No. 154 NOVEMBER 1990
AFTER more than ten years editing BC News, the task of editing a new monthly magazine and other business commitments means its time to hand over the newsletter.
My decision coincided with winning this year's Tom Rolt award, sponsored by the IWA, which is a satisfying note to conclude on. It is also an appropriate occasion to thank all contributors, and the distributors lead by George and Janet Hedger. My personal thanks go to Chris de Wet for his typesetting and helping to improve the style and presentation of BC News. It has also been a personal pleasure to work with him. And my sincere thanks to Jo Evans of St. John's for deciphering and processing the material: without her loyal support I would have called a halt long ago.
I hope to continue contributing, but we do urgently need a new editor or editors. If you have any interest in considering the job I will be happy to tell you what is involved.
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UNDER A CLOUD
ONLY 30 people turned out for the Society's annual sponsored walk. Explaining the reason, organiser Bill Homewood thinks many prospective walkers decided that they were not prepared to raise money intended to help use and develop the canal as a navigation if, in reality, it is to be maintained as a nature reserve.
Whatever the outcome of the NCC's pressure to restrict motor boating, the Society is well supported in wishing the canal to be re-opened and used as an amenity as much as for the benefit of its wildlife.
Alan Franklin editor of the Surrey and Hants Star wrote: 'The canal is full of wildlife and will continue to be so, boats or no boats. However, if you kill the enthusiasm of the people whose free labour continues to preserve this wonderful amenity, it will soon revert to being a damp ditch, full of old bedsteads and rubbish'.
An editorial comment in the Aldershot News supported the 'indignation of the canal members ... when the Nature Conservancy Council looms menacing and large and starts to pontificate about the waterways future use'. The Aldershot News stated 'We who are fortunate enough to live in this part of the South East owe a great debt to the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society. In 15 painstaking years its determined team of voluntary workers has transformed the Basingstoke Canal from a rat infested rubbish-strewn ditch into a picturesque inland waterway, rich in natural beauty and abundant in wildlife.
Politicians too have expressed their concern of the NCC's aim to restrict the passage of boats along the canal. Woking's MP Mr Cranley Onslow, a vice president of the Society, has written to Environment Secretary Mr Chris Patten: "There is widespread annoyance and concern in my constituency about the NCC proposals ... to restrict use by water traffic to a point where it may well revert to dereliction". Mr Onslow found the NCC's last minute demands 'amazing' after all the time and money spent on restoring the canal to a fully navigable condition, and asked Mr Patten to take a personal interest 'in this disturbing situation which is doing nothing to increase public confidence in the cause of nature conservation'.
Hart District Council has also attacked the NCC's call to limit boating. 'Hart Council is deeply concerned because these proposals run directly counter to the original reason for the renovation of the canal — to completely restore it for boating', said technical services director, Peter Fry.
The Society can take heart from the widespread support but it must continue to fight the threat posed by the NCC which, by definition of its purpose, is interested solely in conserving wildlife habitats at a scientific level and has no concern for amenity use or the maintenance requirements of the navigation.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
THE Society seems to be at a junction. Restoration is behind us, where do we go from here?
There's the western end to tackle but only outline approval to proceed. Canal director Paddy Field wants the continued support of volunteers but to do what has not been clearly defined. And the Society's chairman has stated that we shall not fund maintenance works but wish to play an active role in other ways — quite how remains a mystery.
The Society's management needs to show the way ahead. We have tended to become more reactive than proactive, responding to situations rather than leading the way.
The Committee needs to seek and encourage newer members to take an active part. The Society ought to be creating and promoting concepts for riparian developments such as the site of Brewery Road car park in Woking. We should be campaigning for a greater level of local government finance to enable the BCA to maintain and improve the canal. And we should be more actively pursuing such projects as the conversion of a barge to a floating information cum museum centre.
The Society remains strong in numbers and support but weak in its future strategy.
At the crucial meeting of the canal's Joint Management Committee, the NCC's proposed 25-mile SSSI designation of the canal, expected this month, was postponed until after the next JMC meeting next Spring, giving the canal director time to pursue a resolution of the current conflict in the interim.
Locks working, dear water, bankside flowers — the idyllic scene on the Deepcut flight not seen for the past two years.
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by Peter Cooper
THERE is a major omission from these notes in this edition of the newsletter and it indicates how near we are to completion. For the first time in about 15 years, no lock restoration working parties are listed. There is not enough work to keep them regularly employed and they have been stood down. The Society would like to express its gratitude to the final lock-restoring working party leaders, and to thank them for all their hard work and commitment to the job; a big final 'thank you' to PETER JONES, PETER REDWAY, DAVID JUNKISON and DAVE LUNN.
The Society's full time team have kept hard at it, however. They have been finishing the last two Woodham locks, 3 and 4, and have removed the work compound between them. They have performed certain rectification works as necessary on the Deepcut flight and nearby, in the workshop, the last lock gate is being built. Provided there is enough water in the meantime, the work is still on target for completion and reopening in May 1991.
Dredging in Hampshire every weekend
Well, actually not dredging any weekend recently! Owing to water shortage, dredging has been suspended since July. The dredger team have been carrying out an engineering programme, including repair work on barges, tugs and dragline. Now following a boiler inspection on Perseverance, tubes have to be replaced before dredging can resume. Helpers are welcomed both for the engineering jobs, at present, and as crew when dredging restarts. Further details from Roger Flitter on Fleet 622956.
