A pair of upper lock gates
The Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society
Newsletter No. 23July 1969
To: All Committee Members. June 1969
One pair upper lock gates as specified 6' 6" for Ash Vale or
Frimley locks are now completed.
Signed: Tony Harmsworth
This memorandum reached committee members during the last week of June. It marked the successful completion of one of the most ambitious projects ever launched by a voluntary canal society - the building of a pair of lock gates, a feat never before achieved by volunteers alone.
On Saturday, June 28, on a sunny afternoon at Ash Vale barge yard, the gates went on show to members of Surrey and Hampshire County Councils, representatives from other waterways, and members of our society whose five bobs and pound notes had financed the project through the Lock Gate Fund. Our chairman, David Gerry, described it as an occasion when the society should "pat itself on the back". It was - and we did.
The incongruity of the occasion - opening a pair of lock gates on dry land - did not go unnoticed. It was indeed a strange ceremony, as author Paul Vine remarked as he hammered in the last (gold plated) nail to complete the gates. Tony Harmsworth, the "brains" behind the operation told the county councils'' representativess "What happens to these gates is up to you".
Tributes came thick and fast, and here are a few samples:
Denys Hutchinge, secretary of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust: "Congratulations on making history. I never thought you could do it".
Mr. J.T. Henley, member, Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Councils "You have done a remarkable job".
A county councillor: "Your enthusiasm and initiative has not gone unnoticed".
Argus, Aldershot News columnist: "Those who follow and report on the society's activities cannot help but be impressed by their drive and efficiency: their functions are well organised and when asked a question they have the facts at their fingertips. Now, in a practical way, they have shown they can at least make an attempt at getting the canal into running order once again ... I would like to see them given the chance to prove that they could undertake it. I hope that the local authority representatives who attended Saturday's ceremony were impressed. It would be good to see the county councils step in and buy the canal".
The New Basingstoke Canal Co. Ltd: "Whilst congratulating you on your society's enthusiasm in constructing lock gates, I venture to suggest that quite apart from not consulting the canal company before undertaking this work, you will be well aware from the company's memorandum on policy that such arrangements conflict with the future of the canal ... A proposal by your society to install lock gates of your own construction at Ash Look could not possibly fit in with the arrangements that are envisaged for this lock".
This reply from the company's solicitor, Mr. Harry Swales, followed our offer to install the gates at Ash, where the present lock gates are protected by a dam and are in a suspect condition. We know only too well of the canal company's refusal to acknowledge that the Basingstoke Canal could be used for through navigation, and therefore its policy of abandoning the locks and replacing them with weirs. Nevertheless, we felt that considering the present sorry state of the canal, our offer of a new set of lock gates might have changed their minds.
The lock gates will now be stored and presented to the county councils if and when they succeed in taking over the canal. They will stand as a symbol of our ability and sincere intentions of providing all the help we can in restoring this lovely waterway.
Meanwhile, our petition - with 10,000 signatures calling for action already presented to the county councils - will continue, as the society will continue to fight for what it believes to be the right future for the canal, and - sadly - as the rate of deterioration in the canal's condition goes on.
The lock gate completion ceremony was a stirring and memorable occasion when we all wore our enthusiasm on our sleeves. And not all the limelight went on the lock gates. For the first time, our collection of machinery - two autosythes, a crawler tractor shiny in new paint - went on show. Bought as a result of Dick Snell's Machinery Fund, they drew attention and brought more compliments.
A member, unable to come to the lock gate ceremony, wrote offering the fares he and his wife would have spent had they been able to attend. He asked that the money should go "towards the cost of the next set of gates". A touching gesture - but typical of the support we have received from local people in the past.
The successful building of a pair of lock gates is one thing. To build them without the certain knowledge that they will ever be used for the purpose intended is quite another. We don't know whether Surrey and Hampshire County Councils will ever buy the canal. We don't know that in, say, ten years time the canal will have disappeared for ever under housing or road development in the name of progress. But we do know that with every bang of the hammer on the gold plated nail that afternoon the message went home!
"SAVE THE BASINGSTOKE CANAL"
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The holiday season has forced us to cut down on events, but here are two dates for your diarys
Saturday, August 30: Society stand at St. John's Fete, held at St. John's Lye, near Woking, by St. John's Residents Association who have shown concern about the canal in their village. Helpers required to erect and man the stand. Special attraction at the fetes a display by free fall parachutists.
