October 1975

SCC to buy canal
Cover pictures
Return of Basingstoke Barge
Society Diary
Social Jottings
Mud Slinging
Full Circle
Restoration Survey 7

Contact the Society


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No. 64OCTOBER 1975

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The Society's 9-year campaign for public ownership and restoration of the Basingstoke Canal took a major step forward on July 22nd when Surrey County Council voted in favour of buying the 17-mile section between the County boundary on Ash Embankment and the junction with the River Wey Navigation at New Haw. This follows an agreement reached with the owners, the New Basingstoke Canal Co Ltd to sell it for a reported sum of £40,000.

The official purchase date has not yet been announced and it may not be until the end of the year before the detailed contract is ready for signing.

A formal decision on restoration will be made at a Town and Country Planning Committee meeting on September 22nd. But all the signs indicate that the policy of full restoration will be accepted.

Already a joint meeting of Hampshire and Surrey Councillors has been held, including Society representatives. It is hoped this will lead to the formation of a corporate restoration and management committee and pave the way to the formation of a Basingstoke Canal Trust. Without labouring the point we have made in successive issues of this column, a Trust would encourage the maximum amount of outside financial and voluntary working party support.
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At last the Society can stop campaigning for restoration and get on with the job. With Autumn approaching, voluntary working parties are getting under way again (not that they actually stopped) and we shall need even more volunteers.

In Hampshire the dredger will be getting up steam again and crews are urgently needed. This involves strenuous, muddy but rewarding work, We also need lots of volunteers in both Hampshire and in Surrey for towpath and bank clearance. This is ideal work for the whole family - and an enjoyable way of spending a day in the open-air, making new friends and doing something useful.

The Society has just installed an Ansafone - just ring Frank Jones on Farnborough 45032 and if he's not in you'll hear a recording in Frank's best BBC voice, giving details of where and when the work is going on.

The time has come when the Society's support will be judged, not by what we claim we can do, but by what we are seen to do, So let's have some big turnouts. Watch the Newsletter for dates or ring Farnborough 45032. Do it now!
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1) 1935 building Aldershot at Ash Vale
2) Moving the Aldershot
3) Dredging by Hymac west of Colt Hill Bridge, Odiham
4) Cranley Onslow MP and the Society's Chairman on sponsored walk
5) Old marine engine destined for Society's canal museum (Can any of our readers tell us the make and age?)
6) Opening of Artillerv Weir. Aldershot
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3-year old Sally Kerry, dressed for the part, make her debut as a public figure when she officially re-opened Artillery Weir, near Ash Lock on Sunday, August 17th.

With a big smile and a large pair of scissors, Sally cut the ceremonial tape to mark the completion of nine months' work by volunteers in reconstructing the weir.

Frank Jones expressed the Society's thanks to Mike Kerry, a building contractor who organised the work, and volunteers who put in a total of 133 hours work, valued at over £260. Our appreciation also goes to Holloid Ltd of Odiham for the loan of oxy-acetylene cutting equipment.

Construction materials, including 1,500 bricks, were supplied by Hampshire County Council.
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On a damp Saturday morning in July, a small group of Society members stood on Newark Bridge, over the River Wey Navigation, anxiously peering across the meadows, through the grey gloom, towards the indistinct outline of Paper Court Lock, half a mile away. For twenty minutes nothing stirred until an aberration, like a circus bear precariously perched on a lady's antique bicycle, was sighted pedalling at high speed down the meandering towpath. Even before the rider was identified as the stalwart Pablo, the huge black hull of the 70-foot barge 'Aldershot' emerged out of the mist, towed by NB Irenic. Despite her derelict state, the Aldershot, dwarfing Irenic, made a magnificent sight not seen by the Wey since barge traffic ceased in 1969. With the expertise of Peter Duffil and the helm of Irenic and the equal skill of Sheila Duffil and Philip Pratt at the tiller of the barge, heads ducked as the Aldershot went smoothly under the bridge with only inches to spare on either side.

Leaving Newark Lock, the weather brightened for the crew and passengers to enjoy the tranquility and beauty of a summer's morning on the Wey. Towpath walkers stopped and stared and houseboat owners came on deck to greet them. At Pyrford Lock a stockbroker-type asked incredulously, "What are you going to do with it?". "Mend it", came the short answer from a member of the crew. A passing lady driver hastily abandoned her car, camera in hand, saying "I must get a picture of this historic event". And so it was. After a brief refreshment stop at the Anchor, the Aldershot continued her journey down to New Haw and on to the Basingstoke Canal which she left 26 years ago. The Aldershot was built by Mr A.J. Harmsworth at Ash Vale in 1932, registered No. 4277 and capable of carrying up to 80 tons. When the Harmsworth family sold the Basingstoke Canal in 1949, Mr A.T. Harmsworth bought the barge} re-named her the Basing and traded on the Wey and the Thames until 1960. She was then sold to become a houseboat and later sank below Walsham Lock on the Wey.

