April 1983

Front pictures
Comment, Friend or Foe?
Cover pictures info
Working Parties
Wildlife of the Canal
New Trip Boat Manager
Potter's Plan approved
Sponsored Walk
Youth Training Scheme
1983 JP Season
Pondtail Br Mooring

Kiln Br site

Small boat cruises
Dogmersfield Slip -
  expert's view

Gongoozlers' Gossip

Contact the Society


    bcnmsthd50 (12K)

No 108April 1983

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Surrey Heath councillors have given their enthusiastic approval of a plan to build a canal-side pub, provide boat moorings and create a picnic area at Mytchett. Yet, less than a dozen canal miles away at Pondtail, Fleet, a proposed mooring basin has been sharply attacked. How can two such not dissimilar schemes generate so diametrically opposed reactions?

The scheme at Pondtail does not constitute any greater threat to the environment apart, perhaps, from the natural history viewpoint and that has been recognised. On the contrary, the Mytchett plan has far greater implications for the locality.

To a large extent the answer lies in the way each idea has been handled. Bob Potter has gone to considerable lengths to explain and promote the value and purpose of his planned development to a point where no­body can have any doubts about what is envisaged. The Fleet proposal, on the other hand, has been vaguely presented in terms of the actual site, size, construction or use. As a result fears have arisen through ignorance and misunderstandings which might have been alleviated by a more clearly dofined plan however tentative.

What is more disturbing about the whole episode at Pondtail is the manner in which the Friends of the Earth seized the opportunity to publicise their objections to what was no more than an outline concept.

We accept the FoE's sincerity in wishing to conserve riparian heathland which is of ecological value. But it seems incredible that they were innocent victims of a misunderstending as to the intended location of the basin, given that they researched the subject to the extent of submitting a 22-page objection to the DoE inspector at the public inquiry into Hart Council's district plan.

The FoE have certainly made their point but at some loss to their credibility.
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Front Cover
Mike Borrow's narrow boat 'The Return' being 'handed-over' to the Society for holiday charter, at the Row Barge, Guildford.
(left to right) Gordon Scott, Tony Mumford, Mike Borrow, David Millett and organiser/bookings manager, Chris Brazier.
(Bottom left) Building a by-pass weir at St. Johns.
Inside Page:
(Bottom) Youth Training Scheme recruits learning carpentry techniques at the Deepcut Workshop.
(Top) The landslip at Dogmersfield with the'Perseverance' now clear of the area.

....... or senile decay caused the editor (the Senior Partner) to announce a new SECRETARY, when he meant to write TREASURER, in Newsletter No. 10. Apologies to our Secretary, Philip Riley.
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It will soon be open season again for canal navvy-watching, and the Basingstoke Canal is a favourite venue for this pastime. So we hope many Society members will come along and, give the watchers plenty to see. For this summer, let's try to make the bottom of a Basingstoke Canal lock become one of the fashionable places to be. You might even get yourself photographed, and have your picture appear in a trendy modish magazine like this Newsletter. It could happen to you!

A full list of our working party sites is given below. As always, it's advisable to contact your working party leader a few days before attending, just in case plans are changed at the last moment.

Every weekend St, Johns (Goldsworth) Flight
Three locks on this flight, Nos. 11, 10 and 9, are now being actively worked on, and some preparatory work is now starting on Lock 8. At lock 11 the second chamber wall is now half-way up, and a contract bricklayer is well advanced on rebuilding one of the lower wing walls. Demolition work at the bottom end of the lock is about complete, so everything should bo constructional now.

At lock 10 the off-side chamber wall has been completed, and the coping stones replaced. The top hollow posts have been cast, and the footbridge is in place. The immediate big jobs now are the top and bottom recess walls, and the ladder recess. Lock 9 is still mostly at the demolition stage, but the bottom cill has been cast.

The co-ordinator of all this work is MIKE FELLOWS on Wokingham 787428, and for further details you should contact him or one of the working party leaders listed below.

