March - April 1975

AGM report
Odiham by-pass
European Arcitectural Year
Social Diary
Ramblers' Corner
Election of Officers
Portrait - Robin Higgs
Buy a Brick appeal
Spring Cruise

Contact the Society


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Newsletter No. 61March - April 1975

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An unexpected report from Mr Cranley Onslow, Member of Parliament for Woking, at our recent AGM, made an exciting end to the Society's eighth year. Mr Onslow's address came a couple of days after a Parliamentary debate on the Basingstoke Canal and in the same week that the Government confirmed the County Councils' compulsory purchase orders.

Since the public enquiry nearly eighteen months ago, Mr Onslow has been urging the Government to reach a decision on the CPO applications. Finally, after their self-imposed deadline had not been met, Cranley Onslow asked for an adjournment debate.

Two interesting points emerged. Firstly, the Minister of Sport, Mr Denis Howell, indicated that the Sports Council and the Countryside Commission could consider making a grant towards the cost of restoring the canal. And secondly, now that the CPOs have been confirmed, the canal owners might be well advised to reach a voluntary price agreement over the sale of the Surrey section in view of proposed new legislation on the sale of land. This would place a considerably lower value on land to be used for recreation.

In Hampshire the CPO was little more than a formality; the County Council already has possession. But in Surrey the situation remains complicated. As the Surrey Daily Advertiser reported on 22 February, "Although the compulsory purchase order of the canal has been confirmed the present owners of the canal are holding out for a price which may be well beyond the means of the council, or the rate payers, and no money means no canal".

"The New Basingstoke Canal Company, owners of the canal, claims the stretches of the water and surrounding land have considerable development potential, and has appealed to the Secretary of State". In fact, the Canal Company is appealing against Surrey CC's refusal to grant an Alternative Development Certificate which, if granted, would increase the value of the canal, and the asking price. 'This might mean we may not be able to afford to pay the price' a SCC spokesman was reported as saying.

The Council is still hoping an agreement can be reached with the owners before the hearing later this year. But if not, and the Company continues with the appeal, the outcome will not be known until 1976.

Mr Onslow told the Society that he would do all he could to expedite public acquisition of the Surrey section of the canal, and he hoped volunteers would be allowed to start work in the meantime.

Your Chairman, Mr Robin Higgs, said that we are 'ready, willing and able to start work, but voluntary support cannot be guaranteed'. He reminded the meeting that the Society had pledged its active support and participation only on the understanding that the canal is restored to a fully navigable condition and as a continuous waterway from New Haw to Greywell.

This was the recommendation made to the County Councils in the Joint Working Party report published in May, 1973, and we can settle for nothing less. Our top cover photograph was taken at Lock No 1 during the Society's protest cruise in 1968 - whilst we have come a long way since then, not much water has passed under the bridges!

For details of cover photographs, please see page 8
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ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING by Liza Hamilton, Secretary
The Annual General Meeting was held on 15 February at Brookwood Memorial Hall in an atmosphere of excited anticipation. This was engendered by the recent announcement of the Secretary of State's confirmation of the Compulsory Purchase Orders issued by the Surrey and Hampshire County Councils.

After an excellent opening speech by the MP for Woking, Cranley Onslow, we got down to the formal Agenda. The various reports given by the appropriate officers were accompanied by slides and this made them all the more interesting and alive. Just after the interval, there was a surprise item for members - a presentation of a framed print to David Gerry in appreciation of his many years of hard work and devotion to the Society. Afterwards there was the debate on Life Membership which was carried, and the Chairman then threw the meeting open to the floor and there followed some lively questions and answers. The questions covered a very wide sphere of the Society's activities from concern over obstacles to restoration to whether it was the Committee's intention to run restoration work in Surrey concurrently with that in Hampshire. It was evident from the questioning that members are now looking forward to the day when the Basingstoke canal will once again be open and ready for business!

In his closing remarks, the Chairman referred again to the confirmation of the Compulsory Purchase Orders and emphasised that this now gave Surrey County Council the opportunity to show themselves to be as progressive in their attitude towards the provision of leisure and amenity facilities as had Hampshire County Council and to this end the Society will devote itself to ensuring that the necessary measures are taken to fulfil complete restoration of the canal.
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After much activity and correspondence, the Planning and Transportation committee of Hampshire CC has approved a compromise solution for the Odiham By-pass. This provides for a 'T' junction where the by-pass will cross the B3016 Odiham-Hartley Wintney road cutting off the southern end of Colt Hill Road between the village centre and the cricket ground and converting it to a cul-de-sac, and forming a 'T' junction with the section leading out to Winchfield. The idea of a flyover has been abandoned.