Saturday/Sunday, October 4 and 5: The London and Home Counties Branch of the Inland Waterways Association is holding a cruise to Guildford on the Saturday, returning to New Haw Sunday. Anyone wishing to join the cruise with a boat will be very welcome. Members are also invited to go as passengers and tickets for the trip can be purchased for "at least" 10s, a head - all ticket money to go into the IWA's new Basingstoke Canal Restoration Fund. Anyone wanting to take their boat on this cruise or obtain tickets for it should contact Tim Dodwell, Windover, Horsell Birch, Woking, Surrey, tel. Woking 65932.
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Our first batch of petition forms, bearing the signatures of 10,000 people, were handed over to Mr. David Pumfrett, chairman of Hampshire County Council's Countryside Committee, and Mr. R, G. Reekie, vice-chairman of Surrey County Council's Town and Country Planning Committee, on Saturday, June 14 at Ash Lock. The event was reported in the local papers. At the same time, the two county council representatives took the opportunity of inspecting the breach in the canal near the lock - as yet unrepaired.
The same day, we held a jumble sale at St, John's, Woking, which resulted in a profit of £37. Our thanks to people who donated jumble, and to the helpers.
It has been a peak time for fetes and carnivals and we have been represented at them wherever possible. Peter Caiger and Peter Chadwick are to be thanked for the help they gave at Frimley and Camberley Carnival, and Mr. Walker of Fleet stepped in at the eleventh hour with the offer to tow a boat in Fleet Carnival procession. The boat was decorated with kippers dangling from fishing lines and we are very grateful for Mr. Walker's help. Jon Talbot gave up the opportunity of attending the lock gate ceremony to man the stand at Fleet Carnival on June 28. Arising out of the lock gate function, we must thank George and Dorothy Robins of Farncombe, for so efficiently organising a delightful tea without the aid of gas or electricity, and Paul Buck of Alton who provided the equipment. To provide a tea for over 50 people on a canal bank with no "mod cons" was a feat indeed.
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A date has now been fixed for a society trip to help with the reopening of the Upper Avon Navigation. It is the weekend of October 25-26, accommodation is provided and the site is at Arvington, near Evesham, Worcs. Persons wanting to join this working party contact Jim Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey.
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For Sales Ladies bicycle, used for two months only. Cost over £20 - only £10 o.n.o. asked. Also motorcycle, 500cc Matchless, M.O.T. just issued, £40 o.n.o. Ring Gerald Neish, Woking 5450.>BR>
Wanted: The committee is looking for a caravan which can be converted for use at fetes and shows, and could later be used as a site office for working parties. Nothing spectacular needed (type used by builders would be ideal) but should be mechanically sound, and about 12' to 14' long. £25 to £30 offered. Will collect. Please contact the secretary if you know where we can find such a caravan - or if you have one to dispose of.
No charge is made for advertisements, but donations are welcome. Please send any advertising copy for the next newsletter to the secretary as soon as possible.
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Green car stickers bearing the message "SAVE THE BASINGSTOKE CANAL" were sent out with each newsletter two months ago. The response has been quite good and more are being printed. If you haven't a car to display one in, do not look out of place in a front window. Further supplies are obtainable from the secretary.
The membership secretary was on holiday when this newsletter was produced and envelopes were prepared well in advance of the newsletter's distribution. We therefore apologise to anyone who has paid their renewal sub in the last two weeks and has received another reminder instead of a receipt. A receipt will be enclosed with the next newsletter when Mrs. Woolgar brings her books up to date. While on the subject, may we ask members to please try and send their renewal subs in when they have their first reminder notice. It does save a lot of work.
Member Mr. John Moffatt-Bailey, who lived in Southampton, has recently married, retired from the RAF and gone to live at a 57-acre farm with a salmon and trout stream! He hopes to start a farmhouse "bed and breakfast" from September and would like to hear from anyone interested in taking a late holiday. He says the farm is situated in a pretty valley three to four miles off the A.40 west of Llandeilo, South Wales. He needs any cheap farming equipment especially PTO, mower, winch etc. to fit a Land Rover. Also a tractor and ditcher. Please contact him at: Gwarallt Farm, Llaneynydd, Carmarthenshire, telephone Dryslwyn 372.
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The following items can be obtained from the society's Sales Manager, Paul Dyson, 53 Wyke Avenue, Ash, Aldershot, Hants.
Basingstoke Canal:_The Case for Restoration. The society's plans for restoration of the canal, with map and photographs, 4s.6d, post free.
Boats from the Basingstoke's Past by Tony Harmsworth. Society publication on the history of barge trading on the canal and the boats which used it. Price 2s.Od. plus 6d, postage.
