Newsletter No. 52.September - October 1973
A JOB FOR EVERY MEMBER
Can you please write to the Department of the Environment at 2, Marsham Street, London SW1P 3EB, marking your letter for the attention of Mr E Bowen, stating that you support the Compulsory Purchase Qrders made by the County Councils of Surrey and Hampshire and that you agree that the Basingstoke Canal should be acquired for public amenity purposes? Letters from organisations will carry more weight if they can state that a resolution passed at a committee/general meeting of that organisation supported the Orders.
These letters must be written NOW, for time is very short. The letters should be received by 24 September, although later communi≠cations will not go unnoticed and an apology for late arrival could well be included.
A Public Enquiry is to be held in Farnborough on Tuesday, 2 October (watch your local newspaper for time and place). Immediately afterwards there will be an Enquiry at Woking (details not yet available).
This really is the crunch. If the result of the Enquiry is unfavourable, then all our efforts during the last 6 1/2-years will have been in vain. Please help the County Councils with this last push over the hill. They have appealed for the support of private individuals, our members, organisations affiliated to SHCS and any other bodies which are in favour of the scheme.
The Society will be represented at the Enquiry, by a Solicitor who is
an active member of the Inland Waterways Association, Mr David Gibson
We shall give evidence and possibly call witnesses and cross-examine
others as the need arises.
This is obviously going to be a red letter day for the Society and for the Basingstoke Canal, but the result of the Enquiry could have repercussions in Shrewsbury, Manchester, Stroud, Glasgow and other places where waterway improvement and restoration schemes are in the pipeline. A failure at Farnborough could mean a big setback for what has been described as the biggest social adventure of our time. Get your pen out and help to shape History!
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LOSS OF A CONTACT
One of our County Council contacts has resigned from his post and is to work for the National Trust in Northamptonshire. We extend all our best wishes to Mr James Turner, Hampshire's Assistant County Land Agent and thank him most sincerely for his kind attention and friendly informal contact with us.
CANALS ON THE BOX
Are you watching "Nationwide" on BBC every Thursday? A series on the British canal system is being shown and there are still eight or nine programmes to go.
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COMMITTEE NOTES - by Dave Gerry
We have to announce with great regret the resignation of John Edmondson from the Executive Committee for personal reasons. John made his mark in the Society's history when he led our team of carpenters to the successful completion of a pair of lock bottom gates a few months ago. Generally John was one of the quiet workers whose contribution to our efforts is unknown to the membership at large. For example, he carried out a detailed survey of the depth of silt deposits in the canal. His report was so well produced that it was accepted without question by the County Councils and undoubtedly saved them much time and effort. We wish John all success at University and hope that he will visit us during vacations.
We also announce regretfully that Elizabeth Nicholson has resigned from the Committee and from the position of Secretary. Elizabeth's husband has been transferred to the Birmingham area (where the canals have water in them!). Our loss is Brian's gain. Liz stepped into the breach when June Sparey gave up Committee work in order to concentrate on the Newsletter. We wish Liz, Mike and Christopher all happiness in their new job and home.
June Sparey haa announced that, due to business pressures, she must resign from the post of Newsletter Editor. I doubt if June's contribution to the Society will ever be matched by any other individual. Her output of work has been prodigious. Older members will recall when as Secretary she was handling all of the routine paperwork of the Society, while giving talks and campaign speeches and running the Newsletter almost unaided. We can only say to June a hopelessly inadequate "Thank you".
For some months the Hon. Sec. has been very ably helped by Mrs Joyce Jones, who has acted as Minutes Secretary. The Committee has now clarified this situation by co-opting Joyce on to the Committee as official Minutes Secretary.
In preparation for the future we are strengthening the Society by establishing a number of non-committee posts. The first of these is that of the new Newsletter Editor/Manager, Mrs Marilyn Holmes of 75 Tavistock Road, Fleet, Hants (Tel. Fleet 3297). Marilyn will welcome your articles, letters or other contributions. The closing date for the next edition is 2 November, but Committee material is acceptable up to 7 November.
