No. 163 Autumn 1993
On to Basingstoke ?
There have been increasing references of late to the possibility of restoring the canal westwards to Basingstoke, the town it once served and whose name it bears. This would be a substantial task, not least because it would mean carrying it under the M3. But as one Basingstoke Councillor said in this connection recently, "Problems are there to be solved". No doubt he had one eye on the economic benefits which would accrue to the Borough as well as the amenity value to the people of Basingstoke - economic benefits which Woking Borough Council have been quick to seize upon, as noted in the report on page 6. Another question would be the preservation of the bats which hibernate in the Greywell Tunnel in winter, but there is now a basis for discussion with English Nature on even that issue (see page 4). The restoration of the towpath west of Greywell is aimed at creating a five-mile walk into Basingstoke and to link up with other footpaths to make a long-distance path from Basingstoke to London via the canal. That is as far as restoration work is agreed at the moment, but the work already done on the towpath is making the western end look much more like the canal it once was rather than the eyesore it had become through neglect. Wildlife will flourish there if the canal is restored, just as it has east of Greywell. It has always been the Society's ultimate aim to restore the canal as far west as Penny Bridge (well short of the M3), but the time will come when Hampshire County Council, Basingstoke and Deane Council and the Society will have to get together to decide just how far west the canal is to go.
By the time you receive this BC News, summer will be nearly over and autumn will be almost on us.
Whilst the summer itself has had mixed weather, the winter and spring rains meant that the water supply situation has been much improved this year, coupled
with the new pumping scheme and pipeline inflow at Frimley Lodge park. As a result there has been a regular arrival of narrow boats from the canal system on to the Basingstoke Canal which has been much welcomed. Having met some of
their owners it is encouraging that they have all invariably said that they have found the Basingstoke Canal one of the most attractive in the country, even if we are still lacking in certain facilities for boaters.
However, lack of weedcutting has resulted in blanket weed problems developing in certain areas, notably in the Greatbottom Flash area of Ash Vale. This just proves that weedcutting on this canal is essential for its regular use.
Discussions regarding the Future Wildlife Management Plan are still continuing and the recent Conservation Working Party meeting looked in detail at the second draft prepared by Dr John Eaton and Dr John Pygott, and whilst progress was made, and many of our comments accommodated, there are still some issues to be resolved, notably that of using the recommended maximum boating movements figures as guidelines for the annual discussions by the Joint Management Committee to set the motorised licence numbers available for issue for the following year.
The Mouchel Hydrological Study into the Basingstoke Canal has once again highlighted the fact that the dredging again of the Western Hampshire section of the canal is essential for the whole canal, not only for boating and underwater plant life, but also so the canal can act as a reservoir for the whole canal. Discussions are now taking place between the Society and the BCA as to how it can be done most efficiently and making use of our offer of volunteer help.
Finally the appeal in the last issue of BC News for members to come forward and offer their services has had virtually no response, so please consider whether you can give some of your time to the Society as otherwise you will not receive all the activities and facilities that you rightly expect. The Society can only be as good as its members, and, unfortunately too many of you seem prepared to leave the work of running the Society to the very few.
Please think about this carefully and any offers of help will be gratefully accepted: the details were in the Summer BC News.
Sandhurst Cadets working on the towpath west of the Greywell Tunnel - Brian Fox
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||In the Greywell Tunnel (Brian Fox)|
13 men and a dog ventured into the Greywell tunnel on 10th July under the guiding eye of David Gerry to inspect the state of the brickwork and to see whether there had been any deterioration since the last inspection. The party included not only members of the Society, but also David Stephens (a leading expert in the country on tunnels), Paul Vine, (author of many well-known books on canal matters), John Selman (expert in industrial archaeology at Southampton University), Bob Murton (who used to know the tunnel before it was blocked in 1933) and James Harris (owner of some of the land through which the tunnel passes, as well as being master of the aforementioned dog).
The party hauled the engineering boat up to the entrance to the tunnel before embarking and helping to pump out a considerable quantity of water found slopping about in the bottom. David issued his dire warning about the journey being at our own risk, but no one felt it necessary to disembark even when he added that it was a condition of being allowed on the trip that everybody should take his share of pushing on the walls to propel the boat the mile or more we needed to travel. The grille at the Greywell entrance was duly unlocked and in we went. With foresight and experience, David had equipped the boat with a powerful light, so we could see some way into the tunnel, which otherwise would have looked dark and forbidding.
The first surprise was the condition of the brickwork. It had been built 200 years ago and yet was in excellent shape: dry and with mortar still as intact as when it had been pointed. We could see how it had been built in sections. The tunnel had been excavated for a short distance (about four feet at a time), bricked up the sides, then a wooden arch had been erected to
support the roof bricks for a couple of days before being removed to prepare for the construction of the next 4-foot section. The holes in the walls where the woodwork had been supported were clearly visible: sometimes bricked in well, sometimes not - the latter to the benefit of the bats in winter. Shafts from the surface were marked by square-shaped patches of brickwork. Apparently several such shafts were sunk first, and tunnelling began in both directions from each shaft, so that the tunnelling could take place simultaneously at several spots to get the work done quickly (the whole tunnel took only two or three years to complete). How they managed to meet up accurately is still a mystery to the layman, but there was no evidence of any misdirection. They knew a thing or two about tunnelling 200 years ago.
Every 50 feet there is a marker showing the distance from the entrance, and features we were passing under (like the road) were also indicated. We saw the two adits where spring water flows into the canal. Someone recalled Army or Naval frogmen on an exercise entering one adit and emerging from the other, reporting that they were sound. The water was crystal clear the whole way. and
the brick bottom, which stretched for the first few hundred feet from the entrance, looked in good condition. The bottom became chalk thereafter, until we reached the clay deep into the tunnel. There was very little
sign of wildlife: one or two small fish near the entrance; a bird's feather (thought to be from an owl) adhering to the wall further in. There was no sign of a bat, nor any fresh bat droppings.
As we approached the blockage, about half a mile from the Greywell entrance, the chalk gave way to clay, and we could see the great mound stretching up to the roof, where the soil had seeped through the shaft damaged by tree roots, causing the tunnel to become impassable to normal traffic from about 1933 onwards. Bob Murton, who remembered the tunnel before that time, recalled a canoeist who got through after the roof fall, by hauling his canoe over the mound, but that feat could not be repeated now. Telltales inserted a few years ago in the roof had not been damaged, showing that the brickwork had not moved.
