May - June 1974

Membership renewals
Ramblers' Corner
Sponsored towpath walk
From our new Chairman
Proposed Odiham bypass

Contact the Society


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Newsletter No. 56May/June 1974

I have asked for this prominent space in the Newsletter to make an urgent appeal.

Six out of every ten members reading this have not yet paid their subscriptions for the current year. Frankly this is a disaster; all the cash we expected to receive has been committed through the cash flow budget to active restoration of the canal and a serious fall in income could well jeopardise the work.

Over half the canal is still mouldering in the hands of the Canal Company and for the splendid progress seen in Hampshire to be extended into Surrey the Society needs all your support, physical, moral and financial. Please do not think that the serving of Compulsory Purchase Orders is the end of our campaign; in a very real way it is only the beginning.

All members will receive a renewal reminder with the Newsletter. If you have already renewed then ignore it; if not, then please complete the form and return it with the appropriate subscription NOW, while you remember.

Working party progress Frank Jones, Farnborough 45032
The towpath, that seemingly insuperable problem, is clear: Since we only started in November, that is quite an achievement. The Army, the Society and the Countryside Wardens have played their part and completed this difficult but rather tedious tack in record time. We now have a touch of the nitty gritties for you.

Bridge holes need clearing to enable the dredger to pass through the bridges and to allow stop plank grooves to be fitted. We have partially cleared Colt Hill, Reading Road, Pondtail and Norris bridges, and Barley Mow is clear, so watch for details in Restoration News and give a hand. You may be one of the lucky ones to find old bottles. Ash Lock looks different as well. Nice and clean, but no gates. Pointing the brickwork is the next job here. If you fancy yourself as a troglodyte as well as a canal enthusiast, we can accommodate both fancies, as there are some culverts to repair during the summer.

If the mud doesn't appeal to you, don't forget that the towpath now needs to be used, to keep it clear, so join with the walking section in this useful occupation.
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Letters Editor
We receive a number of letters from members, and unfortunately do not have room to publish many of them, but this one makes such a good point it just had to be included.

From London - P Stevenson
Mrs Holmes, Editor.
If there are any doubts about the use of photos on the front page of the Newsletter let them be put to one side because - in a word - the sight of work taking place at Barley Mow bridge was particularly inspiring.

The sight of the front page picture had an instant response and, with the advent of actual restoration work on the canal, must be counted as a milestone in the story of our progress. If there are any lifts going for an outsider from north London, please let me know. I have been detached long enough! (Address with editor)

Society diary
18 May, Saturday Stall in Woking market
25 May, Saturday Stall in Woking market
25, 26, 27 May Working party
3 June, Monday Drinking in the Wheatsheaf
9 June, Saturday Footbridge opening ceremony, Fleet
22 June, Saturday Jumble sale, Farnham
23, 30 June Working parties
1 July, Monday Drinking in the Wheatsheaf
13 July, Saturday Stall at Pyrford and Wisley Flower Show
21 July, Sunday Sponsored walk
Midweek working parties by arrangement
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Ramblers' corner John Peart, Farnborough 46554
After the ordeal by water in February came the ordeal by fire in April! Our fearless ramblers were forced to brave an extensive heath fire on Hook Common at the end of the walk on Sunday 21st. Fortunately we lost no-one. Coming at the end of a perfect two days of walking, this added a touch of the unusual which often occurs on our rambles.

Ramblers on both days were very impressed with the extent and standard of clearance of the towpaths. Right from Brookwood to Greywell the improvement is fantastic and it is very encouraging to see so many people once again using the towpath for recreation. Even some canoeists were braving the obstructions around Pyestock. Keep up the good work! Regarding the matter of 'County unmetalled road U263' (see last Newsletter), I have received a reply to my query from Mr D.M. Cole of the County Surveyor's Office, Winchester. He stated that he was not aware of the obstruction to the right of way and has asked his Divisional Surveyor to investigate and " take what action is necessary in clearing the obstruction'. Thank you, Mr Cole; I hope we may some time be able to re-run the February ramble using the full planned route.

Our next ramble commences the summer season of shorter half-day walks suitable for all the family (and dogs). It is advisable to wear Wellingtons if the weather is wet, as some of the footpaths become very muddy.

