December 1975

Front pictures
Surrey Restoration Go-ahead
Picture info
IWA Donation
Working parties
Portrait - Ian Cripps
Sponsored Walk
Society meets Anglers
Society Diary
Social Jottings
Crofton visit
Gongoozlers' Gossip

Contact the Society


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Newsletter No. 65December 1975

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Surrey County Council has agreed to restore the Basingstoke canal. The decision came at a Council meeting on October 23rd. It was made on the recommendation of the Land and Buildings Committee report which stated 'Your Committee considers that the Surrey length of the canal should be fully restored to permit the full range of uses, including navigation by motor cruisers'.

The Council is anxious for restoration work to start as soon as public acquisition is completed; which is expected by the end of this year. Depending on the financial situation, they hope the canal will be re-opened within five years.

A year ago the cost of restoring the Surrey section was put at £172,000, taking into account the value of voluntary labour. Part of the cost will be met by the four riparian district councils.

The Land and Buildings Committee did not recommend that management of the canal should be transferred to a charitable trust, as proposed by the Society. But they did suggest that a Consultative Group of Officers, including a Society representative, should meet to co-ordinate a restoration programme.

We congratulate Surrey County Council. They have taken a bold and positive decision. One which enables the fullest use to be made of the Basingstoke Canal and its former beauty reinstated. What is more, the decision will attract maximum voluntary support.
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What are the motives of the Thames Water Authority representative who questioned the canal's water supply at a meeting in Woking reported in this issue?

According to him, it was 'to bring a note of caution' to discussions on how the canal should be restored and used in the future.

That's all very well, but why wait nine years to raise the matter? The Society has investigated the canal's water supply, and we are satisfied that there is sufficient, if not an abundance. Col. Bowen's official report to Hampshire County Council confirmed our findings.

Perhaps the gentleman did not realise the commotion he would cause, but we do feel that people in official capacities should consider the repercussions before posing such questions in public.
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1) Ian Cripps (see page 5)
2) Christmas Fayre (see page 10)
3) Farnborough Road Weir (see page 4)
4) Blacksmiths Bridge, before and after (see page 4)
5) Map of Working Party locations (see pages 3 and 4)
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Throughout our campaign, we've been supported by the Inland Waterways Association. We might not have survived but for their sound advice, active help and now the biggest cash donation we've ever received - £2,500. This probably is also the largest sum the IWA has ever given, so it's a measure of how important they regard 'our patch'.

The money is the proceeds of the IWA's annual national rally held at Guildford in 1970 to support the Basingstoke campaign. It was a great success. Not only financially, but as a social occasion.

At the time, we said 'Come back in 1980 and hold the rally at Odiham'. We said it jokingly, but it could, now be made a reality.

Thank you, the IWA, for your generosity.
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The ninth annual general meeting of the Society has been fixed for Saturday, 14 February 1976 at 7.30pm.

The venue is ST PAULS CHURCH HALL, CRAWLEY HILL, CAMBERLEY, situated a short distance from the Ravenswood roundabout on the A325 Portsmouth Road. This is a change of venue from past years which we hope will prove more central for the majority of members. Further details of the agenda for the evening and how to reach the hall will be published in the February newsletter. In the meantime please make a note of this important date in your diaries.

This is your opportunity to voice any ideas you may have on the future role of the Society or constructive criticism of its past management. If you wish to have an item placed on the agenda, please contact our Secretary - Lise Hamilton, whose address and telephone number are to be found on the last page.
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Committee nomination time is with us again and the closing date for the receipt of nominations for the 1976 Committee is JANUARY 3. If anyone feels they would like to become more deeply involved in the affairs of the Society and has the time to spare for a hard but rewarding job, please put your name forward. The last three years have failed to produce the need for a ballot of the nine places to be filled, and although your present committee members may be doing all that is expected of them, it is not a healthy situation that they are returned unopposed year after year. New faces bring new ideas, so let's have more nominations this year. If you are uncertain what is involved, contact our Secretary, Lise Hamilton, or any other committee member. If you are unable to find anyone to propose or second you, then again contact Lise, so that the necessary action can be taken.