After staying a short while, John Selman undertook the herculean task of poling us back to the entrance with his long tree branch, walking the length of the boat time after time. He managed a very creditable 100 feet per minute, whilst the rest of us pushed at the walls to try, with varying degrees of success, to keep the boat in the centre of the tunnel. The lamp was lowered to enable us to get through the grille, the gate locked against small boy adventurers or other interlopers, and we emerged, blinking, after a memorable mile.
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A Natterer's bat (Frank Greenaway)|
To some people bats are repulsive little creatures: like rats with wings. Others love them, and spend cold uncomfortable hours observing their habits, counting them and doing all they can to protect and foster them. Over 20 years ago, Andrew Watson of the Hampshire Bat Group drew attention to the number of bats occupying the Greywell Tunnel, and since then there has been increasing recognition that the conditions in the tunnel were attractive to bats for their winter hibernation. The tunnel is over two-thirds of a mile long, but blocked in 1933 by a fall of earth through one of the construction shafts.
On 11 June this year English Nature launched a booklet about the Greywell Tunnel and its bats. It was written by Bob Stebbings, a leading expert on bats, and commissioned by English Nature as a response to the Society's proposals to restore the tunnel for navigation. Those proposals were contained in a booklet published by the Society in 1990 entitled The Basingstoke Canal - The Promise of the Western End', and it included measures for protecting the bats. English Nature's new booklet The Greywell Tunnel - an internationally important haven for bats' concludes that nothing should be done which might disturb the bats in any way, and that therefore the tunnel should not be restored.
English Nature clearly attach a great deal of importance to this site. The launch of their booklet, at the Canal Centre at Mytchett, was attended by Lord Cranbrook, Chairman of
English Nature and a large supporting contingent of naturalists. Hampshire and Surrey County Councils were well represented, together with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. Paddy Field, Director of the Canal Authority, took a leading part in the presentation, and The Society had
a goodly contingent headed by our President, Lord Onslow. The Greywell landowner, Lord FitzHarris added a third peer to the distinguished company. If only for wheeling out this impressive guest-list, English Nature's case, supported by Sir David Attenborough's foreword, deserves serious consideration.
The booklet points out that bats are the only mammals that have developed powered flight, that there are 950 species world-wide, of which 14 are found in Britain, and that there is evidence to show that British bats have declined significantly in numbers over the last 50 years. The principal reasons for the decline are attributed to loss of roost sites, especially in trees, a reduction in the numbers of insects on which they prey, and the effects of toxic chemicals.
The Greywell Tunnel is important principally for two species: Natterer's Bat and Daubenton's Bat, although three other species have been noted in small numbers. The bats occupy the tunnel in winter, for hibernation. Temperature has a significant effect on when they use the tunnel and the highest numbers can be expected over the period December to March, though some have been recorded as early as September and as late as May.
The maximum number recorded was 555, on 24 February 1986. The majority are seen within a
couple of hundred feet of the entrances to the tunnel. They tend to occupy the cavities between the brick lining and the chalk at the Eastern end of the tunnel, gaining access through the crevices in the brickwork where gaps were left for construction scaffolding and not properly sealed after this was removed.
The report acknowledges the
difficulty of counting the bats using
the tunnel with any accuracy, and
uses evidence from sites throughout the world to extrapolate estimates of the total number of bats
using the tunnel. On the basis of
evidence from a neolithic flint mine
in Norfolk and a limestone mine in
Jutland it postulates that as many
as 12,500 bats may be using the
Greywell tunnel. On arguments
such as this it concludes that the
Greywell Tunnel constitutes one of
the most important sites for
Natterer's bats in the world and
should therefore attract the highest
level of national and international
The booklet goes on to dismiss the Society's proposals for protecting the bats during the restoration and use of the tunnel. Summer-only working is rejected on the grounds that some bats might be frightened away. The removal of the earthfall is dismissed in case it alters the air temperature, even though the Society suggested installing a draught-free barrier during the winter months. The building of a
special cave for the bats is not favoured because there is no guarantee that the bats would use it. In short, nothing less than total peace and tranquillity for the bats is acceptable because it is not known how the bats would react. This conclusion seems quite incompatible with the statement, also in the booklet that bats "..found the tunnel as soon as it was built and began using it as a roost. When the last commercial boat used the tunnel in 1914 it is likely that the tunnel was already an important roost for bats". In other words, bats and boats can co-exist. Given cooperation, methods of working could be devised to protect the bats whilst allowing boats to pass (possibly without the use of engines) in summer.
This booklet is a contribution to the debate about reopening the tunnel, and it does add to our understanding of the nature of the bat population and the arguments for protecting them. But it is not the last word, it makes some exaggerated extrapolations from work done in different countries, and is quite dismissive of the fact that the tunnel was built for navigation and for the use of the human population. There may be other arguments for not proceeding with the restoration of the Greywell tunnel, but what this booklet does is to provide a more informed basis for discussion between the naturalists and those interested in restoration: It does not of itself constitute a case for abandoning all thought of restoring the tunnel.
The Canal Centre
Opening the Visitors Centre on the banks of the canal at Mytchett, Mr Sandy Brigstoke invited everyone in to see the show. But the Basingstoke Canal Authority was less magnanimous and asked £1.50 for entry. As one visitor commented: "It's a bit like inviting someone into our home for a cup of coffee and then asking 50p". Not surprisingly a good number of members declined.
What did they miss?
The exhibition is housed in one room of a single storey building, the former biology laboratory and kitchen of the relatively short lived Robert Haining School. The rest of the premises have been converted to BCA offices, a meeting room and a canoe store.
