April 1970

Waiting game
Forthcoming events
IWA National Rally
Waterside Inns
Reflections on a Bridge
Working party news

Contact the Society

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Newsletter No. 30April 1970

We're still playing it. The latest news from Hampshire County Council is that the Countryside Committee is arranging an inspection of the canal, and will follow this with a meeting to consider the engineer's report. Their recommendations, if purchase is decided on, will then go to the Finance Committee and the full county council. So there is a lot of red tape ahead.

In the absence of any better news, let us console ourselves with some points taken fron the Declaration issued by the European Conservation Conference:-
"Every inhabitant of Europe can perceive today the disturbing signs of the pol­lution and defacement of his environment and the serious threats which endanger it. The environment is being impaired as a result of uncontrolled and indiscriminate use of space and irrational exploitation of resources; in many places the soil is being eroded, the water is unfit for many of its uses, the air is dangerously polluted, landscapes are spoiled, wild fauna and flora are in decline, waste products of all kinds are building up at an increasing rate and "biological equilibria are destroyed".

"The costs of conservation should be weighed against the costs of non-conservation": The conference urged covemnents, among other points to:
"Take all practical steps for the reclamation and reuse of derelict and waste land, particularly for recreation and the conservation of wildlife;
Encourage and support the effective operation of voluntary bodies, whose unique function is channelling individual effort and in educating public opinion is recognised by the Conference;
Provide well-designed leisure facilities in the countryside near towns".

There are many points in the Declaration which could apply to the Basingstoke Canal. Will the county councils recognise them?
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Without any real effort or badgering, figures have increased almost spectacularly. The total now stands at 14,172 signatures, of which 10,000 are, we hope, dust-free in the two county halls. Only a short step lies between this figure and 15,000 - I wonder if we can make the round figure by Whitsun?

Here's a breakdown of figures, district by district:
Hartley Wintney81Rest of Surrey1,081
Rest of Hampshire692
Total for Hampshire6,540Total for Surrey7,397

These figures are not absolutely accurate, but provide a very good guide. If you can bear to fill in another petition form, the secretary will be delighted to send you one.
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Help wanted in renovating caravan ready for use at Surrey Show. Signwriters and handymen needed, working parties are held on Tuesdays, 7.30 - 10.00pm at 48 Wood Lane, Fleet. If you can help - and we hope sone Fleet members will - ring Barry Humpidge at Fleet 7822.

