No. 122July 1985
Inside front cover --
AN UNFULFILLED AMBITION
One of the few unsuccessful promotions which the Society embarked upon was to seek an autonomous management of the canal. We believed that the navigation ought to be run as an entity in the interests of maximum efficiency and economy. It was argued that, since the canal was being restored to its former use as a continuous navigable waterway, it was sensible for it to be managed as such, by a single authority. For the two county councils to manage half each might, we considered, lead to greater expense, wasted effort and duplication of manpower and resources.
The Society put forward a case for setting up an independent Canal Trust, having the authority, funds and responsibility to manage the canal. First to complete restoration, and then to operate it as a recreational amenity.
It was thought that the independence of a Trust would also be the most effective way of attracting the highest possible level of private contributions in addition to grants from the local authorities, especially the two county councils who would remain the owners.
Despite persistent lobbying and acceptance of the principles of the case, the county boundaries remained an impregnable barrier.
The furthest the local authorities were prepared to go was in setting up the Joint Management Committee, five years ago. Complete with logo, members handbook and an impressive membership, representing all interested parties, the JMC certainly had the right credentials to achieve much of what the Society sought from a Trust.
But the JMC was not provided with the finance or authority to implement the decisions it took, in the way the Society envisaged a Trust would operate.
The concept of a financially independent and influential authority to run the canal remains unfulfilled.
The creation of a new Strategy Co-ordination Group, reported elsewhere, is an interesting new development. Its small but relevant membership, which is acutely aware of today's needs and tomorrow's problems, may not only prove to be a useful spur to help achieve the 1988 target date for re-opening the canal, but also pave the way to a unified management authority whose sole interest would be the proper use and protection of the canal.
THE SOCIETY'S INDEPENDENT ROLE
The Society, too, has a newly formed group which has emerged out of an apparent need to focus more attention on the Society, its identity and our independent role.
Some members feel that perhaps too much emphasis has been placed on our 'unique partnership' alignment with the county councils. In consequence we may have become less willing or even able to promote the Society's viewpoint independently and, if necessary, challenge the authorities publicly.
The Society has, rightly, moved away from the militant stance adopted during our formative years. But we may now have gone unnecessarily far down the corridors of power, meeting behind closed doors and observing the rules and procedures of the establishment.
The close working relationships built up with the county councils has, of course, been a key factor in the excellent progress made towards re-opening the navigation.
But it has also been acknowledged that the Society's independent and single-minded public campaign to save the Basingstoke Canal was the catalyst that led to public acquisition and the policy to restore it fully.
Our energies since 1973 have, correctly, been devoted above all else to restoration. But now, as suggested by our member Mike Tomlinson, we should be considering how the Society can contribute most effectively to ensure that, having saved the canal, it is adequately maintained, properly used and protected to retain its character and attractive environment.
(Top left) Jeremy and Gwyneth Browne check in two sponsored walkers at Lock 15 above Pirbright Bridge. (Top right) Derek Truman, sponsored walk organiser, greeting the foot-sore and weary at Ash Vale boathouse. Everybody's reading it... ... .(centre left) Trip boat crew organiser, Allan Prince absorbed in his copy of 'Basingstoke Canal Restoration', (bottom left) David Millett, the Society's Vice Chairman and Ken Goodwin the IWA's Chairman take a look at the book at the AGM, (bottom right) Councillor John Jewson, Mayor of Woking, with Mrs Jewson and Peter Coxhead, appears convinced every home should have a copy!
The excavated hull of the NB Seagull, a unique example of early narrow boat building, believed to be over 150 years old, afloat in Brickwork's Arm, Up Nately, for the first time since it was abandoned after
the brickworks closed more than 80 years ago. (top right) Members of the Perival Youth Club, dressed overall, brought a touch of humour to the serious business of canoeing at this year's trials on the canal organised by the Westel Canoe Club in association with the Society, at Claycart Bridge, in April. A successful launch party for the Society's new book 'Basingstoke Canal Restoration' held on the John Pinkerton on 8th May, (centre left) Robin Higgs (right) greets Lord Onslow, President of the Society, at Barley Mow Bridge, (centre right) waterways photographer and author, Mr Hugh McKnight signs a copy of his prize winning book 'Cruising French Waterways' for Lady Onslow watched by her eldest daughter, Lady Arabella, (bottom left) Mr Colin Bonsey, Hampshire's Recreation Officer and (bottom centre) Mrs June Humphries at the party, (bottom right) 8-year old Lady Charlotte spots the John Pinkerton on arrival at Barley Mow Bridge with her mother Lady Onslow, greeted by David Robinson, co-author of the book. Processing and prints: Clive Durley.
Photographs: Clive Durley and Dieter Jebens.
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WORKING PARTIES and Progress
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party — the working party, to be precise. As the future of MSC-sponsored schemes on the canal is far from certain, it is essential that Society volunteers, in large numbers, keep up the momentum on this epic project.
The working parties currently operating are listed below. It is usually advisable to contact your working party leader a few days before attending, in case of any last minute change of plan.
St Johns (or Goldsworth) Flight Every weekend
Progress has picked up again following the bad weather of the early months, and Lock 9 is now nearing completion. The second chamber wall is almost halfway up, and the top wing walls have been repaired. After that the top recess walls will be rebuilt, and then the final finishing touches will be applied.
Round the corner at Lock 8, the first chamber wall has been demolished and rebuilding work is concentrated on the upper and lower wing walls. At Lock 7 the bottom cill has been cast, and demolition of the lower flank walls and the top cill continues. Lock 7 has the usual problems of the bottom lock of a flight, with a pound of water below it, but use of the Kennet and Avon pump means the chamber can be pumped out quite quickly.
The co-ordinator of the Society's work on this flight of locks is MIKE FELLOWS on Wokingham 787428, and for further details you should contact him, or one of the working party leaders listed below.
|27/28 July||13/14 July||14 July|
|24/25 August||10/11 August||11 August|
|21/22 September||7/8 September||8 September|
JW - Jules Wood - Farnborough 515737
|(PR & KH)||(EC)|
|20/21 July||6/7 July|
|17/18 August||3/4 August|
|14/15 September||31 Aug/1 Sept|
AG — Alan Grimster — Brookwood 6127
PJ - Peter Jones-Aldershot 313076
PR - Peter Redway - Woking 21270
EC - Edwin Chappell - Ashtead 72631
KH - Ken Halls - Woking 23981
The previous arrangements for volunteers to share accommodation with a visiting group, when one is here, still hold good. Visiting groups will be here on weekends 6/7 July and 7/8 September. In addition, there is the work camp from 27 July to 11 August, when the same will apply. If you want to take up this offer of accommodation, you should contact MIKE FELLOWS to make arrangements.
Dredging in Hampshire - Every weekend
The steam dredger Perseverance is now well clear of Coxmoor Bridge, and continues to make good progress, with the tip site rapidly filling up. The presence of some of the old Army concrete blocks in this section did
impede progress for a while; but now, with a full head of steam, the dredger team hope to be at Crookham Wharf before the next winter season is finished. They are still looking for more helpers, and for further details you should contact ANDY STUMPF on Chesham 785720 or BRIAN BANE on Hook 3627.
Lock 4 (Woodham)
Second weekend of the month — 13/14 July,
10/11 August, 7/8 September
Bricklaying continues, and this party are now two-thirds
of the way to completion of the first chamber wall. This
sort of activity will probably continue for quite a while
yet, but for full details contact PABLO HAWORTH on
Lock 1 (Woodham)
Third weekend of the month - 20/21 July, 17/18 August 14/15 September.
The coping stones are now going back on the first chamber wall, and the other wall is almost complete. Preparations are now in hand for rebuilding the bottom recess and return walls. For further details of this party, operating under the auspices of the Guildford branch of the IWA, contact DICK HARPER-WHITE on Weybridge 42074 or ROY DAVENPORT on 01-979-7075.
Lock gate building
These parties are continuing work on the gates for Lock
9, and one lower gate is now complete. Dates and leaders
6/7 July, 3/4 August, 7/8 September - FRANK JONES
on Deepcut 835711 (workshop) or Camberley 28367
28 July, 25 August - ALAN GRIMSTER on Brookwood
Surrey towpath work
First Sunday of the month — 1 September
The towpath working party will restart work after the
usual summer recess, though the working location will
not be known until nearer the day. This is unskilled
work, suitable for workers of all ages. For more details
contact BERT and BETTY SCAMMELL on Aldershot
Anyone who is available for nawying during the week, even for only a few days, can normally be found something to do. Just let FRANK JONES know, on Deepcut 835711 (workshop) or Camberley 28367 (home), and he will be happy to put you to work.
