Newsletter No. 21.May 1969.
THE PETITION by David Gerry, Chairman, SHCS
As many of you will now know, the petition was not handed in to the county councils on Easter Monday. Why? We just did not have enough signatures on it. The committee had a very difficult decision to make - whether to send in a weak petition on time, or a strong petition late. They decided to take the latter course of action.
In the last newsletter, we said that if every member filled a petition form, we would get 18,000 signatures. We also said we aimed at a total of 10,000 signatures by Easter. It is now obvious that we did not allow members sufficient time to get their forms completed. To achieve the 10,000 signature target, every member would need to send in a half-full form. At present, 5,300 people have signed, and at least 1,800 of these have been collected by less than 10 members. Street collections in Woking and Fleet resulted in another 1,000 signatures. The result of this is that, at best, only one in five members have so far sent in their petition forms.
We appreciate that many members joined the society to give moral support - but the petition is an excellent way of expressing this moral support.
SO HERE IS A PLEA FOR A LAST, ALL-OUT EFFORT: The closing date for completed petition forms is Whitsun. With this newsletter you will find another form, please do your best to get it filled in and do your bit towards preserving the Basingstoke Canal as an amenity for ourselves and future generations. And when the form is full of names, please send it to me at 10, Fairland Close, Fleet, Hampshire.
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NEWS FROM HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL ...
The first phase of the surveyors' report on the canal has been received and is now being studied by the county council's officers. Mr. David Pumfrett, chairman of the Hampshire Countryside Committee, has told the society that his committee is really interested in acquiring the canal for recreational purposes, but they are concerned about the financial aspects of restoration.
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*•• AND SURREY GETS THE "THUMBS DOWN"
Surrey County Council's first offer to buy their stretch of the canal has been turned down by the canal company. At least the offer has been made, and we must now encourage the county council not to give up. As a last resort, we believe the county councils have power under the Railway and Canal Act of 1888 to take over the canal - without purchase.
The reluctance of county councils to resort to compulsory powers is, perhaps, understandable. But any members who have contact with county councillors might like to make this Act known to them.
BREECHES AT THE RAE AND FLEET
It appears that neither Fleet UDC nor the Ministry of Technology have yet recovered from the canal company the cost of repairing the breaches. Woking UDC has also joined a similar battle, seeking payment from the owners for repairs to a small breach at West Byfleet. Both councils are conscious of the need to recover ratepayers' money, and we are sure the Ministry is also aware of its responsibilities. The society is seeking an assurance from the Minister, through a local HP, that taxpayers' money is not being used to repair private property, and individual members may also like to take this matter up.
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WORKING PARTY ON THE BASINGSTOKE CANAL
Yes, we have it at last - a chance to work on the canal. For details see the announcement in the Coming Events section.
Sunday. May 11: Ramblers' Association ramble: Aldershot to Crookham. Meet at entrance to Aldershot Station at 11 am. Also half-day ramble meeting at the Pox and Hounds public house, Crookham, 2.30 pm. Cars should be left behind Fleet library for half-day ramblers.
Sunday May 11: Inland Waterways Association ramble: River Wey to Brookwood. Lunch at Woking. Meet Waterloo Station 9.45 am to catch 9.53 am train to Byfleet and New Haw, or outside Byfleet and New Haw Station at 10.30 am.
SUNDAY, MAY 18: Working-party on Basingstoke Canal. The chance we have all been waiting for. Mr. Walls, owner of Ash Vale Boathouse, wants our help in clearing weed from the canal to enable him to hire boats out this summer. The working party will operate in conjunction with the Dave's Rave planned for that day, and we shall be using some of the machinery we have acquired. Meet at Ash Vale Barge Yard (adjacent to Ash Vale Station) at 10.30 am. Wear old clothes, gloves, waders or gum boots, bring garden forks if possible.
