November 1989

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    bcnmsthd130 (13K)
No. 148 NOVEMBER 1989

front pic (49K)

page 2

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LOVERS of the Basingstoke Canal have a great deal to thank the army for. Not because they've helped us occasionally by providing transport for a heavy load; a mobile crane when needed or built the odd sandbag wall. But mainly for their presence along the banks of the waterway.

From Pirbright Bridge to Deepcut army land ownership has maintained the atmosphere of remoteness which gives the Deepcut flight its character and charm. The offside bank from Frimley Green to Ash Vale is still natural heathland and pine woods. Even in the centre of the military town, the canal is peace and tranquillity itself — unless you happen to pass one of the rifle ranges in action! Westward, the army presence has kept the environment natural all the way to Fleet.

Elsewhere development has encroached and intensifies, threatening the amenity so many have worked hard to restore and preserve.

The Society keeps a watchful eye on planning applications, and comments appropriately: but some members might argue there is a need for a more public campaign to warn the community at large, and planners in particular, of the need to protect the canal corridor and beyond.

The current interest in 'green' issues and concern for the environment we live in is an ideal opportunity for the Society to focus attention on the fragility of the canal as a 'green lung', as it is sometimes termed — especially in the wake of the environment minister Chris Patten's rejection of turning Foxley Wood into a huge housing estate.

But sparing Foxley Wood may put pressure back on smaller canalside sites, like Freelands Farm at Crookham and Hatchwood Farm at Odiham. For the Government is not going to let Hampshire off the hook to build its quota of new houses.
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NO SOONER will restoration be completed than the canal could be engulfed in a different kind of upheaval.

The Nature Conservancy Council is looking at an idea of constructing a 1/4 mile long by-pass channel between Pondtail and Pyestock. And the road planners are considering tearing a hole in Ash Embankment and introducing a series of locks to enable the Blackwater Valley relief road to cross the canal.

The NCC scheme is more a pipe dream than a realistic proposal. But a major re-alignment of the canal across Ash Embankment could be a real threat. Or is it? Some members may welcome the prospect of such engineering works as a new attraction. Others will be opposed to changing the fabric of the navigation created 200 years ago. What do you think?

IT MIGHT seem churlish to bite the hand that tries to provide for us, but the destruction of trees lining the embankment at Crookham seems an unacceptably high price to pay for creating a new silt dump site. Crookham Deeps, as this stretch of the canal is known, is a favourite haunt for fishermen. It is also one of the most memorable spots on the canal with an open, rural view across the canal to the south and a screen of mature trees, providing shelter from northerly winds, colour and wildlife interest along the towpath.

Every effort should be made to review all the alternative dump sites before this delightful scene is irrevocably altered.
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THE CANAL has come under the biological microscope like never before. The flora is catalogued, the dragonflies counted, water analysed and every minute change is observed, noted and reported on at length.

While the wildlife conservationists watch the boating activity and fear for the future of the aquatic habitat, boats may not be the bogeys they are feared to be.

A shortage of water is much more likely to represent the prime source of danger to all in­terests in the waterway.

Boaters, naturalists and anglers need to address the source of additional water supplies as the problem that affects them all.

floral design (5K)
Wishing all our readers a very
Happy Christmas

The Thatched Cottage overlooking the canal at Winchfield. (Photographs by Dieter Jebens. Processing and prints by Alison Snell, Clive Durley and Freelance Photo Services, Famborough).

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page 3

THE 200 Club has been producing a steady and welcome income for the Society for many years. We have a large core of regular members and a steady stream of newcomers each year to replace those who leave, maintaining a membership of just under 120.

What does it do? For a subscription of just £12 a year — payable either as a lump sum or by bankers order at £1 per month — your name will be entered in six draws a year. The total prize money is half the subscriptions and there are four prizes in each draw. The more members, the bigger the prizes. It is a very easy way to help the Society. So please fill in the enclosed form and send it to Derek Truman, Compton Cottage, 11 Connaught Road, Fleet, Hants GU13 9RA. Remember you can have as many subscriptions as you like. Perhaps you will join the AUGUST WINNERS who were:

Mr. M. King of Thames Ditton £59; Mr. P.J. Topp of Surbiton £29; Miss L.H. Neville of Berkhampstead £15 and Mr. A.G.M. Batten of Woking £15.

DESPITE a disappointing turnout for this year's sponsored walk, two Society members walked the 15-mile route to raise £1,000 between them. Alison Snell of Alfold near Headley was sponsored for a record sum of £650, and Margaret Coles of Horsell, Woking set out to raise £400.

The 75 sponsored walkers, including local scouts, guides and sea cadets from TS Mary Rose at Basingstoke, enjoyed fresh but bright conditions.

Hoping to raise over £2000, walk organiser Bill Homewood expressed his thanks to the marshals, the warden of Chobham Common for transporting him in preparing the route and to committee member Vic Trott for assisting with sign posting and other last minute tasks.

* Cartoon on the cover of the sponsored walk booklet was kindly drawn by Gaynor Colbourne of 'Yes Design and Marketing'.

Bill Holmwood with Dick and Alison Snell (13K)
Bill Homewood (centre) with Alison Snell and her husband Dick.

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cruiser on the canal (18K)

Thanks to Galleon Marine's new proprietor, Gordon Muchamore, this year's grand draw star prize will again be a 3-day Basingstoke Canal cruise aboard a luxury cabin cruiser. Last year's winners, the Adams family from Byfleet, spent an enjoyable holiday trip during which they had an early morning visit from a hen pheasant and her brood of chicks; dinner at 'Potters' (not pheasant, we're told) with their boat conveniently tied up outside the restaurant window, and a lunch time stop watching army units passing by on training exercises.

