July-August 1973

2nd pair of lock gates
Surrey publishes its CPO
Ramblers' Corner
Committee notes
The Dredger
Sales Talk
Report on Joint W'king

Contact the Society


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Newsletter No. 51July-August 1973

QUOTE: "I am going to put my own personal opinions, which do not commit anybody, and those are - and always have been - that the canal should be restored fully throughout its length, from Greywell to its end at the River Wey", - Mr. David Pumfrett, chairman, Hamp­shire County Council's Countryside Committee.

Mr. Pumfrett was speaking at our ceremony to present the two county councils with our second pair of lock gates, held on June 9 at the Ash Vale Barge Yard. It was a memorable occasion for the 500 or so members who came along and the distinguished guests who accepted our invitation.

In his speech accepting the lock gates, Mr. Pumfrett revealed that the canal company had decided to sell the Hampshire stretch to that county council. He said the county hopes to gain possession of the canal later this year - "possibly as early as August".

Mr. Pumfrett went on to say that anything other than full restoration of the canal would be, so far as he was concerned, a waste of money. He paid tribute to the society - saying that during the long years of negotiation the society had proved itself "a most responsible body". He explained: "In these days there are so many ad hoc societies springing up all over the place - Ban the Bomb, Move the Motorway - and nearly all of them are negative. The canal society has persistently been a positive, forward-looking creative society. This is the right way to persuade local authorities to spend money in the public interest.

"I have alvays told the society, 'If you want the thing, keep on, not only saying you want it - prove you want it'. I do not think any society could have done more to prove this over and over again. I am absolutely certain in my own mind that when the two counties acquire this canal, the society will again prove its worth by the amount of voluntary work that it will do to help the counties put this canal in order. That is the sort of thing which elected councillor's need and I think are bound to listen to". Mr. Reginald Reekie, chairman of Surrey County Council's Town and Country Planning Committee, in his address, described the lock gates as evidence of the "enormous store of ability and knowledge" which the society has among its members. "We in Surrey are striving to overcome the difficulties of acquisition", he went on. "But I am quite sure that they will be overcome and we shall succeed in acquiring our length of the canal. "You deserve every bit of encouragement we can possibly give you", he added. "I look forward as eagerly as you do to tho day when these marvellous gates can be put to their proper use".
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Surrey County Council has now published details of its compulsory purchase order for the Surrey stretch of the canal. Details of the order have already appeared in local newspapers.

At first sight, it might appear that the county is proposing to include whole properties in its CPO. Several of our members' homes were referred to by name in the newspaper advertisement. In the majority of cases, however, all the county is proposing to acquire is the bottom 6 ft. or so of garden - which probably is rented from the canal company in any case.

One member, living in Woodham, has already reported concern that the bottom of his and neighbouring gardens is to be acquired "for public access" - indicating to him that a public footpath might run at the bottom of his garden.

The Newsletter Editor's interpretation of this - not checked with the county council because there was not time - is that "public access" merely means access to the public in the form of the county councils. (After all, if Surrey and Hampshire's CPOs are successful the canal will be "publicly owned"). This "public" access will be needed for maintenance purposes. In fact, and this again is opinion, householders who adjoin the canal will probably find that the same arrangement as applies at present with the canal company will apply with the county councils, who may well rent the strip of land which they own to the adjoining householder, provided access to that land is made available should any maintenance need arise.

ANY MEMBER who is concerned about the affect of the CPO on his property is strongly advised to visit his local council offices, where a detailed schedule of the Order has been lodged, plus a map showing the amount of land to be covered by the CPO. Your local council office can provide you with full details, and will probably set your mind at rest.

This is not to say that adjoining owners will not suffer some inconvenience when restoration work starts. There is bound to be some, but if and where this Society is involved, it will be kept to a minimum. The quicker work can progress, the less the nuisance caused, so lending a hand in the work will speed up things and remove any nuisance from your back garden at a faster rate!

Members so affected can console themselves with the thought that once the canal has been restored, the eyesore which lingers at the bottom of so many gardens will be turned into an amenity which could add a few noughts to the value of their homes.

If members have neighbours who are worried about the CPO, then why not suggest that they join the Society? We can offer advice on all canal matters, and provide an effective liaison with the county councils.

The committee will also be pleased to hear from and advise any member who is concerned about the CPO or who has any queries.
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Monday August 6: Pub evening, New Inn, Odiham.
Sunday August 12: Family ramble, meet 2.30pm Byfleet and New Haw Station (see below).
Monday, August 27: Pub evening, The Swan, Hutton Road, Ash Vale.
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Our June family ramble along the Basingstoke Canal towpath from Brookwood to Woking was we11-supported and we enjoyed the usual fine weather. But we were saddened to see the continued deterioration of this stretch of the canal which contrasts sharply with those lengths where private working parties have been active.

