No. 137 January 1988
RESTORING THE TUNNEL AND BEYOND
THIS Society was founded to save and restore as much of the Basingstoke Canal as possible. That was twenty years ago. At the beginning it was decided to concentrate on the Greywell to Byfleet length to establish our credibility. But it has always been our stated intention to consider re-opening the tunnel and as much of the canal westwards as is practicable.
Now that our primary objective is nearing completion, more time is available to assess the problems of further restoration. In 1968, when the Society published 'Basingstoke Canal: The Case for Restoration', the construction of the M3 Motorway crossing the canal at Hatch was the major problem. Today the protection of the bat colony in the tunnel is a key factor.
This issue of BC News features 'Greywell Westwards', the subject of the Society's exhibition at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke last May, which attracted a good deal of interest.
The Society is sometimes accused of seeking to restore the tunnel regardless of the bats. This is totally untrue. The bat colony is protected as a Special Site of Scientific Interest and we would do nothing to endanger it.
But a genuine consideration for the needs of wildlife should not preclude investigation of ways in which the tunnel may be restored and re-opened for navigation. To that end one of our members has outlined an interesting suggestion for a tunnel exclusively for bats, having all the conditions that make Greywell so attractive to them.
Local naturalists could show a greater willingness to consider how wildlife can be protected other than by legal powers and padlocked gates.
Restoration of the canal west of the tunnel can only improve the environment. The long neglected channel is filled with black mud, stagnant water and decaying trees which have fallen in. At one place it has been used as a dump for old car tyres and at another a sewage infall has been reported. By clearing the abandoned navigation and towpath both the local community and wildlife would benefit greatly.
The 3/4-mile tunnel at Greywell is a special feature on the canal and a monument to the skills and simple tools used by the 18th century engineers and navvies who constructed it. While generally sound, deterioration is accelerating. It should be renovated for safety's sake, and the longer it is left the more costly the job will become.
By re-opening the tunnel and gaining access to the western length, a new terminus basin could usefully be constructed at Up Nateley. Restoration would also give access to water supplies at the western end.
The canal west of the tunnel could also serve as a valuable reservoir for the whole waterway by renovating lock 30 in Greywell cutting.
Is it worth it? That's the question often posed when all other opposition fails.
To those who care about preserving, utilising and enjoying our heritage the answer is an unequivocable 'Yes'.
It's like asking an enthusiast of old steam engines rusting away at Barry, is it worth the cost of renovation? Or others who restore antiques, old cars, historic buildings, boats or anything else.
The value may not be quantifiable. Indeed, the cost — in terms of time, effort and actual cash spent on the project — may seem out of all proportion to the end product.
But there is no doubting the intrinsic value of revitalising past endeavours to enrich our present day lives and environment.
And in the case of the tunnel and canal there are practical benefits for recreation and the operation of the waterway as a whole.
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FACT OR FANTASY?
British Waterways Board (BWB) is putting up boat licence fees and mooring charges by an average of 15 per cent, above the rate of inflation, phased over the next three years.
We're not disputing the increase — that is for boat owners to comment upon. It's the promises that go with the pronouncement that are so irritating.
To quote from the statement issued by BWB, 'it (the increased revenue) will enable them to put extra effort into improving the range of leisure activities available on the waterways and British Waterways stress that a range of benefits for users is included in the package. The long term development programme will include the provision of more facilities and a reduction in the arrears of maintenance which now stands at £154 million.'
Sounds like good news, after all. But is it?
Revenue from boat licences and mooring fees amounted to £2.9 million last year. A 15 per cent increase amounts to £433,000 over three years. That is less than 1/2 per cent of the maintenance arrears alone.
The increased charges may well be justified but the revenue is certainly not the key to the promised haven. The truth of the matter, which BWB politely hints at, is that the purchasing power of the Government's grant, amounting to two thirds of the Board's annual income, has decreased by 8 per cent over the past two years. And that, perhaps, is the more depressing reason why BWB is knocking at your cabin door.
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HAVE A HEART
Hart Council Chairman, Cllr John York, believes the Basingstoke Canal is the finest recreational amenity in the district. So you'd think that when asked to contribute towards a new maintenance dredger, Hart would be only too willing. Not so. Apparently the Council cannot afford to help, and in any event it's the County's responsibility.
Yet Hart Councillors have just voted to spend £2,700,000 on a new luxury swimming pool.
Money well spent, no doubt, but so would a few thousand pounds on helping to maintain the most attractive 12 miles of recreational amenity running through Hart's district.
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[Front cover] Eastern portal of Greywell Tunnel showing the corner of the gate inside to prevent unauthorised entry. An attractive hedgerow once bordered the footpath across the top of the tunnel which has been replaced by a close-board fence.
(Inset) The last barge to Basingstoke. The crew preparing to leg through Greywell Tunnel during the winter 1913-14.
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WORKING PARTIES and Progress - Peter Cooper
This, it seems, is now IT ... This is the first newsletter dated 1988, which is of course the year when it's all finally going to come together and happen ... and of course all Society members will be there, manning the barricades, the pumps, the lifeboats, or whatever requires to be manned to complete the restoration of a canal. Such a work force as never was seen before — just for 1988.
The working parties whose ranks this mighty force will swell are listed below. It's usually advisable to ring your working party leader a few days before attending, in case there's a last minute change of plan.
Woodham Locks 2, 3 and 4 Every weekend
Quite a lot of work has been concentrated lately on Lock 3, as there is a requirement to rebuild the flank and return walls so that a new footbridge can be put up in December. These walls are now well advanced.
Lock 2 has seen a bit more work recently. The coping stones have been replaced on the first main chamber wall, the other main wall is being demolished, and the bridge is being erected.
At Lock 4, all the coping stones are now back on the flank and return walls, and only a little work remains to complete the bottom end of the lock. The upper recess walls have now been started, apart from which there are the bottom hollow posts, the bridge and sundries to do.
The coordinator of the Society's work on this flight is MIKE FELLOWS on Wokingham (0734) 787428, and for forther information you should contact him, or one of the working party leaders listed below. The working parties, with the locks they work on, are listed below: —
First weekend of the month — Locks 2 & 3
2/3 January, 6/7 February, 5/6 March
PETER JONES on Aldershot 313076
Second weekend of the month — Lock 4
9/10 January, 13/14 February, 12/13 March
PABLO HAWORTH on Byfleet 42081
Third and fifth weekends of the month - Locks 2 & 3
16/17 January, 30/31 January, 20/21 February, 19/20 March
PETER REDWAY on Woking 21710
Fourth weekend of the month — Locks 2 & 3
23/24 January, 27/28 February, 26/27 March
JULES WOOD on Farnborough 515737
When working on these locks, volunteers are asked to park their cars in the large car park near West Byfleet station. Please do not use the small car park by Lock 2, and please do not bring your car down the small lane (Paris Lane) leading to Lock 3.
Dredging in Hampshire Every weekend
The steam dredger Perseverence is now 150 yards short of Malthouse Bridge; passing through this bridge is expected to be a major exercise, but the dredger can then be said to have arrived in Fleet. This has not been the most rewarding year for the dredger operation; a sequence of breakdowns, involving just about each of
the team's major pieces of equipment, meant that 21 weekends were lost up to the time of the Great October Gale. This then caused another four weekends to be lost — notably because a tree fell on the dredger, damaging the recently repaired safety valves. Work was expected to restart in mid-November.
