Newsletter No.24August 1969
THE SOCIETY - AND THE SEVENTIES
The past year has been one of success and frustration
for the society. Where do we go from here? Are we ready to meet the challenges that 1970 might bring?
These and other questions will be posed at a special
members' meeting on Saturday, September 27 at Brookwood Memorial Hall, Brookwood, Woking, at 8.00pm.
It is vital that everyone interested in the future of
the Basingstoke Canal should attend. Among questions to be discussed are the society's application for registration as a charity, which will involve changes
to the Constitution (fully explained in this newsletter); a membership drive; and the part the society
is prepared to pay if, as is expected, the canal
changes hands in 1970. The meeting will give every member a chance to state his views on the way the
society is being run and make suggestions for future
Please make a note of the date in your diary NOW.
WHAT NOW, MY LOVE?
"I thought I'd better tell you that the canal is flowing backwards". This startling message was one of a series received by committee members on August 13, when strange things began to happen to the canal at Greywell, near Basingstoke. The canal did indeed flow backwards, and the water level began to drop when the small aqueduct, which carries the canal over the River Whitewater, developed a hole.
The canal company was alerted, and society representatives dispatched to view the damage. The hole was found to be about 18" in diameter, with an estimated 6,000,000 gallons Of water a day draining through it into the Whitewater - resulting in the low water level in the canal. At the same time, the springs in the Greywell Tunnel which feed the canal stepped up their output to about 4,000,000 gallons a day, so there was no danger of the 12-mile summit pound of the canal vanishing altogether.
It appears that the New Basingstoke Canal Company has made what is probably a temporary repair, and we will now wait to see what happens next. An interesting sidelight to the affair is that pike from the canal could have escaped through the hole into the Whitewater, which boasts some trout. This could have a diabolical effect on the trout population.
Meanwhile, the episode proved what an excellent early warning system the society has from its members. We particularly thank Mr. Hare of Greywell, for being first with the news, and Mr. Baker of Odiham for scouting around and keeping us informed of what was happening.
The moral of this is: if you see something unuaual on the canal, let us know at once. Ring the New Basingstoke Canal Company at Aldershot 22303, or 01-EDG-4776; and report it to a society committee member. Phone numbers are: Dieter Jebens, Farnham 5230; Jim Woolgar, Brookwood 4064; Barry Humpidge, Fleet 6022; and the secretary, whose phone numbers appear at the bottom of Page 6 of this newsletter.
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Saturday, August 50: Society stand at St. John's Fete, St. John's Lye, near woking, 2.30pm. Helpers -wanted. Show attraction: A free fall parachute display.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 27: MEMBERS' MEETING, BROOKOOD MEMORIAL HALL, 8.00 pm. Your support is vital if the society is to be effective in the year ahead. Brookwood Memorial Ball is dovm a narrow lane at the junction of Connaught Road and Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, on the left-hand side if approaching from Aldershot.
Sunday, September 28: Working party to trim banks, cut grass and generally clear the section of canal towpath between the Greywell Tunnel and River Whitewater which is also public footpath. Permission granted by Hampshire County Council. Meet 10.30am, bring scythes, cutting gear. Park either at North Warnborough lift bridge, or in Greywell village.
Sunday, October 5: Boat trip from Guildford to New Haw on River Wey Navigation, organised by the London & Home Counties Branch of the I.W.A. Passengers will be charged at least 10s. a head (children half price) for the trip, and proceeds will go to the branch's Basingstoke Canal Restoration Fund. Cruise leaves Millmead (adjacent to Guildford High Street, near Plummers) at 9.30am reaching New Haw at 4.30pm. Picnic lunch at New Inn, Send. Reservations, offers of boats and inquiries to Tim Dodwell, Wndover, Horsell Birch, Woking, Surrey, telephone Woking 65932.
Sunday, October 12 (Provisional): Working party to repair the towpath at Greywell if Hampshire County Council agrees to provide the materials. This is the same stretch of towpath/public footpath that will be cleared on September 28. Details will be confirmed in next newsletter, or ring the secretary.
October 25-26: Society working party to help the Upper Avon Navigation Trust. Base will be at Harvington, about five miles north-east of Evesham, Worcs. Work normally starts about 10am Saturday and finishes late Sunday afternoon. Members are expected to find their own way there, although lifts can be arranged, Accommodation is available but bedding, food, cooking and eating gear must be taken. Please contact Jim Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey (tel Brookwood 4064) if you are interested in going.