Whitsun - May 24 and 25: Slough Water Festival and Rally of Boats, Uxbridge Road Bridge, Slough, organised by IWA London and Home Counties Branch. Full programme of events on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, including boat trip, sideshows and displays, art exhibition, music and Morris dancing, firework display Sunday evening.
Whit Monday. May 26: Surrey Show, Stoke Park, Guildford. Once again the society is having its stand at this show. If you would like to help man the stand please contact Les Harris, 198 Hermitage Woods Crescent, St. John's, Woking, Surrey.
Whit Monday, May 26: Farnborough Donkey Derby. Mr. and Mrs. Walker and their family will again do the honours for us, but they need helpers both at the event and to sell programmes beforehand. Farnborough members willing to do a good turn should contact Mrs. Wendy Walker, 6 Carlyon Close, Farnborough, tel: F'boro 42438.
Saturday, June 14: Jumble Sale, St. John's Memorial Hall, St. John's, Woking. 2.30 pm.
All jumble now gratefully received - and we hope to make this our best jumble sale yet. The following will help with collection and storage of jumble: - Fleet: Barry Humpidge, 48 Wood Lane (Fleet 6822); Farnham: Dieter Jebens, 55 Middlebourne Lane (Farnham 5230); Woking: Les Harris, 198 Hermitage Woods Crescent, St. John's. Offers of help in manning stalls, catering etc. will be welcomed by Mr. Harris.
Sunday, June 15: Howard Diamond is organising a treasure hunt/barbecue for members and motorists. Those definitely wanting to take part should contact Howard at The Corner, West End Grove, Farnham, Surrey (Farnham 3054 after 6 pm). Because of new regulations, entries must be limited to 12 cars.
General: Don't forget Dave's Rave - first and third Sunday of each month, an informal gathering doing odd jobs. Meets at Ash Vale Barge Yard.
Working-parties: We have been asked to supply volunteers to work on the Upper Avon Navigation and the River Wey Navigation. Anyone who would like to make up a party should contact Jim Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking.
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Robert Harris, 33 Crondall Lane, Farnham, Surrey, has now taken over the society's purse strings and becomes our new treasurer. But will members please note that subscriptions and renewals should still be sent, with details, to the Membership Secretary, Mrs. F. Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood. She will pass on the subscriptions to the treasurer. Donations should be sent to the treasurer direct - and please try to avoid sending loose cash through the post.
While on membership matters, the prospects are encouraging. We now have 855 members and more coming in. Renewals are also on the bright side, with only a few members lost to the society. To new members we extend a welcome, and hope that we shall meet you on some of the activities outlined above.
To keep a close watch on our spending, a finance committee consisting of the treasurer, Mrs. Woolgar and our sales manager, Paul Dyson, has been set up.
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Very strong, blue and white 2-seater glass fibre canoe, with four built-in buoyancy tanks and two double paddles; good camping storage space fore and aft. Scarcely used. Bargain - £25. Rosetti, 26 St. George's Road, St. Margaret's, Twickenham, Middlesex. Phone 01-892-3034.
Small box trailer, new tyres, £10 o.n.o. Apply Dick Snell, Bridle Path Cottage No.2 Bridle Path, Ewshott, near Farnham, Surrey.
Cheap, second hand moped (gents). Offers to Dick Snell (address above).
Anchor and line, mooring stakes and ropes, side and bow fenders, seat cushions, horn, lighting etc. wanted. Can collect at Dave's Rave. Contact John Bull, 48 Traps Lane, New Maiden, Surrey. Tel: 01-942-0300.
High chair for baby wanted. Offers to Miss J. Sparey, 76 Basingstoke Road, Reading, Berks. Tel: Reading (ORE4) 84076 after 7 pm.
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SO NOW WE KNOW ...
Re "What Do You Know" in the March newsletter, I think the letters "C.P." probably stand for "Company Property".
Stanley Knight Hazel Croft Crookham Village.
Thanks Mr. Knight - I knew it would be something obvious - Ed.