Lock 11 - Every other weekend - 2/3 Apr, 16/17 Apr, 30Apr/1May, l4/15May, 28/29 May, 11/12 June - KEN HALLS on Woking 23981 or PETER REDWAY on Woking 21710.
Lock 10 - First weekend of the month - 2/3 Apr, 30Apr/1May, 4/5 June -TONY GOULD on 01-941-3014.
Second weekend of the month - 9/10 Apr, 7/8 May - PETER OATES (Southampton Canal Society) on 0703-463188.
Second and Fourth Sundays of the month - 10 Apr, 24 Apr, 8 May, 22 May, 12 June - ALAN GRIMSTER on Brookwood 6127.
Third weekend of the month - 16/17 Apr, 14/15 May - JULES WOOD on Farnborough 515737.
Fourth weekend of the month - 23/24 Apr, 21/22 May, 18/19 June - PETER JONES on Aldershot 313076.
Note: From 29th May working parties change to a four weekly rotation so that on the 1st weekend Tony Gould and Jules Wood will jointly lead the party and Peter Jones leads the party on the 3rd weekend.

Every weekend Dredging in Hampshire
The steam dredger 'Perseverance' has now more or less completed the very arduous task of dredging through the slip at Dogmersfield cutting, and easier going should lie ahead. Lately progress has been hampered by some of the barges being away under repair. The team are still looking for more helpers, particularly to train as dragline operators.

Further details contact ANDY STUMPF on Watford 37278 or BRIAN BANE on Hook 3627.

One weekend per month Lock gate building
9/10 Apr, 7/8 May, 4/5 June
This party are continuing to work towards producing the gates for the St. Johns Flight, starting with Lock 10. Further details from FRANK JONES on Deepcut 5711 (lock gate workshop) or Camberley 28367 (home)
Second, weekend of the month Lock 5 (Woodham) 9/10 Apr, 7/8 May, 11/12 June
The main task continuing to occupy this party is the rebuilding of the upper and lower recess walls, after which they will have to think about bollards, bridge and quadrants. For further details contact PABLO HAWORTH on Byfleet 42081.

Third weekend of the month Lock 1 (Woodham) 16/17 Apr, 14/15. May, 18/19 June
This party are definitely into bricklaying now, and both main chamber walls are starting to go up. For more details, contact DICK HARPER- WHITE on Weybridge 42074 or ROY DAVENPORT on 01-979-7075.

The Surrey bank-side clearance party, led by BERT and BETTY SCAMMELL, have gone into summer recess, while the wildlife is at its most active.

Surrey full-time team
They are at present working on three main fronts. At Deepcut Top Lock (no. 28), they are well advanced on building a new dry dock. In many ways this is rather like building another new lock, from scratch, though in this case the amounts of concrete which have to be handled, as single jobs, far exceed anything which has normally been encountered on lock work.

At the Ash Embankment, progress on the new weir, on the embankment itself, is rather hampered by the weather, but this also continues to move forward. Here the newness of the job is not so much in the size of the quantities of concrete involved, as in the new techniques which the team are having to employ to build this rather unfamiliar structure.

Back at the Deepcut Flight, the last lock, No. 19 has now had its gates fitted, the flight as a whole now has to be brought to a state ready for reopening.

11 'Photographic View of the Canal' Woking Centre Halls 7.45pm.
16 Annual General Meeting, St. Johns Memorial Hall 7•00 pm.
24 Westel Canoe Trials, Reading Road Bridge, Fleet.

1 Small Boat Cruise, Ash Lock 10.00am.
15 Sponsored Walk.

5 Small Boat Cruise, Ash Lock 10.00am.
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The winners of the February draw were:
Mr. J.H. Foss Mr. M.G. Hunt £19, Mrs. M.C. Wright £10, Miss P. Hadlow £10
You can still join the club but you should reduce your subscription accordingly, i.e. those joining in April should only pay £8. Details from Derek Truman, Fleet 3435.
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The Basingstoke Canal, although originally artificial, essentially represents a slow running river with water grading from alkaline and calcium rich at the western end to progressively more acid conditions going eastward. Before dredging it was nationally important for the diversity of plants present, this including many rarities. Only one other river, the Ray in Oxfordshire is comparable, and this is less rich in plant species than the canal was. The canal was also considered to be of at least national, and probably international imp­ortance for dragonflies. The south of Britain has more species of dragonfly than the north, and half the total number of species recorded from Britain were present with two thirds the Hampshire total