On entering the exhibition, the visitor is attracted by a replica bargee's cabin showing it to be somewhat more spacious and less decorative than the living quarters of a narrowboat. A small engineering drawing on a panel opposite shows a lock which deserves a bolder and more graphic representation. The main display takes the form of a series of display boards featuring a large and detailed map of the canal perhaps at the expense of relatively small pictures above and below with captions. Although an attempt to take the visitor on a journey up the canal is preceded by
a short history, a chronological presentation would have allowed a more comprehensive display of the various periods of the canal's history from its inception, construction, commercial history, the Hanmsworth era, the auction (an opportunity for some original input), and dereliction and restoration which are not adequately depicted apart from the Society's display an another room. As it is the designer appears to run out of appropriate pictures at certain points along the map which may account for showing a bulrush on the Deepcut section and a Blue Bell (sic) to represent Dogmersfield where the historic house arguably has a greater claim to fame. Pictures of dragonflies are conspicuous by their presence, though a space might have been given to the less scientifically interesting but more appealing water vole so often misnamed water rat. Postcard photographs taken at the turn of this century include some unusual views, such as Betton's boatyard at Woking, which make a fascinating change from the all too familiar scenes of yesteryear.
For an exhibition aimed at children as much as adults, artefacts are in short supply: the highlight undoubtedly is a scale model of the barge Marion perfectly built by Tony Harmsworth, assistant canal manager, after the real 80 ton vessel built by his family at Ash Vale in 1920's.
continued on page 13
Some young visitors to the exhibition - (Dieter Jebens)
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A hydrological study commissioned by Woking Borough Council from Engineering Consultants Mouchel and Partners was discussed at a special meeting of the Planning and Environment Committee on 9th June. The study was aimed at investigating the causes of the water shortages which caused the Basingstoke Canal Authority to close locks during the year after the official re-opening of the canal in 1991, and at recommending ways in which levels of water could be maintained at Woking so that the canal there could be used to benefit the Woking community.
Mouchel and Partners, who are leading experts in this type of work, conducted studies of the inflows and outflows of water in the canal and drew a number of conclusions, i.e.
# that in a summer of average rainfall, unrestricted use of the locks between Woking and the Wey should be possible.
# that steps already being taken by the BCA should be sufficient to ensure that the Woking pound can be kept at usable water levels for 9 years out of every 10. Additional measures would be needed to cope with drought conditions which might
be expected to occur on average
once every 10 years.
# that the benefits to Woking of having an active and well managed canal through the centre of the Borough are considerable. The cost of additional measures would be much less than the economic benefits to Woking.
These conclusions were predicated on the assumption that the dredging of the Hampshire pound could be completed relatively quickly, but as Paddy Field pointed out, there are considerable difficulties in dredging the Hampshire length to its original design depth: cost if done by contractors; lack of disposal sites for silt; length of time if undertaken by volunteers.
Nevertheless there are relatively cheap and quick measures which can be undertaken: the adjustment of water levels in bypass weirs at the locks; the stemming of seepage at Sheerwater; the backpumping of water at the Woodham flight. In addition, the BCA has been energetic in its search for new water supplies, and the new pumping systems at Rive Ditch and Frimley will be of very great value in ensuring that the canal will be navigable throughout its whole length in most years.
Woking Borough Council are to be congratulated on their foresight in having commissioned this useful report, and also Mouchel for the effort they have put in to produce a wealth of facts about the water balance. As a result, the people of Woking may be reassured that money spent on the canal will produce economic returns which will far outweigh the cost (the report assesses the increase in spend from visitors, boat users, trip boats and mooring charges at £1.5 million per year) to say nothing of the increase in property values and the amenity value of having a viable canal running through the Borough. That Woking appreciates the canal is shown by the enthusiasm generated by the Canal Fun Day reported in the last issue of Basingstoke Canal News.
But there is a message for the BCA and the Society in this report also. It is that the continued dredging of the Hampshire pound must be accelerated. Local Authorities must help with the finding of new sites to deposit silt whilst it dries out. And if the use of contractors is too expensive, what about the BCA acquiring a dredger for the volunteers of the Society to operate to help speed up the work?
The big one that proves there's life in the Baslngstoke Canal • (Brian Fox)
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We've all heard a lot about the Rive Ditch pump but what is it and where is it ? What does it do and what maintenance does it require ?
I was invited to see the this pump on a Thursday in May and duly turned up to be shown all, only to be told that there had been so much rain that day that it was impossible to descend into the pumping chamber. However one could see from ground level the vast amount of water running through the'ditch'; some of which was being pumped back into the canal. I returned a week later when the water levels were normal.
The Rive ditch runs from the eastern end of Sheerwater Drive in Woking (adjacent to Lock 6) along the southern bank of the canal and enters the canal below lock one, where it runs away in the Wey and thence into the Thames where it is of little use to the Basingstoke Canal. The ditch runs underground for about the first 300 yards of its length and it is within this first 300 yards that water is extracted and pumped back into the Woking pound (above Lock 6).
Two 'chambers' have been built to extract the water; the first one diverts some of the flow into a metal filter plate (to filter out large solids) and a 12 inch pipe directs this water to a pumping chamber some 10 yards away. In this 'chamber' is, what looks to the uninitiated like a large elephant's trunk. On the end of this trunk is a pump which sends the water to an outlet in the canal bank (complete with weirs etc.) to endeavour to maintain the water level in Woking. In a perfect world this water would be uncontaminated and the pump would work efficiently all the time but of course we don't live in a perfect world and the Canal Authority have to perform daily maintenance tasks on the pump. The pump is unable to cope with
paper, cigarette packets, crisp packets etc. which the locals seem to delight in letting travel down the drainage system. They attach themselves to the inlet screen of the pump and eventually the pump is unable to suck any water. Additionally, as the water is mostly runoff surface water, it has large amounts of sludge in it which tends to assist in blocking the inlet screens. Geoff Peach and Tony Beecher, two of the canal rangers, have the unenviable task of cleaning the pumping chambers daily (except at weekends) to ensure a continued supply (of about 200,000 gallons a day) to the canal.
Maintenance is not an easy task and has to be accomplished together with the normal maintenance tasks on their reach of the canal. Even the equipment they have to use varies from the high-tech to a garden hoe. Let me take you through a normal cleanout operation (and remember this happens daily). They arrive and open the manhole covers and send down, on a rope, a gas detector. A tripod arrangement is then set-up over the hole and Tony dons a full immersion rubber suit (he looks just like Buster Crabbe). Tony is attached to the wire rope which in turn is attached to the tripod - this is to ensure that if Tony were overcome by gas or injured himself Geoff would be able to get him out with little difficulty and it also complies with Heath and Safety at Work Regulations. The first thing to clean is the primary intake and the filters are washed in the ditch and returned to their places. At the same time a small dam is placed across the entrance to the intake to reduce the flow of water to the pump. Then on into the next chamber where it is likely that the water level is about 7 feet deep (because the pump is not pumping efficiently due to the debris on the screen). Tony has to stand on the pump and clear a small area of the
intake, with the garden hoe, to enable the pump to lower the water level enough for him to get this hands onto the screen to clean it fully. This is why he requires a full immersion suit. Once the bucket is full it is hoisted to the surface and the resultant debris disposed of.