Saturday, May 2: Special General Meeting to approve the new Constitution. Brookwood Memorial Hall, junction of Connaught Eoad and Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey, 8.00pm.
Sunday, May 10: The Society's contribution to National Footpaths Week (May 9-17) is an afternoon ramble, taken from our book of rambles to be published shortly. It takes in an attractive circular route along the canal and nearby lanes in the Dogmersfield area. Details are: Meet 3.00pm at Broad Oak Green, near Broad Oak Bridge, between Odiham and Dogmersfield (map reference OS 169 754521). By road, turn right off the Farnham-Odiham road just before entering Odiham. The ramble finishes at approximately 5.00pm back at Broad Oak Bridge.
Sunday, May 10: If you don't feel like walking, you might like to take advantage of a day trip organised by the Railway Enthusiasts Club, who have very kindly invited our members to join them. A coach will take the party to Leighton Buzzard narrow gauge railway, operated by enthusiasts. For steam fans, there will be a train run behind one of the three steam locos working on the line. The coach tour then continues to Gayton Junction on the Grand Union Canal, for an interesting canal cruise on the narrow boat Linda - the boat which carried the Queen Mother when she re-opened the Stratford-on-Avon Canal in 1964. The cruise takes in the Blisworth Tunnel and stops at Stoke Bruerne for a look at the fascinating Waterways Museum. It then continues through seven locks to Yardley Gobion, where the coach is rejoined for the journey home. Details are:-
Departure: Coach leaves Farnham 8.00am. Pick-up points at Aldershot, Farnborough, Frimley, Camberley and Bagshot. Return to Farnham 9.30pm approximately.
Meals: A half-hour lunch break at a canalside pub is allowed for, and tea can be ordered in advance on the Linda at 4s. a head.
Fares: Adults £2, children £1.10s.
If you want to go: Contact Mr. D. Hull, 33 Cargate Avenue, Aldershot, telephone Aldershot 23432 stating how many there will be in your party, where you would like to join the coach, and if you require tea on the boat. Cheques, postal orders should be made payable to the Sailway Enthusiasts Club.
Saturday, May 16: Society stand at the Leatherhead show organised by Surrey Young Farmers in conjunction with European Conservation Year. Look out for signposts as the exact location of the event is not known at the time of writing. Full programme 11.00am - 5.00pm.
Sunday, May 17: Working party, Ash Vale Barge Yard, adjacent to Ash Vale Station, 10.30am. We hope to tidy up the hut, prepare the lock gates for display at the Guildford rally, do some weed cutting and mend the fence. Please bring paint brushes, wire brushes, industrial gloves and any lengths of rope you can beg, borrow or steal.
Monday, May 25: (Whit Monday) Surrey Show at Stoke Park, Guildford. Helpers wanted to man the society stand and publicity caravan. Offers to Peter Caiger, 42 Orchard Way, Camberley, Surrey, On the same date the society will also be having a display at the Farnborough Show.
Saturday, May 30: Jumble Sale, Jubilee Hall, Farnborough, 2.00 - 4,00pm. People wanted for selling jumble and helping, and all the jumble you can find. Mrs. Wendy Walker, 6 Carlyon Close, Farnborough, tel. Farnborough 42438 has offered to store jumble. The proceeds of this sale will be given to the Machinery Fund.
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At Easter we walked the canal (well, almost). Our Walk the Canal Campaign was quite well supported, with a small group of diehards trudging from Byfleet to Odiham, and several other members joining in from bridge to bridge. For those of us unused to walking as far as the shops it was quite an experience (the best bit was soaking one's aching feet afterwards). Congratulations to the youngsters who stayed the entire course, and on the first day an 11-month old baby "navigated" the towpath in his pushchair. It was a ramble of contrasts - the peaceful, away from it all countryside of Crookham, the dense, gorse jungle of Farnborough, and we found water levels deplorably low in Hampshire, due to the unrepaired Whitewater Aqueduct, The walkers appreciated the efforts of unknown people who had trimmed the towpath in several places.
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Plans for the rally, on August 7, 8, 9 and 10 are now progressing in all directions. The society will be displaying three stands: a small publicity stand in the non-paying area on the island at Milmead; our big publicity stand and caravan (which, we understand, is being aptly sited next to the beer tent); and a canal workshop, at which we hope to have the lock gates on view, other machinery, and a project going on - making paddles for locks.

One eye-catching feature of our main stand will be an art exhibition by society member Mr. Reg Best of Woking. Mr. Best has done some beautiful paintings of the Basingstoke Canal in oils, and members thinking of investing in something of this kind should make a point of looking at the exhibition. Derelict as the canal may be in places, it is extremely attractive, as Mr. Best has successfully shown in his work. So save up -because the society is receiving a proportion of the sales proceeds from the exhibition.

If you have not yet offered your help for the rally, please contact Peter Caiger, 42 Orchard Way, Camberley, for help in manning the stands and general assistance in setting up the exhibits, or Jim Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey, for help with the canal workshop.

