October 1977

Comment - Deepcut Dig
Cover pictures
Working Parties
Social Diary
Book review
Restoring the Basingstoke Twins
Selling silt
Gongoozlers' Gossip

Contact the Society


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No. 76OCTOBER 1977

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Operation Ashton '68....Ashtac '72....Droitwich Dig '73.... all are famous landmarks in the history of canal restoration schemes. As the names suggest, they were military-style operations, organised by the Waterways Recovery Group, involving hundreds of volunteers from all parts of the Country.

The purpose of these massive working parties was not only to tackle jobs that needed doing, but also to focus attention on the value of voluntary labour and the efforts being made to restore our inland waterways. For much the same reasons, another national 'big dig' is being organised - this time on the Basingstoke - by WRG in conjunction with the Society and Surrey County Council. On Friday, 7 October, the first of a great army of volunteer navvies will start arriving for what promises to be the biggest and most exciting voluntary exercise of any canal yet.

The aim of the Deepcut Dig is to clear out and restore the Deepcut locks 15 to 23, between Brookwood Bridge and Firbright Camp. In addition the three Brookwood locks will also be prepared for future restoration.

The success of this ambitious undertaking lies as much with the Society as it does with the 500 or so visiting volunteers. Not only to join in the work but, equally important, to help run the event. With the working party of this size, an efficient back-up team is more than ever essential, and so we are looking for a maximum turn-out of Society members. Please complete the special form enclosed with this newsletter and return it immediately. Even if you can't offer more than to make the tea, your support will be welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Help make the Deepcut Dig the biggest voluntary working party ever seen; the most publicised event of its kind, and the greatest single contribution to restoration of the Basingstoke Canal.


Like one of those endless soap operas, the Trip Boat Saga enters its umpteenth episode on 12 September. That is the date for a meeting of Hampshire's Policy Committee to whom the future operation of the Society's trip boat has been referred.

We hope that, by the time this newsletter is published, there's been a happy ending to this contrived farce and the final curtain comes down for good.

We're not the only members of the cast who've got thoroughly fed up with the feeble plot.

1. St Johns Dig, 1913 style - photo Harmsworth family.
2. A Hymac dredging the canal west of Reading Road Bridge, Fleet.
3. The recently dredged stretch of the canal between Monument Bridge and Chertsey Road bridge in Woking being inspected by (L to r) Robin Higgs (SHCS Chairman), Cranley Onslow (MP for Woking), William Britton (SCC County Surveyor) and Patrick Carnegie (Assistant Estates Surveyor, SCC).
4. Mirror Carp caught at Colt Hill Bridge, Odiham.
5. Lock 26 completion ceremony, the Job Creation work force assembled in the lock chamber, together with several guests, to enjoy a glass of beer to mark the completion of the lock.
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18 Regents Court, St George's Avenue, Weybridge.
Many thanks for the August number of the Newsletter received by hand today and many congratulations on your economical organisation of delivery by hand and saving postage. A particularly interesting number, which would have appealed so much to the late Sir Alan Herbert, who served on the Thames Concervancy with me for several years. Good work.
Capt. E H Longsdon, RN

5 Addison Court, Oakley Avenue, Ealing, W5
In Newsletter No 60 of February 1975, Society members were asked to suggest possible names for the dredger. The Society's team of highly-trained dredger-name experts examined the suggestions, and in the June 1975 Newsletter it was reported that 'a rather apt name would be 'Perseverance'. Too true; this sort of profundity is why we pay our dredger-name experts so much.

But there is still, after all this time, no sign of the name actually being applied to the dredger, let alone a full-scale naming ceremony, with bottles of champagne or Newcastle Brown broken over the bows. Perhaps the wording used was carefully coded, and 'apt' is a secret acronym for 'Applied Pretty Tardily', which is certainly true enough. Maybe the exercise was purely bureaucratic, and 'apt' means 'Approved Paper Title', which no-one ever intends to be used. Or possibly the delay is because the real name for the dredger cannot yet be revealed, but meanwhile 'Perseverance' is an Apochryphal Pretender to the Throne. I suggest that an 'apt' name would be 'Apteryx', which is a flightless bird from New Zealand. As the dredger also cannot fly, this seems the obvious choice.

