No. 144 MARCH 1989
SPRING 1990 RE-OPENING TARGET
AT a meeting of the Conservation Working Party last month, the Nature Conservancy Council called for a delay in re-opening the canal until sometime after 1990.
In the same week Surrey's Forward Planning Group, which co-ordinates restoration work, agreed to aim for the spring of next year as the target date, recognising that the canal must now be re-opened as a matter of some urgency.
Whilst everyone agrees with the need to conserve wildlife, it is the NCC's determined efforts to frustrate navigation interests that is the cause of so much opposition to their interference.
It is not only their unreasonable demands to restrict navigation of the canal that is the root of the resistance. It is the fact the canal, like any other utility, relies on usage as a means of maintenance.
The passage of boats helps keep the water channel clear of weed and free of silt deposits. Silt movements help to keep the canal banks water tight, especially on a largely unpuddled canal such as the Basingstoke. Operating locks prevents the gates from drying out, keeps the mechanism in working order and provides water movement.
All the time that 90 per cent of the canal lies restored but only partially navigated and 80 per cent of the locks restored but hardly used, the rot sets in once again and costly maintenance or even more substantial work will be needed.
Completion work in Surrey is well under way with work proceeding at Woodham to dredge, pile the banks where necessary and consolidate the houseboat community.
The preliminaries to starting work on the Sheerwater length are progressing well, we are told, as a prelude to off-side bank protection work and repair of a leak in the canal bed.
There is also dredging to undertake above Arthurs Bridge, Woking, along the houseboat moorings. And towpath levels have to be raised representing a considerable amount of work.
If all the outstanding work were tackled consecutively completion would take 22 months.
Efforts are being made to condense the period to 12 months or less with a view to declaring an end to the 14 year project by the middle of 1990.
There is also the question of dredging in Hampshire beyond Reading Road Bridge which is likely to take until the end of 1990 if left to voluntary resources.
We are encouraged by Surrey's declared intent to press for an ambitious but attainable re-opening date towards which the Society will give all the practical support possible.
[back to top]
A GOOD number of members have responded to the Secretary's appeal, made in the last issue, to write to their Member of Parliament regarding plans to restrict motor boat cruising on the canal in the interest of protecting aquatic plants.
If you, too, feel an unreasonable limit should not be imposed after all the efforts to restore the waterway for navigation, then you are urged to write to your MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A OAA.
Not that you will necessarily glean any new information, or even change the course of events in the immediate future. But your views can influence action in the longer term. No legislation is perfect and every administrative body can be improved.
Nature conservation is, quite rightly, currently in vogue. The destruction and development of the natural environment is, in places, alarming and wildlife habitats are threatened.
But the movement to conserve the remaining 2,000 miles of inland waterways (compared with 20,000 miles of unnavigable rivers), and laboriously restore derelict and disused lengths of the unique system, for navigation and to the benefit of other interests, has equal justification.
[back to top]
A WELCOME RETURN
CHRIS DE WET, a co-editor of BC News for some time, makes a welcome return. He runs a desk-top publishing consultancy, and offered to produce the BC News typesetting and page layouts ready for printing. In addition to saving on production costs, computer produced artwork offers tremendous scope for a more creative presentation at the touch of a button.
[back to top]
(Top) Cheers! Ron Kettle (centre), landlord of the Fox and Hounds, Heel, welcomes Roger Flitter, dredger manager, and the crew of Perseverance on arrival at the canalsidc pub. (Bottom left) An army crane from Church Crookham lifts the Society's new addition to the fleet onto the canal at the coal pens site near Crookham Village. (Bottom right) Pippa Bullock, whose husband Ian is a dredger crew member, cracks a bottle of Champagne over the bows to name the tug Sapper. (Dieter Jebens/Clive Durley)
[back to top]
(This was a loose-leaf insert to the magazine)
Heading towards the completion of a large and successful conservation project, like the restoration of the Basingstoke Canal, should be a joyous and rewarding time.
Yet at the moment, there are such uncertainties over any effective use of the canal as a navigation, that one could be excused for taking a somewhat jaundiced view of the future.
What value is to be put on all the work, money and commitment so willingly given by the volunteers, in partnership with the local authorities, if the NCC's proposed very low levels of boat movement are able to be forced on us.
Having come in at this very late stage, with the canal nearing completion, the N.C.C. have very different objectives to ours, more narrowly defined ones, in which the waterway's navigational role hardly figures.
After more than 20 years of work and campaigning in which we, as part of the conservation movement, set about bringing back to life a canal that was fast disappearing before our eyes, it would be surprising if we didn't find this unacceptable.
We have worked for something we believe in, a part of our priceless heritage. Let the natural history interests do the same, and come up with positive and constructive proposals, and the money and the labour, so that they can contribute to the things we all care for, because we, just as much as they, love the plants and the wildlife that because of our work, have found a home on the canal.
The 1988 season was our target year for the completion of restoration, and in essence, as far as major construction work goes, this has been achieved.
This would, in turn, have lead to the full opening of the canal in 1989, something that obviously will not now be. In our view though, if all the stops are pulled out, we can still open the canal in 1990, and to this we are absolutely committed.
There is a lot still to be done, much of it to which the volunteers can contribute, and the involvement of our full time team will be critical. But it is with matters not within our orbit, such as negotiations with landowners where remedial work needs to be carried out on low banks, that lengthy delays may occur. I do though sincerely hope this won't be the case.
What I can adequately say to thank Mike Fellows, and Pablo Howarth and the other working party leaders and volunteers who have given so much, and who are now bringing their involvement to an end is difficult to express in words. We certainly owe them a great debt of gratitude for all they have done, we have a duty to see that their work was not in vain. With these people of our own, I must also include the visiting working parties that have made such an impact on our work, Ken Parish and
K.& E.S.C.R.G., W.R.G., I.W.A, K & A, Southampton Canal Society etc., we couldn't have done without them.