After dredging the canal presents a very different picture. The great diversity of plants has gone, and in addition rare and uncommon species that used to be plentiful such as Bogbean, Water Soldier, Water Voilet and Frog-bit seem to have disappeared from most former locations on the dredged canal although a few plants transplanted into the three Flashes nature reserves survive. Other nationally rare plants there were present in quantity such as Flowering Rush and Arrowhead have probably been lost from the whole area including the flashes together with many uncommon plants that never occurred in quantity, such as Slender Spike-rush. Compared to this great loss only a few rare species have survived for instance Cyperus Sedge is still present and Reddish Pondweed and Eleocharis nuttalii (no common name) have increased.

The population levels of Dragonflys are harder to assess than for plants, but although most of the rarer species have survived the evidence points to a decline in numbers that may be sustained as boat traffic increases.

The Western end of the canal is still incredibly rich in plant life with many rare and uncommon species present, this including several already mentioned as being lost from the dredged canal. In addition it has its own special range of species, including a Liverwort found nowhere else in Hampshire. Thirteen species of Dragonfly have been recorded, including eight rare or local species. The Western end besides its own special importance, being at the head of the canal could function as a reservoir for the spread of species lost back into the canal. If dredged without leaving substantial marginal bands of silt in their present state it would, undoubtedly become as impoverished as the rest of the canal.

From experience of dredging of rivers and canals elsewhere, and, given the fact that the boat traffic creating wash and turbulence will increase, it is unlikely that the former great richness of the canal can be recovered, and virtually impossible if sources of recolonisation of plants and animals are themselves lost. Navigation of the Western end, even if only a central channel has been dredged, would severely damage its wildlife importance.

The other very special feature of the Western end is the Greywell Tunnel. Six species of bat have been recorded and three, Natterer's, Daubenton's and Whiskered Bat hibernate. It is also used as a roost in the summer. Populations of even the common bat have declined by about half in two years in Britain. Of the cave and tunnel dwelling species the main cause of loss has been disturbance of these very sensitive creatures, and opening the tunnel would almost certainly mean their loss.

I do not claim that there was ever any easy answer to the damage to the canal's wildlife during restoration. No compromise on anything but full dredging to the dimensions of the original canal was possible but within the programme to achieve this canal staff and Hampshire County Council Recreation Department have been sympathetic and helpful in trying to lessen the impact of the work. The Council along with the nature conservation organisations also put money and effort into creating the Flashes Nature Reserves. The Recreation Department also have an excellent record for nature conservation in Hampshire. The canal will undoubtedly be a superb recreational facility developed by hard work from a lot of people. However, I believe that it is not helpful to disguise the facts concerning the great loss to nature conservation and the potential for further damage by dredging the Western end and opening the tunnel as has been in the Canal Society Newsletter in the past.
Editor's Note: The Society represents all interests in the restoration and use of the canal accepting that the canal is a man-made navigable waterway. That is why we are publishing Dr. Page's view. Now, we'd like your view.
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We welcome new Society members, Ron Hursey, and his wife Joyce, to the post of Bookings Manager for the John Pinkerton, Ron works at the R.A.E.

At the same time we offer our grateful thanks to Barbara and Clive Durley who set up the operating system and have done the job so efficiently since the boat was first launched in 1979.

For booking enquiries contact: Ron Hursey, 119 Keith Lucas Road, FARNBOROUGH, Hants. Tel: 519619.
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Plans to build a canal-side pub and develop boat moorings on a 3-1/4 acre site below Mytchett Bridge on the off-side bank, have been approved.

The development control committee of Surrey Heath Council has backed Bob Potter's plan which is sited above his other riparian leisure venture - the successful Lakeside Country Club at Frimley. Mr. Potter wants to develop some small ponds on the site to make boat moorings, provide a slipway and create a picnic area.

