Spring 1994

Cover picture info
Future of the canal
1984 AGM
Recent events
Terry Harrison
Southern Canals
Arthur Attwood
The Ballad
View from the Centre
Working Party update
Vic Trott obit.
Reflections on water
Naturalists' viewpoint
Bicentenary events
Boats for the H'capped
200 Years Ago
Pinkerton's Progress
Towpath Topics
Gongoozler's Gossip
Prints by Terry Harrison

Contact the Society

[No. 165 Spring 1994]

front pic (123K)

page 2

This is a rather special issue of the Basingstoke Canal News for it commemorates the 200th anniversary of the opening of the canal. The formal opening was on 4th September 1794, so perhaps we are being a little premature. But we wished in particular to draw attention to the various events taking place up and down the length of the canal to celebrate 200 years.

Society members can feel proud that there is anything to celebrate at all, for without the formation of the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society in 1966 there would have been nothing to celebrate. The canal would have continued to deteriorate until the only thing to do to eliminate the ensuing eyesore would have been to turn it over to building land or the like. Some parts have indeed been built on, much to the chagrin of those who would like now to see it restored back into the centre of Basingstoke. But 32 miles are now navigable, and some lengths are regarded as being the most beautiful stretches of canal in the country. For this restoration our thanks are due to those early members of the Society who had the foresight and energy to fight the many battles for recognition and to undertake the back-breaking physical work of clearance and rebuilding of locks and bridges. The culmination of that work was the Royal reopening in 1991, when boats from all over the country arrived to salute the achievement of navigation from the Wey up to the Greywell Tunnel.

Restoration is still going on, in the reclamation of the towpath beyond Greywell. Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have commissioned a feasibility study on the best way of restoring the canal back into Basingstoke: if that study shows such extension to be feasible, the Society will be ready and willing to play its part once again in the very substantial amount of work involved. But that cannot be regarded as the main aim of the Society now, exciting as that prospect is. The aim must be now to work with local authorities, as embodied in the Basingstoke Canal Authority, to maintain and enhance the restored length of the canal for the enjoyment of all the people who live in or visit those parts of Surrey and Hampshire through which it passes.

Tremendous strides have already been made even since 1991 as a result of that co-operation: water supplies have been augmented; wildlife has been protected and encouraged; fish stocks are healthy; boat use has never been higher in the whole 200 years than it was last year; hotel boats, trip boats and now a restaurant boat all operate regularly; the Canal Centre receives a steady stream of visitors and school parties; and businesses up and down the canal benefit from those who enjoy boating, fishing, walking, canoeing, cycling along it. Long-awaited By-laws are now in operation to help protect it.

But there is still much to be done. Dredging is a continuous need and there is a shortage of sites to deposit the silt arising from this expensive operation. The new waste disposal licensing requirements are time consuming and costly. Weed clearance is another priority task, and we welcome the news that there is to be a trial of the use of grass carp later this year. Water supplies need still more enhancement to guarantee unhindered navigation in dry summers. Bridges and locks need regular maintenance, and projects like the aqueduct for the Blackwater Valley Road need to be managed with great care and expertise. Funding for all these tasks will always be a problem, and the Society has severe reservations about the proposals of the Canal authority to reduce the levels of experienced engineering management of the canal in order to save quite modest sums in staff costs: we fear that these could prove to be very false economies in the long run. The Society also has to be watchful that proposals to protect aquatic plants through the imposition of a Site of Special Scientific Interest are not so unbalanced that they inhibit the use of the canal for which for which it was restored.

The Society's new role as helper and watchdog may not be glamorous as its earlier role as restorer, but it is equally important if the canal is to remain an enjoyable leisure facility, and for this reason we need the help and support of people who enjoy its presence and who are concerned to see it preserved for future generations to enjoy.

Anyone interested in joining the Society should contact Edwin Chappell, The Spinney, Meadow Road, Ashtead, Surrey KT21 1QR. Telephone (0372) 272631.

The Future of the Canal3
AGM Report4
Interview with Terry Harrison8
Southern Canals Association10
Recollections of Arthur Attwood12
Ballad of the Basingstoke Canal13
A View from the Centre14
Working Party Update16
Vic Trott17
Letter to the Editors18
Reflections on Water19
English Nature20
Bi-Centenary Events22
Boats for the Handicapped23
200 Years Ago24
Pinkerton's Progress25
Towpath Topics26
Gongoozlers Gossip27

From an original by Terry Harrison depicting horse-drawn narrowboat Basingstoke approaching Sprats Hatch Bridge.
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A number of members at the Society's AGM raised questions about the apparent backlog of maintenance work and various aspects of the canal's management. The committee has subsequently discussed these issues and its views are set out in this article.