Sunday 16 June. Meet at 2.00pm at Byfleet and New Haw station for 6 miles on footpaths and the Wey Navigation towpath (returning to station).
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Sponsored Towpath Walk
You will read elsewhere in this Newsletter that the towpath in Hampshire has been completely cleared. We now want to give this fact as wide publicity as possible - with the warmer weather on its way we want people to walk the towpath to see for themselves what has been done ..and. how much is still to be done. OUR AIM TO RAISE £1000
The best way to achieve that publicity (and raise some urgently needed cash) is for 400 walkers to turn out on Sunday 21 July and fulfil 'Our Aim' - other Societies have done it, and so can we. OUR AIM TO RAISE £1000
Full details are given in the enclosed booklet - please read it. Even if you cannot walk yourself you can sponsor Colin Bonsey and get your friends to sponsor him too. OUR AIM TO RAISE £ 1000
What do we need that sort of money for, you might ask. You will know that this Society has said it will provide a voluntary input of £98,000 worth of work towards the restoration, and to achieve that we shall require equipment. With the present freeze on local authority spending we must now shoulder an even greater part of the restoration burden.
Moving the dredger will cost about £1,000. Fuel for the dredger will cost about £5 a day. The hire of a Hymac costs £60 a day. Slashers - Wheelbarrows - Shovels - Bowsaws - all cost money.
OUR AIM TO RAISE AT LEAST £1000 Please help.
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Where is the towpath?
There seems to be some misunderstanding about the location of the towpath of the Basingstoke canal at its eastern end. From the junction with the Wey Navigation westwards as far as Victoria (alias Hospital, alias Chobham Road, alias Wheatsheaf) bridge in Woking, the towpath is on the south side of the canal..

Back to the booze Pablo Haworth, Byfleet 42081
Pub nights are again being held at the Wheatsheaf near Victoria bridge in Woking on the first Monday in each month. The next dates are 3 June and 1 July. Come and talk about canals in the best surroundings possible. Canal holiday August 25 to September 7 1974

Several members of the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society are arranging a holiday on the canals, including the newly-opened 'Avon ring' of waterways.

We shall be travelling from Nantwich, Cheshire in two ex-working motor narrow boats, 'Dorset' and 'Chiltern'. Prices are reasonable.and are on a cost sharing basis (latest estimate £14 per week).

If the idea appeals to you, please contact Andrew Howard, 18 Clockhouse Road, Farnborough, Hants. (Tel: 43376).

Tee shirts
To coincide with the sponsored walk the Society is introducing its own tee shirt, the design of which is shown by our cover girls. The background colour is yellow, with the motif in black. They are available in the follovjing sizes and prices:
Children's - 85p + p & p Adults' - £1 + p & p
24" Small
26" Medium
28" Large
Please add 10p postage and packing for the first shirt and 5p extra for each additional shirt. Orders should be sent to Tony Jarrett, 1 Elms Road, Fleet and accompanied by your cheque/postal order made payable to Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society. Please allow 10-14 days for delivery.

We would like to see as many as possible of these tee shirts worn on the sponsored walk and at the Society's working parties.
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Visit of Belgian tv to the Basingstoke Stan Googe
A Belgian tv crew will visit our working parties during the Spring Bank Holiday, so if you don't fancy joining the traffic jams, why not join us? The itinerary is not yet fixed but Ash Lock, Pyestock, the bridge hole at Reading Road in Fleet with the fabric dam in place to assist the work, and country areas west of Barley Mow will be suggested for May 24 and 25.

If there are any members who can speak either of the Belgian languages I should like to hear from them. (Fleet 5402).

Midweek working parties Stan Googe
These are becoming a useful follow-up to the weekend working parties, clearing up after bonfires, checking fences and cutting back overhanging branches. About six people participate, but more would be welcomed. If you have a day off during the week or are on shift work give me a ring on Fleet 5402 and come out for a morning or afternoon. Don't stay at home doing, decorating, shopping or gardening - do something useful.
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Help in the market L.E Haworth
Mr Haworth is renting a stall in Woking market on Saturday 18 May and Saturday 25 May to sell items listed in the Society's shopping list. This will give members an opportunity to Ğee the articles before buying. He would like help manning the stall, so please 'phone him on Byfleet 42081.
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From our new Chairman, Robin Higgs
My first and pleasant duty in these notes is to express my own and the Society's sincere thanks to David Gerry, who has been such an able Chairman since the inception of the Society in 1966.

David has so enthusiastically and capably steered the policies of the Society that it will be difficult for me to maintain the standards he has set. The amount of time, thought and care he has put into the job is one of the reasons for the success and standing of our Society. I am sure I speak for you all when I say we owe him a great debt of gratitude.

I am very encouraged in taking on the position of Chairman to find myself at the helm of such a hard working and enthusiastic committee. This is an exciting time for the Basingstoke canal. We have won many battles, but we have not yet won the war. We are now more aware of how much we stand to lose if our years of campaigning are not successfully concluded.

I too have lived with this campaign for quite a while and was a founder member. Such continuity amongst members of the committee is a valuable asset in working closely with the Local Authorities, as we know and are known by many County Councillors and officials in both County Halls. This gives us an understanding of each other's positions and problems, and respect for each other's confidences, and has led to the close working relationship which is now established.