FOR the past three years the Department of the Environment has made the Society an annual grant towards our restoration costs. The payments ended last year: the Society is now entirely reliant upon local government donations, fund raising events, membership subscriptions, revenue from sales, proceeds from talks etc.

To complete restoration and re­open the canal next year as planned, the Committee urges members to assist in everyway possible, and to support the Society's events in order to achieve our objective.

BOOK a studio photo portrait of yourself or the family before the end of November at a cost of only £7.50 (usual price £15). Then choose from a selection of studies and order an 8" x 6" colour print, supplied in a

presentation folder, for only £4.98 (usual price £10.95). And the Society will get a donation of £2.50 from the photographer.

Ring Freelance Photo Services — Farnborough (0252) 511258.

THE IDEA for a special medallion to be designed to mark the restoration of the canal, and offered for sale to voluntary workers, has come in for a good deal of support.

A number of members have contacted John Greenfield who came up with the idea in the last issue of BC News. Now we need someone to design it and find out who can make them. If any member is abie to help, contact John Greenfield (address on back page).
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page 4

Ginny Millard
JENNY ROBERTS, the owner of a horse drawn 54 year old narrow boat Iona, in conjunction with the National Trust, organised a four day trip from her base at Godalming to the Thames.

It was to be a special trip to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Trust's ownership of the River Wey.

I've known Jenny now for a couple of years and admire the way she, her family and loyal friends run the public boat trips on Iona with her two horses Domino and Baccarat.

Jenny was hiding her panic well on day one, but we all shared her huge disappointment when it drizzled all morning. The VIPs on Iona were a little damp and turning blue in their summer frocks.

The horses did alternate days and behaved impeccably, despite being antagonised by a stallion, barked at by dogs, overtaken by cyclists and halted when the towpath disappeared in places. However Lynx, Dave Daines' 70' diesel engined working narrow boat, was on hand to tow Iona when needed while the horse was walked across the main road, over the bridge or round the back of canalside buildings.

The enthusiasm of all involved kept spirits high and the rain held off for the next three days, despite forecasts to the contrary, until they reached their destinalion, Thames Lock. Jenny, who had walked the whole 15 or so miles with the horse, turned to me and said quietly - but grinning from ear to ear - "We've made it". Five minutes later it poured down with rain, but the crew were all very happy and relieved that this historic trip had gone so well.

I've earned a place as crew because I had done some crochet lace for Iona.Also I was 'official' photographer with my Instamatic so that Jenny would have enough slides to illustrate her talk to the Society in November.

I found the trip a very heart-warming experience and it was a privilege to be with people who are so committed to keeping our inland waterways alive.

650 MOTORISED boat owners have expressed a wish to visit the Basingstoke Canal next year when it is expected to be re-opened to the Wey Navigation — that's exactly double the number of motor boat licences currently available.

In a survey conducted by the Guildford and Reading branch of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) over the past six months, 380 boat owners based on the Wey Navigation wished to apply for an annual licence, with a further 120 intending to seek short term licences. An additional 150 boaters moored on the Thames and further afield indicated they would like to visit the canal next year.

Representing boating interests on the canal's Joint Management Committee (JMC), due to meet in November when licence numbers will be reviewed for 1990, the local branch of the IWA has conceded that the JMC is unlikely to double the existing number of annual licences available.

In an effort to satisfy as many boaters as possible, the local IWA branch chairman, Brian Percy, is seeking agreement to raise the number of annual motorised boat licences by 150 and offer an unrestricted number of visitors licences.

Making the recommendation Brian Percy stresses that the compromise is seen as a short term solution to cover only the first year of re­opening. By putting the emphasis on visitors licences, it is felt that the authorities can control the number of boats entering the canal more effectively in case of a need to impose restrictions at short notice for any reason.

With an ever present need to conserve water supplies, it is recommended that resident boaters who do not use the locks are given a discount to encourage them to continue their restricted use of the canal.

Hire craft should also be allowed to visit the canal providing they are licensed.

The JMC meets on Wednesday 8th November.
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THE WEEKEND of 16th/17th September saw some 25 boats at Lock One to mark the anniversary of the 'Official Re-opening' which took place on 18th September last year. There was a barbecue on the Saturday evening and a display showing the restoration work on the lock carried out by the Guildford and Reading Branch of the IWA over some 11 years. On the Sunday three small boats were portaged round the lock and navigated the canal to Lock Two

The event was organised by the Byfleet Boat Club to draw attention to the fact that a year after Lock One was re-opened it is still not possible for boats from the Wey Navigation to cruise any further along the canal.

(picture: Ray Carnell)

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page 5

INTRODUCING the new canal director Paddy Field, his thoughts on managing the canal, the problems ahead and the Society's future rale, by Dieter Jebens.

Paddy Field's first career, as he puts it, was with the colonial police service in Uganda. Following independence he joined the RAF and spent the next 30 years moving around the world, retiring with the rank of Wing Commander. For the past 18 months he has been bursar at Cranbrook School in Kent.

Married with a grown up family, Paddy and his wife Hilary enjoy outdoor recreation and sports, especially cross country skiing. Nearer home, Paddy is a member of the Fleet and Crookham Athletic Club. He has enjoyed use of the canal as a canoeist and towpalh walker.

Paddy Field (10K)

How does he view his new job? The advertisement emphasised having 'a flair for promotions'. Would ihe canal become a sort of theme park perhaps? "No", he said reassuringly, "I don't see it developing into an 'aquatic Costa del Sol'. The canal is not only an amenity for recreation but also a green corridor to provide peace and quiet".