Hampshire bankside work
1st and 3rd Sundays - 2 Dec, 16 Dec, 6 Jan, 20 Jan, 3 Feb. 17 Feb
This party expect to be working in the Crookham area, probably clearing the offside bank. The work is unskilled and suitable for family parties. For exact location, and other details, contact PETER JACKMAN on Woking 772132.
If you are able to come along and help work on the canal during the week, even if only for a few days, then you should contact FRANK JONES on Deepcut 835711 (workshop) or Camberley 28367 (home) and he will be happy to find you something to do.
RECYCLING CANAL RUBBISH
COMMITTEE member David Junkison, organiser of the Society's participation in the IWA's national 'Clean Up Canals Campaign' held last month, about to put a discarded bike
into use again at the end of the first day's clean up of the canal through Woking, during which volunteers recovered 46 supermarket trolleys among other alien artifacts.
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BCA WANTS VOLUNTEERS
I AM at something of a loss in understanding Brian Smith's belief that Society volunteers are 'no longer required by the BCA' (BC News 153). My views on the long-term need for continued close co-operation between volunteers and the full-time canal team have been publicly stated at the Society's AGM and widely reported in BC News and elsewhere. Nothing has changed that position.
Mr. Smith may be confused by the fact that management of the canal is still in an interregnum phase. Although the BCA has assumed responsibility for the administration, management and maintenance of the canal, Surrey County Council has retained responsibility for restoration works and the BCA is only taking over the restored structures as they are released to us by the County. Any question of using volunteers on the few remaining restoration works is therefore a matter between Surrey County Council and the Society, through Frank Jones. The Canal Authority has no involvement.
Having said that, it must be obvious to even the most ardent volunteer that as restoration works are completed, the nature of the tasks along the canal will change, and we are currently in discussion with the Society's officers to try to identify a list of satisfying and rewarding tasks that we can offer to volunteers in both the short and long term. If Mr. Smith, or any other reader, has constructive proposals to put forward, we should be very pleased to consider them.
May I also take the opportunity to correct a statement by Peter Cooper in the same issue of BC News. The removal of the causeway and the compound above Lock 3 was not carried out by the Society's full time team but by Tony Beechcr the senior canal ranger, virtually single-handed. Our small ranger team get scant praise for all their efforts along the canal; let us for once give credit where credit is due. Well done, Tony!
Director, Basingstoke Canal
Ash Lock Cottage, Government
Road, Aldershot, Hants.
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1990 has been a very successful year for the Society's sales stand. Organised by new managers Bernie Timms and Sue Palmer, it has been seen at many local and waterways events, including the Basingstoke Canal Boating Club's 'Boals Afloat' weekend at Frimley Lodge Park, Rushmoor Steam Rally, Kennct and Avon Canal re-opening celebrations at Reading and Newbury and, of course, the IWA's national rally of boats at Gloucester.
The estimated takings for this year will be over £2,000 from sales of books, painted ware and souvenirs, operation of ihc Basingstoke Canal treasure hunt game, and many generous donations. The stand will continue on a smaller scale throughout the winter, attending the Society's social meetings at Woking and smaller local bazaars and charity markets wherever possible.
Many thanks are due to everyone who has helped with this venture, by giving practical or moral support, particularly those who have given their time to help man the stand at various events.
Special thanks go to the ladies of
Sue Palmer's 'painting parties' who have given freely of their time and talent, and have made the production of endless painted ware for the stand an immensely enjoyable task. This has proved to be such a popular working parly that the ladies will be
able to supply both the stand and the trip boat, John Pinkerton in 1991.
Please continue to support the sales stand by attending the Woking meetings, and other events if you can, and remember us when looking for that unusual Christmas present.
End of season cruise for members of Sue Palmer's painting party
200 CLUB FUND RAISER
YES, we do still need money. The short term cash position looks reasonable, but our campaigns to ensure full navigation of the canal — despite the activities of the NCC — may well become costly. We still need a new van for the volunteers. The last requirement is especially important if we start on the western end — a project which itself will be expensive.
The 200 Club provides an easy way of raising valuable funds for the Society. It gives all who join the chance to win four substantial prizes every two months. The club members and the Society each get half of everything we raise.
To give yourself the chance of joining the list of winners below, all you have to do is complete the form enclosed with this newsletter. Send it with a cheque for £12.00 or complete the Banker's Order and send them to: Derek Truman, Compton Cottage, 11 Connaught Road, Fleet, Hants GU13 9RA. Remember you can have more than one subscription. Why not ask your friends to join
too and give us the chance of exceeding this year's record membership.
Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Harding - £67.00
Mrs. H.D. Jamieson - £33.00
Mrs. F.Y.R. Maccy - £17.00
Miss K. Watkins - £17.00
Miss K. Watkins - £67.00
Mr. A.J.F. Hocking - £34.00
Mrs. N. Jones - £17.00
Mr. C. de Wet - £17.00
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GRAND DRAW TICKETS
OWING to a slip-up insufficient draw tickets were ordered. As a result some members did not receive four books with their last issue of BC News. You will find them enclosed this time and I apologise for the mistake. There is still plenty of time for you to sell as many books as possible. Remember all the profits go to ihc Society's funds. With Christmas rapidly approaching, bear
in mind you could buy a book of tickets as a stocking filler and imagine the recipient's delight should they win a prize. Please help me to make it as successful as previous years.
