Newsletter No. 31June 1970
HAMPSHIRE GIVES PURCHASE GO-AHEAD
Recommendation: "That the Countryside Committee fee authorised in cooperation with Surrey County Council to open negotiations with the canal owners to ascertain the terms under which they would be willing to convey the canal to the two county councils."
This recommendation was approved by Hampshire County Council on Monday, June 2, and positive action by the county councils towards purchase of the Basingstoke Canal is now under way. Whether or not the decision was influenced by the society's three-year campaign, it would be foolish to assume that the battle is now over. Ahead lays what we hope will not be a 64,000 dollar question: How much? Obviously the county councils want a realistic price. So do we.
The Countryside Committee, in its report to the county council, said the engineer's report on the Hampshire section, undertaken by Col. H. C. Bowen, was very encouraging "to the extent that the deterioration in the canal's condition appeared to be less serious than had been previously assumed". They were also "convinced that once restored, the canal would be of lasting benefit for recreation to the large population in North-East Hampshire. However, the cost of restoration is such that the task ought not to be undertaken unless the canal passed into public ownership ...".
The Countryside Committee said it understood that the canal owners were prepared to sell the canal to the two county councils, but it was not known whether their terms of sale were likely to be realistic. Dependent on this, the committee will report their proposals for restoration, maintenance and development at the next meeting of the county council on July 27.
Latest information is that the New Basingstoke Canal Company has been approached, and there the matter rests until the company's consultant engineer returns from holiday. The canal company's solicitor, Mr. Harry D, Swales, is quoted in the Woking News & Mail as saying that he wrote to the county council six months ago, asking if it would be interested in acquiring the canal. "Since then we have been waiting and we are pleased that something is now about to happen".
The Engineer's Report
Col. Bowen's report has been awaited with much interest by members of your committee. Its comments are on the whole fair and justified, and the report by no means puts a complete blanket on the society's constitutional policy of restoration to through navigation. However, it does express reservations on the use of powered craft which are understandable, and the problems are not insurmountable.
The report states that the canal does have sufficient water, and there are no serious leakages which cannot be put right. It is envisaged that the canal would have a navigable depth of 3ft. and a minimum headroom of 5ft. 6in. These figures, from our point of view, are too low for comfort.
On powered craft, the report underlines the danger that could be caused to the canal banks by irresponsible people using craft at speed. It points out, quite rightly, that the majority of boat owners understand this and are co-operative, but unfortunately there axe exceptions and the whole safety of the canal could be endangered by a few irresponsible users. A ban on powered craft would be unpopular, says the report, but until some effective method of controlling speed can be found to eliminate the risk, such a ban should be enforced on anything larger than a dinghy. The ban could be modified after experimentation, the problem being one of control and supervision, the report continues. It goes on to suggest that members of the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society could well help in enforcing any such controls such as speed limits which are necessary.
The report says the breach in the embankment at Ash must be repaired if restoration is to continue into Surrey. An alternative method of transferring water into Surrey by piping was considered and discarded as being too expensive. The cost of repairing the breach is put at £9,000. Repairs will also be needed to Ash Lock costing a further £3,500. This figure allows for one pair of lock gates, and the report mentions that a second pair "has been built by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society and only requires installation".
These are understood to be the salient points from the report as they affect the society and its policy.
To take them in turn: we fully agree that if powered craft are permitted to use the canal, then a strict speed limit should be imposed and steps taken to see that it is adhered to, with penalties for offenders. Speed limits on canals are not new, British Waterways have a 4mph speed limit on all their canals, and the River V/ey Navigation is also limited to 4mph.
Enforcement of a speed limit on water is probably a great deal easier than on the roads. There should not be any need for county council operated "radar" traps! It should be the condition of licencing powered craft that any speed limit is understood, accepted and obeyed. Each boat licenced for the canal should be clearly identifiable by name, so that offenders can be reported quickly and accurately.
As the report points out, 99 per cent of boat owners can be trusted in this respect. This leaves the irresponsible one per cent. Provided this type is given plenty of notice about any speed limit (repeater signs on bridges, on his licence, for instance), there is little else to be done except catch him when he breaks the law. No doubt society members, as the report suggests, would be quick to spot offenders and report them to the authorities.
When talking about a speed limit, it is well to consider the type of boat owner who would use the Basingstoke Canal. The larger, more powerful Thames-type cruisers would be automatically barred by the low headroom of certain bridges. Generally speaking, those who would use the Basingstoke could be classed as canal-lovers, only too happy to comply with any regulation which will mean the continued use of the canal for pleasure craft. We hope the county councils will bear these points in mind, and not make a panic decision to ban powered craft for ever because of an irresponsible one per cent.