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THAT GROOVE IN THE GROUND
I should like to thank Mr. Denney for shooting me down on one or two inaccuracies in "A Groove in the Ground" (Feb. newsletter). I could have confirmed the number of locks in Sidney Wood by reference to the 6" Ordnance Survey which was published towards the end of the last century and which doubtless shows the lock sites. My reference to the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal as a branch was also incorrect. However, the remainder of Mr. Denney's remarks are largely in accord with the article, particularly the reference to the Rother Navigation. My comments on the Arun refer to its present state.
It is several years since I tramped the towpath of the Wey & Arun and the brick bridge which I particularly had in mind was that which crosses the A.281 but I did not use the word "original" in my article.
Mr. Denney's reference to Manhood End Lock is correct, but I think it fair to say that fitting four new gates is small beer compared to bridge building!
I agree that my coverage was all too brief but the item was directed at the majority of SHCS members, i.e. those with no specific knowledge of the waterway system. Detailed information is contained in P. A. L. Vine's excellent book "London's Lost Route to the Sea". Mr. Denney will find that drastic "pruning" of material is required if it is to correspond with newsletter format.
1 Madeley Road
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THE GROOVE AGAIN...
Thank you Mr. Denney and Mr. Talbot for most interesting articles about a system of waterways close to the hearts of many of us - the Wey & Arun Junction Canal, the Arun Navigation, the Arun and Portsmouth Canal, The ChiChester Canal - which form the only through route from the midlands to the south coast.
Martyn Denney asks Jon Talbot to tell us how he hopes to get through the Manhood End Locks on the Chichester Canal when there are no lock gates -if either of the gentlemen would look on the waste ground adjoining the north side of the road beside the lock pound they will discover two overgrown mounds and if they pull aside the undergrowth will find one pair of lock gates complete, if a little delapidated, whilst the other pair is in situ in the pound. Shouldn't these gates be moved to a safe place for preservation, until we can campaign to have the two low road bridges raised and reopen the canal? Or at least have someone make a detailed drawing of them for future reference.
Has anything been done to discourage the farmer at Wonersh from filling his section of canal with the old railway embankment? Has anyone reported this matter to the central body of the IWA?
Now that the Basingstoke Canal campaign is under way I feel we must start looking
to the future, and that our future should be devoted to our own waterways in Surrey,
Sussex and Hampshire. We have a very beautiful and amenable system ideally
suited to recreational pursuits, as well as being the only through route from the
Midlands to the South Coast.
It is my humble opinion that there are many people and societies in these areas who though not at present supporting the waterways would actively support the cleaning up or restoration of their own particular section.
I would be willing to discuss with any other interested members of our society the formation of a study group to explore the possibilities of the complete or partial restoration of any or all of these waterways "without let or hindrance" to our main aim - the complete restoration of the Basingstoke Canal.
Austin Tatton-Winter 33, Bond Road, Surbiton, Surrey.
The following items can be obtained from the Sales Manager, Paul Dyson, 53 Wyke Avenue, Ash, Aldershot, Hants:
London's Lost Route to Basingstoke, by Paul Vine, 50s.
London's Lost Route to the Sea, by Paul Vine, 50s.
Basingstoke Canal: The Case for Restoration, 4s.6d. (all the above post free)
Boats from the Basingstoke's Past, 2s. (6d postage)
Biros, white barrel with society's name 6s. per dozen (6d. postage)
China canal narrow boats, 12" long, 17s.6d. (1s. postage)
Miniature Measham teapots, 22s.6d. (1s. postage).
Available in the coming months:
Society enamel badge, 4s.6d.
Two section 6" map of the Basingstoke Canal, 8s.6d. per section (6d. post).
We can supply any of David & Charles wide range of books post free.
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GRAVEL PITS AT ODIHAM AND HOOK
Many thanks to several members who sent information on these proposed gravel pits. Inquiries show them to be over 1/2-mile from the canal at the nearest point - King John's hunting lodge (which is different to King John's Castle). The gravel pits are being proposed by the Ministry of Transport and are objected to by Hampshire County Council and local residents. At this stage they will have little effect on the Basingstoke Canal.