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To enable members to appreciate just how much restoration work is being currently carried out on the canal, we are featuring each working party in this newsletter. This will, we hope, encourage more of you to turn out to assist. A map is on the inside cover to give you an idea where on the canal the work is going on; the letters indicate the site.

A - LOCK 6, SHEERWATER LOCK. Work here will be chamber clearance, excavation work on the top sill, removal of gates, cutting of stop plank grooves and fitting of stop planks.
Leader Pablo Haworth Dates 2nd Sunday of month Tel: Byfleet 42081 Map ref: OS Map 170 026608
B - LOCK 11, GOLDSWORTH TOP LOCK, St Johns, Woking. Work as at Lock 6, Leader- Jack Reddall Dates 2nd Sunday of month Tel: Woking 60521 Map ref: OS Map 169, 980581
C - LOCK 14. BROOKVOOD TOP LOCK. Work as at Lock C. Leaders David Morgan Dates 1st Sunday of month Tel: Weybridge 49235 Map ref: OS Map 169 957572
D - LOCK 24, DEEPCUT FLIGHT. This lock has been adopted by the London Working Party Group of the WRG. Work is only carried out here periodically due to the Group's commitments on other waterways. Work as at Lock 6. Much has already been done.
E - LOCK 25, (CURZON LOCK) DEEPCUT FLIGHT. Work as at Lock 6 Leader: Peter Jones Date: 1st weekend in month Tel: Enfield 39513 Map ref: OS Map 169. Access at 917564
F - LOCK 26, DEEPCUT FLIGHT. Work as at Lock 6 Leaders Jim Chisholm Date: 1st weekend of month Tel: Wokingham 785146 Map refs OS Map 169. Access at 917564
G - LOCK 27, EEEPCUT FLIGHT. Work as at Lock 6. Work here is being carried out by the International Voluntary Service. Leader: Tony Robinson Date: 1st weekend of month Tel: 01-688 0942 Map refs OS Map 169. Access at 917564
H - DEEPCUT FLIGHT - Towpath and channel clearance work continues in this area. Leader: Mike McGrath Date: 3rd Sunday of month Tel: Weybridge 49235 Map ref: Contact leader
I - ASH EMBANKMENT. Repair of the breach. Work has not yet commenced on this vital task but, subject to political statements and official approval, it is hoped to be able to start during 1976. Details will be released as soon as they are available.
J - ASH LOCK. The lock chamber was cleared in May 1974 and all lock gates removed. Work has now re-started upstream of the lock installing a dam so that the canal can be dewatered above the lock to enable work to start on the top sill. This will entail the demolition of the infamous concrete wall, hence the need for a dam. Leader: Mike Tomlinson Dates 2nd weekend of month Tel: Basingstoke 21343 Map refs OS Map 169 881518
K - FARNBOROUGH ROAD WEIR. Following the successful completion of Artillery Weir, work has now started on the reconstruction of Farnborough Road Weir. Sheet steel piling has been installed across the weir. Difficulties caused by running sand have necessitated the breaking up and removal of the old concrete apron. Apart from the usual weir, a low level sluice is to be installed to enable the canal section to be drained in an emergency. (See photo 3). Leader: Peter Mayne Date: 2nd and 4th weekend of month Tel: Camberley 24701 Map refs OS Map 169 861523
The County Council have now restored 4 of the old brick arch bridges in Hampshire. The Society has rebuilt Blacksmiths bridge from their resources and a generous donation from the IWA. Building work was carried out for the Society by Mike Kerry, a local contractor, and is now complete. (See photo 4)
L - OFFSIDE BANK CLEARANCE. This winter, work is proceeding eastwards from Broad Oak bridge, near Odiham, with the target of Double bridge by April 1976. This will only be achieved if these working parties are well attended. The work is very suitable for all the family and involves the cutting, trimming and burning of overhanging branches and undergrowth etc. This really is a pleasant way to spend a weekend, and it is very rewarding to see the end result. Help restoration along without getting up to your neck in mud!
Leader: David Millett Date: Last weekend of month
Tel: Fleet 7364 Map ref: Moving eastwards, but at present OS Map 169 754521
M DREDGER. This must surely be the most impressive work being carried out on the canal at the moment, and we suggest that all members should try to see the steam dredger in operation for themselves. After being laid up for over three months (through no fault of the stalwart crews) it is in action again at Lodge Copse, west of Colt Hill bridge. Commencing where the Hymac left off, 200 yards of canal is being dredged, up to Lodge Farm bridge. All the silt is being tipped into the old sewage farm with the aid of skips on a comprehensive rail layout, the power to push the skips being provided by members of the dredger bankside support team. It is understood that before long this manual method is to be replaced when a small diesel loco arrives, which will undoubtedly speed up the whole muddy operation.

