No 59NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 1974
From the Chairman, at Christmas
In a few weeks it will be Christmas and the end of another year. A time for reflection and anticipation. During the last twelve months we have proved that the Society is not just campaigning for the restoration of the Basingstoke canal; given the chance we are prepared to help achieve our aim. Hardly a weekend has passed since November last year without a volunteer working party in action. The 15 mile Hampshire towpath has been reopened; a new footbridge installed over Fleet weir; bridge holes are being dug out to make way for our dredger and Ash lock has been cleared. So far the voluntary work; completed has been valued at around £10 000. And on one of the few weekends no-one worked, several hundred people walked, raising over £3,000 for the Society.
1974 will be remembered as the year Hampshire County Council gave the go-ahead for restoration. The Hampshire section of the canal now has a full time staff of five wardens under their manager Dave Gerry, who many of you will know as a founder member and past chairman of the Society. The C C has already completed the repair of two culverts and the Whitewater aqueduct and work has started on bridge repairs.
The big disappointment of the year has been the apparent lack of progress
in sorting but the future of the Surrey end of the canal. With 1975 we
can only hope that renewed efforts will be made by Surrey councillors and
the canal owners to agree a purchase prioe. It is also time a decision
was made on the County Council's applications for compulsory purchase
At the Hampshire end voluntary work will continue and we expect to have
the dredger operational soon. There will be a great deal of work for
volunteers and we hope to see some new faces joining the hard-worked
regulars. But even if you cannot join working parties we need your support more than ever - every member is vital to the success of the Society and the realisation of our objectives.
Best wishes for the New Year and a Happy Christmas to you all.
Robin Higgs, Chairman.
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£1,000 for the locks
The front cover photographs show what canal restoration is all about and
why the SHCS exists. These locks, derelict after years of neglect,
represent a challenge for 1975 for, as many readers will recognise, they
are all in Surrey, where at present the future of the canal is very
uncertain. The Society's position is clear - we want the entire canal
restored to navigational standard. -
A few weeks ago the Executive Committee passed a vote which demonstrated its resolve to see these Surrey locks working again - £1,000 of the money raised by the sponsored walk was allocated to build four sets of lock gates.
The gates; uppers, are to be built of greenheart, a South American wood of exceptional strength. As greenheart is a great deal stronger than oak, the wood used for the original gates, it is hoped to be able to reduce some of the dimensions; alternative designs are being considered.
Front cover captions
Outside: Four derelict locks in Surrey
2) The boiler being put back into the dredger (see page 5)
3) Working parties in Hampshire (see page 5)
4) Some of the museum collection (see page 2)
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Sponsored walk money still coming in
The amount raised and sent in now amounts to £3,196.
If any member is still endeavouring to collect money from elusive sponsors please send in what you have managed to collect now, and let us have the rest later if possible. We shall be happy to receive it at any time.
The prizewinners are:
1. Double canoe - to the Crondall Boys Club
2. Weekend river cruise - to the Browre family of Fleet
3. Hamper - we have awarded two prizes: Mrs Bunyan, 236 Gordon Avenue,
Camberley and Mr Gomme, Bathurst House, Crondall, Farnham
4. £2 - youngest boy, Christopher Firth, 37 Foxhurst Road, Ash Vale
5. £2 - youngest girl, Helen Beebee, Redwood, Old Farm Rd, Hampton, Middx.
So there we are, a fine effort. Prizes will be presented at a small celebration which we hope to arrange in the New Year.
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Canal museum contents increase David Robinson, Fleet 21376
Since the announcement in the last Newsletter about the museum I have received several very interesting items (see cover photographs).
a) a 56lb weight, found in the mud under Swan bridge, Odiham and given by Mr Tomlinson's working party. It is probable that this was used for weighing goods on one of the wharves, possibly at Colt Hill. BCN, Basingstoke Canal Navigation, dates the weight between 1788 and 1866.
b) a mileage plate: found by Mr Neville in the woods to the north of
Odiham cricket ground and donated to the museum. It was probably affixed
to Broad Oak bridge and presumably dates from the canal opening in 1794.
c) oval plate - a 'badge' worn by canal employees, wharfingers, lock keepers etc. The Woking, Aldershot and Basingstoke Canal Company was in existance from 1896 to 1900. The plate was found at Colt Hill bridge and is on loan to the Society.