Looking back over some of the year's highlights shows 1988 to have been a year of steady progress.
Our highest ever level of expenditure, at just under £65,000, is evidence of our continuing commitment as we near completion, and although this year will show an excess of expenditure over income, I am sure this must be the right policy.
The contribution of our full time team, as a major skill resource, is of inestimable value, for in addition to this wide ranging work on our locks and bridges etc., they have, through our contracting company, Deepcut Canal Contracts, made a very useful profit for the Society.
So at this stage it would be appropriate to thank Gwyneth Browne, who has now retired as our treasurer, for all the work she has done in keeping our financial affairs in order.
The John Pinkerton has had its most successful season ever and contributes much in terms of both finance and pleasure to those who have come to know the delights of the canal on its leisurely trips. In its 10th year, and with over 75,000 people carried, we're very proud of it.
The opening in April of the volunteer restored Goldsworth Flight was a major landmark in the restoration. The many hundreds who turned out to share the day with us, were tangible evidence of what the canal means to them.
The very enjoyable Woking 150 celebrations that followed in May are really making Woking aware that this section of the canal is coming to life again, and this summer, on the 3rd and 4th of June we shall be having another rally there. With the Deepcut Flight now regularly open, and the Brookwood Flight to follow this spring, we hope to see craft on the move again. With the formation of a new boating group, and with hire cruisers operating from Odiham, there is at last some movement, but how we can solve the deadlock over moorings is something we need to give much thought to.
Working in partnership with the IWA on this and the other navigational and conservation issues with which we are faced is a positive and welcome development, in which Brian Percy, the local group Chairman has paid no small part.
After last year's problems, and the hard slog of Malt House cutting, the dredging team under Roger Flitter are now making very good progress through Fleet. With the recently arrived third tug, the dredging rate on the even longer barge haul is kept within bounds, and the biggest problem is still going to be to find adequate silt disposal sites.
Our proposals for the western end are nearly in their final form, with Stan Meller and his team doing a very thorough and professional job. It's all somewhat more complicated than we originally realised, particularly because of our concern for safety and the sensitive nature of the environmental issues.
A Canal Director is still not in place, something we look forward to happening, to start building the joint structure the canal needs.
It is sad that in some quarters our lovely waterway has become so controversial an issue. With a challenging future before us, there is a continuing need for the canal society's voice to be plainly heard.
With your support we shall continue to work for what we perceive to be in the best interests of the canal.
[back to top]
COUNTRYSIDE OFFICER APPOINTED
MR ALAN OAKLEY has been appointed Countryside Officer by Surrey County Council to be responsible for the canal. Already working for the Council in the Planning Department, he took over at the end of November following the departure of Ray Stedman last summer.
Mr. Colin Vaughan-Jackson is currently acting as Canal Land Agent, replacing Gerard Brierley, until the Canal Director is appointed.
A fourth canal ranger has been appointed in Surrey. Mr. G.C. Peach an ex-Policeman, joins Tony Beecher, Les Foster and George Copping.
RAISING TOWPATH LEVELS
THE Society's full-time team are undertaking work to raise the level of the towpath at several points between Hermitage and Brookwood Bridges.
Other lengths which will have to be raised include the length alongside Goldsworth Relief Road to the west of Woking, and along the Sheerwater length from Monument Bridge eastwards.
[back to top]
WORK STARTS AT WOODHAM
WORK huts, plant and materials arrived at Scotland Bridge early in January for a 12 month contract, valued at £400,000, to dredge, pile and restore towpath levels between Locks 1 and 3 at Woodham.
The contract includes removal of derelict houseboats and consolidation of the remaining 20 boats which have been renovated and passed marine inspection.
All the houseboats - including those currently lying at Woking - will be moored at Woodham. Seven boats will be moored between locks 1 and 2 and 13 boats between lock 2 and 3.
Long arm of a Priestman above Lock One reaches the parts other excavators cannot reach. (Dieter Jebens/Clive Durley)
[back to top]
SHEERWATER RESIDENTS AGREE
LAND owners and householders along the off-side bank at Sheerwater have agreed to have bank levels raised and piling work. Those affected are reported 10 be looking forward to the improvements and restoration of the canal which will provide them with a new amenity.
At present the Sheerwater length is dry. The off-side bank will be moved back 2.5m where erosion has taken place, using the spoil to raise the level before piling to consolidate the bank.
Part of the operation will be to excavate a partially filled lake for water drainage purposes.
Surrey County Council Engineers are currently determining the lowest practical level for water through Sheerwater, expected to be 1.25m (just over 4 ft), which is governed by the level of locks. The Council has set a maximum depth for the Canal in Surrey as 1.52m (5 ft).
Other work needed at Sheerwater is the repair of a leak in the canal bed and to raise towpath levels.
[back to top]
CANAL DIRECTOR DESIGNATE DECLINES
AFTER a selection process which one candidate for the £19,000 job described as 'an exhaustive 36 hours of interviewing', the county councils' nomination declined the job for 'personal reasons'.
After reviewing the situation early this month, the authorities have decided to re-advertise the post and 'broaden the appeal'. No doubt they
will also underline the requirement for candidates to be prepared to live within five miles of the canal. It was hoped that one of the Director's first tasks would be to merge the two teams of rangers and start operating a combined ranger team in April at the start of the new financial year.
[back to top]
NCC CALLS FOR RE-OPENING DELAY
NATURE conservationists want to freeze the current level of boat licences and delay re-opening the canal unlil 1991 at the earliest.
In a report made last month to the Conservation Working Group, set up by the canal's Joint Management Committee, the NCC calls for two further years of monitoring plants and animals on the canal, before the canal is open to navigation from the Wey. The Nature Conservancy Council also wants this years's maximum of 325 motorised licences held until the '1990 monitoring is complete'.
