Newsletter No. 35December 1970
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OUR MEMBERS
A Message from the Chairman.
I recently talked to Mr. Colin Bonsey, Hampshire County Council's
Agent. He expressed his concern at the obvious frustrations
from which we are all suffering at the present time, he is most
concerned that we keep our spirits up and that we don't lose
heart. I am sure that he and his colleagues in both counties are trying to acquire the canal as quickly as possible. I am equally sure that he knows only too well that the counties can never be fast enough for us. I asked Mr. Bonsey if there was anything that we could do to help, but he said with regret that his advice was that at the present time, we should keep fairly quiet and do nothing. This would, in all probability, be the best help we could give.
But how much longer should we have to wait? I have a hunch that things are going to happen during 1971 and that we will have to play a major part in what happens. I believe that we have almost pushed our fight to the top of the hill, and that we will be over the top in the very near future. Unfortunately, none of us know how long, or how difficult it will be getting down the slope the other side,
One thing is certain: there will be a tremendous amount of work to do, much of it difficult. We must try therefore to get ourselves into the most efficient state of readiness to tackle any problem that may confront us. We can only be as good as our leaders, and our committee; shortly we shall be coming to the end of our year and it is up to you to be certain that you have picked the best team available. Four of your committee members have served four years (since the society's foundation); one has served three years, one has served two years and three have only served one year. I know that at least some of the die-hards with four years' service are asking themselves if they should stand down, to make way for new blood and new ideas. I am sure that all of them want to do what is best for the society and will appreciate your opinions. Now is the time for you to consider again your existing committee, consider nominating friends for election to the committee. You should consider carefully the type of person you nominate; this society demands 100 per cent of a committee member's spare time, and they must be people who will take the rough with the smooth.
While, obviously, none of us is perfect, we need committee members who are not already committed in other organisations, who will be respected by people outside the society and yet are capable of working in the bottom of a lock chamber probably not recognisable for mud. Committee members need to be diplomats and capable of working as a well-disciplined team. The enthusiastic individualist may be a pretty useless committee member if other members have to spend their time covering up for his irresponsibilities.
Would you all, therefore, give this matter some thought; criticise the present committee if you wish. Constructive criticism will help us all to get the best committee next year, when I hope the functions of the society will change from propaganda and council-chasing to shifting mud and rubbish and repairing brickwork and raising large sums of money. Any angler wishing to stand for committee will find the chairman and secretary willing to nominate him. How about it?
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A reminder that our membership secretary is now Mr. Alan Babister, 31 Elmsleigh Road, Cove, Farnborough, Hants. Membership inquiries, renewals and new subscriptions should be sent to him direct. But please make all cheques and postal orders payable to the society.
A hungry heron from the canal has pinched over 20 beautiful goldfish from the garden of a Crookham member. We express our sympathies for the loss of these expensive titbits, and hope the remaining fish breed like mad in the near future.
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Not much on the diary, due to Christmas, but towards the end of January we hope to hold another working party on Cowshot Stream, Brookwood. This feeder stream into the canal often gets blocked or silted up. Full details in next newsletter, or if you want advance information on it, ring Jim Woolgar, Brookwood 4064.
One of our Weybridge members has offered to hold a wine and cheese party on our behalf in her home. This will be held during February, and members living in the Weybridge area will receive invitations to it. As we said in the last newsletter, the aim of these social gatherings is to provide something for those members who are interested in the canal, but cannot turn up for meetings or working parties. There are no strings attached! My other member who would like to offer to "host" a wine and cheese (or coffee) party in their own home is welcome to have a chat with the secretary about it. We don't mind if you can only cater for a small number.
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A small party walked to Eastleigh from Winchester on a dry autumn day with a thin, hazy sun brightening up the seasonal colours. Only one of the party had walked the Itchen Navigation before, and this walk was enjoyed by all. During the ramble, it was suggested that a coach trip be organised to visit points of interest along the Kennet and Avon Canal, and to try and arrange this for a day when the steam pumping engine at Crofton is in operation. Some members could walk certain sections between bridges, with the more mature citizens enjoying a coach ride. So far we have about 10 people interested. Would any others who would like to join such a trip please let Peter Caiger, 42 Orchard Way, Camberley, Surrey, have their names, and if we can fill a coach we will try and arrange the trip for early next Spring.
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The working party group will gratefully receive any surplus tools you have. We would appreciate any bow saws, spades, shovels, picks or forks. Offeres please to Jim Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey.