Regular dredger crew should contact the crew organiser ROGER FLITTER on Fleet 622956; other details from ANDY STUMPF on 0923-778231 (work) or Chesham 785720 (home) or from BRIAN BANE on Hook 3627. Lock gate building
Gates for the St John's Flight are being completed, afte which there will be more work in the same vein. Dates are:-
2/3 January, 6/7 February, 5/6 March
Details from FRANK JONES on Deepcut 835711
(workshop) or Camberley 28367 (home).
Woodham Lock 1
By mid-November all structural work was complete at this lock, and only a bit of landscaping and a few other small jobs remained to be done. So an epic eleven year job was complete, and the Society would like to thank the Guildford branch of the IWA for their dedicated efforts over the long haul that has been needed to restore this lock. Assorted elements, particularly the high water table and local vandalism, made this a more difficult tasl than most, and we must thank and applaud DICK HARPER-WHITE and his team for sticking at the job, and bringing the lock to successful completion.
Surrey bankside work
First and third Sundays of the month - 3 January,
17 January, 7 February, 21 February, 6 March, 20 March.
This party is continuing to work in the Woking area, helping to prepare for the canal's contribution to the Woking 150 celebrations. The work is unskilled and suitable for family parties. Further details, including exact work site and meeting place, from PETER JACKMAN on Woking 72132.
Full time work
The team of full time workers has been completing the gating of the locks of the St John's Flight, which has reached the top gates of Lock 7, and they have also been raising the towpath along this flight. Further west they have assisted in the works in progress to return the Hermitage Bridge houseboats to their final mooring points. The purely safety related work at Langmans Bridge (by Lock 7) has been completed, but nothing else can be done until plans have been approved in the appropriate places.
If you are able to come along and work on the canal during the week, even if only for a few days, then you should contact FRANK JONES on Deepcut 835711 (workshop) or Camberley 28367 (home), and he will be happy to find you something to do.
This is just to bring your attention to the Working Week planned for Easter, which is described more fully elsewhere in this newsletter from Peter Jones (see letters).
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IN THE NEWS
A pine tree that smashed a balance beam and damaged the footbridge at Deepcut Lock 23.
The crew on the John Pinkerton cutting a passage past a fallen oak tree at Ash Vale.|
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HURRICANE CLAIMS MANY TREES
AS many as 300 trees along the length of the canal fell victim to the hurricane force winds which scythed a path across southern counties in the early hours of October 16th last.
Huge oaks, chestnuts, beeches and Scots pines were among many fine trees lost which were a feature of the waterway.
Fortunately, the channel was not breached as large portions of banksides were ripped up.
It was feared that a 60-year old oak, which fell across the steam dredger Perseverance, had damaged the boiler. But an inspection revealed that, apart from damaging a steam valve, now repaired, only the superstructure was dented and the boiler was intact. Miraculously the jib, crane and the 10-ft funnel, escaped damage.
At Deepcut the canal and surrounding woodland looked like a battlefield — trees fell in large numbers, lying at all angles as if a bulldozer had run amock.
Almost every lock on the Deepcut flight was straddled by fallen trees. At lock 22 a massive Scots pine damaged the footbridge and snapped a balance beam in half. Two houseboats at Woodharn broke free of their moorings and one had a large tree branch fall on it but was not damaged.
Despite many priority calls to remove fallen trees threatening homes, property and blocking roadways, both county councils were quick to start work on organising clearance of the navigation and towpath, helped by volunteers, including the Westel Canoe Club and Perseverence crews.
Essential work is expected to have been completed by the time this issue is published. But further voluntary working parties will be held to clear up and bum the debris. Suitable work for all the family, so please volunteer - phone David MiUett on (0252) 617364
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Surrey Waterways by P.A.L. Vine
Published by Middleton Press £6.95
96 Pages 120 Black and White Pictures
This glossy hard-backed publication, the latest offering from Paul Vine, provides an excellent pictorial introduction to some of our local waterways. Navigations covered are the Croydon, Grand Surrey and Wandsworth Canals plus the River Wey, but only half the Basingstoke and Wey & Arun Canals, These sections have been omitted because they exceed Surrey's county boundaries.
The book gives a concise resume of historical facts, from the 'Canal Age', through a seemingly endless period of total neglect, right up to the present age of enlightenment, fuelled by dedicated enthusiasts, to provide a positive future chapter in our local history.
The copiously illustrated format affords a wealth of visual information for any waterway enthusiast. It is extremely difficult to portray any idea of how some of these canals would have appeared in their prime, for the years of abandonment have erased complete sections almost totally. Mr Vine has contrived, through judicious use of period maps, sketches and paintings, with a blend of old, comparatively recent and up to date photographs, to give an informative insight into the many changes
brought through the years.
In addition, a number of old postcard pictures have been reproduced, with surprisingly, a well-known example of Victorian 'artistic license' included, which involved the insertion of a pleasure craft to a scene near Ash Vale on the Basingstoke Canal.
Each navigation is presented in alphabetical rather than geographical order. This can be somewhat disorientating, especially with the separation of the River Wey into the section below Guildford and the later section to Godalming, with two chapters on London canals in between.
The Basingstoke Canal (eastern end) is given the greatest coverage with 32 pages, compared with only two pages for the Wandsworth Canal - almost directly proportional to their relative lengths. Each individual chapter can only be located by the photographic numeration as the pages are not identified.
It is unfortunate that a number of erroneous details have appeared in the text, but overall the detailed research and competent presentation of facts with the unique collection of interesting photographs makes this book a sure winner. (Howard Diamond)
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ALL SHIP SHAPE AND BRISTOL FASHION - Stan Meller
THE party that gathered before 7am at Reading Road Wharf on October 11th for a visit to Bristol was welcomed by David and Rosemary Millett, and David was heard to say that it was the first time he had organised an outing that started in the dark!
First we had a trip aboard the 'Balmoral'which gave the party a breathtaking view of Brunei's Clifton suspension bridge as she entered the Avon Gorge for the cruise down to Portishead, where we disembarked to rejoin the coach for the return trip to Bristol.
The next stop was at Brunei's first iron steam ship 'Great Britain' and Maritime Heritage Museum, followed by a short break for a snack lunch. The well known expression at the head of this report was seen displayed many times in the dock area, with justification, for the authority responsible deserves a bouquet for the way in which they have redeveloped the site into a leisure amenity.
The final item on this busy programme was a cruise round the floating harbour on the narrowboat 'Redshank'.
Thanks are due to Rosemary and David for promoting what was a wonderful day out. There was so much to see that boredom was impossible, indeed there was not enough time to see the best of so much that Bristol has to offer to those interested in industrial history. 'Tell your friends about us' was the last words of Bob our guide to the 'Great Britain', this we have pleasure in doing.
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ARTIST'S EXHIBITION TO FEATURE CANAL
LOCAL landscape painter and member, Terry Harrison, has an exhibition of his work at Hartley Wintney's Century Gallery for a fortnight starting April 4th. Among the landscapes on show, many showing Hampshire country scenes, will be a number of Basingstoke Canal paintings at Wharf Bridge, Barley Mow Bridge and along the Crookham Village length.
Last year two of Terry Harrison's paintings were selected by one of the country's leading print publishers. He studied at Farnham School of Arts and gained a reputation as an aviation artist.
He has been painting landscapes full time for the past five years and counts the Basingstoke Canal as his favourite haunt.