Soon it will be time to choose a name for the trip-boat, and then apply the name, maybe with due ceremony. If the Society maintains its tradition of lightning applications of names to boats, the trip-boat may just about receive its name in time to lead the inaugural procession of boats into the restored terminal basin at Basingstoke in 1999. Yours sincerely,
Peter Cooper

Poulters, Estate Agents, Filet Road, Fleet
We have pleasure in enclosing our cheque in the sum of 25, as a contribution towards the current dredging operation of the Fleet section of the canal.

As Chartered Surveyors, we fully appreciate the enormous scale of the restoration works in engineering terms, and therefore commend the scheme for the fullest local support. Yours faithfully,
Editors' Note: Our thanks to Messrs Poulters, not only for their generous donation, but also for the commendation.

Lise Hamilton, the Society's Secretary, has for some time also been carrying out the job of Minutes Secretary. This work load, is now becoming unacceptable, and Liso is urgently looking for someone to take over the Minutes Secretary job. The job involves attending the monthly Executive Committee meetings, typing the minutes and distributing them. Shorthand ability would be useful, although not essential, as also would access to a typewriter. Interested? Then phone Lise on Farnborough 49651, but please do it now.
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The big event in the forthcoming period is, of course, the WRG Big Big on the lower Deepcut flight, where the peaceful lives of the many local mistle thrushes and likely to be rather disturbed for two days. Massed navvies from all parts of the country are expected to descend and it is clearly up to the Society to provide ample local support. If you're only going on one working party this year, this should be it.

There is plenty more work going on besides, particularly in Surrey, and particularly around the Deepcut flight. Persons believing the Surrey section 'starved1 of resources should come along and see, or, better still, join in and help. The Deepcut flight must be one of the most intensive canal restoration sites in the country. Come along and make it even more intensive.

Newcomers to the work are asked to ring ROGER THOMAS on Fleet 20316, to be introduced gently into the swim. Hardened regulars should use the Society's Ansaphone on Farnborough 45032 for the up-to-date score, or check with their regular working party leaders in case of last minute changes of plan. Parties now operating or likely to operate are as follows.

Every weekend Lock Restoration
By the time you read this, locks 27 and 28 should be complete, and in that case the work will move to the other side of Curzon Bridge and be concentrated on locks 24, 23 etc. So be prepared to find a moving target. The work continues for the rest of the year, to be in close collaboration with the Job Creation Project team, and the Deepcut narrow-gauge railway will continue to perform its vital support role. Leaders of this party, at the various weekends, are JIM CHISHOLM, MIKE FELLOWS, ALAN GRIMSTER, and PETER JONES.

Every weekend Dredging in Hampshire
The dredger continues on its eastward progress and is now about half a mile clear of Broad Oak Bridge. Its amazing transformation act, as it changes what was a mass of reeds and mud into a water channel, is surely one of the sights of Hampshire. Where else can you see 'before' and 'after' states of a piece of work so clearly visible side-by-side? Remember, the Society's steam dredger refreshes parts of the canal other excavators cannot reach.

To take part you should park prettily an Broad Oak and walk along the towpath. For more details phone either ROGER THOMAS on Fleet 20316 or BRIAN BAIN on Odiham 2499. Second weekend of the month Lock 6 (Sheerwater) 12/73 Nov, 10/11 Dec Most of the work at the top end is now complete, and attention now moves to the chamber itself. Here the dilapidations are mild compared with the state of your average upper Deepcut lock, and pointing and other repairs are well under way. Bricklaying tools continue to be much in demand, people who can use them even more so, but plenty of other jobs need doing. For more details contact PABLO HAWORTH on Byfleet 42081. (On 8/9 October, of course, this party will be at the Big Dig).

Second Sunday of the month Lock 1 (Woodham)
13 Nov, 11 Dec
This party, operating under the auspices of the Guilford branch of the IWA, is continuing with repairs and clearance of the chamber. Details from JEFF HOLMAN on Woking 63811. (This party will also be at the Big Dig on 9 October).