Then the dam is removed and the manhole covers replaced and locked, the equipment returned to the van ready for the following day when the whole process will be repeated. This a labour intensive and costly way of maintaining the water supply in Woking but is a necessity if we are to maintain navigation, for which a great number of you have worked so hard and so long.
David Gerry, Operations Manager of the Canal said 'We tie up two men for two hours a day on this essential maintenance. The pump we installed was the best available at the time but a better one has now been produced which we hope to fit soon. This should mean less maintenance. With the successful implementation of the Frimley Green pumping we hope to be able to switch the Rive Ditch pump off for most of the winter, reduce our maintenance costs and switch the rangers to more essential work'.
The new pump mentioned above has now been installed and, as thought, the maintenence requirements have been reduced considerably thereby allowing the release of the rangers for more urgent canal work.
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RECOLLECTIONS FROM GREYWELL
Visiting the peaceful and extemely attractive village of Greywell recently, I was surprised to discover that it had, within the memory of at least two of the present inhabitants, been a hive of industry. Its brickyard and sawmills provided plenty of woric for local menfolk. The cleavers and sawyers were a tough breed working very hard for their pound or 30 shillings a week. Down on the wharf there were five sawpits. Mr William Poulter explained to one who had never heard of sawpits just how they worked. Under wooden side boards, which were removable, and a thatched roof, the pits had been dug six feet deep. The trees were trimmed and chalked before being manhandled onto rollers and placed in position over the pits. Then one man on top of the trunk and one below in the pit, using a seven foot saw would saw the trees into 30 foot planks.
Mr Poulter recalled his early life in Greywell. he was born in 1918, the son of Edwin, also a builder bom in the village in 1879. Grandfather Albert had arrived in the locality about the time of the first legendary tunnel fall. In view of the timing of his move from London, it is likely that, as a bricklayer, he was contracted to work on the rebuilding of the tunnel. He met, and married, a local girl, and William, the third generation Poulter, recalled some pleasant memories of life around the Basingstoke Canal plus a couple of rather scary incidents. When he was about five years old there were still a few horse drawn barges around, and he described how they were negotiated through the three quarters of a mile tunnel. The horses went over the top, whilst the bargees, lying on their boards, pressed their feet into the roof and sides and 'legged' the boats through.
Local boys were keenly interested in the tunnel. William told the story
of one young lad who tied together two planks to make a raft. Armed with a paddle, candle and vociferous encouragement from his friends he set off on a voyage of exploration through the intimidating darkness. He had paddled three quarters of the way when he encountered a few problems. He found himself drifting, half submerged, after the planks slipped and the candle disappeared into the murky waters. Hanging on with grim determination for what seemed an eternity, he finally made it to the entrance of the tunnel much to the relief of his equally scared friends.
At one time there was a cricket field which ran alongside the canal. William, and enthusiastic cricketer spent many a happy hour making life difficult for the opposing team by hitting sixes into the canal, he didnt tell me whether the tea ladies used a strainer to remove the weeds when they filled their kettles from the canal.
Fishing for pike was a favourite occupation as was skating in the winter. Combining the two on one occasion provided an interesting diversion. A fish was swimming under the ice and a hole was made in order to catch it, but when the fish tried to evade capture, further holes were necessary. In hindsight, the watery climax should have been anticipated !
Word spread around the village one day that a horse had broken loose and was struggling for its life in the tunnel. Three brave men in a boat risked theirs in an attempt to rescue the unfortunate animal; sadly they didn't succeed.
Mr Bob Murton was born in Greywell in 1918 and now lives in a house with a garden bordering the canal. He has created a delightful wild garden on the canal bank which must give much pleasure to
walkers on the other side. His elder brother shared his enthusiasm for the canal and took the ten year old into the tunnel in a small boat lit by candles 'to lighten the darkness', the first of many forays over the years.
For many years he has kept detailed diaries and these, together with files of newspaper cuttings and old photographs provide an interesting record of local Basingstoke Canal history.
Among the records is the the precise date of the second big tunnel collapse (this apparently has been questioned over the years). It happened on Saturday night. 25th February 1933. On the Sunday morning, local residents turned out in force to inspect the damage. The 30 foot hole was dry and Bob scrambled down to the bottom to inspect the fallen trees and masonry. Later when water poured in from local springs it created a large pond. Boys in the village used it as a swimming pool. They erected a plank to use as a diving board and the more daring among them started to cycle along it, diving into the water whilst holding onto the bicycle with a piece of string. This game ended when the string slipped and the machine disappeared without trace.
Two items of historical interest! The Greywell stop lock was constructed in 1797 to raise the level of water to navigational depth over a stretch for barges travelling to Basingstoke, and today's emancipated/liberated women might be interested to learn that women navvies were employed on building the waterway through Greywell in the 18th century.
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Thank you Sandhurst
27 Sandhurst officer cadets working over the weekend of 10/11 July have made a very substantial contribution to the restoration of the towpath west of the Greywell tunnel. They were required, as part of their training, to contribute to a project which would be of assistance to the civil community, and they hit on the idea of helping the Society in their back-breaking task of restoring the towpath to link up with a network of long-distance footpaths. The land is owned by the Hampshire County Council, and materials for the restoration are funded by them, but the Society has undertaken to do the work. It was an enormous help to have such a large body of fit and keen young men, working under the direction of Peter Redway and his team of volunteers, to level ground, to lay and roll 250 tons of crushed stone, to cut out defective brickwork from bridges. It was a challenge in logistics for Peter to organise the stone and get it to where it was needed, for dumper trucks cannot pass each other on the track: indeed it is a tribute to the skill of the drivers that they were able to stay on the track at all. especially in the mud underfoot, But it all worked, and the footpath took a great leap forward on that weekend. Thank you, Sandhurst: your efforts will be appreciated by walkers for centuries hence.