NORTH EAST HAMPSHIRE URBAN PLAN
This is an outline plan only for increasing the population in Fleet, Crookham and the Blackwater valley towns of Blackwater, Farnborough and Aldershot. The population increase is expected to take place in the next 15 to 20 years. In the main, the plan provides further justification for the restoration of the canal, but NEHUP does not mention the canal and, as in most plans of this type, scant attention is paid to amenities and recreational open spaces. There is, however, talk of a new major road down the Blackwater valley which must go either over or under the canal. We shall try to find out more about this. Another aspect of NEHUP giving considerable concern in Crookham Village is the plan to increase the village population by 6,000 from its present 400-500. Some of the proposed expansion will take place very close to the canal. The committee is keeping an eye on all those proposals.
Postman, to deliver newsletters to about 10 addresses within a half-mile radius of the Fox and Hounds, Fleet. Volunteers please contact Dave Gerry, 10 Fairland Close, Fleet, Hants.
Postman, to deliver newsletters in Ash Vale-Aldershot area. Please contact Geoff Sweet, 9 St. Peter's Mead, Ash, near Aldershot, tel: Aldershot 21553.
INLAND WATERWAYS ASSOCIATION
At a recent committee meeting, it was decided on a straight vote, with no abstentions, to affiliate to the Inland Waterways Association, with whom we have co-operated on many occasions in the past. Barry Humpidge of Fleet will be our representative on the IWA's Waterways Advisory Committee.
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NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN
Within the next few weeks, local councils in Surrey and Hampshire will be holding their elections - and giving you a first-rate chance of nailing your prospective councillor on the doorstep and asking him (or her) a few pungent questions about the canal.
So be prepared. Before committing your vote, ask the candidate or canvasser what their party intends to do about the future of the canal, and what their policy is - if they have one. Ask them if they know where the canal is in your locality, where it runs from and to, and whether or not they favour restoration. Impress on your captive what a splendid amenity the canal could be for this area of rapid expansion. Make sure he knows about our society and what we are trying to do. Best of all, give him a membership form (available from the secretary). But take the most of this opportunity to show would-be representatives of the public just what your feeling is about the canal.
Our stock of machinery acquired for future restoration work continues to grow. It now consists of one tractor (immaculately restored by Howard Diamond), one dumper truck, two Alien autosythes (one in the tender care of Mr. Jesse, who will make sure it works), and we understand that another dumper truck and a cement mixer are on their way. The society extends its thanks to the Dave's Ravers and others who have contributed to the machinery fund - and to those who would like to donate to it. Not forgetting, of course, the band of lads who have given up their spare time to work on the machinery. Any further donations will be gratefully received by Dick Snell, Bridle Path Cottage No.2, Bridle Path, Ewshott, Farnham, Surrey.
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A MIRACLE IN THE MAKING
They say miracles don't happen - but a miracle is slowly taking shape at Ash Vale Barge Yard. A pair of lock gates are emerging from the pile of timber, built and paid for by our own resources. At the time of writing, a band of dedicated people under the able leadership of Tony Harmsworth and his father - to whom we can never adequately express our thanks - have put in 81 1/4 man hours on the gates. They should be finished by June 10, when they will be proudly displayed to county council officials and others who said we couldn't do it. The lock gates should be an incentive to every member to do his bit for the society.
Because of the fire risk at the hut at Ash Vale Barge Yard - with timber and machinery in store there - the committee has decided to impose a "no smoking" rule in the hut. Will everyone who visits the hut take note, please.
HOW NOW, DAFT COW?
The canal made the BBC news recently, when a cow fell into it. It was not a society cow, but the publicity is nevertheless appreciated.
True story: Robert, aged five, was saying his prayers. "God help mummy, God help daddy, and God help the Basingstoke Canal", he pleaded. Can anyone beat such devotion?
