September - October 1974

White Ribbon and Red Tape
Sponsored Walk
Museum for canal
Dredger - work in progress

Contact the Society


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It will probably take four or five years to complete the repairs and restoration of the canal. During that time it is hoped that Surrey County Council will be embarking on a similar programme so that the canal as a whole should be back in a usable condition before 1980'. So said Mr Colin Bonsey, Hampshire's Recreation Officer, at the Public Inpuiry following the County Councils' joint bid to buy the Basingstoke Canal by compulsory purchase orders, (CPO).

That was a year ago. Since then restoration of the Hampshire section has been officially approved. But the Council is still waiting for confirmation of the CPO to ensure it has complete ownership of the canal's western end. At least Hampshire has possession of its section, whereas in Surrey the canal is still owned by the New Basingstoke Canal Co Ltd.

Both County Councils applied for CPOs under the provisions of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act (1949), to enable the Public to have access thereto for open air recreation'. One reason for the delay in confirming the CPOs appears to be a question of whether the canal can be defined as 'countryside'.

Meanwhile the canal owners have applied to Surrey County Council for an Alternative Development Certificate. This is not an unusual step taken in CPO procedures to establish the market value of the land or property. But if the Council maintains that the canal can be valued only as a navigation and does not grant an ADC, the owners may appeal to the Secretary of State for the Environment for a hearing, which will cause more delay.

Such a move could raise the complicated legal position surrounding the existence of the right of navigation. The original Act of Parliament, which authorised construction of the canal, gave the Public the right to navigate upon payment of tolls. It is widely believed that this right still exists to day and so the Canal Act would have to be repealed or a new Bill drafted to authorise any form of re-development. But this is a matter for lawyers to decide and could result in a long and expensive legal action. In short, the future of the canal could still be a legal plaything by 1980 instead of a playground for the community.

Thanks to Mr Cranley Onslow, Member of Parliament for Woking and a Vice-President of the Society, public attention has been drawn to the delay in settling the canal's future. Earlier this year he asked the Secretary of State when a decision on the CPO was expected. He was told there were still a number of legal points to be resolved but a decision would be made as soon as possible. In a letter to Surrey County Council, Mr Onslow wrote 'The whole situation seems to me to be extremely disappointing. If matters continue to move at a snail's pace, I can hardly believe that the Surrey section of the canal will be recognisable, let alone capable of restoration, by the time a final decision is reached'.

We support Mr Onslow's suggestion that there is now a strong case for the Council to make a fresh approach to the owners to acquire the canal by agreement. For their part the owners might also help to pave the way towards a voluntary settlement and so cut through the endless red tape.

Then we may yet see the white ribbon cut and the canal re-opened before 1980.

Meanwhile, David Gerry, Hampshire's Canal Manager, tells us that work is progressing on the western section of the canal. The wardens have been getting to know each other and the canal, and struggling to raise the water level near Odiham - mainly by filling rat holes to stop leaks. Thanks to their efforts the dredger is now actually afloat. Progress is also being made by the contractors who are repairing culverts and the Whitewater aquaduct. They are draining the necessary stretches of the canal. David says he and the wardens are looking forward to the volunteer work season. Venture Scouts will be making an early contribution on 20 October by clearing the side opposite the towpath from Wharf bridge working towards Claycart bridge.
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EVENTS - Jumble sale
There is to be a Jumble Sale at The Ex-Servicemens Club, Camphill Poad, Vest Byfleet on November 16th at 2pm.

Will all members who have jumble available please deliver it to Marilyn Holmes, 75 Tavistock Road, Fleet 3297 (please phone first to make sure we are in) or Dieter Jebens, 75 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham 5230.

The jumble will be collected from these central points a few days prior to the sale. Members in the Woking, New Haw, Horsell, Woodham, Byfleet and Pyrfdrd areas have a separate news sheet with further details.

If you have any queries please telephone Audrey or Stuart Browning at Byfleet 42024.