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Work Camp 1985
The work camp is now upon us, and will run from 27 July to 11 August. Society navvies who plan to attend should let MIKE FELLOWS know when they will be there, and what skills they will be bringing to the job.
Full Time Team
Since the end of the MSC-sponsored scheme the Society's full time team have been hard at work; their main task has been completing the Deepcut Flight. They have been raising the towpath — with some volunteer help they have laid around 1000 tons of hoggin to provide a decent walking surface and to counter the effects of erosion over the years.
Dates for your Diary - Fund Raising News
Tuesday July 2nd,9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th
Members' evenings aboard the John Pinkerton departing from Colt Hill, Odiham at 7.30pm.
Weekend July 6th-7th
IWA Guildford and Reading Branch Rally at Guildford. Run in association with the Guildford Festival. All the usual trade shows, entertainments, etc.
Saturday July 13th
Coach trip to Bath and Kennet & Avon Canal cruise. You mightjust be lucky if you 'phone Rosemary Millett on Fleet 7364 post haste.
Tuesday August 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th
Members' evenings aboard the John Pinkerton departing from Colt Hill, Odiham at 7.30pm. The 27th is your last chance this season!
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 7th
Mikron Theatre Company visits The Swan, Hutton Road, Ash Vale at 7.30pm. Please see Social Jottings for latest information about this not-to-be-missed event.
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BASINGSTOKE COMES SECOND IN RESTORATION STAKES
Michael Handford of the publication "Canal and River Boat" has followed up his 1983 survey of the various restoration projects around the country with the 1985 version. The scoring method has been revised extensively and it is pointed out that both this and the earlier survey do not intend to give a performance rating. Rather they indicate to what extent the work on a project has progressed and how near completion it now is.
The Basingstoke again comes second, the top 10 with their percentage ratings being:
Kennet and Avon Canal - 90
Basingstoke Canal - 81
Droitwich Barge Canal - 64
Rochdale Canal - 58
Bridgwater and Taunton Canal - 58
Peak Forest Canal (Bugsworth Basin) - 57
Montgomery Canal - 56
Huddersfield Narrow Canal - 53
Union Canal - 50
Wey and Arun Canal - 49
Michael Handford notes some projects which are
expected to progress rapidly over the next few years.
These are the Droitwich, Rochdale, Bridgwater and
Taunton, Huddersfield Narrow, Royal (in Eire), Forth
and Clyde, Monmouthshire, Foxton Inclined Plane,
Chesterfield, Wilts and Berks and the Herefordshire and
The 1987 survey should show the Basingstoke up in the high 90s and giving the Kennet and Avon a run for their money!
It is highly encouraging to see all these projects and many others too numerous to list proving what can be done in terms of restoring one of the country's greatest leisure assets.
"Raffle tickets - I can't sell raffle tickets". "Money, I hate asking people for money." "Selling raffle tickets? No problem. I can sell dozens".
Which category are you? Now's the time to find out whether, after all these years, you are a closet salesperson. There are 3 books of annual draw tickets enclosed with this newsletter — 5 tickets in each at 20p a time. And if you want a tip from our sales adviser, Jeremy Browne, when you've approached the prospective punter and have been asked "How much?" always say "£1 a book". And many people will stump up there and then. Only if the client looks as though he (or she, sorry!) has suffered lockjaw at the news, should you let on that hire-purchase is available in the form of single tickets at 2Op each. (But please don't accept credit cards — we can't afford the charges.) And the prizes are excellent - £200, £100 and £50.
If you would like a few tips on how to sell tickets with least hassle and greatest success, ring Jeremy Browne on Fleet 21745. And Gwyneth Browne who this year is running the draw has plenty more tickets. She would be delighted to have your cheques and stubs as soon as possible. The address is 102A Aldershot Road, Fleet, Hants. And we must not forget our thanks to Jean Scott who has run the draw so ably in recent years.
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Yes we do have more than 8 members (p.l 1 of May Newsletter). Eighty-three to be exact. And although it will raise nearly £1,000 this year, £500 will be for the SHCSand the rest prizes. Talking of which ...
April winners: Mrs V. Spilling £41, Mrs N.Jones £20, Mrs A. Terry £11, Mr R. Weaver £11.
After the sales pitch it's nice to be able to thank all of you who joined in this year's walk, either as a participant or a helper. All seemed to enjoy it. Early back of the envelope calculations suggest that we should raise at least £5,000 of which £1,500 should come from other organisations. But although most important, money is not the only benefit we get from the walk. The publicity in local papers and radio and canal magazines generates a good deal of interest in SHCS activities more generally. A large number of people and youngsters in participating outside organisations are made aware of what is going on to improve their own environment. So thanks again to all of you who made this a success and in particular to Andrew Scammell who walked 31 miles to raise his £106.
The total proceeds look like being about the same as in previous years although they usually exceed early estimates. Should we give the sponsored walk a break in 1986? If so, what fund raising event can we put in its place? If not, what route should we have? West Byfleet to Ash Vale with its emphasis on the lock work? Or Woking to Fleet? Or something else? Views please to Derek Truman, 91 Tavistock Road, Fleet, (Fleet 3435).
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"GOOD PROGRESS MADE TOWARDS RE-OPENING THE BASINGSTOKE CANAL"
As a result of just over ten years work, considerable progress had been achieved towards restoration of the 32-mile Basingstoke Canal, reported Robin Higgs, Chairman of the Society, at the annual general meeting.
150 members attended the meeting held on 27th April at Courtmoor School Hall, Fleet.
With over 20 of the canal's 29 locks already back in working order, and another five being restored, only three locks remain derelict. Some 25 miles of the navigation have been dredged, Robin reported, leaving only six miles of the canal to be cleared.
"The canal is coming back to life again", he declared, "and is beginning to fulfil the promise we always knew it had — to give pleasure to many and to enhance the areas through which it passes".
Speaking of the future the Society's chairman said that such good progress had been made that the Society could now think in terms of a realistic completion date and the re-opening of the waterway in three or four years time.
But it was stressed that more voluntary support was still needed if the target is to be met.
Turning to riparian developments, Robin said "Our biggest headache still is the vast amount of development proposed along the length of the canal". He added that some of the worst excesses, in Fleet and Odiham, had been turned down, but he warned that the applications 'do have a habit of reappearing again'.
There was now a conservation area along the canal's Surrey length Robin was pleased to note, and added that the Society wished to see the area extended, and would ensure that it would be complied with.
The Society had raised over £30,000 for restoration of the canal and voluntary working parties had amounted to more than 28,000 hours work last year, he reported with satisfaction.
Highlights of the year's activities were reviewed by the Society's vice-chairman, David Millett. These highlights were headed by a successful rally of boats on the canal at Ash Lock last summer.
The Society had also celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the steam powered floating dredger Perseverance, with an open day for members to inspect the vessel which has been operated by volunteers to clear much of the Hampshire length of the nagivation.
David reported that the John Pinkerton trip boat service, operated on the canal at Odiham, had made a profit of £13,000 last year. Additional funds had been raised from another successful sponsored walk and from the sale of draw tickets.
Among facilities now being provided on the canal, two new slipways for launching boats at Barley Mow Bridge, Winchfield and at Farnborough Road Bridge were mentioned.
A new publication "A Guide to the Basingstoke Canal" had been published by the Society during the year and had proved to be a popular introduction to the canal, said David in closing.
The meeting went on to hear detailed restoration reports first from both Society organisers (covered in full below) and secondly from County Council officials.
Leader of the Youth Training Scheme, Frank Jones, reported that no extension of last year's scheme was envisaged because of a lack of recruits and the increased
emphasis put on training, rather than actual work to progress restoration of the canal.
Nevertheless, YTS workers had restored two of the lock chambers at Brookwood in readiness for new gates.
Although completed but not yet officially open for navigation, the 14 locks known as the Deepcut Flight, had been the centre of work for the Society's two full-time workers, making final adjustments to gate levels and paddle gear.
