Newsletter No. 40September - October 1971
NEW SECRETARY APPOINTED
We now have a new secretary, following the appeal in the last newsletter for someone to take over. She is Mrs Elizabeth Nicholson, of 1 Kielder Walk, Heatherside, Camberley, Surrey, telephone number Camberley 29468.
In future, please address all general correspondence, suggestions
for the committee etc. to Mrs. Nicholson direct.
Changes of address, and anything to do with membership matters
should be notified to the membership secretary, Alan Babister, 31
Elmsleigh Road, Cove, Farnborough, Hants. (Farnborough 46147)
Any contributions for the newsletter should be sent to the Editor, Miss June Sparey, 8 Beaufort Road, Maybury Estate, Woking, Surrey.
Mrs. Nicholson, who began her duties on September 3, is a recent member of the society. At present she is a working housewife, but will give up work later this year to prepare for a new arrival to the household. She has been co-opted on to the society committee
for the time being.
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THE END OF THE TUNNEL? by David Gerry, SHCS Chairman
A few weeks ago I went to County Hall, headquarters of Surrey County Council,
to see if I could find out what progress, if any, was being made in the negotiations to purchase the Basingstoke Canal. I met Mr. R. E. Gray, FRICS, Surrey County Council!s Counry Valuer and Estates Surveyor , who is negotiating on behalf of Hampshire County Council as well as for his own Authority.
Mr. Gray explained that he could not discuss progress as such because all
negotiations are confidential and any attempt to pressurise negotiations could lead to them breaking down. Mr. Gray also said he could be criticised if matters moved too slowly. Alderman Cawsey of Woking evidently felt that things should be happening and had asked a written question on July 27 at the Surrey County Council meeting.
In reply, it was stated that progress will be reported on before the end of the year.
What docs this mean? If negotiations are concluded before the time limit set then all should be straightforward and the counties should be able to announce what they intend to do with the canal.
If negotiations fail, then the elected representatives of both counties will have to get together and decide on the action to take. The councillors can decide to do one of three things:
1. Decide to drop the whole matter and take no further action.
2. Ask Mr. Gray to re-open negotiations and set a new time limit.
3. Apply for a compulsory purchase order.
Having worked long and hard to get the councils to negotiate in the first place, we have to urge that they take option 3 i.e. serve a compulsory purchase notice. Your committee will be planning during the next few months the varied actions to be taken to cover whatever decision the councils reach, but longer-term planning will be positive restoration planning, the first we have been able to do.
When the counties announced their intention of negotiating to purchase I described it as seeing "the light at the end of the tunnel". It was a damned crooked tunnel, but perhaps we can now actually see the end of it.
If the counties take compulsory purchase action, then they may take possession of the canal when that action is confirmed by the Government department. It is true that the canal company can contest compulsory purchase, but after all, both parties have agreed to the change in ownership; it can only be disagreement on a technical point or on the final price to be paid which could cause negotiations to fail.
So we must be prepared to accept any challenge thrown at us by the county councils, and the challenge could come in 1972. Your committee has to ensure that the challenge does come.
What are the most important jobs to be done on the canal? First we have to get water from Hampshire across to Surrey. This means the embankment at Ash must be repaired early in the restoration programme. This must obviously be followed by the restoration of Ash Lock and the removal of the concrete dam (that tragic mistake). Then, having prepared the way for water to cross the county boundary we have to stop the water leaking out of the summit pound and so restore the Whitewater Aqueduct.
Obviously, much can be going on at the same time and towpaths in the Ash area and right through the summit pound have to be cleared and there must be some dredging.
All this means one hell of a lot of work for you: either raising cash, making cups of tea or getting filthy in the bottom of Ash Lock. If we could make a pair of bottom gates for Ash Lock - then it is just possible that we might be able to have an autumn cruise from Frimley to Odiham in 1972. We have some volunteers for building lock gates this winter - but not enough. How about sending your name to Jeff Holman, 22 Willow Green, West End, Woking, Surrey, NOW? We need carpenters one or two nights a week for at least four months, working a 7pm - 10pm shift, so they must be reliable. There is more about making lock gates later in this newsletter - please read it and give it very careful thought.