Don't forget too that your trading stamps and cigarette coupons can be turned into equipment by the Waterways Recovery Group. Send any such unwanted paraphernalia to Jim Fleming, N/B Tom Ran, Canal Basin, Aylesbury, Bucks.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The society's annual general meeting will be held at the end of March. An official notice will be given in the next newsletter, and the accounts and agenda will be circulated to all members at least two weeks before the meeting. But please start thinking NOW about any items you would like put on the AGM agenda and, following the chairman's appeal on Page 1, think about nominations for committee, as there may well be some vacancies. People who are willing to serve on the committee should not be afraid to say so, and the secretary will be pleased to hear from prospective committee members who might want to know about the job.
Two questionnaires with this newsletter, I'm afraid. The working party questionnaire will, if you all co-operate, give us a pretty good idea of our resources if and when the magic day comes when we can start work on the canal. Certainly the county councils will want to know what sort of work force we can muster. There's something for everyone on the list, from tea-making to painting. So, even if you feel that the help you can offer will be very small, don't be deterred from filling in the form and returning it - someone has to make the tea, after all!
The questionnaire for boat owners comes following a request from the Civil Aid organisation. Your services may never be needed, but it's useful to know where help is available, in the event of an emergency.
We get help from our members in many different ways - whether it be delivering the newsletter, or turning out to deliver leaflets advertising a jumble sale or public meeting (as happened in Fleet and Farnborough recently). Help with this type of donkey work is greatly appreciated. You may feel you can do little for the society, but if you have any spare time you can give us, or any talent which we can utilise (do you embroider? How about chair backs in the traditional roses design which we could buy from you and sell at a profit?), jot it down on the working party questionnaire. Don't feel that if you can't do anything spectacular, then it's not for you.
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One of the greatest sights at the Guildford Rally was the great array of narrow boats with the traditional colourful decorations. Most of them were old working boats, now converted with all mod. cons to provide floating homes. If you found the narrow boats impressive, you might be interested in the newly-formed Narrow Boat Trust. Trusts exist to preserve Thames sailing bargee and other craft no longer in commercial use. The Narrow Boat Trust aims - before it is too late - to buy and restore many types of narrow boats. Should the chance of trading arise, their boats will be used, but the first priority is to retain the boats still left in their original condition, with the boatman's cabin and sheeted hold.
The Trust has as its patrons Sir Hugh Casson and the Earl of Powis. It seeks to keep the craft that are left in trading condition, retain a unique way of life, keep alive a tradition, keep the boats and boatmen working. Members of the Trust will receive a quarterly journal giving details of its progress and notes on the history and movement of boats.
If you would like to join, write to: The Rev, E. Howe (Membership Secretary), The Vicarage, Pottersbury, Towcester, Northants. NN12 7PX enclosing a cheque/postal order for £1.
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SAVE THE WEY & ARUN?
On Tuesday, November 17, eleven people gathered in the Red Lion at Pulborough, Sussex, and set up the Wey & Arun Canal Society. From amongst those present, the following were asked to serve, on the committee: Chairman - John East; Secretary - John Markwick; David Ball, Bob Peryer, Owen Dougherty and Neville New. Subscriptions are to be £1 for adults, 5s. for under-18s.
The magnitude of the job of negotiating with land owners and restoring and cutting new portions of canal was appreciated, says committee member Neville New. But it has been agreed to aim for a through waterway, and not to limit work to making only unconnected ponds.
The first place where work will start will be on the canal part of the waterway at Newbridge, near Billingshurst, where the landowner is "friendly".
Reopening the Wey & Arun might seem like a pipe dream, but stranger things have happened. Certainly we wish this adventurous and enthusiastic group all the best, and hope they will keep us informed of their progress. At the moment, it couldn't be much slower than ours! Any members who want something to do while kicking their heels with the Basingstoke could write to Mr. New at 189 Whitchurch Lane, Edgware, Middlesex, to find out more about the Wey & Arun Canal Society's activities. But don't forget the Surrey & Hants!
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Following Jon Talbot's article about Horsebarge Hotels in the last newsletter, we have received a letter from Mr. E. Maund, Editor of Cruising Monthly, who writes: "May I, for the record, point out that the last of the British Waterways Board's Heart of England five-day Nottingham/Lincoln cruises, operated by Water Wanderer, left Nottingham on September 19, 1966; the facility has not teen repeated in subsequent years".
