July-Aug 1972

Keep the waterways united
Committee notes
Coming events
Working Party
News in brief
News from elsewhere
Sales Talk
A glimpse into the past
A trip on the Jenny Wren

Contact the Society

old BCN masthead (11K)

                President: The Earl of Onslow.

No. 45.         July-August 1972.

Last December, the Government announced plans to dissolve the British Waterways Board - and lump administration of the waterways system along with water supply and sewerage disposal into the hands of ten new Regional Water Authorities.

The Government thinks that waterways are of local regional significance it's proposals regarding finance are inadequate it suggests local authorities may contribute if they so wish - but what happens if they do not "so wish"? If the proposals are implemented in April 1974, there will be no central authority for waterways. Instead matters will rest in the hands of the Regional Water Auth­orities, who will also have water supply and sewerage to worry about.

The Regional Water Authorities will have the same maintenance duties as BWB. But they would be within the law if a canal was only navigable with difficulty. The Inland Waterways Association, to which we are affiliated, is campaigning to get the Government to re-think its proposals as far as the waterways system is concerned.

Financially, the waterways will account for only 1 per cent of the expenditure of the RWAs and will play a small and insignificant part in the set up. The IWA claims that the waterways are of national - not regional - importance and should be recognised as such.

When BWB was set up in 1963 independent control of the waterways system was gained from the railways. Is this to be lost? The IWA believes that the amenity and commercial use of waterways will be better served under an independent authority whose primary purpose is to promote their greater use. So it is petitioning Parliament to divorce the waterways from water supply and sewerage and place them under the control of a National Waterways Conservancy.

The Conservancy would replace BWB - with the exception of water sales which could still be handed to the Regional Water Authorities. It would retain BWB's amenity services and freight services divisions.

Given a separate, central and executive authority with adequate finance, the future for the waterways could be bright. Relegate them to 1 per cent of a far larger organisation - and it could be the end of a 200-year old heritage.

With this newsletter you will find a copy of the IWA petition form. Please sign it - and get your friends to fill it up. Then return it as soon as possible to the Inland Waterways Association Ltd, 114 Regent's Park Road, London NW1 8UQ. A campaign car sticker is also enclosed for your use. Please do not write on the back of the petition form - if you fill it more copies are available from the IWA. We hope all members will fill a petition form - as a safeguard for the future and to give the waterways the importance they deserve.

The special working party of representatives of the two county councils - ourselves and the Army has met again. It seems Hampshire is hopeful that a negotiated settlement with the New Basingstoke Canal Company over purchase may still be reached. Hampshire is in fact making contingency plans for the Basingstoke Canal's management if it changes hands quicker than they expect.
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Recently the Society has received several donations including two anonymous ones for £26. We also received £50 from the Thames and Tributaries Power Users' Association, and £10 from Mr. Murch, one of our members. The committee would like to thank all the donors - the money has been invested at the moment; we hope it won't earn too much interest but will be put to work on the canal.

The past two months have also seen their fair share of planning applications - three in all. The first was for access to two canal cottages in Woking. The Society objected to vehicular access as we don't want to see the towpath turned into Brand's Hatch ! The second application was also in Woking, but this was withdrawn. The third was at Frimley Green, for 30 houses by Frimley Aque­duct. (See page 6 for report). If any member hears of a planning application near the canal, please let the secretary know as soon as possible so that we may object if necessary. Normally not much time is allowed for the receipt of objections and it is not always possible for a member of the committee to attend the hearing.

The committee has been looking for a place to build a new pair of lock gates. We have asked the Army and Surrey County Council if they have any old huts we could use. The hut needs to be fairly central and quite large - large enough for a pair of lowers and a dozen or so chippies. So far, everyone is still looking. Again if a member should know of any old building which is standing empty and could be used, please let a committee member know and we'll find out if we can use it.

It was felt that the time has come to re-think our membership categories and renewal system. The membership secretary has been busy on this, and proposals will be published in a later newsletter, ready for discussion at the annual meeting next January. At last, it has been decided to issue a membership card for next year, containing committee addresses and dates for the coming year. The only problem is getting the organisers in the Society to plan for next year before it actually arrives. However, we do have some dates until April next year - only another nine months to plan . . .