November 29-30: The society will have a stand at the Railway Enthusiasts' Club's exhibition at Farnborough Town Hall.
Lock—keeping: Anyone who can put in an odd weekend manning Bowers Lock until the end of the season please contact Mr. S. E. Avery, River Wey Navigation, Dapdune Lea, Wharf Eoad, Woodbridge Eoad, Guildford, tel. Guildford 61389.
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At the AGM in January, certain amendments to the Constitution which were proposed were held over because at that stage, the Constitution was being considered by the Charity Commission in connection with the society's application for registration as a charity. Subsequently that application, based on the Constitution in force at the time, was rejected by the Commission.
Since charitable status is vital to the society, the committee then engaged the services of a solicitor, Mr. K.E.A. Thomas, who is an expert on these matters. Mr. Thomas ascertained that our first application was rejected primarily because the objects stated in the Constitution were too narrow, and that in view of the canal's private ownership, those objects were considered unattainable. Mr. Thomas was therefore instructed to re-draft the Constitution in a form which would be more acceptable to the Charity Commission.
This has now been done, and according to our Rules, a Special General Meeting should be called to approve the re-drafted Constitution, and reconsider the amendments held over from the previous AGM. But because of the society's rather peculiar situation, the Charity Commission itself has suggested that it is willing to study the re-drafted Constitution without its having been endorsed by a Special General Meeting, because it feels that there may be further amendments to it which the Commissioners themselves may want to make. It is willing to do this on the understanding that the Constitution, as re-drafted by Mr. Thomas, has received the approval of the Executive Committee.
By submitting the re-drafted Constitution to the Charity Commission for preliminary study without first putting it to a Special General Meeting will save both time and money. It will lead to the situation where, after the new Constitution has been studied by the Charity Commission, we are able to call a Special General Meeting and put to it a Constitution which has been approved in principle by the Charity Commissioners.
The Executive Committee has therefore decided, on the solicitor's advice, to submit the re-drafted Constitution direct to the Charity Commission. If the Commission then approves it in principle, a Special General Meeting of all members will be called to finalise the Constitution and make it legally effective. At this meeting, the ammendments held over from the AGM can be re-submitted to the meeting if the proposers so desire.
Although the new Constitution does not involve any major departures in policy from that at present in force, it has widened our objects considerably. For members' guidance, the alterations that the solicitor has made are outlined below:
1. OBJECTS. These have been broadened to include all inland waterways of the British Isles, and in particular the Basingstoke Canal. The new objects oppose the abandonment or neglect of river and canal navigations, pollution of inland waterways, obstruction or closure of public rights of way, the obstruction of towing paths, ill-judged development of river or canal banks or any other act which would be injurious or destructive of public rights for the farmer, fisherman, navigator or walker. The new Constitution does give us power not to assist with any plans for the canal which would in effect mean ending the navigation, i.e. weiring the locks.
2. MEMBERSHIP. The new Constitution specifies that members wishing to join must be acceptable to the Executive Committee.
3. MEETINGS. A quorum for an annual general meeting has been fixed at 15 members present. Although this may seem low, it is necessary in the event of the society ever being wound up, when it is difficult to get a high attendance.
4. OFFICERS. The new constitution gives the Executive Committee power to elect such officers of the society as they think fit.
5. AMENDMENTS. The time limit for notice of amendments to the Constitution has been lengthened to 28 days. Amendments to the society's objects or winding up clause shall not take effect without the written concent of the Charity Commission.
6. SUBSCRIPTIONS. The subscriptions clause will be more general and will not specify fee scales (this will obviate the need to alter the Constitution whenever new subscription fees are approved). At the same time, the new Constitution empowers the Executive Committee to recommend subscription rates, but any alteration to the rates must be brought before an Annual General Meeting for approval. New rates will come into force from the date of the Annual General Meeting at which they are approved.
7. WINDING UP. In the event of the society being wound up, funds shall be transferred to one or more charitable bodies with similar objects chosen by the Executive Committee and approved by the Charity Commission.
8. NOTICE. The accidental omission to give notice of a meeting to a member, or the non-receipt of a notice of a meeting by a member will not invalidate the proceedings or resolutions at any meeting of the society or any committee.