Last weekend of the month Offside clearance in Hampshire
24/25 Sept, 29/30 Oct, 26/27 Nov
This party will be meeting at Chequers Bridge Wharf, in order to polish off the last remaining section of Hampshire Offside, starting at Coxmoor Bridge. The work to be done after that will be divulged later. Details from DAVID MILLETT on Fleet 7364.

Various weekends Weir Restoration
This specialist working party is restoring a weir by Lock 28 (Deepcut Top). Anyone interested in this sort of work should contact PETER MAYNE on Camberley 24701.

Dates yet to be fixed Bridge-hole clearance
It is planned that bridge-hole clearance in Hampshire in the path of the dredger should start up again in a big way, this time using more mechanical aids than in the past. Watch this space for further details or phone DAVID MORGAN on Fleet 24469 to find out how plans are progressing.
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An additional grant of 18,000 has been made to the Society by the Manpower Services Commission to provide work under the Job Creation Scheme.

Earlier this year the Society was granted 35,000 to provide jobs for 26 unemployed people - including 18 school-leavers - restoring locks at Deepcut. Ths six-month project, which was scheduled to finish at the end of August, will now be extended until the end of this year.

Led by Frank Jones, the Project Co-ordinator, and with material supplied by SCC, the team has already rebuilt two of the 'Deepcut 14' flight of locks and expects to complete a third by the end of September. Most of the workers have come from the Camberley area and were recruited from the local Job Centre. Since the scheme started, 65% of the original school-leavers taken on have found permanent jobs with local building firms.
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The autumn programme on Inland Waterways is as follows:-
21 September Peter White, BWB Architect, 'There's more in canals than appears on the surface'
19 October L A (Teddy) Edwardes 'The Restoration of the Great Ouse Navigation'
23 November Averill Lansdell 'Clothes of the Cut'
16 December Bert Dunkloy 'Narrow Boat People and their Boats'

The meetings begin at 7.30pm and from time to time visits to places of interest will be arranged. The College is in St Nicholas Way, Cheam Road, Sutton.

Our grateful thanks go to the Pilgrim Trust for making the Society a donation of 2,000. The money will be used to help restore Frimley Top Lock No. 28.

The manificent contribution was the result of an approach made by our member Richard Allnutt. Richard's successful efforts have involved a great deal of letter writing, interviews and presentations on behalf of the Society, for which we thank him.
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2 Archive Film Show, Reading (See last newsletter)
2 Autumn Canal Cruise ( " " " )
10 Pub evening, Water Witch, Colt Hill, Odiham
10 Illustrated talk, speaker from TWA. Woking Central Halls
12 Illustrated talk, Bob Chase of Guildford Boathouse. Teachers' Centre
27 Society Club Night, Railway Enthusiasts Club

9 British Waterways film 'The World of the Waterway', Teachers' Centre
10 Buffet Dance, Fleet Civic Hall
14 Pub evening, Water Witch
14 British Waterways film 'There go the Boats', Woking Central Halls
24 Society Club Night, Railway Enthusiasts Club

3 Society stall in the Maltings Market, Farnham
12 Pub evening, Water Witch
12 Open evening, Woking Centre Halls
14 Open evening, Teachers' Centre
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About 400 boats of all shapes and sizes converged on Reading over the weekend of 12 - 14 August for this annual event.

There were the usual trade stands, boat handling competitions, entertainment and, regrettably, rain, which fell for most of Sunday. However, Saturday did see large crowds and in the evening a most spectacular cruise of illuminated boats. On both Saturday and Sunday there was a most exciting finale to the Water Safety Spectacular which involved setting fire to a boat in the middle of the river while the crew was still on board. This spectacular, which has been held in Reading in previous years, was sponsored by Courage (Central) Ltd.

The entire Waterways Festival, which was held to draw attention, in particular, to the campaign to restore the Rennet and Avon Canal, was sponsored by National Westminster Bank.
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SOCIAL JOTTINGS by Andy Gray/Martin Bowers
Society Club Evenings at the Railway Enthusiasts Club, Hawley Lane, Farnborough (on A327 Farnborough/Reading road, immediately on south side of M3 bridge). Licensed bar.
Meet fellow members of the Society on Thursdays 29 September, 27 October and 24

Society Pub Svenings throughout the year as follows:-
2nd Monday monthly at the Water Witch, Colt Hill, Odiham
9 November, 7.45pm. Teachers' Centre, St Albans Hall, Farnborough. (Lynchford Road, opposite Lloyds Bank) British Waterways film - 'The World of the Waterway'
14 November, 8pm. Woking Central Hall British Waterways film - 'There go the Boats'. A unique film.
12 December, 8pm. Woking Central Hall. Open evening.
14 December, 7.45pm. Teachers' Centre, Farnborough. Open evening.

