Newsletter No. 34(undated) 1970
FRUSTRATION, OR FRUSTRATION!
The county councils have appointed valuers to survey the canal and put a price on it. The New Basingstoke Canal Company have done likewise. The two sides should be getting together shortly.
That is the latest news on purchase of the Basingstoke Canal to come from the county councils. Progress is slow and, for us painful. The county councils know this - and so does your committee, who must be the most frustrated people in England. The question is: how long can we go on waiting? We still don't know what is to be done with the canal, in the event that it is bought by the counties. The society has kept the pot of public interest bubbling for four years. We received a big boost with the National Rally of Boats at Guildford. But the public memory is short. By the time the county councils have made up their minds, will we have run out of steam?
To date, we have prepared a plan detailing ways in which the canal can be managed if and when it is bought, showing the order in which restoration work should be undertaken, and how to raise the money to pay for it. This is being sent to the county ceancils.
We are sick and tired of looking at the canal in its present disgusting state. Two years ago we said it was bad - two years of galloping deterioration have made it almost unrecognisable. The committee understands that these negotiations have to be handled diplomatically, and that they may take time. May be there isn't all that much time left.
NO COMMENT, ABSOLUTELY NO COMMENT
Quote from the 1969 annual accounts, published by the New Basingstoke Canal Co, -
"In the opinion of the directors, the value of the company's land is approximately £100,000".
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NEW MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY
We are delighted to announce that our appeal in the newsletter a couple of months ago for a Membership Secretary brought us a volunteer, now appointed to that task. He is Mr. Alan Babister, of 31 Elmsleigh Road, Cove, Farnborough, Telephone Farnborough 46147. He has already startled the committee by his enthusiasm and efficiency. All membership inquiries, new subscriptions and renewals should now be sent direct to Alan.
Although final figures have not yet been worked out, it seems likely that the Guildford rally has made a profit of about £2,000 - a remarkable achievement. In addition to this must be added the proceeds of the various rally draws.
It is worth drawing members' attention to the National Waterways Restoration Fund set up by the Inland Waterways Association. The Fund has already raised £15,000, including the full value of covenants over seven years. Included in this is a sum of money earmarked for the restoration of the Basingstoke. One of the ways in which money can be raised for the fund is by the collection of waste paper — scrap merchants are paying £6 a ton at present. If you want more details of this (and any help you give the IWA reflects indirectly on to the society), contact tlie Fund's Appeals Secretary, John Dodwell, Wychbold, 19 Drill Hall Road, Chertsey, Surrey.
Next year will be earmarked by the IWA as Remainder Waterways Campaign Year, during which the whole of the association's effort will be directed to securing the future of the "remainder" waterways (those excluded from the White Paper) and the inclusion of as nany of them as possible in the cruising waterway category. Don't forget too that if some of our frustrated members want to try their hands at working parties on other canals, they can find out where these working parties are being held by contacting Graham Palmer, 4 Wentworth Court, Wentworth Avenue, London N.3.
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Sunday, November 8: Ramble along the Itchen Navigation. Leave Winchester Town Hall, 10.30am (opposite King Alfred's Statue). Walk along the Itchen to Eastleigh, returning to Winchester by train at about 4pm. This ramble was greatly enjoyed by the small party that walked it before.
Saturday, November 14: Jumble Sale, Heatherside Infants School, Reading Road, Fleet.
HELPERS WANTED - both for sorting jumble between 10am and 12noon, and for when the fun starts at 2.30pm. Ring the secretary if you have any jumble to be shifted - or preferably bring it to the school yourself in the morning.
Sunday, November 22: Working Party, Ash Vale Barge Yard (adjacent to Ash Vale Station).Start 10.30am. Bring paint brushes, gloves.
Thursday, December 3: Members' meeting (also open to the public) at Farnborough Town Hall. General chat about the canal's future, and some up-to-date slides. Car parking without lights available, but don't part in Reading Road West or on the forecourt. Time: 8.00pm. This will provide a good opportunity for new members who have joined since the rally to come and see us.
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BARGAINS: GOING. GOING...
We are rapidly acquiring an interesting collection of jumble for our sale on November 14. So we're offering members a pre-sale chance to snap up some of the choicer items, listed below:
One standard lamp (needs wiring).
An evening suit and morning suit to fit small gentleman. Needs a clean, but otherwise in excellent condition.
A New World gas cooker, six years old but suitable for conversion to North Sea gas. Cream, with eye level grill, four burners, oven and igniter. Needs a clean but in good condition.
If any of them are just the thing you've been looking for, they can be inspected during evenings at 10 Fairland Close, Fleet. Best offer for each article secures before the sale.
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WE NEED HANDS...