Mike Fellows, the Society's working party organiser spoke of further progress made by the steam dredger Perseverance, now east of Dogmersfield, heading towards Crookham near Fleet. There were three miles left to dredge, together with an 800 yard length at Greywell to complete the 15-mile Hampshire length, he said.
Highlight of the year had been an even more successful fortnight's work camp last summer, held at St. John's Woking, helping to restore the five Goldsworth Locks.
"I estimate it would have cost in excess of £15,000 if a contractor had been paid to do the work achieved by the 80 volunteers who attended for part or all of the fortnight", Mike stated.
Volunteers had also been engaged on towpath levelling and bank protection work between Ash Vale and Mytchett, last year.
Members had also continued to build lock gates at Deepcut, and clear banks and the towpath at Brookwood, Mike continued.
At the eastern end, a Society working party, led by Mr. Pablo Haworth, was restoring Lock 4 at Woodham. Another group, organised by the local branch of the Inland Waterways Association, were making progress on Lock 1 at Byfleet.
Reporting on Surrey County Council's input, Mr. Raymond Stedman, Countryside Officer, said that it had been a bitter disappointment that the official opening of the canal's restored centre length in Surrey had to be postponed last June because of water seepage in an embankment at Ash. This, Mr. Stedman went on to report, had been the centre of the Council's activities on the canal last year. In addition to remedial work undertaken by their engineers, the Council had also consulted and been advised by British Waterways Board experts who had agreed on the course of action being taken. The water levels were now being raised progressively and the length would be navigable this summer. A slipway to launch trailable boats was now available at 'Potters' near Mytchett Place Bridge.
Mr. Stedman announced that, having recently concluded a complicated dispute over boundaries at Brookwood lock 12, the County Council was planning to run an MSC Community Programme scheme for unemployed people under the management of an agency known as Community Task Force.
The County's main centre of recent activity had been the clearance and dredging of the navigation between Brookwood and Hermitage bridges, Mr Stedman reported.
The canal manager in Hampshire, Mr. David Gerry, reported that the County Council's canal rangers had continued to support voluntary restoration efforts by preparing the ground for a new riparian silt dump site at Dogmersfield.
Apart from building the two slipways already referred to, Mr. Gerry said that they had re-built an old culvert running under the canal at Winchfield, and re-dredged a length at Broad Oak near Odiham.
Some 1,200 new hedging plants had been put in and tree surgery work undertaken at Fleet and along Ash Embankment.
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1984 AND THE FULL TIME TEAM - Frank Jones
1984 had its ups and downs; mainly on the Deepcut flight of locks but also in the less tangible area of the office. Last year at this time the YTS scheme looked OK for another year. It turned out to be the final year.
The Senior Supervisor Jim Reid and his team of four supervisors were at Brookwood, and in the course of the period April to December they restored Lock 13 structurally and enabled the completion of Lock 14 to be at least contemplated by making the gates.
However the MSC began to put the screws on. The requirements of training the young people began to seriously affect the progress on the canal. New and sometimes unnecessarily onerous responsibilities were placed on the supervisors, who in general were geared to restoring the canal, and measured success in that direction rather than regarding training requirements as primary objectives. As far as they were concerned trainees were a work force of 16 year old lads and treated as such. Training was done elsewhere, off the job. I believed they were right. We are not and could never be a Social Services outpost.
We were not in MSC's good books for this and discussions between MSC staff and myself became, for me at any rate, a tight rope walk. I'm not built for such things. Against this background young people in the area did not express willingness to go on any YTS scheme and wanted either a job or the dole. By the summer it was evident that all the schemes in the area were suffering a large drop in numbers and although the rate of loss from our scheme was slow replacements were difficult to find. Ultimately by September only 10 out of a possible 25 were in post. The cost effectiveness to MSC became a larger factor. To support a large supervisor force — i.e. those capable of carrying out the work - you need a large number of lads! Something had to give. It did; the scheme closed on 30 March, ending 8 years of association with MSC, parting on good terms and leaving the door open for any more apposite schemes to be adopted should they come along.
In contrast to the apparent "down" of the scheme closure, which hovered over the latter part of last year, the lack of young people to train enabled the work to bound ahead and the more the numbers dropped the faster the work went. Just after Christmas I withdrew the workforce from Brookwood because Jim and his team had finished the structural work on Lock 13 and we could not continue at Lock 12 with cars in the way on the lockside.
All this time our other section the full time Society team of Martin Smith and Ron Wheeler were battling away with the Deepcut flight.
It should be appreciated that the Deepcut flight was restored without a set of levels being provided. This in itself is a minor miracle but besides this the bank failure above Lock 26 in 1983 brought the county council to come up with a formula for the safe running of the canal at Deepcut and indeed elsewhere. These two items, together with the Society's obvious requirement for maximum draught, conspired to give a very difficult set of problems.
Martin spent much of the year knocking the various locks into shape and since Christmas has been assisted by the MSC contingent remaining. The banks above Lock 27 have been raised but we were forced to withdraw by the bad weather. Martin carried out experiments with Bentonite clay and solutions were found to leaking cills.
Progress was marked by the John Pinkerton travelling into the pound below Lock 23 in March and then those intrepid helmspeople Chris and Janet Brazier ventured
into new territory as far as Lock 18 earlier this month.
In case some of this compares in your mind's eye very favourably with the job YOU do for a living let me tell you that one has to put in the hours on this job. In the heat of preparations for June 9th and the big push on the top pound last year one week was not 40 hours work but 103! Many weeks are approaching that figure. Mike Fellows will tell you that in this game if you aspire to lead you just do more work than anyone else. The full time force therefore is full of leaders.
Recently Jim and I, both of us of course unemployed, received an offer from the Society for employment. The confidence shown in both of us by this offer is very considerable.
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VOLUNTEER WORKING PARTY REPORT: MAY 84 - APRIL 85 Mike Fellows
It is again my pleasure to report to the Society on all the volunteer work for the past twelve months. Starting from the western end and heading for the River Wey, we first come to the dredger.
The dredging team have had a very successful year. This is very appropriate because in September an Open Day was held to celebrate the dredger's 50th anniversary when over 300 people visited and several new recruits were obtained. The team have been dredging every weekend apart from four during the Winter when ice and snow prevented work but the time was not lost as valuable maintenance was done. At the beginning of the year the dredger was at Double bridge and after removing 15,000 cu yds of silt it is now 1,500yds further, just through Coxmoor bridge. No major breakdowns occurred reflecting the value of the extensive work done the previous year.
On the top pound this time last year we were endeavouring to complete the works necessary for the June 9th opening. I confidently predicted that we would finish this work on time. Our Society teams plus visiting groups struggled throughout May to complete the Grayswood Drive section, which is between Mytchett Place and Mytchett Lake bridges. It involved steel pile and wooden planking bank protection, topped out with wooden whaling and capping. This was backfilled with clay and the towpath raised to the correct level with hoggin. The large quantity of woodwork was prepared by a small team of volunteers working evenings and it represents about 3/4 of a mile of planing. We did finish by June 9th and so completed our commitment on the program of works for this section. Unfortunately, due to leaks elsewhere the section could not be opened and it is of great concern to us all that 12 months later it is still not open.
The lock gate teams have been working 3 days a month throughout the year at the Deepcut workshop. They have completed the bottom gates for lock 11 and the top gates for lock 10. Currently they are working on the bottom gates for lock 9 and these are now well advanced. The rate at which gates are now being built is faster than we are restoring locks, however there are still a few to go before they catch us up.
After a Summer recess the bankside clearance team started work again in September. They started at lock 12 and worked through Brookwood to lock 15. For most of this year the half dozen or so regulars were supplemented by 4 D of E lads. One visit was also made to Fleet when, with 19 Army Junior leaders, the banks through the town were cleared.
The Society's main work site at St Johns has seen great progress. Lock 11 was completed in September and the teams have now moved to Lock 8. Here the bottom wing walls have been re-built, the offside chamber wall demolished and the upper wing walls are currently being re-built. At lock 9 the progress has been good. The nearside chamber wall, bottom recess walls and top wing walls have all been rebuilt. The major tasks remaining are the rebuilding of the offside chamber wall and the upper recess walls. It is expected to complete this lock by midsummer. Lock 1 is now receiving regular attention and the bottom cill has been concreted and the demolition of various walls is under way. The work here is more difficult because of the full pound of water below, but it has been made very much easier by the installation of the Kennet & Avon (ex lock 1)6 inch Sykes pump which empties the chamber in under 2 hours. All this work is being undertaken by our own Society workers supplemented by visiting groups, in particular the Kent & East Sussex Canal Restoration Group, the Kennet & Avon Newbury Working Party and the London Waterway Recovery Group who all visit us regularly.