"It's important not to spoil the natural character of the rural lengths in Hampshire", he said, but felt that the Surrey end is different. "The urbanised canal through Woklng is a suitable venue for a visitors' centre, as part of the development of Brewery Road car park, for instance".

On a question of a possible conflict between boating and nature conservation, Paddy thought that the fear of too many boats would not materialise. "There's a physical limit to the number of visiting boaters who will be prepared to work though 29 locks" he predicts.

In support of cruising, Paddy believes people like to see boats on the move. "I was out in a steam launch recently and saw how people enjoyed the sight of a passing boat".

"The canal was built for navigation and has been restored with that purpose in mind. If it's not maintained as such it will weed over and silt up, and the natural history will kill itself. At the same time we mustn't flood the canal with boats and so spoil ihe wildlife interest", he concludes.

A number of Society members feel that wildlife conservationists might do more to protect species, by creating reserves in the canal side flashes. Paddy agrees: "Flashes are an obvious solution. I intend to pursue every opportunity to discuss with the Nature Conservancy Council and local wildlife groups to join with us in preserving the natural habitats".

One of the first jobs will be to present his plans for managing the canal as an entity. "There are obvious benefits to be gained from a unified budget, and common management practices to eradicate differing standards of maintenance and aim for the highest standard possible" he asserted, adding "working as a single team we can also aim to give priority to the most important jobs".

Asked what he saw as the canal's most pressing problems, the new director already has a clear view on the areas for concern: "The supply of water is an historic problem and cannot be solved overnight", he warned, but stressed that he would be pursuing every possible source to supplement the existing spring water supply at Greywell.

Dredging also concerns him. "This is not so much a problem of cost but where to find acceptable disposal sites", he said.

Did he feel the Society, and especially voluntary workers, had a future role to play? The director was emphatic in believing that the Society must continue. "The canal can't do without the Society", he replied. "There are many ways in which members can remain involved, both in maintenance work and, as a sort of supporters club, in helping to run a future visitors' centre".

"There's also a proposal for turning a barge into a floating museum which will need voluntary support, and there are all sorts of other possibilities", he said.

Paddy spoke enthusiastically about preserving and restoring the canal's historic features, such as Lock 30 in Greywell cutting, and perhaps rebuilding bridges which no longer exist, if rights of way justified reinstatement. He gave the swing bridge at Crookham as an example: "Even if the vandalised bridge were to be replaced by a brick bridge, it should be installed elsewhere for everyone to see an example of this type of canal crossing".

There was just time to ask Paddy for his views on restoring Greywell Tunnel and the western end. As with all his answers, he has a positive opinion, qualified only by the need to solve the practical problems. "Restoration of the tunnel and beyond is a very exciting project", he believes. "The tunnel is of great historic interest, and if you consider how restoration has transformed the previously derelict canal, the benefits are plain to see". "But there are obstacles to overcome", he pointed out. Surprisingly, he regards the bats as least of these. "The bats can be protected", he feels, "by considering some of the sensible proposals put forward, given goodwill on both sides".

He considers the real problems to be mainly the high cost of restoring the tunnel; engineering difficulties in stabilising the cutting at the western end, and the possible effect upon the restored 32 miles of canal in terms of water supply. "If re-opening the tunnel and the western end were to have a detrimental effect on the rest of the canal, then the project couldn't go ahead" he concluded.

The Society has consistently advocated that the canal would benefit from autonomous management, and so welcomes Paddy Field's appointment. But was there not a possibility that the director would just be another link in the bureaucratic chain? Paddy could have dismissed the possibility with the arrogant assurance of a politician. But he didn't.

"I hope I will be operating with a minimum of centralised supervision. Of course matters will need to be cleared by the Joint Management Committee and the county authorities, but I expect to be left to get on with the day-to-day management once I'm established", he replied thoughtfully. And to that end, the Society will wish him every success.
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page 6

Monday 13 November
Jenny Roberts, owner of the horse drawn trip boat Iona recalls a unique four day trip up the Wey Navigation from Godalming to Weybridge to mark the 25th Anniversary of the National Trust's ownership.
Methodist Church Hall, Brewery Road, Woking 7.30 pm for 7.45pm.

Monday 20th November
Basingstoke Canal Boating Club meeting at Frimley Green Working Mens Club, Sturt Road {village centre), to learn about resuscitation and first aid techniques, 8.00pm.

Monday 27th November
IWA Guildford and Reading branch meeting at Wey Cruising Club, Wharf Road, Guildford to hear John Wood, Secretary of Wey and Arun Canal Trust talk about progress in restoring the Wey and Arun, 8.00 pm.

Tuesday 28th November
Informal meeting at the Barley Mow, Winchfield. New members ask for David and Rosemary Millett.

Sunday 19th November
This month's ramble is led by Dave Gerry, author of the Society's Towpath Walks along the Basingstoke Canal. Meet at 10.00am at the war memorial in Odiham High Street. Essentially a morning's walk with a hot pub lunch. If the weather's fine and the walkers willing, the ramble may resume in the afternoon.

Tuesday 26th December
'Mince Pie' Boxing Day cruise on the canal organised by the Basingstoke Canal Boating Club. For details phone Paul Buck on Alton (0420) 83353.

Sunday 6th January
Ramble led by Bill Homewood. Meet at Colt Hill, Odiham, for a local walk of about 6 miles pub lunchtime stop.