ORIGINAL SHARE CERTIFICATES
IDEAL CHRISTMAS GIFT
MINT condition share certificates, issued in the name of Sir Frederick Hunt, Bart MP, the major shareholder in the Woking, Aldershot and Basingstoke Canal Navigation Company Ltd, owners of the Canal from 1896 -1900, are offered for sale to Society members.
Apart from their historic interest, the certificates (size 13-1/2" by 14-1/2") make attractive framed wall decorations and are also considered an investment with the growth in collecting company share certificates.
A limited number are available at £34 each (plus £1.50 post & packing) - £2 will be donated to Society Funds. To order contact Dieter Jebens - editorial office, back page.
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WILDLIFE CONSERVATION ISSUE
'CUT DOWN THE TREES' SAY 'CONSERVATIONISTS'
by John King
THIS is just one of the consequences of the proposals made by the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) to designate much of the Basingstoke Canal as a Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI).
The proposals were published in September and a meeting of Society members was called urgently to discuss them and the Society's response. It was attended by over 200 people. The mood varied between indignation and outrage at the unfair and undemocratic nature of the proposals.
Robin Higgs, Society chairman, opened the meeting by referring to the NCC publication The Basingstoke Canal — A Future for Wildlife?, and to his letter distributed with the last issue of the BC News. There had already been a large response and many letters have been written to MPs and members of local authorities. This is very gratifying he said, but the pressure must be maintained and, with everyone's help, increased.
He emphasised the complexity of the issues, both ecological and legal. The NCC has powers under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to designate as a SSSI any area where there are plants and creatures which have a particular scientific interest. This gives them authority to control activity within that site. The only statutory right of objection lies with the owner of the site. In the case of the Basingstoke Canal this means
Hampshire and Surrey county councils. The only possible appeal is, ultimately, to the Secretary of State for the Environment.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act is clearly framed with farmland in mind. It is not relevant to canals. It has been used to designate SSSI's on canals elsewhere though not in comparable situations or with similar restrictions.
The nature of the NCC's proposals, and the publication in which they appear, is what makes objection essential. The crucial intention is to zone the canal into stretches where boating would be considerably restricted or even banned altogether. This would cover 25 of the 32 miles of the canal. There would also be controls on canal maintenance. The arguments in support were said to contain many untruths and inaccuracies and to be based on unproven assumptions.
The result of such restrictions was clear to everyone present — though not, apparently, to the NCC. Lack of boats would remove the incentive for sensible maintenance, leading to silting and general deterioration. In other words, a reversion to the former derelict state. "Conservation is management — you can't just go away and leave it", said the chairman.
Public opinion will usually support measures intended to preserve wildlife. The NCC's proposals seek to enlist this support by acknowledging
the amenity value of the canal's surroundings. But they go on to recommend changes that wouid spoil the canal for many users. What is not widely appreciated is that, in this case, interest is largely limited to 'aquatic and submerged species'. It is to encourage these that tree felling is desired by the NCC.
Public opinion being the key, the Society has sought to gain publicity for their views. The matter has been aired on ITV and BBC TV, on Radio 2 and several times on County Sound. Coverage has been obtained in local newspapers and in the Evening Standard.
Now the need is for letters - and more letters - from you. Put your views to local and county councillors, and members of Parliament. Margaret Makepeace, Hart District councillor, stressed that such letters are important and carry weight. Point out that money and effort have not only been put in by Society members but much taxpayers' money has also been spent to create an amenity which is now at risk. Five of the Society's vice-presidents are MP's. Write to them too, to do this you'll need a list of names and addresses. You can get these from our vice-chairman, David Millett. There are details of this below.
We, as a Society, can't prevent designation. We have to lobby those who can.
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YOUR POINTS OF VIEW
MEMBERS wishing to express their views about the Nature Conservancy Council's proposals to restrict navigation of the canal have asked to whom should they address their letters?
If your local council's area takes in part of the canal - that's Runnymede, Woking, Surrey Heath, Guildford, Rushmoor, Hart or Basingstoke and Deane — write to your local councillor or, better still, the one who represents the council on the canal's Joint Management Committee. If you live in Hampshire or Surrey you might also write (or send a copy of your letter) to your county councillor or the councillor who represents his county on the JMC. You can also usefully write to your Member of Parliament.
Members living away from the canal should write to their MP who will normally pass the letter on to the Secretary of State for the Environment (responsible for the NCC) for comment.
Anyone wishing to write direct to the NCC can do so locally: Dr. R.J. Hornby, Regional Officer, NCC, Foxhold House, Crookham Common, Newbury, Berks RG15 8EL. Alternatively, direct to HQ: Dr F.B. O'Connor, Director England, NCC, Northminster House, Peterborough, Northants PE11UA.
You can also write direct to the Secretary of the JMC, Mr. J.H. Jessup, Surrey County Council. County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN.
Anyone needing the name of their local councillor can call David Millett, the Society's vice-chairman on 0252617364.
A copy of your letter would be appreciated: send it to the secretary listed on the back page.
Do write: some people think their lone voice in the bureaucratic wilderness is not worthwhile. Far from it. Every letter counts and you will be surprised how it will be referred upwards.
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I WAS very interested and delighted to read of the Society's plan for the restoration of the western end of the canal. I first came across this fascinating length of canal about 20 years ago whilst searching for the sinister remains of the western portal of Greywell Tunnel in its gloomy wooded setting.