London's Lost Route to Basingstoke by Paul Vine. Comprehensive history of the canal. Illustrated. Also London's Lost Route to the Sea, by the same author. Both 50s. post free.
Biros, white with society's name engraved on barrel. Blue ink. 6s. dozen plus 6d. postage.
China canal narrow boats and miniature Measham teapots, 17s.6d. and 22s.6d. respectively can be obtained through Mr. Dyson, though not by post because of the risk of breakage. 6" map of the Basingstoke Canal in two sections, 8s.6d. per section, post 6d.
Available soon: Society badge depicting the sailing barge used on Basingstoke Canal tokens. 4s.6d. He can also supply any of Messrs. David £ Charles books post free.
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MACHINERY FUND - by Dick Snell
Since launching the fund to buy machinery which can be used for restoration work on the canal, we have acquired two autosythes, a crawler tractor and two dumper trucks. The autosythes and tractor are now in working condition, but the dumper trucks have not yet been renovated. The Machinery Fund will be kept open in the hope that we shall attract enough money to get one - if not both - dumper trucks working. Looking to the future, other essential items we shall need for restoration work will include a pump, low loader tractor, chain saw,concrete mixer and motorised hoist - to name but a few.
The Fund is organised by a few members independent of the committee and without encroaching on the society's general income. I shall be pleased to receive any donations from members, or to hear from anyone who knows where any of the items mentioned above can be obtained cheaply. Mechanisation is essential if we are to work efficiently on the canal. If this appeal has stirred the hearts of any members, please contact me at Bridle Path Cottage No,2 Bridle Path, Ewshott, near Farnham, Surrey.
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AND MORE MACHINERY ...
Our stock of equipment has been further boosted thanks to Mr. K. W. Turk of Pendeen, Cornwall, who has donated a small horse box trailer to the society. It needs some work doing to it, and we would be grateful if a member with some knowledge of mechanics and woodwork would undertake to renovate it for us. ¥e will arrange collection and delivery. Anyone willing to have a go should contact Mr. Snell at the address above.
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LOCK GATES UNLIMITED or PLEDGE NOW, PAY LATER
Our first sot of lock gates has been built - but the Lock Gate Fund goes on. Some of our newer members may not know about our pledge system for building lock gates. On the other hand, several members have already pledged to give more money as each lock is completed. And while it may be a little while before we start work on the next set of lock gates, we need more pledges.
It works this way. You pay £1 now, into the Lock Gate Fund, and pledge a further £1 as each lock is completed. For example: There are 29 locks on the Basingstoke Canal. 450 pledges of £1 per lock (half our membership) would provide enough money to renew all the lock gates on the canal. What will it cost you? Just £29 over a period of 7-10 years. Any money we receive now will go into the lock gate fund to provide money for the next set of gates, and so on.
If you cannot afford £1 at a time, pledges of 10s. or even 5s. are just as welcome. On the other hand if you can afford more - well, the sky's the limit. A pledge form is enclosed with this newsletter. Your support for the pledge scheme will be greatly appreciated.
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LOCKS AND FISHERMEN - by Dieter Jebens
Four members of the society, including three from the committee, recently met representatives of the Wey Angling Association. Our thanks to the RAE Angling Society for arranging the meeting at the RAE, Farnborough, and to Capt. C. C. Dingle who kindly agreed to act as independent chairman.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the future use of the Basingstoke Canal and in particular the association's objections to the retention of through navigation. Although the discussion was inconclusive - the sort of result official communiques describe as "extremely frank and open" - I think we did establish the basis for a possible future agreement.
Probably tke most important subject discussed was the association's preference for weirs to replace the locks. Quite naturally they want to limit boating to a minimum and this seems to be the sole reason for advocating weirs. From our booklet detailing our restoration proposals (Basingstoke Canals The Case for Restoration) the association had gained the erroneous impression that the canal would be packed with boats cruising up and down the waterway. ¥e assured them that this would not happen. We pointed out that we wanted the canal to be made available to all users equally, and if one interest should spoil the amenities for others then restrictions might have to be imposed.
We emphasised that the society would not support any policy for the construction of weirs and would not organise voluntary working parties for restoration work if such a policy were adopted. The anglers claimed they would be prepared to build weirs, but when asked if they had considered the cost and practical means of construction, they had obviously not given the matter much thought. Their reply was: "Don't worry, we'd find a way of doing it - nothing is impossible". It was quite clear that they had not considered the fundamental problem of access to locks, which except for one or two cannot be reached by road.