The IWA are seeking volunteer lock keepers for periods preceding and after the rally, to enable boats to get away quickly and arrive quickly. A rota is being prepared and the dates involved are August 4-7 and 10-12. If you do lock-keep, please make sure that EVERY BOAT arriving is dis­playing a Save The Basingstoke Canal sticker. Lock-keepers should contact Mr. N. McGrath, 36a Baker Street, Weybridge, Surrey, tel. Weybridge 47826, stating on which days you can help, and which of the Wey locks are most suitable. Boats are needed for giving trips to members of the public at the rally. They should be over 12ft. long, and if your boat is available please contact Les Harris, 198 Hermitage Woods Crescent, St. John's, Woking, Surrey, tel. Brookwood 5071. At the rally, there will also be a parade of unusual craft (riverworthy ones only - no dubious rafts) and a fancy dress for boats.

Schools are being encouraged to take an interest in the rally, with competitions such as essays, project work, models, paintings etc. being arranged. Material is needed from schools to form window displays in shops in Guildford and surrounding areas. Further information on schools and the rally from Mrs. E. Dodwell, Windover, Horsell Birch, Horsell, Woking, Surrey. Tel: Woking 65932.

Members who want to participate in the rally by boat should contact Mr. G. Sweet, Entries Secretary, 9 St. Peter's Mead, Ash, Aldershot, Hants. Entry forms will be sent when they are available.

QUOTE - with acknowledgement to the BBC "These canals would look all right - it's just the junk people throw in 'em". - comment by two men on the run, Z Cars, April 6.
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HARVINGTON by Nigel Stevens
Thirteen SHCS volunteers turned up at Harvington on April 4-5 to work on the £280,000 rebuilding of the Upper Avon. The third and last lock of Phase I is now all but complete, and our work consisted of various jobs such as fitting paddle gear, constructing a concrete capping to the lockside, and the inevitable tarring. With the dredging programme now also complete, the only major work remaining in Phase I is the new weir at Marlcliffe, but work cannot start until a new design has been approved by the river authority. After that, progress into Phase II will depend on the flow of money.

David Hutchings stresses the importance of volunteers on the project, because they allow a continuity of work when the prisoners are away. The more that members can support these visits, the more we shall be able to convince the county councils of our ability to run efficient restoration work.

Let us hope that the SHCS will never become like a certain other canal organisation, which is soon to send a group to the Avon for a picnic outing to LOOK at the work. The idea of helping has simply not occurred to them! Our purpose is to reopen the Basingstoke Canal - not just to talk about it.

*Donations, covenants for the work on the Upper Avon should be sent to David Hutchings, the Upper Avon Navigation Trust Ltd., 10 Guild Street, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire. (See also Page 6)
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For sale: Anzani Seamaid 3hp outboard motor. Good condition, recoil starter, forward and reverse gears. £25. - Mr. W. Raison, 59 Northwood Avenue, Khaphill, Woking, Surrey. Tel: Brookwood 2942.
For sale: Boat trailer, Bennet & Kirkland "Superior" D-type. Capacity 1,000 lb. Equipment includes winch, jockey wheel, spare wheel and transom supports. All metal parts galvanised. New last year. Cost £83, accept £55. - Mr. John Pegram, 12 Upper Way, Farnham, Surrey. Tel: Farnham 3720.
Wanted: Low loader trailer which can be towed behind a car rather than a lorry. Must be cheap and not "past it". If anyone knows where such a bargain can be found, will they please contact Howard Diamond, The Corner, West End Grove, Farnham, tel, Farnham 3054, or Dick Snell, Bridle Path Cottage No.2, Bridle Path, Ewshot, Farnham, Tel. Crondall 463.

Among the many new members that we have enrolled recently, we are particularly pleased to welcome to the society Lady Redgrave, of Odiham, and Sir John Verney, of Farnham.
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A new fund has been opened within the society's accounts, for donations which are to be used specifically towards the cost of ultimate restoration of the canal. Apart from this new Restoration Fund, we also have the Machinery Fund and the Lock Gate Fund. All donations should be sent to the treasurer, Mr. B Humpidge, 48 Wood Lane, Fleet, and it would be helpful if an indication could be given of how you would like donations to be used.