At both these meetings members are invited to bring along their own slides and photographs.
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The Ladies of the Society will be manning a stall at the Maltings Market in Farnham on Saturday, 3 December, and they require your help if you live in the Fleet or Farnham areas. The ladies would like Fleet and Farnham members to make and donate home-made cakes to sell on the stall. If you would like to help would you contact one of the ladies listed below who will arrange to pick the cakes up, but if you live in Farnham and could arrange to deliver the cakes to the stall on the Saturday morning, this would be greatly appreciated. To all members if you want stocking fillers, some Society sales items, handicrafts and soft toys - come along and buy your Christmas presents and help the Society at the same time.

Mrs Janet Googe, Fleet 5402. Mrs Janet Hedger, Fleet 7465
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This is our first book review and we hope not the last (publishers and authors please note!)
The Stroudwater Canal by Michael Handford is the first of a concise three volume history of the 3-mile canal, which was opened in 1779 Its main purpose, which this first volume covers in detail, was to provide coal for the prosperous woollen trade in the district. The canal was subsequently linked to the Thames and Severn Canal and so formed part of the first inland waterway between Bristol and London.

Michael Handford's first volume covers the history of the Stroudwater from l729-63, including two abortive attempts to build navigations. The first in 1730 failed because of the opposition from millers against the use of their water. The second, in 1759, was a curious scheme for a canal without locks, goods being trans-shipped from one boat to another.

The author's academic qualifications are reflected in this first book covering the geographic, social and economic scene which brought about the need for a waterway. By his own admission, the scene would have benefitted from the inclusion of a map of the district but no doubt this vill be included in the next book.

Altogether a well researched book and one that will be welcomed by the Stroudwater Canal Society making efforts to restore the canal.

Available from the Society's Sales Manager. Price 3.50. Published by the Moonraker Press. DJ
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All members will know that the barge Aldershot, 34-1/2 tons register, was bought by Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society for 100 in 1975 for conversion into a floating canal museum. It was in a watery state and volunteers were called for (and still are) by David Robinson (Fleet 21376) to help dry it out and make it seaworthy (sic) and museum-like.

After being derelict for 26 years, it is now lying at New Haw, not far from the canal's confluence with the Wey, on the north side of the main-line railway. Round the corner, under the railway and a mile up the Wey, is moored, just above the first lock, Pyrford, and the Anchor Inn, the Aldershot's twin, formerly Basingstoke but re-named Rameses, with suitable Egyptian hieroglyphics. It is being converted into a houseboat.

The two were identical twins, built in 1932 at Ash Vale by the famous Harmsworth family to carry up to 80 tons, the Basingstoke numbered 4273, as inscribed into its timber, the junior 4277. They are listed in T Harmsworth's 'Boats from the Basingstoke's Past', available from the Sales Manager.

Rameses, nee Basingstoke, had been lying at Pyrford since 1944 and was in good condition generally, dry. It was bought for 50 in May 1976 by Mr Graham Holbrow of 6 Regent Close, New Haw, an electronic salesman at Weybridge, who has spent most of the long hot summer evenings and weekends converting it into a home for himself and his fiancee, Miss Michele Meadows, who works in a bank when not in the cherished craft.

First thing to be done was to raise the roof. Somebody had put on a flat one, so Graham and (perhaps rather more) his father, Mr Norman Holbrow, have added rafters above the beams and re-boarded and re-felted to give a fall of four inches port and starboard. Headroom remains at an adequate 6'6".

Timbers were found to be sound and clean. The walls were soon lined with hardboard carried along the rough footpath from the lock (towpath is on the opposite bank) and with the addition of frame and hardboard partitions, which could be rearranged if necessary, there will be kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms and lounge to make a useful home of some 600 square feet.