EVENTS - IWA at Guildford
The inaugural meeting of the Guildford branch of the Inland Waterways Association will take place in the Brew House, North Street, Guildford on Friday, 27 September at 7.30 for 8pm. The Association's National Chairman, Mr John Heap, will be present and during the evening it is hoped to show some waterway films. Members of the SHCS are invited.
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EVENTS - The Society diary
27 September, 7.30 Inaugural meeting of Guildford branch of IWA (see page 2) 30 September Pub evening, Swan Inn, the bar nearest the bridge, Hutton Road, Ash Vale
7 October
Pub evening, Row Barge, the big bar, St John's, Woking
12/13 October, 10.30 Working party at Ash stop lock with Frank Jones. Erecting dams and removing silt. Bring spades.
14 October Pub evening, New Inn, Colt Hill, Odiham
20 October, 2pm Family ramble, 4 1/2 miles. From Hospital bridge, Woking, to walk along the towpath.
Working party, Ash lock. Repointing, under the guidance of Rod Smith. Bring trowels.
26/27 October, 10.30
Working party, Claycart bridge. Clearing the side opposite the towpath. In this kind of work every little helps and all can contribute. Bring saws and slashers.
28 October Pub evening, Swan Inn, Ash Vale.
4 November
Pub evening, Row Barge, Woking Pub evening, New Inn, Odiham
16 November, 2pm Jumble sale, Camphill Road, West Byfleet (See page 2)
25 November Pub evening, Swan Inn, Ash Vale
1 December Pub evening. Row Barge, Woking.
9 December
Pub evening, New Inn, Odiham.
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EVENTS.- The sponsored walk
The sponsored walk along the Hampshire section of the Basingstoke canal towpath on 21 July was an outstanding success. The beautiful weather gave approximately 500 people a chance to use the reopened towpath and from comments received, most people enjoyed the experience.

At the end of the day, calculations showed that the almost unbelievable sum of 4,027 had been raised. This is the maximum possible, which can only be realised if everyone returns their sponsor money in full. At the time of writing over 2,000 has come in, so we are well on the way, but would everyone who has not yet done so please send in their money just as soon as possible.

Our thanks to the local companies who supported us; Lansing Bagnall, Unigate, Johnsons Wax, County Commercial Cars and J Sainsbury.

Our thanks to all the marshalls who sat through a long hot day and without whose help the walk would not have been possible. Our thanks to all the members who, unable to participate in the walk themselves, sent in money to sponsor Mr Colin Bonsey. Over 75 was raised in this way.

Our thanks to Mr Bonsey, who walked the 15 miles in company with Lord Sandford. Between them they raised over 300. Our thanks to innumerable other people for their help before, during and after the walk. And finally, our thanks to all the 500 walkers who helped to achieve such a magnificent result.

The organisation of the walk, which started way back in February, did not, however, go quite as planned. We must apologise to those walkers who in one way or another were delayed in returning to their starting points. The reason for this was that we had not expected so many people to end their walk at Greywell and our transport just could not cope; a last minute problem from the van hire firm had left our transport arrangements inadequate. Apologies also for the very inadequate liquid refreshments - Unigate's pintas saved the day, The coolest pint of milk to be found was a Greywell tunnel. The bottles were immersed in cool canal water in the tunnel entrance. Some facts about the walk:

Over 500 people took part in the walk
278 walked the full distance of 15 miles
236 people walked from Ash lock to Greywell tunnel
A total of 6,848 miles were covered during the day
Mr Andrew Parkin of Hampshire County Council ran the full distance in well under two hours
Three dogs were sponsored and took part in the walk (one caught tonsillitis)
The oldest walker was 72, the youngest just 4 years old Sixty recruits from the R.E. Training Camp, Cove took part and all completed the 15 miles.
At the time of writing the prizes have not been awarded. Results to be included in the next newsletter.
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EVENTS - Social jottings by David Millett, Social Secretary (Fleet 7364)
On Monday evening, 12 August, about 35 members and friends cruised on the River Wey Navigation which is owned by the National Trust. The 1 1/2- hour trip was made on the 69 seater passenger launch 'Harry Stevens', named after a previous owner of the River Wey Navigation. During the cruise on the beautiful upper reaches the 'Harry Stevens' passed through three locks and a running commentary on points of interest en route was given.

The evening was rounded off with a visit to "The Ram" Cider House at Farncombe where 15 different types of cider were available, together with excellent hot and cold snacks. We have been unable to obtain a Private Party booking on the Kennet and Avon canal from Newbury due to the two barges, one motor driven and one horse drawn, being fully booked for the rest of the season. However, members interested may care to note that seats are available on the regular Sunday 3 hour return Public Trips departing from West Mills, Newbury at 3pm. The service is operated by Bill Fisher's Kennet Horse Boat Company (Telephone Newbury 4154 and advanced booking is advisable. The fare is 65p adults and 30p children.

Next year we are proposing to run a Society cruise on the Kennet and Avon canal when a 5 hour cruise will be made from Newbury to Hungerford using the recently re-opened section from Kintbury to Hungerford. Let's hope that in a few years time we shall be able to offer cruises on the restored Basingstoke Canal.