And that's a pity. There may be some members who haven't sampled the delights of canal cruising, but who are toying with the idea for their summer holidays. If this applies to you, and you want some first-hand guidance on what it's like, whether children will enjoy it etc. please write in to the Newsletter Editor (address on Page 6). We have several members who can tell you all about it, the best places to go, what to do and what not to do. There are several types of holiday available - cruiser hire both in England and Ireland in boats of various sizes, hostel-type holidays on a narrow boat, either motorised or horse-drawn.
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CHRISTMAS SALES LIST
The following items can be obtained from our Sales Manager, Peter Walker, 6 Carlyon Close, Farnborough (Farnborough 42438). Postage is 6d. per item, unless otherwise indicated. Items marked with an asterisk are not available by post because of the risk of breakage, but by personal application only. Callers wishing to inspect stock are welcome most evenings or weekends by arrangement.
Basingstoke Canal: The Case for Restoration, 4s. 6d (post free);
Restoration of the 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, 8s,6d; southern 8s.6d.
Society badge 4s.6d; tie-clip 7s.6d.
London's Lost Boute to Basingstoke, by Paul Vine, 50s;
Canals of South & South-East England by Charles Hadfield, 70s;
Canals and their Architecture, by Robert Harris, 84s;
English Canals - Part I: A Concise History; Part II: Engineers & Engineering; Part III: Boats & Boatmen, 15s. each. All these books are supplied post free.
Back copies of newsletters, 4d. each, post 6d. per order; sets of newsletters - 15-19 inc. 1s.6d. each.
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. Calendars, six black and white drawings of narrow boats, 5s. poet free.
Items traditionally hand-painted with rose designs china narrow boats 17s.6d.*
Miniature painted stools: 10s.6d; 15s; 21s; 30s;*
Painted plant pots 6s* Waste paper bins 18s; 23s;*
Trays 17s;* Dippers 33s;* Cake tins 25s.*
Don't forget that we can supply any of David & Charles books on many subjects. (including canals and railways) post free. A list of titles is available from the Sales Manager.
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Gun carriage wheels and axle. Wooden wheels, would make unusual garden decoration. No good for carrying loads. Can be seen at Ash Vale Barge Yard. Offers, in writing please to the Treasurer, Mr. B. Humpidge, 48 Wood Lane, Fleet.
Pram: Wilson, coach built, with canopy. Navy blue, fair condition. £4.10s. Ring Woking 63095.
Six of the vacancies we advertised in the last newsletter for postmen were filled before a fortnight elapsed, and in some cases we had more than one volunteer for an area. This leaves us with the following areas where a society postman could help by delivering newsletters:
Basingstoke, including a couple of nearby villages - 9 newsletters. Hook and Hartley Wintney - 7 newsletters; Aldershot - 11 newsletters.
We could also do with an extra pair of hands in central Woking and south of the railway line,- Offers in this case to Mr. Stuart Browning, 34 Parvis Road, West Byfleet.
Thanks to all those who volunteered. If you weren't lucky this time, we'll keep your names on file so that we may be able to use your services in future. If you can deliver newsletters once every six weeks in the areas given above, please let the secretary know as soon as possible.
We'd also like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Graham of Camberley for giving us the spare tyre for the society caravan which we appealed for in the last newsletter. Advertisements in the newsletter do pay off! They're free, but if you do want to put in an advert, we don't object to receiving donations from grateful advertisers!
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Our jumble sale in Fleet during November raised over £30 for the funds. Our thanks to all those who donated jumble, and turned up on the day to help sort and sell.
PURCHASE - LATEST
Negotiations grind on, and the canal company has appointed a firm of valuers. Talks are being held between the officers of both county councils, and another meeting is being held during December.
In the House of Commons, MP Mr. Cranley Onslow has again reminded the Government of the £5, 000-odd still outstanding for repairs and damage caused "by the canal's breach at the R.A.E., Farnborough, two years ago. He asked whether the expert opinion necessary for a decision on what action should be taken to recover the cost of repairs and damage from the New Basingstoke Canal Company had yet been obtained.
Mr. David Price, under-secretary to the Minister of Technology, replied that the Treasury Solicitor had received the report of consulting engineers who were asked to advise on certain aspects of the claim. The report is now with counsel for advice on the chances of undertaking successful litigation.