On reaching Lodge Farm bridge, the dredger crane will lift off the flat deck of the bridge to enable the dredger and mud boats to pass through. The section west of the bridge has already been completed by Hymac, to a point at the start of the cutting on the approach to Swan bridge, North Warnborough. From this point to the North Warnborough Lift bridge is the next section for the dredger to work on. The silt will be tipped from the skips into a field which lies at a lower level than the canal. This will entail running the rail tracks out over the field on gantries. By the time Swan bridge is reached the distance to the tip will be considerable, thus entailing a comprehensive network of rail track. All being well, and with the necessary support, it is hoped to reach Swan bridge early in 1976. If you would like to help this aspect of the Society's work, please contact the following:-
Leader: Ian Cripps (Dredger) Roger Thomas (Bankside support) Tel: Fleet 7831 Tel: Farnborough 40389
Date: Every weekend Map refs OS Map 169 737521 proceeding westward.
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LOCK GATE BUILDING. As was announced some time back, four sets of top gates are to be built. Work has now started on these and anyone interested in helping is urged to attend the regular working parties which are held at Castle Grove Nursery, Chobham, Surrey. Leader: Bob Bowhill Date: Contact leader Tel: Woking 62916
MACHINERY. The Society's equipment needs to be kept in good repair, so if you would like to help the group contact Leader: Roger Jones Tel: Guildford 34166
TRANSPORT. Offers of help to the group please Leader. Tim Gilbert Tel: Farnborough 40389.

This completes the run down of the work currently in progress on the canal. It is STRESSED, HOWEVER, that sometimes due to circumstancess the time and place of a working party might have to be changed. To avoid frayed tempers and undue wastage of petrol etc, telephone Farnborough 45032 to get the up to date information on ALL working parties. This is the Society's Ansaphone, on which you will hear a recorded message. Make use of it.
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PEN PORTRAIT - Ian Cripps, Dredger Engineer (See photo 1)
Ian, a member of the Society for over six years, joined the Executive Committee earlier this year. His claim to fame within the Society is that he was one of a small dedicated team who in 1973 set about the task of restoring Perseverance, the Society's dredger. The task was formidable, but the result can now be seen beyond Colt Hill where this beautiful reminder of the age of steam is at work.

Ian was previously a member of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and so had worked on our dredger prior to the Society purchasing it. When asked how he came to join the Society, he was decidedly vague, but it had something to do with a small working party he saw on the canal - 6 years ago!

Amongst the reasons Ian gave for wanting to restore the Basingstoke was a desire to see what he thought were the outstanding features on it, the Deepcut 14 and Greywell Tunnel, preserved.

As becomes a Northumbrian, Ian lists one of his great loves as Newcastle Brown Ale.
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MUSEUM by David Robinson
Once again, since the last Newsletter, items have been coming in to me. Our thanks to Mr Tim Dodwell for some interesting photographs taken in 1961 and to Mr Pointer of Woking whose eagle eye spotted some old documents in a filing cabinet. They were in fact legal agreements with the Canal Company and dated 1913. Included were letters from Mr A.J. Harmsworth and an unused Share Prospectus dated 1914.