Envelope printing will be handled in future by Mr and Mrs T. Freke of Farnborough, Collating, stapling, folding, stuffing and distribution will be carried out by Mr and Mrs M. Tiplady of 47 Guillemont Fields, Cove, Farnborough (Tel. Farnborough 48406).
It has been felt for some time that the Society should have a Safety Officer. In the past our activities have been such that common sense has provided sufficient guidance. However, our activities are now diversifying very quickly, so that expert advice is required. We are pleased to announce that Mr D.J.A. Tyler, Safety Officer for a firm of building contractors, has agreed to fulfil this important role.
Mrs R. Sanders of 17 Cricket Lea, Lindford, Bordon, Hants, has kindly volunteered for the position of Jumble Sale Organiser. Please give her all possible support, as this has proved to be a very valuable source of income in the past.
Mrs Frances Creasey of 108 Union Street, Farnborough, Hants (Tel. Farnborough 43114) has volunteered for the post of Hon. Secretary and has been welcomed as a Committee member.
Because of the importance of the dredger restoration programme it was felt that the restoration group should be represented on the Committee. Accordingly the Administration Manager of the project, George Welsh, has been co-opted to the Committee, bringing our number up to ten for the remainder of the term.
This is an opportunity to remind all members that we shall be thinking about elections in a few months. We hope that you are giving serious thought to whom you want to lead you into the massive task ahead. 1974 is going to see restoration well under way, the dredger operating and this Society stretched to the utmost in all directions. If you would like to serve on the Committee or would like to learn more about it, please give me a ring on Fleet 22520. You would be welcome to come to a meeting as an observer if you wish.
The present committee is as follows:
Dave Gerry, Dave Robinson, Alan Babister, Peter Youngs, Jeff Holman,
Robin Higgs, Tony Jarrett, George Welsh, Frances Creasey, Joyce Jones.
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Post Masters General are required in the following areas: Farnborough, Camberley and Frimley, Woodham, Farnham. The P M G feeds newsletters to postmen in his area. This is important work, particularly in view of the recent increases in postage rates.
Volunteers please contact Mrs Holmes (See Committee Notes).
A Waterway Warden is required. If you are an active, healthy man with a love of the countryside and the waterways and are seeking full-time paid employment, then you should 'phone the Chairman, Dave Gerry, on Fleet 22520. He may be able to supply some useful information.
Anyone supplying information leading to the successful purchase or capture of an "Otter" boat/caravan will receive a small reward. Please 'phone Dave Gerry, Fleet 22520.
A LINK BETWEEN CANAL CRUISING AND POT SMOKING?
The boatmen of old often fed their cage birds on cannabis seed and cleaned out the cages into the towpath hedge, with the result that in some areas this is now one of the characteristic canalside plants. If the waterways publicity machine were put into operation we might get the police to organise towpath clearance parties!
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WHAT HAPPENED TO NO.51?
It has come to our notice that members who normally receive their newsletters by post were not sent No. 51. The new team are putting matters right by forwarding the missing copy with this newsletter. If you still have not received No.51, please contact Mr and Mrs Tiplady whose address is on Page 2; they are trying to put the records straight.
RESTORING THE DREDGER
The re-tubing of the boiler has been completed and the boiler has successfully undergone an hydraulic test. This entails pumping water into the boiler under pressure to ensure that it will take a full head of steam in safety. Such tests are a legal requirement for all steam engines of conventional type and, of course, are a pre-requisite of any insurance contract. The crane overhaul is now well under way. We hope to be in steam again for crew training by the end of October..... but this depends on you. Chipping and painting fell behind seriously during July and August due to lack of volunteers. Turn-out has improved during September and we are catching up again, but there is still a lot of leeway to make up. Chipping and Painting parties take place on most Sundays, but ring up George Welsh (Fleet 5481) or Ian Cripps (Fleet 7831) first in order to save a wasted journey. For those of you who would like to see what the Monster is like, it is now lying at Reading on the Kennet and Avon Canal above County Lock, not far from Courage's brewery.