Whilst I note that the proposed restoration is only applicable lo the Greywell Tunnel - Penney Bridge section I hope that all efforts will be made to continue to retain structures further west e.g. Little Tunnel Bridge, Basing House Bridge and the infilled Red Bridge. As far as I am aware the canal bed from Hatch to Basing is intact, but does any other substantial section remain?
It should be emphasised to those who criticise the Society and wish the canal to remain as it was that two unprotected lengths in private ownership have disappeared in the last 20 years. The length from Penney Bridge to Little Tunnel Bridge, which has been ploughed up, could relatively easily be reinstated but that west of Mapledurwell, destroyed for motorway construction, has gone for good.
Castlefields, Leominster, Herefordshire.
WHILE I deplore the utterly selfish stance of the Nature Conservancy Council in seeking to seriously restrict boating on the Basingstoke Canal, I would like to urge strong action to prevent a potentially far more damaging activity than boating.
Recently two people have taken to roaring up and down the towpath between Odiham and North Warnborough on all terrain motorcycles carrying small children with them, presumably their offspring, to the intense annoyance of walkers and anglers.
I appreciate that neither the Canal Society or the local authorities have the manpower to effectively patrol against such behaviour, but I would suggest that action is taken to discourage it in the form of prominent prohibition notices and suitable obstacles at intervals along the towpath, particularly near access to and from roads.
Ideally such obstacles would be designed to pitch these selfish and irresponsible individuals headlong into the water if they did not stop.
King Johns Road, North Warnborough, Hants.
I FEEL I must add my piece to the disturbing question of restriction of boating on the canal. There seems to be an element of hypocrisy in the NCC's attitude here. Years ago now it seems I was one of the early volunteers attending work parties clearing the towpalh in the public section near to Greywell. I used to get there from Hook station. At that time the motorway was being constructed. I saw all those lovely trees being destroyed. What I would like to have done to those monstrous machines had best not be mentioned here but it made me really angry.
The point is: did anyone from the local NCC fraternity ever oppose the motorway's construction? Or wouldn't it have made any difference whatever, but it should have been opposed in principle. If they did not do so, that to my mind disqualifies them from opposing traffic on the restored canal. If and when these people drive along the motorway, do they ever consider that the environment has gone for good underneath that concrete.
But perhaps it is NCC policy to go for the soft options only so as to show something in their journals, something to compensate for the lack of success elsewhere. Did any of them ever contribute one single penny to the canal's restoration? That could be a disqualification if they did not.
I am interested in conservation at all times, and for a long time but the NCC is one organisation I would not join.
Vale Grove, Gosport, Hants
MORE LETTERS ON PAGES 8, 11 AND 12
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The mud barge pictured marks the current silt dump on Crookham Embankment. Now the bank of trees opposite, affording shelter from northerly winds, are in danger of being felled, with scant opposition from the Society, to open up another dump site.
This section, known to anglers as Crookham Deeps is a particularly attractive length of the canal and the local parish council is opposed to felling the trees.
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Kent and East Sussex Waterways — by P.A.L. Vine. Published by Middleton Press. Price £7.95.
FOLLOWING the publication of
West Sussex Waterways in 1985 and Surrey Waterways in 1987 by P.A.L. Vine, the Middle!on Press published a third in their series of local waterways last November with Kent and East Sussex Waterways by the same author, best known for London's Lost Route to the Sea (a definitive history of the Wey and Arun Canal) followed by London's Lost Route to Basingstoke.
The unused pictorial material gathered while researching the 'Lost Route' books, together with new material acquired as one informant led to another, enabled Paul Vine to embark on the current series. Kent and East Sussex Waterways, which like the other books, contains a wealth of material of interest to the armchair historian as much as to the prospective explorer of the local waterways in whatever condition.
The book covers the area's three main navigation systems, with the Medway and the abandoned Thames and Medway Canal at the northern end, to the Ouse and Rother with associated navigations, including the
Royal Military Canal at the southern end, and the Stour and Seaton navigations in the north east of the area.
Like the Basingstoke Canal, the rivers in the region were developed and used for the transportation of agricultural produce to London, returning with coal and manufactured products. The exception was the 22-mile Royal Military Canal, also the subject of a book by the author, built around Romney Marsh, primarily as an obstacle to invasion during the Napoleonic Wars.
The 70-mile Medway is the best known of the region's rivers of which 43 miles are navigable from Sheerness to Tonbridge.
Surprisingly, no plans for a canal to link the Medway and the Rother became a reality despite a proposed Weald of Kent Canal from Broadbridges on the Medway to the Royal Military Canal at Appledore. Another major scheme was surveyed in the form of the Grand Southern Canal linking Tonbridge with Portsmouth.
With the 121 photographs and illustrations, 39 maps and Paul Vine's observant captions and historical notes, packed with dates and revealing information, the book brings to light (and life) the region's navigations. Now Paul Vine has added a book on Hampshire waterways.
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WEEKEND AWAY WITH THE IWA
COACH trip organised by the Guildford and Reading branch of the IWA to the lifts and planes of Belgium. The visit is planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10th - 12th May, to see the boat lifts on the Canal du Centre and the famous inclined plane at Ronquieres. The visit will include boat trips through one of the lifts and up or down the plane. If time permits the party will also attend another boat lift at Arques, and to visit Bruges, the Venice of the North and one of the most delightful waterway towns in Europe.