We have also been investigating the possibility of reprinting one or two of our campaign booklets. At the moment this has been left, as it was felt they need an appendix to bring them up to date, and we are looking at producing a new one.

We looked at the steam dredger which the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust use, and were offered it on loan for a few years. However, it is extremely large and transporting it from Reading to the canal presented a big problem (unless any member has a philanthropic contact in the road haulage industry). It was felt that we should either look for one of our own - if anyone has a dredger at the bottom of their garden please let us know - or investigate alternatives to dredgers.

Plans are being made to take the Society stand to the IWA National Rally at Lymm. The Sales Manager is hoping for wet weather - we can still sell from the caravan when most other stands close down.

The Chairman has been attending the working party meetings with the two county councils and the Army. Naturally most of the items discussed are confidential, but he appears to be happy and still has plenty of hair left, so it appears that we don't have a great deal to worry about.

The treasurer has been reviewing our insurance situation, we have asked for quotations from the IWA insurers. Who knows, the IRA could decide Ash Vale Barge Yard is a prime target ....

Friday August 13: Family ramble - meet Basingstoke Station 2.30 pm. Will probably include visit to historic Basing House. Further details from John Peart. 1 Medway Drive, Cove, Farnborough, tel. Farnborough 46554.
Last Monday of each month: social evening at The Swan, Hutton Road, Ash Vale. Open to all for a jar and a jaw.
Wednesdays - September 6th, October 11th, November 8th, December 6th - film evenings at The Standard of England, Ash Hill Road, Ash (just south of Ash Wharf). Films start 8 pm, minimum entry fee 10p. See below for details.
Kennet and Avon Canal Trip
This was scheduled for August 5 but unfortunately had to be cancelled due to lack of support. Social secretary David Robinson is sorry to disappoint members who had reserved seats and were looking forward to the trip. No trips can be arranged for next summer unless we can be assured of a lot more support.
Film evenings
Seating in the pub where these evenings are held is limited to about 45 people, so first come first served. Some interesting films on a variety of subjects have been booked for these evenings, so try and come along. The films will start at 8 pm sharp and will finish at approximately 9.30 pm, which gives time for a beer at the bar afterwards.
To cover the cost of hiring the films we will have to charge a minimum entry fee. Early in the New Year it is hoped to show one of the very few - if not only - feature films made about canals and the canal families. Made at Ealing Studios in 1946, it tells the story of two canal families who live and work along the cut. It is in a sense the story of all the canal peoole who worked up and down the cut in the past. Admission to this particular film will be by ticket only. AVAILABLE NOW from David Robinson 14 Brinksway. Fleet (Fleet 21376) for which a charge will be made on the night. More information about this and further film evenings in the next newsletter.

Programme details
September 6: 1. The River Must Live - River pollution and how it can be overcome by the treatment of industrial and urban waste. Made on the Continent in 1966.
2. The History of Motor Racing - Part 1 - Heroic Days. This six-part series has become a classic. Part 1 has been compiled from contemporary films and reports of the 1902 - 1914 period.
3. Port of Manchester - a journey up the Manchester Ship Canal.
October 11: 1. The History of Motor Racing - Part 2. The Golden Age. This covers the period 1920-1929 with the post-war revival at Indianapolis, the great days of the Bentley and some land speed record attempts.
2. Discovering Britain - with John Betjeman. Showing Stourhead Gardens, the Crofton beam engine and Clifton suspension bridge.
3. The Prendergast File - a spoof documentary made in 1964 about a civil servant who compiles a report on canal transport and becomes rather too interested in the subject.
4. Narrow Boats (silent film). Made in 1954 - a pleasing documentary of life aboard a barge on a trip from Market Harborough to Leighton Buzzard.
Full details of films to be shown at the November 8 and December 6 film evenings will be given in the next newsletter.

One or two extra members are needed in Woking urgently to act as lengthsmen. Surrey and Hampshire County Councils have asked for details of this scheme and we need a 100 per cent team quickly. Volunteers please contact Tony Turner. The Gables, Hare Hill Close, Pyrford Woking, tel. Byfleet 43980.