Advertisements in the newsletter are free, but advertisers might like to show their gratitude by sending a little something to one of the Funds mentioned above ...
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We need designs for a society Christmas card, and also for notelets which we are thinking of introducing into our sales stock. Does anyone have a good, black and white photograph of the canal, a woodcut, linocut, sketch which night be useful for this? If so, please submit details to Mr. D. Jebens, 75 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey.

The Editor is always on the look-out for items from members for the newsletter (to save her from dreaming it all up herself over gallons of coffee and too many cigarettes). Particularly interesting would be reminiscences of the canal in former days, from some of our older members, funny stories of experiences on either the Basingstoke or other waterways, or simply a members-eye view of the canal, the society - anything. Please send in any material as soon as possible after receiving this newsletter. No objection to requests for anonymity.
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Many members showed interest in the article written by teacher Mr. Hugh Gregor in a recent newsletter about how the boys at Ottershaw School undertook a pro­ject on the canal. Now there is a chance for you to see just what the boys did. On July 11, Ottershaw School is having its open day, and all the canal material will be on display. The Headmaster has kindly given permission for any member who wishes to do so to visit the school from 2.00 pm onwards. In the History Koom will be shown: (a) Work by the boys based on the canal; (b) A model lock made by a boy; (c) photographs from the Waterways Museum, Stoke Bruerne; (d) photocopies of old letters, maps, ledgers, minutes, accounts; (e) the BBC gramophone record Narrow Boats. Ottershaw School is situated in Chobham Road, Ottershaw, near Chertsey, Surrey.
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The Goat and Barge, Basingstoke
Although progress has long since buried the old canal wharf at Basingstoke beneath a new bus station, we are delighted to see that the new town will still have a link with the waterway that bears its name in this new public house, built by Courages and officially opened on April 28.

The Goat and Barge replaces two former pubs which have made way for town centre redevelopment, and it is sited in Wesley Walk, adjacent to New Market Square, in the heart of the new shopping area.

Courages have gone to great pains to preserve the character of the old Barge Inn in this 20th century hostelry - for the entire decorative theme of the new pub is based on canals and their users.

In the Canal Bar, the counter is in the form of a stylised narrowboat, complete with rudder, stern post and tiller. It is decorated with the traditional artwork - geometric designs, roses - and two large photo murals illustrate canal life past and present. Elsewhere on the walls are representations in wood of lock gates and machinery. Two plaques recall the names of the famous Basing­stoke barges Gwendoline and Glendower. The bar stools have been specially designed to resemble bollards and - to cap it all - the barmaids will wear the traditional dresses which used to be worn by boatmen's wives! The second bar, called The Butty, is at a slightly higher level and has been designed mainly for people wanting to eat. There is seating for about 35 people. This bar is more modern and sophisticated, with specially commissioned pictures showing traditional "Castle" scenes. Suspended from the ceiling are three enlarged copies of the Basingstoke Canal token, issued by John Pinkerton and used on the society's headed notepaper. The Canal Bar will serve cheap meals at around 4s,6d. for a main course, while more unusual dishes can be found in The Butty Bar for around 10s. It is intended to provide live entertainiaent on several nights a week, and a "dive" bar will be developed at a later date.
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Mrs. L. B. Vickers, of 14 York Road, Aldershot, had her memory stirred when she read about the Swan Inn, North Warnborough, in the February newsletter. She writes:
"I read with real interest the article and Mrs. Barton's memories of horse drawn barges being used for outings by the Methodist Church. It may be of interest to you to know that I was one of those Sunday School children who went on these outings.

"I recall one such outing over 60 years ago in a barge lent "by Mr. Harmsworth senior. We had a wonderful day, but on the way back home we had a terrifying experience when our barge became caught in one of the locks.

"I well remember the screaming children, although the teachers and others did all they could to pacify us. We eventually arrived back at the canal bridge at midnight, where our mothers and fathers were waiting for us in the pitch darkness".