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The Pinkerton's 1993 season has been one of very mixed fortune, with some very pleasant moments and some extremely fraught ones. On the positive side, the bookings have been up on 1992 and the bank holiday weekends at Fleet were profitable. The weekday public trips during the August school holidays have also been very well supported with many being completely sold out.
Our weekend trip down to the River Wey went off without problems, but we were disappointed by the lack of interest from members of the Canal Society. If we repeat the trip it will be generally advertised much sooner and members will have to take their chances with the public.
Unhappily, within hours of returning from the Wey, the boat was broken into at Odiham. The galley doors were wrenched off their hinges and all the drink and money stolen, as well as bins, towels, the cratch cover and seat cushion which presumably were used to pack the loot. We replaced and reinforced the doors, but the thieves struck again in July when the boat was at Winchfield. This time they used oxy-acetylene equipment to burn the locks off before driving the boat down to Dogmersfield in the middle of the night to unload it.
It is said that the culprits are known but that the police cannot prove it. I suppose that by today's standards of crime this is pretty small beer, but I cannot help wondering just how much effort was put into finding our property, much of which was readily identifiable. Meanwhile we seem to have no choice but to spend several hundred pounds on a sophisticated alarm system.
The chief problem here was finding a system which would defeat the criminal but not the crews; the need to include
instructions for operating the alarm is the main reason for
delay in republishing the Crewing Manual.
We see a need for a new edition of the manual to try to improve, or at least maintain, standards of crewing the Pinkerton. The Department of Transport do have a policy of making incognito inspections and we need to make sure that we are up to scratch. We intend to hold an end-of-season captains' get-together to discuss this.
One thing which has become apparent during our trials and tribulations is that the Boat Company could do with some more bodies to assist with the practical side of running the boat. We have several potential victims in mind who we shall be trying to recruit, but if you feel like getting involved in our operation, please get in touch. Most of us have been doing our jobs for some years and would not object to some help or even a complete rest!
I was interested to receive the list of Summer Events enclosed with the last Newsletter, and to note that Society Members are being invited to view the new Canal Centre and Exhibition for one hour on July 9th.
However, I have to say that this kind of gesture does not altogether reverse the feeling of chagrin which I experienced when told at the official May opening that I was expected to pay for entry to the exhibition.
Along with several other longstanding members of the Society to whom I spoke, the realisation that we merited no greater consideration than any stranger walking in off the
street, struck home with some poignancy.
After all, had some Society members not spent a quarter of a century campaigning for and working towards the restoration of the canal? To be charged on the opening day of the exhibition which (mistakenly) we felt we had been invited to attend, seemed hardly the way to generate goodwill towards what is effectively the BCA's supporters club.
Indeed my displeasure was highlighted when I learned that the event seemed to have been centred as much on wining and dining officials as a public celebration of the opening of the new Canal Centre.
Is it my imagination, or is the BCA purposefully avoiding too close an association with the Society ? Maybe it feels that it must be seen to remain independent of any one organisation, but in doing so it could exclude a great deal of potential help, and since we are led to believe that underfunding is a constant problem, is this wise?
Perhaps, through the pages of the Newsletter, other members might care to allay or confirm my perceptions.
Lastly two bouquets. Firstly to the continued excellence of the Newsletter, whose new editors have managed to live up to the high standards set by Dieter Jebens for so many years. Secondly to the Canal Rangers, who, from my own experience, and from the comments I have heard expressed by several other visiting boaters, are establishing an excellent reputation as ambassadors for the canal.
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The following publications are available from the Society and make good stocking fillers - Christmas is not that faraway !
A Guide to the Basingstoke Canal by Roger
Cansdale and Dieter Jebens - 16 pps - Maps of the canal in three colours plus topical notes of interest and supporting photgraphs - £2.00
A History of the Basingstoke Canal by Glenys Crocker - 24 pps - A short but well researched history of the canal containing some original material - £1.50
Towpath walks by the Basingstoke Canal by David
Gerry - 16 pps - Ten circular routes taking in most lengths of the canal. Various lengths - £1.50
Basingstoke - The Western Length The wealth of nature and history from Greywell to Dogmersfield - 36pp - Illustrated - £1.05
Video - A Canal Reborn - 25 mins
During the summer of 1992 this video was shot as a club project and involved nine members in different aspects of the production. It gives a beautifully presented insight into some of the many activities that have blossomed on the Basingstoke since its reopening as a focus for recreation across the Surrey and Hampshire borders. From boats to birds, races to rafts, flowers to fish canoes to carnivals, artists to amblers the canal has been reborn and has come to life again. Also included are shots of the derelict canal before restoration. It is ideal as a Chrismas present of just as a record of the canal as a recreational facility. - £10.95
All the above prices include postage and are available from John Greenfield, 9 Mistletoe Road, Yateley, Camberley, Surrey, GU17 7DT. (0252) 873167. Please makes cheques payable to Surrey & Hampshire Canal Cruises Ltd.
Christmas cards are also available from John Greenfield. They show a snowy scene in Malthouse cutting and cost £2.50 inc post and packing from John as above.
The BCA, in conjunction with the S&HCS would like to produce a calendar for 1995. (We are too late for 1994) We have therefore decided to run a photographic competition for some really nice, new pictures which can be used as postcards attached to the monthly calendar sheet.
The subjects for the photgraphs would be:
January A winter scene along the canal
February Greywell Tunnel and surrounds
March The Canal Centre / Exhibition
April (Hotel) boats on the canal
May Odiham Castle
June Canal Carnival at Fleet
August Crookham Swing Bridge
September The Western End
October Autumn beech trees
November King's Head (Guildford Road) bridge
December The John Pinkerton
Prizes for the 12 winning photographs which will be credited on the calendar.
All entries to the Basingstoke Canal Authority, Canal Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchetl, camberley, Surrey, GU156DD by 13th December 1993. A panel of judges will make the selections and all photographs will be returned. Entries can be coloured prints, slides or black and white.
The Society's cheque for £10,000 for Frimley Green Pumping being presented recently - (Dieter Jebens)
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A recent loss to the Society was Tony Merryweather.