Following the success of the first work camp a second one was organised last year. This turned out to be the biggest camp ever held on the waterways. Numbers on site varied between 35 and 45 and during the fortnight over 80 people came from all over the country and abroad with 5 foreign visitors from the U.S.A., Germany and Iceland. The work was centred around the St Johns locks and during the camp all sections of this flight received attention.
At the compound a small team built the top gates for lock 11 and these are now stored in the canal at Deepcut. Between locks 11 and 10 the canal has a very vulnerable bank on the towpath side and this had to be lined with 3 metre long piles. A different type of pile was used which is more rigid than normal and consequently doesn't require tying back. Unfortunately the driving adaptors were untested and kept breaking and as a result the job was only half done. This was very frustrating as it could have been completed, but we believe the problems are now solved and we expect to finish it this Summer. Lock 9 saw significant amounts of work with the offside chamber wall being demolished, the top cill re-built and the bottom hollow posts (known elsewhere as quoins) being cast. Lock 7 was the centre of the main activity. Here the bypass channel was constructed and the chamber cleared of several feet of silt. The latter job was mainly done by a small crawler digger, but nevertheless a lot had to be cleared by hand and there was plenty of scope for getting dirty. Finally a small job was tackled at Monument Road bridge where a stop plank base was installed. I estimated that had all this work been done by a contractor it would have cost in excess of £15,000 and this illustrates the value of such camps and volunteer work in general.
The next site is lock 4 which had a serious access problem as there was no way for materials to be delivered to the site. Thus the first job was to build a causeway across the canal above lock 3 to connect the towpath to a public road. This causeway had to be able to carry 30 ton lorries and so it took all the old brickwork from the lock to build it. It was completed by November when ready-mix lorries crossed it to deliver
the concrete for the chamber invert. Since then the bottom cill has been excavated and the offside chamber wall half re-built.
The Guildford and Reading Branch of the I.W.A. have been working away steadily at lock 1. The main task has been the re-building of the chamber walls, and the offside is now complete and coping stones are being replaced, whilst the nearside one is within a few courses of the top. The bad weather this Winter caused the cancellation of several working parties, but despite this the lower recess walls and flank and return walls have been demolished ready for re-building.
This last year has seen over 28,000 man hours of volunteer labour put in on the canal. This represents a major input and shows that the Society really means to get the canal open and not to just talk about it and let others do the work. To achieve this we have again relied heavily on our regular workers and it is for this reason that I have departed from my usual practice of mentioning the names of the leaders, for without the support of the regulars nothing could be done. So to all who have helped in whatever way I must say you can feel proud of what has been achieved in the past year.
One particular group I must single out for special mention is the Kent & East Sussex C.R.G. They have been the backbone of our successful work camps and as a result have increased their own strength and skill base enormously. It is therefore fitting that for their work on the Basingstoke they have been presented with the I.W.A.'s Chris Power Award given to the group contributing the most to restoration in the past year.
Looking ahead to this year you may already know that we are planning to hold another Work Camp and it promises to be bigger (and I hope — better) than last year's. This is the last chance we will get of being able to utilise a large number of people on a relatively compact site. Next year no such sites will exist as the amount of work left rapidly decreases.
Elsewhere you will have heard of the 1988 target date. This is the first time that it has been possible to estimate a completion date with any degree of certainty because it is only recently that a list of works necessary to finish the canal has been produced. You will also have heard of the demise of our MSC scheme and at present we have no such scheme operating on the canal which makes the value and importance of volunteer efforts all the greater. I therefore say to all you old hands, "please continue to support us", and to all others, "I appeal to you to help us in any way you can", so that we may achieve a 1988 opening.
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JOIN THE JOHN PINKERTON LOCK DOWN THE DEEPCUT FLIGHT
One or even two special trips aboard the John Pinkerton down the Deepcut flight of 14 locks is planned for Sunday, 6th October and Society members will be given booking priority. This will be the first time the John Pinkerton will navigate all fourteen locks and the trip will attract a good deal of publicity. More details in the next Newsletter. In the meantime, book the date.
Bank Holiday Weekend August 24th-26th
IWA National Rally at Milton Keynes on the Grand Union Canal. A major part of National Waterways Summer and a chance to see an unbelievable collection of boats in all shapes and sizes. All the usual fun of the fair — don't miss it!
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
May, '85 Newsletter was very much a nostalgia edition with the review of 'Basingstoke Canal Restoration', and comments on L.A. Edwards talk.
Perhaps I could be allowed to scrape the rust off my pen and join in.
On Page 9 of the Newsletter you commented on Mr Edwards comments about The Railway & Canal Act of 1888.
Indeed the point was discussed in Committee and with Mr Edwards over the telephone. For a newly formed Society with few members, little money, but lots of enthusiasm it would have been a monumental task. A Trust would have had to be formed, court actions taken — to what avail. Indeed, at that time — indeed possibly still now - it was believed that the rights of navigation were vested with one of the earlier Canal Companies. It would have been a licence to print money for the legal profession.
Hugh McKnight's review also brought back memories, I went to a London & Home Counties Branch of MA Committee Meeting. The actual conversation that led to the eventual formation of the Society was two short sentences - between the Minutes Secretary (one Graham Palmer) and myself— in the toilet.
These also were the start of a lasting friendship, but alas it would not be prudent to record them for posterity!! Yours faithfully, E.J.WOOLGAR 37, Sheldon Road, Ickford, Aylesbury, Bucks HP18 9HT
First of all, a complaint. I see from the May edition that the date for the next newsletter is 15th May. However, my copy of the May newsletter was not received until 24th May, and an investigation of the postmark proved it to be 21st May.
I was very disappointed, reading it, to find that I had missed a Members Evening on 14th May: I was in Surrey on that date and could have come along. You cannot think that as I live so far away such things are immaterial to me, 1 cannot be the only member not in the immediate vicinity, and sorting out 'locals' from those living a fair distance away would take too much time. No doubt it was a delay at the printers? I hope to receive the next edition in plenty of time.
I was interested to read of Martin Smith's cat rescue, and hope you will not mind, but I have passed details of this to the Cat's Protection League as items such as this are of interest to them. I would like to thank him, on behalf of all cat lovers.
I have made a note of the dates of the Work Camp, and hope to come down for a few days, making sure that the date will coincide with the visit of the Mikron Theatre Company!
Yours faithfully D.MAYNARD(Miss) Fell View, Gosforth, Cumb.
Editor's Note: Apologies to all our readers for late delivery of the last Newsletter, which was completed on schedule, but delayed by late completion of AGM papers.
The Society has reached another critical period in its history. It has to respond to several different needs, all of which are extremely important. Among these are:
* To retain, and if possible increase, the momentum of canal restoration to meet the target date.
* To ensure that the restored sections are put into an adequate care and maintenance basis.
* To obtain the best compromise between vested interests with the objective of having a canal environment which people will want to use and enjoy.
* To retain and extend the commitment of its members, to keep them informed so that they are supportive of any action taken on their behalf.
* To be adequately funded so that independent action can be taken, if necessary.
* To build on the good relationships already established throughout the community along the towpath and elsewhere so that we retain their support.
I am convinced that our present organisation is inadequate to meet these challenges. I believe we should reduce the Committee to five persons each of whom is elected to specific areas of activity and will have the authority and responsibility for that area through individual sub-committees. There is nothing unique in this proposal, indeed, even within our own Society, the management of the John Pinkerton is carried out by a non-elected body.
I would propose that these areas of activity are:
Chairman: Responsible for Administration of the Society, its information services and internal publicity and relationships.
Treasurer: Responsible for Finance, Sales and Fund Raising.
Restoration: Planning, Co-ordination and Working Party Organisation.
Environment: Co-ordination with Councils and Pressure Groups on the maintenance and general usage and vetting of planning applications, etc.
Public Relations: External Public Relations and Special Projects e g. John Pinkerton, Water Nobsurd etc.
Implementing this change will not affect the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Society, but will require a resolution to be passed by a Special General Meeting which should be held by the end of this year to be effective for the next A.G.M.
