January-February 1975

Front pictures
European Architectural Heritage Year
Keeping a watchful eye
Working Party news
Dredger steams again
Buy a brick
Committee 1975

Contact the Society

    bcnmsthd50 (12K)



— the year chosen to remind us all of the beauty and richness of our architectural legacy and to alert us to the dangers that constantly seek to destroy it. What better example than our own canal — a waterway of irreplaceable character, yet not long since threatened with extinction.

To mark the advent of Heritage Year in a practical manner, your Committee propose to launch an appeal to purchase the special capping bricks needed to complete the restoration of 7 canal bridges between Crookham Village and Odiham, which contractors, engaged by Hampshire County Council, are in the course of rebuilding.

brick (9K)

These bricks, illustrated here, have to be hand made and will cost 20p each. We need 4000. Here is your chance to help in a worthwhile conservation project for 1975 by buying as many bricks as you can afford. Further details and donation forms are included in this newsletter.

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In this issue's pictures (No. 4) we show one of the Basingstoke canal's antiquities, known as Little Tunnel Bridge. Until recently the bridge, situated between Up Mateley and Mapledurwell, was hidden from view in a deep and densely overgrown cutting. Now, as a result of substantial earthworks, the grand eastern portal stands exposed and maybe in danger of demolition. The reason for the work is being investigated; already the canal bed eastwards to Penny Bridge has been bulldozed flat.

We suggested in 'Basingstoke canals the case for restoration' that the vicinity of the Little Tunnel Bridge would make an ideal site for a canal basin. Apart from rebuilding Penny Bridge, the canal bed could easily be reclaimed and a basin excavated with a minimum of engineering work. Hidden from view and with good access, the basin would make an attractive terminus to the canal instead of a sudden dead end.

Of course the project is far from becoming a reality. First we have to restore the canal from Greywell to the River Wey Navigation; but it is a possibility and should not be eliminated.

For a start the Society wants to see a long distance footpath established from Greywell westwards along the canal. We have written to the Department of the Environment asking for Lttle Tunnel Bridge to be listed as a structure of architectural and historic interest. We have also asked Basingstoke District Council whether planning permission was given to fill in the canal bed and if it can be reinstated.

Although the canal west of Greywell is not owned by Hampshire County Council, and may never be restored, we want nothing done to what remains of it which might jeopardise the chance of extending restoration at some time in the future. Every Society member can help by reporting any signs of redevelopment.

Picture captions
1. Repairs at the Whitewater aquaduct. The first concrete pipe being laid. In the background are the old brick culverts.
2. The dredger in steam (See article on page 6)
3. Colt Hill bridge with stop planks in place. (See article on page 3).
4. The Little Tunnel.
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The Society has been successful in preventing a number of new developments from encroaching onto the canal. At Frimley Green we managed to get a fence for a housing development, off Wharf Road, set further back from the canal. Plans for ten new houses on a site adjacent to Arthur's Bridge, Woking, were modified after the Society's intervention and at Brookwood we obtained a tree preservation order. A much greater danger hung over the future amenity use of the canal in the Canal Company's application for a Certificate of Alternative Development which included building over the bed of the navigation. Apart from agreement to allow building on one or two pieces of land which will not affect restoration, the application was recently refused.

But we, as a Society, must remain watchful and individual members can take a big burden of responsibility off the Committee by reporting news of planning applications and signs of development near the canal. As urban development intensifies, so the need for vigilance increases.

Vigilance is particularly important in Surrey where the canal is still privately owned. It needs only a fence or a house built too close to the canal and the amenity value of its whole length could be affected.

All you need do is give the Secretary a ring, or any Committee member, or drop us a line. The Committee will take any action necessary.
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Christmas and the New Year are normally a time of joy and festivity but this year our national problems seem to have produced an atmosphere of gloom. Like everyone else the Recreation Department of Hampshire County Council will have a very tight budget, and just how much money will be allocated to the canal remains to be seen. The one bright spot in the picture for the canal is the volunteers - their efforts cannot be devalued. No matter what the inflation rate is, the value of a volunteer inflates at the same rate. If county finance for the canal is cut back and the volunteer effort continues at the 1974 rate, its value as a percentage of the total cash/labour input rises accordingly.