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Every two months we send out something over 1,000 newsletters. That could mean a postage bill approaching £30 a time. But it doesn't. Instead, the newsletter costs us about £10 to distribute. For two-thirds are distributed by hand, by members who each cover a certain district. And now wa have some vacancies for more postmen, in the following areas:
Odiham/North Warnborough/ Greywell - about 20 deliveries. Brookwood/Bisley/Pirbright - also about 20. Frimley - about 25 in a compact area.
Can you help to save us more money? We particularly need help in the areas given above, but welcome any offers to do hand deliveries in any area (more help in Woking would be useful). It means giving up an evening every two months in return for a healthy bank balance. If you would like to join our ranks of postmen, please get in touch with the Newsletter Editor, address on Page 1, or ring her at Camberley 29463. (weekdays after 5 pm)
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Saturday/Sunday, October 2-3, Dudley Dig - see Page 5.
Wednesday, October 6: The first of our "members only" meetings, to be held at Crookham Memorial Hall, near Fleet, at 8.00 pm. Jon Talbot will show slides and films of narrow boats, and there will be opportunity for general discussion about the society, the campaign, what's happening and anything else you want to know. We hope to see some of our many new members in the Fleet-Crookham area at this meeting - plus anyone else who can come.
Sunday, October 10: Clearance of public footpath at Greywell. See Page 5.
Wednesday, October 20: Recruitment meeting, Church House, Union Street, Farnham, 8.00 pm. Farnham members will be approached for help in delivering handbills. Try and persuade non-member friends to come - and come yourself if you have never been to one of these before.
Sunday, October 24: Working party, Cowshott Stream, see Page 5 ; RaMble (see below)
Wednesday, October 27; "Members only" meeting, St. John's Memorial Hall, St. John's, Woking. Tony Harmsworth, one of our most fascinating speakers, will be showing a film about Wey barges made in 1963. Again, an opportunity for our host of new members in the Woking area to come and meet us and fire questions. Meeting starts 8.00 pm.
Wednesday, November 3: Recruitment meeting, Public Library, High Street, Aldershot. Again, members in the Aldershot area will he asked to help with handbill distribution. Meeting starts 8.00 pm.
November 13-14: Steaming weekend at Crofton on the Kennet and Avon Canal. If you missed our coach trip to Crofton, here's another chance to see the 1812 Boulton and Watt steam engine in operation - but you'll have to get there under your own "steam". Crofton will be open over this weekend from 10 am to 1 pm, and 2 pm to 6 pm. Admission is 15p.
Sunday, November 14: Second attack on Cowshott Stream, see Page 5.
Wednesday. January 26: Annual General Meeting, Brookwood Memorial Hall, Brookwood, Woking, 8.00 pm. (See Page 7)
Our sales stand will be in operation at all the members and public meetings given above, so if you want to buy some Christmas cards - or presents - come along and get them at the meetings.
For anyone interested in the Strategic Plan for the South East, the Camberley Society is holding a public meeting on Thursday, October 14 at the Civic Hall, Knoll Road, Camberley, when one of the plan's architects, Prof. Peter Hall of Reading University will be speaking. Ihis plan effects everyone who lives in the south-east.
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John Peart, of 1 Medway Drive, Cove, Farnborough, has just been appointed the society's rambles organiser. He has already mapped out an interesting series of rambles, split into two: hard case, for the serious rambler, and family ones suitable for children. They will be held at eight-weekly intervals. "Hard case" rambles are for those walkers unafraid of hard country, rough weather and long distances, run during the winter months and lasting all day Sunday. Family rambles cover 5-8 miles during summer months on Sunday afternoons, John's rambles kick off on:
Sunday, October 24; Ash Vale-Deepcut-Ash Vale (by footpath) - family ramble, six miles, meet Ash Vale Barge Yard, 2.00 pm. (The barge yard is near Ash Vale Station)
Sunday, December 12; Basingstoke-Alton - disused railways - hard case - 15 miles. Meeting at Basingstoke Station, 10.00 am.
