Nov-Dec 1972

Crisis for Canal Bridge
Committee Notes
Diary Dates
Working Party
Canal and its History - 2
Money Matters
Book review

Contact the Society


bcnmsthd39 (11K)

Newsletter No. 47.         President: The Earl of Onslow.         Nov-Dec 1972

We have learnt that Hampshire County Council is planning to destroy Brick Kiln Bridge, just west of the Brickworks Arm at Up Nateley. It is planned to put a 2 ft. pipe in the bed of the canal, take down the bridge and build an embankment with gravel on which to reinstate the road. This is due to happen in March.

Your committee feels strongly that:
1. We should have been consulted over this because we have been getting excellent co-operation on other canal matters.
2. A first-class case for the county council to acquire all land owned by the canal company beyond the Greywell Tunnel has just been sent to the county council. The suggestions put forward in this document must be considered before any decision is taken to remove Brick Kiln Bridge.

The Society's opposition to the idea has been made to the county. Will you please strengthen our hand by writing to the county council stating YOUR view on the subject. The address is: The Clerk of the County Council, Hampshire County Council, The Castle, Winchester, Hants. On Page 2 of this Newsletter you will read that ultimate restoration of the canal need not stop at the Greywell Tunnel. It has always been our long-term aim to take the canal into Basingstoke once more. The levelling of this bridge will kill that aim - and make any attempt to give the Basingstoko back its name very difficult If this concerns you, please write today to the county council and urge a re-think.

Barley Mow Bridge
Hampshire County Council is also planning to do extensive repairs to Barley Mow Bridge at Dogmersfield. The filling at the top of the bridge will be stripped off down to the three arch brick ring, and a concrete platform will be put on top of that with the road re-instated In effect, the road will go on a concrete raft and the bridge will look just the same. We are watching the question of headroom.

Chequers Bridge
Still in Hampshire, Hartley Wintney Rural Council is worried at what it calls the "poor state" of the Chequers bridge near the pub of that name in Crookham Village. It has asked the divisional surveyor to investigate.

Coxheath Bridge
Yet another Hampshire bridge is in the news - Coxheath Bridge in Fleet. Fleet Council wants the county to spend £20,000 rebuilding and realigning the bridge - residents say this will speed up traffic. Currently the bridge has a five ton limit in operation.

Matters like these keep the committee on its toes. How much easier our job would be if local authorities had the courtesy (and in some cases the sense) to ask us for our views. Our services are free, we want to help.
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Trying to keep you all involved and up-to-date in this long drawn-out campaign is to my way of thinking a most difficult exercise in communications. By the very nature of our negotiations with the county councils, with the Army and with other local authorities, we find ourselves in the position of being involved in decisions concerning policy and technical matters connected with restoration. This neans that we enjoy confidences which, as a responsible committee, we have a duty not to divulge. Anyhow, we try our best to keep you all in the picture - roll on the day when restoration starts in earnest.

Some of the things we have been discussing in committee recently include a study of the feasibility of reopening Greywell Tunnel and beyond. The CPO. only goes as far as the tunnel and does not include anything much more than the eastern portal itself. I am sure many of us would like to think that one day we could get by boat to the section around the little tunnel at Mapledurwell. I am sure it is possible and I don't think that the cost of bringing the tunnel back into use would be anything like as much as some people think. Anyhow, we must do all we can to see that nothing that might prejudice any future restoration is allowed to take place, something for instance like lowering any of the remaining bridges on that section. We have already been discussing with Basingstoke Corporation the pollution arising from sewage effluent in the canal around the Brickworks Arm.

Another item at this time of year, with the AGM coming up, is to discuss whether there are any amendments that we may think necessary to our Constitution, to keep it in line with the needs of the Society. We are looking at proposed new membership renewal forms, and the possibility of changes in membership rates and categories. We are also working on things like a cash flow budget for the coming year, hope­fully with the possibility of really having restoration under way in 1973.

We now have a considerable amount of equipment and tools and turn out quite a lot of paperwork during the year, so that the figures we are dealing with are escalating all the time, and this needs more forward planning and more administration work. To help with your forward planning of events, we are looking into the possibility of producing a bi-monthly news sheet, alternating with the full Newsletter.