The monitoring programme was started last year. At the end of the season two fresh water biologists, who studied the results, concluded that 'the proposed 350 licences per year for 1989 would not lead to any significant decline in vegetation'.
The number of motor boat licences available this year was subsequently reduced by 25 because applications did not reach the 300 made available in 1988.
[back to top]
by Peter Cooper
WORKING PARTIES AND PROGRESS
THIS should have been the issue in which it was reported that lock restoration on the Basingstoke Canal had been completed at the end of 1988. In fact it didn't quite happen, though it was pretty close! This work should be complete in the early months of 1989. Here and elsewhere the pattern of working parties is in a period of flux; the dredging team have to consider with others their strategy for future operations, and the emphasis on other working parties is moving from straight restoration (of things like locks) to jobs more of a maintenance nature (such as keeping towpaths clear). They will be plenty more work to do before the canal is ready to be reopened, but much of it will probably not lend itself to working parties of the pattern of the last decade and more.
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 there has been a last minute change of plan.
Woodham Locks 2 & 3 - First and third weekends of the month
By the end of the year Lock 2 was almost completed, The upper wing walls were finished, and the ladder and bollards were in, so the quadrants were almost all there was left to finish.
Lock 3 had rather more work to be done. The upper wing walls and upper recess walls were complete, the ladder was in, and work was in progress on quadrants and bollards. There was work still to be done on the mitres, upper and lower, and at a number of other places around the lock.
The co-ordinator of the Society's work on this flight is MIKE FELLOWS on Wokingham (0734) 787428, and for further details you should contact him or one of the working party leaders below.
NOTE: It is possible that this work may be completed during the period covered below; you should check before attending, to avoid arriving to work on a completed lock. Parties and dales are:-
First weekend of the month -
4/5 Mar; 1/2 Apr; 6/1 May
PETER JONES on Aldershot 313076
Third weekend of the month -
18/19 Mar; 15/16 Apr; 20/21 May
PETER REDWAY on Woking 21710
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 Faris Lane to Lock 3.
Dredging in Hampshire Every weekend
The dredger is again working through a section which has not been dredged before, so progress has been slower. They have now reached the Fox and Hounds pub. Nor have things been helped by working a mile from their dump site, and by one tug suffering engine failure.
Two members of the dredger team are moving away from ihe area, so their active participation will be coming to an end. ANDY McLOUGHLAN is moving to Manchester and the team would like to thank him for his contribution and to wish him well for the future. The
previous dredger manager, ANDY STUMPF, has recently been promoted within British Waterways and is moving to take up a management role in the Gloucester area. We would all like to say a big "thank you" to him for his major contribution to the dredging operation, and to wish him every success in his new appointment.
Back here, the job goes on, and for further details you should contact ROGER FLITTER on Fleet 622956.
Lock Gate Building
This party are working on gates for Lock 2; the lowers
are done and the uppers are being built.
Dates are:- 4/5 Mar; 1/2 Apr; 6/7 May
Details from FRANK JONES on Deepcut 835711
(workshop) or Cambcrley 28367 (home).
Hampshire bankside work
1st and 3rd Sundays -
5 Mar. 19 Mar, 2 Apr.
This party will continue to operate in the area of Chequers Bridge and Double Bridge. The work is unskilled clearance work, suitable for family parties. It is possible that there will be some other work to do after the start of the summer recess, when the bird nesting season puts a stop to clearing bankside vegetation. Further details from Peter Jackman on Woking 72312.
Surrey bankside work
2nd weekend -
11/12 Mar, 8/9 Apr. 13/14 May
This party will be clearing trees around the upper half of the Woodham Flight, and during the summer will be doing jobs remaining for full completion of Locks 4 and 5. Details from DAVID JUNKISON on 01 941 0685 (after 8.00) on DAVE LUNN (temporarily not on the phone).
Full time work
The full time team have been mainly working on the completion of Lock 2, installing the bottom gates.
If you are able to come along and work on the canal during the week, even if only for a few days, your contribution will be most welcome. You should contact FRANK JONES on Deepcut 835711 (workshop) or Camberlcy 28367 (home).
Perseverance nearing the Fox and Hounds, Fleet.
[back to top]
FUND RAISING WALKERS
THE 1988 Sponsored Towpath walk raised £3,583.57 for the Society and a good deal besides for other nominated charitable enterprises.
The largest single amount, totalling £709.66, was raised by Margaret Coles of Woking, which is being shared with the Mayor of Woking's Charity Appeal, for which Cllr. Margaret Gammon nominated boating for the handicapped.
The Murrell family of St. Johns raised £357.57 shared between the Society and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The Society's officially nominated sponsored walker, Stevcn Jordan of Woodham walked for £104.50 (and collected £51.50 in donations on the way), while his father accompanied him to raise £240.
Other big money walkers included Ian Brown from New Maiden who walked for £200 for the Society, Linda Smith of St. Johns £185 and A.R. Gilbert of Siaines raised £148.
Special mcniion must be made of Dr. Ian Stanley-Jones and his colleagues and staff of St. Peters Hospital Chertsey who have been local contributors to the Society's annual sponsored walks from the start. Last year they raised £320 to bring their accumulated total to £5,415.
[back to top]
WE WERE saddened to learn that our member Ron Hursey died on the 14th January at his Farnborough home following a two year period of ill health.
Ron Hurscy served as Bookings Manager for the John Pinkerton, assisted by his wife Joyce, from 1983-85.
In writing to the Society, Joyce expressed her best wishes "for all the continued efforts of the Basingstoke Canal which Ron and I enjoyed quietly, after his operation, on our 10 minute strolls at Ash Lock".
Contract for clearing the canal banks and piling at Brittannia Wharf below Monument Bridge, Woking, was won by the Society's company, Deepcut Contracts, employing the full-time team led by Frank Jones. (Dieter Jebens/Clive Durley)
[back to top]
WAGES CLERK VOLUNTEER WANTED
THE Society urgently needs someone with PAYE experience to act as Wages Clerk, on a voluntary basis, to pay our four full-time employees.
