekends.

Aged 26, her interest in the canal dates back about 20 years, when as a child she spent many sylvan hours dangling over its banks catching tadpoles. Her interest in the society began when she interviewed Jim and Flo Woolgar while working for a weekly newspaper in Woking when the society was formed. She soon joined and was elected to the committee at the last annual general meeting. She is a member of Byflect Boat Club, owning a double canoe and 12 ft. runabout. Hobbies are boating, motoring and walking the dog.

Tony Harmsworth, Inverurie, Frimley Road, Ash Vale, near Aldershot
Tony probably knows more about the canal than anyone. He represents the fifth generation of the Harmsworth family on the canal - they first appeared in 1814 at St. John's Lock House. He is our technical adviser, and can give anyone a detailed run-down on the construction of Basingstoke Canal locks, besides being a mine of fascinating information about the canal.

He is 27, and works as a research and development craftsman at the Royal Aeronatical Establishment, Farnborough. He keeps a two-berth cabin cruiser called Rambler, and is the author of the series in the newsletter on boats from the Basingstoke's past.
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The society's public meeting at North Warnborough was well attended and resulted in several new members joining. We welcome them to the society. For the first time some old slides of the canal taken at the beginning of this century and recently acquired by the society were shown at this meeting.

Quite a few members turned up for the social get together organised by Mr. Dave Romaine at the hut at Ash Vale on November 2. In future, these will be held regularly on the first and third Sunday of each month. Anyone and everyone is welcome.
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Basingstoke Canal: The Case for Restoration, published by the society and the Inland Waterways Association. This iliustrated booklet states the case on which we base our appeal for the canal to be restored. It contains sections on the canal's value to naturalists and anglers as well as walkers and boat owners, and can be obtained price 4s.6d. (post free) from the secretary.

Ball point pens; These have a white barrel with the society's name engraved in blue along the side. Blue ink. Price 6s per dozen, obtainable from our sales manager, Paul Dyson, 53 Wyke Avenue, Ash, Aldershot, Hants.

Newsletters - Nos. 10—14 price ls.6d. the set. Obtainable from Paul, address above.

Our sincere thanks to those members who generously subscribed to the Lock Gate Fund after the appeal in the last newsletter. We still need more money, and it would be excellent if we could reach our target of £150 - enough to buy the timber to build a pair of upper gates suitable for a Basingstoke Canal lock -by the AGM. If you would like a pledge form, please send a stamped addressed envelope to the secretary.
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The narrow boat Basingstoke, now sunk in Greatbottom Flash, is believed to have been built at Appledore, in North Devon. It is not known whether it was built for, or was later acquired by, the Woking, Aldershot and Basingstoke Canal Navigation Company, but it was certainly owned by them in the 1880s.

The Nateley Brick & Tile Co. bought the boat in about 1893 and it was used to carry bricks to Ash Wharf and to Basingstoke and other wharves along the canal. When the brickworks ceased operations in 1906-7, the Basingstoke was bought by Mr. A. J. Harmsworth and was used by his company to carry sand, round timber and coal, mostly as a lightening boat.

The Basingstoke was used by Mr. Harmsworth during his attempt to navigate the full length of the canal and so delay abandonment of the western end in 1912-14. After the First World War, the Basingstoke was used regularly transporting lightened coal from barges at Weybridge up to Woking gas works on day work. In 1933 it was taken to Ash Vale, and the iron frames were taken out and used in the construction of the barge Brookwood, which was launched in 1934. The remains were left in their present resting place to rot away.
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THE NEWSLETTER - by the Editor
Most of this newsletter has been taken up with details of committee members because I feel it is important that our members should know who's who on the committee. However, I still welcome contributions from anyone who has the time to write: articles, for example, on trips made by members on the canal, comments about the canal or the society, please send them in if you think they will be of interest to others. The newsletter might also be a good place in which to answer any of your questions about the society. The next news­letter will appear around about Christmas - so let me have any contributions as soon as possible, please.