The Party will be staying at a good hotel at Nivelles, in comfortable rooms. Places will necessarily be limited by the availability of accommodation and boat capacities. The price will be fixed early in 1991 and it is expected to be in the order of £70 with a small supplement for single rooms. A deposit of £10 secures a place, balance payable in March. Local pick up points will be according to passenger preference so details will be available later.
All these plans arc subject to there being sufficient demand so apply sooner rather than later to Andy Simmons, 135 Broad acres, Guildford, Surrey GU3 3BS. Telephone 0483 576176.
Just Published -|
• HAMPSHIRE WATERWAYS •
An album of 120 illustrations and numerous maps and diagrams to show the fascinating story of the ANDOVER CANAL, AVON NAVIGATION, BASINGSTOKE CANAL, ITCHEN NAVIGATION, PORTSEA CANAL and the SALISBURY & SOUTHAMPTON CANAL.
£8.95 (POST FREE) in hardback.
A companion album to the author's popular SURREY WATERWAYS and KENT & EAST SUSSEX WATERWAYS.
Both are still available at £7.95 (POST FREE).
Easebourne Lane, Midhurst, West Sussex. GU29 9AZ
Tel: (0730) 813169
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FISHING FOR CRAYFISH
OUR member Stan Knight recently met an elderly man named Bone at Barley Mow Bridge who told him that he had legged through Greywell Tunnel as a boy and caught crayfish in the canal. This is what he told Stan:
"I'm 88," said Mr. Bone, "and my grandfather, George White, was swing bridge keeper at North Warnborough (now the lift bridge). When the boats were at the swing bridge we asked the boatman if we could help him leg through the tunnel".
Mr. Bone was born at Hartley Wintney where his father was head cellarman at Kenwoods Brewery.
"My father used to come over to the Barley Mow for a drink bringing us children with him. We spent the time at the bridge catching crayfish on a circular frame of wire netting with a smelly line or fish in the centre. We would get about a bushel and take them home to mother who had a copper of boiling water ready. The next day, all red like small lobsters, we sold them for a penny each around the village. We collected as much as £1, much more than a week's wages in those days before the first World War. The small ones we kept to eat at home".
This story was pure nostalgia for me, writes Stan, because this is exactly how we caught them in hundreds at Crookham pre-1939 except that we didn't sell them. Mark Hicks at Canal Cottage, Chequers Bridge, collected them when weed dredging in the summer, kept them in an old tank in the canal by his garden, and when they were big enough, Ida Hale of the Chequers rang someone in London who collected by van. Some say they were for the Dorchester Hotel, others say they were exported to France, perhaps both. Mark was happy, and so was Ida Hale, as most of the proceeds probably found their way to the Chequers. Them 'craw dabs' he called them.
TOM ROLT AWARD WINNER
FOR a second time, BC News has won the Tom Rolt Award for the best independent canal society newsletter. The national award, sponsored by the Inland Waterways Association, was made at the National Waterways Festival held at Gloucester at the end pf August. The event attracted over 500 boats and 36,000 visitors. BC News editor Dieter Jebens won the Tom Rolt Award for the first time in 1988.
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CO-OPERATION NOT CONFRONTATION
I AM Project Officer for this Council's section of the Ashby Canal in Leicestershire and therefore listened to the Natural History programme on Sunday 12th August with interest. I was, however, concerned about the bias shown by the presenter regarding the matter of boats on the Basingstoke Canal.
The opening remarks included the emotive statement 'flotilla of brightly painted barges' and the presenter went on to comment that proposals to reopen the last mile of the canal were 'completely futile', statements not calculated to allow listeners to make up their own minds. This could have been excused, except that there were no representatives from the waterways organisations (who no doubt regard themselves as conservationists) to balance the argument. As I am sure local residents will tell you, the majority of the Basingstoke Canal was, at best, a stagnant ditch
before restoration was begun, and it is largely by the efforts of the restoration trust (sic) that the canal is now so attractive to the local wildlife.
My further concern is with the comments made by Andrew Byfield of the NCC. Certainly, the Basingstoke Canal was not built for motorboats, but then neither was any other similar canal in the country.
As Project Officer, I am charged with increasing public use and awareness of the canal and its environs. There is a SSSI on the last 6 miles of the Ashby Canal and it too has a tunnel near its terminus at Snarestone. We have every intention of co-operating in the conservation of the flora and fauna which the canal undoubtedly supports, but not to the extent of limiting boating or discouraging towpath walkers. As you will see from the attached newspaper cutting, the Council are actively promoting the designation of the Ashby Canal as a conservation area, hence the NCC could, one assumes,
prevent or seriously limit boating and other public access should they so wish.
The Basingstoke Canal, although previously disused, has never been abandoned, so the status of the two canals is not dissimilar.
It is unfortunate that the NCC take the attitude they do, as if it were not for the untiring efforts of the restoration groups and the Inland Waterways Association (who indeed tried to buy the Basingstoke Canal many years ago), the NCC would not have any SSSI's to designate.
Co-operation, rather than confrontation must be the way forward.
Project Officer, Ashby Canal
Hinckley and Bosworth BC
Editor's note: the above letter was sent to the producer of the programme made by the BBC's Natural History Unit in Bristol.
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EDITOR(S) WANTED FOR 'BC NEWS'
ONE or more members urgently sought to edit BC News. The job does not necessarily entail a great deal of writing. BC News already has contributors and they can be increased to make the editor's job a management function more than creative. Ideally, it's some of both making it an interesting job, a way of extending your involvement with the Society and canal matters. And the retiring editor is prepared to give a helping hand. To find out more ring Dieter Jebens (0252 715230) or David Millett (0252 617364).