Full length windows each side provide adequate light, with the addition of a skylight over the lounge, which is forward and full width, about 12' by 13'.

Power for small tools or, alternatively, light, comes from a portable generator and there is ample storage space fore and aft.

Competition is a good incentive, but no prize is offered for the first completion of the veteran twins.

Mr and Mrs Holbrow - he is a boffin at Heathrow - live in a delightful cul-de-sac backing onto the cut of the Wey Navigation between New Haw lock and the Basingstoke Canal junction. They have a much-used dinghy and, on the lawn, a cabin cruiser in course of refurbishment.

In 1911 (or was it 1913?) Mr A J Harmsworth of the famous canal family, determined to maintain navigation rights, set out for the terminus (now the bus station) with a load of sand. Owing to the poor state of the waterway, the journey took three months - and then only reached Basing, about two miles from the old docks.

How would expanding Basingstoke, planned to grow to 100,000 population, rate a beautiful tree-lined canal and a handy marina to-day?
Editors' Notes: This article was written last year. We don't know whether Mr Holbrow has c.ompleted Rameses, but the Aldershot is still awaiting volunteers .. if any member would like to take it on as a project, contact David Robinson on Fleet 21376
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Ten days of effort last month have given the residents of Fleet an idea of what the canal is going to look like in the future. 440 yards of canal, west of Reading Road bridge in Fleet, has been cleared by a Hymac as part of Stan Googe's 'Sell the Silt' campaign. In total 4,400 tons of silt was removed from the canal and taken away by lorry. Of this total 3,000 tons were sold. There are outstanding orders for 2,400 tons, which unfortunately cannot yet be delivered due to the recent wet weather. To a large extent this whole operation was financed from the sale of the silt, but donations were also received to allow the dredging to continue, and our thanks go to WAITROSE LID, LLOYDS BANK LTD, MAYFLEET PRINTERS of Fleet, JOHN HILLIER, and Life Member BRIAN CULVER. Kentucky Chicken of Fleet generously donated a free meal to the Work force taking part.

The Plant Hire company MELHUISH, HINDLEY & JONES of Guildford donated one day's free hire of their Hymac. Our thanks to them and their operator, Marcus Clayton, who we understand had had only two weeks experience on Hymac machines. Transport for the removal of the silt was provided by SNOOK BROS of Fleet, and MARTIN CONLEY of Odiham. Finally, a word of thanks to all the canal staff who prepared the site and who co-operated throughout the job.

News from the eastern end of the canal is that Fred and his 'dragon' have now completed the dredging of the canal in Woking between Monument Bridge and Chertsey Road bridge. The SCC now hope to bring this stretch of canal up to 'operational standard' by inserting stop planks at Monument Bridge. This will be good to see and an excellent contrast to the derelict canal adjacent to both bridges. Fred has now moved back to Pirbright below lock 28, where remaining silt is being removed by lorry and sold by the SCC. The wet weather is hampering the operation, but weather permitting, it is then hoped to remove all the remaining silt left in Deepcut.
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TEWKESBURY is the new home of member Jon Talbot, author of Waterside Inns of the Basingstoke. We wish him well in his new surrounding.
MEMBER Roy Fowles steps into the vacancy created by Hampshire Canal Warden Robert Mew going on to Agricultural College to take an HNC in Countryside Management.
PLANT A TREE appeal in our last newsletter has so far resulted in a number of trees being ordered. Planting will start in November, so you still have time to send in your cheque to Stan Googe.

COPY DATE for the December newsletter - 1 November
Published by Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Limited, a non profit distributing company limited by guarantee.
Editorial Offices: 45 Durnsford Avenue, Fleet. Tel: Fleet 5308.
Chairman: Robin Higgs, 18 Barnsford Crescent, West End, Woking. Tel: Chobham 7314
Working Party Organiser: Roger Thomas. Tels Fleet 20316
Treasurer: Peter Fethney, 5 Longdown, Courtmoor, Fleet. Tel: Fleet 5524
Secretary: Mrs Lise Hamilton, 2 Frome Close, Cove, Farnborough. Tel: Farnborough 49651
Membership Secretary: Alan Babister, 31 Elmsleigh Road, Cove, Farnborough. Tel: Farnborough 46147
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Last updated April 2005