The job entails 1-2 hours work fortnightly and can be done from home. It would suit an experienced lady with a young family, retired person or indeed, anyone used to handling wages. It is not a demanding task but would make a valuable contribution towards running the Society.
Please give John Elliott a call on Fleet 623314 for more details.
[back to top]
NEW CREW ORGANISER FOR JOHN PINKERTON
AFTER two years as crew organiser, Elaine Manship has reluctantly relinquished her post because she is moving north with her husband Alan and family.
Taking her place is Ann Bird. Ann and husband Nigel, who live at Fleet, joined the John Pinkerton crew last year. They can be contacted on Fleet 622758.
Announcing the change, Roger Cansdale, Chairman of Surrey and Hampshire Canal Cruises Ltd., said "Our thanks to Elaine for all her efforts and hard work and best wishes to her and her family in their new home".
Crew Training Day
ANY member wishing to join the
John Pinkerton crewing rota is invited to attend a training session on Saturday 22 April.
Previous boat handling experience is not necessary. Phone Gill Heather, crew training officer, for details on Fleet 624612.
1989 Cruising Details
THE new season's tariff and cruise details with a booking form to charter the John Pinkerton can be obtained from bookings manager Tony
Karavis, phone Farnborough 549037.
Enquiries to charter the John Pinkerton are still being sent to Joyce Hursey's address. If you see her address advertised anywhere please contact Tony Karavis.
[back to top]
NEW TREASURER FOR SOCIETY
JOHN ELLIOTT has taken over temporarily as Honorary Treasurer and a Director of the Society from Gwynneth Browne.
A management accountant with British Telecom, John Elliott is also Honorary Treasurer for the Society's subsidiary, Surrey and Hampshire Canal Cruises Ltd. which operates the John Pinkerton.
John and his wife Diane and their three children live at Fleet overlooking the canal.
[back to top]
CLEANING UP A NEGLECTED VALLEY
FARNBOROUGH's resident Jaguar jet fighter screamed across the sky overhead as a pheasant chattered up in alarm from the undergrowth beside the path. Ahead we spotted a kingfisher dart out from the river bank below a Council refuse tip.
Such are the contrasts of a walk along the Blackwater River.
Forty years ago the 15 mile valley, stretching from Eversley, south of Reading to Weybourne, north of Farnham, was productive farming country.
The growth of local industries and housing developments brought rapid change. The little that remained of the natural valley soon became a scruffy backyard, used for refuse dumps, underground pipes, overhead cables and gravel pits. What remained became a hotchpotch of horse paddocks, waste ground and desolate plots of land.
The pressure of urbanisation and a growing demand for recreational facilities prompted Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey to join forces and set out to make an asset of their liability. With the support of seven local district councils, and from the Countryside Commission and the Sports Council, work started ten years ago to improve the Valley.
Known as the Blackwater Valley Project 8 miles of footpaths have so far been opened as part of a plan to make a continuous path alongside the river. Thousands of trees and shrubs have been planted, and 250 acres of derelict land have been recovered. Now the unsightly dumps are being cleaned up.
In addition to creating an attractive corridor and relief from the urbanisation, the Project's aim is to provide leisure facilities too. The site of a former gas works on the riverside at Camberley has been turned into a picnic site and trim trail. Gravel pits have been cleared and
landscaped for water skiing and board sailing. The river is attracting anglers and canoeists, whilst people of all ages are discovering the bankside walks and natural history.
Although funded by the local authorities and Government agencies, the Project Team welcomes offers of voluntary help from individuals, local groups and businesses.
The team is lead by Lisa Creaye and Joanna Forbes whose office is at Rushmoor Borough Councils office.
A great deal of work remains to be done but its good to see the neglected and abused river valley being turned into a useful and attractive amenity.
Blackwater Valley Project Team
c/o Planning Department
Rushmoor Borough Council
Farnborough, Hants GU14 7JU
Tel: Farnborough (0252) 516222 ext 390 and 396
Blackwater Valley Conservation Volunteers
Meet twice monthly to carry out practical work in the Valley. If you'd like to help, contact the Project Team.
Walks Along the Blackwater
At the northern end, there's an adjacent car park at
Sandhurst Memorial Recreation Ground. From there
you can follow the river all the way to Frimley. There's
another car park close by in the Business Park.
In the Ash Vale area, there's an official car park off Government Road after crossing the canal at Ash Lock going north. The car park makes a central point from which to follow the river northwards, and south through the gravel pits, alive with waterfowl, to Ash Embankment.
Another stretch open to walkers with the provision of a car park is at the extreme southern end. You'll find it at Rowhill Nature Reserve, to the north of Hale on the A325.
A special map, marking all the features and facilities, can be obtained from local Tourist Information offices or the Project team.
New footbridge over the Blackwater and bankside saplings at Hollybush Copse (Dieter Jebens/Clive Durley)
[back to top]
THE REAL MEANING OF CONSERVATION by Dave Gerry, Hampshire County Council Canal Manager
DURING the last four years I have been asked to give talks on the subjects of conservation of the Basingstoke Canal and the conservation conflicts of the canal. Before one such talk I looked up 'conservation' in a dictionary. Among several definitions it gave 'preservation'. So I looked up that as well and one of the definitions was 'conservation'.
But do they mean precisely the same thing? I recently attended a British Waterways training course on 'conservation' and I am much happier with the definitions that were given there by Peter White, BW's Architect.
Conservation is a practical, caring, tangible concern for places, buildings, structures, and landscape, leading to an appreciation of and an attraction for appearance, character, personality, atmosphere, scale and form.
Conservation is about spaces and places, group value, totality that needs looking after. It is a positive stance with action to search for new uses for old forms. It is about conversion and refuse, it's friendly.
Conservation is not about specimens or museum pieces, it is not a reaction to threat.
