Newsletter No. 41November-December 1971
APPOINTMENT OF PRESIDENT
The committee is pleased to announce that the Earl of Onslow has agreed to become the society's first President. The Earl, who is 33 years old, succeeded to the title in June this year. He is well acquainted with the Basingstoke Canal and its problems, and is very interested in waterways, having spent cruising holidays on canals in this country and in France.
We are very fortunate to have the Earl as our President, not just because of his interest in what we are trying to do, but because his family name figures very largely in the Act of Parliament under which the Basingstoke Canal was built. He has said he intends to be active on our behalf, and we hope that he will enjoy the post.
The committee decided it was time the society had a President to lend weight and support to our cause earlier this year. This has proved to be particularly necessary now, since we understand that negotiations by the Surrey and Hampshire County Council to buy the canal have reached a very delicate stage. A strong lobby for the canal to be bought by compulsory purchase order is building up, with Woking Council having suggested this course of action to the county councils.
Our President has joined us at a most interesting time in the society's history, and we are most grateful to him for taking the job on.
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LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM
The "hands off Hampshire" campaign has done the canal a good turn. We shall not know whether the campaigners' protests resulted in the change of thought about transferring North East Hampshire to Surrey, or whether it was just a Whitehall whim that left the county boundary where it is when the Bill on local government reform was published.
In any event, the Bill has settled any likelihood of almost the whole of the canal being in Surrey - which would have happened had the Bill followed the lines of the White Paper.
It means that Hampshire County Council still has a 50 per cent interest in the canal, and that purchase /restoration work can be undertaken jointly by the two counties. But the fact that the county boundary stays unaltered underlines what we have said in the past: that when the canal is bought, and plans are made for its restoration to whatever standard the counties finally decide upon, there must be one, overall body to supervise the canal's management. Having two county councils involved will certainly spread the costs - which is good. But if it also results in each county wanting to run their bit of canal in their own way - that will be very bad.
WRITE US A LETTER
Recently, the committee has been lobbying county councillors and sounding them out about the canal. The message that negotiations are now at a delicate stage is interesting, but it is beginning to sound like a worn out gramophone record. If, as some people feel, the only way in which things can be resolved is by compulsory purchase order, then we ought to tell our elected representatives in their respective county halls how we, county ratepayers, feel about this.
We have often asked you to write to your county councillor about the canal in the past. Now the need is urgent. So please write to your representative, particularly if you would favour compulsory purchase. The list of councillors is too long to include all their names and addresses in the newsletter, but if you don't know who your countv councillor is, you can find out from (l) your local council offices; (2) your local library; (3) the Newsletter Editor, address on back page.
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COMMITTEE NOTES by John Dodwell
Dogmersfleld Parish Council has, in the past, been a little critical of the canal being fully restored. Our chairman, Dave Gerry, attended a meeting with parish council members to find out what their worries were. He found that the council did want to see the canal restored, but members were concerned that the environment around the canal might be damaged. They feared noisy outboards, masses of people trespassing on private gardens leaving tons of rubbish behind them. Most of these fears were dispelled by assuring them that waterway lovers are just not like that.
Another step forward has been made in our endeavour to see that the canal is respected planning-wise in the future. Surrey County Council has agreed to designate the canal as a Water Area on two Town Map Reviews (Frimley & Camberley and Ash & Tongham), and has said that the canal will be so designated on any future Town Map reviews. Previously the canal was left un-notated.
A report has been received about the leptospirosis virus which it was said could be in the canal. The report is very comprehensive; if there were no rats or water voles, there would be no risk of infection. If the canal was restored with a consequent water flow, there would be less likelihood of the virus. We are writing to local hospitals asking them to keep a small quantity of serum available - just in case it should ever be needed.
Woking Council has been asked to make a blanket tree preservation order along the canal banks. It has also been contacted about a drain which is being built next to the canal - and the council has promised to remove any earth which may slip into the canal.
Curzon Bridge near Deepcut has been closed to road traffic by the Ministry of Defence because it is said to be unsafe. We are trying to find out what rebuilding plans the Ministry has.