Other ideas which John has in mind for the future are Newlands Corner, the Surrey beauty spot, the River Wey, Wey and Arun Canal, Newbury-Hungerford on the Kennet and Avon, the Meon Valley - plus of course our own towpath and the many public footpaths that serve the Basingstoke Canal.
A final word - whatever the weather, the rambles will go ahead as planned. John will be there at the appointed time regardless - so come and keep him company!
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WHAT'S YOUR LINE?
The working party group is a small but very active part of the society - so active in fact that much hair-tearing is caused by a lack of hours in the day! Would you like to join them and ease the load? You can help in any way you like - organising details of the restoration plan of attack; running a small working party; messing about with machines like tractors and pumps. An hour a week would help immensely. If you don't feel sure, give Jeff Holman or Robin Higgs a ring (Brookwood 3034 and Chobham 7314 respectively) and have a natter - they won't press gang you.
Perhaps you have a pet job that you would like to assist with? Then come forward and say so. You don't have to be on the committee to be actively involved with the society's affairs.
The postmen and lengthsmen are examples of essential useful work which occupies only an hour or so a month. If you have any ideas, don't keep them to yourself.
LENGTHSMEN STILL NEEDED: CAN YOU HELP?
The new "lengthsman" scheme is well under way but there are still odd areas not covered. The Woking end needs someone, but in particular we need lengthsmen (or women) for Aldershot and Fleet to Dogmersfield. Also, is there anyone who could have an occasional look at the area from the tunnel to the motorway crossing, including the Brickworks Arm?
No special knowledge or skills are needed, so if you think you can help and would like an odd half mile (more if possible) to watch over please let Jeff Holman know soon. All you have to do is report any radical change in the canal's condition. Dog owners might find this a productive way of taking Fido for his constitutional.
Those of you who are carpenters or do—it-yourselfers may be interested in some practical work to do at home. The Basingstoke Canal will need 116 paddle boards when restoration starts. These could easily be made now and stored for a short time until needed - one less job to do when the time comes!
The boards are easily made in a few hours and require no special tools, just a saw, plane and a drill. These boards are about 27" square with a steel frame bolted on. The steelwork will be made by a friendly blacksmith and supplied ready to bolt in place. May we suggest that you make a paddle board or a pair of boards - for our locks? For further details, contact Jeff Holman.
In case our lady members are feeling a bit neglected, we have a job for you too - and for any artistic gentlemen or young members. This is another "home" job, something to while away the winter evenings.
A popular feature of our sales stand is the collection of painted plant pots that we offer for sale. They come from an outside source, but there is no reason why we should not paint our own - given the artists to do it. The design - roses and daisies - is easily copied. We will supply you with the pots, paints, instructions and a pattern to work on, and subsidise any mistakes you make while learning.
Artists or anyone with patience for this quite absorbing work should contact our Sales Manager, Peter Walker, 6 Corlyon Close, Farnborough, Hants (tel, Farnborough 42438) who will set you in motion.
Our 1971 Christmas card is now in stock. It shows a canal scene taken from an old postcard, printed in a sepia tone, with a simple greeting inside. Quite attractive and at a bargain price - only 3p each or 30p a dozen.
PLEASE ORDER NOW - as we may run out nearer Christmas. The Christmas cards can bo obtained from Peter Walker, address above. Please send cash with order, cheques and postal orders made out to the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society, and add the following amounts for postage: 5p for one dozen; 8p for two dozen; 10p for 3 dozen or over.
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WORKING PARTY PAGE
AN "AWAY" CANAL DIG-IN - OCTOBER 2nd and 3rd
Although we cannot yet do major work on our canal, other societies are desperate for help in this field. One important project now under way is the Dudley Canal Trust/Black Country Museum at Tipton on the Birmingham Canal Navigations. Those of you who read Navvies Notebook will know about this already. Those who don't - please read on.
We (the SHCS) have been asked to assist with the "dig" on Lord Ward's Branch Canal - disused for the pasT 40 years. Extensive plant hire has been arranged, accommodation and food are laid on, just the "navvies" are needed.