This is a solution the Society has fought for on environmental grounds. It will mean that Colt Hill bridge will remain intact, the amenities and character of the bridge will remain undisturbed and removal of through traffic from the southern end of Colt Hill Road will significantly enhance the environment of both the canal and residents. The CC intends to make a planning application for the compromise scheme.
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MONEY MATTERS by Peter Youngs.
My apologies for a typing error in the balance sheet circulated with the last Newsletter and submitted at the AGM, The error occurs in the extended total on the right hand side of the summary sheet where the figure under 'Total Funds' is shown as 4630.28 but should read '4360.28.

The AGM voted to introduce a 'Life Membership' class in the Society from 1 March this year on the payment of a single subscription of 50. If any of you would like to assist the Society's finances by this means, would you please contact Alan Babister, our Membership Secretary (see back page).
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DREDGER 'AT HOME' by Janet Hedger
The dredger 'At home' day on Sunday 9 February attracted a large crowd of members, friends, children and passers-by to Colt Hill Bridge, Odiham. There was continual activity, with demonstrations of dredging given at hourly intervals, and technicalities explained by the dredger engineers, Ron Jesse and Ian Cripps, and crew to those intrepid members who went on board! This was a marvellous opportunity to see a rare piece of machinery functioning efficiently and quietly.

The sales stand did a brisk trade, the Society gained some new members, and the children had a 'field day' in the mud - in fact a very successful and popular event.
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The Council of Europe has designated 1975 European Architectural Heritage Year. It is determined to halt the steady loss of irreplaceable monuments and the erosion of character of historic European towns. The objectives are: -

To awaken the interest of the European people in their common architectural heritage;
To protect and enhance buildings and areas of architectural or historic interest;
To conserve the character of old towns and villages;
To assure for ancient buildings a living role in contemporary society.

In the UK the aims are to enhance some of our 2,000 conservation areas by restoring buildings, finding new uses for redundant historic buildings, planting trees, removing unsightly street furniture etc, for which the Government will make substantial grants. Hampshire Recreation Department has decidad to apply for a grant towards the reconstruction of Greywell Tunnel Eastern Portal (see photo 2) and the walls of Greywell lock chamber, dredging the canal within the Greywell Conservation area and landscaping the tunnel cutting.

Greywell is the only conservation area through which the canal runs. Some of you may have noticed that a number of diseased trees have already been felled by the canal wardens, much rubbish cleared and rustic steps made down to the tunnel mouth. Detailed plans for the area are being prepared, but one problem remains: what did the tunnel portal look like originally? Much of the top of the portal is missing, and first thoughts were that it probably looked much the same as a bridge, ie had a parapet with piers at each end, a large stone block on each pier and half round coping bricks along the parapet. A study of known photographs tends to support this view. The only known picture to show an apparently complete portal is of the Western portal in 'London's Lost Route to Basingstoke'. A study of 'Canals and their Architecture' supports this view. However, Stan Knight suggested that the brickwork was a little more elaborate than a plain bridge. A careful examination of Little Tunnel Bridge provides more clues; there is evidence to show that both tunnels had very similar portals and when the Little Tunnel was lengthened 3O-50 years after its construction the new western portal was built to the same style.

As one might expect, the youngest portal of the Little Tunnel is the most complete portal we have, and it has enough remaining to show just what it must have looked like. Dave Stockwell, the surveyor to HCC Recreation Committee, is now preparing the rebuilding of the tunnel portal based on this evidence. If anyone has any more positive information they should let us know quickly.
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Working Party dates are now included in Club Call in the Fleet News, Farnborough News, Aldershot News and Camberley News on the last Friday of each month. These dates will be more up to date than those included in the Newsletter and will incorporate any amendments due to changed circumstances.

Anyone planning to attend working parties other than Major Working Parties is advised to telephone the Organiser beforehand.

11 Talk at Railway Club, Farnborough (see page 6)
12/13 Renovation, Blacksmiths bridge. This is a Society project paid for by the IWA and volunteer movements.
12/13 Bridge hole clearance, Sprat's Hatch bridge. Ref: 764536 14 Pub evening, New Inn, Colt Hill, Odiham.
19/20 Renovation, Blacksmiths bridge.
19/20 Bridge hole clearance, Sprat's Hatch bridge.
23 Talk by John Dodwell (see page 5).
26 Ramble, Newbury.
26/27 MAJOR WORKING PARTY, Pondtail bridge, Fleet.
26/27 Bridge hole clearance, Sprat's Hatch bridge.
28 Pub evening, Swan Inn, bar nearest bridge, Hutton Road, Ash Vale.