Another interesting cruise available on the Kennet and Avon canal is on the 50 seater passenger boat "Kennet Water" which operates public trips on the Reading section on the second Sunday of each month from June to September and the last Sunday of each month from May to September. Departure times are as follows :-
Burghfield 1000 hrs Reading 1130 hrs
Burghfield 1400 hrs Tyle Mill 1630 hrs

The return trip from Burghfield to Reading takes 2-1/2 hours and to Tyle Mill 4-1/4 hours. Advanced booking is advisable (Tel. Reading 81115).
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Pub evenings.
Pub evenings are an opportunity for members, both new and old, to meet socially and have a chat and a drink in pleasant surroundings, PLEASE SUPPORT these evenings and get to know your fellow members.

1st Monday in the month. ... THE ROW BARGE, ST JOHNS, WOKING The big bar
2nd Monday in the month - NEW INN, COLT HILL, ODIHAM Only one bar - you can't get lost
Last Monday in the month -- SWAN INN, HUTTON ROAD, ASH VALE
The bar nearest the bridge. We wear our canal badges for easy recognition.
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SOCIETY BUSINESS - Museum for the Basingstoke canal - David Robinson, Fleet 21376
At the last Committee meeting it was agreed to form a small sub-committee to organise the setting up of a canal museum. The Society already has quite a collection of interesting items associated with the canal and these will form the nucleus of a more comprehensive collection which it is hoped can be built up and eventually put on view to members and the general public - hopefully in the not too distant future.

Now that restoration has got under way in Hampshire, items are being dug up from the canal which are of some historic interest. Whilst not wishing to deprive the finder, the Society would like to think that anyone finding an item of interest would be happy to lend or donate it to the canal museum. Ownership of any item lent would remain with the finder and an official receipt issued for it.

If you find or have found an item and really feel you must keep it, still please let the Society know about it so that it can be photographed and its whereabouts recorded. Several items recently dug up have already been passed to the Society on loan.

More about the museum in the next newsletter, but in the meantime, if you have any items for loan, or for information contact David Robinson 14 Brinksway, Fleet 21376.
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SOCIETY BUSINESS - Recent donors to the Society - Stan Googe, Fleet 5402
You will read elsewhere in this issue how the Watney Mann Group sponsored the move of the dredger, thus saving the Society a considerable sum of money, and how Snook Bros. Contractors of Fleet had helped the Society with their mechanical muscles. Once the dredger was in the canal at Odiham the work of preparing it for a re-paint began. This work was greatly assisted by John Trelawny Ltd, the manufacturers of Jason needle guns that descale rusty metal. They had given the Society the funds and the needles to do the job.

After the descaling, the painting of the bitumastic and red lead began. All the paint for the dredger is being supplied free by the Norwegian/English firm of Jotun/Henry Clark & Son Ltd. The Society is very pleased to acknowledge this donation from a marine paint specialist.

Preparing the 'shopping list' of equipment needed for the restoration of the canal an item relating to 50 safety helmets cropped up and the committee is very pleased to announce these have been given to the Society by Costain Civil Engineering Ltd; but they did not stop at this offer. They offered to send two of their top Civil Engineers to inspect the canal and proffer advice to the Society. The offer was gladly accepted and on Wednesday September 11th Mr Ron Jesse (SHCS) and Mr D Gerry (HCC) showed them the canal from Greywell to Ash Lock. The outcome is that the Society has been given expert advice on silt removal and disposal and other aspects of restoration work; the final offer was the Society has access at all times to the 'brains' of Costain Civil Engineering Ltd which will be of immense help during,the coming years.
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SOCIETY BUSINESS - Vacancy for Secretary of the Society
As Frances Creasey will have to give up this important post shortly, the Society is seeking a new Secretary, preferably someone with secretarial experience. Duties in the main consist of attending a committee meeting once a month and dealing with all the general correspondence of the Society. The post is very interesting and should appeal to someone who perhaps has given up full time secretarial work. Anyone interested should contact the Chairman or any member of the committee.

SOCIETY BUSINESS - Vacancy for Exhibitions Officer for 1975
To cope with the demand for the Society to be represented at many events in and around the area in the summer months, a vacancy has arisen for an Exhibitions Officer, responsible for attending these events using an exhibition display stand. Attendance at certain indoor exhibitions and functions will also be required.

This post should particularly appeal to a retired person who is perhaps able to spare more time for this type of commitment. Anyone interested please contact the Chairman or any member of the committee.
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SOCIETY BUSINESS Thank you and welcome by Alan Babister
Our thanks to Stuart Browning, John Adlam and to the other members they recruited for the distribution of membership leaflets in Woking and Brookwood. Over 100 new members have joined as a result of this and to them we extend a warm welcome. Total membership now stands at 1846 with 29 affiliated groups. Following the Woking area success we shall run a similar campaign in Fleet and Odiham this autumn.