However, restoration of the canal does not depend only on your committee and the Local Authorities. Still needed is the continual participation of you, the members, in a multitude of ways. The working party organisers can always do with more help, and there are events like the May Ball and the sponsored walk. By offering to help with maintaining and overhauling machinery, organised social events, junble sales, coffee mornings or any other fund raising function, by helping to get new members, or distribute the Newsletter, or in the administration of the Society or publicising its aims, ycu can help to more quickly get this beautiful canal back to life again. Write to the committee and offer your help, or write to the Newsletter and tell us what you feel about the way things are going, what you think we are doing wrongly, or maybe even what you are pleased about. It's up to you.
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Old canals never die...... Jon Talbot
'Rats and refuse - residents demand action'. No, that headline does not concern the Basingstoke canal, although it might well have done so in a few years' time had the decay of the canal not been halted by our restoration scheme. Following the collapse of Lapal tunnel, on the Birmingham Canal Navigations, the Dudley tunnel between Lapal and Selly Oak junction was closed and drained at the insistence of local residents. Now, some thirty years later, people living on a housing estate at Weoley Castle are protesting at the health hazard and danger to children which the abandoned canal represents.

This is just the latest of many examples around the country of canals that are dead but just won't lie down. It all goes to support what we have always said: the goal should always be restoration. You can't just forget about canals. They can be filled in, but the cost is so high that such projects never proceed very far. Only one British canal has ever been completely eradicated by filling - the rubble was provided free of charge by Adolf Hitler, (vide Cumberland Arm in N W London, still shown on the A-Z map).

Flower show Saturday 13 July
Helpers are wanted for the Society's sales stand on 13 July at the Pyrford and Wisley Flower Show. Volunteers please write to Paul Aston, 5 Oriental Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berkshire.
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Proposed Odiham bypass Peter Youngs
The last Newsletter carried a report of the Hampshire County Council's proposals for a bypass of Odihan and your Committee's reactions to its likely effects. Letters were sent to the County Surveyor and a meeting held between your Committee and the County Traffic Engineers responsible for the scheme. The County officers have agreed to examine and cost the alternative proposals we submitted and to make a comparative analysis of the traffic, environmental and financial aspects of the two schemes. We are awaiting the results cf this appraisal. Anyone who intended writing to the County Surveyor about this scheme but has not yet done so - there is still time and need to do so.

Thank you for donations. Peter Youngs

Our sincere thanks to Mr W. Beaver of Camberley, who has donated to the Society a wide-wheelbased low-loading trailer. It is some 12ft long, hydraulically operated and capable of carrying all our machinery. The hydraulic operation will take the heavy humping out of loading and unloading the plant.

Our thanks also to the Selbourne Society, Fleet Townswomens Guild, Long Suttcn Women's Institute and Oxford University Canal Society for their kind monetary donations following talks by members. The University Society is particularly anxious that we use their donation for machinery, and this we shall certainly do.
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Fleet footbridge David Gerry
The footbridge over Fleet waste water weir is now under construction and it is planned that it will officially be opened to the public by Lady Verney on Sunday 9 June at 11.00am. A11 members, and in particular those living in Fleet and Crookham, are invited to attend the ceremony, which will be short and should not spoil the Sunday lunch. Please come and show your support and express your thanks to the team of members who have worked hard to complete the project. The completion of the footbridge will coincide with the reopening of the Hampshire towpath and the completion of all your hard work during the winter.

Jumble sale Saturday 22 June
A jumble sale will be held on Saturday 22 June at the Methodist Hall, South Street, Farnham at 2.00pm. It is being organised by Mr and Mrs Saunders, 17 Cricket Lea, Lindford, Bordon, Hants (Tel: Bordon 3487). Will Farnham members (as well as many other people) please contact the Saunders as soon as possible telling them when they can help; sorters will be required between 10.00 and 12.00 and sales staff between 1.30 and 3.30pm. Please save all jumble from old shirts to the best silver and take it to Mrs. Saunders during the week preceding the sale, or take it to the hall on the Saturday morning.

Editor: Mrs. M. Holmes, 75 Tavistcck Road, Fleet, Hampshire. Tel: Fleet 3297.
Hon. Secretary: Mrs. F. Creasey, 108 Unicn Street, Farnborough, Hampshire. Tel: Farnborough 43114
Working Party Organiser: Mr. F. Jones. Tel: Farnborough 45032
Membership Secretary: Mr A Babister, 31 Elmsleigh Read, Cove, Farnborough. Tel: Farnborough 46147
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Last updated April 2005