9. CONDUCT. A member who is the subject of a complaint for conduct which is undesirable or injurious to the society and is therefore liable to expulsion from the society is entitled to make a statement in his defence if he desires.
Apart from the widening of the society's objects, the only addition to the Constitution made by Mr. Thomas is the one regarding notice of meetings (para 8). Any member who would like fuller details of the re-drafted Constitution, or has any comments to make on the details given above, or would like a copy of the Constitution in force at present, please contact the secretary immediately.
The position with regard to the Constitution is somewhat complicated, and we have endeavoured to explain it as simply aa possible. A fuller explanation will be given and any questions answered at the Members' Meeting on SEPTEMBER 27. In the meantime, the Committee hopes that members will bear with them for the present, with the promise that no Constitution will be enforced without the full consent of a Special General Meeting.
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MYSTERIOUS DEATH OF FISH
On August 3, a member rang the society secretary with the alarming report that "hundreds of fish" had Suddenly died in the stretch of canal between Chequers Bridge and Poulters Bridge, Crookham. The secretary and chairman, donning gum-boots and braving a downpour, went out to inspect - and found the surface of the canal littered with dead fish, including some real whoppers. A report was made to Hartley Wintney B.D.C. who sent a public health inspector along to analyse the canal water and perform an autopsy on one of the victims. It transpired that the fish simply died from lack of oxygen, brought about by a long spell of hot, dry weather.
There was no pollution. But the inspector told the society: "The lack of use of the canal, with silting up and unchecked weed growth undoubtedly contributed to the cut down in the amount of oxygen available for the fish". A subsequent report in a Fleet newspaper told of complaints from nearby residents of the smell coming from this stretch of the canal, because the fish were not removed from the surface but were washed below by heavy rainfall or just allowed to submerge. The New Basingstoke Canal Company's solicitor is reported as saying he knew nothing about any complaints or dead fish. Much as the society sympathises with those who now have to live with the smell, there is little that can be done. Regular use of the canal, weed control and dredging and prompt action at the right time will prevent further such occurrences, rather than the ostrich-like attitude which the canal's owners appear to adopt.
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ONCE UPON A TIME - a reminiscence by Mrs. Ellen Bannister, of Wood Street, Guildford.
I was born in Ash Vale 72 years ago, and have happy memories of a Sunday School outing in the form of a trip along the canal in a barge drawn by a horse from the towpath. We went towards Mytchett, going through a lock and disembarking into a meadow. We carried our own mugs for tea and cakes, which were served fron a coffee van in the neadow. We had races and games for which we won prizes of a few coppers then back to the boat house in the barge and so home. It was great fun to sit on the bank with my father when he had time to go fishing. Mother did not like fresh water fish when he was lucky enough to catch any. Boating in summer and sliding and skating in winter were grand pastimes and so peaceful.
Some years ago I went up a pathway leading to the canal near St. Mary's Church, intending to walk to the bridge along the path as I used to go to school in summer. I couldn't see the water for masses of weed and was so disappointed that I found the next pathway to the road again. So much for progress these days.
* Have you a memory of the canal to share? If so write to the newsletter editor, address on Page 6.
The petition so far stands at 11,700 signatures (l0,000 already presented to the County Councils). Please contact the secretary if you are willing to get another form filled in - we need many more signatures.
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WATERSIDE INNS OF THE BASINGSTOKE - No. 3 The King's Head, Frimley Green
The King's Head is not a true canal pub. There was probably an inn already on the site when the Basingstoke Canal was built and the opening of a trading waterway nearby provided a welcome boost to business.
This inn is sited near to the aqueduct which carries the canal over the London-Basingstoke railway line. A house alongside the aqueduct, on the same side of the water as The King's Head, was formerly a boat-house which was managed by the landlord and offered small craft for hire. An interesting painting in the lounge shows the boat-house in its original role and also the small cottage opposite, which is reputed to have been, at one tine, a "good pull up" for boatmen.
A member of the ubiquitous Harmsworth family was a former licensee but the King's Head is now managed by Mr. and Mrs. Russell Richards, known to the faithful array of regulars as June and Rusty. They offer 5-star Courage catering, with a variety of snacks at the bar.
The spacious lounge was extended and redecorated about two years ago and now becomes well filled at weekends. However, the "public" with its unusual slate-topped tables, provides quick service for those who arrive at the door gasping and it is always possible to enjoy a game of darts without fighting for elbow room.
