May 1971

Your new Committee
More AGM Matters
Fishy History
The newsletter
Book review
Sales list
Working party
Public meeting
Crofton trip
Canals and County Councils
The Narrow Boats - Pt 1

Contact the Society


bcnmsthd16 (13K)

Newsletter No. 38May 1971

Three new members join the society's committee for the coming year, following the postal ballot. Here are full details of the new committee, and the ballot result:

Elected ------ No. of votes

David Gerry, 10 Fairland Close, Fleet ................................ 297
Peter Caiger, 42 Orchard Way, Camberley ........................ 286
Alan Babister, 31 Elmsleigh Eoad, Cove, Farnborough ........276
Robin Higgs, 18 Barnsford Crescent, West End, Waking .....275
Barry Humpidge, 48 Wood Lane, Fleet ............................. 270
Jim Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking .257
John Dodwell, 19 Drill Hall Road, Chertsey ........................ 250
Jeff Holman, 22 Willow Green, West End, Woking ..............204
Mrs. Glenis Crocker, 6 Burwood Close, Merrow, Guildford ...198

Not elected -----

Stuart Browning, 34 Parvis Road, West Byfleet ...................186
Mick Farrless, The Firs, Sandy Lane, Send, Woking ...........146
Alan Moss, 1 Moorside Close, Chapel Lane, Farnborough......95

There were 311 ballot papers returned, with two spoilt papers. The total number of votes cast were 2,740 out of a possible 2,780.

The new committee has already met and the following officers have been elected:
Chairman: David Gerry
Vice-chairman: Robin Higgs
Treasurer: Barry Humpidge
Secretary: No appointment yet made: see below
Social Secretary: Peter Caiger
Membership Secretary: Alan Babister
Working Party Organiser: Jeff Holman
Press Officer: Dieter Jebens, 75 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham
Newsletter Editor: Miss June Sparey
Sales Manager: Peter Walker, 6 Carlyon Close, Farnborough
Archivist: Miss Doris Potter, 22 Queen's Road, Fleet

The committee has not yet appointed a new society secretary, and before appointing someone from its ranks to the job, would like to advertise for a new secretary from amongst the membership who could be co-opted. We need someone who is able to type, and has their own machine, who can write business letters and handle all normal clerical duties in a business-like manner. The work is interesting and varied, and involves writing up minutes of meetings, sending out agendas etc. in addition to dealing with routine correspondence. Anyone who would be interested to take this post should contact the chairman, Mr. Gerry, or the former secretary, Miss Sparey (address and phone numbers on Page 6) who can give full details of what the job entails.

The AGM was well and enthusiastically attended, and all motions on the agenda were carried. The alteration to subscription rates was approved in a slightly amended form to that which appeared on the agenda, and the new rates are: adult — 60p; family - 75p; group affiliation £1; junior (under 18 and in full time education) -30p; junior group affiliation — 60p.

Many members felt the family membership subscription should be raised to £1, but the treasurer rightly reminded everyone that these figures are minimum subscriptions, and there is nothing to stop you sending more if you want to. With the disappearance of the 10s. note, most people do, in fact, send a cheque or postal order for £1, and the balance is counted as a donation. With this newsletter you will receive a form for renewal of membership - more about that later.
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The news was given at the AGM that the agents acting for the New Basingstoke Canal Company were expected to ask "a six figure sum" for the canal. In these days of financial stringency, no public authority could justify such a huge and ludicrous expenditure. If the canal company persists in this attitude, the county councils could well lose interest in the project, and it is vital that every one of us should make sure this does not happen.

There are two things EVERY MEMBER can do to help:
(l) Write to your county councillor, urging him to do everything he can to ensure that the county councils do not lose interest, even if it means using their compulsory purchase powers. Or you can write to the Clerk of your county council (Surrey or Hampshire) expressing your concern at the lack of progress in negotiations, and giving your support for any means they can take to ensure that the canal does become publicly owned.

(2) Back in September 1968, a breach occurred in the canal close by the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. Taxpayers' money was used to pay the cost of repairing that breach and, as far as we know, it has not yet been recovered from the New Basingstoke Canal Company. The amount involved could be as high as £8,000. Write to your HP, and ask him to do what he can to see that the money (which comes from you and I in the first place) is recovered from the canal company. The latest we know on this is that the Treasury solicitor has been studying whether or not to take legal action - but he has been doing that for a long time now, and it is time something was done.