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ANOTHER PROFITABLE YEAR
THE trip boat company is expected to announce a profit of £12,000 from operating the John Pinkerton last season. Although £575 down on the previous year, the profit represents a significant amount of the Society's income. Explaining the shortfall, the Company's Treasurer, John Elliott, said, "While bookings were heavier than ever, we spent more on promoting the service and were forced to spend a good deal more on maintenance".
Since the boat was launched in May 1978, the John Pinkerton has made a total profit of over £90,000.
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TRIP BOAT'S NEW BASE
BARLEY MOW Bridge will be a new base for the John Pinkerton this year. It has been chosen because there is an official car park at the site, and to operate one hour public trips down to Blacksmith's Bridge and back which is a very attractive length. The boat will spend six weeks at Barley Mow Bridge starting on 2nd June through to 17th July.
Most of the season will be spent at the boat's original base at Colt Hill, Odiham. "The trip to King John's Castle remains by far the most popular cruise", said Roger Cansdale, the company's chairman, in making the decision.
Although charter trips will not start until 30th April, the boat will operate public trips over the Easter holiday from Colt Hill.
Highlight of the year is expected to be the John Pinkerton cruise down to Woking and public trips during the 'Woking 150' celebrations at the end of May.
Charges for public trips will remain unchanged but charter fees are going up and will range from £95 for a Saturday evening cruise down to £45 for school parties. Full details can be obtained from Tony Karavis, Bookings Manager, Farnborough 549037.
New lift-bridge delay?
Tenders for the new lift-bridge at North Warnborough were not expected to be invited until December of last year with completion anticipated by mid April. But Hampshire's engineers warned that the new bridge may not be operational until May.
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FREE ENTRY TO WOKING BOAT RALLY
BE AMONG the first boaters to navigate through Woking for 20 years or more, and celebrate the 200th anniversary of the year construction work started in 1788.
The event takes place on 29th and 30th May and is part of 'Woking 150' marking the opening of the railway from London.
There's no charge to enter your boat but registration is necessary to book a mooring space and for catering arrangements. A full water festival programme of entertainments is planned.
The last rally of boats in Woking took place in 1962 in protest at its decaying condition. This year's rally celebrates the canal's re-opening but there is also a campaigning purpose. Woking's waterside is in for some major changes in the next ten years. And they may not necessarily enhance the navigation. Boat rallies never cease to impress councillors just how attractive a waterway can be and its unique amenity value.
So, please join the Woking rally and help bring the canal back to life as only boaters can do. Application forms from: Mrs V.M. Millard, 5 Lara Close, Chessington, Surrey, KT9 2PF.
DATA PROTECTION ACT 1984
In accordance with this Act, members are notified that their Names, Addresses and Membership Numbers are stored in a computer database for the sole purpose of producing Address Labels for the distribution of the Society's newsletter. This information will not be sold or disclosed to non-members. Any questions or problems should be addressed to the Membership Secretary.
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HOUSING SPREADS WESTWARDS
DEVELOPERS seeking to build 27 new homes on part of Freelands Farm, off Gally Hill Road at Church Crookham, have won their appeal against the local council's refusal to grant them planning permission. In giving the go-ahead the Secretary of State for the Environment said that the development would not create a precedent for more houses to spread over the rest of the farmland and beyond to Velmead Farm.
But the Society, having monitored the increased house building westward from Fleet, is less optimistic. "It is this creeping development that eventually ends up in full scale development", observed the Society's vice chairman, David Millett who is concerned with development along the Hampshire length of the canal. And the Society points to the scale of the associated roadworks which are clearly designed for considerably more traffic.
Incidentally, a few years ago the development company that owns the farmland planted a screen of conifers (quite out of character with the surrounding natural vegetation) along the canal bank, south of Malthouse cutting, blotting out the view across open pastureland from the canal. And so, presumably, overcoming one of our objections to development that it would spoil the view!
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COUNCIL BUYS FORMER WHARF
THE only open space alongside the canal in Fleet has been bought by Hampshire County Council. The area, Reading Road Wharf, has become a popular centre for canoe training and events, it is hoped the wharf will be landscaped and a car park provided to make an attractive and useful amenity.
The Society's vice-chairman, David Millett, has successfully influenced the Council's decision to instal traffic lights instead of a roundabout at the entrance to the wharf where there is also a road junction which is to be improved for safety. The roundabout scheme would have utilised part of the wharf. David Millett also alerted councillors to the need for an additional signal phase to provide vehicles access to the wharf which had not been incorporated in the initial plan.
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HOTEL BACK ON BREWERY ROAD CAR PARK
A new proposal has been submitted to Woking planners for a hotel to be built on the Brewery Road car park site allowing a small space for a boat basin which, it is reported, would be mainly for use by hotel guests.
This is in contrast to an imaginative plan, put forward at one time, for the car park to be turned into a water space recreational area for moorings, a boating centre and quay-side craft shops, a pub and other attractions, making the canal a unique amenity feature in the centre of the town. The idea was abandoned for a large hotel, which councillors later rejected, and it was hoped that serious thought would be given again to the boat basin proposal.
The canal is arguably Woking's biggest potential attraction, both to enhance an otherwise bland landscape of office buildings and shopping centre, and to provide a unique amenity.
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WAITING LIST FOR BOAT LICENCES
THERE are currently 20 boat owners who have been refused licences for motorised craft on the canal because a quota set five years ago had been reached.
Members of the Joint Management Committee (JMC) heard that out of a maximum number of 1,000 licences currently available, 200 had been allocated to motorised boats.
In spite of an appeal by Dr Robert Page, representing the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Naturalist Trust, for motor licences not to be increased by more than 20, the JMC voted to increase the existing maximum by 100. Since the current limit for non-powered licences had not been reached, the total number of licences was increased to 1,100.
A 5 per cent increase in licence fees was also approved as follows:
Class 1 single seat non motorised |
Class 2 multi-seat non powered
Class 3 motorised up to 14ft long
Class 4 motorised up to 25ft long
Class 5 motorised up to 35ft long
Class 6 motorised up to 50ft long
Class 7 motorised up to 72ft long
A move to control the number of licences for each class of motorised boat failed to gain approval.
The Committee agreed that Surrey boat owners should be given priority in the issue of additional licences as more of the canal was being re-opened in Surrey.
At present 23 per cent of the 891 boats licensed are motorised, of which nearly 75 per cent are less than 14ft long. Only one licence has been issued for a boat 50ft or more in length.
The bulk of licensed boat owners live in Surrey (28 per cent) and Hampshire (70 per cent).
Canal for Recreation
Speaking for boating interests, Mr Brian Percy, representing the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) said that he did not like a queue forming for licences.
Mr Robin Higgs, the Society's Chairman, pointed out that a high proportion of the powered craft licensed were motorised dinghies. He added that there was no legal right to impose limitations on the number of boat licences issued but he accepted there was a management need to control boating on the canal. He felt that the natural limitation of water supplies, the relative restriction of water space and the fact that the canal was not a through waterway, were all self-controlling factors.
Other members responded to arguments put forward by Dr Page not to increase licences for motor boats.
The Chairman, Cllr Patrick Evelyn, said there was a wide body of opinion that accepted the canal was being restored for recreation.
Asked by another member what the natural history interest was prior to restoration, Dr Page replied that it had always existed. Mr Colin Bonsey, Hampshire's recreation officer, pointed out that had the canal not been restored there would be nothing of use left of the canal for anyone. Mr Higgs added that the canal had only become an interesting site for natural history since restoration.