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Naturalists Trust may appoint a liaison officer to work with us to ensure discrimination in any restoration work. We shall not be exhibiting at next year's Surrey Show: the cost has risen so much that it is no longer economic.
Plans to print the newsletter in future are still being explored. The Newsletter Editor (see back page) would like to hear from anyone who can think of a better title than 'restoration' for the new-look Newsletter, And do we have any traders who would patronise the first issue with an advertisement? Circulation is about 1,500: readership about 4,500 - may be more as the Newsletter is sent to all public libraries.
A survey of members' professions is to be made for report at the annual general meeting in January. This should be quite interesting - quick glances at the file reveal a wealth of talent in the society spread over a wide range of careers.
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SALES TALK - Peter Walker
Three members who have shops have very kindly agreed to act as agents for our Christmas card - to enable members who live in their locality to buy them easily. They have agreed to do this at no profit to themselves, but if you do visit their shops for some of our Christmas cards, you might see something else you need ...
The shops are:
P. Wilson (chemist) Manchester House, High Street, Odiham, Hants.
F. J. Terry (newsagent) 97 Farnborough Road, Heath End, Farnham, Surrey.
K. Ellis, Wavy Line grocer, 114 Hermitage Road, St. John's, Woking.
Any other shop-owning members who would be willing to do the same, please contact me at Farnborough 42438. With this newsletter you will receive a new, Christmas sales list. Some items may be added after it has been printed, so ring me for an up-to-date check - and also to find out if any other shops are stocking the Christmas card. Read the sales list carefully.
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Thursday, November 25: Public meeting, Church Hall, High Street, Odiham, 8 pm.
Sunday, December 5: Second working party to clear public footpath/canal tow-path at Greywell. Start 9.30 am. Work will take place between the stop lock and the tunnel mouth. To find us, park near North Warnborough lift bridge (OS Map Ref .169 519727) and walk west along the towpath. Bring sickles and heavy primers.
Sunday, December 12: Ramble - Basingstoke to Alton via the old railway line. 15 miles "hard case" (for serious ramblers). Meet Basingstoke Station, 10 am.
Monday, January 3: Last date for nominations for the 1972-73 committee to be in the secretary's hands. See below.
Sunday, January 16: Kennet and Avon Canal working party. See Page 5.
Wednesday, January 26: Annual General Meeting, Brookwood Memorial Hall, Connaught Road, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey, 8.00 pm. The hall is down a little lane on the right hand side if travelling along Connaught Road from Woking, just past the junction with Connaught Crescent (on the left if coming from the Aldershot direction).
Sunday, February 6: Working party, Barley Mow Bridge, Crookham, near Fleet. Meet 9.30 am, See Page 4.
Saturday. February 12: Jumble Sale, Ex-Servicemen's Club, Camphill Road, West Byfleet (near Woking). All jumble gratefully received by Stuart Browning, 34 Parvis Road, West Byfleet, or Peter Caiger, 42 Orchard Way, Camberley. Sale starts 2.30 pm. Helpers needed.
Tuesday, February 15: Evening of short films presented by Camberley Society at the Elmhurst Studio, Middle Gordon Road, Camberley, 7.45 pm. Programme includes the World of Waterways and a railway film, Talylln Holiday. Ticket admission only, but a limited number are available from Peter Caiger, address above, at 25p. each.
Sunday, February 13: Ramble - Dogmersfield to Basingstoke, canal towpath, Meet Winchfield Station. 10.15 am. Hard case, 15 miles. More details in the next newsletter.
February 12/13 or March 4/5: Alternative dates for working party on the Stratford on Avon Canal, See Page 5.
March 25/26: Big working party in the Midlands. More details in next newsletter.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Closing date for nomination of committee members is Monday, January 3, 1972. All nominations must be accompanied by the name and address and signatures of both proposer and seconder; and by the nominee's signed consent. Agendas and audited accounts will be circulated prior to the meeting.