Miss J. Simmons - London SE4
Mr. and Mrs. L. Brown - Send, Woking
Mr. R. Smith - Medstead
Mr. and Mrs. F.W. Richmond - Fleet
Mr. T. Gould - East Molesey
Mr. G.J. Mays - Knaphill, Woking
Mr. and Mrs. R.P. Christmas - Ash Vale
Mr. and Mrs. S.M. Elkington - Farnborough
Mr. and Mrs. D.B. Maishment - Church Crookham
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Monday 26 November
'Cruising 2500 miles of Inland Waterways for Charity' by Pat Barton. A meeting of the Guildford and Reading Branch of the IWA at Wey Cruising Club, Dapdune Wharf, Wharf Road, Guildford, about 5 minutes walk from the railway station. Meetings start at 8.00pm, doors open at 7.45pm. Society members are welcome.
Tuesday 27th November
Come along to the Barley Mow at Winchfield for a 'noggin and a natter'. New members ask for Bernie Timms or Sue Palmer, or phone beforehand on 0252 26758.
Tuesday 11 December
Another of John Humphries film evenings. He shares his boating expedition memories in 'Eau de Nile', a film made by his wife June and edited by Hugh McKnight. St. Johns Memorial Hall, St. Johns Lye, 7.45pm for 8.00pm. The Society's sales Stall run by Bernie Timms and Sue Palmer will be well stocked with Christmas gifts to buy.
Friday 21 December
IWA Christmas get together at Wcy Cruising Club, Wharf Road, Guildford at 7.45pm for 8.00pm.
Monday 14th January
New members evening and announcement of 1990 Grand Draw Winners at Fleet Cricket Club, Calthorpe Park, Reading Road North, Start 8.00pm. All members welcome.
Tuesday 15th January
note change of date Messing about on the canal. 'Where are we at?' is a film by Phil Pratt. It's followed by an informal question and answer forum with Paddy Field, director of the Basingstoke Canal Authority. St. Johns Memorial Hall St. Johns Woking 7.45pm for 8.00pm.
Tuesday 22 January
Greet the New Year and each other in the 'Long Room' of the Barley Mow at Winchfield.
Monday 28th January
Ron Oakley talks to the IWA branch about 'China's Canals' at Wey Cruising Club, Wharf Road, Guildford. Society Members welcome. 7.45pm for 8.00pm.
Tuesday 12th February
The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society and its Steamers', an illustrated talk by Mr. Roddy McKee, Secretary of the London and Home Counties Branch. St. Johns Memorial Hall, St. Johns Lye, St. Johns. 7.45pm for 8.00pm.
Friday 22 February
A joint meeting of the IWA and Kennet and Avon Canal Trust at South-cote Library, Coronation Square, Soulhcotc, Reading. 7.45pm for 8.00pm.
Monday 25th February
Hugh McKnight talks to Guildford and Reading IWA about 'A cruise through Germany, Holland and Belgium', including the vertical lifts and Ronquieres included plan. Wey Cruising Club Wharf Road Guildford 7.45pm for 8.00pm.
Tuesday 26th February
Social evening for members and friends at the Barley Mow at Winchfield. Details from Bernie Timms or Sue Palmer on 0252 26758.
Tuesday 12 March
David Morion tells us about some of his experiences in his 'Travels with Renfrew', his unconverted working narrow boat. At St. Johns Memorial Hall, St. Johns Lye, St. Johns 7.45pm for 8.00pm.
THIS YEAR'S VENUE FOR THE WOKING MEETINGS
THE Social meetings on the second Tuesday each month (third in January) have a new, convenient venue at St. Johns Lye, near the canal bridge at Lock 11. Meetings run from 8.00 - 10.30pm There's plenty of parking space next to the hall. Ginny Millard can arrange transport from Woking BR Station - ring her on 081689 5537 (daytime).
BOAT CLUB'S RALLY WINNERS
Pictured aboard the steam launch Odiamayde left to right Chris de Wet (Basingstoke Canal Boating Club chairman), Ron Kettle (pub landlord) with winners of the Fox and Hounds awards: John Greenfield winner of the Peter Kilby Memorial Award for his contribution to promoting inland waterway cruising aboard Witch Wey; Joan Kilby, winner of the best turned out boat award for Odiamayde, Roy Mutlender, winner of the boat of distinction for Sheri, and Tony and Trevor Kilby. Among rally entrants were 11 members of the CaraCruiser Club with their boats — although one owner had to make do with a cara weekend and miss out on cruising because he forgot to bring his outboard engine!
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PLANS FOR THE WESTERN END LAUNCHED
AN OFFICIAL reception was hosted by the Mayor of Basingstoke, Cllr. C.B. Evans, on 18th September at the civic offices to launch the Society's plans for restoring Greywell Tunnel and the canal beyond, published in a booklet entitled The Promise of the Western End.
Guests included local county, borough and parish councillors from Mapledurwell and Up Nately. The county recreation department was represented by Colin Bonsey, the county recreation officer, as one of his last engagements before retirement, and Paddy Field, the canal director. Councillor Mrs. Roberta Flowers, vice chairman, represented Hart District Council.