Some of our newer members may well wonder why it is that there is such a differ­ence of opinion between ourselves and the canal company, and why we have been unable to seek amicable relations with, for instance, the society taking part in clearing up operations along the canal. Those of you who have read our book­let will know that the Society favours restoration of the canal in its entirety as a through navigation. The company, on the other hand, has published its policy for the canal. This would involve disposing of the short pounds which at present are de-watered, and turning the long pounds into ponds for use by canoes, dinghies and small unpowered craft. The canal today is much as the company want it to be in the future with, perhaps, the rubbish cleared and the towpaths tidied by local authorities. The society believes this "halfway" attitude towards the canal will eventually result in more complaints, as the canal bed that is left silts up and the weed growth continues. In the end, someone would be bound to say: "Fill it in and have done with it", and the halfway measure will fail.

The society's official view is that the maintenance of through navigation is esssntial for the interests of anglers, hikers, naturalists and boat owners -and it is here that the clash of opinion between the society and the canal company lies.
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Several members have now said that they have enjoyed the first two walks in this series, and have asked for more and slightly longer walks. As you know, the towpath is not a public right of way, and is only open to the public by permission of the owners. All the walks given in newsletters will have been recently covered, and with the exception of the towpath will be over public rights of way unless stated otherwise. We shall try to give an indication of the type of ground covered by recommending the sort of footwear to be worn. For example: GUMBOOTS: very wet but passable ground. HIKING BOOTS: generally muddy. GOOD SHOES: firm ground except after very recent heavy rain when there will be puddles about. Generally speaking, children enjoy walks best if equipped with long trousers or jeans to protect them from nettles and brambles.

Ramble No.3 - Crookham Swing Bridge and Chequers Bridge. Total distance - about five miles; recommended footwear - good shoes This ramble starts from the Oatsheaf crossroads in Fleet, reached by bus from Aldershot and Reading or Fleet Station. Cars can be parked 100 yards away behind Fleet Public Library free of charge.

From the Oatsheaf, take the road leading south-west towards Crookham, past the police station, down the hill for about 1/4 -mile when the canal will appear on the left hand side of the road, just before the Fox and Hounds public house.

Turn on to the towpath, and continue in the same general direction for 1 1/4 miles passing under Coxheath Bridge (note the remains of an older bridge built into the side brickwork) and Malthouse Bridge to the Crookham Swing Bridge. Here we leave the towpath, turning right along an old cart track. On the right among the bushes are the remains of an old bridge keeper's cottage and garden, now very overgrown.

About 100 yards from the canal bank the track becomes a tarmac surface. Follow this lane for 1/4 -mile to Poulters Bridge, cross it and turn right. After another 1/4 -mile the lane reaches a T-junction. Turn right towards Crookham village and in about 300 yards cross the canal by Chequers Bridge. (Thirsty souls will find the Chequers public house about 100 yards further on the right hand side of the road). Turn right now on to the towpath, leaving Crookham Wharf behind you on the other side of the bridge. Walk along the path past Crookham boat station and flash, along the embankment known as Crookham Deeps (mind the fishing tackle). Pass under Poulters Bridge to the swing bridge again.

Turn left down the same track as before, but when you reach the beginning of the tarmac, turn right along an unmade track until it enters a field. Follow the right hand edge of the field for a few yards until you meet the towpath again and a well-defined footpath coming across the middle of the field. Take this footpath into Crookham Village. Push-chair drivers turn right and take the first road left just before Malthouse Bridge, and follow the road back to Fleet.

Walkers who would like to see more of Crookham Village should turn left on entering the village street, and in 300 yards bear right, then in 100 yards turn right into Hitches Lane. In a little over 1/4 -mile turn right on to a public footpath for Fleet. Keep to the left of the field (it is usually under cultivation) to a gateway, scramble under or over the wire into a meadow, turn right and walk along the right hand hedge to the next gateway into an old farmyard. Cross this yard diagonally half left, over a stile into a narrow lane. In 100 yards cross a footbridge over a stream into a modern housing estate. Follow the road for a few yards crossing the end of Frere Avenue, and then bear left down a footpath to Fleet Road. Turn left and return to the Oatsheaf.

This route crosses itself in several places, and hence can be easily shortened.
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Sec: E. J. Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey. B'wood 4064
Newsletter Editor: Miss J. Sparey 76 Basingstoke Road, Reading, Berks. Tel. 84076
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Last updated April 2005