However, there is an indication that rising petrol prices are having an effect on the turn-out for working parties, so may I appeal to all working members to try to share transport if possible. If working parties are in remote areas and you want a lift from the station, please let us know - but plenty of notice, at least five days if possible. If notice is not possible still give us a ring even just before a work party starts, and we shall help if we can. Telephone Fleet 22520 (Dave Gerry), Famborough 45032 (Frank Jones) or Farnborough 46147 (Alan Babister).

It may be possible to have a greater number of smaller working parties working in several areas so that volunteers need not travel so far. If you want to work in your area and would like to be put in touch with members living near you, do let any of the three people listed above know and we shall try to arrange something. Meanwhile the County is trying to arrange for accommodation for volunteers wishing to stop overnight on the basis of 'bring your own airbed and cooking gear'. We hope to have more news of this shortly.

The main thing is that the canal needs you throughout 1975; don't let it down. The Wardens and I send you our best wishes for 1975 and look forward to working with you during the year.
Dave Gerry, Canal Manager
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Bridge clearance progress
On 15 December the newly inserted stop planks under Colt Hill bridge retained the water released by lifting the temporary dam and successfully concluded 4 months' work. This was the first bridge hole requiring the full treatment, ie, clearance and the fitting of stop plank grooves. But what, you may reasonably ask, are stop planks? Simply thick planks fixed across the canal to form a barrier to the flow of water. This temporary dam can be used in cases of emergency or when it becomes necessary to drain the canal for maintenance.

The 'hole' truth
Before reading the gory details of the job, take a good look at the photograph 3 on the inside front cover. The planks slot into grooves cut in the brickwork under the bridge at each side of the canal and the bottom plank is permanently set on edge in a concrete sill in the bed of the canal. This is to prevent water washing underneath the dam. To prevent the whole thing bowing under the pressure of water, two vertical 'king posts' are fitted either side; they are themselves supported at the top by planks laid across the canal. These planks also have a secondary use - as a walkway.

So, to start the clearance, temporary polythene dams are erected ten feet either side of the bridge and the several tons of assorted water, silt, mud, bricks and refuse are variously pumped, shovelled, wheel-barrowed or generally manhandled out to a depth of 6 feet below the towpath. The vertical stop plank grooves are cut with a power tool and finished off by hand. Then once the shuttering has been put in place across the canal the bottom plank can be slotted into position and the contrete poured in to form the sill. The final job is to face the grooves with concrete (apart from protecting brickwork this ensures that the planks can be easily inserted, bearing in mind that they may be under considerable water pressure at the time).

Twenty-eight.... that's the number of bridges to go in Hampshire alone, so you can see the size of the problem. At this moment there is a team from the International Voluntary Service working on Swan bridge and we hope that with the aid of this and other outside groups we can maintain our six weeks per bridge schedule in future.
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At a public meeting in Odiham early in December a report was made on restoration progress at the end of Hampshire CC's first year of ownership of the canal. Amongst the speakers were Colin Bonsey, HCC Recreation Officer, Dave Gerry, canal manager and Ron Jesse. The meeting was chaired by David Pumfrett, chairman of the HCC recreation committee.

The audience was told of plans to ensure the safety of the canal, both as regards flooding precautions and access, and brought up to date on the states of the restoration work. News of the dredger seemed of particular interest. There was some discussion about restoration of the canal west of the Greyvell tunnel (this length does not belong to HCC) but no plans are in hand for this at present.

The possible noise nuisance from high speed motor boats was worrying some members of the audience, A four knot speed limit is likely to be in force on the canal, and members of the public will be asked to co-operate in 'policing' this.

Progress over the year had been good, and all the speakers were confident that the coming year would see great changes for the better in the appearance of the canal.
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EVENTS - Social jottings Bernard Burke, Fleet 4844. David Millett, Fleet 7364
On Wednesday, 29 January Dennis Hutchings, Secretary of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, will be giving a talk illustrated with slides about the Kennet & Avon canal. He will cover its history and the current restoration, which is now moving fairly rapidly. The venue is the Teachers' Centre, St Albans Hall (opposite Lloyds Bank) Lynchford Road Farnborough at 8pm. Bar and refreshments will be available. Please come along and support this event. If successful we shall arrange other interesting speakers.