At the councillors meeting, the proposal was described as 'a good development of lasting benefit to Mytchett', and that it would help 'promote use of the canal'.
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The Society does not lack enthusiasm but money is becoming an increasingly critical factor in the progress of the canal's restdration. We need to raise every penny we can from the sponsored walk and are hoping to beat last year's record of £5,500. Moreover, we hope there will be a large number of people who join the walk because this will give them all a splendid opportunity to see how much has been achieved so far.

Please involve all your families, relatives and friends and make Sunday 15th May an enjoyable and profitable day for the Society.

Vic Trott (Woking 68607) and Derek Truman (Fleet 3435) can give you more information or additional sponsored walk forms. Please let them know if you can help at a marshal point for all or part of the day.
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After J.C.P., S.T.E,P.S W.E.P., and Y.O.P., we now have the Government's latest scheme - Y.T.S. - to cater for school leavers who cannot find work.

The Society has successfully applied for a grant under the new scheme for 25 young people and four supervisors, plus Jim Reid as senior supervisor and Frank Jones managing the group.

It is something of a credit to the work offered in restoring the canal and the way Frank has run previous schemes, that the Society has been granted funds under the new scheme which is much more training intensive.

In addition to three days spent actually working, two days each Week are devoted to training 'off-the-job' under skilled supervision. The students are currently gaining practical experience in building the dry dock and learning carpentry skills in the adjacent lock gate building workshop. They will also take a short course in social skills at a local college.

The team is supervised by Grant Charman, Douglas Sanders, Dave Herbert and David Garrett.
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1983 JOHN PINKERTON SEASON Malcolm Pickett
With our fifth operating season commencing on Saturday April 30th, plans are well in hand for another busy season. This year the boat will operate on mornings, afternoons and evenings, Wednesday - Sunday until October 16th. Public trips will leave Colt Hill at 2.30pm. on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays with the direction of the Sunday trips alternating as last season.

The process of allocating crews has started; however, we are always in need of new crew members especially for weekends and bank holidays. If you are interested in crewing and would like to attend a crew training session (usually on a Tuesday evening) please phone Roger Cansdale on Fleet 6964 - no previous experience necessary. Don't forget that each crew consists of 2 working in the galley so you don't have to steer or moor the boat.
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Members' Evenings on board the John Pinkerton commence on Tuesday 24th May at 7.30pm., leaving from Colt Hill, Odiham. For your diary Members' Evenings are as follows:-
24th and 31st May. 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th June, all commencing at 7.30pm.

If you've no boat but want to get afloat on the Canal, you can hire a rowing boat, punt or small motor boat from Bob Benford at Colt Hill, Odiham. His boat station is scheduled to re-open at Easter and he hopes to be serving coffee and tea, as well as ice cream, for refreshment, this year.
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A plan to construct a mooring basin for 100 boats with a slipway and toilets on heathland on the south side of the canal, bordered by the A323, below Pondtail Bridge, at Fleet, has been vehemently criticised by a local branch of the Friends of Earth.

Chris Hall, a Fleet member of the FoE, distributed leaflets among Pondtail residents implying that the suggested site for the basin was on the north side of the canal, adjoining local properties and would cause noise and disturbance.

The Society was instrumental in arranging a public meeting to allay fears that the basin constituted a threat. David Dixon explained on behalf of Hampshire C.C.'s recreation department, that the proposed site was the most suitable of a large number which had been investig for a mooring basin along the canal. The County Council had taken many aspects into consideration, including the effect on local residents, ease of access and engineering costs. The only real objection to the proposed site was the ecological effect and the Council had approached the MoD, as the landowner, to buy the wet heathland for conservation.

Canal manager David Gerry, explained that the basin would not be a public recreation space, and David Millett, for the Society, pointed out that only about 10% of the boats moored would be in use at any time.