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RAMBLES ALONG THE BASIHGSTOKE CANAL
"Bluebell Time" - Crookham to Dogmersfield
Total distance - 4 miles; footwear - walking shoes (except after heavy rain)
This ramble starts from Crookham Village centre, which can be reached by bus from Aldershot or Fleet railway stations. Bus timetables can be obtained at most stationers. Car parking spaces are limited in the village, and if an obvious spot can't be found, ask if you can park at the garage in the village or at the Black Horse or Chequers public houses.
Leave the village centre by the road running south-west. Follow this road for a little over 1/4-mile until two streams have been crossed. Turn right into an unmade lane (Stroud Lane, but not signposted). In about 150 yards climb over a stile in the hedge on the left hand side. Cross the field ahead diagonally right to another stile. Cross this stile and follow the right hand hedge to the next field-boundary, then turn diagonally left to another stile. Climb over and follow the right hand hedge down a slope to cross the tiny River Hart at the bottom.
Follow the track for 50 yards or so and bear right across a second bridge. Bear left, keeping some cottages on your right, to find a stile in the right hand fence. Cross, and walking uphill bearing slightly left, find a track leading across open fields to Dogmersfield. On reaching the road cross it and follow the track down the right hand side of Double Bridge Farm. After about 250 yards you will come to Blacksmiths Bridge.
At this point the ramble turns back to Crookham, but enthusiasts can cross the bridge and ramble on across Dogmersfield Park; to return to Crookham turn left on to the towpath and follow it under Double Bridge, past the site of the old swing bridge, under Coxmoor Bridge and across the embankment over the River Hart and so back to Chequers Bridge. Leave the towpath and turn left and return to Crookham Village.
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WATERSIDE INNS OF THE BASINGSTOKE by Jon Talbot
The Fox and Hounds at Fleet was built as a true canal pub, and its "front door" faces the towpath rather than the road. The adjoining stables were demolished last year, but the house's association with its waterway is perpetuated in the names of the "Canal Lounge" and "Towpath Bar".
The landlord is Mr. R. H. Kettle, who has been in residence for 2 1/2 years. He stocks a wide range of Courage ales and draught Harp lager and can offer hot steak and kidney pies at the bar. At the front (i.e. the canal side) of the inn is a beer garden where, in summer months, a wide range of hot and cold snacks can be served.
The Fox and Hounds has long been a popular stop for those who have cruised the canal for pleasure. The Fleet Monthly Advertiser in February 1888 carried an advertisement for ale and porter at prices between 1s. and 1s.6d. a gallon. The licensee at that time was one H. H. Ulyate, who invited inquiries from private parties and mentioned his "Branch offices: New York and London"! He also offered "the following A1 watertight Varnished Boats on hire during the season:- Iolanthe, Kyshan, Nell, Tyetya, Gijima, Sakubona. Boating, Fishing and Picnic Parties accommodated".
In the October, 1887 edition of the same journal "Musicus", a visitor from "The Metropolis" described a day trip in Gijima. and was appreciative of the scenic attractions of our waterway: "Leaving Winchfield Workhouse on (the) right and discovering fresh beauties at every turn". He considered that it bore "favourable comparison with many parts of the noble Thames". Interestingly, the passage mentioned that the voyagers "got as far as North Wamborough, then were obliged to turn back, as we were informed it was impossible to row any further on account of the weeds".
In the same year, Sheldrake's Aldershot and Sandhurst Military Gazette reported on a weekend camping cruise undertaken by some anonymous gentlemen who refreshed themselves at "this snug and pretty hostelry", although their boat was hired from Aldershot Boat House, which was sited a few yards to the west of Wharf Bridge, Farnborough Road.
The Fox and Hounds is located 1/4-mile south-west of the junction of Fleet Road and Reading Road, Fleet. Map reference: 804534 (1" O.S. Sheet 169).
Sec. and Newsletter Editor: Miss J. Sparey, 16 Basingstoke Road, Reading, Berks. Tel: Reading 84076
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