Monday 8th January
'1966 and All That' - BC News editor and a founder member, Dieter Jebens, recalls how the society was formed, the canal at the time and the campaign for restoration. Methodist Church Hall, Brewery Road, Woking, 7.30pm for 7.45pm.

Tuesday 23rd January
Informal members meeting at the Barley Mow, Winchfield. New members especially welcome: ask for David Millett.

Monday 29th January
Guildford and Reading IWA branch meeting at Wey Cruising Club, Wharf Road, Guildford. Talk by John Hine, Commercial Manager of British Waterways.

Looking for typesetting, or advice on Desktop Publishing systems?

Contact us for quotations, help with system selection, installation service, training and support contracts. In fact anything to do with Desktop Publishing.

Chris de Wet, Distinguished Data Limited — Dogmersfield Telephone: 0252 850311

sales team (15K) MEET THE SALES TEAM (Left to right): Gill Heather, the trip boat's crew training officer and sales man­ager, Bemie Timms and Site Palmer who recently took on the management of the Society's sales stand and John Greenfield who handles mail order and trade sales (see list in BC News)

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Dear Fellow Members (This means you!)
YOU MAY have read in the last newsletter of our sudden elevation to the position of sales managers for the Society, and be wondering what are our qualifications for this task? The answer to this is, of course, none whatsoever. We have no experience of selling in any shape or form, we are both by nature quiet and retiring (?!) and could not organise our way out of a paper bag! We do have however what we consider to be three very useful assets — a narrowboat, Muddy Waters, on the Basingstoke Canal, which has become our means of meeting people and has generated a lot of interest for the canal and the Society, a great love of all aspects and seasons of the canal with interests ranging from conservation to boating and, perhaps most important of all, boundless enthusiasm, which we hope we can pass on to some of the people we meet.

We need YOUR help for this. (Yes, you knew it was coming!). What we want are your ideas and experience, and if you can offer practical help as well, so much the better. What should we put on our display boards? What items would you like to see for sale, and perhaps buy yourselves? Any ideas for a game, like the IWA lock numbers game, to attract attention to the stand? Can anyone contribute local or canal related craft items for sale from the stand? Could you man the stand for a couple of hours at some events? If you have been sitting at home wondering, as we used to, if there might possibly be some small thing YOU could do for the Society, but you don't know what, or you don't know who to ask, then please contact us. Do it now. We want to keep this Society moving forward, and to promote and share our waterway with as many people as possible. Your contribution will help us and others to do this, and who knows, you may even enjoy yourself!

Looking forward to hearing from you
Bernie Timms and Sue Palmer 20 Chart House Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants, GU12 5LS Tel: (0252) 26758
(Or wave us down if you see us on Muddy Waters!)
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page 7

by Peter Cooper
AS THE JOB nears completion, the number of independent tasks remaining, and the number of separate lines of work to be pursued, diminishes. Gone are the days of separate groups restoring separate locks, with minimal reference to each other. But there is still a great deal to be done before the day when the last restoration worker finishes the last restoration task, and the job is done. Even then, it is debatable whether the job will ever really stop, even when all is 'complete'.

Further progress has been made recently. Lock 2 is now in water — there was a significant volunteer contribution here. The 'low gardens' work in the Sheerwater area is complete, and one of the next tasks will be the final completion of Lock 3. In addition, there are still 6 more lock gates (to complete 2 locks) to be built. In all this, volunteers continue to work closely with the full time team.

Weekend Volunteers
Though we no longer guarantee a working party each weekend, there usually is one. But you do need to contact your working party leader beforehand, lo confirm there is work, and to find out where and what it is. Working party leaders are:-

First weekend of the month
PETER JONES on Aldershot 313076

Second weekend of the month
DAVID JUNKISON on 01-941 0685 or DAVE LUNN (temporarily noton phone).

Third weekend of the month
PETER REDWAY on Woking 21710

The overall co-ordinator of this work is FRANK JONES on Dcepcut 835711 (workshop) or Camberley 28367 (home).

Weekday volunteering
If you can come along during the week and help finish this job, then you should contact FRANK JONES (numbers above), and he will be happy to find you something to do.

Hampshire bankside work
1st and 3rd Sundays - 5th Nov. 19th Nov, 3 Dec, 17 Dec, 7 Jan.

This party continue to work on the non-towpath side between Chequers Bridge and Double Bridge. The meeting place is Chequers Bridge and a miniature dinghy rally often takes place, to transport the workers to their workplace; so bring your dinghy if you wish. This is unskilled work suitable for family parties. Further details from PETER JACKMAN on Woking 72132.

Dredging in Hampshire — every weekend
Low water levels caused a halt to dredging operations in July. Approximately 150 yards west of Reading Road Bridge, it is hoped to reach the bridge within five weeks of recommencing dredging. New recruits are always welcomed: full training given for crewing dredger, steering tugs or dragline operating. Contact: ROGER FLITTER on Fleet 622956.
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DISPUTED ownership of a canalside lake at Sheerwater, and its future function, could delay canal restoration work.

Believed to have been a canalside flash, the lake is now overgrown and claimed by nine riparian landowners: part of the lake has been turned into a Japanese water garden.

Lawyers acting for the New Basingstoke Canal Co. Ltd., from whom Surrey County Council bought the canal, maintain that part of ihe lake is owned by the canal company and have instructions to sell it to the county council.

As the lake is connected to the canal, the council wants to dredge it so that it will hold water again once the canal is refilled. Unless the lake, which already takes local surface run-off water, is cleared water from the canal is liable to flood neighbouring gardens.