Speaking on behalf of the Friends of the Earth, Chris Hall acknowledged the confusion over the siting of the basin which had not been made clear in Hart District Council's plan. He felt that the meeting had 'thrown new light' on the proposal and that it was probably, 'not as bad as he had at first thought'. He remained concerned about the ecological aspect and the fact that HCC was also interested in preserving part of the area as a nature reserve was, he said, 'Good news'.
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The land on which the Society's well established work compound sits beside Lock 11 at St. Johns, Woking, has recently been sold to a property development company. Unfortunately this land is currently zoned as an area for commercial/ residential development and any planning application would naturally pose a serious threat to the Society's continued use of the land. Should the Society be forced to vacate the site it would seriously jeopardise the restoration of this section as there is nowhere else within the vicinity of these locks to establish a comparable work site.

It has always been the Society's and the IWA's hope that this area would be retained as a piece of open land in public ownership for the benefit of future generations providing an attractive means of access to the canal.

The Committee is currently in close contact with the relevant planning department and making every effort to safeguard the continued existence of the compound.
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The Society and the IWA (Guildford and Reading branch) plan to run a series of small boat cruises during 1983. They will take place on the first Sunday in each month, April to October inclusive. Because of the non existance of slipways (Ash Lock slipway will not be available to us for 1983) these cruises will only be suitable for boats that can be slipped over the bank.

IWA organised 3 April, 5 June, 7 Aug and 2 October.
S.H.C.S. organised 1 May, 3 July, and 4 September.
All starting 10 - 11am. from Ash Lock except IWA 5 June, from Colt Hill, Odiham and 2 October to be advised.
Full details from Tony Davis IWA, Weybridge (0932) 44261 OR Vic Trott, S.H.C.S. Woking 68607.

The canal west of Ash Lock is passable by small boats and we hope that many will come on the above dates and so put some life back into the restored length. For those who do not have canal licenses, they will be available from the organisers at the start of each cruise:- single seat unpowered, £3 , multi seat unpowered £5, up to 14' powered £10. Short term license (15 days) at half the above rates.
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This Society has come a long way in terms of canal restoration. There is still a lot to do but we should be proud of what has already been achieved. How many members or supporters have actually visited the sites where we have succeeded in returning the canal to its former glory?

I write to ask if anybody has considered organizing day tours to the places of interest and achievement along the cut, for instance, Greywell, Colt Hill, Broad Oak, Perseverance, Cowshot Bridge, the locks to name but a few. Who knows other canal societies may also be interested in seeing what we have done. I can't help feeling there must be at least one coachful of people who would find this proposal of interest which could also be used to swell the coffers of the Society. It just needs somebody to volunteer to organise it. Any offers?
Malcolm Pickett.
Stoney Close, Yateley, Camberley, Surrey.

The Odiham Society is organising a special weekend of activities on 18th - 19th June for visitors to the town. Apart from cricket matches and Morris dancers, there will be guided tours including the historic Rest House. The Society will be organising public trips aboard the 'John Pinkerton'.
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AN EXPERT'S VIEW OF DOGMERSFIELD SLIP - Robert Cater (H.C.C. Materials Engineer)
In 1981 the south batter of the cutting for the canal near Dogmersfield showed signs of movement when the canal was being dredged. Hereabouts the cutting is some 7yds deep and appears to have been first constructed way back in 1790.

Inspection of the foundered soils by Geotechnical Engineers of the Hampshire County Surveyor's Department suggested that the form of the collapse was of a 'slip circle' type about 80 metres long. It appeared to be consistent with the ground not having sufficient strength to stand up at the required slope angle and height.

A Borehole was sunk through the ground at the top of the cutting and this revealed a sequence of dense sands and stiff fissured clays. The water table in the ground was found at a depth of 4m below ground level, i.e. about 3m above canal level. The slip is very interesting from a geological and civil engineering point of view, in that it has been known for many years that clays (in particular) exposed in cuttings lose strength with time. The present failure of the cutting cannot in any way be attributed to negligence on the part of the Contractor who first built the canal, for it seems likely that the slope which he built was stable for the strength of the clay at the time. Subsequent natural reduction in the strength of the clay has allowed an imbalance to develop between those forces tending towards failure (such as the unsupported weight of ground due to the batter and its height) and the restraining force (such as the 'cohesion' or natural strength of the clay).