The Society intends to restore the barge for use as a floating museum to house our growing collection of Canal exhibits.

Our sincere thanks for a faultless 'recovery' operation go to Peter and Sheila Duffil, Dennis Duffil, Philip Pratt, Pablo Haworth and the crew.
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4/5 Bridge hole clearance, Baseleys Bridge
6 Pub Evening, Row Barge, St Johns, Woking
11/12 Bridge hole clearance, Baseleys Bridge Ash Lock - continue restoration
13 Pub Evening, New Inn, Colt Hill, Odiham
15 Social Evening, Teachers Centre, Lynchford Road, Farnborough, 7.45pm, followed by
18/19 Bridge hole clearance, Baseleys bridge/Staceys bridge
25/26 MAJOR WORKING PARTY - Broad Oak Bridge Bridge hole clearance, Staceys bridge
27 Pub evening, Swan Inn, Ash Vale

3 Pub Evening, Row Barge, St Johns
8 Christmas Fayre & Coffee morning - see enclosed
10 Pub evening, New Inn, Colt Hill, Odiham
24 Pub Evening, Swan Inn, Ash Vale
26 Social Evening, Teachers Centre, Lynchford Road, Farnborough, 7.45pm.

1 Pub Evening, Row Barge, St Johns
8 Pub Evening, New Inn, Colt Hill, Odiham
17 Christmas Social Evening, Teachers Centre, Lynchford Road, Farnborough.
29 Pub Evening, Swan Inn, Ash Vale

For details ring Ian Cripps on Fleet 7831

Full details from Frank Jones on the Ansafone system, Farnborough 45032. The ansafone system is costing the Society £38.61 per quarter; a measure of its success will be the turn-out at working parties this winter.
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BOOK REVIEW by Tony Jarrett
At last the booklet the Society has needed for so long. At long last an inexpensive publication which gives a potted history of the canal and the campaign to save it. This booklet, produced for the Society by Dieter Jebens and David Robinson, is a must for every member who wants to know more about the Basingstoke.

Do you know why the canal became the subject of litigation in the Court of Appeal, or how much the New Basingstoke Canal Company paid for it in 1949, or why plans to link the Basingstoke with the Kennet & Avon at Newbury failed? These and many more facts of interest are revealed in this new publication, as are scenes of the canal in its better days. Crammed with photographs, it is very goodralue at 30p inclusive of P & P, and is available from Peter Fethney, 5 Longdown, Courtmoor, Fleet.
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SOCIAL JOTTINGS by David Millett
At the Social Evening on Wednesday, 15th October at the Teachers Centre, St Albans Hall, Lynchford Road, Farnborough (opposite Lloyds Bank) at 7.45pm, some TV clips from Southern Television will be shown, featuring the Basingstoke Canal, together with a dredger film. These will be followed by the Extraordinary General Meeting announced elsewhere in this issue. The bar will be open, coffee and biscuits will be available and the sales stand will be in attendance for you to buy those books for winter reading or 'T' shirts for Christmas presents etc.
On Wednesday, November 26th at 7.45pm at the Teachers Centre, Mr Alan Simpson, a Canal tunnel expert and enthusiast from Newent in Gloucestershire, will give an illustrated talk on canal tunnels and will mainly feature slides taken inside the Sapperton Tunnel on the Thames & Severn Canal and the old disused Brindley bore of the Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal. Other canal tunnels will be briefly covered, including slides taken inside the Greywell tunnel on our own Basingstoke Canal.
The final meeting this year will be a Christmas Social Evening on Wednesday, 17th December at the same venue. Details are being worked out and will be advertised in the next Newsletter. It is hoped to make this occasion more like a Christmas Party to round off the Society year in festive style.
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Tim Gilbert wants drivers for the Land Rover to work one day a month on a rota system. Anyone interested should ring him on Farnborough 40389 (Home) or Fleet 22122, Ext 292 (work). Mechanics with experience of diesel/petrol engines are required for dumper truck maintenance. This work is mainly at Chobham and will be on the basis, if possible, of one day at the weekend and one evening. Would volunteers please ring Roger Jones at Guildford 34166 (Home) or Guildford 71661, Ext 6-7 (work).
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MUD SLINGING by Tony Jarrett
The letters we published in the last two Newsletters from Clem Hebert and Stan Googe have brought forth a torrent of opinion on various matters including the needs of fishermen, the need when restoring the canal to disturb the natural habitat of wild animals as little as possible and an apparent lack of co-ordination in some areas of the restoration work.