We would like to send at least a dozen-strong group, complete with SHCS tools and our horse-box (for publicity as well as carrying the tools). If you want to come please let me - Jeff Holman, 22 Willow Green, West End, Woking, tel. Brookwood 3034 - know SOON as we have to inform the "Brummy End" of numbers. Lifts should be possible for those of you without transport.
The work is scheduled to start at 10 am and to finish at 5 pm on the Saturday and Sunday. In view of the starting time we would like to leave Brookwood Station on Friday,- October 1 between 7pm-8pm, but this depends on you. (This is just the chance you've been waiting for to throw mud at your chairman and yours truly).
ON HOME GROUND; October 10, October 24, November 14
1. How here's a chance to see the SHCS in action - alongside "our" canal too. The project is Greywell 21, a strip of public footpath which is also canal towpath. We have worked on this before, and the job will be to clear the towpath between the lift bridge at North Warnborough and the Greywell Tunnel. The society's autoscyths will be in action, but additional tools in the form of sickles and heavy pruners will be needed. We are carrying out this job with the blessing of Hampshire County Council - so turn up and keep the rates down!
Meet: Sunday, October 10 at North Warnborough lift bridge. 10 am. OS Map Reference 169 519 727 (near the ruins of King John's Castle).
If you don't have any suitable tools the society will provide you with them for this work - it's the manpower we need. Hot tea will be provided for the workers. If you're not sure how to get there, ring Jeff Holman for directions.
2. Here's some real, canal-type work. Yes folks, if you live in the St. John's, Woking area you will have noticed that the canal level is down 2ft.6in. at least. This (with water in it) is one of the prettiest stretches of the canal. With no water from Ash - because of the breach - it has become a smelly ditch and the police have warned people at the canal-side of a possible health hazard from a nasty bug with a big name which lurlis therein. This bug is NOT in the feeder from the Cowshott Stream to the canal, so let's do the Woking area a big favour by clearing the feeder and washing away the filth.
There are two working parties planned for this site: Sunday, October 24 and Sunday, November 14, with work starting from 9.30 am onwards. Our meeting place is not actually on the canal but at Cowshott Hill bridge (the site of the old railway) outside Pirbright Guards Camp - OS Map Reference 169 572 941. .It will be signposted from Deepcut bottom lock, number 15.
Togs required; spades and shovels, rakes or kebbs, gloves and wellies or waders etc.
I guarantee that we will not run out of work, so come on all of you - let's see new faces, new places. The society caravan will attend for the provision of free hot drinks and somewhere to have lunch.
Again, if you're not sure how to get there, don't sit at home wondering - ring Bob Humphrey at Chobham 8822.
The last time Cowshott Stream feeder was cleared, we uncovered a fascinating horde of rubbish. Who knows that buried treasure will not rear its head this time. In the past the canal has provided one member with a new motor for his washing machine, and the society with a handy little pump. May be it will be your turn this time to find something useful.
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COMMITTEE JOTTINGS by Alan Babister
These notes will, I hope, keep you in touch with committee happenings and will be written by a different committee member for each Newsletter.
As we are prevented from working on the canal by the present state of negotiations the committee has turned its attentions to preparing for direct action when a decision on ownership is reached; hopefully at the end of the year. Subcommittees on administration, design, legal and fund raising matters have been formed, each with an executive committee member as chairman. Close contact with the councils is maintained, and efforts made to keep in touch with the overall scene by attending meetings of bodies of allied interest, such as the Surrey Amenity Council.
Committee meetings, August 6 and September 5
It is felt that the society should have a President, and moves have been made in this direction. Efforts are continuously being made to protect the amenities of the canal, and the news that Fleet Council is seeking a Tree Preservation Order on all canal bank trees in that area led to our making a request to all councils bordering the canal for similar orders. The replies have been encouraging.
A request has also been made to Surrey County Council that the canal be designated a Water Area on Town Maps.
Members may have seen the report in the Aldershot Midweek News that Guildford RDC is toying with the idea of putting a car park on stilts over the canal at Ash Vale. Although no application for planning permission has yet been made - and in the RDC's words it is a "pipedream", we shall watch this carefully to see that any such proposal would not be detrimental to either the canal's amenities or its future use as a navigation.