Preservation is about individual buildings or trees perhaps, there are criteria for listing buildings by historic interest and architectural value. It is often defensive with experts to support arguments, such as against development.
Preservation is retention almost regardless of circumstances. It is academic and expert.
Many issues have elements of conservation and preservation in them. Canals certainly do. So we must ensure that the work that we do is in harmony with our heritage.
Our work is surrounded by legislation that is frequently in danger of conflicting with other legislation and occasionally does. On the Basingstoke Canal we have Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Ancient Monuments and
Buildings of Historic or Archaeological Interest (Listed Buildings), Conservation Areas, Heritage sites, Rights of Way, Rights of Navigation, and now much other legislation covering public safety, against flooding, preventing damage to other peoples property and so on. I don't doubt that in a world that is becoming increasingly conscious of the environment that more legislation will come, some to the canals advantage and some not.
If legislation is in conflict it only matters when people form up behind one law or another and growl at one another. If lawyers cannot agree a way through the conflicting arguments then there are, in my view, only three options:
1. Further legislation which is very expensive and occasionally the law is seen to be an ass.
2. Litigation which is also very expensive and occasionally the law is seen to be an ass.
3. Compromise. With legislation and/or litigation there is usually a winner, but there is also a loser who may be left with very little. The wise gambler will hedge his bets and go for compromise and that sounds like conservation to me.
Despite all the problems we are told that the general view is that the Society and the two county councils made a super job of restoring the canal.
I am writing this just a few days before the Members Forum (reported in BC News 143). May I suggest that conservation doesn't stop at the completion of restoration indeed it is just beginning.
If Society members do not continue their attention to detail they will find that others will dictate how the canal should be used and managed and what happens within sight and sound of it. It is my belief that those of you who have been involved in this project have not done it for your grandchildren or your great children but have done it for 'All People for All Time'. You must now recruit your grandchildren to the cause of Conservation.
[back to top]
NEW ROAD UNDER CANAL
THE latest plan for the Blackwatcr Valley Relief Road, aimed to ease traffic on the Farnborough Road between the M3 at Frimley (junction 4) and the A31 at Farnham, shows it passing under Ash Embankment.
Although the plan still has to be presented for public consultation, the new proposal to take the dual carriageway under the canal (not over it as earlier considered) is a cheaper solution and preferred by the canal's Joint Management Committee.
The major new road costing between £20 and £40 million will involve:
building an aqueduct at the point where the road passes under the canal
replacement of the let-off weir constructed by the Society in 1984
closure of Government Road access to Ash Lock from Ash Vale Road A321
permanent pumping station to clear water from the roadway area in the vicinity of Ash embankment.
The Blackwater Valley footpath, which currently ends at Ash Embankment and was planned to bridge the canal when extended westwards, will now go under the canal alongside the relief road. The Blackwater culvert will not be affected.
Building the aqueduct will close the canal for up to six months, but County Council officers have insisted that the work is done between Autumn and Spring. It is expected that the construction will take two years, starting in 1992.
Let-off weir and site of aqueduct on Ash Embankment.
[back to top]
BOATERS FORM CLUB
LOCAL boat owners and users are forming a club to encourage 'boating on the canal and protect their interests'.
65 people crowded into the club room at the Fox and Hounds, Fleet, leaving another 20 outside.
Formation of a club is supported by both the Society and the Inland Waterways Association whose local branch chairman described the threat to limit motoriscd boating as 'a crisis on the canal'.
Organiser of the meeting, Chris de Wet, expressed the need for a club to get the canal used more as a means to get the 'earliest possible completion' date and to prove a level of use which would be 'hard to argue against'.
There was unanimous support for forming an autonomous club with the following aims:
encourage boating and widest possible use of the navigation
negotiate with the canals management
promote boating facilities and moorings
help with canal maintenance
act as a 'ginger group'
The name 'Basingstoke Canal Boating Club' was approved and a steering committee nominated: Chris de Wet, Tony Gardner, John ("Bill") Bailey, Dave Goodwin, Jonathan Phillips and Judith Smart. An inaugural meeting will be held on Wednesday, 22nd March at the Prince of Wales pub, Reading Road South, Fleet, at 8.00pm.
Descending Deepcut locks last year
[back to top]
WEY NAVIGATION FESTIVAL
THIS year's Water Festival at Guildford, organised by the local branch of the Inland Waterways Association, will be known as the Wey Navigation Festival and marks the 25th Anniversary of the National Trust's ownership of the Wey Navigation. To be held on 8th and 9th July, the event is expected to attract the usual gathering of boats and there will be a full supporting programme of waterside activities on the island site opposite Guildford Boat House.
As always, the success of events such as this depends to a great extent on sufficient helpers being
available on the day and we would like to hear from anyone willing to give a few hours of their time.
Boat entry fee for the Festival is £7 (to include commemorative plaque) - for entry forms please write (with SAE) to Pat Perry-Barton, Segren, Grove Road, Beacon Hill, Hindhead, Surrey GU26 6PH, or phone Hindhead 6496. For general information about the Water Festival and offers of help, please contact Dick Harper-White 25 Jubilee Crescent, Addlestone, Weybridge, Surrey KT15 2JU, or phone Weybridge 842074.
At Lock 28 last year
[back to top]
BOATS LINE UP TO VISIT CANAL
THE canal can expect 400 visitors from boats based on the Wey Navigation alone, over the first three years of opening, and almost a third of the 1008 boat owners licensed to use the Wey will seek an annual licence to navigate the Basingstoke Canal.
The widespread interest to extend their cruising locally was revealed in a survey of 45% owners of boats on the Wey, conducted by the local branch of the Inland Waterways Association.
The Survey was prompted by efforts to reconcile the demand for motor boat cruising once the canal is re-connected with the Wey, and pressure being exerted by the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) to limit motorised boating.