I was very pleased to welcome some new faces who on the previous day had shown interest in the rambles display at the lock gate ceremony. Interest in the display was very encouraging and my thanks are due to those who purchased the maps and books on sale. At the end of the day more than £12 was handed over towards Society funds. The South coast Evening Argus for June 30 contained a report on the reopening after 130 years of disuse of the Chichester arm of the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal. Sussex County Council purchased this section some years ago and have just completed a £17,000 restoration scheme. Our December ramble will be using this canal arm and will attempt to trace the long defunct Portsmouth and Arundel Canal to Ford, where it joined the Arun Navigation, providing a route to London via the Wey and Arun Canal.

Sunday August 12: Meet at Byfleet and New Haw Station at 2.30pm for an easy 4 1/2-mile circuit. The outward route uses public foot­paths which are surprisingly rural in this densely populated area. Return via the Wey Navigation towpath. Push chair drivers will find the going a little easier than in June!

Diary dates: Sunday October 14: Guildford. Full details in next Newsletter.
Sunday, December 9: Portsmouth and Arun Canal.
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An easy, compact round in Fleet has become available for a kind volunteer to deliver the Newsletter for us once every two; months. We could also do with another volunteer to help in the outer reaches of Woodham/New Haw area.

We can always do with extra help in big membership areas such as Woking, Aldershot, Farnborough - contact the Newsletter Editor, address back page, if you feel like doing a good turn.

Another plea for members on the move to please let the Editor have a note of changes of address. Most people are very good at this - some are not. One stunned postman found an address she used to deliver to razed to the ground last time she called!
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They do say that no news is good news; I hope this holds true for the Basingstoke. As far as we know, the position regarding the Hampshire section is unchanged. At the lock gate ceremony Mr. Pumfrett said that the county hoped to take possession in early August, and Surrey has reached the stage where it should be able to publish details of its CPO in the very near future. (Stop press - it's now published).

While we wait we have not been idle. Members who attended the lock gate ceremony will be aware of the great deal of work that has been put in to getting our equipment into fighting order. A lot of work has also been put in on the Land Rover, which is now in excellent running order. With the increase in the amount of equipment we own, we have an urgent need for a twin axle trailer of about 25cwt and if any member knows of one going cheap, let Robin Higgs (Chobham 7314) know.

Restoration of the dredger is going ahead, and it is hoped to have the first steaming in October. In recognition of the importance of this work, the Executive Committee has elected George Welsh as administration manager and Ian Cripps as technical manager of the project, and they have been given complete authority with regard to the restoration work. The committee is very pleased that Ron Jesse, who played a major part in the feasibility study carried out before we purchased the dredger will continue to act as consultant engineer.

The dredger does present one large problem - how to move it from its present moorings to the top pound of the Basingstoke when the time comes. The beast is some 70ft. long and weighs 78tons, although by removing certain equipment this could be reduced by about half. It will have to be moved by road by a commercial organisation at a cost of between £300 and £500. What we want is a company who will move it at reduced rates (or even for free) as a publicity stunt. It is not every day that a steam dredger is moved by road! Perhaps a number of companies might be prepared to sponsor the move? Have members any ideas - if so let any committee member know as soon as possible.

When the whistle is at last blown and we can start work in returning the Basingstoke to its former beauty there will be an enormous administration load in handling large working parties. To ensure that our working parties are as efficient as any on the waterways network, a small sub-committee has been set up under the title Restoration, Administration and Planning. This sub-committee's job is seen as co-ordination between the various sections, as a link between the society and the county authorities, and to ensure that the service facilities required by working parties such as fuel, food, accommodation, toilets, first aid, communications etc. are available. The sub-committee consists of David Gerry, Alan Babister and myself and we need your help - if you have been on working parties which you felt were very well organised or where things could have been better, or if you are able to help with some of the facilities the working parties will require, let one of us know as soon as possible - time might be a lot shorter than you think. One important aspect that this sub-committee must look at is the safety of members on working parties, and we are therefore seeking the services of a safety officer to advise us on this matter. If any member with suitable experience would be prepared to take on this important job, please contact me.