EVENTS - May Ball
Mark Friday 2 May as the date of the Society's May Ball for 1975. Dancing 8pm to 1am to a superb 9-piece band, .and a light show disco. Venue, Civic Hall, Fleet. Catering by Fleet Country Club. Price of tickets, around £3.50. An easier system of Tombola. Table reservations for parties of 8 or more. Less noisy than last year, but the same GREAT event. For bookings, volunteers and enquiries ring S. Googe, Fleet 5402; D Millett Fleet 7364; B Burke Fleet 4844. Further details in next Newsletter.
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EVENTS - Weybridge rally of boats
The Guildford branch of the Inland Waterways Association is to hold a Rally of Boats on the Thames at Weybridge on 2k, 25 and 26 May. This is the first time an IWA rally has been held on the river. Its aims are to focus attention on the presently unnavigable waterways in the Branch's area, in particular the Basingstoke canal, the Wey & Arun canal and Kennet & Avon canal, and to raise funds for the work of the IWA. Many traditional narrow boats are expected to attend. Entry forms from Mrs S. Trott, 18 Woodlands, Constitution Hill, Woking, Surrey. Tel: (day) 01-636 1599} (evening) Woking 68607.
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EVENTS - Ramblers' corner John Peart, Farnborough 46554
Maybe it's the scale of Ordnance Survey's new maps, but 14 miles navigated on 1:50 000 feels physically much further than on the old 1 inch series maps. However, I can assure all my friends on the December walk that it really was only 14 miles. The weather was again superb - we seem to have the knack of finding the only bright Sunday in weeks. Unfortunately on this ramble time was against us and some two miles of pleasant 1owpath walking along the Wey Navigation had to be completed in darkness. Luckily no-one had an unplanned swim.

February ramble. Sunday 23rd. Meet 10am at Alton station for 15 miles round trip on footpaths. Lunch stop at Selborne Arms, Selborne. Please ring me on Farnborough 46554 by 17 February if you want food. Wear sound footwear for this ramble as devotees have come to regard the February ramble as something of a bete noir, I promise you'll not be disappointed.

April rambles On Saturday, due to public transport difficulties, 26 April. Newbury and Great Bedwyn area. Full details in next Newsletter.
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EVENTS -dredger steaming day
Members' viewing day, Sunday 9 February. 11am to 4pm at Colt Hill, Odiham, Ian Cripps, Ron Jesse and the dredger team will be 'at home' at the above place and time, to give members the opportunity of seeing the dredger in steam and going aboard if they wish. Dredging demonstrations will be held at 11 am, 12noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm. Refreshments will be available. The Society sales stand will be in attendance. Boots are advisable. Come and see your dredger at work! Directions! Colt Hill is on the Odiham-Winchfield road, B3016, nh the outskirts of Odiham.
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EVENTS - the Society Diary
All working parties start at 9.30 under working party leader Frank Jones, unless otherwise specified. Map references are to OS Sheet 169. Working parties hope to stick to the dates given below, but if you come a long way it is worthwhile getting in touch with the appropriate working party leader beforehand.