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In the News
And Robin Higgs, who joined this last working party without ceremony, has departed.
LOCK 7 at Longman's Bridge, St. John's. It's Sunday, 28th November at 12 noon. A cold, grey morning. Few people have yet ventured out. But for some a morning's work is finished. And a 7-year long chapter in the story of the canal's recent history has been completed.
The mobile crane has driven off into the freezing fog. Frank Jones, on site before 7 o 'dock, is away home. Regular volunteers including David Junkison, Brian Smith and Ken flails have left.
All is quiet. A kingfisher, its brightly coloured plumage contrasting with the darkness of the lock, has jus! flown the length of the chamber and out through the paddle hole in the newly fitted gate. A rare sight and an unusual salute to all those volunteers who ever worked on the five locks now restored at St. John 's. Tomorrow the Society's full-time team will move in to fit the paddle gear.
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JOIN THE HAMPSHIRE LENGTHMEN
MAJOR Charles Bendall has taken over the organisation of the voluntary lengthmen scheme in Hampshire from Laz Hawker who has retired and left the district. Our thanks to Laz for running the scheme so efficiently for some years.
For those not familiar with the scheme, each lengthman (someone who usually lives or works locally) is given a specified length of towpath to walk regularly, noting any changes, such as holes in the bank, earth movements, fallen trees and vandalism — anything that you think may constitute damage which could be a potential danger. By reporting possible problems, act ton can be taken before it gels worse.
There are currently some vacancies along the Hampshire length for volunteers who should contact: Charles Bendall at 143 Velmead Road, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants. Tel: (0252) 617754.
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NEW SILT DUMP HALTED
BLOOD pressures are rising over a tangled web of bureaucracy woven around a new site for dumping silt at the bottom of Crookham Deeps embankment.
Local resident, Mr Graham Plumbe, objected to use of the field owned by Hampshire County Council. But it's not so much his innocuous complaints alone that has frustrated the County Recreation Department's plan to open the new site. It's complications both county and local district planners are accused of creating.
Hampshire's planners did not, apparently, appreciate that the site is in a conservation area. So the Recreation Department now has to retrace its steps and seek further internal approval which could drag on well into the New Year. While planners in Hart are being led a merry dance by Mr Plumbe who seems to he using his technical knowledge of planning restrictions to make a mountain out of a silt dump.
Confusion over what operations require official consent prompted the Joint Management Committee (JMC) to call for local planners to explain themselves at the next meeting. "More people seem to be impeding progress than helping it", exclaimed one member.
In the meantime the Society's dredger, Perseverance may be halted because the existing silt dump is almost full. Mr Colin Bonsey, Hampshire's Recreation Officer, said that the delay in opening the new site could "seriously threaten" efforts being made to complete dredging in Hampshire hy April 1989.
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RESTORATION COST UP-DATE
IN the current financial year Surrey County Council is spending £130,000 on restoration of the canal.
Employees and ancillary costs add £199,200 which is reduced to £184,600 by income from houseboat mooring fees and boat licences. The net expenditure is shared equally with the four riparian district councils — Guildford, Runnymede, Surrey Heath and Woking paying £92,300 in total.
Hampshire's expenditure of £109,200 on employees and back-up services is offset by an income of £4,700 from boat licences, fishing permits and the sale of books.
The Society raises as much as £50,000 to employ our four-man workforce and for other capital restoration costs. In addition voluntary labour input is valued conservatively at £28,000 a year.
The four riparian district councils in Surrey and Rushrnoor Borough Council currently contribute a total of £6,650 towards the Society's employment of an additional craftsman.
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GRAND DRAW WINNERS
The 1987 Grand Draw took place at the 'Barley Mow', Winchfield on 27th October and the winners were:
1st prize of £200 - Lady Scott (ticket No. 14392). 2nd prize of tlOO - R.D. Stone (ticket No. 04146). 3rd prize of £50 - M.G. Bates (ticket No. 07990).
Around 8,000 tickets were sold (3,000 less than the previous year but the Society made a handsome profit of just over £l,000.
The draw organiser, Bob Humberstone, writes:
A big thank you to everyone who sold tickets, to those who bought them and to those who sent donations either instead of buying tickets, or as well as. An apology to members who might have found me difficult to contact for further supplies, hut since the Spring I have (a) re-married and (b) had three changes of address! I hope and helieve that things have now settled down!
And an especially big 'Ihank you' to Lady Scott, wife or our vice president. Lt. Col. Sir James Scott, who generously donated her first prize of £200 to the Society.
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RESTORING THE TUNNEL AND CANAL WESTWARDS An engineering review by Stan Meller
SINCE the Society has a skilled voluntary workforce available, the project need not rely entirely on professional contractors. There are, therefore, a number of options open for undertaking the work, in addition to the normal choice of methods by which various tasks might be tackled.
In the following article, Stan Meller, who has been coordinating a detailed engineering study of the project, summarises his conclusions to date:
Restoring Greywell Tunnel and the channel westwards as far as Penney Bridge at Up Nateley, can be divided into four distinct projects. A fifth project entails restoration of the lock in the cutting at the eastern end of the tunnel:
(1) Restoration of the towing path and channel from Penney Bridge to Eastrop Bridge, and clearing the winding hole to form part of a terminal basin.
(2) Reconstruction of the cutting and clearance of the channel from Eastrop Bridge to Tunnel Portal.
(3) Repair of the Tunnel.
(4) Repairs to the brickwork of some of the bridges and building a new bridge across the Brickworks Arm.
(5) Rebuilding of Lock 30.
(1) Penney Bridge to Eastrop Bridge
The work of restoring the waterway from Penney Bridge to Eastrop Bridge is most certainly a job for volunteers. There is a wealth of experience among volunteers for the work required. This will involve clearance of undergrowth and trees, digging away material which obstructs the line of the towing path by subsidence, and clearing silt and spoil from the channel. There may also be a need to drive some piles or do other work which will stabilise the towing path and low level cutting slopes.
Clearing out the winding hole is only an extension of this work, but it is not in our plans for the Society to be responsible for constructing the canal centre. Although when the time comes we would probably take an active part in the planning.
(2) Western Tunnel Approach
In the approach cutting leading up to the tunnel there is a massive amount of subsidence which obstructs the channel, and this must be removed. Probably the best way to do that would be volunteers using railway equipment which the Society still owns. We have already proved that this method of moving bulk material does least harm to the environment. From early days up to the recent past the walls of the cutting have subsided and it would be wise to carry out work to reduce the risk of its happening again. A suitable solution could be 'gabion' walls as built at Dogmersfield — a task well within the capability of our volunteers.
(3) Restoring the Tunnel
The tunnel will require a lot of work. The roof has collapsed in probably three places and the bore is blocked for a length of about 200 yards. There is good reason to believe (and hope!) that the block is not solid for that length. As is generally known the west portal has collapsed completely, and will be a complete rebuild job.
For the tunnel work, a mix of volunteer and contract work may be best. It may be possible to open up part of the bore to a cutting, saving a lot of mining type work, which is being considered. The work for this alternative might be to build masonry retaining walls on the sides of the new cutting.
Whether or not full repair of the tunnel is chosen, it will be necessary to lay a system of drains on the hill along the line of tunnel, this would be similar to the work of building a by-pass weir, but with smaller pipes — an ideal task for our experienced workers. After that to dig a shaft down to the tunnel, at the site of each collapse, for access to the damaged roof. It would also be necessary to work in from the portal moving away the tons of spoil blocking the bore.