In recent weeks Mrs. Toynbee of Frimley Green has lent the Society some interesting photographs of the canal in the Frimley area, and Mr. Simmonds of Farnham some of the western end. These have been copied and put into the archives. Would anyone who has any photos or documents relating to the canal before 1940 please let me know; photographs of the Hampshire end are particularly needed. Anything lent to me will be very carefully looked after and returned as soon as copied.
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Annual General Meeting
The AGM will be held on Saturday 15 February 1975 at Brookwood Memorial Hall; you will be receiving the agenda shortly.
If you have any nominations for next year's Committee these should reach the Secretary (or any present Committee member) by 10 January. Nominations must be accompanied by the names and addresses of proposer and seconder and the signed consent of the nominee. Any member wishing to seek election and unable to find a proposer, please contact the Secretary.
Christmas will not be late this year......
so order your Christmas presents now from the Society sales list, attached to the last Newsletter, or contact Paul Aston, 5 Oriental Road, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berks. David Millett, Fleet 7364, has a stock of Society Christinas cards.
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EVENTS - the Society diary
Map references are for Ordnance Survey Sheet 169
November Major working party for non-towpath side clearance at
23 Sat + 24 Wharf bridge, Farnborough, map ref. 862523. Continue bridge hole clearance at Swan bridge, North Warnborough
Pub evening, Swan Inn, bar nearest bridge, Hutton Rd,Ash Vale
29 Fri 7.30 for 8.00 IWA Guildford branch, Aldershot Community Centre, next to library, High Street, Aldershot. Talk/slides by John
Atkinson on USA canals. SHCS members invited whether IWA members or not. For information, T Davis, Weybridge 44261
30 Sat + 1 Continue Swan bridge hole clearance, North Warnborough
2 Mon PubPub evening, Row Barge, the big bar, St John's, Woking evening
7 Sat + 8 As 30th and 1st
9 Mon Pub evening, New Inn Colt Hill, Odiham.
14 Sat + 15 Complete Swan bridge hole clearance
15 Sun, 1Oam 14 mile walk from Guildford station (see page 4)
21 Sat + 22 Start Lodge Farm bridge hole clearance, North Warnborough, map ref. 737521
28 Sat + 29 Major working party for non-towpath side clearance at Claycart bridge, Farnborough, map ref, 844528. Complete Lodge Farm bridge hole clearance
4 Sat + 5
8 Wed 8pm
4 Sat +5 Start Broad Oak bridge hole clearance, map ref. 778538
6 Mon Pub evening, Row Barge, St Johns, Woking.
8 Wed 8pm Members' social/slide evening, Teachers' Centre, Lynchford Rd (opposite Lloyd's Bank), Farnborough. Bar/refreshments. Anyone with slides of Basingstoke or other canals please contact David Millett, Fleet 7364 as soon as possible
10 Fri Closing date for nominations for next year's Committee
11 Sat + 12 Continue Broad Oak bridge hole clearance
13 Mon Pub evening, New Inn, Odiham
18 Sat + 19 Continue Broad Oak bridge hole clearance
25 Sat + 26 Major working party for non-towpath side clearance at Eelmoor bridge, Farnborough map ref. 843528. Continue Broad Oak bridge hole clearance
27 Mon Pub evening, Swan Inn, Ash Vale
29 Wed Slide show, Teachers' Centre, Lynchford Road, Farnborough. Bar /refreshments. Denys Hutchings, secretary of Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, on restoration of the K & A February 15 Sat, 7pm Annual General Meeting at Brookwood Memorial Hall.
