January-February 1974

Cover pictures
Working parties
Sales Talk
Ramblers' Corner
Committee Notes
Co-operation between Hampshire CC and the Society
Unfortunate incident
25 Years Ago

Contact the Society


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Cover pictures
1. Barley Mow Bridge, December 1/2, 1973 (See below)
2. East of Broad Oak Bridge, December 1/2, 1973
3. The dredger in steam at Reading, December 8, 1973

Newsletter number 54January/February 1974

Working parties
So far there have been two highly successful working parties. The first, attended by about 60 people on the Saturday and 120 on the Sunday, cleared the towpath from Barley Mow to Sprats Hatch, a distance of just over a mile, and saw the start of clearing the bridge hole at Barley Mow and revetting of banks near the bridge. The second assault cleared from Broad Oak to Sprats Hatch, making a total length of towpath cleared (to old body standards, as someone put it) of just over two miles, with Barley Mow bridge hole two-thirds cleared. The second party was attended by a similar number of people. The bridge hold has been excavated under the arch to the original 1792 level by shovel and wheelbarrow. Various treasures came to light including 'marble' stopper pop bottles and stone 'marmalade' jars. The towpath can now be easily walked from Greywell to the Barley Mow, Winchfield and we urge you all to get on those boots and start marching it. Please walk well up to the top of the bank, and try not to walk on the old path, which is well down the bank and sometimes in the canal. Barley Mow to Broad Oak is now a very attractive walk, quite easy for all ages, not very muddy, and the path wide and clear. If petrol rationing stops you using the car then a round walk from Winchfield station is about 5 miles and would take about 2 hours. Otherwise there is easy parking at Broad Oak bridge.
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The 1974 work programme in outline
Hampshire CC to use contractors to repair the Whitewater Aquaduct, Colt Hill culvert and North Warnborough culvert.
SHCS to clear the towpath, except in the Military area, from Greywell to the county boundary to standards already established by the countryside wardens. To clear all bridge holes and rubbish from Barley Mow westward and if complete to start from Barley Mow working eastwards. Also to move the steam dredger to towpath in June, to scale and paint hull ready for launching in September. Thereafter to train dredger crews and dredge fron launch point to tunnel mouth.
Army to clear towpath and rubhish fron canal bed in military area.

Tentative plans for 1975
Hampshire CC: To repair breach below Ash lock.
SHCS: We hope our task will be towpath and rubbish clearing in Surrey and continuing bridge hole clearance working eastwards.
The dredger will return to its launch point and start digging its way towards Woking and Byfleet. Ash lock will be repaired ready for the dredger to move across into Surrey.

Organisation of working parties
So much for plans. We have now to organise ourselves as efficiently as possible to get our part of the work done. The general impression of our first two working parties seems to be favourable, but no doubt we can improve, so please send suggestions, criticisms and useful comments to Jeff Holman (22 Willow Green, West End, Woking).

The next working party is at the Barley Mow again, which is within a half hour walk of Winchfield station or the bus station at Crookham Village (buses start at Aldershot bus/rail station) . The February working party will be at Chequers bridge, Crookham, which is 10 minutes from Crookham Village bus terminal, half hour from Fleet centre, with buses from Reading and Fleet station. If groups of members are coming by train let us know in good time and we'll try to pick you up from stations.
Next time: January 26 and 27
9.30 am
Barley Mow
The object is to continue bridge excavation right out to the ends of the wing walls and begin pointing and repairing the towpath retaining wall. Also, the towpath will be cleared eastwards towards Crookham, hopefully to Double Bridge, loading us to
February 23 and 24
Double Bridge
This weekend will be all towpath work, probably eastwards, depending on the January turnout. The March function will probably be in Fleet. Please bring tools if you have them, ie shovels, sickles, log saws etc.

We have settled on the last Sunday in the month for these all-groups working parties, but there is work every weekend in Hampshire somewhere on the canal. See last Newsletter and join a smaill group.

Clem Hebert requests that his merry men turn out on 20 January at Broad Oak and January 26, 27 at Barley Mow to take over the bridge digging from the IWA London group. There is a suggestion that during power restrictions and three day weeks some folk won't be able to attend on Saturdays, but could on Monday. If this is of interest to you please 'phone Jeff Holman and we'll try to get it organised.