We are continuing to press our case for the formation of a Trust to restore the canal. We feel that in the long run, this will be overwhelmingly the most satisfactory way of involving all the different people and organisations that will participate in restoration.

We constantly watch in the Press and elsewhere for planning applications that might concern the canal. Following our success at Frimley Green (see last Newsletter) we hear that in a revised plan, provision for access to the stop gate has been made, and there will be a footpath alongside the canal for everybody to enjoy. This, I am sure, means saving some of the lovely trees as well.

We have also made representations about a development on the Coin Insulation site in Goldsworth Road, Woking, and are currently looking at canalside estates shortly to be built in Fleet.

Another aspect of the society that we should like to encourage and get under way in the near future is an active Natural History section, We have people in the society who are also in the Naturalists Trust, and we feel this is something we could pursue. We should be interested to hear from anyone who may like to join (or lead) such a section.

On the working party side, a very comprehensive lock survey has just been undertaken which will prove most valuable in programming restoration. Soon we will take another practical step in this direction by starting work on a pair of lower gates for Ash Lock. This is now possible as we have at last found a very suitable "home" in the Army barracks at Deepcut, by kind, permission of the RAOC. (see also John Edmondson's article on Page 6).
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Sunday, November 26: Working party, Ash Vale Barge Yard, meet 10am.
Monday, November 27: Pub evening, The Swan, Hutton Road, Ash Vale.
Sunday, December 3: Working party, Ash Vale Barge Yard, meet 1O am.
Wednesday December 6: Film evening, King's Head, Guildford Road, Frimley Green, 8 pm. Minimum admission 10p. See below.
Saturday, December 9: Sales Manager's open day, 1 Elms Road, Fleet, 3 pm to 8 pm. See page 4.
Sunday, December 1): Ramble, 15 miles, meet at Alton Station, 10 am. A round trip ramble on footpaths to the north and west of Alton. Lunch will be taken as usual at a convenient hostelry en route. Ring John Peart, Farnborough 46554 for fuller details.
Friday, December 22: Closing date for nominations for the 1973-74 committee and items for the AGM agenda (please note; this is a week earlier than the date given in the last Newsletter). Nominations must be accompanied by the names and addresses of both proposer and seconder, and the signed consent of the nominee. Any member wishing to seek election to the committee who cannot find a proposer please contact the secretary, address back page, who will make the necessary arrangements.
Wednesday, January 10: Film evening, King's Head, Frimley Greon, 8pm "(see below).
SATURDAY, JANUARY 27: Annual General Meeting, Brookwood Memorial Hall, off Connaught Road, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey, 7 pm. Full details will be sent out with the next Newsletter.
Wednesday, February 7: Film evening, King's Head, Frimley Green, 8 pm.
Friday, February 9: Public meeting about the canal, staged by the Mytchett, Frimley Green and Deepcut Residents Association, St. Andrew's Hall, Sturt Road, Frimley Green.

WHAT'S ON - WHAT'S GONE by Dave Robinson. 14 Brinksway. Fleet
Our first film evening at the King's Head proved to be the best ever, with over 60 people attending. The facilities there are a great improvement and I hope this will become our permanent "home" for our social gatherings for some time to come.

Forthcoming evenings are:
December 6: Programme - (l) Powerboat '66; (2) History of Motor Racing Part 4; Black Fire (the last days of steam locomotives).
January 10: So few people have requested tickets for this particular evening that it is not worth issuing them, just turn up as usual. To those members who did write to me, I will guarantee you seats if large numbers turn up. I hope this will be the case as this film evening will be the most expensive of this winter to put on. Films to be shown are: (l) A Century of Steam; (2) Painted Boats.
February 7: Programme is (l) National Trust; (2) History of Motor Racing; (3) North Walsham Canal; (4) Festiniog Summer. As always there will be a minimum entry fee of 10p. Start 8 pm, finish 9.3O pm.