The GPO is making threatening noises about upping postage charges. Already, about half of our newsletters are delivered free, by postmen who are society members (not the GPO variety) and this does save us a large amount of money. To tidy up loose areas where we have collections of members but no postmen, we need someone to deliver to the following areas:
North Warnborough/Odiham/Greywell/Dogmersfield/Winchfield - 18 newsletters in all. Offers please for the area as a whole, or individual villages.
Basingstoke (including Weston Patrick and Sherborne St. John) - 9 newsletters.
Brookwood/Pirbright - 10 newsletters.
Walton on Thames/Hersham - 7 newsletters.
Haslemere - 7 newsletters.
Chertsey/Addlestone - 6 newsletters.
Farnham - Crondall, Dippenhall, Waverley - 7 newsletters.
Hook/Hartley Wintney - 7 newsletters.
Mytchett - 9 newsletters
The newsletter appears once every six weeks, so the job is not arduous. If you can help us by delivering in one of the above areas, please get in touch with the secretary (address on Page 6). Our existing postmen will receive with this newsletter a questionnaire, to sort out exactly how many newsletters they deliver, and whether they can take on more. While we don't like form-filling, these questionnaires will help us in the future to see that we don't over-work our postmen, so a prompt reply would be appreciated.
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EUROPEAN CONSERVATION YEAR, 1970
Dave Gerry and Stan Knight represented the society at a conference entitled "Countryside - Progress for the 70s" organised by the Countryside Committee of Hampshire County Council recently. Committee chairman Mr. D.G. Pumfrett in his welcoming address told delegates that the more the county council became involved in conservation matters, the more they realised that help was needed from other organisations. The good attendance at the conference proved that private people and societies were prepared to give that help.
The chair was taken by Mr. J.S. Cripps, CBE, chairman of the Countryside Commission, who drew attention to the desperate need for water areas for recreational purposes. He said that while there was conflict between water-based recreational activities, those conflicts must be resolved. He complained that the government had never given the financial backing to the Countryside Commission that had been promised, and while he appreciated that the country's finances were under strain, there were nevertheless some problems that could not wait for two to three years. How right he is.
Mr. A.D.G. Smart, County Planning Officer, outlined the county's plans for countryside parks and said that the county planners were well aware that these amenities have maximum capacities, and that in some cases these have almost been reached. He gave as an example Christchurch Harbour, which because of restricted access to the Solent and tidal limitations cannot be expected to handle more than 750 small boats, thus the county must seek fresh recreational areas. He went on to mention the canal which, he said, was "fraught with difficulties".
Later in the programme, Mr. Colin Bonsey, County Land Agent, talking of management problems, said it was essential to have simple, single management structures with one overall decisions-making manager for each project. Either Mr. Bonsey is psychic, or he has been eavesdropping at our recent committee meetings!
Lord Montague of Beaulieu spoke of the part played by private enterprise, and left us wishing that he owned the Basingstoke Canal. We might have had more success with his enlightened approach.
It has often been said that conferences achieve little, but they do enable people of similar interests to swap notes. The society was the only private group to have anything on display, and any delegate whose eyes wandered from the speaker saw a "Save the Basingstoke Canal" sticker on the wall to one side of him. Every delegate received a leaflet about the canal and the society before they left.
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UP, UP AND AWAY
If you visited the IWA Rally and took part in the balloon race, you may be interested in the result. Over 1,000 balloons took to the skies, and eventually 118 labels were returned. Six balloons made it to the Continent. The winner was Mr. N.C. Coles of Godalming, whose balloon turned up in Giessen, Germany - 418 miles away.
While the writing and typing of the newsletter has, to some extent, been the secretary's pet hobby, she would not be averse to letting someone else have a go at it. Have we a budding Editor in our ranks? The newsletter is prepared every six weeks. Much of the material is contributed, some of it has to be sought. A deadline schedule is worked out and adhered to. It is important that whoever volunteers to take over the newsletter should also be an accurate stencil typist, with an eye to design as well as accuracy. The newsletter is the only contact we have between members — it must not only be readable, it must look readable as well. The secretary will willingly carry on with the duplication and distribution of the newsletter, to relieve the Editor of that responsibility. So really, it's just a bit of journalism that is required. If you are interested in having a go, ring the secretary (numbers on back page) for more details.
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BUY EARLY - FOR CHRISTMAS: A note from the Sales Manager
By the time the next newsletter drops on your doormat, Christmas will be nearly on top of us. I would, therefore, like to remind you that almost every item in the society's sales list makes an ideal Christmas present, and also means a bit more money to help save the Basingstoke Canal. But please, order early, in case a high demand does not give us sufficient time to replenish stocks.