Protractcd negotiations were thought to have led all nine land­owners involved to agree to dredging the lake, but one is said to have rescinded. The Society's project manager, Frank Jones, has planned to re-introduce water into the Sheerwater pound by the end of the year. But if the future of the lake is not resolved this and other subsequent operations towards completion, are in danger of being delayed.
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HAMPSHIRE canal rangers have been busy piling the canal bank which will be brick faced, similar to the wharf at Colt Hill. The new maintenance dredger Unity has been fully utilised, demonstrating not only its versatile dredging capabilities but also serving as pile-driver.

The wharf, which has been used as a temporary dump after adjacent roadworks, will be cleared, a new formal car park laid and re-grassed.

Members of the Basingstoke Canal Boating Club smartening up Lock 28 at Deepcut which they have chosen to look after as part of the Club's lock maintenance scheme launched earlier this year.


Frank Jones, who is scheme co­ordinator, says two locks out of the canal's total of 29 not yet spoken for.
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page 8

ONLY TWO BATS were spotted during a recent inspection trip inside Greywell Tunnel which naturalists claim houses Britain's largest colony of bats.

Permission for a routine inspection of the 1230 yard long tunnel, made early in September, was granted by Hampshire County Council after consulting the Nature Conservancy Council.

A party of eleven people, including Paddy Field, the canal's new director, Andrew Byfield a local NCC officer and a representative of the Hampshire Industrial Archaeological Society, entered the tunnel aboard an electrically driven work punt.

One of the main findings was the fact that the tunnel invert is not brick-lined throughout as once thought. The lining is clearly seen to finish 800 yards from the eastern portal and then appears to be natural chalk. Samples of the loose silt thought to be a mixture of chalk and clay was taken away for analysis at Southampton University.

Only two bats were seen throughout the 2-1/2 hour inspection which covered 800 yards from the eastern portal to the blockage now extending over 210 yards of the bore.

New visitors to the tunnel were impressed by the crystal clear water, and the generally good state of repair and dryness of the brickwork.

One interesting observation was water dripping through the soffit brickwork, at the location of one of the original construction shafts, about 400 ft below Greywell Hill, indicating that there is still plenty of water in the chalk through which the tunnel was cut.

Next year it is hoped to take a closer look at the invert in the vicinity of the blockage, where the geology changes from chalk to clay. If the invert in the clay area is not lined, the Society's civil engineers believe problems may arise and so they need to know.

Acknowledging Hampshire County Council's co-operation in organising the inspection, Stan Meller, who has been leading investigations into restoring the tunnel said: "It would seem that once again we could not justifiably be accused of disturbing wildlife in the form of bats. Accepting that a good number of bats hibernate in the tunnel during winter months, the situation is clearly quite different in the summer. The absence of bats, other than one or two, supports our proposal for a time-share arrangement for navigation during summer and closure for bat hibernation in winter".
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SURREY County Council Engineers have been puzzling over the best way for the Blackwater Valley relief road to cross the canal on Ash Embankment.

First it was proposed to carry the road over the embankment but this was considered to be an unacceptable intrusion on the environment.

A route at ground level, to tunnel through the embankment, was also rejected on grounds of cost and engineering problems arising from its proximity to the 100 year flood level.

So the council engineers handed the problem to a firm of consulting engineers to suggest a 'cost effective' and sound engineering solution.

Three options were evaluated:
# A scheme to take the road through Ash Embankment and under the canal. To avoid building the road on the flood level, the canal embankment would be raised by about three metres.
# Alternatively carry the road on a four-metre embankment and dramatically alter the canal by locking it down to join the River Blackwater, and back up onto Ash Embankment.
• Thirdly, a scheme to carry the new road on an eight-metre high embankment, lock the canal down to pass under the road but above the level of the Blackwater.

The consultants, Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick, favour the second option which would entail building two 3 chamber staircase locks.

The scheme, which is currently being studied, would call for a permanent pumping station to maintain the existing passage of water to the Surrey section, and relocation of the let-off weir on Ash embankment.

A REGIONAL officer, representing the Nature Conservancy Council on the canal's conservation working party, has proposed a by-pass channel to be constructed between Pondtail Bridge, Fleet and Norris Bridge, Pyestock.

Estimated to cost in excess of £500,000, the plan would be to divert boat traffic onto the new cut and maintain the original channel as a nature reserve.

The concept of the scheme has been accepted in principle by the conservation group members which includes the Society. But since the county councils are unlikely to fund such a project and the Society could not contemplate it, the NCC would have to foot the bill.

In the meantime the use of canalise flashes to serve as nature reserves is being more fully investigated.
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A PLAN to open a new site for dumping silt, dredged from the canal, has been proposed on the north side of Crookham Deeps embankment, opposite the current site.

Although the Society regrets the need to fell mature trees to open the new site, it supports the plan in the apparent absence of an alternative. But the local Parish Council is less supportive of the proposal which Hampshire County Council has put before Hart District Council.

Crookham Village Parish Council is concerned over the number of trees which would have to be destroyed both to open and use the site. They also believe that the temporary alternative pathway would pass through a boggy area and is likely to make walking difficult.

The Council believe that ample capacity for dumping exists on the existing southerly site, or an alternative new site could be established further west, opposite the old West Hart dump site.

One of the arguments in favour of the proposed new site is that the silt dumped would help strengthen the embankment. But the Council believes the area known to be slipping is relatively small, and for the silt dump to be effective, a great deal of additional material would be needed.
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page 9

ONE of the benefits of owning a traliable boat is that you can explore those waterways other boaters cannot reach. You can also plan a cruise to avoid the more formidable waterways — that is until someone persuades you otherwise, as John Green field describes.