We will endeavour to cover these points in future Newsletters, but this month we want to take a look at an aspect which was mentioned in a number of letters, the progress - or rather lack of progress - being made at present on the enormous dredging task we face.

Mr Meller of Camberley wonders will the canal ever be restored, "Have I been conned by the enticement of an impractical dream?" he asks, and to add weight to his pessimism Mr Meller quotes some figures. "The distance from the point cleared by the Hymac to Greywell is, I believe, approximately 2,750 yards. I calculate that to reach there tha dredger must move 27,500 cubic yards of silt. This, to the uninitiated, will fill 2,750 medium size tipper lorries, will equal about half the weight of the QE2 and will cover a 3-acre field 5ft deep. This is just for clearance to Greywell. When the dredger is turned and starts towards Ash Lock, the figures are multiplied by 8. Where is it all going to go?"

Well, where is it all going to go? We asked the two people who we hoped could tell us - Ian Cripps, the Society's Engineering Manager, and David Gerry, Hampshire County Council's Canal Manager. Ian says that the problem of silt disposal has plagued the dredger team for some time, and in fact the dredger ground to a halt some three months ago through lack of space to dump the silt. To add to their problems, an insurance inspection about a month ago showed up certain urgent maintenance work. Even so, the dredger team hope to be ready to go again within a couple of weeks, but they still have the problem of where to put the silt.

A County problem, perhaps? - "Yes", says David Gerry, "and if it's any consolation I'm as frustrated as anyone else over the lack of progress in recent months. I have had two main problems; where to dump the silt and how my own staff could help with the dredging".

The problem with silt disposal has been the need to negotiate contracts with riparian landowners, and matters have been protracted. However, David fells the problem will be resolved within a few weeks. One of the farmers involved required that before any silt was dumped on his land the present scrub should be cleared away. Here David was very grateful to the Society's dredger team who had helped with this work.

With regard to the County carrying out our dredging, David's problem was staff; he can only spare two wardens for this task and it will be impossible for two men to handle the dredger and remove the silt with the present system of trucks running on railway track. David therefore set about trying to find an alternative method of handling the silt which would not be so labour-intensive, and appears to have been successful. He now has on order a mud slinger which is a high speed conveyor belt system which will sling the silt on to adjoining farm land. It is hoped that the equipment will be delivered within 2-3 weeks, when the County staff will be able to operate the Society's steam dredger during the week. The canal staff have already done some dredging with the use of a Hymac which in three weeks dredged a channel 28ft wide by 4-1/2ft deep for a length of 650 yards. David thinks that by the end of this year we could have a mile of canal dredged, but he would not be drawn on when we would reach Greywell.

So, by the time you read this, the Society's dredger should be working again --- but what about anyone who wishes to help with the dredging. Ian pleads "If you plan to come along to a dredger working party, please phone me on Fleet 7831 on the Thursday or Friday evening to ensure we will be working. Maintenance work on the dredger has to be done at weekends, so there are times when we will not be dredging - but please give us the help we need".
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Don't forget to come along to these evenings, details of which are shown in the Society Diary. A committee member or nominated member will always be in attendance to introduce new members to the others. This is your evening, and only you can make it a success.

A successful Bring and Buy coffee morning was held at the home of Mrs Betty Youngs recently when approximately £16 was raised in aid of the Society's planned Christmas Fayre. Can other ladies be tempted to arrange similar mornings?
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"Can the Basingstoke Canal be saved for the public? Sir, Every resident along the thirty-seven miles of the Basingstoke Canal must hear with dismay of the probability of its being allowed to run dry and then converted into building sites and market gardens. Without a doubt, however, this will happen and the Canal will cease to exist unless some very active steps are immediately taken for its preservation. Already negotiations have taken place between the mortgagee and some of the local authorities with a view of the latter being allowed to pull down the bridges, throw them into the canal and make flat roads across the bed.

We have been so accustomed to look upon this lovely water-way as one of the permanent beauties and attractions of the localities through which it passes that I do not think it had occurred to any of us that the charming walks along its lovely towpath, the delightful boating trips, the excellent coarse fishing, the shady spots for picnics, and the miles of skating in winter, might some day be denied to us.

There are many other beautiful watercourses, but I do not know of any other equally charming stretch of water in the country where the public have uninterrupted access to the towpath for thirty-seven miles.

Nominally the towpath is private property, but in practice the public have had free access to it. In summer they have rowed on the water and picniced on the banks, in winter they have skated on it, while the local anglers have had good sport out of it. As soon as the first bridge is pulled down and thrown into the canal all this will be lost to the public for ever.

If anything is to be done to stay this devastating act of vandalism immediate steps must be taken. Will anyone who has at heart the preservation to us and our children of one of the loveliest lengths of water in the country communicate with me without delay so that we can make some effort to retain it?"