Digging the shafts could be done by a contractor used to that type of work, but moving the spoil from the bore could be done by volunteers, using the railway.
Rebuilding the portal and new brickwork in the bore could be left to volunteers and our full time team. The course chosen would, as in all cases, probably be made in conjunction with the County, the factors being the time taken by volunteers, set against the cost of engaging a contractor.
(4) Bridge Repairs
Repair of bridges is work that we have done so many times now that it is 'old hat'. A new bridge across the entry to the brickworks arm will be a simple job but probably best done by the County Council.
(5) Lock 30
The old chamber is situated in the eastern approach cutting to the tunnel. Why rebuild it? The reason lies in history. It was put in after the canal was built to raise the level of water in Greywell Tunnel in the hope that the increased depth of water would ease the movement of a full-width barge through the bore.
It has been worked out that if the lock is rebuilt to retain an extra foot of water back to Penney Bridge, then there would be a water storage of nearly 2 million gallons in reserve. That is always assuming that the springs at Greywell could be fed against the extra head.
As to the cost, this again would reflect the selected approach to the work. In the case of (1) the simple work required would incur a small cost for materials for piling that the County would supply. An earth moving machine would be required to aid volunteer effort and since the Society no longer owns one it may be wise to purchase another in preference to hire. This could then be used for towing path reconstruction work and 'dry dredging' the channel in conjunction with the railway. The total cost of all this work, including transport, should not exceed £12,000 to £15,000.
The cost of the work for (2), if done mainly by volunteers, could be for materials. The gabion wall at Dogmersfield was stated to have cost in the order of £90,000. The requirement at Up Nateley is for a similar wall which could probably be longer but not as high, thus the cost could be in the order of £100,000. Due to restricted access railway may be the only means of bringing the stone and wire baskets to the site.
Indicating the cost of (3) is difficult without knowing how it will be done, but the report now being prepared will give some figures for the alternatives.
The work of bridge repairs would not be very large, since no bridge requires rebuilding. The new bridge at the Brickworks Arm could be a manual lift bridge of simple construction. Eastrop Bridge requires new parapets on both sides, and it is believed that is all. However, as the bridge is almost covered by undergrowth it is not possible to be sure of that until the clearance work has been done.
Lock 30 being a volunteer job would cost only materials and plant hire, perhaps £20,000.
Taking everything into consideration the whole task should provide an exciting challenge for our volunteer workers, and could be completed for a cost well inside £1 million. This compares with £1/2 million the Society has spent on the canal so far, and look what we would get for it!
FACTS AND FIGURES
GREYWELL TUNNEL (bore owned by Hampshire Council - 1,230 yards (1124m)
TUNNEL (W) -PENNEY BRIDGE, Up Natelev, owned by the New Basingstoke Canal Company Ltd.
TUNNEL (E) - EASTROP BRIDGE -361 yards (330m)
EASTROP BRIDGE - SLADES BRIDGE -492 yards (450m)
SLADES BRIDGE - BRICKWORKS ARM -71 yards (65m)
BRICK KILN BRIDGE - PENNEY BRIDGE -465 yards (425m)
PENNEY BRIDGE - LITTLE TUNNEL BRIDGE -383 yards (350m)
LITTLE TUNNEL BRIDGE - 50 yards long.
||All that remains of the tunnel's western portal|
|Brick Kiln Bridge and canal at Up Nately||
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WHAT'S IN A MILE AND THREE QUARTERS?
A SPECIAL feature of any waterway, that attracts industrial archaeologists as much as holidaymakers, is the canal tunnel. Greywell Tunnel, nearly 3/4-mile long, is an impressive example and ranks the 16th longest in Great Britain.
The eastern portal was given a facelift by Hampshire County Council in 1976 to mark European Architectural Heritage Year. The tunnel has no towpath: barge horses were walked over Greywell Hill while the boats were legged through by the crew. Entry by boat is now barred by padlocked aluminium gates to protect the colony of bats that use it as a winter hibernation and breeding place.
The water in the vicinity of the tunnel is crystal clear due to underground springs which erupt in the channel and provide the navigation daily with up to 4 million gallons of water. The spring heads can be identified by the 'wormcasts' created in the mud where the water comes up — ice cold even at the height of summer.
By contrast the collapsed western portal is now no more than a large hole in the side of a steep wooded bank. Hang Wood and Dark Wood aptly describe this remote, private woodland area. The tunnel is on the edge of the more friendly sounding Butter Wood, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. The tunnel and adjacent canal bed has been included but, with only common alder as noteworthy, protection would seem to be more a political than a practical move.
Inside the Tunnel
In spite of the derelict state of the western portal, the tunnel is sound inside and water-filled for 80 yards (70m). It is then blocked by clay for 230 yards (210m). The fall occurred in 1932 when a pond on top of the tunnel overfilled and the water pressure caused a roof fall. A tree fell through and was left standing upright so that daylight from the tunnel entrance could be seen on either side of the trunk. The tunnel remained passable until the early 1950's when two canoeists finally passed
through. Today the blockage extends to the roof.
At the western end of the fall, 864 yards (790m) from the eastern portal, the clay (Reading Beds) change to chalk. Here is the location of one of the four vertical shafts used in the construction of the tunnel 'sections' 200 years ago. At its deepest the brick-lined bore is 131 feet (40m) below the hill.
Westwards, subsidence in the approach cutting has reduced the water channel to a black, marshy area littered with fallen trees and overhanging branches. It can be followed along a perilous footpath to Eastrop Bridge which is sound and in remarkably good condition.
The canal continues in a northwesterly direction, increasing in water, to Slade Bridge where railings have replaced one of the original brick parapets. 70 yards on is Brickworks Arm. This 100-yard long cut was opened in 1898 to serve the short lived Nateley brickworks which supplied the army to build Aldershot Camp, until the bricks were found to be faulty. The works closed in 1908.
At this point the canal turns westwards and into a cutting leading to Brick Kiln Bridge. Here the canal enters an open farmland environment, alongside the Greywell - Mapledurwell road which then crosses it at the site of Penney Bridge.
Little Tunnel Bridge
Across the road the canal bed was ploughed up in recent times. Although re-instatement of the 380 yards to Little Tunnel Bridge would not present any particular problem, raising Penney Bridge would be a relatively expensive task.
While the concept of a new terminus basin immediately to the west of Little Tunnel Bridge remains an attractive proposition, a site below Penney Bridge would be more practical. For one thing the canal exists and holds water. The surrounding land is level and if the riparian owner of the field were amenable, part of it, having road access, would make an ideal wharf area.
The existence of an adjacent winding hole is also ideally situated to be enlarged and make a basin for temporary moorings and turning.
Although the total distance from Greywell Tunnel to Penney Bridge is only a mile, the new terminus would add just over two miles cruising for full length boats which would otherwise have to turn at the Whitewater winding hole.
Extending restoration would also ensure necessary repairs are made to Greywell Tunnel for its safety and ease of future maintenance. Restoration would also help to maximise water supplies by utilising springs in the canal bed beyond the tunnel. What is more, by restoring the stop lock in the Greywell cutting, the extreme western end of the canal could serve as a reservoir to supply the canal as a whole.