There are benches outside the main entrance to the house and tables and chairs are laid out in the garden in summertime. A climbing frame is thoughtfully provided for the children, who also scramble over an old farm tumbril and watch the trains thundering by in the nearby cutting.
The decorations of The King's Head include some beautiful old china and a collection of regimental ties, supplemented by those of some noted non-military bodies, including the Mow Cop Marauders (!?)
* The King's Head is on the Guildford Road. After leaving Frimley Green and travelling in the direction of Guildford and Brookwood, the inn may be seen on the left-hand side of the road between hump bridges over the railway and canal.
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WHY ARE WE WAITING?
A good question. It is now years since the two county councils began tender approaches on the acquisition of the canal. How far have they got with it? Briefly the position is this:
1. Surrey County Council has been quoted as saying it is willing to purchase the canal - subject to price etc. The New Basingstoke Canal Company has said it is willing to sell to Surrey. So far so good.
2. But Surrey County Council will not buy their stretch of the canal unless Hampshire purchases its bit - because the canal's main water supply comes from the springs in the Greywell Tunnel which is Hampshire country.
3. Hampshire County Council is also considering purchase. But unlike Surrey, it has never had a comprehensive survey of its stretch of canal carried out. A survey completed for Hampshire this year was not satisfactory, and the county council has asked for another survey to be carried out. This is now being done, but it is not expected to be completed until next March. When the results of this survey have been studied by Hampshire County Council, business should begin in earnest.
4. The canal company hae declared itself willing to sell the Hampshire stretch to Hampshire County Council. This was brought out in a question at a Surrey County Council meeting posed by Ald. John Strudwick, which confirmed that Surrey was waiting for Hampshire.
Delay, yes. Red tape, yes. But it is your money that the county councils will be spending, and we would want then to be in posssssion of as much information as possible before embarking on the ownership of the Basingstoke Canal, We must now wait with baited breath for the results of Hampshire's survey, and continue to act as watchdogs - a service we can provide for the county councils and which they appreciate. It is likely, however, that a decision on the canal's future will be made next year — hence the need for positive organisation and thinking by the society. Our meeting on September 27 will examine this.
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RAMBLES ALONG THE BASINGSTOKE CANAL
Brookwood to Woking. Total distance - 4 1/4 miles. Footwear - walking shoes.
This ramble starts from Brookwood Station on the A.324. Leave the station yard and cross the main road to enter a lane running slightly downhill. In about 200 yards you reach a narrow iron bridge crossing the canal. Turn right (east) on to the towpath. This old iron bridge was a toll bridge until a tew years ago. Now follow the towpath and in about 1/4-mile reach the Brookwood flight of 3 locks and Brookwood Bridge carrying the Bagshot-Guildford road.
The towpath changes from the north bank to the south bank, so cross the bridge and regain the towpath. In about 1/3-mile the canal crosses the site of a Roman road, not very easy to see but nevertheless it is there. It was discovered by our vice-chairman, Les Harris. Hermitage Bridge is reached in another 200 yards and here you will see two residential narrow boats. Continue under the bridge, and in 3/4-mile reach St. John's Bridge. Here again the towpath changes banks (loos will be found in the park on St. John's Lye nearby).
Continuing along the towpath walk down the Goldsworth flight of 5 locks, passing the Row Barge public house on the opposite bank and under Woodend and Goldsworth Bridges. You then pass some more houseboats and the remains of the barges Bluejacket and Glendower. Arthurs Bridge is then reached, and in a further 3/4-mile - having passed a large timber yard on the left which used to be supplied by canal - reach a swing footbridge. This bridge was originally built as a fixed bridge, but then as well-laden barges for the timber yard could not get underneath it was modified to a swing bridge. A further 1/2-mile brings you to Chobham Road Bridge, and here we leave the canal, turn right over the bridge and walk into Woking for buses home or train and bus back to the car at Brookwood.
LOCK GATE FUND
Thanks to the many members who signed pledge forms sent out with the last newsletter. More are available if required ...
Particular thanks to Dick Snell and Geoff Sweet for towing a float in the Woking Carnival, and to a young lad called Brian who joined the society at the carnival, persuaded his family to join and helped on the stall.