Tony's whole life was spent close to the canal, having been born in Odiham, and living in Church Crookham since the war. Reminders of his work before being called up for Army service in 1940 are to be seen to this day in the Dogmersfield area. During the invasion crisis, Tony helped to build pillboxes and antitank defences on the canal bank. He subsequently drove his tank across North Africa, up the length of Italy, and finally across Europe with the Eighth Army, suffering hearing loss in the process.
Tony's post-war years were spent with his wife Rosalind, bringing up a family of three children in Gally Hill Road.
As a member of Southern Water Company's Quality Control Department Tony's work took him far and wide, collecting samples for analysis and responding to complaints by householders.
The Society frequently benefited from Tony's expertise, but it was on the dredging front that he made his major contribution. In one phase he would arrive aboard early to light the fires and ensure an early start. In another, he worked for a year or two developing an hydraulic dredging barge for bridge-hole work. He was also a stalwart magazine distributor for over 20 years.
He will long be remembered for his cheerful, polite consideration as well as his truly Hampshire 'down-to-earth' common sense.
Tony Merryweather assisting with the restoration of the Society's Landrover in 1976
With the summer holidays in full swing it seems the wrong time of the year to be thinking of the Autumn and Winter working parties, however the editor (who must be obeyed) (quite right - Ed) has requested details.
We are planning a number of new projects which will be starting this Autumn; the work is varied and caters for all skills. Those of you who thought the work had finished come on out, we need you as much as ever.
A joint inspection of the canal fabric from Lock 1 to Lock 28 has identified a range of work which is required, from minor defects to major replacement work.
The BCA have planned some remedial work on the Deepcut Locks, Society working parties will be working on water control structures at Brookwood and also providing modifications to paddle culverts enabling better access for removal of debris.
These works will be co-ordinated with the stoppage at Mytchett Place Bridge which is scheduled for reconstruction by the County Council from November 93 to Spring 94.
Working up the canal the programme is as follows:
Brookwood Locks - November 93 to February 94 - Extensive flooding of the towpath and adjacent properties occurs when locks are emptied into the short pounds due to the small overflow weir. Our work will be the construction of an additional overflow weir and water control channels so that the excess water is carried round the locks and not lost to the canal. We will be constructing a new access and cover for the paddle culverts on both sides of each lock; currently any debris has to be cleared from the canal through the paddle hole - a far from easy task.
Deepcut - Offbank clearance work is required throughout the lock flight plus any large trees which may be scheduled for felling. The BCA have agreed to provide us with a work boat for moving cut timber.
Lock 27 Water Supply - Negotiations by the BCA with the adjacent landowner and British Rail for an additional water supply are nearing completion. The Society has agreed to supply labour for this project including weekday support for machinery hired in for the well excavations. The water available is expected to be similar to the Frimley supply, therefore the sooner we can complete the better the water supply for the canal.
Fleet - Provision of capping on the piling at Reading Road Wharf.
Hampshire - The need for a second bankside clearance team for the winter period is becoming urgent - we all know the bad places. Anyone witling to lead a working party this season ? - offers to Peter Redway on
(0483) 721710 please.
Western End - Work progresses, one section of the towpath has been surfaced and two other sections are almost ready for similar treatment.
This winter will see the start of work on the towpath wall under Brick Kiln
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Bridge (subject to Highway Engineer funding).
Other work agreed for the winter period includes the construction of a weir in Brickworks Arm and repairs to the wharf wall.
Towpath clearance work will commence at Eastrop Bridge with the objective of reaching the tunnel by the spring of 94. Renovation of Slades Bridge continues.
Dredging - Society volunteer involvement in a further five year programme of dredging is being discussed. The Society has offered assistance to the BCA with a continued dredging operation enabling silt disposal sites to be used as effectively as possible with the planning consent restrictions. Details have yet to be agreed but don't hang up your boots yet!
Any members who wish to be involved in work parties are welcome; new blood is required for a sustained effort. We have a restored canal and are in the process of restoring the Western End. We must however ensure the canal is fully used to prevent deterioration of the fabric.
This means improving the structure where required and ensuring a viable water supply. The slogan 'Use it or lose it' has a specific meaning on the Basingstoke; come and help ensure the canal is used - contact Peter Redway for details.
Work Party Dates and Venues
DJ - Dave Junkison / PR - Peter Redway / PJ - Peter Jackman / DL - Dave Lunn
|11th/12th DJ/DL||Western End Slades Bridge|
|18th PR||Fleet Reading Road Wharf|
|25th/26th PR||Western End Slades Bridge|
|2nd PR||Brookwood locks|
|3rd PJ||Deepcut bankside clearance|
|9th/10th DJ/DL||Slades Bridge and t'path work|
|16th PR/DJ||Brookwood locks|
|17th PJ||Deepcut bankside clearance|
|23rd / 24th PR||Slades Bridge towpath work|
|30th / 31st DJ/PR||Brookwood locks|
|6th PR / DJ||Brookwood locks|
|7th PJ||Deepcut bankside clearance|
|13th/14th DJ/DL||Slades Bridge / Brickworks arm / towpath work||
20th|| PR||Brookwood locks|
|21st PJ||Deepcut bankside clearance|
|27th/28th PR||Slades Bridge/Brickworks Arm/towpath work|
|5th PJ||Deepcut bankside clearance|
|11th /12th DJ/DL||Slades Bridge/Brickworks Arm/towpath work|
|18th /19th PR||Brookwood locks|
|19th PJ||Deepcut bankside clearance|
NB - 19th December is Work Party gathering
continued from page 5
English Nature contributed to the cost of an ingeniously built length of Greywell Tunnel. On entering the dark interior, the visitor hears the echoing splash of water recorded in the real tunnel, as illuminated pictures of the inevitable bats light up. But the cost of the gimmick might have been better put to an interactive display with greater appeal to younger audiences, or a slide show. Finally back to reality and into the shop: sweatshirts, tea towels and a somewhat sparse selection of standard items for sale. An original item is a 40 minute tour on audio cassette of the site of King John's Castle written and narrated by Philip Hutchinson and Lynda Styan, at £2.99. And if you want to encourage birds to nest in your garden, you can buy a hollowed out log for £3.00.