RAMBLERS' CORNER by John Peart
Thank you to the 20 adults, four children in pushchairs and one dog who turned up at Ash Vale Barge Yard on October 24 to make my first family ramble a success. On an afternoon of brilliant sunshine we enjoyed a six mile walk along the canal towpath and public footpaths in the Mytchett area. More family rambles will be organised next year, after the winter season of long distance rambles.
The next event on the calendar is Sunday, December 12. Basingstoke to Alton, (see above). This ramble aims to trace and follow much of the route of the old Basingstoke-Alton railway, which was closed sometime in the early 30s. Naturally, some of the line has reverted to impenetrable thicket and other parts have been ploughed under, but suitable diversions can be made at these points.
The lunch break will be taken at the New Inn, Southrope, where snacks are available, but you nay prefer to bring your own. For those wishing to return to Basingstoke, the ramble is scheduled to finish at The Swan, Alton, with sufficient time to catch the 1700 bus to Basingstoke (Wilts & Dorset route 107). Trains connecting with Guildford, Woking, Aldershot etc, are available at Alton Station. Please come well prepared for this ranble: it will be tough going.
SOUND FOOTWEAR AND CLOTHING ARE ESSENTIAL!
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT?
"Come up to Dudley" was the call
"We're sure that we shall need you all
To make good the forty years' decay
Will take more than a single day".
And so they came from far and wide
Navvies from o'er the countryside
To organise and put to right
Black country's new museum site.
A dozen of us, more or less
All members of S.H.C.S.
Were on our way at crack of dawn
And got there in the early morn.
"OK" they said, "Now that you've come
We'll show you what we're wanting done!
And so that's how we came to spend
A most enjoyable weekend.
Our chairman with the autoscythe
Soon had the towpath clear and wide
While others cleared the rubbish out
And cut the reeds from banks about.
Now when old Basingstoke's reborn
The task ahead may seem forlorn
But if we all participate
This waterway we'll reinstate.
I wonder, will they then recall
Surrey and Hampshire, after all
And those who travelled up that day
To help clear Dudley's muck away?
The point I make I think is clear
Our big dig may be drawing near
And when we come to fix the date
Will Dudley then reciprocate?
Of course, if by some other chance
In Dudley this should catch a glance
And disapprovers want to show it
They might come down and shoot the
If this should be - then I'll be gone
And just remain to you - Anon.
For our poet, and other enthusiasts,
a cryptic message that waterways history will be made in the Midlands,
March 25/26, Reserve the date - now.
Lengthsmen? All inquiries for the lengthsmen scheme should be sent to either Tony Turner, The Gables, Hare Hill Close, Pyrford, Woking, Surrey (for the length between Byfleet Junction-Aldershot Wharf); or Dave Robinson, 14 Brinksway, Fleet (Aldershot to Greywell). Any unusual happenings or points which you think we ought to know can be sent via the above.
Tools: Recent working parties show than our tool resources are somewhat strained, PLEASE give us your unwanted garden or hand tools, any condition, type or number - we need them all. Don't wait for a working party, send them in now to Jeff Holman, 22 Willow Green, West End, Woking, Surrey.
Also your old wheelbarrow would come in handy. Let Jeff know if you are parting with it and collection can be arranged if necessary.
Our low loader and dumper truck would both benefit from replacement tyres, size 560 x 15 and 600 3: 16 (tractor type). Can you help? If so, ring Bob Humphrey at Chobham 8822.
Working Parties: Our two recent working parties at Greywell and Pirbright were well attended with about 40 adults present in both cases. At Greywell the towpath is much improved as far as the old stop lock. From here to the tunnel mouth is the site for the next WP (see Page 3). At Pirbright the feeder from Cowshott Stream has been dug to its original depth and width for some 40 per cent of its length. When fully dug out a silt trap will be provided. The results of Cowshott II will decide if a further "session" is needed.
Are you a bricklayer (professional or amateur)? If so, your society needs you. Come to Barley Mow Bridge, Crookham, near Fleet on Sunday, February 6, where we will be tackling some bridge maintenance in conjunction with Hampshire County Council. A mini working party will be needed the week prior to prepare the site. If you can come, and are handy at this sort of thing, please contact Jeff Holman, 22 Willow Green, West End, Woking, Surrey (Brookwood 3034), as this type of job has to be planned. All tools will be provided.