Now, before the next Newsletter, can anybody find some photographs of the boat rally held on the canal at Woking in 1962?
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SPONSORED WALK, Sunday 14 September 1975. by Stuart Browning
The weather was awful! After one of the finest summers for many years, on the day of the walk the temperature had dropped by 12° Centigrade; a chilling east wind had sprung up and ominous rain clouds were gathering; indeed rain soon started to fall and continued for the rest of the day.

But the walk was on! One of the first away was Mrs Bunyan, who last year walked off with one of the prizes at the Society's Hampshire Sponsored Walk.

Amounts large and small added up to a total of £1,550, raised by some 220 walkers, and the following are the winners of the various prizes:
Canoe New Haw Middle School
Family Prize of a Weekend Cruise The Boorman family
Oldest walker Mr VE Steer
Girl under 8 Helen Hamilton
Boy under 8 David Hedger
Individual raising largest sum Mrs DE Bunyan

Whether or not you are in that list, anyone who walked or took part in any way can take a big 'Very well done' from the organising Sub-Committee. Once the day had arrived the committee had completed the major part of their task and it was the enthusiastic helpers and the stalwart walkers who brought success out of very adverse conditions.

The only names I propose to mention are those which are outside our organisation but who, in one way or another, gave support.

The Woking Division of the British Red Cross gave us First Aid cover at Curzon bridge, but fortunately they had no major incident to deal with; however, to sit in cramped quarters from 10am until nearly 4pm on a very wet Sunday was probably more tedious than actually walking.

For the day we had a privately-owned ex-Green Line bus, driven by Victor McAloon, a part owner, which safely ferried walkers back to their starting points.

Unigate Dairies provided free 600 half-pints of milk and even on a cold, wet day these were most welcome - proving the value of the Daily Pinta as a source of energy and being much in demand.

For the first time a full radio link was provided on our Sponsored Walk, and this proved to be invaluable, in particular by enabling the transport to be in the right place at the right time. This link was provided by the Signals Section of 'A' Company 5 Queens (v) TAVR, Guildford, who gained good experience in operating their sets over maximum range.

Fortunately an oversight by the Committee (who had been lulled into a false sense of security by months of hot summer weather and had not arranged for hot drinks, but had even organised supplies of ice-cream at two points) went unnoticed due to other members being on the ball. At the Byfleet end one of our local GPO postmen, living adjacent to the starting point, provided continuous supplies of hot water which was of great assistance with the making of the very necessary hot beverages.

Still, when all is said and done, it is the walkers and indirectly the sponsors to whom the real thanks are due. If in years to come you are by the fully restored Basingstoke Canal and a chance acquaintance says 'I walked the walk in September 1975' - buy him or her a drink; they earned it!
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The Society would like to thank the Directors and staff of County Commercial Cars, Fleet for the free loan of a hydraulic digger which we hope to feature on our Newsletter cover in a later edition.
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About 100 people, representing a wide range of canal user interests, met at the Cotteridge Hotel, Woking on September 24th, at the invitation of the Wey Valley Fisheries Consultative Association.

Inevitably the perennial conflict (or is it just a figment of the imagination?) between boating and angling interests was debated. Sensibly, the chairman, Mr M Gibb, concluded that with co-operation and tolerance, a way should be found to cater for all interests in using the Basingstoke Canal.

For the Society, Robin Higgs contended that, with local authorities being forced to economise, the cost of restoration was a more important and immediate problem than the question of how the canal will ultimately be used. Mr Higgs said that because of the cash crisis, voluntary participation had now become a key factor and he appealed to anglers to help the Society.

Mr J Sheridan, representing the South Eastern Sports Council, said that they hoped to provide a grant towards the cost of the work.