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SOCIAL NOTES by David Robinson, Social Secretary
A new series of film evenings started on 5 September. These evenings are held in the Club Room at the "King's Head", Guildford Road, Frimley Green monthly until April. This winter a wide variety of films will shown and should be of general interest to everyone. Why not come? You will be very welcome. Make a note of these dates now: 10 October,
7 November, 12 December, 9 January, 13 February, 13 March and 10 April.
On 10 October there is an evening of films for all our STEAM
a) "The Elephant will never Forget" (a look at the London tram)
b) "Under the River" (Shown last year. Describes the building of the Severn Tunnel.
DO NOT MISS seeing the unique group of six Cornish beam engines which worked for over 70 years but are now, sadly, gone for ever)
c) "Giants of Steam" (Britain invented the steam engine, which for more than 100 years was to reign supreme on our railways. This film seeks to capture the spirit of an era).
The programme for November includes a) "Motorway through the Lune Valley" and b) "Power behind the Spindle".
Now the holidays are over I hope that the pub evenings will again take a place in all your diaries. For those who are new to the Society or who have not been to a pub evening before, the idea is simply that members get together regularly for a natter. The Swan evening takes place on the last Monday of each month, from 8p.m., in the Saloon Bar of "The Swan Inn", Hutton Road, Ash Vale. Another Monday meeting takes place at "The New Inn" at Odiham for members living at the western end of the canal. One or more committee members will always be present on these occasions, so do come along and meet us for a chat. At the "Swan": 24 September, 29 October, 26 November. At the "New Inn": 8 October, 12 November.
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SO REOPENING THE BASINGSTOKE IS EXPENSIVE?
Walsall Corporation are planning to infill and culvert just over 1-1/2 miles of the abandoned Bentley Canal, part of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. The estimated cost? £750,000!
RAMBLERS' CORNER by John Peart, Farnborough 46554 Sunday, 14 October. Meet 2.00pm. at Guildford Station.
So we come to the final ramble of this season. For those who missed it first time round in June 1972, I am repeating the pleasant walk of 5-1/2- miles around Guildford. This walk is full of interest. Come along and tread part of the historic Pilgrims' Way. See an ancient treadwheel crane; an Admiralty semaphore station of Nelson's era; Guildford Castle and, I hope, the National Trust watermill at Shalford.
The winter season of longer rambles will commence on 9 December by tracing 5 miles of long-defunct Portsmouth and Arun Canal. Meet at Chichester station at 10.00am. Further details will be published in the November newsletter.
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COAL ON THE CANAL AGAIN
Ten years ago the Grand Union Canal was carrying about 30,000 tons of coal annually and around 70 narrow boats were engaged full-time in the carriage of this and other bulk cargoes. Owing to the closure of waterside collieries and users' factories, most of this traffic has been lost or transferred to road transport, so that at the time of writing only five pairs of boats are at work, conveying concrete piles and Rose's Lime Juice.
Now, however, there is a likelihood that a further 20 boats will be employed on a new seasonal traffic - the carriage of domestic coal from the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal at Gopsall Wharf to waterside users. A new company, Ashby Canal Transport, has become an "Approved Coal Dealer" and is authorised to deliver to domestic users within 100 yards of any navigable waterway. In some towns, of course, this mean no-one can use the service, but in others a high proportion of houses are waterside and these tend to be older properties that are heavily dependent on solid fuel. In addition, their back gardens often have poor road access.
Initially the project has been very successful and financially satisfactory. Coal is loaded from tipping lorries at Gopsall and each boat or pair of boats has a crew of two, one of whom bags the fuel while on the move. About 2,000 cards have been delivered to potential customers and the response has been good. It is planned to extend the service to the Thames and to other canals.