The way in which we respond to events over the next few years may result in anything from the canal navigation of which we can be justly proud, to a drainage waterway gradually succumbing to silting, weeds and, through consequent water shortages, unusable even to shallow draft vessels, i.e. back to where we started.
Could I therefore ask all your readers to consider the situation and let you and/or a Committee member have their opinion.
Poynings Crescent, Basingstoke, Hants. RG21 3AY.
Editor's note: Please let's have your views.
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In the News
MAYORS PAST AND PRESENT AT CANAL EXHIBITION - Tony Rozelaar
The Society was privileged to have among the many visitors to its Exhibition at Christ Church Hall in Woking Centre on Saturday April 27th not one but two of the Town's Mayors. Mrs. Margaret Gammon, a former holder of that honoured position, who gave so much support to restoring the Basingstoke Canal during her term of office, made an unexpected but very welcome appearance with her husband and it was only too obvious that she has retained her enthusiasm.
The Mayor of Woking, Cllr. John Jewson, had been invited by the Society to attend the event with his wife and declared it to be much bigger and better than he had expected. He found it "absolutely fascinating" and he was particularly impressed by the "cross-fertilisation" which was clearly apparent between the Society and other invited exhibitors, namely the Inland Waterways Association, Mayford and Woking District History Society and Horsell Common Preservation Society.
Cllr. Jewson confided that his earliest recollection of the Basingstoke Canal was when he spent time at an army cadet camp in the Aldershot area and was involved in trying to put a pontoon bridge across it.
Cllr. Jewson also has very much more pleasant memories of the beauty and tranquillity of the canal scene "downstream from Hermitage Bridge" and was emphatic that "we must make sure that this is preserved".
What was the canal's role in Woking's future? The Mayor saw it as primarily a "recreational and sporting facility". He considered that some of the former would have to be organised along the canal bank in the form of picnic areas and cafes. "If we are going to encourage boats on the waterway, we need land-based facilities to go with it", he said.
Cllr. Jewson greatly looked forward to "departing from Bridge Barn and arriving at Westminster", although he appreciated that the journey itself would take a few days!
The Mayor and his wife took great interest in all the exhibits. As did Mr. G.S. Cartland Glover, Director of Woking's Planning and Technical Services, who was also accompanied by his wife and children.
Another visitor of note was Mr. W. Williamson of Alpha Road, Maybury. For him, the photographs on display unlocked memories of his working life on the Basingstoke Canal. Between 1931 and 1948 he unloaded Harmsworth barges mainly by Monument Bridge and one of his recollections was of the owner's endearing habit of naming his craft after ladies of the line — "Roseline", "Gwendoline", "Caroline", "Madeline", etc.
One exception was "Frimley" a big iron barge. All of them were, of course, horse-drawn.
To help re-create those halcyon days, Dick Harper-White from Weybridge gave a demonstration of the traditional canal art of painting roses and castles, while other Canal Society members, Shirley and Vie Trott and Janet and John Greenfield, wore what well dressed bargees used to wear.
There were two attractively stocked sales stands; one run by Mike Phipps and Peter Tarplee of the Guildford branch of the Inland Waterways Association and the other manned by the Society's Sales Manager, Aubrey Slaughter. He was delighted at the high level of sales during the event of advance copies of a marvellous new book on the "Basingstoke Canal Restoration" by Dieter Jebens and David Robinson. At just £2.95 every Surrey and Hants home should have one!
Working Party Leader, Peter Jones, was on hand to answer questions about restoration work and new Membership Secretary, Chris Brazier, was looking exceedingly pleased after signing up several new Canal Society members.
The displays of the other Societies present did them great credit. Catherine Cracknell and Tom Shubrook represented Horsell Common Preservation Society with a photographic presentation which truly conveyed the beauty of this part of Woking and its importance to the community. Equally important is the research done by Mayford and Woking District History Society, of which their stand provided intriguing glimpses and which had as its very able ambassadors Iain Wakeford and his father.
All in all, for participants and public alike, it was a good show and thanks must be extended to Peter Coxhead, Chairman of the Canal Society's Events Commitee and his regular team of helpers for organising it so well.
Postscript: Peter Coxhead, Chairman of the Society's Events Committee received the following appreciative letter from the Mayor of Woking, Cllr. John Jewson: Dear Peter,
Thank you for inviting us to your Exhibition on Saturday. It was a living proof of the enthusiasm which over the years is gradually restoring the Canal to become once again an attractive part of the local scene, as indeed it already is a little further upstream. I think we should look forward to the day when thePinkerton makes the through trip from Greywell to Westminster Pier with one or more of our local Members of Parliament on board. We should also keep in mind the other idea of a most important visitor one day. Yours sincerely, JOHN JEWSON Mayor
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For this Summer's Work Camp helpers are required for cleaning, washing-up,meal preparation (but not cooking) and sundry other light domestic duties.
A fridge and freezer and some temporary screens for partitioning a sports hall are also wanted from 27 July onwards.
If YOU can help with any of the above please 'phone Mike Fellows on Wokingham 787428.
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NEWSLETTER ADVERTISEMENT RATES
An increasing number of enquiries regarding advertising in the Newsletter has prompted us to publish the following rates for taking space: one-eighth page £10; quarter-page £18; half-page £30; full-page £50.
Advertisements can be set by the printer from clearly typed copy, but layouts cannot be specified. Any special artwork or layout required must be prepared by the advertiser or his agent and the advertisement supplied ready for reproduction. Advertisements can only be accepted on the basis of cash with order.
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Hampshire — vacant; volunteer required
Surrey — vacant; volunteer required
Information: Hampshire - Fleet 7364; Surrey — Byfleet 44564
If you would like to take on either of the above most satisfying positions please ring either of the above numbers for more information.
Suggestions regarding speakers etc. for the upcoming Autumn and Winter series of social evenings will also be gladly received.
The most important event of the Summer still to come is the visit by:
MIKRON THEATRE COMPANY on WEDNESDAY AUGUST 7th
For full details refer to Newsletter 121. The arrangements have been changed since then. The performance
will still be at The Swan, Hutton Road, Ash Vale at 7.30pm. However tickets are no longer needed due to the generosity of Peter Nielsen the Landlord of The Swan who has most generously offered to donate the Theatre's fee. Please arrive early to secure good seats. A collection will be made on the night however and the proceeds split between the Society and the Mikron.
There will be a Barbeque available should you hunger and of course thirst is not a problem!
Should the weather prove inclement (and Peter assures us that it will not) please still come to The Swan. Contingency arrangements have been made.
Please make every effort to come and enjoy a unique atmosphere and in addition swell the coffers of both Mikron (and so help keep their contribution to the waterways scene alive) and the Society (to help us re-open in 1988!). Next time we hope to see Mikron arrive in Tyeseley by water!
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NEW MOVES TO SALVAGE SEAGULL
The recovery of a rare example of narrow boat construction, which dates back earlier than 1850, is being progressed by StanMeller and his Special Projects Group.
Dubbed the inland waterways 'Mary Rose' because of its historical importance, narrow boat experts Tony Conder, curator of the BWB Waterways Museum at Stoke Bruerne, and Philip Weaver have confirmed that the hull of the NB Seagull, lying in Brickworks Arm at Up Nately, is probably 150 years old. The unusual feature of its design is that the bottom planks run fore and aft: a method of construction which was described as a 'longbottom boat' by R.T.C. Rolt in his 1948 classic book "The Inland Waterways of England". He added that no example of this construction method existed,
which makes the Seagull discovery, over 35 years later, of much interest and importance.
With the permission and co-operation of the landowner, Mr. K. Frerichs, the Special Projects Group is preserving the excavated hull by dredging a section of Brickworks Arm. It is then planned to float the hull into the dredged area and wrap it in polythene for preservation, and recovery at some later date.
Interest in the Seagull started in 1983 with the recovery of the remaining parts of the boat's steam engine. Upon excavating the hull it became apparent that the construction of the hull is a rare example of early narrow boat building design.
STOP PRESS: The hull was successfull excavated and floated at the end of a weekend working party, 1st-2nd June.
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NEW BOOK GETS GOOD RESPONSE
The Society entertained local booksellers and journalists aboard the John Pinkerton to mark the publication of 'Basingstoke Canal Restoration', the Society's new 48-page illustrated book by Dieter Jebens and David Robinson.