*Are there any other members that went on that trip - or similar ones? If so, we'd like to hear from them.
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This little tale has been sent to the newsletter by Mr. Peter A. Gilchrist, Sales Director of Waygood Peerless Ltd., Croydon:
"As suppliers of reflective materials and products, we were approached by Chertsey UDC in connection with Scotland Bridge. As this bridge is particularly narrow and Scotland Bridge Road carries quite a lot of traffic now, they were concerned about the danger to vehicles approaching at night being unable to clearly distinguish all sides of the bridge. I visited the site and, as a result, we were asked to supply reflective plates in red and white to line each side. When asked by the council the best fixing height, I offered to go along at dusk one evening and determine the position by experiment.

"On the first occasion, we (mistakenly) went along about 6.30pm. and after dodging cars, trucks, petrol tankers and coach convoys for over an hour while parked with headlamps full on and samples of reflective material being waved up and down on the bridge, we abandoned the idea.

"I realised it would only be practical to do this at the dead of night, and went along one Friday night/Saturday morning at about 1.00am. Even then there was the occasional car and everybody was fascinated to know what we were doing, including a policeman on a bicycle who inquired: "What's going on 'ere?" However, we managed to obtain our measurement so the council will now be able to bang their plates into place in the general interest of public safety,

"The interesting thing here is that Chertsey UDC were, at one time, considering rebuilding the bridge, but being aware of the requirement to rebuild with full headroom underneath (for future navigation?) decided this was too expensive. So ... this particular official circle is correctly orientated!
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It is understood that an organisation has been formed under this title in Hampshire, with the object of bringing together all sides in the question of the canal's future. It is difficult to see what this group can achieve that has not already been under­taken by the society, which is publicly recognised. Diversification at this stage could have an adverse effect, and the society has repeatedly pointed out that it tries to represent all opinions when talking of the canal's restoration - and not just the views of one section. We believe our policy for the canal's future is one which will offer the most facilities for the public. It is also worth remembering that we will shortly be registered as a charity, and this may eventually lead the way to the forming of a charitable Trust.

On June 6, Tony Harmsworth takes the plunge and gets married. Since this is the last newsletter before that happy event, we wish Tony and his bride, Mary, all the best. Tony, grandson of A. J. Harmsworth, a former owner of the canal, is our technical adviser and has been of invaluable help to the society since its formation. His wedding present is therefore something special - a specially commissioned oil painting of Ash Vale Barge Yard in former days, now being undertaken by our artist member, Mr. Reg Best. If any member would like to contribute individually to the cost of this work of art, please send donations to the treasurer, Mr. B. Humpidge, 48 Wood Lane, Fleet, Hants.
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David Hatchings, in charge of the Upper Avon restoration project, sent us the following letter after our working party visited Harvington. "... I write to thank you for sending us an efficient, hard working, cheerful party. Their efforts were concentrated around George Billington Lock. This was all first line stuff and I think that your people found the work interesting and rewarding. Please convey my thanks to all concerned ...".

For those of you interested in canal working parties in the London area or nation­wide, we recommend Navvies Notebook, an off-beat, bi-monthly magazine containing news and details of such events. Annual minimum subscription is 5s. and Jim Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey, will be happy to deal with subscriptions and queries.

Belated thanks also to those members who have been sending the odd unwanted trading stamps or cigarette coupons. We are not after your collection - although we would welcome it - but just the odd ones that you do not normally save. These are put into a national collection which is used to buy tools and equipment. Send yours to Jim Woolgar, address above.

We would like to thank the team which worked so hard on the dumper truck to put it back in going order.

SURREY AMENITY COUNCIL - We are now members of this influential body.

Hon. Sec. and Newsletter Editor: Miss June Sparey, 8 Beaufort Road, Maybury. Woking, Surrey. Tel: 01-992-5167 (Mon-Thurs evenings), Woking 63095 (weekends only)
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Last updated April 2005