A Little Time and a Tow
If you have a car with a towing hitch and are prepared to help with the occasional tow, we should be pleased to hear from you. We want as many names on the books as possible so that one person is not asked too often. Or if you haven't got a hitch, how about doing the odd collection-delivery job. For information without obligation, phone Ripley 3600 or pop round to The Firs, Sandy Lane. Send, near Woking, to see the Transport Manager, Mick Fairless.
Thanks -
MR. HOOPER of Odiham, for restoring No. 3 autoscythe to A. 1 condition. TONY CLARKE, a member for only two months, who has already found us three dumpers and two cement mixers all for £35 . . . some assistance to renovate and paint them would be most welcome. Offers to Bob Humphrey, Machinery Foreman, Chobham 8822. Col. HILL of Crookham, for a marine engine and gearbox ideal for a workboat - only we we need someone to build us one, possibly in the yard? Offers to Jeff Holman, Brookwood 3034.

And lastly to DICK SNELL who has Presented the society with a 10 ft. dinghy - needing a little repair and painting (hint hint ...)

Insight to a live working party on the wey - arun - Bob Humphrey
Work started for the organisers about 2 1/2 months beforehand, when the Wey & Arun Canal Society were asked if they would like some help with their canal. Our proposal was accepted, and after several phone calls a bridge hole below Lock 17 was given to us to clear. A fortnight before the day working party organisers from both sides met at the site to discuss the best way of removing the rubbish. There was plenty of it - rumour had it that an old caravan was under the heap somewhere!

Contact with local farmers gave us good access to the site and plenty of room to park cars in a nearby field. Also a local resident would help us on the day by bringing his tractor and chain saw. Signposts were made to direct our volunteers to the site, as it was well off the beaten track.

Sunday arrived, the dumper truck was awakened at the barge yard at Ash Vale at 7.30 am and towed to the site (thanks, Paul, for the loan of your Land Rover). Direction notices were set up by 9.30 and slowly you arrived. By noon, about 30 of us were busy clearing away the rubbish. Unfortunately, the W & A didn't supply us with the promised lorry to take the rubbish to a council tip so the society trailer was pressed into service. All the burnable rubbish was dealt with by a big fire in the dry bed of the canal.

The weather stayed fine - apart from a shower that caught some of us taking advantage of a picnic lunch in the country (the rest were in the local). By 6 pm a good day's work had been done, revealing two sides of the bridge. However plenty remains for a future working party - anyone interested?

The dumper was taken home and by 8 pm the end of a long day for the organisers had come to a successful end.

Jumble: We urgently need a volunteer to "host" a jumble sale, preferably in the Ash-Ash Vale area in the autumn. The volunteer should be prepared to store jumble, book the hall, arrange for posters to be displayed and handbills distributed (we'll do the printing). Volunteers or people who just want to find out what is involved before committing themselves - please ring David Gerry at Fleet 22520.

Whodunnit? An old-fashioned "pop" bottle, complete with ball stopper, has been found in the canal at Broad Oak. It bears the name "Basingstoke Mineral Water Company". The bottle is complete and undamaged, and estimated to be about 50 years old. We would be interested to hear from any member who remembers the Basingstoke Mineral Water Company. It may also be that one of our older members "gave" the bottle to the canal in his courting days.

Those were the days: The committee is anxious to acquire any slides and photographs of the canal - past and present - that members may have no further use for. In the case of old photographs or postcards - we can arrange to have these copied for our archives and returned intact to their owners. We are sure there must be some interesting old pictures lying around in attics. Our archivist Miss Doris Potter, 22 Queen's Road, Fleet, takes great care of the historical material that we have - and will look after your precious photographs while they are being copied. Please contact Miss Potter or the secretary (address on back page) if you have a canal antiquity, or a picture to donate.

The Newsletter Editor (address back page) is also anxious to hear from any member who knew the canal in happier days - or from members who have a point to make, a grievance to voice, or praise to give which could be incorporated into a Newsletter letters' column. This is important - we like to hear from members on any subject - so how about it?