Estimates of boat movements, taking account of canal-based craft
and visitors, indicate 3,000 motor boat movements a year covering the 25 mile length expected to be designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
More boats are expected to visit the eastern end of the canal. As many as 5,400 movements are estimated through Lock 1.
The NCC regards motor boating as a 'potentially damaging operation' and is seeking to limit the number of movements - probably no more than 2,000 movements annually - as an essential stipulation of the proposed SSSI Designation.
A 'boat movement' is a term for traffic density, based on the number of boats passing a given point in both directions e.g. one boat entering the canal from the Wey and cruising the entire length and back again will have made two 'movements'.
[back to top]
Sunday 19th March
5-l/2 mile ramble over Rye Common, Dogmersfield Park and canal towpath. Start Colt Hill 230 pm.
Wednesday 22nd March
Inaugural meeting of Basingstoke Canal Boating Club, Prince of Wales pub, Reading Road South, Fleet, 8.00pm. (See article on page 8.)
Tuesday 28th March
Last members winter evening social at The Barley Mow,
Winchfield. Drop in for a drink and a chat.
Saturday 1st April
'Hobo Walkabout' for younger members aged 11-15 years (see 'Rambles for all Ages'). Full details from Bill Homewood Tel: Camberley 61343.
Thursday 6th April
Ken Goodwin, Chairman of the IWA, speaks to the Southampton Canal Society about restoration of the Montgomery Canal at St. Johns Ambulance Hall, Kings Park Road, Southampton 7.45pm for 8.00pm, Society members welcome.
Monday 10th April
Germany - Belgium by Boat, Inland Waterways Cruise filmed and produced by John and June Humphries. Woking Methodist Church Hall, Brewery Road, 7.30
Monday 10th April
Tony Conder curator of the National Waterways Museum at Gloucester Docks talks about the new museum to members of the IWA's Guildford and Reading Branch at the Wey Cruising Club, Wharf Road, Guildford 7.30pm for 8.00pm. Society Members welcome.
Sunday 23rd April
Westel Canoe Club Tourist Trial run in conjuction with the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club at Frimley Lodge Park. Chose your distance from 6 to 40 miles. For full details and entry form, send SAE to Jeff Simmons, 52 Ashgrove Road, Ashford, Middlesex TW15 1PJ. Closing
date 15th April.
Saturday 6th May
Society's Annual General Meeting at Mytchett Community Centre, Mytchett Road, Mytchett 6.30pm.
Saturday 6th May
'Action for Wildlife' Exhibition with the theme "The Environment' mounted by RSBP at Chertsey Halls, Heriot Road, Chertsey 10.00am - 4.00pm.
Sunday 7th May
Family ramble around Lasham meet at 'The Golden Pot' (A32 Alton-Odiham Road) at 10.30 am.
Sunday 14th May
(Not 14th March as previously advertised) Coach trip to National Waterways Museum, organised by local branch of IWA. For details sec BC News, page 13. Or Phone Andy Simmonds on Guildford 576176.
Weekend 3/4 June
Society's Annual boat rally to be held at Spanton's Wharf, Woking (site of last years successful Woking 150 event).
Informal gathering of boats at Old Woking Palace on the Old Woking Stream off the Wey Navigation Just above Papercourt Lock. Come and go as you please. No entry fee, but give a donation to IWA funds and you'll get a commemorative certificate. More details from Tony Davis (Weybridge 0932 S44261).
Sunday llth June
Coach trip to Chichester for canalside walk and harbour boat trip. Numbers limited to 53. For provisional booking contact Bill Homewood (Camberley 61343).
Weekend 8/9 July
Wey Navigation Festival celebrating 25 years National Trust ownership, combined with annual Guildford Festival.
[back to top]
ARMY GIVES TUG A LIFT
ARMY units based near Chatham and at Church Crookham helped the Society move a 35hp Bantam lug from a lake at Sevenoaks and launch it on the Canal at Fleet.
Soldiers of No 18 Squadron attached to No 12 Royal School of Military Engineering Regiment at Wainscott in Kent used a heavy duty mobile crane to lift the 7 ton tug out of the water and onto a low-loader hired from Bordon contractor Gerald Russell.
Waiting at Fleet were members of No 56 Motor Transport Training Squadron to lift the tug off and onto the canal. Local police assisted by controlling traffic and setting up a short-term diversion as the crane
manoeuvred into position on the site of the former canalside coal pens below Malthouse Bridge. The tug, ceremoniously named
Sapper by Pippa Bullock, wife of dredger crew member Ian Bullock, was purchased for £2,000 from the Marley Tile Works at Riverhead.
[back to top]
Remains of wartime defences along the towpath at Dogmersfield. (Photo:M. Hewins)
The section between Fleet and Odiham is particularly rich in these defences, which brings me back to
these holes in the path. It also raises the question whether the Society should have a positive policy about preserving and even restoring at least the best pill boxes in future years. Hants County Council is currently setting up a 'Defence in the Realm' project.
I WAS prompted by K. Blake's letter in your January issue concerning holes in the towpath to write about the defence role of the canal in the last war.
Many readers will know that following Dunkirk a hastily constructed "G.H.Q. Stop Line" was built to protect London from invading German forces. It was all done so quickly that no proper plans were made at the time. Recently, most gun emplacement and major features, including those in our area were listed in Pill Boxes by Wills.
The Basingstoke Canal which afforded a ready made anti-tank ditch was part of the Stop Line, as was part of the K&A. Now 50 years on, local historians arc taking increasing interest in the 'dragons teeth', pill boxes etc along the tow path.
Remains of wartime defences along the towpath at Dogmersfield. (Photo:M. Hewins)
I am not suggesting that dangerous holes should be left in the towpath. However, there does seem a case for properly recording and mapping their extent and keeping a few short sections in a recognisable condition flush to the ground. A brief mention of this aspect of the Canal's history could usefully be included on future displays and leaflets. If anyone has already done a proper survey perhaps they could let me know.