Who do you know?
If you know someone who has expressed an interest in our aims, why not get them to join on the enclosed application form? An expanding restoration programme needs new members with new skills, and of course we welcome the extra subscriptions to swell the restoration coffers.
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THE WORK IN PROGRESS - The iron coot by R.I. Jesse
Our dredger achieved a once-in-a-lifetime speed of 30 miles an hour on Monday 29 July, as it rode across Hazeley Heath on the back of a 60ft trailer. The lifting out of the water at Reading and lifting into the canal at Colt Hill were exciting spectacles, but fairly routine events in the world of moving heavy weights. The members who took a day off to help with the wires and chains did a magnificent job for 12 hours, almost non-stop - their teamwork was a pleasure to watch.

Breaking the vessel into its three component parts the previous day went well this time. On a previous occasion we lost control of the main hull when half full of water, but with a little ingenuity and some skillful work with timber packers by Messrs Pearce and Browning, the second attempt looked delightfully simple.

The articulated lorries, to receive the dredger and pontoons, were moved into place and then it was the turn of the40-ton hydraulic crane. Ian Cripps' three diver friends from Reading went under and took the wire rope slings with them, and after a few adjustments of the slings by Ron Jesse the first lift was attempted, but unfortunately there was too much ballast still aboard; so 2-1/2 tons of pig iron was unloaded. A few more tries and hurried discussions between Ron Jesse and the crane driver - what a helpful character he turned out to be - and then up she went and straight on to the lorry, shortly followed by the two pontoons. After the quick journey to Colt Hill, a well deserved lunch break for the transport crew and members, then back to the canal to off load the dredger. The lorries and crane had moved across Odiham Common on track laid by the Army, were placed in position, and then after a few more adjustments the lift-off began. A hole had been dug into the silt and bank by Snook Bros of Fleet to take the dredger and pontoons. The dredger and pontoons were placed in the hole but unfortunately, with the lowering of the water level and the hole not being quite deep enough, they did not float (they do now). Throughout the day quite a large number of spectators were present and many membership forms were handed out.

Both we and Watney Mann Group, who paid the cost of transportation had a good press and even made 'the box', much to the dismay of the members whose reason for being off work did not include hooking wires onto a crane, as evidenced by a charming shot in left profile on 'South Today'.

Assistance in this task has come from all quarters, and we must give a big hand to Berkshire Fire Service, for pumping out the main hull,
3 Training Regiment, Royal Engineers, for the loan of 20 tons of trackway.
Ray Snooks, who dug a bed in the canal, and now loans us his air compressor free of charge
The skin divers who shackled on chains below water at Reading, 'Kit* of the New Inn, Odiham and Watneys who laid on a dozen free lunches for the transport crew, Mr Buckland of the woodyard at Colt Hill for storage accommodation.
Finally, a very special, sticky hand for the members who will insist on dropping the dredger keys into the canal!

So now we are in the shipyard business, and those of you who have visited the site at Colt Hill will appreciate what that means. Pneumatic descalers blast away every weekend, and the thugs who emerge from the depths must be forgiven if they are a little hard of hearing when you ask them how it works. They have stripped every square inch of rust and paint from the boiler room, and have applied red oxide with bitumastic sealer before going on to the conventional undercoat and cream topcoat inside. The outside of the boiler room casing will be finished in Watneys Red and will carry a simple plaque commemmorating the movement overland and Watneys involvement therein. The remainder of the vessel will be black sides, green deck paint, and probably green crane, but the crane paint hasn't fallen off the lorry yet. All the internal compartments which are seldom entered will be preserved with a special rust-eating material as convenient. The boiler and crane will be loaded aboard at the end of September when Ian Cripps and his team will set about the nuts and bolts, doing all those mysterious things which engineers get up to before the wheels can turn. Insurance inspectors have to issue three certificates (and you moan about your MOT?).

Finally, a match, some coal, a hiss, a smell and a clunk, and the Iron Coot will be in business again - your business. That will probably be mid-November, but the date isn't fixed yet.

We have to get the bugs out of her, train up working crews and head for Greywell. The Hampshire County Council are working closely with us on where to put the silt we dig out, but the Society will contribute the lion's share towards dredging operations through the winter. Subsequently the HCC may operate the vessel during the mid-week. We hope to dredge about 50 yards a day, so we should clear to Greywell by midsummer next year. The objective is to open up the spring heads east of the tunnel and get the water flowing again. Dredging in a canal with low water levels is impossible, so we shall have to work between dams and create our own water level using pumps.

NEXT NEWSLETTER - The history of the dredger by Ian Cripps.

Hon. Editor: Mrs M Holmes, 75 Tavistock Road, Fleet. Tel: Fleet 3297
Hon. Sec. Mrs. E. Nicholson, 1 Kielder Walk, Heatherside, Camberley, Tel. Camberley 29468.
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Last updated April 2005