14/16 British Architectural Heritage weekend, (see page 8)
23 Sun, 10am 15 mile walk from Alton station along footpaths
Further long walks on 26 April and 21 December 1975; family rambles of 4 to 5 miles along the canal towpath in Surrey 22 June, 24 August, 26 October
We are pleased to welcome Bernard Burke, 23 Longdown, Fleet (4844) as the Society's new social secretary. Ideas for future events to him please.
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Lengthsmen David Robinson, Fleet 21376
Although the Hampshire County Council now employs five full time canal wardens, the canal manager has asked that the Society's lengthsmen scheme, as was operated in Hampshire, be reorganised. I shall shortly be in touch with existing lengthsmen to arrange .a meeting, but more members are needed to help with the scheme. Lengths of canal waiting to be looked after are -
1) Coxheath bridge to Chequers bridge
2) Chequers bridge to Double bridge.
3) Barley Mow bridge to Sprats Hatch bridge
4) Broad Qak bridge to Colt Hill bridge
Some of these lengths can be split up into smaller lengths to suit you. The task is very easy and only requires you to take a pleasant walk along the canal at regular intervals. Anybody interested should get in touch with me as soon as possible - David Robinson, Fleet 21376.
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Ramblers' Corner John Peart, Farnborough 46554
Many new people joined the two short rambles in August and October. Please keep coming along. Some comments made indicate that short walks exclusively on the Surrey section of the towpath would be appreciated, so next summer the family rambles will be planned with this in mind.
The list of new members who express an interest in rambling has now grown so long that a personal letter is out of the question: I hope this will explain our rambles programme to new members. Please 'phone me or write
if you have any queries.
Rambles are run regularly every eight weeks, usually the third Sunday of the month immediatly following the publication of the Newsletter, which contains details of that ramble.
During the winter and early spring full day rambles of some 15 miles are arranged for the more experienced walker. They start at about 10.00am, often at a railway or bus station. A lunch break is taken at some convenient inn where bar snacks have been booked in advance. The walk finishes either back at the starting point or at some place where public transport can be obtained to return to the start point. These walks get well off the paved highway so very sound footwear, preferably good walking boots, and weatherproof clothing are advised.
Summer rambles are designed for the whole family. They are on Sunday afternoons, short, generally less than 5 miles, on footpaths which I try to choose to enable an easy passage for pushchairs. Next year these rambles will be exclusively on the Basingstoke canal towpath in Surrey.
The December ramble on 15th: meet at Guildford station at 10.00am for a walk of about 14 miles oh public footpaths, south-east of the town. The lunch stop hostelry has not yet been chosen but every effort will be made to ensure food is available. Please 'phone me on Farnborough46554 by 9 December latest to book your food. If you don't book, you won't eat!
British Waterways Board calendar 1975
The Board's official calendar for 1975 adopts the theme of canal architecture as next year is European Architectural Heritage Year. The cost is: One to twelve copies, £1 each; thirteen to twenty-three copies, 95p each; twentyfour and over, 9Op each. Postal charges vary with quantity - for details contact the SHCS secreiary. Order by post including remittance with order from British Waterways Board, Melbury House, Melbury Terrace, London NW1 6JX. Please mark the envelope 'calendars' on the top left-hand corner.
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Where have all the workers gone? Alan Babister, Farnborough 46147
First the good news: our first major working party of the winter season cleared some 200 yards of the non-towpath side of the canal below Claycart bridge. And the bad news; the turn-out was well down on last year. Although everyone worked very hard, and to a high standard, the distance cleared was less than we had hoped for.
Non-towpath side clearance comprises hauling the branches, cut by the Countryside Wardenss across the canal and burning them on the towpath. It is very similar to towpath clearance and is truly an all-the-family job. It is vitally important to get overhanging obstructions cleared this winter to give the dredger access next year.