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A TRIP TO ODIHAM
It was with feelings of liveliest satisfaction, that after months of somewhat trying, although ever pleasant, professional duties, I found myself ensconced comfortably in a S W Railway carriage bound for Fleet, there to spend a long promised and eagerly-looked-forward-to visit of a week or so, to some most pleasant and charming friends. Although my introduction to Fleet is of recent date, the balmy air, the novelty of innumerable fir trees, pleasant prospects and, at least so far as my experience goes, the apparent immunity from rain, and last but not least the ever-changing and pleasant canal, made my second summer visit to Fleet seem, after the stifling atmosphere of the Metropolis, doubly welcome. It was some few days after my arrival, that I wended my way towards the "Fox and Hounds", about 9 o'clock a.m., with the fixed determination (if the combined sculling powers of self and friend of the sterner sex should "stay" so far) of going by canal at least as far as Odiham.
Arrived at the starting point, but a few moments sufficed to find us fairly aboard and under weigh, in one of the proprietor's very excellent boats, viz "Gijima". Proceeding at a medium rate (the morning giving every indication of being one of the hottest days this summer), past what may be called the "Chequers" bridge, the scenery approaching Dogmersfield and for a good distance past is beautiful in the extreme, and, so far as my experience goes, far surpasses any British canal I have ever investigated, and whether it was owing to the rare loveliness of the morning, or the altogether unlooked for beauty of a "mere canal", certain it is that the water about this part seemed to me to bear favourable comparison with many parts of the noble Thames.
So tempting indeed was this bit of scenery that we determined on a halt for refreshments, which, owing to the grateful shade afforded by the fine trees which are a feature, was most acceptable. Shortly, after re-embarking, the scenery alters considerably, high banks and almost over-reaching trees giving way to undulating meadows stretching away for miles, clearly visible from the water. Leaving Winchfield Workhouse on our right and discovering fresh beauties at every turn, the enormous number of fish (some of them quite a foot long) claimed our attention, and one could not help wondering that lovers of the piscatorial art were not more numerous. Here we found the reeds very troublesome, they having been cut down and left remaining in the water but it is a "poor heart that never rejoices", and, if we had to expend more power than we cared to, it was with feelings of lively satisfaction we received the information from three small boys that we were only about a mile from Odiham.
When at length we arrived at Odiham, which I should imagine is rather an important place, we disembarked and went in search of some dinner, which we got in the town. After about an hour's rest, we attempted to get beyond Odiham, indeed we got as far as North Warnborough, then were obliged to turn back, as we were informed it was impossible to row any further on account of the reeds. About half-way between Odiham and Fleet, we saw a very pretty little thatched cottage in the midst of an orchard where apples abounded (only unfortunately not ripe), which we thought looked a very likely place to get some tea, as it eventually proved, for in a very short time we were enjoying it amazingly under the trees.
We reached the "Fox and Hounds", just as it was getting dark, after the most enjoyable day's boating it has ever been my lot to have.
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The above article first appeared in the "Fleet Monthly Advertiser" in October 1887.
SALES TALK by Tony Jarrett (Tel. Fleet 5308)
The Joint Working Party Report on Restoration is at present out of stock due to the heavy demand, but I hope to be able to meet all orders in the not too distant future. An apology to all members who have had to wait an inordinate time for completion of recent orders. This has been due to a very heavy work burden (the one which I am paid for!) but matters are now back to normal and you should experience no more difficulties. The next newsletter will include a Christmas sales list and the solution to all your Christmas present problems - a Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society Gift Voucher.
Hon. Sec: Mrs. F. Creasey, 108 Union Street, Farnborough, Hants. Tel. Farnborough 43114.
Newsletter edited (this edition only) by Jon H Talbot.
Newsletter Editor: Mrs M. Holmes, 75 Tavistock Road, Fleet, Hants. Tel. Fleet 3297.
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