Note was taken of the proposed line of the M.25 motorway which may cross the Wey Navigation on stilts close to the junction with the Basingstoke Canal. A request was made that the motorway should be of sufficient height so as not to interfere with navigation.
Contacts with the county councils regarding the negotiations have produced a hopeful picture, although this is not always borne out by the responses of the Surrey County Council planning committee members who were lobbied recently.
Some very interesting and constructive comments on committee reorganisation were received from Mr. Paul Buck, a society member, when he attended our September committee meeting to enlarge on suggestions he made at the AGM. Details have yet to be finalised and considered by the committee. We are always pleased to hear from any member who has ideas on how we could becone more efficient, and maintain a closer touch with the membership.
Proposals were accepted for further public meetings during the Autumn (see Page 3) and arrangements are being made for members' meetings. We have agreed to buy a copy of the Bourne End Cine Club's film of last year's IWA rally at Guildford, which includes several shots of the Basingstoke.
It is hoped to produce a leaflet, for general distribution, extra to the membership form which will lay out in more detail the history, aims and achievenents of the society together with information on the canal. Costings have been obtained for this. A membership card is in the pipeline which it is hoped can be used next year. It would contain information such as dates of meetings, working parties, rambles and useful names and addresses.
Proposals have been made by the Newsletter Editor for a complete re-design of the Newsletter layout and format. One thing - it will need a new name. Several are being considered, the most popular at the monent is "Restoration". But if any members have any bright ideas for a sensible and catchy title, please let the Newsletter Editor know.
The committee welcomes the new Secretary, Mrs. Elizabeth Nicholson, and thanks the retirirg Acting Secretary, Miss June Sparey, for all the hard work she has put in to keep things going since last March.
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ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Notice is hereby given that the society's fifth Annual General Meeting will be held on WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 1972, at Brookwood Memorial Hall, Brookwood, Woking Surrey, at 8,00 pm.
As we have to give 28 days' notice of any amendments to the Constitution, please start thinking about this now. Any amendments should be with the Secretary, Mrs. Nicholson, by Friday. November 5, so that full details of the proposed alterations can be publicised in the November newsletter. Any amendments must be submitted with the signatures and addresses of both proposer and seconder.
Nominations for persons to serve on the 1972-73 committee will also be needed: in this case, the closing date for nominations will be Monday, January 3 1972. This will give us time to organise a postal ballot if nominations exceed nine in number. All nominations must be accompanied by the signatures and addresses of both proposer and seconder, plus the signature of the nominee indicating his consent to the nomination.
This is the only warning you will get about amendments for the constitution, which can only be approved at an AGM (or, if urgent, an Extraordinary General Meeting). If you have lost your copy of the constitution we can get you another. But if you want to amend it, you must let us have details of your proposals by November 5 (should be an easy date to remember).
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It was with regret that the committee heard of the death of former Basingstoke Canal bargee Alf Rogers, who was featured in the last newsletter. Mr. Rogers, who lived at Granville Road, Old Woking, died only a few weeks after his interview with the Newsletter Editor. He was 80, and our sympathy is extended to his family.
The society has also lost another of its long-standing "members" - Chertsey, the black mongrel owned by former committee member Les Harris. Chertsey features in many of our slides and photos of the canal, and he was probably one of the most travelled dogs on inland waterways, accompanying his master to innumerable IWA rallies. Chertsey died at the beginning of September.
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Odd items in which members may be interested or able to offer help:
Jumble Sale; We want to hold one at the Woking end of the canal, some time. Will anyone play "host"? - book us a hall and store jumble at their home until the time comes, and generally organise helpers. Offers please to Peter Caiger, 42 Orchard Way, Canberley, Surrey. Don't try to ring him at the number shown in the 1970 Guildford telephone directory. Thanks to some masterful budbling by the GPO, that is tbe number of Camberley's nulti-storey car park ...