Following the IWA rally at Guildford, officers of the society had a meeting on December 1 with Mr. John Humphries, chairman of the Inland Waterways Association, to discuss ways in which the IWA could continue to support our campaign, and, if possible, to ginger things along. Mr. Humphries is to write to both county councils asking what is happening, and indicating that the IWA, as a national body, is taking a very keen interest in the canal's future.
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MEETING AT FARNBOROUGH
Our meeting at Farnborough, open to the public, resulted in a packed Town Hall, thanks to a blanket distribution of handbills in the Farnborough area organised by Alan Babister and Peter Walker. We should also like to say thank you to the Farnborough members who volunteered to deliver these handbills, which incorporated a membership form. As a result, we have enrolled about 70 new members.
A good home for a puppy. She's eight weekK old, all mongrel, very affectionate, colour black. Mum is a sort of miniature sheepdog, quite small. Interested? Ring Dieter Jebens, Farnham 5230.
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Although the society is unable to hold working parties on the canal at the present time, keen working party enthusiasts might like to know of others which are held within the area.
The South Eastern Branch (formerly London & Home Counties) of the Inland Waterways Association holds working parties on the River Wey. There will be one on Sunday December 13, meeting at 10am at Cartbridge on the A.247 at Send near Woking. A party will be cutting back trees overhanging the channel between Step Bridge and The Tannery. (Our apologies if this newsletter arrives on your doorstep after this working party is held, it may well do and it's not your postman's fault). If you want more information on working parties on the Wey, ring Tim Dodwell at Woking 65932.
During the weekend January 16-17 an assault is planned on the Bath locks on the Kennet and Avon. More details from Graham Palmer, 01-346-4949, who can tell you about working parties held all over the country.
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Decimalisation means we will have to start thinking about our 12s. 6d. family membership subscription. It doesn't convert, and may result in our having to raise the sub. to 15s. (75p). Raising subscriptions is a matter for the AGM, but unfortunately our AGM falls AFTER the date when subscriptions are due (March l). The committee is trying to think of a way round this one, but anyone renewing a 12s. 6d. subscription might like to add a "donation" of 2s. 6d. to make life (and the society's books) easier!
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COURTING BY CANAL - by Len and Dorothy Robins, Farnham
After nearly 50 years of happy married life, we can still look back down memory lane and have good laughs, often with friends, over the days of our courting - on and by the Basingstoke Canal. Those were not only the days, but often the late, moonlit nights.
We then belonged to the numerous flock of Robins who lived in Farnham then and now we are one of the few. Our grandparents came from Dorset about 1880 (we were cousins). But we had been away and had returned during World War I, the male mainly in the uniform of the Canadian Artillery, Signals.
We were both cyclists, and after the war we spent most of our weekends for many summers on the canal, cycling to Mr. Hill's boathouse, since decayed to disappearance hard by the old Farnham Wharf, on the Famborough Road. Sometimes, however, we hired from Harmsworth's boathouse, North Camp, or went to Fleet or Odiham. White flannels and red cummerbund, very smart, were the regular male attire for boating and a gramophone was part of the kit of almost every craft. No radio then.
Craft? Oh, we tried nearly everything that floated, or nearly so. The ordinary two or four-oar skiff was the most popular type with the Army lads and with families, but when feeling more sporty, or more energetic, there was the racing skiff with sliding seat. Rather more often we favoured a punt, with its long thick cushions, working by paddles usually, pole not often. We became very friendly with Mr. Hill and often he let us have one of his handsome canoes, Hiawatha or Minehaha, and then we indeed sailed along in the height of luxury. (At first, the distaff unit was scared stiff for fear of overturning, but such worries were groundless).
Often we would go to Pyestock, where there was a landing stage at the Forest Hut, yes, really in the depth of the forest, we seem to remember. Salmon teas were the great attraction at the hut - and cost only a shilling or two. Other times, of course, we took picnic lunch and tea, but then, as now, wayside pubs and cafes had their attractions. Besides the boaters, there were fishermen and cyclists to meet and chat with, or barge crews from strange waters. Press on to Fleet, or sometimes cycle there direct and take a boat onwards through the remote regions of Dogmersfield Park and on to Odiham. There and back a full day's pull, with restful intervals on the bank, of course. We were tough and rambles in the woods made for variety.