On Sunday, December 5 start 9.30 am - second go at clearing the remainder of the public footpath/towpath. You are invited to come for tea and biscuits, provided you work as well. Bring cutting gear and heavy gloves if you can.
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KENNET AND AVON CANAL (BATH LOCKS) - SUNDAY, JANUARY 16
Here you have an opportunity of joining forces with our neighbouring canal society. At the western end they run a regular programme of working parties on the Widcombe flight of locks, which ascends from the River Avon through Bath city itself. Once a month there is a 'big dig' with cranes and other hired plant, all highly organised, and it is to one of these that we are going.
The natives are very friendly, and resort to a nicely scruffy canal side pub for lunch, if required. The journey is about two hours from Brookwood (to Bath, not the pub). Contact Clem Hebert at Hook 2438 for convoy or route details. The work is varied, but likely to be lock clearing, stone-walling and so on, i,e, fairly dry or rather wet. Tools are provided by the K & A but bring waterproof feet, quite essential for lock work.
STRATFORD ON AVON CANAL - FEBRUARY 12-13 or MARCH 4-5
The Stratford on Avon Canal is owned by the National Trust and maintained mainly by volunteer labour - the likes of you and me. We have been asked by the Waterways Recovery Group if we could provide a weekend's work force early next year for interesting and varied maintenance work of all types. It is proposed that our group should go to Stratford on February 12-13 or March 4-5. Contact Jeff Holman (address and phone nunber on Page 4) fairly soon for details, and give date preference.
THANK YOU - To all those people who turned up for the working parties publicised in the last newsletter. Nice to see some new faces and we hope to see you again in the future. Also to Mr. Tanner, of Waverley Abbey House, Farnham, who has donated some tools to the society.
CHIPPIES: Mr A. J. Saunders, who runs A. J. Saunders (Joinery) Ltd, in London Road, Camberley, has offered the facilities of his workshop to any carpenters in the society to work on society business. This would suit our chippies who have not got the room to work at home making paddle boards, or the equipment to do it. Mr. Saunders is thanked for his very kind offer, and any handy carpenters in the society who would like to meet on a regular basis to take advantage of the offer please send your names and addresses to Jeff Holman, It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a pair of lock gates could be made in Camberley ..,
BIRD'S EYE VIEW
Would anyone be interested in going for a flight along the canal? If so, we might be able to arrange something, at reasonable prices. Further details in next newsletter, but if you definitely want to book a place (plane provided) contact Peter Caiger, address on Page. 3.
Also: those who have said they would like to join our proposed trip to the Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum in Kent - read on, We are trying to arrange this for the Spring, and to couple it with a boat trip as well. If anyone else is interested in coming, and hasn't yet put their name down, contact Peter Caiger.
Some people have asked if we have a Giro account. The answer is no, and we understand that there is no real advantage to be gained by having one at the moment, since Giro cheques can be paid into our ordinary bank account.
A team of frogmen recently had a fish's eye view of the leak in the Whitewater Aqueduct, which has been responsible for low water levels in Hampshire. Their report on the situation is now being studied, and we would like to thank those responsible for a very satisfactory survey.
THE SOCIETY SYMBOL - Glenys Crocker
A new symbol has been designed for the society by Robert Harris, and appears on the car stickers sent out with this newsletter.
Until now, we have used several symbols, the chief ones being taken from the old Basingstoke Canal token. The tokens were used to pay the workmen who built the canal in the late 18th century when official copper coinage was in short supply.
The design consisted of a spade and mattock in a wheelbarrow with the words "John Pinkerton Value One Shilling" on one side, and a man and a tree trunk in a sailing barge with the legend "Basingstoke Canal 1789" on the reverse.
On newsletter and letter headings we have used the sailing barge side of the token, or both faces side by side. The sailing barge with 1789 replaced by "SHCS" also forms the design of the society badge. Another symbol, which we have used on publications, is the motif designed by Robert Harris based on the Ordnance Survey lock symbol.