Lengthsman Scheme
Our lengthsmen have been sending in reports for a little over a year now and on the whole the scheme is working well and is proving very useful. However, important things are still being missed and are not being reported, which suggests you are not walking your particular length frequently enough. ¥e also noed extra lengthsmen, especially in the Woking/Brookwood areas - in fact more volunteers for the whole length would be useful. Please contact Dave Robinson at Fleet 21376 (western section) or Tony Turner, Byfleet 4398O if you can help with the eastern section.

Lenthsmen walk their lengths at least monthly and send in written reports every three months (please remember this as reminders cost money). They should notify us immediately of any unusual happenings on the canal.

A volunteer - or two - is needed to take on deliveries in Odiham. It involves 22 deliveries in Odiham itself, three in Broad Oak and a couple at Colt Hill. The volunteer will not have to take up his duties until the New Year as the next Newsletter, which will contain all AGM details, will be sent out by post to all members. (Regular postmen note - you will have a rest next time round).

Any volunteers to take on the Odiham round please contact the Newsletter Editor, address on back page.

SALES TALK by Tony Jarrett, 1 . Elms Road, Fleet. Tel.Fleet 5308
A special Christmas order form is enclosed. To ensure that you get your goods in time either:
1) Post the form to me without delay.
2) Bring it along to the film evening on December 6 at the King1s Head, Frimley Green.
3) Come along to the special "open day" at 1 Elms Road, Fleet, on Saturday, December 9 any time between 3 pm and 8 pm. You may even get a cup of coffee for free - who says the Sales Manager never gives anything away! This is your opportunity to see our full range of goods - and do some Christmas shopping in homely surroundings.

It's now up to the members. If you want the Society to produce a tie I must receive 100 advance orders. See details on attached Sales List.
Dates for Fetes
In the last Newsletter I requested details of any fetes, carnivals etc. that we could take the sales stand to next year. So far I've heard from one member - what about the other 1,999? Please have another think - we need your help.

To John Peart for the fact that the open day at Ash Vale clashed with the ramble he organised. This was the committee's fault and all dates are now being carefully watched so that it does not happen again. Roll on the society membership card - which should have ALL dates in advance!
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From: Mrs Eva H. Diamond:
I've just finished reading the Newsletter No. 45 which I have found very interesting indeed as always.

I used to live, as a child, in Normandy and a punt from Ash Vale to Mytchett Lake was a real treat. I have a sister who used to go on the canal from Aldershot very often. My husband and I have just returned from a fortnight's holiday in Sweden, the high spot being a 3-day trip on Sweden's "blue ribbon' - the Gota Canal which goes from Gothenberg to Stockholm linking a system of lakes and waterways and reaching 3OO ft. above sea level going through 65 locks.

Juno, our canal steamer, was one of three that do this journey, and we were the only English folk amongst passengers from the USA, Canada, Sweden, Japan and France. In the visitors' book ours was about the 5th English entry - we wrote: "Mr & Mrs G. H. Diamond, Farnham, Surrey, England, August 14, 1972 - members of the Basingstoke Canal Society. How's that for advertising?
The Corner
West End Grove

From: Mr. Eric G. Ruffle:
Although I was very glad to see our Society well represented in the delightful Qoking Whirl procession and public entertainment I felt disappointed at what I understand was representation at the Bisley Country Sports Fair. Apart from the waterfowl on the canal (they are to be protected) what of other wild life along this waterway? As the country fair appeared to be an exhibition for the killing - called sport - of animals and birds, I hope our Society will truly represent Nature in preservation.
2 Kirby Road
Horsell, Woking

We welcome letters on any topic for publication in the Newsletter - and are grateful for any contributions from members. Please send any items to the Newsletter Editor, address on back page. This is your Newsletter, so please let's hear your view.'

From: Mr. E. J. Woolgar: From the latest issue it would appear that the Society Newsletter is now firmly esablished as a rival to some of those daily tabloids. A headline greeted the reader with WWe've been spending your money", and was followed by an opening sentence of "Yes, we've had a spending spree". Is this something to be proud of?