NB: The canal and towpath area from west of the tunnel to Penney Bridge remains the property of The New Basingstoke Canal Co. Ltd. There is therefore public access though no right of way. A public footpath does exist over a length of the towing path from Slades Bridge halfway to Brick Kiln Bridge.
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THE BATS OWN TUNNEL
AN INGENIOUS idea for using an old chalk pit close to Greywell Tunnel as the basis for constructing a special tunnel for bats has been suggested by one of our members.
A small part of the pit, situated behind the Fox and Goose pub, could be excavated further to a depth of about four metres to bring it level with the bottom of the canal tunnel. An adit to the tunnel would provide a constant water supply to a new tunnel leading from the pit running parallel to the navigation tunnel. The length could be determined by naturalists, and the diameter would be four to five metres subject to the advice of geologists. It would be unlined with crevices cut for bat roosts. The introduction of water would provide both the micro climate and protection from predators which is what attract bats to Greywell Tunnel. The entrance could even be gated to make it a home from home!
|The excavations might be used to fill up the surrounding area of the pit so that the land could be back to some profitable use by the owner if he was in agreement.
Commenting on the proposal, Hampshire's canal manager thought it a constructive suggestion. "It is a
super idea", he said, "and well worth careful consideration. It is an opportunity for the Nature Conservancy Council to invest in a project to protect the bats for all time".
TIME SHARE TUNNEL
WHILE the bats in Greywell Tunnel are known to hibernate and breed there during the winter months, they roost elsewhere when active during the summer months.
As boating is largely a summer pursuit, it has been suggested that the bats need not be disturbed if boats operate on a time-share basis. Boats would be prohibited from using the tunnel during the winter months and a temporary partition could be erected to maintain the cave-like atmosphere and prevent through draughts. The partition would also be installed during restoration work.
The idea of time-share use of canal tunnels is believed to have been successfully introduced in America.
While a number of canal tunnels open to navigation in this Country such as 880-yard Saddington Tunnel on the Leicester line of the Grand Union, are known to be frequented by bats without harmful effects, not enough is known about their habits. To assess the practicability of the time-sharing, the Nature Conservancy Council was asked to provide information. That was eighteen months ago, but nothing has yet been reported.
An artist's impression of how the winding hole al Penney Bridge adjacent to the Greywell - Mapledurwell road could be restored and enlarged to form an attractive wharf with a canal centre, slipway and trip boat station. The proposal is based on utilising part of a riparian field which is privately owned. The plan is therefore subject to the landowner's voluntary conveyance of the land quite apart from any other consideration. (Drawn by David Junkison).
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DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
Monday 11 January 1988*
Illustrated talk by Peter Beresford, chairman of the Wey & Arun Canal Trust. If you think we've had restoration problems, come and see what the Trust has taken on.
Monday 25th January
Mr Robin Barrett of BWB talks about the reconstruction of Blisworth Tunnel at the IWA Guildford & Reading branch meeting at British Telecom Social Club, Leapale Road, Guildford (off Woodbridge Road). Non members welcome.
Monday 8th February*
A welcome return of film-makers John and June Humphries with their latest epic 'The Klong and I'. If the title is anything to go by we should once more be transported on their magic carpet to another waterway experience.
Monday 14th March 1988*
Local historian, Ian Wakefield, gives a talk with slides on the influence of the railway on Woking as a curtain raiser to the 'Woking 150' event in May.
Monday 4th April
Exhibition of landscapes and canal scenes by artist Terry Harrison opens at the Century Gallery, Hartley Wintney for a fortnight.
Monday llth April
"Wildlife & Nature Conservation" — an illustrated talk by Andrew Byfield, County Officer Mid/North Hampshire Nature Conservancy Council. 8.00 pm Meth-dist Church Hall, Brewery Road, Woking.
Saturday 16th April
Official re-opening of Woodend Bridge, St John's by Mrs B.E. Tomlins aboard John Pinkerton and ceremony to mark completion of Goldsworth flight.
Saturday 23rd April
Society's eleventh Annual General Meeting at Canadian International School, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, starting at 8.00 pm.
Sunday 24th April
Annual Sponsored Walk between Wey Navigation and Ash Vale.
Weekend 29th - 30th May
Woking 150 celebration combined with 200th anniversary of start made to construct Basingstoke Canal. Railway and steam locomotive exhibition plus boat rally on the canal.
* Meetings at the Methodist Church Hall, Brewery Road, Woking, starting promptly at 8.00 pm. Refreshments provided.
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ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Notice is hereby given that the eleventh Annual General Meeting of the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Limited will be held on Saturday, 23rd April at the Canadian International School (formerly Robert Haining School) at Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett.
With the target for completion of the restoration of the canal getting ever closer — but with still much work to be completed — nominations are invited from members to stand for election to the Board of Directors (known as the Executive Committee). New faces are always desirable to bring fresh ideas forward, especially as thought is now being given to the format and activities of the Society after the initial restoration of the canal is complete.
Full details of serving on the Executive Committee and nomination forms are available from the Hon. Secretary (address and telephone number on back page).
The closing date for nominations is Saturday, 13th February 1988.
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KENNET AND AVON CANAL PROGRESS — Tony Rozelaar
ANOTHER season of social evenings, organised by the Society, started on October 20th in Woking town centre.
As in the past, this first meeting was held jointly with the Guildford and Reading Branch of the Inland Waterways Association, when Jack Dalby, a member of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, spoke about the full restoration of this unique 86-1/2-mile link between Reading and Bristol.
Mr Dalby highlighted the Kennet and Avon's most famous features, including the staggering flight of 29 locks at Devizes and the pumping house at Crofton built in 1813 and still working today.
The navigation is owned by the British Waterways Board and the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust supports the Board in re-opening it fully by 1990.
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CHEQUER'S INN CLOSES
FOLLOWING the death of Mrs Ida Hale, licensee of the Chequer's Inn, Church Crookham, the pub is up for sale.
Situated close to Chequer's Wharf, the inn is believed to pre-date the canal. It was a regular overnight stop for commercial boatmen and their barge horses.
The free house, which must be one of the last in the district to be known as a real 'local' with the sole purpose of serving drinks, has been in the same family for 175 years or more.
Mrs Hale's grandfather, Mr George Cowley, had a contract with the original canal company to provide boatmen with a straw bed in the stable loft for five pennies. The charge included a clay pipe and tobacco. Horses were fed, watered and stabled for ninepence a night.
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In the News
SOOTY ABOARD JOHN PINKERTON. The famous TV puppet with Matthew Corbett and family before joining last year's sponsored walk. Results and prize winners in the March issue.
NEW CURZON BRIDGE. Built over Deepcut Lock 25 by the MoD. No prizes for design, but the steps down to the tawpath makes descent easier.
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CANAL'S ECOLOGY: MORE FACTS NEEDED
KEY questions on the chemical content of water in the Basingstoke Canal, and the interance of unusual waterplants species to motor boating, must be answered before a management plan can be devised. That is the conclusion of two leading freshwater biologists from Liverpool University after conducting a special study of the canal last July.
In their report, Dr J.W. Eaton and Mr J.R. Pygott state that, from their experience elsewhere, only minor changes occur in plant quality and fisheries in canals which are used to the extent of 2000 boat movements a year. Although the figure is very low in terms of the number of boats it represents, it is twice the number that the Nature Conservancy Council has claimed to be the 'limit' before a greater change takes place.
Quite apart from the effect motor boating has on the aquatic life, the report points to some unexplained water conditions, including natural turbidity that can also cause the balance of nature to change, and needs to be investigated.