2 May Ball (see page 5).
3/4 Bridge hole clearance, Sprat's Hatch bridge.
5 Pub evening, Row Barge, the big bar, St John's, Woking.
10/11 Bridge hole clearance, Sprat's Hatch bridge.
12 Pub evening, New Inn, Colt Hill, Odiham.
18 Canal cruise (see page 5).
17/18 Bridge hole clearance, Sprat's Hatch bridge.
24/25 MAJOR WORKING PARTY - Lift-up bridge, North Warnborough.
24/25 Bridge hole clearance Baseleys bridge.
26 Pub evening, Swan Inn, Hutton Road, Ash Vale.
31/1 Bridge hole clearance, Baseleys bridge.

2 Pub evening, Row Barge.
7 Nob surd (see page 5).
7/8 Bridge hole clearance, Baseleys bridge.
8 Wey & Arun sponsored walk (see page 7).
9 Pub evening, New Inn, Colt Hill, Odiham.
14/15 Bridge hole clearance, Baseleys bridge.
21/22 Bridge hole clearance, Baseleys bridge.
28/29 MAJOR WORKING PARTY, Colt Hill bridge, Odiham.,BR> 28/29 Bridge hole clearance, Baseleys Bridge.,BR> 30 Pub evening, Swan Inn, Hutton Road, Ash Vale.
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Two in one - advance notice
On Sunday, 21 September a coach trip has been arranged to the Crofton Beam Engines on the Kennet & Avon Canal to see both the 1812 and 1845 engines in steam. After lunch a three hour canal cruise on the horse-drawn barge 'Kennet Valley' will start and return to Kintbury and pass through four locks on the Kennet and Avon canal. Full details in a later newsletter.

EVENTS Bernard Burke, Fleet 4844
David Millett, Fleet 7364
Slide evenings - a smooth performance
Two recent successful evenings of talks for members have encouraged the Social Committee to arrange another on Wednesday, 23 April entitled 'The Future of Inland Waterways in Britain' given by John Dodwell, our new committee member and until recently the General Secretary of the Inland Waterways Association. It is based on his knowledge of inland waterways generally.

Venue:- Teachers' Centre, St Albans Hall (opposite Lloyds Bank), Lynchford Road, Farnborough. 7.45 for 8pm. Bar and refreshments available.

EVENTS - May Ball
Friday, 2 May. Civic Centre, Fleet, 8pm - 1am. 3.25. 100 Star Prize. Tables reserved for parties of eight or more. Fleet 5402 and 7364. See separate sheet for full details and booking form.

EVENTS - Canal Cruise
Sunday, 18 May. Grand Union Canal 40-seater 70ft narrow boat 'Linda' The cruise will include Blisworth Tunnel (3056 yards), visit to Waterways Museum at Stoke Bruerne and descent through seven locks to Cosgrove. Price 2.50 inclusive of coach and hire of 'Linda'. See separate sheet for full details and booking form.

EVENTS - Saturday, 7 June at the New Inn, Odiham
A 'Water Nobsurd Afternoon', A variety of events for the whole family but mainly aimed at the children. Later on the same day:- a 'Water Nobsurd Evening' consisting of barbecue, jazz band, bar and floodlit dredger. Details of both these events are on the separate sheet.

EVENTS - Weybridge Rally of Boats.
The Thames Water Authority have granted a major concession on Thames licences to boats entering the above rally that have to come on to the Thames from other Waterways. The licence, which applies to any length of boat, will be 2.50 for any five days or 5 for any ten days. Boat owners wishing to enter the rally can get an entry form by writing to Mrs. S.A. Trott, 21 Lime Grove, Westfield, Woking, Surrey or phoning Woking 68607 any evening or at weekends.

The rally, on 24, 25 and 26 May is designed to draw attention to unnavigable waterways in the south and the need for their restoration and could not have been organised at a better time for the Basingstoke canal in particular.
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The Society will have at least two stands at this rally - the display and sales stand, and a special 'Buy a Brick' stand. To solve the problem of finding enough members to man these stands throughout the duration of the rally, we are appealing for help from members. WILL ALL MEMBERS who can spare a little time to help out on the stands please contact David Robinson, Fleet 21376. We will then draw up a rota and notify you all of your times on the stand. This rally is of great importance to the Society for the campaign message and sales revenue, so please come to support us.
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EVENTS - Ramblers' Corner by John Peart, Farnborough 46554
As I promised, the February ramble was the usual glorious mud bath. The Alton area was chosen especially for its tenacious clay soil and this winter's rains had saturated the fields. Even the farmers, it seemed, had done their bit by ploughing every field possible, However, I think the whole party enjoyed this superb rural walk along little used footpaths, even those who had no proper boots and rightly called it a day at Selborne. I must admit that even I was glad to see Alton station at the end.
April Ramble
Due to public transport difficulties, this ramble is on Saturday, 26 April. Start at 10.00am prompt from Newbury station for a 14 mile ramble along the Kennet and Avon canal towpath to Great Bedwyn, return to Newbury by train.