About a month before the National Rally at Waltham Abbey, I was planning to trail my 20ft cabin cruiser Witch Wey to Iver for a trip down the Grand Union, via the Hertford Canal, to the rally site on the River Lee, when a chance meeting with Pete Jackman changed all that. He suggested that I join Byfleet Boat Club members on the journey down the Thames to the rally. So, giving some thought as to whether it was sensible to take small 20ft cruiser down the tidal Thames, I agreed to give it a go. Plans were made: search for the anchor; ensure it had 45ft of rope; life jacket a must. Tide times noted from the rally information pack, and the Port of London Auth­ority informed of the day and time we would be travelling. The boat club members gathered at the allotted Thames Lock, on the Wey Navigation, on Friday evening and waited close to the Wey/Thames junction for about an hour whilst cups of tea were consumed and one or two more boats joined us.

At eight o'clock the great adventure started we were off and went through the first couple of locks as darkness fell. In no time at all we had reached Kingston Bridge and moored briefly for more tea. Then off again to arrive at Teddington Lock at 11.45pm where we moored for the night, setting our alarm clocks for 4.30am.

At 5.00 am it was still dark. We put on life jackets, checked that anchors were handy, and tested our radios. By 5.15 the lock deeper was opening the gates, and we were on the (to us) raging waters of the tideway. As dawn broke, trepidation set in — the river looked so wide, and the bridges came thick and fast. I looked at the throttle which was merely idling as we hurtled under bridges, showing our true speed. Although it is exciting travelling in half light, there is little to sec but dark shapes and twinkling lights.

I had originally planned to go only as far as Brentford, but was persuaded to cruise on to Lime house and I was glad that I did as the sight of the Houses of Parliament and HMS Belfast in the clear early morning light were sights worth seeing. We arrived at Limehouse lock at 8.40am to find it closed, so we shot past, turned and came back against the tide. A loud toot from NB Triggs summoned the lock keeper and we all entered safely. Limehouse Lock is unusual in that it has recently been reduced to about half its original size and has curved hydraulic gates.

We congratulated ourselves on how easy the trip had been, only to hear that just hours after we had passed Southwark Bridge the Marchioness had sunk.

We travelled on up the Hertford Union to the Lee Navigation where Herbie lost its propeller. Two members of the party spent two hours diving to find it, giving unexpected entertainment to the residents of some high rise flats nearby. During the week we cruised the Lee and Stort and attended the water Festival. This is a very pleasant rural river and would make an excellent week­end break. The rally, organised annually by the IWA, is well worth a visit as it has developed into one of the most important events on the inland waterways calender. We enjoyed our river trips and the festival immensely.

Our journey back up the Thames, to the quiet waters of the Wey, was undertaken at mid-day on the following Saturday: a new challenge as at this time the river was busy with large pleasure cruisers at Westminster Bridge, water taxis, private boats and, as it turned out, two regattas.

Over the past few years, I have cruised many miles on the inland waterways but this was one of my most exciting and enjoyable trips.


WINNERS of the Fox & Hounds annual awards for 'best boats', presented by Ron Kettle, at the BCBC's autumn gathering at Fleet: (L-R) Roy Mullender and Peter Kilby aboard SL Odiamayde. Ron Kettle, and Bernie Timms, nephew Kevin and Sue Palmer aboard NB Muddy Waters.

THE CANAL corridor is designated a conservation area which provides a measure of protection from unsympathetic development. But with ever increasing pressure or riparian land, the Society is being asked to review the canal's environment to help safeguard the visual, historical and ecological features.

Les Harris of St. Johns, a founder member, has agreed to help review the Surrey length of the canal. Now we need a volunteer in Hampshire.

You don't need any quajificalions but a knowledge of the canal, a desire to learn more and powers of observation would be useful. Help and direction will be on hand from HCC planners and the canal's management who are also involved in the project. If you'd like to learn more, contact the Society secretary, Philip Riley on Guildford 234776.
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page 10

IN VIEW of the ever increasing num­ber of planning applications which affect the canal in the Woking area, John and Margaret Coles have joined with Vic Trott and Peter Coxhead to form a Woking Planning Committee which has recently considered the following proposed developments in consultation with Leg Harris, the Society's Conservation Officer in Surrey. Peter Coxhead reports:

77 The Gateway
This application involved a large piece of land behind existing houses in the Gateway. It is typical 'back-land' development whereby one house is demolished for access purposes and, in this instance, ten new dwellings built, each with double garages.

We strongly objected to the proposal to desecrate this 2-1/2 acre track of delightful wooded land, and we are now awaiting the Planning Committee decision.

Victoria Hospital Site, Victoria Way, Woking 148 Bedroom Hotel -Woking Hilton
This relatively narrow strip of land alongside the canal could well be the chosen site for the much needed hotel. This current application is five storeys high with a roof line some 21 metres above the canal. If built it would be overbearing and intrusive on what is at present a delightful stretch of peaceful waterway close to the town centre. We totally reject this application.

Brewery Road Car Park - 137 Bedroom Hotel (and leisure facilities) — Holiday Inn Hotels
The prospective developer has gone a long way towards meeting the requirements of Woking Council's planning brief (BC News 138, March 1988), complete with a turning space for boats, pub with small museum at rear, function suite, public restaurant, tree lined pedestrian areas and an underground car park for a large number of public cars.

However, we consider that the proposed indented water space forming a turning space for boats is too small, and there is no trip boat station.