The other vital task, where things are progressing better, is bridge hole clearance. Colt Hill is nearly complete and work on Swan bridge will commence in mid November. We aim to mechanise this clearance as soon as possible to speed things up, since if the dredger keeps to its estimated schedule it will overtake both bridge hole and non-towpath side clearance.
Work on Ash lock is to be revived, and for this job and for Artillery weir at Aldershot we need to form two small groups. The work is bricklaying, pointing, concrete laying and suchlike. Anyone interested in this work should 'phone Frank Jones on Farnborough 45032. Dates for these working parties will be announced as soon as the groups reformed.
Our thanks to the 11th Twickenham Venture Scouts Group and Ranger Guides for their hard work in clearing 200 yards of the offside bank early in November. Ve hope to see you again soon.
Finally, a quotation from Colin Bonsey, the HCC Recreation Officer, talking to Dave Gerry when Dave took over the canal manager job; 'Remember, this canal will be restored not by us but by voluntary labour'. Bearing this in mind, let's all get stuck into it (!) this winter. To paraphrase the wartime slogan, 'We have the tools, let's finish the job'.
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The iron coot needs more iron Ron Jesse, Fleet 4130
As we go to press your dredger is once more fully equipped. The boiler, crane, jib and winches are all safely in place, and the fitters can now get their teeth into some real engineering. When replacing the pieces the ground was in a diabolical state, and even the tracked crane we hired sank two feet into the mud at one stage. We are learning some profound lessons about the characteristics of clay in winter.
The Society, Hampshire CC wardens, Army and RAF worked in perfect unison and understanding to achieve the aims as efficiently as possible. Our special thanks to the indefatigable refreshment ladies, and to Squadron Leader Robinson and family, who have suffered any inconveniences this last four months without protest. As we move into the final phase of dredger restoration the following appeals are directed to any who can help:
1. Ballast. We need ten tons of easily handled, dense scrap iron. Any ideas?
2. The regulars are thinning out a bit. To those who have had enough, our heartfelt thanks for your efforts. To those who merely need a prod to pick mp the hammer and paint brush - PROD. You will not regret a day in the fresh air, working hard in jovial company. Plenty of laughs, especially if Gillian turns up. Ring Ron Jesse, Fleet 4130 or Ian Cripps, Fleet 7831 for details.
3. Vice - no, not that kind. We need a serviceable bench vice, 8inch, engineer's, pipe or combination. Has anybody got one rusting in the shed -we can offer a good home.
Forecast - steam will issue from the safety valves at the turn of the year, but our fingers are very crossed.
On the subject of dredging, we are searching for an efficient, cheap conveyor system. One we inspected at £1,000 was too expensive. Whatever
we get must be easy to move, reliable and efficient. There is no reason why we shouldn't employ several in series. We want to: avoid the use of lorries and dump trucks if possible as these are very destructive of the
towpath and expensive to run. Imagine 250 cubic yards a day to shift! We are in the market for a mud boat and other equipment, and a sub-committee is agonising over the whole subject of silt disposal.
Overheard on the dredger
•Excuse me' 'Pardon?'
'You're standing on my hand' 'Do what?'
'Get off my xxxxxx thumb'
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Dredger history Ian Cripps, Fleet 7831
The dredger's history started in 1934 when it was built by Grafton Cranes Ltd, Bedford, who sub-contracted the hull and pontoons to James Pollock & Son, on the Thames. It was built for the Grand Union Canal Company, used to deepen the Tring section and presumably used on the modernisation scheme of the Thirties. When the British Waterways Board took over, it was on the Shropshire Union.
At some time in the late Fifties/early Sixties, it had a major overhaul which included a new boiler (rather, a second hand one) from a Luton laundry, much of the hull and pontoon bottom plating replaced, and some minor mechanical modifications. A few years later, it was put up for disposal and lay at Hilmorton, out of use, for some time.