Lunch stop will be at Kintbury where the Dundas Arms Hotel will provide the usual sustenance, or even a steak for a change! Please note. This hostelry has requested NO MUDDY BOOTS INSIDE, so please carry with you slippers or light shoes; otherwise be prepared to stand about in stockinged feet. Hopefully the weather will be fine enough to enjoy the hotel's canalside garden. To ensure your food please ring me on Farnborough 46554 by 21 April.

Two invitations have been made to SHCS members by Farnborough and District Historical Outing Society. On 11 April, 7.45 at Railway Enthusiasts Club, Hawley Lane, Farnborough (entrance to Club hard against embankment on south side of M3) to a talk given by John Gould of Newbury, the last commercial operator on the K & A and on 22 June a coach trip to Crofton Beam Engines (not in steam). For full details ring W.G. Grant, Aldershot 314799.

........ on a camping boat built for 30
If any members are leaders of any youth groups and are wanting a new idea to take care of a group for a week or a weekend, then they will find the new boat scheme being worked upon at the moment by Godalming Narrow Boats a sure winner. John Hall has recently bought a 70ft narrow boat and is converting it to a 30 berth camping boat. I almost forgot - it can also be quickly converted to an evening cruise boat complete with a bar. One final thing, it comes into commission about July, John Hall's phone number is Godalming 21306.
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Tho Society has been pressing Hampshire CC to find a building that can be used as simple overnight accommodation for volunteers. Ewshot school near Crookham has recently become redundant and is now to be used for the purpose. All that is available is a clean, dry, empty building with electricity and water laid on.

It would be nice if the Society could put some furnishings into it. May we therefore appeal for electric hotplates and boiling rings or even a cooker, camp beds, crockery, cutlery, tables and chairs and any other useful items that come to hand. They can either be lent to the Hostel or given. Surplus donations, if any, will go to the next jumble sale. We have already been promised the loan of some chairs by Adlams Bakery in The Square, Alton, so if you're shopping in Alton return the compliment and try their cakes.

We have use of the building for 18 months - we hope it will be heavily used.
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At the March meeting of the Executive Committee the following officers were elected for the coming years-
Chairman - Mr R Higgs.Vice-Chairman - Mr D Millett.
Treasurer - Mr P Youngs.Secretary - Mrs L Hamilton
Membership Secretary - Mr A Babister.Working Party Organiser - Mr F Jones.
Social Secretary - Mr D Millett.Events Organiser - Mr B Burke.
Exhibitions Organiser - Position vacant.Publications/Promotions Officer - Mr S Googe
Press/Publications Officer - Mr D Jebens.Newsletter Editor - Mrs M Holmes.
Plant - Mr R Jesse.Sales Manager - Mr P Aston
Legal Advisor - Mr J DodwellMinutes Secretary - Miss G Oakley
Dredger Manager - Mr I CrippsTransport - Mr R Jesse
Equipment Officer - Mr H MillardArchivist - Miss D Potter
Official Photographer and
Museum Projects Officer - Mr D Robinson
Jumble Sales Organiser - Mrs Saunders
Museum Projects Officer - Mr D RobinsonDuplicating Manager - Mr B Harlick

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Robin is one of the small band of founder members still active in the Society. He took over as Chairman from David Gerry a year ago, having previously been Vice-Chairman for three years.

A native of Surrey, he is a partner in a family nursery business started by his father. The list of other canal societies of which Robin is a member is impressive, but by virtue of the heavy work load he carries in connection with his Chairmanship of our Society, his membership of the others is very much passive. We feel it is important, however, to have a Chairman who knows what is going on on other waterways.

When we asked Robin to tell us in two lines why he would like to see the Basingstoke canal restored, two lines were not enough, and those who know him well will understand why, but perhaps his philosophy was summed up by a comment 'I am fascinated by the whole canal scene'.