Talking about the future, many members will no doubt have seen the letter from the New Basingstoke Canal Company's solicitor, Mr. H. D. Swales, in the local Press at the end of June concerning the Joint Working Party Report on Restoration and Management. The committee feels that this does not really warrant an answer, but perhaps I could just make three points:
1. Published with Mr. Swales' letter in one paper was a letter from Mr. Calland concerning a once noble oak which for about a year has blocked the towpath just above Coxheath Bridge. In his letter Mr. Swales shows concern for the amenity value of the canal and in view of this it would be interesting to know his attitude to Mr. Calland's letter.
2. Mr. Swales thinks that motor cruisers will ruin amenities such as angling. I think one can safely say that in recent years more fish have died in the Basingstoke from lack of oxygen or water than have been caught during that period by the few anglers who still think the Basingstoke is an amenity.
3. Lastly, Mr. Swales questions whose views the Report really represents. Your committee is indeed very pleased with the recommendations of the working party, reported elsewhere in this Newsletter, and see its Report as justification for the campaign we have waged for a number of years. However, we feel that members should come to their own conclusions and we are therefore making available a limited number of the Reports (see details in Sales Talk). The voluntary input quoted in the Report was costed at £1 an hour.

At the last meeting of the Executive Committee we expressed our very great thanks to David Robinson for the magnificent job he did in organising the Lock Gate ceremony. I know that those who attended - and there were some 500 present - will also wish to be identified with these thanks. Our thanks were also extended to Alan Babister for organising the barbecue, Paul Buck for providing refreshments both during the afternoon and evening, and everyone else who helped to make the day such a success.

Finally, on behalf of the committee I should like to thank Peter Caiger for entering a float in the society's name at the Camberley, Fleet and Sandhurst and Woking carnivals which aroused a great deal of interest. I also know that Peter would like to thank everyone who set up and dismantled the float at various venues and especially Bert Saunders, without whose considerable help the float would not have been built.
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THE DREDGER by George Welsh
The old boiler tubes are now removed and work is about to start on re-tubing. The other mechanical work is well in hand. Chipping and scaling has started and the dredger is slowly taking on a gory appea­rance as red oxide paint is liberally applied to everything in sight - including the painters.

Someone with pipe fitting experience is required for modification work in connection with the steam and feed water pipework. Volunteers are also needed to help with chipping, scaling and painting -no previous experience required. Working parties are held every Saturday and Sunday. If you can help on either or both of these days contact Ian Cripps at Fleet 7831 or me, George Welsh, at Fleet 5481.
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We still need someone to take over the role of secretary when Mrs. Nicholson resigns the post at the next AGM. Anyone with a flair for organisation and a tidy mind has the right qualifications. The job can be split - with a secretary to handle the general secretarial work and an administration assistant to tackle the other, more off-beat part of the job. This is a very important job and we must find a volunteer, who will probably find the work interesting. Please contact Mrs, Nicholson, address on back page, if you can help.

The present Editor, who has handled the Newsletter since issue No.l feels she would like a bit more time to spare and therefore wants a successor. This job can be split up indefinitely. For example: an Editor to prepare material for publication; someone to type the Newsletter using the society's machine; a volunteer to handle its collation (stapling and stuffing) and be responsible for its distribution to the postmen (these last two could also be split). All this work is at present done by the Editor and takes about seven evenings in all - a week's work every two months. The actual duplipating is now being done by a new team, Mr. and Mrs. Rundell of Camberley, who kindly volunteered for the job. The Editor wants to relinquish the job as soon as possible, so anyone who could tackle part or any of this work please get in touch with the present incumbent (address also on back page).

Both these jobs are vital to the continued success of the society, so please volunteer your help if you have the time to spare.
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SALES TALK by Tony Jarrett: 1, Elms Road. Fleet (tel. Fleet 5308)
Below is a list of events at which the sales stand will be present during the next few months - why not come along and see us? We have an urgent need for help on the stand at these events and if you are prepared to give a hand please contact me.

August 3 - 5: IWA National Rally, Ely; August 17-19: Northampton Rally; August 25: St. John's, Woking, Fete; August 27: Brookwood Hospital Fete; September 1-2: Guildford Show; September 8-9: Coventry Canal Society Rally.

A sales list was enclosed with the last newsletter, to which can be added the following:-
London's Lost Route to the Sea by Paul Vine .......... £2.95p. post free
Imrays map of the inland waterways ............................ 60p .... " ... 5p
Basingstoke Canal: Report by Joint Working -
... Party on Restoration and Management ................... 25p .... " ... 6p
The George & Mary by A. H. Faulkener ...................... 35p .... " ... 4p
English Canals by Gladwin & White:-
... Part I: A Concise History ....................................... 75p .... " ... 4p
... Part II: Engineers and Engineering ...................... £1.05p .... " ... 6p
... Part III: Boats and Boatmen ............................... £1,05p .... " ... 8p

We have also been able to make arrangements which will enable us to supply a very wide range of books on inland waterways. A comprehensive catalogue is available - just send me a 5p stamp to cover postage.