The Mayor of Basingstoke said that Basingstoke Borough Council were very interested in the proposals but that as far as the Greywell Tunnel was concerned many problems still lay ahead, not least the nature conservation issues and finance. However the restoration of the canal to the west of the tunnel as a local amenity was certainly supported as the first step forward. Colin Bonsey confirmed that restoration of the canal west of the tunnel would proceed but not, at present, Greywell Tunnel.
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RECREATION OFFICER RETIRES
COLIN BONSEY, Hampshire County Council's county recreation officer retired at the end of September after nearly thirty years with the council. Joining as its county land agent in 1961, after working for Wiltshire and Norfolk county councils, Colin was at the forefront of Hampshire's progressive recreation and leisure policies becoming its first county recreation officer when the post was created in 1973. Colin has been involved with the Basingstoke Canal ever since the campaign was started to press for public ownership in the late 1960s.
WAITING FOR WALKERS
Chairman of the Inland Waterways Association, David Stevenson, walking to raise money for the Society and Waterways for All' campaign, checks in with Roger Cansdale, chairman of the trip boat company at Claycart Bridge. Despite a perfect day for walking only 30 people joined the Society's annual sponsored walk which is expected to raise £1,000.
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SOCIETY'S PLAN FOR KINGS HEAD BRIDGE
LATEST proposals by Surrey County Council for the replacement of Kings Head Bridge, Frimley Green, have been studied by the Society's special projects group led by Stan Meller.
In essence the new proposals only differ from the previous plans in utilising the masonry blocks which form the abutments of the existing bridge, and a false brick arch on both sides to create the appearance of an original bridge. In plan and elevation the design gives a flat or 'slab sided' structure rather than the ellipsoidal form obtained by the masons and bricklayers who used a 100ft line to create the attractive curvature in the original structures.
The group have now produced a critical analysis and a recommended counter proposal which has been sent to Surrey County Council members, Surrey Heath Borough Council, the Basingstoke Canal Authority, the DoE and the canal's Joint Management Committee.
The recommended plan is for the existing bridge to be repaired by replacing the load carrying component with a reinforced concrete arch set within the shape of the brick facing arch giving the bridge an original appearance.
The local council has opposed the new design proposed by SCC and the matter is now back in the hands of the county engineers.
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CANAL CLOSURES FOR NEW BRIDGES
SURREY County Council has scheduled four bridges over the canal to be replaced — at Ash Wharf, Mytchett Lake Road, Mytchett Place Road and Guildford Road (Kings Head Bridge). County engineers planned to reconstruct the bridges in sequence effectively closing through navigation for 18 months starting this month. But the BCA director Paddy Field negotiated a more acceptable programme of winter closures which is the normal practice on other waterways. Temporary closures will be as follows:
Mytchett Lake Road Bridge - 12th November 1990 - 1st February 1991
Mytchett Place Road Bridge - October 1991 - February 1992
Ash Bridge — summer 1991 but without closing through navigation
Guildford Road Bridge — winter closure, probably in conjunction with one of the bridges at Mytchett.
PRINT DESIGN AND PRODUCTION|
For your next leaflet, price list, brochure, catalogue, newsletter or any print job, we offer a design, artwork, typesetting and print production service at keen prices.
Phone Chris de Wet,
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AMONG the several dozen stripped down narrow boat hulls ferried south from the Midlands for conversion to houseboats on the Basingstoke Canal was one with a claim to fame. While researching the article which appeared in the March issue of BC News, I was sent a collection of small photographs which included several shots of the unconverted narrow boats at Lock One.
Houseboat hulls below Lock 1
Warwick in Lock 1
One of the photographs shows an ex-working boat with the familiar cabin decoration of Samuel Barlow Co. Ltd., the Birmingham based coal contractor. The boat's name is partly hidden and too indistinct to be read, but the number '89' is clearly defined. By coincidence the consecutively numbered '88' is featured on the boatman's cabin displayed in the Waterways Museum at Stoke Bruerne.
No. 89 Stuck in my mind and whenever I happened to see pictures of Barlow's working boats I checked the number. By chance I was flipping through Robert Aickman's autobiography The River Runs Uphill, when I spotted No. 89 with the name Warwick painted on her bow. The boat was pictured at Market Harborough for the first rally of boats organised by the newly formed Inland Waterways Association in 1950.
More light was shed on No. 89's past from another picture in Ian Mackersey's book Tom Rolt and the Cressy Years. Taken at a Little Venice gathering, the caption named George Smith, as the captain of Warwick standing on the stern chatting with the Narrow Boat author L.T.C. Rolt and his wife Angela standing on the next boat.
Although the name is hidden from view the latter boat was almost certainly the motor boat Cairo which, together with the butty Warwick, were worked by George Smith and his wife Sonia. While George, who could neither read nor write, came from a well known working boat family, Sonia was a well educated young actress before joining the wartime narrow boat crews chronicled in the book Idle Women. For Sonia canals became a way of life which she could not leave and which lead her to marry George Smith.
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70ft Canal Barge Homes
Mooring Site £40.00 p.a.
(includes garden plot)
Rates about £2.00
25yr life of barge hull
now 25 years old
(50 years working life)
4 year mortgages
Advertisement that appeared in Illustrated Carpenter and Builder — 30th December 1960
Warwick and Cairo, beautifully turned out with traditional decorations in gleaming paintwork were used to give rally visitors trips and must have been the centre of attraction at that first historic gathering. A close up picture of Warwick with Sonia Smith appears in Tom Roll's second autobiography Landscape and Canals.