Annual pilgrimage 1974
If you can find time a small group will be visiting the Stratford-on-Avon canal on February 2, 3 to assist the National Trust/Waterway Recovery Group with maintenance. We shall be joining forces with the Grand Union CS for this weekend. For details of lifts, accommodation, meals etc 'phone Jeff Holman, Brookwood 3034.
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Jumble Sale
We offer our sincere apologies to everyone who expected a jumble sale to take place on December 8 in Farnham. This had to be cancelled at the last minute, mainly because the Newsletter, our main form of publicity, was so late in being delivered. We apologise for any inconvenience this caused.

New Look
Even the most unobservant must have noticed that this Newsletter is different from those which have gone before. The Committee agreed at its last meeting that now is a suitable time to start printing pictures in the Newsletter, and it is hoped that the new cover will become a permanent feature, although it has been introduced on a trial basis. Copies of these and any future pictures which are featured on the cover can be obtained from D. Robinson, 14 Brinksway, Fleet, Hants, price 30p.

Sales talk - by Tony Jarrett
In response to the 'Sits Vac' in the last Newsletter, I am grateful to Paul Aston, who has taken over as Sales Manager from the beginning of the year, Orders should now be sent to Paul at 5 Oriental Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks. My thanks to all members for their added support during 1973, when our campaign was at its height, in helping to bring the total sales to over £1,000. I trust that Paul will receive your continued support.

Sir John Verney turns slouth
One of our Vice-Presidents, Sir John Verney of Farnham, was quick off the mark and tracked down a useful footbridge for Fleet weir. We are waiting for Hampshire CC to give clearance for its installation. Full details in next Newsletter. Thank you, Sir John.
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Society Diary
Film evenings
January 9 -
1 - Something can be done about water
2 - Pipeline through the Fens
3 - Beauty in Trust

February 13
1 - Veterans of the road
2 - Down and along
3 - Railways forever
4 - The vanishing coast

March 13
1 - Through the North West passage
2 - We came in peace
3 - Shot on ice

Each of these film evenings will be held as usual at the King's Head, Guildford Road, Frimley Green, starting at 8pm.
With the heating restrictions now in force, you are advised to wear something warm as the room now has no heating. Also the present petrol situation could cancel a film evening; rationing certainly will. If you want to find out, ring Fleet 21376 - I shall be happy to let you know the situation. Postal difficulties are also causing problems, as the films do not always arrive in time, but I will do my best to fix up some sort of programme. However, all these difficulties can be forgotten at one of our pub evenings, held twice every months
January 7, Swan Inn, Hutton Road, Ash Vale
January 14, New Inn, Odiham February 25, Swan Inn
January 23, Swan Inn March 11, New Inn
February 11, New Inn March 25, Swan Inn
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Ramblers' Corner by John Peart, Farnborough 46354
Programme for 1974
February 17 Basingstoke 14 miles
April 20/21 Two day ramble along Basingstoke Canal 26 miles
June 16 Byfleet and New Haw 5 miles
August 11 Winchfield 5 miles
October 20 Woking, Byfleet 4 miles
December 15 Guildford, Dorking 12 miles

With the first Newsletter of a new year, I am presenting the full rambles programme. Please note these dates now. I should like to thank all whose participation in the rambles during 1973 made the year such a success; please keep coming along. And to those who like walking but have not yet found time to join us, I hope we shall meet during the coming season. The special two day ramble planned for April 20, 21 will follow the Basingstoke canal towpath to examine the length now owned by Hampshire CC and to view and support the work being done by the official working parties during the coming months, Full details in the next Newsletter.

The first ramble of 1974 is Sunday 17 February. Meet at Basingstoke station at 10.00am: for a round trip of 14 miles using public footpaths. Lunch stop will be at the White Hart, Sherfield on Loddon, where Mrs. Taf can provide snacks to order. If you want food please ring me by February 11 on Farnborough 46554.