The Liverpool biologists do not agree with the NCC that the canal has a more noteworthy flora than other navigable waterways, merely cementing that, '... the average species richness of the Basingstoke Canal is unexceptional for a low traffic water and is lower than for a number of major navigations in other parts of Britain'.
One specific site which the study found to be 'quite exceptional' for its natural history interest is Eelmoor Flash from which boats are already excluded.
The report also found the lack of quantitative data, both on water supplies and hydrology, needs to be remedied since both factors affected boating and natural history interests.
The value of restoration work to the canal's natural history is highlighted in the report. 'It is only the restoration ... that has permitted the apparently rapid development of the present high quality flora. The present communities are products of restoration and maintenance. If left untouched they would slowly extinguish themselves by natural succession to reed swamp, as happened previously on some lengths of the canal'. (See B.C. News 135 cover pictures - Ed.).
Dr Eaton concludes with his view that the canal 'seems ill-fitted' to carry a large amount of motor boating for structural reasons which leave the banks vulnerable to erosion. He recommends a strictly controlled maximum speed limit and a control of 'traffic density' through licenses issued and the location of moorings. He also suggests that deepwater wharves might be provided to encourage casual moorings in specific places along the canal to protect banks elsewhere. And properly constructed 'swims' to confine anglers who are prone to flatten marginal vegetation at random.
The report has been welcomed by the Society as a constructive contribution towards achieving an acceptable compromise between boat cruising interests and natural history conservation.
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Surrey Survey ready in December
By the time this issue of BC News is published, the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) will have received a report on the canal's natural history in Surrey.
It has been compiled by Fleet naturalist, Mr Chris Hall, known to be opposed to motor boat navigation on the canal.
A working group set up by the canal's Joint Management Committee (JMC) to study the implications of the NCC's efforts to restrict motorised boating, met three times last year.
At the October meeting of the JMC, Mr Colin Bonsey, Hampshire's Countryside Officer, said that Dr Eaton would be consulted further and that Farnborough Technical College had been called in to advise on the use of monitoring equipment.
A full report of the Working Party's findings would, he hoped, be presented at the JMC's Spring Meeting.
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FUND RAISING NEWS
200 CLUB WINNERS
The October winners in the 200 Club draw were: Mr D.V. Morgan (£62), Mr and Mrs J.H. Wood (£32), Mr C. de Wet (£16) and Mr P. Lattey (£16).
Join the Club now
New members to the 200 Club are always welcome and we appeal to existing members to keep your subscriptions rolling in. Every time you contribute £12, the Socieiy's restoration fund benefits by £6 and the other half goes to the monthly cash prizes. Application forms, cheques or standing orders to: Derek Truman, Compton Cottage, 11 Connaught Road, Fleet, Hants, GU139RA. (Tel: Fleet 613435).
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1988 SPONSORED TOWPATH WALK
Whether this turns out to be the last full year of restoration work has no bearing on the Society's immediate need for as much money as ever to complete the task. We are still fully committed to employing our full-time team of four, equipping volunteers and financing specific projects. So please do your bit to give this potential big fund raiser a boost. Please join the walk or sponsor a walker.
Book the 24th April
Note the date now — Sunday 24th April. This year's
route covers Byfleet (handy for the station) to Ash Vale
Station. A good opportunity to see all the restoration
work that's been going on at Brookwood, St John's and
As previously you can split your sponsorship money, if you wish, giving half to the Society and the other half to another charitable organisation. Walk organiser, Graham Meade,willbe pleased to provide further information and sponsor booklets. He will also welcome calls from non-walkers to sit in the sun and act as marshalls. Contact him on Fleet 629466 or write to: Graham Meade, 89 Tavistock Road, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants.
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FAREWELL TO FLEET MEMBERS
Landscape painter Terry Harrison (right) presenting Barbara and Clive Durley with a watercolour commissioned by the Society.|
A PAINTING of the canal by Terry Harrison was presented to Clive and Barbara Durley on behalf of the Society by the artist on 27th November. The presentation was made at a party of friends and members wishing them farewell on their move to Fordingbridge, and to thank them for all the work they have done for the Society.
Clive and Barbara joined the Society in 1973. They helped launch the trip boat service, taking the bookings and erewing the John Pinkerton.
Among their earlier activities was helping Peter and Ray Fethney with the sales stand and they could always be counted on to give a hand at jumble sales or indeed any event where volunteers were needed.
As the Society's official photographer, Clive has produced pictures for BC News and publicity use for many years which have been of tremendous value in promoting the Society's work.
He was also on the Administration Committee; addressed the envelopes for BC News, and both Clive and Barbara often volunteered to help with dispatch.
Clive and Barbara Durley's new address is: 10 Pealsham Gardens, Fordingbridge, Hants, SP1 1RD. (Telephone: 0425 55677).
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SALES MANAGER(S) URGENTLY REQUIRED
THE Society is seeking one or two volunteers to take over the Society's sales from Aubrey Slaughter and Martin Bowers.
Aubrey handled mail order sales and the administration work, while Martin visited events during the season with the Society's sales stand.
With the new season not far away we're anxious to maintain the Society's sales effort which is a valuable means of making profit and promoting the Society's work generally.
It's both interesting and satisfying work which need not take up a lot of time. For more details ring Aubrey Slaughter: Fleet 623102.
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CANAL DIRECTOR TO BE SOUGHT
As a first step to establish a corporate canal operating staff, a canal director, responsible for the entire 32-mile waterway is to be appointed by April 1st this year. The £30.000 cost of the appointment, including ancillary services, will be shared equally by the two county councils. Surrey "s district councils along the canal will carry half the county's cost.
An early appointment is being sought to enable the appointed director to formulate a new operating structure aimed at commencing from April 1st 1989.
HELP! ELECTRICAL KNOWLEDGE NEEDED
The Special Projects Group need advice on electrical problems. Have you a good practical knowledge of three phase power distribution and starting loads for motors? If so, and you are willing to help, please telephone Stan Meller on Camberley (0276) 32096.
Photos in this issue by Dieter Jebens and Geoff Hlliwell.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
20th October, 1987 Dear Sir,
SOCIETY'S FUTURE ROLE
With Target 88' looming ever closer and opening of the canal for navigation from Greywell to New Haw nearly in sight; there is some talk of what future the Society has. I would like to make one or two points on that subject.
Whilst I do not see the Society, after restoration, as a body solely devoted to maintenance, there will always be a need for action from us to ensure a secure future for the canal. A strongly supported watch dog on riparian property development and planning matters is one example. Also the winter working parties for towing path clearance will probably still be needed. In addition running of the 'John Pinkerton' must continue so that the executive committee will have funds to promote various improvements to broaden the use of the canal.
However in the middle term, there is a much more important function for the Society that must not be forgotten, indeed hopefully it could start fairly soon. That is the restoration of the 'extension' beyond Greywell Tunnel to Penney Bridge. Anyone who has attempted to walk that section knows what a major task it will be. Even ignoring work in the tunnel, the clearing of the towing path and channel and the rebuilding of the western approach cutting will call for an army of volunteers. The work will take those who remember, back to the early days when one had to carry a bill-hook just for a Sunday afternoon stroll along the canal with the family.
Be assured all you people who like a dirty weekend, if present plans mature, there will be plenty of those in the wild west. It could well be that we shall have to attract into our ranks a lot more younger persons who will have the opportunity to discover the joys(?) of wielding a matchet and wallowing in mud.