There were the Three Tuns, New Inn and George at Odiham and occasionally we stayed overnight for an early morning return voyage. Odiham seems to be the limit of our cruising, for we do not remember going through the long Greywell Tunnel before it fell in later. Quiet miles, clear water, fish, birds, horses in the meadows, no noisy motor launches or their fumes; no weeds, but woods, grassy banks, meadows with wild daffodils, buttercups, bluebells, primroses. The swish of the oars in the water, the song of the birds in the trees, an occasional call from other boaters, but no other sounds to disturb the countryside peace, not a motor vehicle in sight. Peaceful Paradise. And not to forget stops at the Chequers, near Crookham, and the Barley Mow, Dogmersfield.
Undoubtedly, the western miles were the more romantic, or so it seems to us now. Aldershot made the waterway less attractive, but from North Camp boathouse (do they call it Ash Vale now?) eastwards progress was better. That unusual aqueduct carrying the canal over the London and South Western Railway main line (we do seem to be dated, don't we?) was always a source of wonderment! Boating over a railway! Frimley, through the deep cutting from which the camp above took its name, and on towards Pirbright. But those locks were too much like hard work!
Our romantic twenties. We have lived in the same house for 40 years since then, but we still vividly recall the pleasures of a more leisurely and more graceful age. May the canal stage a come-back for the benefit of other generations of young folk.
NOTE: We feel many of our members must share similar memories of the canal to those so ably described here. If you have such recollections, please jot them down, however roughly, and send them to the secretary. We hope to prepare a booklet on the canal's history, to include personal recollections of what the canal was like in the past. Perhaps you, too, went boating - or you have vivid memories of the Harmsworth barges going to and fro? Or did you go on an outing along the canal as a child? Whatever it is, please send it in.
Hon. Sec: Miss June Sparey, 8 Beaufort Road, Maybury Estate, Woking, Surrey. Telephone 01-992-5167 (Mon-Thurs evenings); Woking 63095 (weekends only)
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OPERATION FLOOD RESCUE
The events of the past few weeks in Pakistan and the memory of the floods in our own locality, three years ago, and indeed the flooding of the River Wey only a week or two ago highlight the need for small hoats for rescue and relief operations.
If another flood disaster should occur in this area, it would he nice to think that the host owners in the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society are ready to give help (if needed) to other voluntary societies and to the general public. We would therefore like to prepare a register of owners of small boats (preferably trailed or car top dinghies) who are willing to render aid if called upon to do so.
If you can help in this way some time, please complete and return this form to: Les Harris, 198 Hermitage Woods Crescent, St. John's, Woking, Surrey. We promise not to ask you to go to Pakistan (you can always refuse in any case). The operation area would only cover the catchment area of the River Wey and the Basingstoke Canal.
[form was provided]
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SURREY AND HAMPSHIRE CANAL SOCIETY
WORKING PARTY QUESTIONNAIRE
NAME (Mr/Mrs/Miss). ADDRESS
TELEPHONE NUMBER ................................
PLEASE TICK WHERE APPROPRIATE
1. AGE GROUP; Under 16 ...... ±6-30 ...... 30-40 ...... 40-55 ...... 55-Over
2. WHAT TYPE OF WORK YOU ARE PREPARBD TO DO:
(a) Manual work; e.g. Digging, towpath levelling, cleaning out Lock chambers .................
(b) "Gardening" work: e.g. Hedge trimming, grass cutting, weeding .........
(c) Light work; e.g. painting lock gates, collecting and burning rubbish ..
(d) Very light work: e.g. catering, secretarial fund-raising ..........
3. WHEN IS THE MOST CONVENIENT TIME FOR YOU TO WORK?
Saturday morning ..... Sunday morning ...... Saturday pm ....... Sunday pm
4. HOW OFTEN CAN YOU WORK?
Once a month ....... Twice a month ...... Once every two months
Once every three months ...... Only on special projects ........
5. DO YOU REQUIRE TRANSPORT? ......................................
6. HAVE YOU ANY SPECIAL SKILLS OR TRAINING?
Architect ......... Woodworker ....... Plumber ......
Surveyor .......... Metal worker ..... First aid ....
Bricklayer ........ Welder ........... Other skills ....
Concreter ......... Motor mechanic ... .................
7. DO YOU HAVE ANY USEFUL CONTACTS? e.g. obtaining materials at discount or free, plant hire, tractor/Land Rover
8. ANY OTHER COMMENTS?
Please return this form to: Mr, J. Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey.
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