Like Col. Bowen, the society considers the repair of the breach at Ash Embankment an essential and we are pleased to see that he discards the idea of piping. His findings on the repair of the breach coincide with those of the two reports prepared by independent civil engineers for the society.
We are delighted to see that Col. Bowen has taken note of our lock gates, still waiting patiently at Ash Vale. It will give us great pleasure to instal these gates at Ash Lock if Hampshire County Council wishes.
Finally, if you have read this far, you may be forgiven for thinking that the battle is won. Oh dear no. The most vital consideration - Surrey County Councils attitude to its 28 locks - has yet to be made. Not to mention the canal company's "terms" for the sale of the canal. The real pressure on the society is only just beginning. We now look forward to a joint plan for restoration, of which there may be news after Hampshire County Council meet on July 27.
The best is yet to come. There may soon be a time when the society stops talking and starts acting. Col. Bowen's generous mention of the society in his report means that if the report is adopted, the county councils will be looking to us for help. We must all give it.
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Saturday, June 27: For steam addicts, there is a rally of steamboats on the River Thames at Datchet, near Slough.
Sunday, June 28: Working party, Ash Vale Barge Yard (adjacent to Ash Vale Station, 10.30am) - sea Page 5.
Saturday, July 11: Woking Whirl. We shall be entering a float for the carnival procession and need a variety of helpers, either for decorating the float both beforehand and on the day, or chatting up. The float will probably be a manifestation of the Basingstoke Canal "Monster". If your help is available in any way, please contact Les Karris, 198 Hermitage Woods Crescent, St. John's, Woking, Surrey. Tel: Brookwood 5071.
August 7, 8. 9. 10: IWA National Bally of Boats and Guildford Water Festival '(see page 3). If you have any time to spare during the rally dates please contact Peter Caiger, 42 Orchard Way, Camberley, Surrey, who can find something for you to do.
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Exchange: Laddarolla expanding multi-purpose ladder for dinghy. - Fletcher, 2 Russell Road, Horsell, Woking, Surrey.
For Sale: 12ft. runabout, marine ply, good condition. Lavishly decorated with traditional hand-painted roses. Seats 4-5, kept under cover. Also 3hp Evinrude outboard (tiller steering) and trailer. £70 ono complete, may consider separating. Can be seen weekends only at 8 Beaufort Road, Maybury Estate, Woking, Surrey, or ring the Hon. Sec. (phone numbers on page 7).
SHCS SALES LIST
Items listed below can be obtained by post from Peter Walker, Sales Manager, 6 Carlyon Close, Farnborough, Hants (Farnborough 42438). Items marked with an asterisk are not available by post because of breakage risks, but by personal application only. Callers wishing to inspect the stock welcome most evenings and weekends by arrangement.
Basingstoke Canal: The Case for Restoration, 4s.6d. post free. Basingstoke Canal: Some Questions and Answers, 1s. (post 6d)
Boats from the Basingstoke*s Past by Tony Harmsworth, 2s. (post 6d.)
Walks Along the Basingstoke Canal by David Gerry, 2s.6d. (post 6d)
6" map of the canal, two sections (east and west of Farnborough Wharf), 8s.6d. per section (post 6d, each)
Society badge, 4s.6d| cuff links 15s. pair} tieclip 7s.6d (post 6d. in each case)
London's Lost Route to Basingstoke and London's Lost Route to the Sea, both by Paul Vine, 50s. each post free.
English Canals; Part I A Concise History; Part II Engineers and Engineering; Part III Boats and Boatmen. 15s. each, post free.
Back copies of newsletters! Nos. 3, 6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15-22 inc. 24-27 inc. 4d. each, post 6d. per order, (individual copies)
Sets of newsletters; 15-19 inc. 1s.6d. each, post 6d.
IWA Canal Holidays Guide: 1969 copy (one only) reduced to 1s. post 6d. 1970 copies, much revised, 2s. (post 6d)
*Miniature Measham Teapots 22s.6d; *Painted china narrow boats 17s.6d; *Miniature painted stools 10s,6d; *Painted flowerpots 6s.
IWA Rally programme 2s.6d (post 6d)
Cardboard cut-out narrow boats 5s. (not suitable very young children)
We can also supply post free any of David & Charles transport and historical books, including The Canals of South and South East England by Charles Hadfield (70s); The Industrial Archaeology of Southern England by Kenneth Hudson (45s) and reprints of early Bradshaws and Janes Fighting Ships and All the World's Aircraft.