Annual General Meeting.
February 16 is AGM day at Brookwood Memorial Hall at 7pm. We plan to make this as interesting as possible. All those who came to last year's found it an interesting and useful evening. Please come, and bring plenty of clothes as the hall may be a bit cold. We hope to show the BBC Nationwide film of our last working party. Brookwood station is only five minutes walk from the hall.
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Committee notes by Alan Babister
It is pleasing to note how the subjects for discussion in committee have changed since I wrote the first of these notes nearly two years ago; from planning a publicity campaign to implementing restoration. Now the talk is of plans for monthly full scaly working parties on the canal, a programme to bring our dredger into full operation, a footbridge to link the Wey Navigation and Basingstoke canal towpaths and all the other facilities necessary to get the canal back into working order. Of course the routine work does not stop and we still have to keep an eye on towpath encroachment and dubious planning applications where they affect the canal.

Robin made the point last month that we need more members to involve themselves in the running of the Society. I should like to emphasise this. At present the executive committee members reckon to put in several hours each week on Society work, largely due to the fact that most of them also have extra sub­committee or officiate functions to perform. With restoration looming large a further load will be placed on them, and I knew several are contemplating standing down this year to take a more active part in restoration. So the message is simple: if we want to keep people in these jobs the load must be spread more evenly. After the AGM we shall need volunteers to sit on the various sub-committees which run the 'domestic' aspects of the Society. I am not forgetting those non-committee members who do help regularly; their efforts are greatly appreciated, but I am sure there is more assistance available from within our 2,000 members. So if you want a part of the action, got in touch with the Secretary or come along to the AGM and volunteer. Finally, on behalf of the committee, may I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
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Grand May Day Charity Ball
Stan Googe is organising a May Day Charity Ball. The plans are for a very tasteful function with a good Band to provide the music. It will be held at the Civic Hall, Fleet. Tickets will soon be available at £2.50 per head, which will include first class refreshments. There will be a bar. Dress will be lounge or evening suits for men, optional for ladies, The evening will include Tombola, for which Stan will be very glad to receive donations of prizes and from whom tickets can now be ordered. His address is Henbury, Gables Road, Church Crookham, Fleet, Hants. (Fleet 5402). Get your (new) diaries out and book the date now. Orders can also be 'phoned to Fleet 4844.

Situation Vacant
A new duplicator operator is required. This is an ideal job for an active pensioner with a spare room or workshop. The machine needs a power point; it has a small table to stand on and needs space of about 3ft square plus working space. For full details of this vital task contact David Gerry, our Chairman, who at present has this as well as his other burdens. (Fleet 2252

The dredger
A private demonstration was recently staged for the benefit of Hampshire CC. Messrs Pumfrett, Bonsey and Dixen saw the vessel in steam and working once again. They expressed their delight at the lack of noise and obvious efficiency. Our thanks to them for their time spent in coming along, and our thanks and congratulations to Messrs Jesse, Cripps, Welsh and helpers for their fantastic efforts and a highly successful demonstration.

Newsletter number 51
The editor would like to thank the many people who responded to the call for copies of Newsletter 51 which could be spared. The response has been so good that I now have one or two to spare, so anyone wanting one should contact me.
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Co-operation between Hampshire CC and the Society
The forward planning committee, formed from Hampshire County countryside staff and SHCS members has now produced its plans for 1974. These plans of course only concern Hampshire at present. It is hoped that we shall be able to co-operate with Surrey CC in the same way when they get possession of their length and pending the establishment of a Trust for the whole canal.

Before giving details of the plans for 1974, here is a description of those of the Hampshire County staff concerned with the canal. First is Colin Bonsey, now titled County Recreation Officer and as far as we are concerned in Hampshire he is the boss. Mr. Bonsey is the tall chap with blond to auburn hair, usually accompanied by a lovable large dog, whom many of you met at the lock gate ceremony. He is always busy and his work takes him over the whole county (one of the largest). While we are sure he would love to get working with us on the towpath, he is unlikely to have time for more than a quick visit to see how things are going.

Next we have David Dixon, one of Mr. Bonsey's assistants, who has been given responsibility for the canal. David has already met a number of you at 'The Barley Mow'. He is dark haired, medium height and medium to heavily built. His responsibilities also cover other sites in Hampshire, and while the canal is one of the major sites, he too will not be able to attend all our working parties.

Now we come to the King Pin, the arch diplomat who, pending the appointment of senior canal staff, is directly concerned with our canal. He is Michael Griffiths, senior countryside warden for this corner of the county. He is based on Yateley Common, which in itself gives him plenty of headaches. Mike is tall, thickset, with thinning dark hair and will be found wearing his attractive green battledress countryside warden uniform. Finally we have three footpath wardens, who are watching over the canal pending the appointment of permanent staff, and we now have one permanent canal warden.