There are rather too many careless errors for a costly, professionally produced display: William Jessop also appears as Jessep, the eastern end of Greywell Tunnel becomes the western end, a paragraph of text has been transposed, and in an accompanying booklet for children (25p), teacher will not be pleased to read: At Anglers Flash above the village of Ash Vale are two sunk narrowboats... Ouch!
The Centre is open from 10:00am to 4:30pm Tuesday to Sunday and on Bank Holiday Mondays. Entry costs £1.50 per adult and £1.00 per child (family ticket price £4.00), compared with the Kennet & Avon Canal exhibition (adult £1.00) at Devizes, and more absorbing and imaginative town museums at Farnham, Alton and Reading where entry is free. But for the cost of a family's round of drinks, the exhibition will satisfy a newcomer s thirst for knowledge about the canal. And for those who want to explore the real thing, there's Alec Gosling's trip boats (£1.00 a head) and rowing boats (£5.00 per hour).
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Parliamentary Waterways Group
The Parliamentary Waterways Group has been reformed after several years, with Sir Anthony Durrant MP as Chairman. The Group will meet monthly to consider matters relating to:
The inland waterway system of canals and navigable rivers administered by British Waterways Board
Canals and navigable rivers in Great Britain under the control of other navigation authorities.
Estuaries and lakes on which boating takes place in Great Britain.
All activities associated with the above waterways.
The Group will make representations to British Waterways Board, Government, the National Rivers Authority, local and other authorities and the European Parliament as necessary in defence of the future of the future use and continuance of inland waterways in Great britain.
Previously the Group was only open to MPs and Peers, but interested organisations have been invited to join in order to widen access to the Group's discussions. The Society has accepted an invitation to join, and is therefore now an associate member of the Group.
It is hoped to invite the Group for a trip on the John Pink&rton in the near future.
A program of events to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the opening of the canal is being planned. The highlight will be on 4th September 1994 - 200 years to the day since the canal was opened.
Informal Members Evenings
Meet old friends and make new ones at the monthly informal evening at the Barley Mow, Winchfield in the Short Room on 4th Tuesday of the month starting 28th September.
Grand Draw 1993
Many thanks to all those members who have supported the Grand Draw for this year. There has been a good response to date and the profit from the draw will go to help the Society in its work.
This is just a reminder to those members who have not yet returned their counterfoils and money that the closing date is 9th October.
The Board of Directors has unanimously decided to offer Perseverance to the The Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port who will restore her to working condition and allow Society members to use her occasionally once she is restored. It has been agreed that should The Boat Museum wish to relinquish control of Perseverance, for any reason, she will return to the control of the Society.
Winter Social Evenings
The following is the program of events planned for this winter in the St John's Memorial Hall on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.
12th October - An evening of waterway films presented by Arthur Dungate from Phill Pratt's collection.
9th November - 'The New Aqueduct on the Basingstoke Canal' - a talk by John Turney of Surrey County Council. Combined meeting with IWA.
14th December - 'The Restoration of the Wellington Bomber' by Bob Casbard of the Brooklands Museum.
11th January - 'The Western End of the Basingstoke Canal' - an illustrated talk by Peter Redway.
8th February - The Waterway Recovery Group - an illustrated review of activities by Chris Davey.
8th March - John Humphries & Hugh McKnight present their latest film of journeys through Eastern Europe.
12th April - To be arranged.
Several members who have been to the £225,000 Canal Centre have pointed out the nonsense in designing the exhibition with a counter at the entrance and a shop tucked away in a separate room at the end. Apart from the need for two people, anyone who has been to an interpretation centre, museum or place open to the public incorporating a shop will invariably find the sales area accessible to the visitors regardless of whether they pay to see the show, it doesn't need a tot of business acumen to work out the advantages - just a little common sense.
The Board of Directors has announced a competition to design a new poster advertising the Society to attract new members. There are very few rules for this competition: the main ones being that the poster must attract attention and encourage the reader to join the Society. Entries please to David Millett by end of December 1993.
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Welcome to the following new members:
Mr & Mrs AF Lawrence - Fleet
Mr & Mrs GD White - Wokingham
Mrs E Clune - Fleet
Ms AL Stadie - Fleet
Mr & Mrs RA Brathwaite - Farnham
Mr RJ Debenham - Farnborough
Mrs M Bowles - Milton, Portsmouth
Mr & Mrs PL Shoesmith - Fleet
Mr RH Allen - Fleet
Mr & Mrs RA Matthews - Yateley
Mr & Mrs D Steel - Fleet
Mr BW Hurr- Fleet
Mrs PJ Gale - Fleet
Mr & Mrs AS Blackmore - Guildford
Mr DJ Sanger - Odiham
Mr AGB de Hutiray - Brookwood
Mr PTP Hamilton - Fleet
Mr RD Johnson - Brookwood
Mr PEN Smith - Brookwood
Mr RH Joyce - Bedfont
Mr & Mrs B Rose - Fleet
Mr R Charles - Guildford
Mrs AES Smith - Fleet
Mr & Mrs MI Pound - Brookwood
Mr BR Huggett - Brookwood
Mr & Mrs EPA Coles - Basingstoke
Mr JMB Parrott - Shipton-on-Cherwell
Mr JW Johnston - Aldershot
Mr & Mrs JB Gordon - Pinner
Mr & Mrs HT Hawkins - Brookwood
Mr & Mrs PW Fuller - Brookwood
Mrs PL Wrenn - Odiham
Mr GE Bright - Fleet
Mr RL Stevens - Mapledurwell
Mrs EE Taylor - Fleet
Mr ME Hutton - Chertsey
Mrs CF Base - Fleet
Mr MJ Liscombe - Basingstoke
Mr LT Scott - Ash
Mr RD Speak - Aldershot
Mr DFJ Leathers - Dogmersfield
Mr GK Wales - Woodmansterne
Between Two Rivers - A Guide to the historic Cotswolds Canals by Gordon Moore and Chrissie Franklin, published by Today
Publications at £4.50 - 40 pages.