It was felt that we should have a symbol to use consistently on printed matter, particularly now that the society's work is reaching a critical stage, and that we are preparing for a new era of public activity.
The design sub-committee felt that the side of the token showing the sailing barge was the best basis for our symbol because it is distinctive to the canal, suggests navigation, has historical significance, and is a pleasing, graceful design. However, the old drawing lacks the crispness required of a symbol, and while it is an ideal decorative subject for articles such as ash trays, we decided that a streamlined version should be produced for our purpose.
Robert Harris's design is a clear, up to date version which captures the grace and movement of the original, and will make an effective impact.
The car sticker, by the way, is coated with invisible gum. Just moisten the printed side, and it will stick. Many members decorated their cars' back windows with the earlier version - let's see a rash of the new ones breaking out on our roads. For any interested observer who wants to know more about the society, the Membership Secretary's phone number is printed on the sticker.
FORWARD THE WORKERS!
Also enclosed with this newsletter is a workirg party questionnaire. One was sent out a year ago, but since then our membership has leapt forward, so the old questionnaire has been brought more up to date.
To those who filled in the last questionnaire - you don't need to fill in this one, although you will receive one. This is because it is far easier to send one to everyone than to weed out those of you who have already obliged. With something over 1,200 newsletters etc. to dispatch, you can see the problem!
Please fill in and return the questionnaire - even if all you can do is turn up and make tea for a working party. That, as every Briton knows, is classed as essential work! Apart from giving us a good idea of our work force, we can use the questionnaire to call on members in a particular area if a job in that area needs doing.
ANYONE FOR COMMITTEE?
As you will see on Page 3, the closing date for nominations for the 1972-73 committee is approaching. If anyone, anywhere, feels they would be willing to serve on the committee, please come forward. If you want to know what committee work involves, pleese ask - either the secretary, Mrs. Elizabeth Nicholson (Camberley 29468); the chairman, David Gerry (Fleet 22520) or any other committee member you may know. Because we usually end up by holding a ballot for committee, it is vital that any would-be committee members put their names forward early. You may not know any other society members to propose or second you, but if you are keen and willing, that can be arranged. Think about it - and let us know.
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Since the last newsletter, we have held two public meetings, at Farnham and Aldershot. We tried a new format to meetings held in the past. In both cases attendances were encouraging, and we welcome a crop of new members who joined as a result of the meetings.
At Farnham, we had two guest speakers - both society members. One was author Sir John Verney, and the other John Anthony, who radio listeners may remember from the afternoon programme 'Roundabout" several years ago. To viewers he is better known for appearances on Southern Television, and he can currently be seen extolling the virtues of a certain biological washing powder, usually on Thursday evenings.
At Aldershot, we were very fortunate to have as guest speaker General Sir Hugh Stockwell, chairman of the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council; member of the British Waterways Board and Chairman of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Ltd. General Stockwell gave an excellent account of restoration work in other parts of the country. The meeting was chaired very ably by another guest - Brigadier Rowly Mans, Aldershot Garrison Commander. Brigadier Mans, while understandably not wishing to become associated with any plans for the canal's future after restoration, gave a pledge that the Army would give whatever help it could - subject to training commitments - in restoring the canal. He even gave the operation a code-name ~ Operation Bright Water ~ a catchy and very suitable choice of words.
Brigadier Mans summed up everyone's feelings when he explained that he had allowed his name to be associated with the public meeting "because I do not see how in any way the restoration of this very pleasant waterway could arouse controversy". He added: "I would think that all people who live in this beautiful area of our country will regard such an effort an both laudable and worth while".
To Sir John Verney John Anthony, General Sir Hugh Stockwell, Brigadier Mans and Tony Harmsworth - who was our third guest speaker at the Aldershot meeting - we extend our sincere thanks for giving us their time and helping us to inject a new feeling into the message we have been preaching for five years now.
Following the appeal in the last newsletter for more volunteer postmen, most of the immediate vacancies were quite rapidly filled. We would still like a volunteer for Frimley, central area (Frimley Grove Gardens, Church Eoad Estate area); and a new round could be established for East and West Molesey.