The purchase of the Land Rover was long overdue and has proved value for money. But what was the reasoning for a brand new electric typewriter? It echoes of "You've got a Land Rover, we're having a typewriter".

So bang goes £177 on a brand new electric typewriter. Not even a second[hand one, from the accompanying appeal, one must assume that the Society can ill afford it.

Why was no attempt made to see if a member had a machine in good condition to sell or donate to the society.

Obviously the damage is done, but can we have some constructive thinking before spending some 300 subscriptions, wich is about the price for a pair of lock gates.
56 Connaught Crescent

Editor's note: The best person to answer Mr. Woolgar's letter is our secretary, Mrs. Nicholson.

She points out that the Society is sending out something in the region of 1,000 letters a year. This year, five books will have been typed and re-typed, plus at least two comprehensive reports for circulation to counyu officials, six issues of the newsletter and of course committee minutes and memoranda.

In the past, all this work has been done on borrowed typewriters. We were getting to the stage where yet another privately owned typewriter was in danger of packing up, and we had no typewriter available for producing the newsletter.

Obviously something had to be done to ensure that we had a reliable typewriter at our disposal at all times. We chose to buy a new electric typewriter for three good reasons.

1. Flexibility. An electric typewriter can cope with all kinds of work - cutting stencils (which can and has ruined private portables used for Society work) ordinary correspondence and in making paper plates for offset-lithe work. This means that if we need offset-litho printing for leaflets etc. in future, we can prepare the plates ourselves and not pay to have them done.

2. Ease of use. An electric typewriter is more economic in terms of manpower and the Soiety has always tried to make things easier for those who do the work where possible. One can appreciate that the amount of paperwork generated by the Society today far exceeds the paperwork - and physical effort involved - at the time when Mr. Woolgar was secretary.

3. Presentation. The Society has an image to project and we believe this should be as modern and eficient as possible. An electric machine ensures first class presentation of all typed material, whether it be a report for circulation to county councillors, or a book which we are offering for sale. Certainly the appearance of the newsletter has improved 100 per cent since we went "electric".

(The Newsletter Editor adds: Members who have read this far will have gathered that the reply to Mr Woolgar's letter is being typed on a different machine - her own portable which she used for some years. Members can judge for themselves which looks better, She apologies for the poor quality of this passage, but it illustrates point no. 3 graphically).

The machine we have bought is the best available for the job we have to do. We enquired most carefully into the cost of a second-hand machine, and found that for very little extra cost we could buy a new one - with guarantee and after sale service - at a large discount. The committee, in fact, agreed in principle to buy the typewriter before the Land Rover became available.

The Society is not bankrupt. We have been prudent, and now have money invested in British Savings Bonds. Rather than break into our investments, the comittee decided to launch an appeal - our first apart from the Lock Gate Fund - to help recoup a heavy expenditure which came in one lump. Our investments will be needed when restoration starts. Elsewhere in this Newsletter members can read about the response to this appeal which has been most generous so far.

A final point from the Newsletter Editor herself: "I am certainly proud that after years of scrounging and making do with second-best, I can produce a Newletter that - I am told - is interesting to read and is also good to look at".

Any other comments on Mr. Woolgar's letter will be welcomed for publication.
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LOCK GATES - by John Edmondson {Bagshot 2331)
At last the project to build a pair of lower gates for Ash Lock is getting well under way. Timber for the frames has been ordered and we are at present waiting for delivery. The cost of this timber will be £175 and the total cost of the gates should not exceed £3OO which is much less than half the cost of even the most reasonably priced commercially built gates. The delay in starting the project has been due to the lack of a suitable building in which to construct the gates, but now the Army has kindly offered us the use of an old Drill Hall in Blackdown Camp, Deepcut. This is centrally sited with respect to the canal and the building is very suitable .for the job in hand. There are several ways in which you can help the project:

1. If you have a basic common-sense knowledge of carpentry and can spare a few hours a week on a regular basis, you can help with the actual building of the gates.
2. We would find some more tools very useful, especially mallets and 2" chisels. Any equipment in this line which you can donate or lend to the Society will be well looked after and most helpful.
3. During the next two or three months we shall be requiring a considerable quantity of (a) 2" thick Yellow Deal planking and (b) 10 1/2" and 11" x 5/8" coach or hexagon bolts. Both these items will cost a lot of money, so if you can help in obtaining them at lower prices I would like to hear from you as soon as possible.