What will this achieve? Two things, we hope, (1) will ensure that the county councils, if they get a flood of letters from members, cannot sit back and forget the canal. (2) may result in the canal company facing up to at least one of its liabilities. Please help us by writing your letters. If you want any further information or advice, contact the Newsletter Editor (address Page 6).

Voting; The question of voting eligibility was raised at the AGM in relation to the postal ballot. This year, we had a rush of very new members shortly before the ballot papers went out and there was some discussion on whether or not it was strictly fair to offer very recent members a vote in a postal ballot.

It was agreed that, for the future, members joining the society AFTER the formal notice of an AGM had been published in the newsletter, should not be eligible to vote in a postal ballot for committee. It was also agreed that affiliated societies should not be eligible fo vote in a postal ballot.

Lock gates; The question of building another set - this time lowers — was raised at the ACM and greeted with some enthusiasm. Comments please, on this suggestion — plus firm offers of help with their construction from willing carpenters. If you would be interested in working on such a project, please let Jeff Holnan, 22 Willow Green, West End, Woking, Surrey, have a note of your name and address.

Committee; Mr. Paul Buck, an Alton member, came up with an interesting suggestion which the new committee is now considering. His idea is to have within the organisation a smaller Executive Committee, to handle matters of finance and policy. This would be elected by a larger, over-all committee which, in turn, would be elected by the membership. Mr. Buck's aim in suggesting this was to have a large committee meeting less frequently than the present committee does, but spreading the society's work load on more people. Anyone with any interesting comments on this idea - or any further suggestions on how we could become more organisationally efficient - please send your thoughts to the Newsletter Editor.

Now that we have sorted out our subscription rates, we can ask you all to renew your membership! A renewal form is enclosed, please read it carefully and answer it fully, as our records for the next year will depend on the information you give. Check the address on the envelope in which you receive this newsletter, and tell us if it is incorrect. And please - do indicate which category of membership you are renewing. This is important as family members receive two votes in a postal ballot.

If you are sending £1 for a 60p or 75p membership, make sure you credit yourself with a donation of 40p or 25p as the case may be (or send more if you like ...). Members who joined after November 1, or who have already renewed, will not get a renewal form, but in case the system slips up and you do get a form when you have renewed already, ignore it. This year, in an effort to cut down on paper work, we are not sending out receipts automatically. If, however, you do want a receipt, please enclose a stamped addressed envelope when you return the form.
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We need help in the following ways:

(1) A typist with own typewriter suitable for cutting stencils, to address about 300 new stencils for our Addressograph machine. It's a fiddly, messy business, but if we get enough volunteers we can split the number to be done between them. The Newsletter Ed. is panicking at the thought of doing the lot herself and would be very grateful for any offers of help.

(2) Volunteers to go on a standby rota for towing the society caravan to the various fetes, shows and galas we shall be attending this summer. Drivers should have a 2,000 cc vehicle with towing attachment. You may only be needed once - but that will help greatly. Offers to Peter Caiger, 42 Orchard Way, Camberley, Surrey.

(3) An artist to produce a simple, effective design which could be used on notelets to be added to our sales stock. The design should be distinctive, and in keeping with our "image". Also, has anyone any bright ideas for a Christmas card design? A design sub-committee has been set up to choose suitable designs, and ideas in this case should be sent to the sub-committee's chairman, Mrs. Glenis Crocker, 6 Burwood Close, Merrow, Guildford, Surrey.

(4) Folding tables for our caravan, on which we can arrange our sales material. Ideal size is 6 ft. by 3 ft. If you have one which you don't need, and are willing to donate to the society — grand. Or you may have one you could loan us for the summer season when the caravan is busy. Offers to Peter Caiger, 42 Orchard Way, Camberley.

(5) More postmen: particularly for the Woking area, and Fleet. Woking offers to Stuart Browning, 34 Parvis Road, West Byfleet, Woking, Surrey; Fleet volunteers to the Newsletter Editor (address Page 6).

Anglers who fish the canal may be interested to hear of a recent gift to the Camberley Museum - two stuffed pike caught by Mr Thomas Morris in Mytchett Flash about 1900. One measures 36 inches and we are told must have weighed about 20 lbs. The other is 28 inches long. The Museum would be interested to hear of any large pike caught recently in this area for comparison with the 1900 breed.