Tom Rolt and his wife Angela divorced in 1950 and the author, who sparked off Robert Aickman's move to form the IWA, married Sonia after she and George Smith had separated.
* Warwick, originally registered at Daventry No. 540, also bore the Grand Union No. 12457 when delivered to the Basingstoke Canal in 1960 for conversion to a houseboat. Still a floating home and recently renovated, the boat is now called John B moored above Arthur's Bridge, Woking.
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GREYWELL TUNNEL NAVVY
READERS of the Basingstoke Canal News may be interested to know that one of the workmen employed for 3 or 4 years helping to build Greywell Tunnel was Benjamin Baigent, then in his early thirties. After working on the Rother Navigation and the Petworth Canal between 1793 and 1795, Baigent was employed by Lord Egremont on the Petworth Estate. In April 1796 he was one of three men wanted for sheep stealing and it was
believed that he had left Petworth to work on the Kennet and Avon Canal at Newbury. He was 6-ft tall, raw boned, strongly made but not very stout, of a dark brown complexion, with a stiff and sawing gait and rather curly brown hair. He also chewed tobacco. He was last seen leaving Petworth wearing 'a stout Russia round frock, a white flannel jacket and long Russia trousers'. This description affords a rare opportunity to judge the appearance of
navigators in Southern England.
The full story of the Rolher Navigation will be told in London's Lost
Route to Midhurst, now due to be published in 1992.
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THANKS to Miss Kay Watkins for kindly donating part of her '200 Club' win to Society Funds.
HEAR letters are going back to Friends of Frimley Green Canal Bridge from members supporting retention of the existing Kings Head Bridge. The organisers are grateful for your support. If you haven't yet completed and returned the letter enclosed with the last issue of BC News, it's not too late.
GREYWELL Tunnel inspection was made on 26th July. Findings included, brick invert (bottom lining) ends at 800 yards, tunnel height from
invert to soffit is 14 ft 9 ins. and there is an air pocket in an adjacent adit which was investigated by a diver. Glass strips were glued to the soffit at the location of a former construction shaft to check for structural movement at the next inspection.
OLD Pondtail Bridge is to be refurbished next year following pressure by the Society to have it smartened up.
TRIP boat John Pinkerton reported to have made a profit of around £18,000 this year, equal to the last year's record trading.
RE-TUBING boiler in Perseverance and repairs to dragline, tug and a mud barge is estimated to cost the Society £2,500.
HART District Council reported to be strongly opposed to designation of the canal as an SSSI since the associated restriction on navigation would severely limit potential revenue from boating needed to defray maintenance costs.
WOKING Borough Council is supporting the Society's contention that the usage and management restrictions sought by the NCC would not be in the best interests of the canal.
NUMBER of motor boat licences issued ihis year was 298 out of a possible 375 available.
SUGGESTED joint Wey Navigation and Basingstoke Canal Licence turned down by the National Trust Manager.
SALES TALK Flo Fleming (right), who paints and sells canalware and souvenirs with her husband Jim, pictured outside their Old Toll House shop at Great Haywood with Society Sales Manager, Sue Palmer, who called in while cruising the Staffs and Worcestershire Canal this summer. Flo was a founder member of the Society and its first treasurer.|
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LAST YEAR following an appeal included in a BBC Radio Wildlife programme, I took part in a national kingfisher survey organised by the Avon Wildlife Trust at Bristol. Perhaps other members participated?
I was able to report at least two pairs of kingfishers seen regularly on my almost weekly trips on John Pinkerton. I'm sure other crews will have experienced the excitement the sight of one causes among the passengers young and old.
A few years ago they flew away from the approaching boat but more recently they have boldly 'sat their perch'. Yesterday I had quite a staring match with one. It's nice to think that they are not disturbed by boats.
The results of the survey show that some waterway (it doesn't say canal) managements have destroyed the banks kingfishers need. I'm sure that won't happen on our canal. One important need though is perching points at the water edge, perhaps our members who do such good work on off-side bank clearance will try to remember this please. They do not need to overhang the water by more than a few inches, if at all. It is nice to realise that our water is clear enough to see the fish. All that I have seen have looked decidedly well fed bless them.
Crookham Village, Fleet, Hants.
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COPY DATE FOR JANUARY 1991 BC NEWS: 30th NOVEMBER 1990
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 Middleboume Lane, Famham, 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, GU139SW. (0252 617364)
Hon. Treasurer: Nigel Parsons, 14 The Piccards, Chestnut Avenue, Guildford, Surrey GU2 5DW. (0483 571709)
Hon. Secretary: Philip Riley, Wincombc Cottage, Broad Oak, Odiham, Hampshire, RG25 1AH (0256 702109)
Membership Secretary: Edwin Chappell, The Spinney, Meadow Road, Ashlead, Surrey, KT21 1QR. (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, GU21 1SL (0482 721710)
Trip Boat: Tony Karavis, 12 Loddon Road, Farnborough, I lampshirc, GU14 9NT. (0252 549037)
Sales Managers: Sue Palmer & Bernie Timms, 20 Charthouse Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU12 5LS. (0252 2675S)
Mail Order Sales: John Greenfield, 9 Mistletoe Road, Yalcley, Camberlcy, Surrey, GU17 7DT. (0252 873167)
Talks Organiser: Mrs Janet Grccnfield, 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)
Typesetting by Distinguished Data — Telephone: Aldershot (0252) 850311
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