Most areas are quite well covered now, although it is useful to know of people who are willing to do hand deliveries of the newsletter and the area which they can cover. We may not be able to use your services immediately, but we do like to have reserves for holidays, illness, or in case any present postman has to leave the district.
Following the public meetings, we may well need extra help in Farnham and Aldershot. Although we have postmen in these areas at present, the flood of new members we get after a public meeting means that their round also increases - and we don't like to over-burden our postmen. If you can help at all, please get in touch with the Newsletter Editor, address on Page 8. The newsletter comes out every two months, so it only means about an evening or afternoon's work delivering once every eight weeks. Every 40 newsletters hand delivered save us £1 - so it's well worth doing.
THAT TORTOISE AGAIN
In the last newsletter we told how our Membership Secretary found a tortoise ambling along the canal towpath. Several members rang up to "claim" the tortoise, which was spotted at Deepcut. Sad to say, we weren't able to find out who owned him - or send him home. He was picked up and taken back to the Membership Secretary's home, where he was placed in a large box. He was a most energetic tortoise, because he managed to clamber out of the box and set off on his travels again. He was last seen in the vicinity of Farnborough. We can only hope that he found his way back in time for hibernation.
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LOST CANALS OF ENGLAND AND WALES by RONALD RUSSELL
This is the book that all those who like to seek out canal remains wherever they travel have been waiting for. The list of contents alone makes fascinating reading. Who would not want to know more about the Tamar Manure Navigation, or the Kidwelly and Llanelly Canal? The fact that more than 80 canals can be listed as almost certainly "lost" is both an indication of the supremacy the canals once had and a warning to us of how easy it is to lose a national asset.
The account of the history of each canal and the description of what can still be found (with the aid of map references in the text) should satisfy all but the exceptionally curious.
This book is available from the Sales Manager at £2.95 post free (see list, enclosed) and would make a very suitable Christmas present for the canal enthusiast.
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Two of our younger members have contributed short articles for this newsletter: Wendy Browning, age 11, of West Byfleet, has written about a project she did on the canal, while 10-year old Stephen Gerry of Fleet was our man on the spot at the Dudley Dig. Here's what they have to say:
"Before Christmas of 1970 I and the other members of my class were asked to write a project for the school. We had a free choice of what we could write about. After many ideas I finally decided on the Basingstoke Canal.
"The first section was the introduction, which told about olden days when tbere were no such things as canals, only rivers which were not dredged. I next went on to tbe chronology, which is a list of dates with the happenings of that year. The list started in 1778 and finished in 1967.
"Then I wrote about the boats of the Basingstoke's past. Most of the boats were made at Ash Vale barge yard. Next the present condition of the canal (which is pretty awful), then the restoration of the canal. The next subject was the Greywell Tunnel, followed by feasibility.
"At the end of the book are some photographs which I took myself, two of the Frimley aqueduct, one of the Greywell Tunnel and another of where the canal joins the River Wey at Byfleet.
"In May this year I sent my project up to the well-known children's programne Blue Peter. After three weeks I had my project returned and a Blue Peter badge with it".
"The purpose of the Dudley Dig was to start the construction of an open-air museum on the approach canal to the Dudley tunnel. As an exhibit there is the steam locomotive Winston Churchill and an old ice boat will soon be there, and a lot of other things.
"For working party machinery there were two mechanical diggers, an Alien autocythe (supplied by the SHCS), two dumper trucks and a chain saw for cutting up a wrecked wooden narrow boat. On Saturday evening Dudley Corporation provided us with a superb three-course meal and allowed us to sleep in a very nice old school hall.
"We had a great time pulling out rubbish which included a phone out of a GPO box. On the site are the headquarters of the Sea Cadets TS Centaur. 250 people turned up each day, the SHCS bought 11 people altogether, led and well organised by Jeff Holman".
More contributions, please, from our younger readers.
As we shan't have another opportunity to do it beforehand, may we wish all our members a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS.
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