All the items listed are obtainable from me, Peter Walker, 6 Carlyon Close, Farnborough, Hants (Farnborough 42438). Postage is 6d. per item, unless otherwise indicated. Cheques and postal orders should be crossed, and made payable to the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society. Items marked with an asterisk are not available by post because of breakage risks, but by personal application only. It may be possible to arrange delivery. Callers wishing to inspect the stock are welcome most evenings and weekends by arrangement.
Basingstoke Canal: The Case for Restoration, 4s.6d. post free.
Basingstoke Canal: Some Questions and Answers, 1s.
Boats from the Basingstoke's Past, by Tony Harmsworth, 2s.
Walks along the Basingstoke Canal, by David Gerry, 2s.6d.
Waterside Inns of the Basingstoke, by Jon Talbot, 2s.6d.
6" map of the Basingstoke Canal, two sections (east and west of Farnborough Wharf) 8s.6d. per section.
6" map of the Wey & Arun, northern half (southern coming soon) 8s.6d.
Society badge, 4s.6d; cuff links 15s; tieclip 7s.6d.
London's Lost Route to Basingstoke by Paul Vine, 50s. post free.
Canals of South & South East England by Charles Hadfield, 70s. post free.
Canals and their Architecture, by Robert Harris, 84s. post free.
English Canals: Part I - A Concise History; Part II - Engineers & Engineering; Part III - Boats & Boatmen, 15s. each post free.
Back copies of newsletters: Nos. 3, 6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15-22 inc., 24-32 inc. 4d. each, post 6d. per order (individual copies).
Sets of newsletters: 15-19 inc. 1s.6d. each.
IWA Canal Holiday Guide 1970, 2s.
Cardboard cut-out narrow boats 5s. (not suitable young children).
Plastic carrier bags, canal water carrier design, 2s.
Christmas cards, design by Robert Harris of Langman's Bridge, Goldsworth, in Black and white, 6s. dozen, 7d. each, post 6d. per dozen.
For sample card send three 4d. stamps. Please order early as late orders may be delayed by the need to reprint more cards.
The following items are handpainted with the traditional canal roses:
China narrow boats, 17s.6d.*
Miniature painted stools: 10s.6d; 15s; 21s; 30s.*
Painted plant pots, 6s.*
Waste paper bins, 18s; 23s.*
Cake tins, 25s.*
Don't forget that we can obtain any of David & Charles books on many subjects - including canals and railways) for you post free. A list of titles is available from the Sales Manager.
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RED, WHITE OR ROSE?
For some time now, the committee has felt the society should do more for its members than send them a newsletter every six weeks and a reminder about subscriptions once a year. But this presents problems: for a start we have a large membership, straggled out along over 30 miles of canal and farther afield. We also realise that not everyone wants to drive several miles for a meeting in a draughty church hall; not everyone can support the few working parties we hold at the moment; and not everyone likes rambling. But we still feel the society should offer its members more than it does at the moment.
The best way we can find of achieving this is by introducing members to each other socially. And a start has already been made. On October 30 we held the first of what we hope will be a series of get-togethers - in this case a wine and cheese party. Society members Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Browning lent us their home in Byfleet for the evening, and I am sure those who attended found the occasion very pleasant. It provided an opportunity for a few members living close to each other to meet, have a chat, and ask questions of the one committee member who was present if they wished. It was not a fund raising, table-thumping occasion, although not unnaturally, the main topic of conversation was the canal.
Obviously these occasions must be very localised, and we hope we shall be able to hold more along the length of the canal. Are there any other members who would be prepared to host a similar function in their own homes - either a wine and cheese party or coffee evening? If there are, then please contact the secretary, stating how many members you can comfortably accommodate. We will then arrange for invitations to be sent to other members living nearby.
There are probably some members who would like to do something for the society and would like to take a more active part than our present functions allow. This is one way in which those members can help, if they wish. If the idea appeals to you, then please contact the secretary to talk it over. Finally, many thanks, on behalf of those present, to Mr. and Mrs. Browning for launching this venture so successfully.
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Another thank you, to Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Frost of Chelmsford, Essex, who have kindly given the society a spare engine for the dumper truck. It was collected by our chairman and taken to Ash Vale. It's surprising what you can get in the boot of a Vauxhall Viva ...
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Our members Mr. and Mrs. Walker of Pondtail Road, Fleet, have written to say they are leaving the country soon, as Mr. Walker has taken an appointment with the World Health Organisation in Lyon, France. Mrs. Walker hopes to let us know what she thinks of the French canals when she gets there. They won't be losing touch with the society, however, as their children are staying in England at school. We hope they'll be happy in France, and look forward to hearing about those French Canals.