With our rapid rise in membership, producing the newsletter on our former six—weekly basis is getting to be a big job. For this reason, it has been agreed that from now the newsletter will appear every two months in future.

Like Topsy, it has growed up very fast - and it has grown through the stages where it might have been economical to print it. The Newsletter Editor is now thinking hard about ways of extending and improving the newsletter, and invites every member to submit something for it - a letter, an opinion, a recollection - what you like. The next issue, for instance should (space permitting) have an interview with a former Basingstoke Canal bargee in it!

Our volunteer postmen will be receiving the newsletter for delivery at more regular intervals. For the benefit of new members, some of you may be receiving your newsletter by hand - thanks to our member—postmen who save us so much money by doing a newsletter round. We do need more postmen to deliver in certain areas, and if you can help, please let us know.

The Editor would also welcome any ideas from members about future articles for the newsletter.

This is the first full length book on canal cruising to be published as a cheap paperback edition easily taken on holiday. It sets out to cover everything that anyone contemplating a canal holiday for the first time would want to know, and in this it largely succeeds, although not in a manner that will rank it as one of the great canal books.

The book covers in considerable detail all the practical aspects of hiring the boat etc. with an appendix giving a list of all hire cruiser firms with short details of the size of boats available and waterways covered, usefully arranged by regions.

The whole of the history of the British canal system is con­densed remarkably well into a chapter of only ten pages — which acts as a prelude to the second section of the book: a guide to most of Britain's waterways.

Available from the Sales Manager at 35p (paperback).
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The following items are available by post from the Sales Manager, Mr. Peter Walker, 6 Carlyon Close, Farnborough, Hants., tel. Farnborough 42438.
Items marked with an asterisk are not sent through the post because of the risk of breakage, but can be obtained by personal application. The new postage rates take weight into account, so we have given a rough idea of what each article weighs, to help you to calculate how much to allow for postage. Please estimate the total weight of items in your order on which postage and packing is charged, and then add postage and packing as follows:
Not over 4 oz: 3p; Not over 6oz: 5p; Each 2 oz. thereafter to 1 lb: 1p; Not over 8 oz: 11p.
Please make cheques and postal orders payable to the society.

Restoration of the Basingstoke Canal: Some Questions and Answers: 5p (l oz); Boats from the Basingstoke!s Past; Walks Along the Basingstoke Canal; Waterside Inns of the Basingstoke - all 12p, all weighing 3 oz. each ;
6" map of the Basingstoke Canal, two sections, East and West of Farnborough Wharf, 42p per section (3 oz);
society badge 22p (2 oz);
London's Lost Route to Basingstoke, The Canals of South and South East England, Canals and their Architecture: £2.50; £3.50 and £4.20 respectively, all post free;
English Canals, Parts II and III 75p each (post free);
Slow Boat Through England 35p (5 oz);
The Canal Age by Charles Hadfield, paperback, 50p (post free);
back copies of newsletters, 1p each (l oz);
Cut out cardboard narrow boats 25p (4 oz) - for dextrous fingers only;
Carrier bags 10p (2 oz);
Calendars 20p (2 oz).
*China narrow boats 90p;
miniature hand painted stools 52p, 75p, £1.05, £1.50;*
*Flower pots 30p;
waste paper bins 90p, £1.15; trays 85p; dippers £1.65; cake * *tins £1.25;
painted wooden spoons 26p,
We can now supply most books in print on inland waterways and nautical subjects as well as any book published by David & Charles. Catalogues are available from the Sales Manager.

Following the huge success of our visit to Crofton by coach (reported later in this newsletter), the social secretary is now thinking about more coach trips we could have for members. One suggestion has already been made: the Inland WaterWays Association's National Rally of Boats is being held at Northampton from August 13-16, and the idea is to take a coach to Northampton on either the Saturday or Sunday (l4th or 15th) to visit the rally, and the National Waterways Museum which is at Stoke Bruerne, not too far away.

Obviously, before fixing anything definite we want to know if people would like to join this trip, so if you are interested, please let Peter Caiger, 42 Orchard Way, Camberley, have a note of your name and address. Then we can see whether or not it is worth going ahead with the arrangements.

On the other hand, you might have an idea for a suitable coach outing - if so, please let Peter know about it.

We have now obtained permission from the Ministry of Defence to clear out Cowshott Stream, a feeder into the canal. This stream rises on Bisley Ranges and runs into the canal below Lock 16.