There is one other person concerned with the canal who you should know about. He is Major S.B. Johns, Ret.d (Bruce), who is co-ordinating the efforts of the County, the Volunteers and the Army. He will arrive at working parties in civvies driving a Daf. Bruce Johns is on the short side, brown hair thinning on top and a wide smile in front. He set the pattern of bank repair at Barley Mow which we shall use elsewhere. You may well ask what all these people are doing; what is their purpose. Well, as permanent staff are appointed the footpath wardens and Mike Griffiths will withdraw from canal activities (we suspect that this will be with genuine regret because they have already developed a deep affection for the canal and have been caught up by your enthusiasm). Their purpose is to clear the way for you, the volunteers. They move into the canal area prior to a working party and talk to local residents, assure then that all will be under control and so on; they prepare car park sites, alert the local publican, then when the party is over they check the fences, clear any rubbish left behind, collect lost tools and make sure everything is tidy. They keep in the background during the working party because they are there to help solve problems as they occur, with extra tools, materials, first aid and advice.

It has been agreed that the Society will not use chain saws and will leave any heavy timber to County staff to clear. It has also been agreed that we shall not use herbicides.
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For sale
Large boat £4,000. Full details next Newsletter.
For information ring 01-092 3034 between 8 and 10pm

Unfortunate incident.
Someone cut the canal boundary fence near Baseleys bridge while we were having our last working party. Cows escaped from the field and became trapped in the canal mud. Fortunately they were seen and rescued. There is nothing to suggest that this was anything to do with the Society, but anti-canal types could use it against us. If you do have or see an accident during a working party and a fence is damaged, please report it at once. County staff are available with wire and tools and will mend it at once. We will be pleased if you report this sort of incident. We shall be furious if you don't.

At the last working party we had a small ceremony to officially start work. Sir John Verney, deputising for our President, and David Pumphrett of Hampshire CC swung their slashers for a symbolic clearance. They then viewed the clearance work already done and gallantly struggled through from Sprats Hatch Bridge to meet the working party coming east from Broad Oak. They can rightly claim to be the last people to struggle through that section; by Sunday afternoon it had all been cleared. We thank them for their interest and enthusiasm.
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Exploring canals in 1974
The Holiday Fellowship organises 'Exploring canals' holidays, of which there will be two in 1974.

The first, based on Stratford-upon-Avon, will be a repeat of a previous popular holiday, exploring some of the midlands canals on foot and by boat. Accommodation will be in the Fellowship's centre, The Fold. The other, based on Exeter, will explore some of the less known West Country canals, including the Tavistock, Grand Western and Bridgwater and Taunton. Accommodation will be in a hall of residence of Exeter University. Walks of up to 14 miles will be involved. Each party will have an experienced leader, knowledgeable about the waterways. There will be evening talks and a visit to a museum.

For further information send for a copy of 'Holidays that are different' from Holiday Fellowship, Fellowship House, 142 Great North Way, London SW4
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25 years ago
From the Hampshire Chronicle, Winchester, November 2, 1973.
Saturday, November 6th, 1948
Winchester - With the Basingstoko Canal in the market, the County Planning Committee meeting last Friday week discussed whether any useful purpose would be served by the County Council acquiring the whole or part of it. In a report on the subject, tho Planning Officer said that fron a survey of the County's communication system it was apparent that there would be some advantage in keeping open as a waterway this last survival of a portion of an internal waterways system which, had it not been destroyed in the first flush of enthusiasm for the railways, might have done much to provide cheap transport facilities for a large variety of heavy goods. Minor fillings-in had been made to avoid the expense of bridging, but the route was not irreparably blocked. The towpath at present was a well-used walk through excellent scenery, and the Canal connected Basingstoke with the Port of London via the Wey and the Thames. By reason of its alignment it was unsuitable for adaptation as a trunk road site. It was agreed that the future of the canal should be discussed with the Surrey Authorities at an impending conference on development in Farnborough area.

Hon Sec: Mrs F. Creasey, 108 Union Street, Farnborough, Hants. Tel: Farnborough 43114.
Newsletter editor: Mrs. M. Holmes, 75 Tavistock Road, Fleet. Tel: Fleet 3297
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Last updated April 2005