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IWA RALLY AND GUILDFORD WATER FESTIVAL - AUGUST 7-10. 1970
If you intend to bring a boat to the rally, please write to the Entries Secretary, Geoff Sweet, 9 St. Peter's Mead, Ash, Aldershot, Hants, for an entry form. The entry fee is £1.5s. for powered craft, 10s. for canoes and empowered craft. Get your entry in before July 16, 1970, as the entry fee is increased by 10s. after that date.
There are special rates for a River Wey licence for the two weeks covering the rally, and a special concession from the Thames Conservancy of 10s. for a licence to rally-bound craft. Both these licences are available from Mr. Sweet and ask for an application form if required.
There will be a free brass rally plaque designed by our member Robert Harris for all boats entering, and a mooring place for you at the rally. If you enter a boat, you will automatically receive details of all rally events, and the awards you can enter for. If you are not entering a boat, the following may appeal to you. Please write to Geoff Sweet for an entry form giving all the details.
Waterways Art Exhibition of paintings, drawings, sculptures and models for sale and display (entry free, 10 per cent of sales to IWA). Our member, Mr. Reg Best, is showing some most attractive paintings of the Basingstoke Canal with 25 per cent of sale proceeds from his work going to the society.
Land and Water Events include a greasy pole competition over the river; tug of war; dongola (paddling punt) obstacle race. We are trying to raise a society team for these events. Les Harris (address on Page 2) would like to hear from any would-be competitors who don't mind getting wet.
On the Sunday there is the Festival Queen Competition (brain as well as beauty). Entry 2s.6d. Have we a beauty queen among our ranks? Also a visit to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre for IWA and theatre club members and affiliated societies (that's us), presenting Down the River and Up the Cut, a review of the waterways in poetry, prose, song and pictures. Time 8.30pm; admission 7s.6d.
On the Monday is the children's mad regatta (rowing boats are required for this) with an egg and spoon race, water polo, children's fancy dress etc.
Finally you can find out much more about the rally by buying the attractive souvenir rally programme, now available from the Sales Manager (Page 2) giving all rally attractions and including articles on the Basingstoke Canal and southern waterways. Price 2s.6d. (post 6d).
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HOW YOU CAN HELP THE CANAL by John Dodwell
You should find with this newsletter 20 draw tickets for the Inland Waterways Association's Grand Rally Draw which will be made at the rally on August 10. The proceeds of the draw will go to rally funds; the rally profits will go to the National Waterways Restoration Fund, where they will be earmarked for use on the Basingstoke Canal when the time comes for restoration to a navigation.
So here is your chance to help raise money for the canal's restoration. We think you will find the prizes attractive - the first is a free week's cruise on the River Thames. The public are with us in our fight to save the canal, and you should find them willing to buy tickets from you. Try your neighbours, friends at work, relatives, enemies - everyone. Make sure too that they read the note on the back of each ticket!
Please return cash and counterfoils, if by post by August 7, to Brian Kingsmill, 22 Ladywood Road, Cuxton, Rochester, Kent. The tickets will be on sale at the rally and money etc. may be handed in there. Please note that the law does not permit tickets to be sold to or by children under 16.
Please sell as many tickets as you can. It all helps the rally and, we hope, the canal. When (not if) you need more tickets, write and ask Brian Kingsmill for them.
We need two more postmen to relieve the load on our present volunteers. Areas to be covered are Camberley and Ash, It simply means delivering newsletters once every six weeks or so. If you live in either of these areas, and don't mind giving up an evening to help save us money, please contact Mrs. F. Woolgar, Membership Secretary, 56 Connaught Road, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey. Tel. Brookwood 4064.
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An item in the last newsletter about the formation of an organisation called Friends of the Basingstoke Canal has brought two letters from members:
It would appear from the paragraph in the last newsletter on the Friends of the Basingstoke Canal that the writer is of the opinion that this society should represent all views when talking of the canal's restoration.
Does this mean we will represent the view of the filler-in, weirers, and those who would lower bridges to a level which would only leave room for stunted ducks to pass beneath?
Of course not. Then why should such reactionaries not try to form their own organisation. Certainly it will achieve nothing and fail, but if it does so of its own accord it might convince some of the right course: full restoration, and any pushing it towards failure allied to a too possessive attitude about the canal will only antagonise possible converts to our cause.
PETER WALKER 6 Carlyon Close, Farnborough:
I am sorry to disagree with the tone of remarks made in the last newsletter about the newly-formed Friends of the Basingstoke Canal.
I personally feel that there is still a great deal that other organisations can do to help reopen the Basingstoke Canal,
I hope they will give us all the mutual support they can.