Our President, the Earl of Onslow and Lady Onslow were hosts to a party of forty guests for an enjoyable cruise from Barley Mow Bridge, Winchfield to Blacksmith's Bridge, Dogmersfield to launch the book on 8th May. A buffet supper was prepared by Sonia Warner, Sandy Robinson, Rosemary Millett and Ray Fethney.
Among the guests were Mrs. June Humphries; the waterways photographer and author Mr. Hugh McKnight; Mr. Tony Harmsworth, and the book's publisher Mr. Nick Philp. Both County Councils were represented by Countryside officers, Mr. Colin Bonsey for Hampshire and Mr. Raymond Stedman for Surrey County Council.
The new book has been enthusiastically received by reviewers and booksellers. Many people have remarked on the unusual quality of reproduction which was achieved by a little-used continuous tone plate making process. Because photographs are reproduced without the usual dots, a great deal more detail is retained. The publisher wishes to promote the process for fine art and
photographic printing but is currently being hampered by a shortage of suitable printing plates in this country, and says 'The Society's book could well become a collectors item in the future because so few books have been printed this way'.
'Basingstoke Canal Restoration' is available through local booksellers from Basingstoke to Byfleet and further afield, at Winchester. All branches of Hammicks have it in stock as well as branches of W.H. Smith and Son in Farnham, Woking and Aldershot. Sales have been especially brisk through booksellers in Fleet. It is also available in Alton, Hartley Wintney, Odiham and at the Selborne Bookshop. A number of outlets are also stocking other Society books including the successful "Guide to the Basingstoke Canal" published last year.
Sales not only boost the Society's funds but also help to promote awareness of the restoration project and the canal as a whole. Every member can help us by recommending the book to friends and associates. For those living further afield 'Basingstoke Canal Restoration' is available by post from the Society's Sales Manager: Aubrey Slaughter, 37 Fir Tree Way, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants GU13 6NB, £3.50 inclusive of post and packing. Cheques to be made out to: The Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Ltd.
GREYWELL TUNNEL AND BEYOND
The question of re-opening the 1,200 yard long Greywell Tunnel, and some length of the Canal beyond, has been the aim of the Society ever since it was formed nearly 20 years ago. The Society saw the need for a new terminus with the loss of the original Basingstoke Wharf and basin, now the site of the town's bus station.
It was once thought that the area on the eastern side of Little Tunnel Bridge was almost a ready-made basin, but to restore the navigation to that extent presented a difficulty in the need to raise the level of Penney Bridge again.
Today, thoughts are directed more towards a new site for a basin just east of Penney Bridge.
Although the western portal of the tunnel is now no more than a hole in the side of a bank, with up to 200 yards of the tunnel blocked, the majority of the tunnel is in good condition save one or two damp places in the roof.
The Canal bed westwards to Penney Bridge appears to be restorable without too much difficulty, although it is very overgrown along this isolated woodland length.
The Society's current view on this area was raised by a member at the AGM, and it was suggested that with restoration of the rest of the Canal so well advanced, thought should be given to the tunnel and the canal westward.
Robin Higgs explained that the main difficulty lay in
the stability of the cutting at the tunnel's western end which presented the original builders a problem within six months of the canal's opening.
But the immediate problem was not so much a matter of restoration, but the natural history interest, Robin said, which threatens to prevent access to the tunnel at all.
Greywell Tunnel, he explained, had become a habitat for a number of species of bats for winter hibernation and breeding. So much so that the Nature Conservancy Council is planning to designate the tunnel a site of special scientific interest.
Discussion took place on a number of issues and related factors, not least that an SSSI and the restriction on access to the tunnel this imposed, would be in conflict with the common law right of navigation which still exists.
Members were especially concerned over an apparent refusal by natural history officials to discuss any sort of compromise solution.
It was felt by Canal Society members that the bats must certainly be protected but that members also wanted to see the tunnel restored: It was unanimously agreed that a compromise solution must be sought. Suggestions varied from building a special tunnel for the bat colony to a 'time-zone' which would leave the bats undisturbed during the most important hibernation and breeding periods of the year.
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SLIDE PRESENTATION TO PROMOTE SOCIETY
One of the chief ingredients to the Society's successful promotion of the Basingstoke Canal, and its restoration, are the volunteers who contribute. Where have I heard that before, you may ask?
On this occasion we mean those who have made a specific contribution, using talents which are not often freely available to voluntary organisations.
One such person is our member Arthur Dungate, a sound recordist, who has produced and directed a 26-minute audio visual slide show for the Society, shown at the AGM.
Apart from his professional skill in sound recording, Arthur Dungate is also an accomplished photographer. In this new presentation which will be used for a series of public meetings later this year, the producer demonstrates his directing ability, not to mention a professional sounding voice for the commentary.
Produced from slides and sound recordings, the presentation has the effect of a film using still pictures. Although it will be generally shown to large audiences using two slide projectors linked to a tape recorder, the film has been transferred to VHS tape so that smaller groups of people can see it using an ordinary TV receiver and video cassette player. A tape is available to any member wishing to help promote the canal's restoration.
The film opens with a brief history of the Basingstoke up to 1966 when the Society was formed. The restoration story starts with the current work in progress at St. John's. Working party leader Ken Halls, resplendent in purple shirt (you don't really work in it, do you Ken?), explains the extent of restoration work in renovating Lock 11. He points out that 13" of brickwork had to be removed before rebuilding started. By the time the lock is restored, none of the original brickwork will remain on view. It is also interesting to learn the new features resulting from restoration. For example, the invert (the brick-built concave lock bottom) has been lined in concrete to stop water possibly percolating through and erupting elsewhere, damaging the bed of the canal, as happened at Lock 17. Sluices have been constructed into
the top cill to save the expense of renovating the former ground paddles and culverts. Ken goes on to show the lock wall now incorporates a ladder and an attractive slatted wood footbridge over the tail of the lock to assist boat crews in reaching their craft and crossing the lock. And pre-cast concrete bollards which replace the former wooden posts.
Mike Fellows describes the organisation of voluntary working parties and work camps in particular — A dramatic sequence shows the bank-side piling with sound effects giving the operation an added dimension. Last year's camp achieved as much work in a year's weekend working parties, Mike points out in measuring the value of the fortnight's camp.
Demonstrating his undoubted gift for lucid instruction from which many MSC trainees have benefited, Frank Jones describes the skills of lock gate building complete with the 'celebrated fag paper' which determines just how good a seal there is between the planks. And he sums up the progress made, simply by counting up the number of lock gates needed — 118 (29 locks plus a pair for the dry dock), of which 74 had been constructed by last October.
In complete contrast, the film shows Bert and Betty Scammelland their volunteers towpath clearing. "We're the unskilled labour", says Betty with a laugh to which Bert adds "the bramble scratchers". But their work clearly shows their own expertise in making the banks safe and attractive and their concern over wild life "We don't work after May" says Betty adding "and we're careful to avoid the bird's nests".
Perseverance, the Society's steam powered dredger is well featured with pictures, logistics from Manager Andy Stumpf and the distinctive sound of hissing steam and rattling chains as the bucket takes another 4ft bite towards each weekends 140ft. forward progress. "At that rate, it will be another five years before we reach Fleet", Andy reminds us.
The presentation is concluded with a trip aboard the John Pinkerton with appropriate background music by Keith Gudgeon.
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MR & MRS A. CROXFORD - Sheerwater
MR G. LONGMUIR - Fleet
MR & MRS A. C.GILL - Horsell
MR S. B. COLLINS - Andover
MR D. JAMES - Woodham
MR & MRS J.NORTON - Chiswick
MS E. M. DANGERFIELD - Old Woking
MRR.M. HAND - London w.13
SIR MICHAEL CRESWELL - Ewhurst
MR K. MASON & FAMILY - N. Warnborough
MR J. BENFIELD - East Tisted
MR K. C. EATON & FAMILY - New Haw
MISS C. CRACKNELL - Woking
MRK. MACDONALD - Guildford
THE FONTENOY FAMILY - Woking
THE CALDWELL FAMILY - Woodstreet Village
MRR. CLARKE - Brookwood
MR & MRS P. A. TARPLEE - Bookham
MR J. G. PARK - Lightwater
MR T. HARRISON - Cove
H. J. DALE & FAMILY - Fleet
MR & MRS N. E. BUTTERS - St. Johns
MR K. CREFFIELD - New Haw
MRS M. C. R. PEASLEY - Fleet
NEW LIFE MEMBERS
MR R. C. LONDON - Charlbury
MR E. CHAPPELL - Ashtead
MR & MRS J. BROWNE - Fleet
MR R. MAY - Ramsdell
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In Surrey the County Council has fortnightly use of the new weed cutter to help keep the 5-1/2-mile pound between Deepcut and Aldershot clear for navigation. A public slipway is freely available at 'Potters', the new pub-restaurant near Mytchett Place Bridge, for launching licensed boats.