It's Breeding! Yes folks - the Basingstoke Canal monster has given birth! The monsterlets have been making an appearance at a couple of local carnivals, nursed along by Les Harris, who built the monster in the first place. For the benefit of new members, the "monster" is just that - a creation resembling Nessie built of junk hauled out of the canal near Les's home in St. John's, Woking. The babies are built of oil drums and cocoa tins. The monster has recently appeared at carnivals in Fleet and Farnham and at the Woking Whirl. Our thanks to Les for his continued creativity. Jam and Waterways: The National Federation of Women's Institutes at its annual meeting at the Albert Hall recently, passed a resolution urging the Government to take active steps to preserve ALL our national waterways. Prime movers of this resolution were our friends in St John's, Woking, WI who specifically mentioned the Basingstoke. Our thanks to all WI members for the active support they have given us - whether by affiliating or just asking us for speakers. And they do make jolly good jam - we hope all members will patronise WI stands at fetes. Sincerely though we are grateful for the support of such a strong and intelligent movement as the WI.

Thanks - to our member Mr. George Welsh of Fleet for answering the appeal for someone to do our duplicating. He inherited quite a backlog of work which he has managed to reduce considerably.

Also the committee's thanks go to the anonymous person who has mown about a mile of towpath at Odiham. A "good angel" indeed.

And to those members who "rounded up" their subs to give us donations - and who wrote such encouraging messages on their renewal forms.

Not forgetting another member, Mr. John Fawkner-Corbett of Farnborough, who has waved a magic wand over our printing problems and offered to do a lot for us free of labour charge. He is now printing the heading to this newsletter - an improvement on the old duplicated heading - which has already saved us at least £20.


Narrow Boats on Film - Two narrow boats will star in a film being made this summer for the Childrens Film Foundation. They are the Alton, owned by the Narrow Boat Trust, and the Chiswick, on loan from Trust member Jim Evans. During filming they will be crewed by Trust members on a rota basis. Location for the film - which is about the theft by narrow boat of a rare animal from London Zoo - is the Regents Canal. The boats are being specially adapted and painted for their roles and once restored, they will be available for carrying contracts.

Any member wanting details of working parties organised by the Narrow Boat Trust should contact Richard Cooper, Aldersbrook House, Romford Road Manor Park, London E.12.

Pleasure Traffic up by 10 per cent/B - British Waterways' annual report for 1971 reveals a 15-per cent increase in the number of pleasure craft using the waterways system. A record £198,617 was received from licensing and registration fees, and the Freight Services Division made a record profit of £196,300. The cost of operating, dredging and maintaining the country's 2,000 miles of waterways in 1971 was £3,668,200. The report cites a need for more mooring berths - and a demand for sites to build boatyards and hire-cruiser businesses.

Member Mr. Clive Russell of West Norwood, who drew our attention to the Board's encouraging report for 1971, says he recently went by rail to Manchester - and part of the route follows the Grand Union Canal. "I was pleased to see a new basin where over 30 different craft - mostly houseboats, were being prepared for summer use, and also several craft already out and about on the canal", he writes. "I do hope soon that as a result of the SHCS efforts, the same may be seen on the Basiagstoke".

To 15-year old Lesley Benson of Church Crookham who recently gained her Queen's Guide award. Lesley's parents are members of the society, and she and other members of her family deliver newsletters in the Crookham area.

The Society was represented at a planning appeal heard at the end of June in Camberley, when Croudace Ltd. appealed against a refusal of permission to build 30 detached houses on land off Wharf Road, Frimley Green.

The Society's interest in the case was that the land in question runs down to the canal next to the Frimley Aqueduct - in fact the stop gate by the aqueduct is operated from the appeal site. It was obvious that the developers had not done their homework on the canal - referring to it as "unused" and "overgrown" - but quite unaware of the fact that compulsory purchase orders for the takeover of the canal by the county councils are in train.

Our representative at the inquiry urged that if the appeal is allowed, houses should be sited well away from the canal, a tree screen should be left between the canal bank and the development, and if possible, back gardens should not be allowed to extend to the canal bank, thus hindering future maintenance work on the aqueduct.

It seems likely that the appeal may be allowed. The Inspector who conducted it made a point of looking at the canal and the stop gate when he visited the site, and made copious notes about it. The point was made forcefully at the inquiry that while the canal may be "unused" and "overgrown" today, it will not be allowed to stay that way for very much longer. In this case, the developers seemed somewhat taken aback to learn that the county councils were trying to aquire the canal for restoration. They are now enlightened, and we hope that other developers thinking of building alongside the canal will make sure that they know about plans for the canal. We will continue to watch this appeal.