I will always be pleased to hear from anyone interested in the project so if you would like any information or can give any help in any way, please phone me or drop me a line. The address is School House, School Lane, Bagshot, Surrey.

Regular working weekends at Ash Vale are suffering due to a lack of mechanically minded lads - initial enthusiasm seems to have waned! Bob Humphrey (Chobham 8822) wants to hear you offer some help, any weekend will do.

An away working party, sometime about the end of February, venue not fixed but probably the Midlands, all weekend effort, so book the time off now and tell Jeff Holman (Brookwood 3034) you'll be coming.

We are hoping to have a massive, OFFICIAL working party on the canal at Fleet under the Civic Amenities Act, clearing rubbish. We shall want a lot of people there. Members who have indicated that they want to join working parties will be notified of date, time, place.

We are visiting the Wey and Arun on JANUARY 14 as a general working force. The site is at Birtley on the A.281, meet at grid ref.017436 Sheet 169. It is south from Guildford on the Horsham Road, 1 1/2 miles from Bramley. This will give those of you who missed the last dig to attend - but it does not let the last group have a rest! Ring Jeff Holman or Robin Higgs (Chobham 7314) for details.

The open day at Ash Vale was very successful and resulted in two useful donations - an autoscythe given by Woking MP and society vice-president Cranley Onslow, and a small trailer from member Mr. Ellen of Fleet. While on the subject of thanks, IWA member Mr. R. Davis has given us an old postcard of Greywell Tunnel.

Do you see yourself as a group leader when real work starts? If so, we want to meet you now, and show you the ropes. We are very short of good leaders at present, so ring Jeff Holman PRONTO.

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CANAL AND ITS HISTORY - 2 by B. E. Smith (1963)
Strangled by the railways, commercial traffic dwindled, though a partial use made of the canal lasted well into the 1900s. The brickworks of Nateley Scures, the last big users, closed in 1908, spreading the paralysis eastward as far as Woking, though we are told that barges delivered timber to Edgoose's in Aldershot as late as 1920. The reach from Woking to Byfleet fared better; it remained navigable and was used mainly for the transport of timber to Spanton's Wharf in Woking. (This traffic ceased in 1949).

The rest of the canal had died. As if to emphasise this fact, the tunnel at Greywell collapsed in 1932, sealing off the Basingstoke end. In recent years, Basingstoke Council has used the cut as a refuse tip; perhaps it is fitting that the town which started it should have the honour to be the first to obliterate it.

Close by Farnham ¥harf there once stood an inn, one of several at intervals along the canal. These havens of warmth and refreshment enriched the slow, lonely journeys of the watermen. The last landlord of the Row Barge Inn, James Houghton, made a chancey living from bargees, travellers passing on the road and Londoners who sometimes came to shoot the snipe on this deserted highwayman's heath.

In 1855 the camp arrived - first the labourers who built it, then thirsty soldiers in their thousands. Host to these hordes, Houghton hit the jackpot. The business of the inn soared to dizzy heights, officers used it before their messes were built, it became the temporary HQ of the General and all day long the troops spilled from its doors. Later, when the camp became established, it was decided that the Row Barge, which was now on Government land, had served its purpose and Houghton was given notice to quit. He did so only when the sappers arrived and dismantled the roof above his head.

This small outpost of Farnham, this cluster of buildings comprised by the wharf, warehouses, cottages, the bridge and the inn that was so intrinsically part of Farnham, was at the wave of the War Office wand suddenly engulfed by an invading multitude of strangers. The whole character of it changed overnight. The hamlet of Aldershot, which exploded into being at the smell of gunpowder, took over and even changed the time-honoured - and time-restored - name of the wharf to "Aldershot Wharf". Henceforth the canal at this stretch catered for the needs of Aldershot Camp, bringing the timber with which its huts were built and later, army stores and equipment.