Members who were present at the lock gate ceremony will know that we took the opportunity to launch two new sales lines, namely:
Society tie: A small number are still available - price £1.20 plus 5p postage. Ties which were ordered earlier this year have now been sent out - if you haven't received yours yet let me know. It is gratifying to receive so many compliments concerning the ties, with only one member returning his because he was disappointed with the design.
History of the Basingstoke Canal: What is the connection between the Eddystone Lighthouse and the Basingstoke? Why did the brickworks at Up Nateley fail? What were the provisions of the Basingstoke Canal Bill? Have you a right of way along the canal towpath? What happened to Lock 22 in 1957?
These and many other questions are answered in The History of the Basingstoke Canal, which has been written for the society by Glenys Crocker. This excellent, well illustrated book traces the varied history of the canal from its planning, through the construction and various owners, right up to the present. A very great deal of research has gone into this publication, as is evident from the long list of acknowledgements and I should like to thank Glenys on behalf of the committee for her diligence. The canal has had a very chequered history, but in Glenys' own words "The Basingstoke Canal is about to enter the only really happy episode of its two-hundred year history". If she is right, our next publication will be 'A Cruising Gude to the Basingstoke Canal'!

Is anyone prepared to make a small quanitity of table lamp­shades - we supply the materials. Contact Tony Jarrett please.
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Chief members of the Working Party were: Mr. C.C. Bonsey (Hampshire County Council); Mt. P, H. O. Carnegy (Surrey County Council); Major S.B. Johns, RE (Ministry of Defence); Mr. David Gerry (Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society).
1. The canal from the Greywell Tunnel to the River Wey should be restored to permit the full range of uses, including navigation by motor cruisers, with suitable restrictions.
2. A charitable trust to be called the Basingstoke Canal Trust be established to restore, develop and manage the whole canal.
3. A canal manager be appointed at an early date to be responsible for the restoration, development and management of the whole canal.
4. The Basingstoke Canal Advisory Panel be established.
5. All new bridges should be built with not less than 7ft. 6 in. headroom.
6. The footbridge at the Junction with the River Wey should be reconstructed.
7. Emergency warning and call out arrangements be implemented in conjunction with the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society, the Hampshire County Surveyor and the Surrey County Enginner.

This comprehensive and far-sighted report examines three possible uses for the canal: a limited restoration programme, with the tow-path used for walking, angling and limited boating facilities (not cruising); partial restoration in Surrey and full restoration in Hampshire; and full restoration.

The report proves what we have said in the past - that full restoration gives the maximum benefit for the minimum net annual cost. Full restoration of course has the highest capital cost, estimated at £346,000 - but also the largest voluntary input (£98,000), the largest revenue (£25,000) and the lowest net expenditure (£44,200). It is interesting that annual net expenditure on the limiied restoration scheme would come to £48,800. The advantages and disadvantages of each scheme are fully and honestly detailed.

The working party also backs the society's firm belief that the canal should be managed as a whole by a charitable trust, but goes further and urges the setting up of a Canal Advisory Panel representative of the various user interests - boating, angling, rambling and natural history, together with riparian interests, the Ministry of Defence, parish and district councils.

Its recommendation on bridges is particularly welcomed, and the report warns that some bridges, notably Pondail at Fleet and Wharf Bridge, Aldershot, could "quite literally cause a headache" to the owners of larger motor cruisers. But the report concludes that the vast majority of motor cruisers likely to use the canal could pass through without difficulty.

The report sensibly warns of the restrictions which must be applied should certain embankments be used by cruisers. It concludes that provided the number and speed of craft are carefully controlled and a high standard of maintenance is observed, the embankments can be kept perfectly safe. But the situation must be carefully monitored and if necessary, special restrictions imposed.

Water supply, one of the "bogeys" put up whenever restoration has been discussed in the past, will be adequate to keep the whole canal in operation, allowing for lock usage and evaporation. This was the conclusion reached by Col. Bowen in 1970 when he surveyed the canal for Hampshire County Council and it is further endorsed in the report.

On houseboats, the report assumes that existing licences will be honoured, but urges that before new licences are granted the provision of sanitary facilities and the question of siting should be examined to make sure that the canal's general amenities are safeguarded.

Reference is made to the part played by the society in indicating public enthusiasm for the restoration of the canal. The report states that the society should have at least one and perhaps two representatives on the Canal Advisory Panel.

This is only a very brief synopsis of the report - why not get your own copy - it makes good reading!

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