Codes of conduct were also discussed. As far as boats are concerned, we explained we should like to see strict regulations imposed over discharge, similar to those in force on the Thames. For the anglers, it must be said that they publish rules of behaviour and do everything possible to ensure that members comply. While we should want lengths reserved for individual fishermen, free of organisations, there is much to be said for leasing sections to clubs who are responsible for their members' actions: not the least official angling bodies would then become responsible for stocking the canal.
I think we came away from tho meeting with a better understanding of each other's needs and problems. It is clear that anglers regard the canal as just another stretch of water and fail to fully appreciate the special attractions of a navigation to other potential users.
It was suggested that we meet again in about six months' time and I hope we may then manage to come to some agreement. I am sure the anglers will accept locks providing there is some control over the number of boats using the canal. In the meantime, have any of our angling members views of their own? If so, drop a line to the newsletter editor.
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ON BUILDING A BOAT - by Jon Talbot
My brother once constructed a two-seater canoe, which always had a tendency to go 'left-hand-down-a-bit' owing to the presence of a kink in its keel. He built it from drawings in a snail, pocket-sized book which contained designs for a number of small craft. About a year ago I decided to build a 10' rowing dinghy which was described in the same volume. Now this project is well on the way to completion.
Let no one imagine that it need take a year to build such a craft. Having a family and a home and a lot of different interests has meant that work has proceeded spasmodically. I was lucky in obtaining some good mahogany, with few flaws, and began the constructional work. First the stem and two frames were erected, upside down, on an old five-bar gate. The transom was made from two pieces of inch-thick oak, dowelled and glued edge-to-edge - someone had abandoned a beautiful bed end in a nearby wood!
After the chines had been fixed in place the whole assembly became more rigid and it was no longer necessary to check the position of each component with spirit level and plumb line every time I barked my shins. It is easy to obtain marine quality plywood in 8' x 4' sheets, but I wanted to cover each side and the bottom of the boat without lateral joints. Eventually a supplier of 12' x 4' sheets was located; the delivery quoted was three months. The months eventually became five, for one sheet of ply was dropped at the suppliers' warehouse and 18" bashed off the end.
At the time of writing only the stern sheets and inwales remain to be fitted and three coats of polyurethane varnish to be applied. The transom will be strengthened in the centre in anticipation of obtaining an outboard motor in a year or so. The project looks like costing about £30, including the oars. Some small details added significantly to the costs for example 3 1/2lb of powdered glue costs £1 and I have spent about £3 on brass screws.
It is not necessary to own a large selection of tools in order to build a small boat. The only essentials are basic hand tools. However, I have a large bench vise, seven assorted cramps and a power drill and I have been glad of them. In particular, the jig-saw attachment for the drill enabled 50 cutting feet of plywood to be completed in a couple of hours - a great saving in time and effort.
I am building my boat single-handed, but there are occasions when assistance is desirable. I have used "Cascamite One-shot" glue, which is very slow in "going off" particularly in cold weather. There was frost on the garage windows when the sides were fitted, but they took 40 minutes each to complete and a faster glue would have been an embarassment. Cascamite is not suitable for craft which are to be immersed constantly and 100% waterproof glues begin to set in about 10 minutes. It is obvious that when using such adhesives in warm weather very careful planning is necessary. About three assistants, each armed with a screwdriver, must be ready to leap into action as soon as the glue is spread.
With tasks of this nature mistakes are always made. One learns the best way to do the job next time and boat building appears to be no exception. At slightly greater cost a good many corners might have been cut by buying a fibreglass hull or a kit instead of an assortment of timber, but there is an added element of satisfaction to be gained by starting with basic raw materials.
The problem of transportation has yet to be resolved. The roof-rack of my car looks barely equal to the task of bearing the weight of a boat and I don't live that close to the canal.
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Wey barges Perseverance and Speedwell, skippered by Steve White and John White, made their last trip with freight on the Wey Navigation on July 4. They took 80 tons of wheat to Coxes Lock Hill, Weybridge, bringing to an end the grain traffic on the Wey. Most of the barges, owned by Willian Stevens of Guildford have been sold, including the Fleet, formerly the Ariel which once worked on the Basingstoke. It is to be converted into a houseboat.
FINALLY... Tony Harmsworth, Inverurie, Frimley Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants, would appreciate any spare prints members might have taken of the lock gate ceremony - including that magic moment when the gates were lifted.
Secretary & Newsletter Editor: Miss June Sparey, 8 Beaufort Road, Maybury Estate, Woking, Surrey. Tels Woking 63095 (weekends only) or 01-992-5167 Monday to Friday evenings.
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