In any event I believe that the Society still has a very important and interesting future.
101 Branksome Hill Road, College Town, Camberley, Surrey.
15th October, 1987 Dear Sir,
BATS MOVED ON - BY ORDER
One of the main arguments, perhaps the only argument, put forward by opponents to the re-opening of Greywell Tunnel is that it is the home of rare bats which, as protected species, must not be disturbed.
The following, reported in the Daily Mirror, September 16th (Page 7) would therefore seem of interest. It read, under the heading 'BATTY DECISION' "Three colonies of rare bats will be re-housed by a council when their public-toilet dwelling at the Royal Victoria Park, Bath, Avon is re-furbished".
Perhaps the suggestion made in the Time Off report in BC News issue 134 of July — that we build our own artificial hibernation centre near Greywell Tunnel — should be considered for early implementation. We only have to ensure that it is a highly des. res. to tempt the bats into residence to ease the case for restoration.
2A St George's Terrace, Brighton, Sussex.
"A WEEK OF WORK"
How will you be spending Easter 1989? I hope to be on a boat, navigating the 32 miles of the Basingstoke Canal. Being at the 'sharp end', one realizes just how much there is to do before this happens.
Commencing Easter Saturday, April 2nd 1988 a normal weekend working party begins. This will continue through the Bank Holiday and the rest of the week to the Saturday afternoon following. The idea is to complete any jobs around lock 2 and 3, which are still required. Providing care and continuity, with experienced Society workers. These activities will be completed without the usual weekend rush.
About ten regular workers have so far committed themselves to at least a few days each. Only four days "holiday" need be taken from your regular employment. Frank Jones and Gerard Brierly, the Surrey County Land Agent, have agreed to keep plant on hire for our use. The cost of the whole week will be kept to a minimum.
Nearer the time, Mike Fellows will decide exactly what is to be done. Working will be by arrangement only. If you are interested, please write to me at 54, Wharf Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants, GUI 2 SAY, or ring 0252 313076 after six in the evening. There is plenty of time to make arrangements, so if you are new to the game, please contact me to discuss this further.
Peter B. Jones,
54 Wharf Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants.
In nearly 20 years as an officer of BWB, I had to respond to some odd suggestions from the public. I was never faced with one as daft as that from T.W. Blunt in your last issue to duplicate Greywell Tunnel for bats. (I suspect that it may have been an editorial leg-pull.)
I am not a batman. I understand that bats need a safe place to hibernate in winter and produce their young. Most boaters also hibernate in winter. Thus there need not be conflict between bats and boaters.
Most problems can be resolved by discussion and compromise.
300 Baring Road, London SE12.
HOW DO THE DEVELOPERS MANAGE IT?
With land in such high demand every damp area, ditch or hedge seems to be levelled to create land for development resulting in a loss of wildlife habitats. Arthur's Bridge, Woking is a prime example of an area of mud, rubble and scrubland which has been built on. Surely these areas, on the edge of the navigation, are ideal for nature to survive undisturbed?
Instead, those who are trying to restore the canal for navigation have to take the brunt of nature conservationists efforts on behalf of wildlife, while the developers never seem to be the target of restrictions. I wonder how they manage to achieve their aims without the burden we endure?
Upper Flat, 12 Lilford Road, London, SE5.
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FARNHAM Museum have a special exhibition on display until the end of February entitled 'Basingstoke Canal - Past and Present'. Artifacts, maps and photos old and new. Situated at 38 West Street, near the library. Open Tuesday — Saturday, 11.00 am — 1.00 pm, 2.00pm - 5.00pm.
DEVOTION to the cause demonstrated by Phil Pratt who swallowed part of a dentist's drill during a check up before he was due to talk to a local community group. After hospital treatment, Phil kept his date and apologised for being delayed!
IT'S a Knockout. That's what happened to Janet Greenfield, while towpath clearing when a jogger lost his bearings in bonfire smoke and knocked her down and out! Although taken to hospital we hear she's none the worse for the 'assault'.
PURCHASE of a maintenance dredger for £65,000 was approved by JMC at its November 9th meeting. Society has agreed to contribute £3,000 towards cost, of which 90% will be funded by county councils and the remainder coming from riparian district councils in Surrey.
CHAIRMAN of the Canal's Joint Management Committee elected for 1987/88 is Cllr. JJP.M.H. Evelyn (Surrey). Cllr. C.M. Jones (Hampshire) is his deputy. Cllr. Evelyn officially re-opened Cowshot Manor Bridge at the Society's invitation in October 1982.
FOOTBRIDGE linking Wey Navigation and Basingstoke Canal towpaths at Byfleet junction will be built in current financial year ending March 31st, Mr Raymond Stedman, SCC's Countryside Officer, told the JMC at its November meeting.
FRIMLEY Lodge Park will not now be officially opened until early in the autumn.
ROBERT MEW, one time Canal ranger for Hampshire, has volunteered to act as Society's Conservation Officer.
WATERWAYS for Youth organiser for the IWA, author John Gagg, has asked the Society to organise a special youth event on the canal. Let's have your ideas please.
SUCCESSFUL Barn Dance organised by Peter Coxhead and the Woking Socials team at Horsell High School made a profit as well as an enjoyable night out.
HUMBERSTONE'S new address is: 21 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey and not No 19, as printed in the November issue. Sorry Bob.
PROFIT from the Water Festival held at Frimley Lodge Park last year finally came to £13,214, of which the Society gets £5,286. Thanks to all those who took part and helped, not forgetting our sponsors: British Waterways Leisure and Johnson Wax of Frimley as the major sponsors, plus Surrey Heath Borough Council, Marconi, Bournes Electronics and Star Newspapers.
THANKS to Brian Smith who sent us a 1969 copy of 'The Review' which reported on the controversial dam built at Ash Lock at the time. If you've got old press cuttings, photos, papers or artifacts relating to the canal the Society's archivist would welcome a call. Photos can be copied and returned. Contact: Gary Cavanagh, 33 Northfield Road, Church Crookham, AHershot, Hants. Tel: Fleet 629329.
VANDAL proof modifications to Zephon Common swing-bridge are being considered for possible action later this year.
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COPY DATE FOR MARCH 1988 NEWSLETTER: 15th JANUARY 1988
Published by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Ltd., a non profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered as a Charity. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Society.
Editor: Dieter Jebens. Production: Jo Evans.
Collation & Distribution: Janet and George Hedger, Clive Durley and helpers.
Editorial Office: 60 Middlebourne 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 617364)
Hon. Treasurer: Mrs Gwyneth Browne, 102a Aldershot Road, Fleet. (Fleet 621745)
Hon. Secretary: Philip Riley, Meadow Vale, Guildford Road, Normandy. (Worplesdon 234776)
Membership Secretary: Edwin Chappell,The Spinney, Meadow Road, Ashtead, Surrey, KT21 1QR. (Ashtead 72631)
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: Tony Karavis, 12 Loddon Road, Farnborough, Hants. (Farnborough 549037)
Sales Manager: Aubrey Slaughter, 37 Fir Tree Way, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants. GU139NB. (Fleet 623102)
Talks Organiser: Mrs Janet Greenfield, 9 Mistletoe Road, Yateley, Camberley. (Yateley 873167)
Exhibitions Manager: Phil Pratt, Flat 5 Fleetwood Court, Madeira Road, West Byfleet. (Byfleet 40281)
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