25 & 26 Sat/Sun Start Broad Oak bridge hole clearance, Ref; 754521 Major working party for non-towpath side clearance at Eelmoor bridge, Famborough, Ref: 843528.
27 Mon: Pub evening, Swan Inn, bar nearest bridge, Mutton Road, Ash Vale.
29 Wed 9pm: Slide Show, Teachers' Centre, Lynchford Road, Famborough, (See page 4)
1 & 2 Sat/Sun :Continue Broad Oak bridge hole clearance. Start Ash Lock repairs. WPL Alan Babister, Famborough 46147. Ref: 881518
3 Mon: Pub evening, Row Barge, the big bar, St John's, Woking
8 & 9 Sat/Sun: Continue Broad Oak bridge hole clearance.
9 Sun 11am: Dredger steaming (See page 4)
10 Mon: Pub evening, New Inn, Colt Hill, Odiham
15 Sat 7.30pm: Annual General Meeting at Brookwood Memorial Hall
15 & 16 Sat/Sun: Continue Broad Oak bridge hole clearance
14 - 16: Architectural Heritage weekend. For details, David Millett, Fleet 7364
22 & 23 Sat/Sun: Continue Broad Oak bridge hole clearance. Major working party for non-towpath side clearance at Morris bridge, Famborough. Refs 833536.
23 Sun 10am: Walk from Alton station for 15 mile round trip (See page 4)
24 Mon: Pub evening, Swan Inn, Ash Vale
1 & 2 Sat/Sun: Continue Ash Lock repairs Start Sprat's Hatch bridge hole clearance, ref: 764536
2 Sun 9am: Full day 30 mile walk with local branch of Long Distance Walkers' Association from Greywell to ¥est Byfleet. Meet Hook station.
3 Mon: Pub evening, Row Barge, Woking
8 & 9 Sat/Sun: Continue Sprat's Hatch bridge hole clearance
10 Mon: Pub evening, New Inn, Colt Hill, Odiham
15 & 16 Sat/Sun: Continue Sprat's Hatch bridge hole clearance
22 & 23 Sat/Sun: Continue Sprat's Hatch bridge hole clearance
29 & 30 Sat/Sun: Continue Sprat's Hatch bridge hole clearance
Major working party for non-towpath side clearance from Lodge Farm bridge to Swan bridge, Odiham. Assemble at Swan bridge. Refs 732517
31 Mon: Pub evening, Swan Inn, Ash Vale
5 & 6 Sat/Sun: Continue Ash Lock and Sprat's Hatch bridge hole clearance
12 & 13 Sat/Sun: Start Stacey's bridge hole clearance, ref: 770531
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Yes, we made it by Christmas, and there are a goodly number of members who enjoyed their turkey all the more for knowing that by their efforts the pot boils and the wheels turn with hardly a fault. Well done the engineers, who put on a determined spurt to achieve their objective. Despite the miscellany of hiding places in which the parts were hidden during the move across country, hardly any failed to turn up.

There is still a lot to do, so please continue to come along for the regular Saturday/Sunday stint with paint brush and spanner - but be prepared to duckk. Dredging and consequential mud splashing will now go on most weekends.

We shall be contacting those who have declared an interest in working the dredger, with a view to forming crews for training in its operation. You will be invited to submit to some pretty rigorous discipline, both in attendance and work, because we intend to work the machine safely but relentlessly week after week, come rain or shine - no let-up. Enough crews will be rostered to give about 1 in 4 turn, with a few spare for unforeseen snags. But as non-arrival of crew could stop a day's work, you will understand that reliability is the first qualification for a crew member.

Pollution note - or rather, the lack of. Members anxious not to disrupt canal-side communities will be pleased to learn that smoke and noise are insignificant.

Economists will be pleased that we are not reliant upon imported fuels; we burn mainly wood, cut down by the canal wardens during their week's work.

Naturalists can perhaps explain why we have been adopted by a pair of swans.

Ergonomists will bo surprised to learn that it is possible to work four levers, a throttle and a foot brake while clutching a can of pale ale.

It's been bought, restored, dismantled, transported, re-built and steamed - so let's give it a name. A selection committee is to be set up to make the final decision, but they would welcome your suggestions. Ideas, please, as soon as possible to Ron Jesse, 58 Gally Hill Road, Church Crookham, Fleet.
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Kit, the landlady of the New Inn, Odiham, retired recently. She was presented with a small gift from the Society in recognition of her help over the past six months, putting up with muddy dredger crews and bridgehole clearers.

NAME A PUB - and win £15
Watneys have asked if Society members would like to put forward suggestions for renaming the New Inn pub at Colt Hill, Odiham. This pub has been the unofficial headquarters of the dredger crew and work parties since the dredger arrived. It has a 50 yard stretch of canal bank as one of its boundaries, and when pleasure boating gets under way it will be an obvious meeting place on the canal. The name must be shortish and not give a bad image (such as the Navvy). It must akso reflect some aspect of canal life, history, fauna, flora, work, boats etc, and, one last thing, it must be capable of good visual display on a new pub sign. All suggestions, which will be forwarded to Watneys, should be addressed to S Googe, Henbury, Gables Road, Church Crookham, Tel; Fleet 5402, not later than 14 February.
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On the front page of this Newsletter, you will find we have taken as our theme European Architectural Heritage Year and have put forward a proposal as to how we, as a Society, can contribute in a practical manner to the objectives of that campaign. Our idea originated some 18 months ago from a report prepared by Hampshire County Council Countryside Department on the seven foot­bridges in Hampshire between Crookham Village and Odiham - Broad Oak, Sandy Hill, Sprat's Hatch, Baseleys, Staceys, Blacksmith and Coxmoor. The report showed the bridges to be in a very bad state of decay, to such an extent that it was recommended that three of them, Broad Oak, Staceys and Coxmoor, should be demolished. Your Committee reacted strongly against the idea of demolition, feeling that the bridges are an attractive and integral part of the canal architecture. As a result of our representations, we were invited to carry out our own study, which we agreed to do. In due course, a detailed report on the works and costs necessary to restore all 7 bridges was submitted to the County Council and we are pleased to be able to report that all the recommendations in that report have now been accepted.