A working party will be held on Sunday, June 6 at 10.30am. Meet at the site of the railway bridge (old Brookwood-Bisley line) on Brookwood - Pirbright Camp Eoad, map reference OS 169 942572. Bring Wellingtons or waders, rakes, forks, shovels.

We have to advise the Army of the names and number of people expected to attend, so if you are definitely intending to join this working party, please let Jim Woolgar, 56 Connaught Crescent, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey (tel. Brookwood 4064) have a note of your name.

Christ Church Hall, Woking, was packed with about 300 people for our public meeting on May 5. It is not often that 300 people can agree - but these did: they were all adamant that something should be done about the canal — and quickly.

Great concern was expressed over the apparent breakdown of negotiations between the canal company and the county councils, and a resolution to this effect was passed. Thanks to Stuart Browning and our Woking members for distributing leaflets: a mammoth task in an area like Woking.

The meeting has already brought in more than 160 new members, to whom we extend a welcome to the society.
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Glorious Crofton. It was everything our poetic member said it would be a couple of newsletters ago. We had two coachloads, and about 100 people went to the pumping station on the Kennet and Avon Canal in the depths of the lovely Wiltshire countryside.

The sight of the Boulton and Watt beam engine in work, pulling up a ton of water from the nearby lake, proved utterly fascinating, We spent about two hours at Crofton, then had a leisurely stop for refreshments in Devizes before going on to Caen Kill for a bit of exercise - a walk up the Caen Hill locks.

One stop for a cuppa in Newbury and home after a nost interesting day which everyone who came thoroughly enjoyed. We were indeed fortunate to see the beam engine in steam - for which the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust charged us only £5. The committee felt they deserved more, and a cheque for £10 is on its way to the Trust, the difference being met out of the small profit which the outing made.

Thanks then, to the Trust for showing us a bit of history at work, and to Peter Caiger whose arrangements went so smoothly (despite British Rail's apparent inability to get some members to Woking Station before 8 am. But we didn't leave anyone behind. Roll on the next trip.

While on the subject of steam, there is another pumping station, with engines built by Hawthorns of Newcastle in 1868, It is the Ryhope Pumping Station at Sunderland.

A Ryhope Pumping Engines Preservation Fund has been formed to finance a trust for the preservation and maintenance of engines, buildings and site. It is hoped that one engine will be kept capable of being worked under steam, the other driven by electricity for immediate and everyday display. Any of our members who are going that way - perhaps for a holiday — are welcome to call in and have a look at the Ryhope Pumping Station. If you write to Dr. S. M. Linsley, 4 Paul Lea, Beamish, Co, Durham, he will be pleased to make the arrangements for you.

I would like to thank Peter Caiger for organising a very interesting trip to the Crofton punps and the Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes, A good time was seen to be had by all, the only concern for puzzlement was in trying to understand the workings of the Crofton steam-driven pumps. The explanation set out in the K & A booklet was somewhat baffling to the non-Watts-parallel-Link-Motion-Pump enthusiasts. I have therefore written this simplified version of the mechanics to enable anyone who sees the engines to understand them more fully:-

Water enters a boiler in the engine house at the lower level where coal is heated by fire, releasing high temperatures. This action turns the water to steam which is piped along a pipe to the main Drott. The pump operator then carefully releases the friddling pin to unworple the garvel hook from the dipple which lets the steam hiss into the Scroggans. This is where the ingenuity of the Watts-Parallel-Link-Motion* takes over, for the steam on the Scroggans pushes the piston drop-links in a vertical motion until the strikers (they had them in those days too) tilt the beam on the slide rails and riffles the gruffet to the top level. The steam reverts to water in the snork-flute and exits via the drucket chute, flowing off to the top pound of the canal.

*Watts originally contrived his Parallel-Link-Motion in 1731, but was unable to find a use for it until he invented steam in 1794.

(if any of our newer members are baffled by the above - snap).

It may surprise some people to know that it is not at all unusual for county councils to play an active part in saving canals. Indeed, the British Waterways Board has just published details of several schemes in which our county authorities (unhappily neither Surrey nor Hampshire is included) are doing just that.