The above letter from E. Southgate Tay is reproduced from the Hampshire Observer of 28th October 1911. In view of the news from Surrey, the outlook for our children looks better than it has done, for many years, and certainly not as disheartening as in 1911.
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"A very big thank you to everyone who turned out on Sunday in atrocious conditions" - Robin Higgs, Chairman.

If we can walk in those conditions, nothing should stop us working. Full report in our next Newsletter - Editor.

Editorial Office: 45 Durnsford Avenue, Fleet. Tel. Fleet 5308
Chairman: Robin Higgs, 18 Barnsford Crescent, West End, Woking. Tel: Chobham 7314
Working Party Organiser: Frank Jones. Tel. Farnborough 45032 Treasurer: Peter Youngs, The Coppice, 192 Upper Chobham Road, Camberley. Tel. Camberley 25819
Secretary; Mrs L Hamilton, 2 Frome Close, Cove, Farnborough. Tel. Farnborough 49651
Membership Secretary: Alan Babister, 31 Slmsleigh Road, Cove, Farnborough. Tel. Farnborough 46147.
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No. 7 October/November 1975.

Work is continuing on the Deepcut Flight Locks on the first Sunday of each month, starting 10.00am. Access point is Curzon Bridge - Map Reference 917564 (Sheet 169.O.S) Organizers are:-

Lock 25 - Peter Jones. Tel: Enfield 39613.
Lock 26 - Jim Chisholm. Tel: Wokingham 785146.
Lock 27 - Tony Robinson.Tel: 01 688 0942.

In addition, as mentioned in Issue No. 6, the Waterway Recovery Group are working on Lock 24 and they will be with us again on 18th and 19th October. Additonal help would be welcomed.

ORGANIZER: Pablo Haworth (Tel: Byfleet 42081)
AREA: Sheerwater Lock. Map Reference 026608 (Sheet 170. O.S)
WHEN: Second Sunday of each month., (12th October and 9th November). Start 10.00am.
WORK TO BE DONE : Lock clearance.

ORGANIZER: David Morgan. (Tel: Weybridge 49235)
WORK TO BE DONE: Above Brookwood top lock. Access point adjacent to Brookwocd traffic lights. Map Reference 957572. (Sheet 169.O.S)
WHEN: First Sunday of each month. October 5th and November 2nd). Start 10.30am. Towpath and lock clearance.

ORGANIZER: Mike McGrath (Tel: Weybridge 47826)
AREA: Two locks above curzon Bridge. Map Reference 917564 (Sheet 169.O.S)
WHEN: Third Sunday of each month. (19th October and 16th November). Start 10.30am.

WORK TO BE DONE: Towpath and channel clearance.
AREA: St. John's Top Lock (Goldsworth Flight) Map Reference 980581 (Sheet 169.0.S)
WHEN: Second weekend of each month. 11/12th October and 8/9th November. Start 10.00am.
WORK TO BE DONE: Insertion of stop plank grooves, and renovation of wing walls.

Now that the future of the Basingstoke Canal is somewhat clearer no doubt many more workers will be inclined to offer their services, and the working party organizers look forward to increased numbers in their parties during the coming months.
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ON SATURDAY, November 8th, - 10 -12.30 at THE CIVIC HALL, FLEET
We shall have the following stalls:-
Christmas Decorations — Gifts & Table Decorations — Soft Toys — Bottle Stall — Cakes & Savouries — Children's Stall —Society Sales Stand — Good Used Toys — White Elephants — Refreshments.
Admission 10p. Children 5p (including coffee, soft drinks and biscuits)
Here is a good opportunity to do your Christmas shopping to benefit the society and at the same time meet some other members over a cup of coffee. We shall be selling Christmas paper, cards, gift tags, serviettes and place mats at reasonable prices. There will be plenty of items for children, as stocking-fillers or to buy for themselves, so bring them along, and your friends as well. Adjoining the Hall is a large car park, and a park with swings, slides etc.

We still need items for all the stalls, so if you have something to contribute, please contact one of the following collection points :-
CAMBERLEY - Mrs Betty Youngs. 192, Upper Chobham Road Tel. Camberley 25819
CROOKHAM - Mrs Janet Googe. "Henbury", Gables Road Ch. Crookham Tel. Fleet 5402
FARNHAM - Mrs Joceln Williams. 81, Willow Way, Hale, Farnham Tel. Farnham 21445
FARNBOROUGH - Mrs Lise Hamilton. 2, Frome Close, Cove Tel. Farnborough 49651
FLEET - Mrs Janet Hedger. 2, Forest End, Fleet Tel. Fleet 7465
WOKING - Mrs Audrey Browning. 34 Purvis Road, W. Byfleet Tel. Byfleet 42024
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Last updated April 2005