Amongst his other interests, Robin lists the restoration of farm tractors and implements and motor cycle trials; and perhaps not surprisingly he is a committee member of the West End Agricultural & Horticultural Society annual show. At the time we asked Robin to tell us a bit about himself, the news of the confirmation of the CPO was hot off the press. His reaction - 'Delighted. SCC must now follow this up with a commitment to full navigation. If they buy their section of the canal we will restore it - that is our commitment'.
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The Wey & Arun Canal Trust are running a sponsored walk on Sunday, 8 June between Godalming and Weybridge, Funds are to be put towards their restoration costs. Sponsor booklets and further details may be obtained from our own Membership Secretary, Alan Babister, 31 Elmsleigh Road, Cove, Farnborough, Tel: Farnborough 46147.

And, talking about the Wey, there is a fascinating article in April's Waterways World on the last trading barges on the Wey, written by our own member, Jon Talbot.
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BUY A BRICK APPEAL by Peter Youngs, Treasurer
What a splendid start to European Architectural Heritage Year - a magnificent response to the brick appeal launched in the last Newsletter. Our idea to contribute to the restoration of the seven footpath bridges by buying the special capping bricks has really caught the imagination of members. At the time of going to press 655 has been donated, putting our target of 800 well within sight. Much as I would like to send personal acknowledgments, I have to restrict myself to saying a collective 'thank you'. To those who still intend to send but have not had time or have misplaced your last newsletter, please make a point of doing so immediately after reading this one. If you have lost the appeal form a plain piece of paper with your name and address (not forgetting your cheque) is all that is needed. Any amount, however small, is welcomed. My address is shown below.

The bridges are progressing well. Sprat's Hatch and Sandy Hill bridges are now restored but for the capping bricks and the contractors have moved on to Baseleys bridge - a more formidable task. We are proposing, with the CC's blessing, to tackle the restoration of Blacksmiths bridge entirely from our own resources. If any of you would like to lend a hand there will be plenty to do so let Frank Jones, Working Party Organiser, have your name. We will contact you when we are ready to start.

The latest news from the brickworks making the capping bricks is that the first load are being baked and will be due for delivery shortly.
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MUSEUM David Robinson, Fleet 21376
Things are still coming to light for the museum, and I am very grateful for all the items recently donated. However, there must be many, many more photographs and postcards of the canal which you may have hidden away or an aunt or granny has kept from her youth. I would be delighted to see them. They can be copied and the original returned to the owner. Pictures I would most like to see turn up are photographs of boats at work on the canal, pleasure and commercial, and maintenance work being carried out in the 1920-period.
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Top - Protest cruise 1968, Lock 1
Bottom - Robin Higgs and Cranley Onslow MP examine the bridge plate from the museum collection
1. Dredger in steam at dredger open day
2. Greywell Tunnel - East portal
3. Artillery Weir, Aldershot - reconstruction
4. Baseleys bridge - repairs under way

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
Treasure - Peter Youngs, The Coppice, 192 Upper Chobham Road, Camberley. Tel: Camberley 25819
Secretary - Mrs L Hamilton, 2 Frome Close, Cove, Farnborough. Tel: Farnborough 49651
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DANCING TO Two BANDS (not telling you who) 8pm - 1am.
LICENSED BAR FANTASTIC BUFFET(by courtesy of Major Button)
TICKETS 3.25 each TOMBOLA 1st prize worth 100 yes folks 100
This year's star prize is a joint donation for a 1 week canal holiday for 8 people by HOSEASONS and GODALMING NARROW BOATS.
Following the first Ball last year, and because of its fantastic success tickets this year will be as scarce as hen's teeth - if you don't want to be disappointed BOOK NOW.
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On Sunday May 18th 1975 the Society is running a day cruise on the Grand Union Canal. The cruise will be on the 40 seat 70foot Narrow Boat 'Linda' and will start from Gayton near Northampton, and go through the 3056yd Blisworth Tunnel to Stoke Bruerne where there will be an opportunity to visit the Waterways Museum and also the Canalside Inn and Cafe. Then follows a 3-1/2hr trip down through 7 locks, finishing at Cosgrove. The return journey will be via Oxford calling at the Rock of Gibraltar Inn, which has a pleasant garden, alongside the Oxford Canal, where refreshments and supper will be available. The coach will leave Fleet at 08.30, calling at Farnborough and Camberley returning about 10pm. Cost for coach and cruise will be 2.50. (no children under 14 years of age).

Followed by a more sedate NOBSURD EVENING 8pm - Midnight.
BAR-B-Q TRAD JAZZ (The Thirsty Five plus 2) MARQUEE
TICKETS 75p (includes food) Get yours NOW Order form with this Newsletter.
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Last updated April 2005