It was bought by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust and towed to Reading by the redoubtable Nick Hill and his narrow boat 'Jaguar'. After minor repairs, it started work on the Kennet during 1968, clearing a scour at Foundry Brook, then up river to Fobney Lock where, in 1969, I became involved with it. It was steamed for the last time in August 1972. Then the boiler inspector condemned the tubes; and the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust were not prepared to pay for a very necessary overhaul.
After much negotiation and a Feasibility Study, the dredger came to the SHCS in June 1973. It was moved to County Lock in Reading and its complete mechahical overhaul started.
The boiler was completely stripped, cleaned and retubed. (Lying inside the boiler, wearing goggles and respirator, cutting out tubes on a hot July afternoon with oxy-acetylene was one of the more 'memorable' jobs of the overhaul). The boiler was then passed by the National Vulcan boiler inspector for steaming.
The crane was stripped and overhauled, a job which in the end appeared to be unnecessary, as there was virtually no wear apart from a slight knock in one big end.
Parallel to the mechanical work, the painters were busy: chipping, scaling and painting the exterior. It may be of interest to mention that the dredger has at various times been painted battleship grey, black, blue (light and dark) and finally green.
After several weekends of trials, a demonstration was arranged for certain members of Hampshire County Council. Quite a hectic morning's activity preceded the demonstration, including a visit by the boiler inspector. The demonstration went off quite well. As the move to the Basingstdke Canal appeared imminent, the following weekend saw the dredger being stripped down for the second time in a twelve-month. This gave several Society members the opportunity to handle the dredger under steam, as its own crane was used to lift off several of the heavier items. The boiler was shut down for the last time and the stripping proceeded, virtually down to the last nut and bolt.
In addition to the labour provided by Society members, including skilled fitters and steam engineers, much help was given by other organisations. The Army provided, as training exercises, crane and transport to move the steam grab and jib to Pyestock where the Apprentice Training School completely overhauled them and restored them to ex-works condition. The Army returned to lift crane and boiler and transport them to the RAF base at Odiham. There volunteers chipped, scaled and painted the boiler (a job which, due to the confined space in the boiler room, was virtually impossible to do in situ) and prepared the crane for painting.
For those who have not seen the dredger at work or at Odiham, here is some information concerning size and capacity -
Overall length 70' Overall beam 13'10"
Draught in working order 3'9"
Crane will lift 3tons and can use either of two grabs, the steam grab where accuracy is essential (over puddle for instance) and the ring grab where speed is essential or a long reach is needed.
Boiler "12 NHP Loco type", built 1947 by Marshall, works at 120lb/sq in, retubed by Society members 1973.
Fuel consumption: about 5cwt of coal per shift; it will burn wood and has done so on test.
Normal crew: crane driver and fireman, with possibly a winch man. "Muck-shifting" capacity; about 400 tons per shift, but the normal problem is getting rid of the mud once it has been dredged.
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London's Lost Route to the Sea by P A L Vine 3rd edition David & Charles, 1979
Paul Vine kindly presented to the Society a copy of the third edition of his book 'London's Lost Route to the Sea' which was widely acclaimed when it was first published in 1965. The book deals with the history of the route "from London to the South Coast via the Wey Navigation, the Godalming Navigation, the Wey & Arun Junction Canal, the Arun Navigation and the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal. It provides a useful background for devotees of the Basingstoke Canal, the section on the Wey Navigation being particularly valuable.
It also gives a wider picture of canals in the South-East than does 'London's Lost Route to Basingstoke' which was written as a sequel to this volume. The development of waterways in West Sussex was due to the efforts of the third Earl of Egremont who lived at Petworth House and who, before promoting the Wey & Aran Junction, had canalized the Arun and the Rother. The project was encouraged by the need for inland transport during the Napoleonic Wars but the wars were over before the route was opened in 1816.
It is interesting to compare the experience of the London-to-Portsmouth route with that of the Basingstoke Canal. Its decline in the face of competition from the railways was more final. The Wey and Arun was closed in 1871 and the Arun Navigation was abandoned in 1896.