Coach Trip: Following our successful trip to Crofton, another suggested venue for a coach trip is the Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum at Sittingbourne. We might be able to couple it with a Thames trip. Nanes of those interested in going and numbers to Peter Caiger, address above, please, so we can see if it is worth getting a coach. An old barge yard is being turned into a folk museum, where visitors can see many old crafts revived. Should be interesting.
Function: The committee would like to hear of any fetes, galas etc. happening where it would be worth taking our display stand and caravan. Any member who knows of such an event which we have not covered in the past should get in touch with Stuart Browning, 34 Parvis Road, West Byfleet, Woking, Surrey, tel. Byfleet 42024.
Found: One tortoise, meandering along the canal towpath. Joke by member: "He wasn't in any danger. He'd probably have got to Basingstoke before restoration started..."
Rally: The society caravan went to the IWA Rally at Northampton - and we sold about £60 worth of goods, thanks to those members who manned the stand and Mr, Dyson who towed the caravan. We still need volunteers for towing, with 2,000 cc cars. Any offers of help in this respect on the odd occasion to Stuart Browning, address above.
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LOCK GATES UNLIMITED
New members of the society may not know that in 1969 we became the first bunch of volunteers to build a pair of lock gates. Our appeal to instal them at Ash Lock was politely refused by the New Basingstoke Canal Company, and the gates can still be seen at the Ash Vale barge yard, where they were built.
To pay for the cost of building the gates, we set up a Lock Gate Fund. This is still in existence, though in the past it has been a bit neglected. The time has now come to resurrect it - particularly as we have so many new members.
We paid for our lock gates by asking our 400-odd members at that time to "sign the pledge" (otherwise known as lock gates on the never-never). The idea was that members sent a donation (any amount, large or small) to the Lock Gate Fund, and promised to send 29 further instalments of the same value in future: one instalment as each o£ the canal's 29 locks was opened to navigation. The last instalment will go into a maintenance fund.
Well, how about it? People signing the pledge next year may well have to pay the first and second instalments together, so there is a lot to be said for signing now. A form is enclosed with this newsletter for you to use, do it now - no, don't stuff it in that old pot on the mantlepiece to do tomorrow!
Remember, 400 members donated over £130 in a few weeks before, and pledged £30 towards each lock. On that basis, the last 1,200 members who have never heard of the scheme ought to raise £520, and pledge £120. And that is enough to pay for the bottom gates at Ash Lock.
Those stalwarts who signed the pledge long ago please forgive us for sending you another form. But it is easier to send and apologise than to sort you out.
Thanks to the postal strike and a late AGM renewals have been a bit topsy turvey, but there are still a lot of members whose subscriptions are still outstanding. Those who haven't yet renewed will find a reminder letter, plus renewal form and banker's order/covenant form with this newsletter. Please, please, renew NOW. Prompt renewal saves so much sorting out of envelopes, checking copious lists and general sprouting of grey hairs. Anyone not renewing after this newsletter will not receive any more until their subs are in hand - and who knows what you may be missing?
If you have a bank account, why not complete the banker's order - and covenant your subscription to give us extra cash? If you have any difficulty filling in either form, contact the membership secretary, Alan Babister, who will advise you on the procedure.
If, on the other hand, you sent your renewal in a short time before receiving this newsletter, please forgive us if you find you have a reminder. We have tried to make the system as up to date as possible, but a few will slip through
We are now going over to a new system for addressing envelopes, and it is important that you write your name, initials and address CLEARLY on the renewal form. Also, if you are changing your address in the near future, please let us know, so that we can include your new address on the file and not lose you.
In the dire event that you do not wish to continue with your membership, let us know about that too, so that we do not waste time, postage and effort chasing you up. A large society like ours takes a lot of organising. Those responsible do it in their spare time - and that is precious.
To sum up: please stick with us - things may be happening soon and we need your support, even if it is only of the moral variety. Renew your subscription now, and give us your full name and postal address on the renewal form. And do fill in the banker's order and covenant form if you possibly can.
Hon. Secretary: Mrs. E. Nicholson, 1 Kielder Walk, Heatherside, Camberley, Surrey
Tel. Camberley 29468.
Newsletter Editor: Miss June Sparey, 8 Beaufort Boad, Maybury Estate, Woking,
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