31 Badshot Park, Badshot Lea, Farnham, Surrey.
NO BAN ON DOGS
As an enthusiastic Society member since shortly after it was founded I was astonished by the intemperate remarks on the Comment page of your January issue under the heading 'Educating Dog Owners'.
My garden backs onto the canal and I observe that something like 80% of the walkers on the towpath are accompanied by dogs. Would many of them take such a walk without a dog? Would dog-owning walkers leave their pets at home whilst walking the towpath?
I frequently use the towpath to walk my two dogs. They behave, like the majority of other dogs, by using the areas away from the trodden path for their business. Inevitably those areas are hardly suitable as play areas for young children.
Perhaps, before talking about 'banning' this and that on the canal one might reflect that not many dogs throw stones and fireworks at the ducks or shoot at the swans with airguns. Even fewer vandalise the locks and restoration works. None, I would venture to say, leave fishing lines and hooks or fast food litter on the banks to desecrate the
The remark in question is possibly the reaction of one unfortunate who has recently 'trodden in something' rather than one which reflects the official attitude of the Society. Otherwise it is unlikely to generate much support from the public in general. There will, of course, be those who will support it - as they have every right to do - but they may be outnumbered by another group who would support a general ban on smoking on the towpath on environmental grounds.|
Broadwater Close, Woking, Surrey.
Vandalised bridge at Sheerwater
[back to top]
Mr and Mrs. I.W. Plait, Farnborough; Mr. P. Grey, Wokingham; James Turner, Arford; St. Johns (Woking) WI, St. Johns; Mr. and Mrs. T.I. Farrell, Kemshott; Mr. and Mrs. M.J. Appleton-Collins, West Byfleet; Mr. K. Corcoran, Horsell; Mr. S.H. Leake, Andover; Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Smith, Croydon; Mr. C.J. Peacock, Guildford; Mr. G.B. Thomsett, Fleet; Mrs. E. Williamson, Fleet; Mr. G.E. Morris, Loughton; Janet Wilkes, Camberley; Mr. and Mrs. M. Fisher, Weybridge; Mr. N.W. Mayne, Fleet; Mr. and Mrs. K.G. Cosham, Ash Vale; William Tanner, Fleet; Roy Bishop, Twyford; Mr. V.A. Benning, Maidenhead; Mrs. M. Cowen, Blackheath; Leslie Gentry, Fleet; Harold and Helen Bawtree, West Byfleet; Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Tietze, Shepperton; Mr. B.R. Davies, Fleet; Walton on Thames WI, Walton on Thames; Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Forteath, Wrecclesham.
Mr. R. Del'a Fitzgeorge, Canterbury; Mr. N. E.J. Elbourne, South Croydon.
[back to top]
RAMBLES FOR ALL AGES
BILL HOMEWOOD's monthly rambles are attracting more members to join his Sunday expeditions covering some of the finest local countryside on and off the canal.
On Sunday, 19th March it's back to the Canal for a 5-1/2 mile walk across Dogmersfield Park and along the towpath covering the unspoilt, wooded length between Winchfield and Odiham. Meet at Colt Hill car park at 2.30pm.
In April there's an 11-1/2 mile trek along the canal from Ash Vale to Woking. The going is easy but for anyone wishing to cover only part of the route, a lunchtime stop at Brookwood Lock 12 makes a convenient finishing or starting point. (Brookwood Station connecting with Ash Vale and Woking is close by).
Meet at Ash Vale Station at 10.30am on Sunday 16th April. After lunch departure: 2.00pm.
Younger Members Easter Hike
Rivers, fords and fields feature in a special Easter Holiday 'Hobo Walkabout' planned for young members and their friends aged between 11 and 15 years old.
The 10 mile route along the Hampshire/Berkshire border will include stops for a hot lunch and tea-time snack. Lead by Bill Homewood, an experienced rambler and walks organiser, the hike will be on Saturday, 1st April starting at 10.15 from Potbridge, near Winchfield.
No special walking kit is needed but there is a charge of £1.00 per entrant to cover meals. Advance booking is necessary, by phone, or writing to Bill Homewood (address below). Each entrant will receive a free Hobo Kit, route plan and timetable, and a consent form to be
returned by a parent or guardian. Applications should be received by 27th March latest.
Lasham in the Spring
A 6 mile ramble over the Hampshire countryside around Lasham is planned for Sunday 7th May starting from The Golden Pot (on the A32 3 miles south of S. Warnborough). Meet at 10.30am. Lunch stop at The Royal Oak, Lasham, Describing the route, Bill writes, "The new green of fresh beech leaves contrast with the darker shades of Yew and Holly; old thatch and apple blossom over flintstone walls complete a picture not to be missed ... this is Hampshire at its best".
Canal and Harbour Special
Chichester Harbour is the venue for a days exploration on Sunday llth June on foot and by boat. A 4 mile walk along the Chichcster Canal (or visit the city) will be followed by a 2 hour harbour cruise.
A coach will pick up from Colt Hill, Odiham car park at 7.30am and at four stops to Brewery Road car park, Woking, returning at 6.30pm (approx). Prices covering coach and boat are: 17.50 adult, children (under 14) £5.50, small children not occupying a seat £1.00. Numbers limited to 53.
Provisional booking can be made by phoning Bill Homewood or sending a postcard, specifying your requirement. Don't send any money initially.
Contact Bill Homewood, 4 Larch Close, Camberley, Surrey GU15 4DB. Tel: Camberley (0276) 61343 7.00pm - 11.30pm.
[back to top]
BOATS RETURN TO WOKING
SITE of last years successful 'Woking 150' boat rally has been chosen for the Society's annual boating event this year.
The rally gives the Society another opportunity to focus attention on the canal through Woking, and to encourage the eastern length to be used more.
Every member can help make the most of the rally. If you are a boat owner, please enter the rally (there's a slipway for trail boats on site).