There is before Surrey County Council at the moment an enterprising document called Strategy for the South East. In it, you will find mention of Planning Area No.8 - an area bordered by Reading, Frimley and Camberley, Aldershot and Basingstoke. This is designated to the biggest, fastest growing area in the whole of South-East England, from the Wash to the Solent. It provides for a mammoth growth of population with, perhaps, the establishment of a new regional centre, somewhere in the region of Hook/Odiham (though this is just talk at the moment). One side effect of the plan could be the development of some very pleasant rural countryside between Reading and the A.30. It should not go unnoticed by the planners that through this area runs the Basingstoke Canal. Feasibility studies on the proposals for Planning Area No.8 are now being undertaken, and we hope that the canal and its potential will be taken into consideration. If Planning Area No.8 comes to fruition, the canal will be a vital "green lung" (to use those horrible phrases dreamed up by planners). Anyone who says the canal is useless must be nutty when one thinks of what could happen to this area. Or in the words of a pop song popular a couple of months agos "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?"
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BARGING THROUGH BRITAIN - by Jon Talbot
The Basingstoke Canal is in a derelict state and it is over 20 years since a Basingstoke barge last carried cargo on that canal, but it is still possible to see Basingstoke barges towed by horses on the Grand Union Canal. In a new waterways venture, two barges, the Tuba (formerly Gwendoline) and Fleet (ex-Ariel I) have been fitted out as a travelling hotel. Trading as Horsebarge Hotels Ltd,, Mr. and Mrs. M.C. Baldey offer horse-drawn cruises between Berkhamsted, Herts, and Stoke Bruerne, Northants. accommodating up to 12 persons at a time.
Both vessels were built at Ash Vale and traded for many years in the Harmsworth fleet. Tuba was later employed in the carriage of esparto grass for John (Basildon Bond) Dickinson's while Fleet saw some years' service in the Coxes Lock grain trade on the Wey Navigation.
The classical lines of the hulls of these barges belie the transformation which has taken place inside. Fleet contains eight single and two double cabins, each with hot and cold running water, two bathrooms and two toilet compartments. In the bows is a cocktail bar which is stocked with a full range of spirits and beers, both bottled and on draught. Tuba boasts a comfortable lounge-cum-dining saloon with fitted carpet, plenty of well-filled bookshelves and a varied selection of good canal bric—a-brac. The remaining space in what was the hold is occupied by the kitchen and crew's quarters, while what was once the boatman's forward cabin is now a store for harness and fodder.
The barges are drawn by Selby, Primrose and Patience, who now has a foal. Arrangements are made at various points along the way for all of the animals to be accommodated so that the "motive power" for these craft changes from day to day. Towing paths in the London area are fairly well maintained, for the horses which once towed the 100-ton river lighters on the Grand Union have been replaced by small tractors. But out in the country the paths are overgrown and pitted, so that the handling of canal horses is a more demanding occupation than was formerly the case. On an eventful first trip, Selby fell into the water and, as the towpath was too high for him to scramble out, he had to swim over to the outside bank, cross an accommodation bridge and return to the path via a hole in the hedge.
The Horsebarge Hotel is a great attraction wherever it goes and lock sides are often crowded as local inhabitants turn out to see the barges go through. But on the long, lock-free pounds north of the Chilterns, there are only a few pleasure craft and an occasional pair of trading narrow boats for company. The only sounds are distant trains and the steady plod of horses' hooves.
In this first year, the Horsebarge Hotel has operated for a short season only. Most voyages have been from Marsworth Junction, near Tring, to the bottom lock at Stoke Bruerne, near Towcester. British Waterways are making a new winding hole, where the 70ft. long barges may be turned, just south of Blisworth Tunnel, and this will be the northern limit of the barges' voyaging in future. Plans for next year's cruises are being formulated now and there is a possibility of at least one trip up the Thames and on to the Wey Navigation.
This type of holiday is not entirely new, as there is at least one horse-drawn hostel boat operating on the narrow canals, a company at Warrington, Lancs, has two pairs of diesel driven narrow boats in service as travelling hotels and the British Waterways Board operates week-long cruises on the Eiver Trent and Fossdyke Navigation from Nottingham, via Newark and Torksey, to Lincoln. However, the Horsebarge Hotel is the first to offer the spaciousness of two barges, which together have the same floor area as a large house, combined with the unique attraction of horse haulage.
Horsebarge Hotels Ltd. are considering running a weekend cruise in the very near future and will operate a full cruising season in 1971. An illustrated brochure is available from Horsebarge Hotels Ltd., The Towpath, Berkhamsted, Herts. Telephone Berkhamsted 6383.
Hon. Secretary & Newsletter Editor: Miss June Sparey, 8 Beaufort Road, Maybury, Woking, Surrey. Tel: Woking 63095 (weekends only), 01-992-5167 (weekday evenings)
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