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Woking members will be familiar with this new road, which has received much publicity in the local Press. The road, as provisionally planned by the council, will run alongside the canal for about 1/2-mile, but will be screened from the canal by trees. There will be a public inquiry into the route of this road, and the society has lodged a holding objection to it. While not objecting to the road in principle, we are anxious to obtain undertakings that there will be minimum interference with the canal, and that a bridge which will take the new road over the canel will be built to the correct headroom. We would also want the towpath to go under this bridge.
There is a body of ill-informed opinion which has suggested that the new road should be built IN the canal, as its present route will mean the loss of property to people living along the route. Our holding objection will give us the opportunity of being represented at a public inquiry, and also at a public meeting which the council is holding on the new road later this year, We will certainly be ready to scotch any suggestions of putting the road in the canal.
AWAY WITH WATER WEED
Eagle-eyed member Mrs. Phillipa Fraser of Camden draws our attention to a newspaper report concerning a magical new chemical which clears canals of weed if sprayed on. It is called Aquacide and we have been sent information on it by the manufacturers. Copies have also gone to canal-side local authorities.
This now stands at 980 - our l,000th nenber will have a surprise in store - so what about enrolling your friends? Copies of the new membership form are available from the secretary.
Secretary & Newsletter Editor: Miss June Sparey, 8 Beaufort Road, Maybury, Woking, Sy. Tel: 01-992-5167 (weekday evenings); Woking 63096 at weekends.
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STOP PRESS - ADDITION TO NEWSLETTER
There is another addition to the Constitution not dealt with in the newsletter -because it arrived from the solicitor after the main newsletter went to press.
This is a clause covering the society's finances. It is given in full herewith, as it has not been fully discussed by the Committee. It will be included in the Constitution to be considered by the Charity Commission, with slight amendments suggested by some members of the Committee, and explained below. Members will, of course, have an opportunity to give their views on this clause - with amendments if necessary - when the Constitution has been considered by the Charity Commission and comes before a Special or Annual General Meeting for final approval by the membership. The financial clause reads as follows:
"The income and property of the society and all money received by or on behalf of the society shall be applied solely towards the furtherance, promotion and execution of the objects of the society and no portion thereof shall be paid by way of dividend, bonus, or profit to any member of the society, provided that nothing *herein expressed or contained shall prevent payment in good faith of remuneration or expenses or both to any officer or servant of the society, or to any member of the society, or any other person or persons for services actually rendered by him or them to the society.
"All moneys payable to the society shall be received by the Treasurer or such other officer of such bank as shall be appointed to receive the same. All funds belonging to the society shall (unless invested) be deposited in a banking account in the name of the society and no sum shall be drawn from this account except by cheque
**signed by such person or persons as the Executive Committee shall direct. Any moneys not required for immediate use may be invested by the Executive Committee in the names of Trustees to be appointed and to be removable by the Executive Committee as the Committee think fit. The Executive Committee shall cause true accounts to be kept of the receipts, expenditures, assets, credits and liabilities of the society and shall place before the members of the society at each Annual General Meeting a properly audited account and Balance Sheet made up to the end of the previous financial year.
"Reasonable office, travelling and subsistence expenses incurred by officers and members of the society or any person duly authorised by the society may be paid by the society. Rates of allowance shall be fixed by the society from time to time. All claims for expenses must be sent to the Treasurer and he may require such information in regard thereto as he may think fit".
Some committee members feel that the third paragraph is unnecessary, as it merely amplifies the instruction in the first paragraph that remuneration or expenses can be paid to any officer, servant or menber of the society for services rendered.
*As far as remuneration to a servant of the society goes, this may be required in the future, and in this respect the proposed new Constitution is looking ahead. There may come a time, for example, where a Trust was set up which would authorise the society to work on the canal, and this could lead to the society having to employ paid servants - a maintenance engineer, for instance. Because expenses are allowed for in the first paragraph, we are asking the solicitor to delete Para.3 when he submits the draft Constitution to the Charity Commission.
One other amendment which has been made to the financial clause is the deletion of
**the words "person or" in the second paragraph, line 5. This will make it clear that society cheques are signed by a minimum of two people.
Apart from these two amendments, the financial clause will be inserted into the new Constitution as it stands for preliminary consideration by the Charity Commission. We repeat - members will have their chance to alter this clause, and make amendments and suggestions to the new Constitution, when it is finally brought before a special or annual general meeting for approval. Again, if any member has any queries or thoughts about the new financial clause, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the secretary.
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