Private dwelling (18K)

Private Boat House, Arthurs Bridge Road, Woking
This is part of a nearly completed development of a group of houses built around the restored winding hole.

Some months ago, we received reports from some of our vigilant members that the boathouse was obviously dropping the 'boat' aspect of its intended use. Visits to the Planning Office and closer perusal on site soon confirmed that the developer was not following the approved drawings. Changes are being made to the building, so thanks to those of you who keep us informed.

Kiln Bridge, St Johns, Woking
Our fde on this site is bulging and the latest application is yet a further variation on the many previous hous­ing schemes.

We have made strong comment in the past concerning the height of buildings adjacent to the canal, and at least the current one is for two storey houses with rooms within the roof space. Alas, the positioning is too close to the lock. We have therefore stated that no development should be allowed in the conservation area to the northern side of the lock, which incidentally is in line with the Inspector's report on the Borough Plan.

Hermitage Woods Crescent
An appeal has been lodged against the local council's refusal to grant planning permission for eight new houses on existing garden plots extending down to the canal.

Chris Patten, the new Environment Minister, has said that there would now be 'moves to combat the problem of town cramming' under which open spaces in urban areas, including playing fields and private gardens have been taken out for development'.

Brookwood Hospital
An outline planning application for this sensitive site indicates proposals for 675 houses and 262,000 sq. ft. of commercial use, a marina and car parking phased, we imagine, over many years.

A wide strip of open land is shown on the plans between the canal and the start of the housing. This is part Green Belt and part White Land.

We are stating that none of the proposed housing should be seen from the canal, which if this is to be achieved, would involve dense boundary screening.

David Millett reviews current planning applications along the canal in Hampshire:

Estate at Velmead Farm, Church Crookham
Work is expected to start on building a large new estate, for which permission was finally obtained on appeal last year, on farmland behind Zephon Common woods to the south of Crookham swing bridge.

Although the estate will be hidden from view, the Society fears that the quiet, rural atmosphere will inevitably be disturbed and pressure increased on the environment by the close proximity of the new houses.

The Society supports the local parish council in seeking to have the swing bridge (the only one left on the canal) restored instead of building a fixed crossing.

Houses at Barley Mow Bridge, Winchfield
An application to build two large Elizabethan style detached houses, behind Barley Mow Farmhouse, was turned down by Hart District Council earlier this year. The applicant has appealed to the Department of the Environment and a written inquiry is being held.

Although development would rid the land of unsightly, derelict building once used for pig farming, it sets a very undesirable precedent in new building on the south side of the canal in the area: the opinion expressed by the planners in refusing permission. In any case, the site is outside the permitted local development area, and impinges on the Basingstoke Canal conservation area.
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page 11

WILDLIFE HABITAT REVIEWED CHANGES have taken place in the canal's vegetation over the past year, but not as a result of motor boating. That is the view of professors John Pygott and John Eaton who have analysed the findings of various monitoring programmes initiated by a conservation working group set up by the two county council owners of the canal.

'At the present time we do think that boat traffic is a major influence on the state of the canal ecosystem', the experts conclude. Instead they point to maintenance, recovery from dereliction and restoration plus changes in the water chemistry as factors affecting water plants.

It has been observed that, as the canal is cleared and water movement encouraged, the zones of alkaline and acid water are becoming less marked. In particular plants that thrive in acid water are suffering, and it is suggested that 'the creation of some off-line sites centred on the acid water feeders' be considered.

Weed cutting comes in for some criticism: 'We feel that it may be time to re-appraise the need for extensive midsummer weed cutting in the navigated sections of the canal', the report states, adding that boat traffic may 'exert sufficient stress on vegetation communities to stabilise them in their present diverse states ...'. At the same time the experts point to reedswamp encroaching into open water.

The report suggests that current limitations on water supply during summer months will prevent boat movements damaging plant life. It is calculated that there will be sufficient water for 15-20 lockages daily equating to between 1700 and 2300 boat movements annually. Since the accepted level, before significant changes in plant life are said to take place, is 2000 movements, the biologists conclude: 'Obviously this level of boat traffic will pose little threat to the conservation interest of the canal...'. But they add that sensitive species could be affected by trip boats and hired craft using specific stretches of the canal.

While the biologists have no complaint with the present level of motor boating, estimated to be well within 1000 movements annually, the conflict between the quality of the canal for navigation and as an aquatic plant habitat, is far from resolved.

Summing up, the report says that naturalists are, by and large, happy with the status quo: 'In effect the conservation of the Basingstoke Canal communities (plants) is an attempt to maintain the most desirable state in the face of pressures towards succession but without inducing too great a level of damage'.

While wishing to accommodate the wildlife interests, those with an eye to seeing the canal maintained and operated as an efficient navigation, will be looking for a higher vol­ume of cruising and seeking additional water supplies.

Deepcut below lock 28 (22K)
SUMMER DROUGHT caused wildlife to suffer more dramatically than any conceivable effect of boating. The scene at Deepcut below lock 28.

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IN AN EFFORT to save Kings Head Bridge at Frimley, one of only five original bridges over the canal remaining in Surrey, the Society has asked the County Council to look again.

Plans to demolish the bridge and replace it with a modern wider crossing, has caused an uproar in the village. Destruction of the eighteenth century stone and brick-built hump back bridge is seen as violating a local conservation area, and destroying a quiet and peaceful canal scene favoured by artists and canal visitors.

Concern has also been expressed over road safety. This is one of the few points along the canal which necessitates leaving the towpath to cross the bridge and rejoin the path on the opposite side. Vehicles currently approach the narrow bridge with caution. A new bridge, with a better sight-line and accommodating two-way traffic will attract more vehicles, especially lorries, and greater speed.