The engineer of the Wey and Arun was Josias Jessop, a son of William Jessop who engineered the Basingstoke. Construction problems differed from those of the Basingstoke since the route crossed a watershed. In the peak years,of the l830s there were difficulties with water supply and windmill pumps were used to return water to the summit pound. With increasing interest in the route since the Wey and Arun Canal Society was formed in 1970 the second edition of the book (1966) had sold out and a new issue was eagerly awaited. The only new material in the third edition is a 3-page preface which briefly brings the story up to date, mentioning the end of commercial traffic on the Wey, the attempt by Jack de Manio to follow the example of one J D Dashwood, adventurer, who sailed the route in 1867, and beginning of restoration work. The main text has not been reset for reasons of economy and the price has been held down to £3.25, an increase of only 30% in seven years. With 267 pages, 65 plates
and 16 maps, it is excellent value.
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European Architectural Heritage weekends David Millett, Fleet
We have received details of these weekends, designed to stimulate interest
in the preservation of Europe's cultural heritage. The purpose is to show
visitors some of Britain's historic building and include social, military
and industrial history. They have been designed for those with little or
no detailed knowledge of architecture or industrial archaeology and
combine visits to sites of interest with journeys through attractive
The cost is from £18.50 + VAT and includes accommodation for two nights,
all meals from Friday dinner to Sunday lunch, substantial packed lunches,
coach visits, expert local guides, entry to museums, film shows, lecture/
slide show and hotel service charge. Two of particular interest are:
14/16 February 1975 - Northampton, Westone Hotel
Visits will include the Waterways museum, Stoke Bruerne, Blisworth Tunnel,
Foxton locks and inclined planes, iron ore extraction sites, Harringworth
viaduct and canal features at Braunston.
21/23 March 1975 - Frome, Mendip Lodge
Visits include Somerset River Board steam engines, Ashton windmill,
Blagdon waterworks engines, Lead mines, Combe Bay locks (Somerset Coal
canal), Kennet and Avon canal (Cleverton engine house, Dundas aqueduct,
Widcombe flight), Bristol docks, SS Great Britain, Temple Meads station
and Clifton suspension bridge.
For full details and brochures contact David Millett, Fleet
Letter to the Editor
I think the Hampshire County Council planners should have camp sites on their minds. If the Broads are anything to go by, youngsters will arrive on the canal on inexpensive boats with little or no accommodation, hoping to find places to pitch a tent. Two or three such sites along the summit pound should cater for the need. - could they be earmarked now for development later? There's nothing like illicit camping to rouse local feelings, yet I am sure we should allow, if not positively encourage, the use of our canal by the young.
R. Jesse, 58 Gally Hill Road, Church Crookham.
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People afloat - or hoping to be
Mr. and Mrs. John Wigzell want to start building a boat with the intention of using it on the Basingstoke canal when it is restored. They have in mind a small launch with two berths and room to prepare meals, and would like to hear from any other members who might be interested in similar projects. Mr. Wigzell has suggested that the SHCS might be able to provide boat building premises and instruction, but the Committee think we already have enough projects in hand. However, anyone who knows anything about boat building or about suitable manufacturing kits, course of instruction etc. are invited to contact Mr Wigzell at 89 Cliddesden Road, Basingstoke.
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STOP PRESS STOP PRESS STOP PRESS STOP PRESS
Hampshire County Council are organising a Public Meeting at 7.30pm on Tuesdays 3rd December at the Church Centre, Odiham to discuss progress on the canal to date and the programme for the future. Please go along to help to make the meeting a success.
Editor: Mrs. M. Holmes, 75 Tavistock Road, Fleet. Tel: Fleet 3297 Chairman: R.F.C. Higgs, 18 Barnsford Crescent, West End, Woking. Tel: Chobham 7314
Membership Secretary: Alan Babister, Farnborough 46147.
Secretary: Mrs Liza Hamilton, Farnborough 49651
Working Party Organiser: Frank Jones, Farnborough 45O32
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