The last straw aeems to have been the removal of previously slipped material lying in the canal along with the canal silt by the steam dredger. This work has thrown the opposing forces out of balance. Inspection of the cutting in the general vicinity suggests that similar slips might have taken place in the distant past on similar lines to that which has recently appeared.

The cutting is probably one of the oldest still existing in Hampshire. Hence this makes it an excavation worthy of study from the point of view of throwing light on the natural softening of clays.

The remedial works which are to be carried out consist essentially of digging out all the foundered soil which has moved, flattening the lower parts of the slope bordering the canal itself and constructing a retaining wall made out of stone filled wire gabion baskets to hold up the slope to something like its original batter angle. These measures will mean there will be very little disturbance to the land at the top of the batter.

A typical cross section through the canal cutting, showing the profile at the time of failure and the proposed remedial works is illustrated on the inside front cover.
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Details are now being finalised for the Summer Work Camp to be held on the Goldsworth Locks, St. Johns, Woking. Starting on Saturday 30th July, the fortnight's work will be led by Ken Parish of Kent and East Sussex IWA and the main task will be the construction of the bypass channel at lock 8.

Accommodation will be available locally and all will be welcome for either a few days or the whole fortnight. Application forms will be enclosed with the next Newsletter but now vou know the dates - book your holiday now!
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ONLY two weeks now available on Society's Holiday Narrowboat, June 4th and September l0th - both £115. Don't delay, join the fortunate few having a half price holiday by phoning Aldershot 25460.
THANKS to Tony Harmsworth for replating the hopper on the 9 foot barge.
BRAND new Society member arrived safe and well on 9th March weighing 51bs. l4oz. Congratulations to Anne and Nigel Durley on the birth of their first born, Adam David.
BI-MONTHLY :ramble in May canoalled - why not try the Sponsored Walk and raise money as well. Next ramble, Crompton, July 10th Details later.
FOLLOWING good response to 'Come and Join Us' in last Newsletter, Rosemary Millett (Fleet 7364) would like to hear from anyone who is prepared to do handicrafts at home.
GRATEFUL thanks to the Independent Order of Foresters for their donation of £200 and to Lloyds Bank for £100.
FESTIVAL at Guildford, July 7 - 17 will include boat procession, regatta, crazy raft race and canoeing. Also planned are ox-roast, theatrical events and medieval fair. Details on Cranleigh (0483) 274754.
KEEP a watch on the 'John Pinkerton' at Colt Hill if you are passing. Following recent vandalism, if you see anyone acting suspiciously, ring the Police.
FOLDING pedal bike wanted aboard the John Pinkerton for use in an emergency to summon help quickly. Any offers?
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Published by the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society Limited, a non­profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered as a charity.
Editors: Dieter Jebens, Janet & Chris Brazier: production Diana Snow and Cecil Eynon.
Collation & distribution: Janet &. George Hedger, Clive Durley and helpers.
Editorial office: 75 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey GW10. 3NJ. (Farnham 715230)
Chairman: Robin Higgs, 18 Barnsford Crescent, West End, Woking (Chobham 7314).
Vice-Chairman: David Millett, 14 Dinorben Close, Fleet (7364)
Hon. Treasurer: Peter Fethney, 5 Longdown, Courtmoor, Fleet (5524)
Hon. Sec.: Philip Riley, Meadow Vale, Guildford Rd., Normandy (Worplesdon 234776)
Membership Sec: Ted Williams, 36 Kestrel Rd., Basingstoke (61579)
Working Party Information: Peter Jones, Aldershot 313076 and Peter Cooper, 01-993-1105
Trip Boat: Ron Hursey, 119 Keith Lucas Rd., Farnborough (519619)
Sales Manager: Aubrey Slaughter, 37 Fir Tree Way, Fleet (23102)
Talks Organiser: Pauline Hadlow, Beaulah, Parkstone Drive, Camberley (28367)
Exhibitions Manager: Phil Pratt, 26 Fleetwood Court, Madeira Rd., West Byfleet (40281).
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Last updated April 2005