Dredging between Brookwood and Hermitage bridges has been completed and the towpath cleaned up and reopened.
Surrey provided plant and 800 tons of hoggin for the towpath repairs and levelling over the two mile stretch of the Deepcut flight. The work was undertaken by the Society's full-time team with the support of voluntary working parties.
The Council recently purchased a small mechanical digger suitable for piling and trenching work along the canal. Delivery of a new work boat is expected soon.
During the summer months the canal wardens will be trimming banks and towpath edges of seasonal vegetation.
In Hampshire the canal rangers have cleared a large elm tree which fell across the canal at Greywell, and are currently still engaged on tree surgery along the Fleet length.
Weed cutting is now a regular part of the rangers work during the summer.
Having completed drainage work at Colt Hill, a car park has now been laid out. Quite how an attractive picnic area can be integrated in the maze of tracks and parking bays remains to be seen.
The original cricket pitch and uninterrupted Hampshire landscape beyond suddenly seems as much a part of history as the commercial wharf itself.
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MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING ......
A new committee has been formed, to be known as the Strategy Co-ordination Group, which intends to concentrate on 'strategic issues primarily affecting the restoration and recreational use of the canal'.
The new Group will examine 'specific problems, feeding the preferred solution up to the Joint Management Committee'.
According to its aims the Group will be working towards a 'unified management approach' and will 'focus on operational issues leaving the political tasks to the JMC.'
The Group is a tripartite committee of six members, representing the two county councils and the Society.
Specific tasks it plans to co-ordinate are the remaining restoration programme and the targets set; future maintenance — particularly dredging, joint use of equipment, staff requirements and water supplies.
Recreational needs and the possible conflicts between
different user interests will be examined; the promotion and image of the canal; educational and information services and land needs to support recreational use.
The Society, too, has floated a new committee to be known as the Marketing Group.
Its aim is to consider ways of promoting the Society and gain increased support for the restoration of the canal. Specific areas for consideration will be membership recruitment, fund raising, attracting more volunteers for weekend working parties and educational needs to promote the purpose of the canal and so protect its environment and reduce misuse.
The Group is currently made up of seven members including four Executive Committee members. Any member with organising ability or experience in selling, promotional or marketing activities, who is willing to give the Group practical support is welcome and should contact Dieter Jebens (Farnham 715230) or Chris Brazier (Aldershot 25460).
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
SURREY SOUNDS RADIO ROADSHOW|
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For full details phone:
MARTIN (0932) 225883
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A FISHERMAN'S TALE 36 YEARS AGO ....
Our thanks to Tony Clayton of Farncombe near Godalrning for sending us the following letter which appeared in the Fishing Gazette, on 8th January 1949, seven weeks before the Harmsworth family put the Canal up to auction. 'Tench Fishing in the Basingstoke Canal
I was very interested to read in THE FISHING GAZETTE, a reader of which I have been for many years, Walter A. Lamb's account of the Basingstoke Canal under the heading of "Thirty-three Miles of Tench Fishing." I have fished the stretch of canal from Greywell to Aldershot for many years, particularly the stretch from Odiham to Dogmersfield, which he mentions. Before the war I knew every hole worth fishing, and where many big pike had their lairs, and since the war I have renewed my wanderings along these pretty tow-paths with rod and line. The canal probably holds one of the finest head of tench in the country, and I am quite convinced that one day the record tench will be caught in a certain stretch of this canal.
I was fishing one thundery, summer night last year in a gap in the weeds when the most magnificent tench I have ever seen glided into view. I and two other anglers gave our views as to his weight compared with the three fish I had caught that morning weighing 3lb 15oz, 3lb 8oz and 2lb. I don't intend to guess at its weight, but, whatever it was, it made my three that morning look rather small. The query did arise, as the light was rather bad, was it a big carp? Mr Lamb raises the query why there are no carp. Well, there are carp in the canal placed there years ago when Tunney Pond either overflowed or ran dry. Six of these could often be seen in the basin at Odiham. One was caught weighing 6lb 12oz, but what happened to the remainder I do not know. I caught one about l-1/2lb further up the canal before the war. There also used to be quite a few rudd in this stretch, but they seem to have disappeared completely in recent years — probably eaten by the big pike still found here.
Mr Lamb thinks that big catches of pike are finished. Quite recently I caught in one stretch of water six weighing between 7lb and 7-1/2lb, one weighing 10-1/2lb and several more about 3lb to 5lb, all in two hours, and the bait used was dead sprats on small snap tackle. These were caught in pouring rain and a gale blowing in a stretch of water about 3ft to 4ft deep with no weeds. The wind and the waves moved the bait quite fast downstream and that was the result. It may surprise him, as well, to hear I caught one weighing 13lb three weeks ago on a full-size dead herring on snap tackle. This fish was the most beautifully marked I have ever seen, and I have sent it for mounting to Messrs F.W. Bartlett, at Banbury. This fish took twenty-five minutes to land on a 9lb B.S. line and, as Mr Tom Morris said about his 15-1/2lb fish, it fought like a man and nearly won, biting the wire of the snap tackle clean through as it was laid on the bank. I had seen this fish several times but had been unable to get any live bait. I had asked my wife to get sprats to try and repeat my earlier success and all she brought was these two large herrings. The remark I made to her was: "Do you think I am going tunny fishing?" The most astounded fisherman on that foggy, Sunday morning was I when I saw that float go down with a smack. The previous Wednesday, while walking along the tow-path, I had seen this fish with another about the same size leaping within 2ft of one another. I do know where there are a further three, all estimated at 12lb to 15lb.
How many more lay hidden under the mass of tangled weeds, I do not know.
I remember one instance a few years back when I was walking along the tow-path with another angler that may be of interest. We saw what we thought was a large pike lying dead right against the bank. It was almost white, as if the sun had taken all its colour. The chap with me stooped to pull it out. Imagine his surprise when it suddenly shot away like a torpedo to the centre of the canal. Some visiting angler eventually caught this fish and, I think, presented it to some museum. I know a report appeared in one of the daily papers about a rare coloured pike being caught in the canal.
Big eels used to be caught here, but as far as I know there are none now. Anybody thinking of paying a visit this year and trying for the big tench should not be misled by the locals' success with the short heavy line. The big fellows aren't fools. I use a 5lb breaking strain silk line with a medium-strength gut cast about a yard long and a No. 8 hook to gut. That is about as fine as one dare go with the masses of weed here. I was only smashed once this season by a tench, and in the first three weeks of September, only fishing Sunday mornings from an hour before sunrise to an hour after sunrise. I caught five first week, five second week and three third week, and only, one of these fish was under 2lb. The biggest was 3lb 15oz. In my opinion it is not much good trying for the big ones any other times. Have your lines baited and cast out as the first streaks of dawn appear. The best times are the last two weeks of August and the first three weeks of September. Anybody who can make the early hours has a good chance of saying one day: "Well, there is the record British tench". Baits along the canal vary. Odiham end the best bait seems to be a lobworm; further up they prefer cubes of toast or bread crust. One other asset is a landing net with a long handle. I use one 4ft long.
All lovers of the canal will be pleased to know there is hardly any chance of it being drained and turned into a fast motor road. It will be cleared out thoroughly and kept clean, and the result may be fishing as we knew it in the olden days, providing steps are taken to prohibit bungs, wire loops and match hooks.
PS.—Any angler visiting this stretch of canal and wishing to see the 13lb pike is welcome to call at my address. This fish is expected back in three months' time.
The School House, London Road, Odiham, Basingstoke, Hants.
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"Tom Rolt and the Cressy Years" by Ian Mackersay —
M&M Baldwin £3.95.
As a "Roltphile" I waited with impatience for this book to be available after the announcement of it in mid 1984. My opinion is that the waiting was worth it.