Restoration proposals currently in hand in other parts of the country include the following:

Erewash Canal - marked for restoration by Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire County Councils;
final discussions in progress between Stoke City Council and Staffs County Council about restoring the Caldon Canal;
the GLC and Bucks County Council are having talks with British Waterways and other authorities regarding the Slough Arm of the Grand Union, where restoration agreement has been reached;
Lancs County Council and others are taking part in a working party to consider the future of the Ashton Canal;
Cheshire County Council and others working on similar lines with regard to the Lower Peak Forest.
And, most spectacular of all, Breconshire, and Momouthshire County Councils reached successful agreement with the Board for the restoration of the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal - and won themselves an award during European Conservation Year.

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The boating press has, in recent months, contained many references to the decline in trade on the narrow canals. The narrow boats are felt by many to epitomise the complex world of the waterways. Their gradual disappearance means the end of the old order - a way of life that had changed so little in the previous century that it seemed it would never change further.

The narrow boats were once numbered in thousands. These boats, approximately 70 ft. long, with a beam of 7 ft and a draft of about 3ft.9ins, carried 25 to 30 tons each. A good horse, well kept and well fed, could pull two such craft without difficulty and with the advent of the steam engine early in the 19th century, it became customary for boats to travel in pairs.

The steam boat hauled an unpowered boat, called a butty, and on canals which had been constructed to "wide" dimensions (over 14ft breadth at locks and bridges) the two craft could lie side by side in lock chambers and travel roped together in this fashion when empty, requiring only one man at the helm.

Each boat had a small cabin, about 10 ft. long and 6 ft. wide, at the stern. The steerer stood on the counter at the rear of the cabin, and in inclement weather could step inside the double doors, pull open a slide in the roof and stand, with only his head and shoulders exposed, in a draught of warm air rising from the cabin stove.

In the early days the boats were crewed by men and boys. Few families lived on narrow boats until the mid-19th century, when competition from the railways made serious inroads into the profitability of canal carrying. A census of 1841 gave the number of men working on the canals as 23,226, but there were only 132 women so employed. Later, some boats were constructed with a small additional cabin in the bows, where children could sleep.

In 1877 a Canal Boats Act was passed, which laid down the minimum volume of cabin space required for a sleeping person. Indirectly, it also made it an offence to live in sin on a boat! In order to ensure that the Act was complied with fully, every boat which was used as a dwelling had to be registered with the local authority in whose area it was first used. Wey barges and Basingstoke boats bore the words "Registered Port of London" and a number on the cabin side. This referred to the London canal boat registry and was not connected in any way with the registration of sea-going ships.

Action was last taken under the Canal Boats Act in the spring of 1970, when Rickmansworth UDC removed a child from a British Waterways butty and placed her in a children's home, on the grounds that the boat was over­crowded.

Only one horse-drawn narrow boat remains in cargo-carrying service, operated by Arthur Stevens & Son of Birmingham. Horse boats were used on the Basingstoke extensively, until the last years of trade on the canal, although, unlike the barges on the canal, they were built elsewhere or purchased from other carriers.

Early this century the steam engine began to be replaced by single-cylinder semi-diesel engines. These were started not by the glow-plug method, but by playing a blow-lamp on to the cylinder head before giving the starting handle a swing. Most of these engines were made in Sweden by Bolinders Aktiebolget (now Volvo) although I have seen a Gardners semi-diesel with a single piston seven inches in diameter and a foot long. The flat-out speed of this monster is 440 rpm!

Later, twin national engines appeared and became very popular, although air-cooled Fetter two cylinder diesels are now the most common. The smart motor boats of Blue Line Canal Cruisers, who have just ceased trading, had new Lister 3-cylinder 19 hp diesels fitted.
(To Be Continued)

Included with this newsletter, apart from the renewal form, is a banker's order form and Covenant form. It would help us greatly if you could renew by banker's order; and even more if you completed the Covenant form, which enables us to claim back the income tax you have paid on your subscription.

If you do decide to take out a Covenant, please return it to the Treasurer, Barry Humpidge, 48 Wood Lane, Fleet. Banker's orders and the completed renewal form should be sent to the Membership Secretary, Alan Babister, 31 Elmsleigh Road, Cove, Farnborough, Hants.

PLEASE DON'T send loose cash, i.e. 50p pieces through the post, as they do tend to get lost. Cheques or postal orders please, made out to the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society.

We hope as many members who can will pay their subs by banker's order - and go a stage further with the Covenant form.

Newsletter Editor: Miss June Sparey, 8 Beaufort Road, Maybury Estate, Woking, Surrey.
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Last updated March 2005