Contractors have since been employed and restoration work is proceeding on Sprat's Hatch and Sandy Hill bridges. It is hoped to programme work on the remaining bridges over the coming year.

One of the recommendations of our report was that the restored bridge parapets should be capped with semi-circular bricks as used in the original construction as an alternative to cement or ordinary brick capping. Semi-circular bricks are no longer in mass production, but we have found a brickworks in Arborfield prepared to hand-make these for us at a cost of 20p each - and we will need 4,000.

It is felt that many members will welcome this opportunity of making a permanent contribution towards the restoration of the canal. A donation form is attached to the front of this Newsletter.
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The next meeting wiil be held on Friday, 21 February at Weybridge Public Hall (opposite the library) in Church Street at 7.30 for 8pm. There is a large car park behind the library. Robert Aickman, founder and Vice-President of the IWA and Chairman of the Upper Avon Navigation Trust, will give a talk entitled 'The early years and since'. If you never go to another talk on canals, this one is a must - so make a note in your diary now.

Elsewhere in this Newsletter you will read about the Rally to be held at Weybridge in May, which is being organised by the Guildford Branch of the IWA. This is our local rally so we hope as many members as possible will support it. The sales and exhibition stand will be present, so come and introduce yourselves. Tony Jarrett, of 45 Durnsford Avenue, Fleet will be interested to know the names of our members who will be there with their own boats.
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The Society's AGM will be held at Brookwood Memorial Hall on Saturday, 15 February starting at 7.30pm (not 7pm as stated in the last newsletter). This is your opportunity to find out what we have been doing during the last year and what we plan for this year.

Only nine nominations have been received to fill the nine positions on the Executive Committee, and the following will form the new Committee.
Ian Cripps
Frank Jones
Stan Googe
David Millett
Mrs Liza Hamilton
Miss Gill Oakley
Robin Higgs
Peter Youngs

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Lost, borrowed or pinched - Gas stove and gas bottle from the Society caravan. Wheel spanner and jack handle from the Society caravan, size -1/2- in. Whitworth. The above are urgently required and the loss is causing considerable embarrassment. Will the present custodians please 'phone any committee member and collection will be arranged.
Wanted. The dredger crew, and warden team need clean rags. Please take them to the dredger or wardens at working parties.
Wanted The SHCS caravan needs a replacement tyre, size 6.00-15.

A mud conveyor/stacker with a 25ft reach for £400, This is to be used by bridge hole working parties and in conjunction with the dredger.
A 70ft mud boat from the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust. This will be used with the dredger but first has to be transported from Reading to Odiham.
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The jumble sale held recently in Byfleet made a profit of £50 for Society funds. Thanks to all concerned.

Two berths are available on a 40ft modern narrow boat for the period 5 to 19 April, in company with Mr. Roger Ledgerwood. The cost will be about £1 per day per head for food, and about £1.50 for a share of the fuel costs. Anyone interested to contact Mr. Ledgerwood at 4 Beverly Court, South Cliff, Eastbourne.
YOUR NEXT NEXT NEWSLETTER will include an article on working parties - how they are planned, and the first of a series of pen-portraits of Society officers.
Final date for copy - 1 March.
Editor - Mrs M. Holmes, 75 Tavistock Road, Fleet. Tel. Fleet 3297.
Chairman - Robin Higgs 18 Barnsford Crescent, West End, Woking. Tel: Chobham 7314.
Working Party Organiser - Frank Jones, Tel: Farnborough 45032
Secretary - Mrs L. Hamilton, 2 Frome Close, Cove, Farnborough. Tel: Farnborough 496518
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Last updated April 2005