The only black spot of the evening1s lively discussion came from a representative of the Thames Water Authority who questioned whether the canal had a sufficient water supply. It was unfortunate that, coming on the eve of the Surrey County Council's decision to restore the canal, the question made headlines in a report of the meeting which appeared in a local newspaper. It was a pity that the reporter concerned, who is a Society member, did not bother to seek our view on such a vital subject.
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Increased running costs and the Society1s growing commitments to restoration, now that the eastern end of the canal is being taken over by Surrey County Council, were the reasons given by the Treasurer, Peter Youngs, for tho proposed subscription increases put to the Extraordinary General Meeting held on October 15th at the Teachers' Centre, Farnborough. The proposal was discussed at some length and, despite amendments put forward, the meeting agreed that rates must be increased and the Committee's proposal was finally adopted by a majority vote as follows:-
Junior and Old Age Pensioners £1.25
Adult £2.50
Family £3.50
Group £4.00
Life £50.00
The new rates take effect from March 1st 1976

To start the meeting, Tony Harmsworth showed the large audience a film he made of barges carrying grain from London Docks to the mill at Coxes Lock on the Wey. This fascinating glimpse of commercial traffic which ceased in 1969, illustrated Tony's talent at making films which was equalled by his interesting commentary. Another film was later shown about the construc­tion of Rotterdam's Europort - a bigger job than the Basingstoke!
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In consequence of the new subscription rates, it will be necessary for those of you who pay your subscription by bankers order, and there are now some 400 who have elected to pay by this means, to complete amending orders authorising the higher payments.

Forms are in the course of being printed and will be despatched to members as soon as available.

You are urged to complete and return them to the Treasurer as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of administrative work involved and to avoid your bank paying against an outdated order.
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1 Pub Evening, Row Barge, St Johns, Woking
8 Pub Evening, New Inn, Colt Hill, Odiham
13 IWA London Branch Film Show **
17 Christmas Social **

3 Last date for nominations for Executive Committee **
6 Pub Evening, Row Barge, St Johns, Woking
13 Pub Evening, New Inn, Odiham
21 Members' Film and Slide Evening **

3 Pub Evening, Row Barge, St Johns, Woking
1O Pub Evening, New Inn, Odiham
14 AGM St Paul's Church Hall, Camberley **
18 Illustrated Talk
** For further details see this newsletter
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For dates and details see main Working Party article in this newsletter. REMEMBER - details of Working Parties can be obtained from the Ansaphone service on Farnborough 45032.

SOCIAL JOTTINGS by David Millett, Fleet 7364
Attendances are very encouraging at Social Evenings this winter, and I hope they will continue to be so.

Christmas Wine & Cheese Get-Together, Wednewday December 17th at 8pm.
The above Get-Together will be held at the Teachers' Centre, St Albans Hall, Lynchford Road, Farnborough. The evening will feature music, a raffle and possibly a folk singer, and there will be a free wine-tasting of eight wines selected by PS Wine Importers Ltd of Basingstoke. The ladies will be providing cheese and savoury snacks to accompany your wine and there will be a silver collection of not less than 20p to cover the cost of the refreshments. PS Wine Importers Ltd is a company recently started by one of our members and is offering wines for sale at reduced prices, so why not come along and stock up for Christmas.

Pub Evenings
The Pub Evenings at Odiham and Brookwood are proving very successful this winter, but the one at the Swan, Ash Vale is being discontinued owing to lack of demand.

Members' Film and Slide Evening, Wednesday January 21st 1976 at 7.45pm.
Our annual film and slide evening will be held at the Teachers' Centre, and members are asked to contact David Millett as soon as possible if they are able to provide any 8mm or l6mm films or any colour slides for showing. The subject can be anything to do with canals and inland waterways and can feature holidays and any other interests. Slides of restoration work on the Basingstoke will also be welcome. If time permits, it is hoped to have a re-showing of Tony Harmsworth's excellent 8mm film of the last working grain barges on the River Wey.
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On Sunday 21 September, two coach loads of members and friends set out to visit the steam driven pumping engines at Crofton, near Great Bedwyn on the Kennet & Avon Canal. There are two beam engine pumps, one built in 1812 and the other in 1845. They were installed to pump water 40ft up from the adjacent Wilton Water and so into a mile long leat that enters the canal above Crofton Top Lock.