Society engineers believe that the reinforced steel girders could be replaced to provide the necessary strengthening needed, and the roadway alignment over the bridge improved, without building a new bridge. The safety aspect could be answered by installing traffic lights similar to those a Mytchett Place Bridge.

If the Society's proposals are considered to be impractical, any new bridge should be built to have the appearance of the original. This, the Society says, has been done, by British Waterways, over the Grand Union Canal, and there are other examples of replicas, constructed on concrete foundations, being built by Hampshire County Council over the Itchen Navigation.

In a letter to Surrey County Council, the Society says: "Members of the Canal Society feel strongly that the bridge should not be replaced unless absolutely essential and then only with a bridge in keeping with the canal".
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page 12

£2500 contribution made by Surrey Heath Borough Council to Society's employment of full time team working towards completing restoration of the canal.
APPLICATIONS made for TUS Trust and Shell Better Britain awards. Society reached finalists in national conservation award sponsored by car makers Ford. £4000 paid by Society towards £86,000 cost of maintenance dredger Unity.
WOKING Borough Council asked by Basingstoke Canal Boating Club to make canal slipway at Boundary Road Common accessible to licensed boat owners. Vehicles are currently barred from common land.
GRAND draw run by Yvonne Chappell has raised over £1600.
TRIP boat John Pinkerton reported to be making another record profit - in excess of £18,000.
DEMAND believed to warrant second trip boat operating in the Woking area once canal is fully navigable. Would any member be prepared to organise another operating group?
HANDICAPPED trip boat organiser in Woking, Mrs. Margaret Gammon, past Mayor of Woking, is seeking a Society member to sit on her committee raising funds for purpose-built narrowboat for handicapped persons. Interested in helping this worthwhile cause? Phone Mrs. Gammon on Woking 4651.
LETTER in The Farnham Herald' complaining about low water level in the River Wey at Alton... from J.M. Pike.
NO RAMBLE in December, says organiser Bill Homewood, but hopes members will join him again after an enjoyable Christmas break.
GLAD to hear that Bert Scammell is on the mend after recent ill-health.
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AFTER a few years break, The Mikron Theatre Company paid us a visit in August with a performance of "Rise and Fall" at the Mytchett Community Centre. About 70 members and friends turned up, including a group from the Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group who were preparing the site of the 1989 National Rally at Waltham Abbey.

The Company, directed by Mike Lucas, travel and live on the 53-year old narrowboat Tyseley once owned by the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company.

The performance was a musical show with an international flavour chronicling the construction of the very first canal boat lifts in England, Belgium, France and Canada. Well acted and sung, the journey of discovery highlighted the problems of combining technological progress with the preservation of our heritage.
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IT IS with sadness that we record the death of Alf Hughes at the end of September. Brought up at Bedhampton near Havant, Alf served with the RAF as a fitter until the 1950's when he transferred to the RAE at Farnborough, working as a civilian until his retirement eight years ago.

He had known the canal for many years. On retiring, he joined the Society and offered to help the Hampshire rangers in a voluntary capacity. His practical experience became very useful to the staff: he could often be seen at work at the Ash Lock depot or steering work boats to the sites where they were needed, with his bike on board to cycle home. At weekends he manned Ash Lock, handing out Society membership forms and giving visitors helpful advice to make the most of the canal. Many members may have seen him at the Woking and Frimley Lodge water festivals based aboard Mudlark, acting as nightwatchman.

In 1988 Alf suffered a diabetic collapse, loosing both feet and almost all his fingers. His will to carry on life as normal as possible was remarkable: he was soon taking an active interest in the canal again, visiting the Woking rally last May and was planning to put his interest in photography to good use by producing prints for BC News.

Regrettably he suffered a stroke recently and his health declined rapidly.

The canal has lost a good friend and valued supporter.
(David Gerry)

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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 & Chris de Wet.
Collation & Distribution: Janet and George Hedger, Edwin Chappell and Helpers.
Editorial Office: 60 Middlebourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 3NJ (0252 715230)
Chairman: Robin Higgs, 18 Barnsford Crescent, West End, Woking, Surrey, GU24 9HX. (09905 7314)
Vice-Chairman: David Millett, 14 Dinorben Close, Fleet, Aldershot, Hampshire, GUIS 9SW. (0252 617364)
Hon. Treasurer Nigel Parsons, 14 The Piccards, Chestnut Avenue, Guildford, Surrey GU2 5DW. (0483 571709)
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: Frank Jones, Beulah, Parkstone Drive, Camberley, Surrey, GU12 2PA. (0276 28367)
Dredger Manager: Roger Flitter, 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 Redway, 1 Redway Cottages, St. John's Lye, Woking, Surrey, GU211SL. (0482 721710)
Trip Boat: Tony Karavis, 12 Loddon Road, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 9NT. (0252 549037)
Sales Managers: Sue Palmer & Bernie Timms, 20 Charthouse Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU12 5LS. (0252 26758)
Mail Order Sales: John Greenfield, 9 Mistletoe Road, Yateley, Camberley, Surrey, GU17 7DT. (0252 873167)
Talks Organiser: Mrs Janet Greenfield, 9 Mistletoe Road, Yateley, Camberley, Surrey, GU17 7DT. (0252 873167)
Exhibitions Manager: Phil Pratt, Flat 5, Fleetwood Court, Madeira Road, West Byfleet, Surrey, KT14 6BE. (09323 40281)

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Last updated April 2005