LES HARRIS 198 Hermitage Woods Crescent,
The newsletter editor welcomes correspondence and articles
submitted by members for inclusion - but please be brief if possible.
Editor's Comment: To be fair to the Friends of the Basingstoke Canal, their aims are not to support weirs, filling-in and other reactionary methods suggested by Mr. Walker. The last newsletter referred to their formation and pointed out that it was difficult to see what the group could achieve that had not been already tackled by the society. If they do succeed in any area where the society has failed dismally, then the best of luck to them.
The relationship between the use of the canal for angling and boating is one that has been a continual problem and which the society has sought to meet on a "live and let live" basis. If any angler can contribute some clear, unbiased thoughts on this subject, then they will be most welcome.
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COMPETITION .................... WIN A PAINTBOX!
If you joined in the walk right along the canal at Easter, you may have noticed a few early wild flowers: primroses, violets, and celandines, but if you look now you will find many more flowers. When I visited the canal near Broad Oak I counted more than 20 different kinds. Pools of bluebells shimmered among the trees. Did you know that bluebells are wild hyacinths?
By the time you read this the bluebells will be over, but there are lots of buttercups and other flowers. See if you can find some arum lilies. They are sometimes called Lords-and-Ladies or Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Another flower with a lovely name is Star of Bethlehem. These grow almost anywhere, but the canal is a good place to look for plants that need damp places to grow in.
You probably know kingcups or marsh marigolds, but do you know the bog bean? It has a very pretty white flower that looks almost furry and pale pink buds. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with beans. A lot of our wild flowers do belong to the same family of plants as peas and beans. Which are they, and how many of them can you find along the canal? (Answer in the next newsletter).
For the competition, we want you to do a painting or drawing of any wild flowers which you may have found along the canal. Write on the back the name of the flower and whereabouts on the canal you saw it. If you live too far away from the canal to visit it, then do a picture of one of the flowers mentioned above.
Send your entries, to Mrs. J. Manser, 10 Highfield Crescent, Southampton,
S02 1SF to reach her by July 17. We'll give a paintbox for the best drawing or
painting, so let's have lots of entries. Perhaps we can display some of your pictures on the society's publicity stand.
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WORKING PARTIES by Jim Woolgar
A working party was held at Ash Vale on Sunday, May 17 - the idea being to Cut weed and to start preparing the lock gates for the Guildford rally. Unfortunately none of this was possible as only six people turned up. This is disappointing, as on this occasion we had made arrangements to ensure that there was plenty to do for everyone.
We will be holding another working party on Sunday, June 28 at 10.30am at Ash Vale. Please try and come.
On the subject of working parties, we are aware of the fact that some of you are reluctant to come to Ash Vale sessions, but are still very eager to work on the canal.
It is possible that things may soon start happening, and we must be prepared. One of our first tasks is to prepare a list of persons who are interested in any type of working party on the canal. It may well be that we will want to get a gang together in a hurry between newsletters.
If you are at all interested, PLEASE SEND A NOTE NOW to Jim Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey, with your name, address and telephone number.
DO IT NOW - before you forget. With a membership of 1,000 plus how many can I expect? It's up to you. We are trying to sell the idea of volunteer labour to the councils, but we need your active support. We must be prepared in case work starts soon.
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THE LAST BOAT THROUGH THE GREYWELL TUNNEL?
Which was the last boat through the tunnel before it became completely blocked
by the fall of clay? Here we present one claimant to the title, Mr. Cyril Berry, of North Croye, The Avenue, Andover, Hants, who sent the newsletter this recollection of the voyages:
"I navigated the Greywell Tunnel some years ago when I was interested in canoeing and set out to canoe all the rivers, canals and navigations of Southern England and Wales over a period of some years.
"A friend, Derek Joseph, and I did in fact go through the tunnel before it collapsed in a two-seater Granta canoe, but I am afraid I cannot put a precise date to it as it was so long ago. As I remember, however, it must have been about 1949 or 1950, although it could have been a year or so later. I kept no written record and since I was canoeing every weekend my memory might be at fault.
"I think the tunnel collapsed completely about six months after we went through, but luckily the springs feeding the canal were on the London side of the collapse and thus the canal continued to be usable. Had they been on the other side, of course, the canal would have run dry.
"There was nothing remarkable about the trip, except seeing the track on the brickwork of the tunnel roof made by the hob nailed boots of the boatmen where they had 'walked* their narrow boats through the tunnel lying on their backs. I am afraid I can recall little else of interest, except that I was charmed by the wooded patches on the London side of Greywell and used to love my trips there".