Beset with difficulties, the Basingstoke Canal has changed hands more than once. The original company was wound up in 1869. In 1905 the canal was sold by tender and remained in the ownership of the Harmsworth family until Alfred Pearson & Son were instructed to sell by public auction on March 1, 1949.

Editor's note: This article was published in a Farnham magazine in 1963. The remainder of it describes how the canal subsequently came into the ownership of the New Basingstoke Canal Company and expresses the hope that the canal would be restored by its new owners - a hope which remains unfulfilled.

A long-standing Society member, Mr. Bill Myers of Southampton, has sent in some comments on Part 1 of this article, published in the last Newsletter. He points out that the engineer-in-charge was William Jessop, that the cut was made eastward through the chalk and not westward as stated and adds: "In the penultimate paragraph the reference to boats on the waterways of the Midlands is most misleading and certainly needs reversing. Finally, as to conveying goods which weren't in a hurry, surely at that time canal transport was no less speedy than other forms for bulk cargoes!"

If you have come across a reference to the canal in some old publication, please send details to the Newsletter Editor (address on back page). However oblique they may seem, these references are useful in building up a picture of the canal as it once was, and the part it played in the life of the area and the community it served.
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MONEY MATTERS by Peter Youngs, Society Treasurer
Land Rover/Typewriter Appeal Fund
The Committee's expectations in launching this appeal to help meet our recent heavy expenditure have been more than surpassed by the generous way in which so many of you have responded.

At the time of going to press, you had contributed the grand sum of £135.10p - plus five books of trading stamps. A big THANK YOU to all who have so far subscribed.

To those who still intend to send - but haven't yet done so, please make a point of doing so immediately after reading this Newsletter. If you have forgotten or lost the appeal form, a plain piece of paper with your name and address (not forgetting your cheque) is all that is necessary. If you wish, you can specify to which use your money should be put.

Any amount, however small, is welcomed. Don't forget that an average donation of 25p per member will more than reach our target. Send whatever you can spare to me, Peter Youngs, The Coppice, 192 Upper Chobham Road, Camberley, Surrey. Thank you.

In our archives we have a complete set of Newsletters - except No.5. Has anyone got one that we could either have for the files or borrow for photocopying and return? If you have the illusive No.5 in your possession and are willing to lend it to us, please send it to Dave Gerry, 1O Fairland Close, Fleet, Hants.

Wanted: A second hand BRIDGE, 8' or 9' headroom or more, minimum span 14', preferably about 17'. Off an old canal if possible but a railway bridge would be considered. The bridge is needed for the junction of the canal and the River Wey. We have been told that if we can find a good bridge, we can go ahead and put it up. Any offers or suggestions to Dave Gerry, address above, or ring him at Fleet 22520.
Wanted: An old motor cycle (the older the better) to restore and use. Present condition immaterial. If you would like a good home for your disused oldie, please ring John Edmondson, Bagshot 2331.

The Newsletter Editor is sorry that the promised review of Paul Vine's latest book "The Royal Military Canal" is not included in this Newsletter, but the review did not reach her by deadline date. It will therefore appear in the next Newsletter. A reminder that a signed copy of this book has been given to the Society by the author and is being raffled. Tickets at 5p each are available from the Sales Manager, Tony Jarrett, and the draw will be made at the AGM in January.

The committee is thinking about having some permanent accommodation in the form of a club hut at Ash Vale, and is considering putting in a planning application. When budgets are prepared for next year, finance for this purpose wili be allocated.

"There's nothing quite like being in charge In charge of a gay inland waterway barge,.."
Source: Chigley (Watch With Mother programme) on a Sunday in October.

Hon Sec. Mrs. E. Nicholson, 1 Kielder Walk, Heatherside, Camberley. Tel: Camberley 29468.
Newsletter Editor; Miss June Sparey, 8 Beaufort Road, Maybury, Woking, Surrey. Tel: Woking 63095 (weekends only); Camberley 29463 (weekdav evenings)
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Last updated April 2005