By the standard of the 2 volumes of Torn Rolfs autobiography already published, this is a small book. But nevertheless, Mr. Mackersay has done a lot of research in the preparation. He has also interviewed a lot of people to get his material. Included among these are Charles Hadfield, Teddy Edwards, Sonia Rolt (Tom's second wife); he even travelled down to the Dordogne to talk with Angela (Tom's first wife). This was particularly fortunate since Angela died towards the end of 1984. He also visited the family home at Stanley Pontlarge, saw Tom's grave, and photographed the family.
The narrative is wide ranging, going beyond the Cressy years. There are extracts, for the first time in print, from the log of N.B. Cressy. There are also quotes from the unpublished 3rd volume of Tom Rolfs autobiography. Among the contents are many photographs not seen in print before. Of particular interest to canal enthusiasts is the coverage given to the "1st Civil War" in the I.W.A. This event resulted in the expulsion of joint founder Tom Rolt, Charles Hadfield, and other notable persons. Rolt in his writing has never been really informative as to the reason for this war. Ian Mackersay does give more of the background quoting Robert Aickman among others.
It is interesting to compare the history of this event, caused as it was by differing opinions of objectives, with later events in the railway world. Alan Garraway once recorded that Tom Rolt remonstialed with him for supporting restoration of the Festiniog Railway, on the grounds that such action would dilute nationwide the volunteer effort available and slow progress on the Talyllyn Railway!! Later, we have seen civil war on the Mid-Hants, and currently on the Welsh Highland Railway, proving it seems, volunteers will always disagree, exhibiting as much energy on that as they do in the restoration work.
One thing has been evident for many years, and is seen again in this book; Tom Rolt underestimated the power of his own pen, and the enthusiasm "Narrow Boat" and "Railway Adventure" unleashed. Although perhaps he did not realise the amount of leisure which society was to gain in recovery after World War 2.
We see again that paradox which cornes through in all Rolfs writing about his own adventures. The Engineer, proud of his profession, which is the kingpin of progress towards an affluent society, yet at the same time he wishes to see the status quo maintained in the rural scene. To the end of his life he never seemed to reconcile this contradiction.
As I said the waiting was worth it, thanks to Ian Mackersay for a revealing book. Let's hope that Sonia Rolt will see that 3rd volume of Tom's authobiography into publication. (Stan Meller)
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THE 1949 BASINGSTOKE CANAL AUCTION
Following on from the article in Newsletter 121 about the 1949 campaign to save the canal, Teddy Edwards has sent the following item from thelWA "Bulletin "of the period. It sets the auction day scene very well:
"The Basingstoke Canal was offered for sale by auction at Aldershot on the afternoon of 1st March. 1949. The public interest proved to be so great that the proceedings had at the last moment to be transferred to larger premises (the Traction Hall). The town was placarded with notices reading "To the Sale". Every significant national and local newspaper was represented, the Sale being constantly punctuated by the taking of photographs. A large contingent of our own Members occupied the front row,including Mrs. Aickrnan, Mr. L.A. Edwards, Mr. C. Styring, Mrs. Marshall and Captain E.L. Hughes. The waterway, offered as a first lot, was secured for £6,000 by the Basingstoke Canal Purchase Committee,
Mrs. Marshall being the actual bidder (and the under-bidder being a Mr. Chuter); who then proceeded to expend upwards of a further £3,000 upon the purchase of various vital ancillary Lots, such as lock cottages. The purchase was greeted with scenes of popular enthusiasm most unusual at an Auction, even the Auctioneer making a speech very kindly offering some warmly congratulatory remarks; these scenes being subsequently repeated in the town of Aldershot, and being followed that evening and the next morning with a lavish and enthusiastic press. The purchase was announced in all the B.B.C. News Services. The range and degree of popular approval is well indicated by the fact that at the places of employment of two Members of out Basingstoke Canal Committee the rest of the day was declared a general holiday after the result of the Sale had been announced. Seldom in recent times has a canal been so much in the news. Interest in canals in general has been greatly increased, and much added support obtained for our Association".
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DONATIONS received from Woking Borough Council for £2,000 and from Runnymede District Council for £840. Many thanks!
250 walkers this year on our Sponsored Walk. Confidently expect to match last year's £5,000 plus income from this event.
WHILST on this subject congratulations to Andy Scammell for walking BOTH ways! Know he's recovered — saw him at the Pewsey Trail Boat Rally.
NECESSARY for the punters at Pewsey to step carefully into our Sales Stand area. The local cows had been somewhat active! You daren't put a foot wrong.
SEEMS that the Millett family had a disturbed first night at the Rally — lesson learnt, don't park near diesel generators.
CONTRACT obtained from Woking BC for lock-gate construction. Should keep Frank out of mischief and has already earned the Society £2,227.
VIDEO tape version of Arthur Dungate's audio-visual presentation first shown at the AGM now available for showing to suitable audiences. Enquiries re borrowing to our Press Officer, Dieter Jebens on Farnham 715230.
6 COPING stones "half-inched" from Lock 8. Hope we get them back. Can't imagine what they could be used for!
CAN'T recommend the use of high-heeled shoes on sponsored walks. At least one entrant tried and completed the course sore and barefoot!
RAMBLE around Odiham, Sunday, October 27th. Book the date — details in next Newsletter.
TALKING of Frank Jones, liked his quote at the AGM — "You only count the winners at the finish". Frank assured those present that he is a winner and that we will see him at the finish!
DEEPCUT locks were navigated throughout from No. 28 down to the top of Brookwood Lock No. 14 on 28th May by Chris Brazier aboard his cruiser Louisa May II — the first boat down for 40 years.
BASINGSTOKE Branch of the IWA is planned if sufficient support is forthcoming. Anyone interested, contact: Wen Brenchley, 36 Stratford Road, Basingstoke, Hants. Tel: B'stoke 24692.
MEMBERSHIP Cards are no longer issued because it is felt that the expense is not justified by their limited use.
POSTMEN or women wanted for Newsletter distribution to members in the NEW HAW, WOODHAM and ADDLESTONE districts. Make your contribution to keeping the Society's running costs down by volunteering. Details from: Stuart Browning Tel: Byfleet 42024.
BOAT for sale. Fibreglass, 9W length, with 4 hp outboard. £170 incl. For further details contact Bill Bristow, "The Anchorage", 9 Kingswood Creek, Wraysbury, Berks. Tel: Wraysbury 3278.
COMMENTS on the use and suitability of the various slipways now available is welcomed. Views to the Secretary please.
SAD to hear of the demise of the magazine "Narrow Boat". Confirms the competitive nature of the specialist publication marketplace.
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COPY DATE FOR SEPTEMBER NEWSLETTER: 15th JULY 1985
Published by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Ltd., a non profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered as a Charity.
Editors: Dieter Jebens, Chris de Wet. Production: Jo Evans.
Collation and Distribution: Janet and George Hedger, Clive Durley and Helpers.
Editorial Office: 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3NJ. (Farnham 715230).
Chairman: Robin Higgs, 18 Barnsford Crescent, West End, Woking. (Chobham 7314).
Vice-Chairman: David Millett, 14 Dinorben Close, Fleet. (Fleet 7364).
Hon. Treasurer: Peter Fethney, 5 Longdown, Courtmoor, Fleet. (Fleet 5524).
Hon. Secretary: Philip Riley, Meadow Vale, Guildford Road, Normandy. (Worplesdon 234776).
Membership Secretary: Chris Brazier, Heathlands, Hutton Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants GU12 5EJ. (Aldershot 25460).
Working Party Organiser: Mike Fellows, 30 Reynards Close, Winnersh, Wokingham, Berks. (Wokingham 787428).
Dredger Manager: Andy Stumpf, 37 Higham Road, Chesham, Bucks. (0494 785720).
Working Party Information: Peter Jones, Aldershot 313076 and Peter Cooper, 01-993 1105.
Trip Boat: Ron Hursey, 119 Keith Lucas Road, Farnborough. (Farnborough 519619).
Sales Manager: Aubrey Slaughter, 37 Fir Tree Way, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants. GU13 9NB. (Fleet 23102).
Mobile Sales Stand: Martin Bowers, 162 West Heath Road, Cove. (Farnborough 513095).
Talks Organiser: Pauline Hadlow, Beaulah, Parkstone Drive, Camberley. (Camberley 28367).
Exhibitions Manager: Phil Pratt, Flat 5 Fleetwood Court, Madeira Road, West Byfleet. (West Byfleet 40281).
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