At first glance the booklet appears to be a CAMRA guide to pubs serving real ale. The cover features Clive Gunnel clutching a pint of bitter, presenter of a TV series about the Stroudwater Navigation and the Thames & Severn Canal which inspired the publication. Since any appearance on TV is fame itself, and personalities beget sales, there are three separate photographs of Mr Gunnel, incongruously clutching his tankard, taken in the vicinity of Sapperton Tunnel. If the pictures seem unnecessary his quote:" At one time the canals were busy waterways. Now nature has taken over large sections and wildlife has returned, bringing another kind of bonus", is definitely unfortunate.
The booklet (in a handy pocketable 4" x 9" size) is a well written and attractively presented guide, as much for the fireside rambler as for the active explorer, seeking an introduction to these two navigations, now 'marketed' as the Cotswold Canals, which linked the rivers Severn and the Thames, to provide an inland waterway between the ports of Bristol and London: the Stroudwater for 8 miles from Framilode to Stroud, and the Thames & Severn for nearly 29 miles to join the Thames at Inglesham just above Lechlade.
Following a potted history leading to their opening in 1779 and 1783 respectively, 25 pages describe the route, divided into five lengths, including their commercial past, and 'Look Out For' notes on features, such as the famous roundhouses, and refreshment stops. Each section has a sketch map of the canal in its environment but with practically no detail such as the location of the 57 locks.
The booklet is a very readable guide to a waterway link, famous for its 3.817-yard long tunnel at Sapperton and the autumn colours
in the Golden Valley which is currently being restored and will, according its best known historian, Michael Handford, be re-opened in the year 2025.
Fleet Carnival was a success again this year with a large number of boats in the best dressed boat competition which was won by Jan Simth and Pam Wait in their boat HMS Troutbridge (otherwise known as Victoria M). In the evening there followed the usual and much admired illuminated boat procession from the Fox and Hounds to Reading Road Wharf.
The towpath between Colt Hill and Swan Cutting has been resurfaced and levelled by BCA ranger Ted Harding. At the same time the hedges have been trimmed by a Hampshire Employment Action Team. This team is now working in the Fleet area. Their work may look severe but spring growth will soften it.
Boat movements up to 31st July were 727 at Double Bridge and 169 at Deepcut. The Deepcut counter has only been operational since May.
All signboards in Hampshire will have been updated by spring 1994 and new ones placed in Surrey. Sponsorship is being sought for these boards - please contact the Canal Director if you know of any leads for sponsorship (0252) 370073.
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Two new sets of bottom gates will be built this autumn - the first set to replace the bottom gates on lock 19. Lock 7 will receive a new heal and there will be an ongoing program of paddle frame replacement.
The Mytchett pound will be closed for four months from 1st November for the replacement of Mytchett Place Road bridge - adjacent to the Canal Centre.
Pirbright Bridge (just below lock 15) will have the decking replaced but this will not affect navigation.
The replacement of Guildford Road (Kings Head) Bridge has been delayed to coincide with the building of the aqueduct which is now scheduled to commence on 15th Septemnber 1994.
BCA Rangers are delighted with the help they have been receiving lately from Society members Peter Caiger, Roger Flitter and Ian Edwards - there is life after Perseverance ! All three are helping drive the weedcutter in Hampshire.
New Board Member
Arthur Dungate has joined the Board of Directors of the Society
340 people enjoyed a performance, by the Mikron Theatre group, of Threads of Revolution, which told the story of the building of a fictional canal some 200 years ago, at the Fox & Hounds in Fleet on Saturday 14th August. The Society sponsored the successful performance which was enjoyed by all. The editors hope to produce an article for the next issue of the Newsletter on Mikron.
S&HCS, BCBC and IWA are seeking ways to simplify lock operation in 1994 by reducing ranger involvement.
Duckweed is still a major problem in Woking. All waterways groups in eluding the NRA are concerned about it and are actively seeking ways to reduce it but there is no easy and cheap answer.
Paddle Steamer Waverley Cruise
Full details in Summer BC News. For last minute bookings contact David Millett - (0252) 617364.
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Copy date for Next BC News: 25th October 1993
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. Executive members of the Committee are shown in bold type
Brian Fox 60 Dinorben Avenue, Fleet, Hants, GU13 9SH (0252) 613147
Kathryn Dodington, Sequoia, Sheets Heath Lane, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey, GU24 OEH (0483) 473630
Chairman: David Millett 14 Dinorben Close, Fleet, Hampshire, GU139SW (0252) 617364
Vice-Chairman: Peter Redway 1 Redway Cottages, St John's Lye, Woking, Surrey, GU21 1SL (0483) 721710
Hon. Secretary: Philip Riley Wincombe Cottage, Broad Oak, Odiham, Hampshire, RG25 1AH (0256) 702109
Hon. Treasurer: Jonathan Wade 43 Sheridan Road, Frimley, Camberley, Surrey, GU16 5DU (0276) 65622
Membership Secretary: Edwin Chappell The Spinney, Meadow Road, Ashtead, Surrey, KT21 1 QR (0372) 272631
Dredger Manager: Mike Munro 46 Malthouse Close, Church Crookham, Hampshire, GU130TB (0252) 624643
Special Projects Manager: Stan Meller 101 Branksome Hill Road, College Town, Camberley, Surrey, GU144QG (0276) 32096
Working Party Information: Peter Redway 1 Redway Cottages, St John's Lye, Woking, Surrey, GU21 1 SL (0483) 721710
Trip Boat Manager: Roger Cansdale 79 Gally Hill Road, Church Crookham, Hampshire, GU130RU (0252) 616964
Trip Boat Bookings: Ann Bird 25 Farnham Road, Fleet, Hampshire, GU139HZ (0252) 622758
Sales Manager: Gill Heather 35 Holland Gardens, Fleet, Hampshire, GU139NE (0252) 624612
Mail Order Sales: John Greenfield 9 Mistletoe Road, Yateley, Camberley, Surrey, GU177DT (0252) 873167
Exhibitions Manager: David Junkison 4 Thames Meadow, West Molesley, Surrey, KT146BE (081) 941 0685
Audio Visual Producer: Arthur Dungate 187 Ellerdine Road, Hounslow, Middlesex, TW3 2PU No Telephone
Talks Organiser: Janet Greenfield 9 Mistletoe Road, Yateley, Camberley, Surrey, GU177DT (0252) 873167
Distribution: Janet & George Hedger 7 Gorse Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU139NA (0252) 617465
Press Officer: Dieter Jebens 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey, GU103NJ
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