Boaters can get an entry form and details by sending a SAE to Chris de Wet, 1 Floods Farm Cottages, Chalky Lane, Dogmersfield, Basingstoke, Hants RG27 8TD, phone Aldershot 850311.
Lots of helpers are needed for canalside entertainments. Phone Vic Trott on Woking 68607 with your offer to help.
And every member can help the Society by joining in the weekend's activities. Support us in making the rally Woking's big event of the year, and so persuade the Council to make the canal a feature of the town's development.
The scene at Spanton's Wharf, below Chertsey Road Bridge, Woking, last year when the Society organised a successful rally of boats as part of the 'Woking 150' celebrations. The rally marked the 200th anniversary of the year work started on constructing the canal. (Dieter Jebens/Clive Durley)|
[back to top]
CHEQUE for £750 received from Woking Borough Council as part of £1000 share of 'Woking 150' profit.
ENGINEERING feasibility study on restoration of 1,230 yard Greywell Tunnel has been completed and is due to be published soon.
POSTMEN and women wanted for BC News deliveries in the Guildford and Alton area. If you live in either town please give George of Janet Hedger a call to check if the rounds are near your home. Phone Fleet 617465.
BEST wishes and congratulations to Andy Stumpf who used to manage the Society's Dredger crew, on his promotion by British Waterways to
Manager of the Severn, Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. Andy has been working for BW at Watford.
APOLOGY from Ken Blake for accepting voluntary work is all but over. He and other volunteers have been hard at work clearing banksides which is a never ending job.
MAINTENANCE dredger built for the county councils for use on the canal, to which the Society made a generous contribution, was delivered shortly before this issue was published.
VISIT to the Canal planned in 1990 waterways tour planned by members of the Canal Society of New Jersey.
DESIGNATION of 25 mile length of the canal as an SSSI (Greywell to Brookwood) expected any time.
WEYBRIDGE and District Group RSBP are marking their centenary with an exhibition entitled 'Action of Wildlife' at Chertsey Halls, Heriot Road, Chertsey on Saturday 6th May 10.00am - 4.00pm. Phil Pratt our Exhibitions Manager, is organising a stand to participate in a display of the leading wildlife and conservation organisations with the theme 'The Environment' to promote a balance between industry, recreation and conservation needs.
NEWSLETTER back numbers (almost a complete set) available free from the editor (see below).
[back to top]
Dr. John Whitehead, British
'Canoe Union Medical Advisory Panel
What is it?
Weil's Disease is a bacterial infection carried in rats' urine which contaminates water and wet river bank. The bacteria does not survive for long in dry conditions.
It can occur in any water, including swift streams and rivers. The likelihood of becoming infected is greater from stagnant or slow moving waterways.
How serious is it?
It can be a serious illness requiring hospital treatment and can lead to kidney or liver failure. One patient
in 19 dies with it. Weil's Disease is
a notifiable illness.
How do I catch it?
The bacteria are absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes of the mouth and eyes. It gets into the blood stream more easily if you have a minor cut on your skin or feet.
What should I do about it?
If you fall ill with the symptoms after boating, particularly from 3 -19 days following, then see your doctor immediately.
The most common symptoms are: temperature, an influenza-like illness, and joint and muscle pains (pains in the calf muscles are often particularly noticeable). TELL YOUR DOCTOR THAT YOU HAVE BEEN BOATING AND WHERE, AND ASK HIM IF YOU CAN HAVE A BLOOD TEST FOR WEIL'S DISEASE.
Avoid immersion in stagnant or slow moving water.
Wash or shower after such an immersion.
Cover minor scratches on exposed parts of the body with waterproof plaster.
Use footwear to avoid cutting feet.
If you have a 'flu-like illness' after boating go to your GP early - tell him or her that you have been boating.
For identification of the bacterium within 24 hours your doctor is reminded of the existence of:
The Lepto Spirosis Reference Unit,
Public Health Laboratory, County
Hospital, Hereford HR12ER,
phone O432 274696.
[back to top]
COPY DATE FOR MAY 1989 BC NEWS: 31st MARCH 1989
Published by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Limited, 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 & Chris de Wet.
Collation & Distribution.- Janet and George Hedger, Edwin Chappell and Helpers.
Editorial Office: 60 Middlebourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 3NJ (0252 715230)
Chaiman: Robin Higgs, 18 Bamsford Crescent, West End, Woking. Surrey, GU24 9HX. (09405 7314)
Vice-Chairman: David Millett, 14 Dinorben Close, Fleet, Hampshire, GU13 9SW. (0252 617364)
Hon. Treasurer: John Elliott, 42 Fir Tree Way, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants GU13 9NB. (0252 623314)
Hon. Secretary: Philip Riley, Meadow Vale, Guildford Road, Normandy, Surrey, GU3 2AS. (0483 234776)
Membership Secretary: Edwin Chappell, The Spinney, Meadow Road, Ashtead, Surrey, KT211QR. (0372 272631)
Working Party Organiser: Mike Fellows, 30 Reynards Close, Winnersh, Wokingham, Berks. RG11 5NT. (0734 787428)
Dredger Manager: Roger Fitter, 10 George Road, Fleet, Hampshire, GU13 9PS. (0252 622956)
Working Party Information: Peter Jones, 54 Wharf Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU12 SAY. (0252 313076)
Peter Cooper, 5 Addison Court, Oakley Avenue, Baling, London W5. (01 993 1105)
Trip Boat: Tony Karavis, 12 Loddon Road, Famboraugh, Hampshire, GU14 9NT. (0252 549037)
Sales Manager: Situation Vacant
Talks Organiser: Mrs Janet Greenfield, 9 Mistletoe Road, Yateley, Surrey, GU17 7DT. (0252 873167)
Exhibitions Manager: Phil Pratt, Flat 5, Fleetwood Court, Madeira Road, West Byfleet, Surrey, KT14 6BE. (09323 40281)
[back to top]