SALES TALK by Tony Jarrett, 1 Elms Road, Fleet, Hants. (tel. Fleet 5308)
A new sales list is enclosed with this Newsletter, from which you will see that a number of new items have been added. Worthy of particular mention are the ashtrays/scatter dishes, especially made for the Society, and the natural history book: Ashtrays/Scatter Dishes - These dishes, 4 1/2" in diameter are hand-made at a local pottery with the Basingstoke Canal token embossed in the centre. They are available in honey or green and have a glazed finish. At 30p they are very good value, and you certainly won't find a comparable item in the shoos at this price.

Natural History of the Basingstoke Canal - This long-awaited book is at last in print and joins our range of home-produced books. Like the Inns, Boats, and Walks books, this too is supplied in an attractive coloured cover. The price is 25p.

From July, orders will be taken at the pub evenings, and I hope to bring along a selection from the current sales list. In my absence, orders on a copy of the sales list may be left with either David Gerry or David Robinson.

A bouquet to students at Farnborough Technical College, who have once again produced an excellent booklet on pollution. Previous issues have rejoiced in the title "Nothing But Smut" - things seem to have improved in Farnborough as the 1972 edition is called "A Little Less Smut".

The canal, of course, features in the booklet yet again - in some places, says the canal article, it is in a "disgusting" condition. And as the article points out, Hampshire County Council has approved a compulsory purchase order "...and,if the canal were cleaned up properly, it could look very picturesque. It could even become a tourist attraction, bringing trade into the area".

Students who produced the booklet spent a long time interviewing Farnborough residents, visiting the sewage works, and producing some very effective photographs and cartoons. We can all take anti-smutty precautions by putting our empty beer cans and cigarette packets in the right places - and those of us who live near the canal can even do our bit to try and control the appalling amount of rubbish that gets dumped in it. Did you know that an observant passer-by once reported a man to the police as he was trying to heave an old washing machine off a bridge in Brookwood? The man was traced and fined quite heavily in court. If you spot someone making a bee-line for the canal with what looks suspiciously like junk, try to point out to him that his local council probably has a collection system for unwanted utensils - or he could take them straight to the municipal dump himself.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of restoration of the canal is the fascinating prospect of just what are we going to find in it - when we get going. You name it - and I bet it's in there!

In the last Newsletter, it was stated that members of the Fleet and Crookham Amenity Society turned out on the night the canal was leaking at Crookham. We got the wrong organisation - they were, in fact, members of the Crookham Village Residents' Association. Our apologies to those CVRA members - and thanks for their help that night.

A member, taking her dog for a stroll along the towpath at Woodham, tossed a twig on to a thick patch of duckweed on the canal. Quick as a flash, dog leapt to retrieve it thinking the weed was grass, and sank into the ooze with legs flailing wildly. Member feels dog would join the society if it could - judging from the expression on its face as it hauled itself out.


The newsletter editor was in conversation with a member of Camberley Council one day, when in the course of conversation the councillor mentioned that she had some old letters - some of them mentioning the Basingstoke Canal. Subsequently, the letters were loaned to the society, and they proved to be a most remarkable find, most of them having been written by Dr. Robert Bland, the gynaecologist who was chairman of the Basingstoke Canal Company from 1796 to 1816.

The story behind the discovery of these letters is quite interesting. Their owner - Mrs. Valerie Richards of Frimley, got them when she was a young girl in Wales. She and her father collected stamps, and would buy old letters at sales just for their postmarks. Bland's letters were in one such batch. The letters are all addressed to Mr. Henry Halsey, who lived at Henley Park - now Vokes. Mrs. Richards kept the letters, and it was only when she moved to Frimley that she began to read them. By coincidence, her husband now works for Vokes at Henley Park!

We are indebted to Mrs. Richards for lending the letters to us to enable us to get them photo-copied. We are retaining copies for our own files and sending copies to the archivists' departments of both Surrey and Hampshire County Councils.

Not much is known about Henry Halsey, other than that he appears - from the correspondence - to have been a meticulous, kindly and understanding man. Other letters not concerning the canal deal with his ward - a troublesome young fellow who wanted to buy a charger and dash off to fight Napoleon with some local militia. His connection with the canal arises probably because he owned land through which it passed.