Can any member advance on Mr. Berry's trip - or is he indeed the last navigator of the Greywell Tunnel?
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THANK YOU VERY MUCH
... To Mrs. Wendy Walker, her indefatigable family and army of friends who helped out at the jumble sale on May 30 at the Jubilee Hall, Farnborough. We made nearly £40, which will be earmarked for the Machinery Fund, Thanks also to those members who collected jumble.
... To Mrs. Jutta Manser, who has contributed this month's Children's Corner and is donating a prize. It is hoped that all parents will direct their offspring's attention to the Children's Corner of the newsletter.
... To Mr. Browning of West Byfleet, who proved himself an admirable chatter up at the Surrey Show (we hear he's a car salesman, no wonder).
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BRITISH WATERWAYS BOARD REPORT
Revenue from pleasure craft in 1969 rose by 5.7 per cent to £155,010, says the Board's annual report published this month. Angling revenue was £21,233. At the same time, the hire-cruiser industry is keeping pace with the growing demand for canal holidays. Discussions are now going on between the Board and local authorities over the future of "remainder" waterways - those not included in the cruising or commercial system. Many meetings have taken place, and the report says discussions with a number of authorities have reached an advanced stage.
On the commercial, side, Tonnage at the Board's docks at Sharpness and Weston Point increased by 138,000 tons to 772,000 tons, and the highly successful depots which provide warehousing and terminal services handled 761,578 tons, a slight increase despite a national fall in imports. A new depot at Enfield has now begun operating.
Freight carried on the commercial waterways totalled 6,374,595 tons with a revenue of £648,700 - a reduction of 7 per cent in a year that included a mining strike and the breakdown of coal handling equipment at Ferrybridge Power Station. A decline in petroleum tonnage was arrested and the introduction of new 1,000 ton tankers on the Gloucester and Sharpness Ship Canal is evidence of the willingness of both independent carriers and the Board to invest in highly competitive new facilities.
An initial order has been placed for "push-tow" system barges and tugs. These will replace craft on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation and, if they justify confidence in operation, will be introduced throughout the commercial waterways. Designs have also been completed for new-type container carrying craft with a view to use in conjunction with the new container terminal at the Board's Leeds depot.
Estates revenue increased by 10 per cent to £995,700 and water sales by 5 per cent to £799,300. The overall financial result was a loss of £56,300 after the Ministry of Transport's support grant of £1,500,000.
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WALKS ALONG THE BASINGSTOKE CANAL
A series of rambles along the canal, first published in the newsletter, are now available in booklet form. Written by our chairman, David Gerry, the book sets out many rambles over the length of the canal, with valuable advice on where to find such essentials as loos en route. It points out interesting features to look for, and includes rambles of all distances to cater for every type of walker. For anyone who enjoys a stroll along the canal and nearby public footpaths, bridleways and lanes, this book will prove a useful companion. Price is 2s.6d. plus 6d. postage from the Sales Manager (see sales list, Page 2).
Hampshire County Council's news could not have come at a better time, especially for people who have not yet renewed their subscriptions which fell due in March ...
With this newsletter comes an appeal to those who have not yet paid up. We feel sure this is not because your enthusiasm has finally drained away, but rather because the physical effort of finding ten shillings, putting it in an envelope, addressing it, buying a stamp, sticking it on, and finding a post box is something left inevitably until "tomorrow".
Tomorrow has now come. Blow the World Cup, General Election, Wimbledon and the rest — we want your subscriptions please. You wouldn't want to miss the next newsletter, would you?
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HALLO PETER, GOODBYE PAUL
Paul Dyson, who became our Sales Manager after leaving the committee at the 1969 annual general meeting, has now had to relinquish the post as his job is taking him away from the district. Paul started our sales side from scratch, and has built it up to a thriving part of society income. We are most grateful for all the hard work he has put in, and the valuable funds he has raised through sales.
In comes Peter Walker to take over sales. Peter, who lives in Farnborough, has shown a keen business head already. Our thanks to him and his parents for giving a home to our expanding sales stock.
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THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE...
After flogging away trying to get publicity in the national press, the Basingstoke finally made it. On the back page of Femail (a Daily Mail supplement) some weeks ago, Pamela Massingham wrote about the delights of living on a houseboat on our cut. Unfortunately, the boat sank and she lives there no longer. That's life.
LATE AD. For sale: Single seater canoe, canvas top, PVC bottom, £5. - David
Jesse, Harlequin, Osborne Drive, Fleet, Hants.
Hon. Sec. & 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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