They have been fully restored by The Crofton Society, a branch of the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust. This Society opens the pumps to visitors on most Sundays and steams them several weekends in the year, the 1812 engine operating on the day of our trip. After this most of the party went by coach to the attractive canalside village of Wootton Rivers for lunch, whilst those of us who thought we were fit walked the four miles there along the towpath. This proved harder than expected, as in places the path was uneven and sloping and the fishermen's tackle provided an unexpected obstacle course. However, we made it and saw the steam narrow boat Leviathan as we lunched by the locks. Afterwards came the boat trip, half us us going from Kintbury to Hamstead and the rest making the return trip, a trick achieved by playing 'Musical Coaches'. We had an interesting day, the sun shone, nobody fell in and coming home some of us spotted a hot air balloon.
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We all know that money is tight at present, especially as far as local authorities are concerned, and this means the Society will need to make an even greater contribution than originally envisaged if restoration is not to be prolonged.

The Society has been remarkably successful in raising funds, but it has now been decided to put matters on a formal basis under a group to be headed by Malcolm Irwin. The aim of this new group will be to secure donations from a much wider field than has been the case in the past. Do you feel that your brain could be of more use to the Society than your brawn? Malcolm is looking for people to join him in this vital work - he will need professional men with drive and ideas. If you think you fit the bill, give him a ring on Fleet 21781. The group will also require a secretary/typist, and Malcolm would like to hear from any lady (or man, I suppose, in this world of equality) who would take on the task.
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John Huntley, in association with the London Branch of IWA, will be presenting a special programme of rare and historical canal and inland waterway films at the Round House Theatre, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 at 2.30pm on Saturday 13 December 1975.

The programme will include Barging Through London, Basingstoke Canal 1911 and 1958, newsreel clippings, Painted Boats (1945), navvying film Dirty Weekend, etc. Tickets, Adult 70p, Children (under 14) 40p - only from Box Office, Round House Theatre (enquiries: Tel: 01-267 2564) either by personal application or by post (enclose SAE).
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LIMITED company status is being considered for the Society. AT LAST the Army has agreed to lease the barge yard at Ash Vale to the Society at a rental of £50 pa. In the past we have used the facilities at the yard by kind permission of Tony Harmsworth who was the tenant. Tony has agreed to leave the sheds on the land for the Society's use.
PRELIMINARY talks are taking place between Surrey and Hampshire County Councils on the management structure for the administration of the canal.
BASINGSTOKE District Council have refused planning permission for the infilling of the canal at Up Nateley.
LETTER received by the Society from Hampshire CC enclosing an extract from Council Committee minutes stating they are committed to Scheme C - full restoration.
SALES stand was in operation on Saturday 18 October in an empty shop unit in Fleet.
NEW talks organiser required to relieve Peter Fethney who at present carries two banners as he is also Sales Manager. If you would be prepared to take on this interesting job, phone Peter at Fleet 5524.
SOME five firms in Surrey have shown interest in sponsoring the restoration of locks.
WORK has been started by members of the Society on building a further four pairs of lock gates.
WANT a canoe at trade price? Contact Mr J Spicer on Aldershot 27078 for details.
FANTASTIC - the Society's Christmas Fayre in Fleet on November 8 made a profit of £262 plus £90 takings on the sales stand. Well done, Janet Hedger and her girls. (See photo 2)

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 Lise Hamilton, 2 Frome Close, Cove, Farnborough. Tel Farnborough 49651.
Membership Secretary: Alan Babister, 31 Elmsleigh Road, Cove, Farnborough. Tel Farnborough 46l47
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Last updated April 2005