We are grateful for his tidy mind, he was in the habit of jotting down on each letter the date of its receipt - and the date a reply was sent. This has proved to be a remarkable testimony to the postal service of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Rarely was a letter posted in London delivered to him other than the next day. And the letters bear only the briefest of addresses: "Mr. Henry Halsey, Henley Park, Farnham" - or simply "Mr. Henry Halsey, Bath" as one is addressed.

Mr. Halsey is mentioned in Paul Vine's book, "London's Lost Route to Basingstoke". On Page 105 is a facsimile account of "the trade and other produce, and of the expenditure of the company" from Lady Day to Michaelmas, 1825. This lists a sum of £97. 7s. 0d. "by rent of land, occupied by the canal and works, Mr. Halsey's annuity, and rent of offices and wharfinger's house".

Of Dr. Bland, Lost Route to Basingstoke tells us a lot. He was the son of a Norfolk attorney, and when he entered the canal's affairs around 1796 he was in his 50s. He died in 1816. Described as "skilful in his profession, and of extensive experience but eccentric in his manner", Vine explains his interest in the canal like this: "The fact that the Earl of Dartmouth was president of the London Dispensary may have led to his initial interest in the canal, and it is not unreasonable to assume that as a change from the complications of childbirth, he became fascinated by the problems of management . . . ".

The oldest letter, dated May 29, 1799, mentions George Smith, surveyor to the then canal company. The next dated August 3 1799, is from a Richard Crabtree, and it lists damage done to Mr. Halsey's land by the bursting of ponds. This may be the event referred to by Vine on Page 66 which quotes a canal company report as saying ". . by the continuance of the wind and rain the brick facing of the head of Peat Pond, Purbright was washed down to the extent of about thirty yards; fortunately the bank was prevented giving way otherwise the damage would have been very great, checked as it has been, it will probably be repaired for about three score or four score pounds". Certainly Mr. Halsey owned a peat moor, and Pirbright extended in a wider area then than it does today.

Mr. Crabtree's assessment of damage includes items such as "three sheep drowned valued at £1. 10s. Od." and wages paid to two men "clearing the Mill before and after the flood, 4s. 0d". Mr. Woods, a farmer, had three ton of hay destroyed which he valued at £2. 15s. 0d per ton.

The most interesting letter is one sent to Dr. Halsey by Dr. Bland on July 11. 1801. It deals with the proposal to make a new cut from the canal at "Purbright" (the Deepcut-Brookwood area today) to Bagshot. This is referred to in Lost Route to Basingstoke, Pages 70-80.

Evidently, the same kind of misgivings about the canal were being expressed in 1801 as are sometimes expressed today. Bland begins this letter by saying: "I entirely coincide with you in opinion that the utmost caution is to be used not to involve the gentlemen who shall subscribe towards making the cut from Bagshot to Purbright in indefinite expense. The failure of the Basingstoke Company affords as you justly observe, sufficient warning of the necessity of having correct and accurate statements of the expense of the works under distinct heads". The same - or similar wording could well be used in letters coming out of two county halls today!

A lot depended on Mr. Halsey in regard to this new cut - for it was to pass through his land. Whether or not he ever gave his consent to it we don't know because the correspondence does not tell us. But in another letter received on August 5. 1801, Bland is telling Halsey: "As no further steps can be taken until we know your mind on the business, I am particularly desired by the Gentlemen to request you will favour them with your determination, as it must be obvious to you that unless your consent is obtained, the business must be dropped".

And dropped it was. The reason? An increase in the estimated cost of the 41­mile cut. A first survey put the cost at £5, 500 - a figure confirmed in Bland's letter of July 11, 1301. But another survey put the cost at £8,125 and, according to Vine, the committee decided to abandon the project until a more favourable time arose for raising money. The scheme was never seriously considered again - although it was advocated the following year (1802).

But to return to Bland's letter of July 1801: this contains precise details of the proposed new cut not included in Lost Route to Basingstoke. A postscript to the letter reveals that the cut should be 34 ft. water surface. 18 ft. wide at the bottom, and 5 ft. deep. Bland then gives these figures: "The expense of cutting with banking, benching and making the whole watertight £4, 150. One lock £750; four road bridges £400; the weirs, tunnels, stop gates wharf walls etc about £300; together £5.500". Vine on Page 80 of Lost Route to Basingstoke describes a meeting held at the White Horse Inn, Bagshot, on June 24 180l to discuss the new cut. The water supply was to come from four rills which served no mill and which according to a Bagshot resident had never failed in the driest seasons. Vine goes on: "The meeting agreed that to cover contingencies £6,000 should be raised by 120 shares at £50 each". This too is confirmed in the July 1801 letter. Bland's postscript adds: "The meeting proposed raising £6,000. It was thought probable that by advertising persons might be found who might engage to perform the whole for £5,000".

At that meeting, the 22 people present subscribed for 51 shares - £2,500. Later Prince William of Gloucester who lived at Bagshot Park and six gentlemen in the neighbourhood subscribed a further £800. By October that year two-thirds of the capital (£4,000) had been subscribed. But then Mr. Henry Goolding completed a second survey which although it confirmed the soundness of the scheme estimated the cost at £8,125.

Space prevents us from giving a more detailed report of these fascinating letters, but if any member wants to research further, the Newsletter Editor has transcripts of them which can be borrowed. London's Lost Route to Basingstoke, published by David & Charles at £2.50p is available from the Sales Manager - see sales list enclosed. [top]

On June 3, a party of 70 people - 35 of them members of the society - had a boat trip aboard the N/B Jenny Wren down the Regent's Canal starting from below Hampstead Road Locks in Camden Town, to the Regent's Canal Dock in Limehouse.

On the journey down to the dock there was little activity seen on the canal. The various canal basins passed would seem to offer ideal moorings in the highly populated areas through which the canal passes. In only one, the smallest, the St. Pancras Yacht Basin, were boats to be seen. The fact that all the locks are closed on this canal at weekends must surely discourage pleasure craft from using this interesting waterway.

A stop for lunch was made on reaching the Regent's Canal Dock where most people retired to an old pub overlooking the Thames to eat their sandwiches and various seafoods obtainable from a somewhat dubious East End character. After lunch, the Jenny Wren passed up the Limehouse cut to join the River Lee Navigation at Bow Locks. The Lee Navigation has increasing barge traffic on it and this was evident by the number of barges encountered just floating about blocking the river. After only a short distance up the river, the return to the Regent's Canal was made via the Hertford Union Canal, which for much of its length adjoins the large Victoria Park of East London.

Throughout the trip it was discouraging to see how industry, timber yards etc. have turned their backs on the water. Once so dependent on the canal, they now use other forms of transport. One encouraging thing noted was the work being done on the towpath. The section passed in Camden is the next stage of that borough's canal-side walk, which it is intended should one day reach from the zoo in Regent's Park to Limehouse. The two sections already open are being increasingly used and people are aware that the canal - which they hardly knew existed - can be made into an amenity.

New members may find that their newsletter arrives by hand, thanks to the help of an army of volunteer postmen which the society has "employed" since its early days. These angels give up a couple of evenings every two months to deliver the newsletter - and save us from a fat postage bill. But people move away, new members join, and we usually have vacancies for extra deliveries in some rounds.

This time we need someone to take over deliveries in the Bagshot/Lightwater areas, as our postman there has now left the district. We could also do with extra help in Basingstoke, Aldershot, and Ash Vale, areas where our membership has increased rapidly. A volunteer to lend a hand in New Haw (the village itself) would also be helpful.

This is a worth while job, and those who do it are giving us a valuable donation of their time. Volunteers for the above areas please contact the Newsletter Editor, address below.

Our thanks to all those who volunteered after the last Newsletter appeal. For would-be volunteers, we will do our best to fix you up with a round convenient to where you live, though this may not always be possible. But any offers of help will be welcomed.

Hon. Secretary: Mrs. E. Nicholson, 1 Kielder Walk, Heatherside, Camberley, Surrey. Tel. Camberley 29468.
Newsletter Editor: Miss June Sparey 8 Beaufort Road, Maybury Estate, Woking, Surrey. Tel. Camberley 29463 (weekday evenings); Woking 63095 (weekends only)



Last updated April 2005