Engineering Management
To start with there is the issue of the canal's engineering management which was the subject of a formal resolution at the AGM, as reported elsewhere in this issue. Members are right to be concerned about the Basingstoke Canal Authority's reduction in the level of engineering management from two managers to one, especially when the move is being made largely as a cost reduction exercise and as a means of increasing the ranger staff to enable one to be on duty in the Canal Centre.

Canal Centre development
A growing number of people, both members of the Society and those in the Basingstoke Canal Boating Club and the local branch of the Inland Waterways Association, are concerned over the amount of time, money and effort which has and is being spent on trying to make the Canal Centre profitable at the expense of maintaining and developing the canal as a navigation. The primary function of local authorities and their agencies is to provide public services. In this case it is to manage an amenity which enhances the environment and serves as a recreational resource for boating, angling, towpath walking and cycling. And if any of these pursuits provide some revenue so much the better. But development of the Canal Centre as a commercial enterprise requires a considerable investment and the appropriate expertise. The current piecemeal installation of facilities which have no relevance to the canal would appear to be a costly diversion of limited funds which should be spent on the fabric of the canal.

Maintenance arrears
The condition of the navigation also gives rise for concern. It is widely recognised that the western end of the canal badly needs dredging again. For the past two years the Canal Authority has been negotiating for the reopening of a silt dump site at Broad Oak, but it is still not operational. Given a more dynamic management approach the site could have been re-established long ago so that dredging would now be well underway. A start to replacing lock gates on the Deepcut flight was made last year. Three pairs of gates were built and installed. But completion is subject to a 5-year programme. We can only hope the existing gates will survive the timescale. Banks and the towpath also need attention in places. Then there are projects such as the construction of another vital new source of water at Lock 25, due to have started this spring. The development has been shelved despite the Society's pledge of £10,000 and voluntary workers.

Management Structure
A number of people have observed that the Wey Navigation and most British Waterways canals are run by a waterways manager with an experienced

engineer and a maintenance staff. At one time project managers were appointed on some canals to promote their educational and recreational benefits but these posts have generally been reduced in the interests of economy. In any event the Society has always performed this role and should be encouraged to continue.

Management Committee
Finally there is the function of the Joint Management Committee which, it was originally hoped, would have some real authority. In fact it has proved to be largely a means of giving those riparian local councils who contribute half the cost of the canal's upkeep a token representation. We would question how a management body which meets only twice a year can possibly discharge a management and policy making role. The committee has no expertise in canal engineering or management, and is largely a rubber stamp for Hampshire and Surrey county councils who effectively direct policy and administer the canal. This was demonstrated at a recent meeting when the Society unsuccessfully tried to have the proposed engineering management proposals reviewed. It became clear that county officers, represented by the canal director, were opposed to a review and the voting went accordingly. Management of the canal would benefit by adopting a similar structure to that used by the National Rivers Authority on the Thames. There the Regional River Users Group, which comprises a wide range of disciplines and experts in a variety of relevant fields, makes a positive contribution to the operation of the river.

The reason why so many people are expressing their concern about the current management of the Basingstoke Canal is that they can see the deterioration without any apparent urgency or determination to deal with the problems. The Society believes that a clear agenda needs to be set for future management of the canal. This must establish the priorities and an effective programme for dealing with them. In our view these priorities must include a properly drawn up dredging programme (in which the Society's volunteers can take part), provision for future water supply and an accelerated programme of lock gate replacement.The Society and other interested and knowledgeable organisations are concerned over a deficiency in professional engineering expertise. The canal, it seems, is being regarded as another country park, where the provision of an exhibition centre, souvenir sales, signposted trails, picnic tables and childrens play area is a preoccupation. The canal is not simply an open space. Neither should it be managed predominantly as a nature reserve rather than a navigation. It is a man-made waterway which requires constant attention and professional management as the prerequisite for reasons of safety alone. It is also a unique leisure facility which people should be allowed to discover and enjoy with a minimum of direction in the way they have always done. That is what it is all about and that is why we all worked hard to restore the canal.

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1984 AGM

1994 will long be remembered for its AGM. Like a Beethoven symphony, it started on a quiet calm theme but rose to a stormy climax near the finale. One came away, as from a concert, feeling moved, slightly shattered at the emotions unexpectedly released, and thinking that it was an occasion one was glad not to have missed.

Formal Business
The formal business was conducted with its usual efficient despatch. Accounts were approved, auditors appointed, officers elected, subscription rates agreed, all within 20 minutes - Pablo Howarth retired from the Board after many years and was thanked for his services. Peter Coxhead and Dieter Jebens were welcomed onto the Board. Then we turned to the less formal matters.

Peter Redway presented his 4th AGM report. At one time it had looked as though volunteer working parties would not be needed in the 90's, but last year they were as busy as ever, working every weekend. They were now joined by the welcome addition of the Civic Trust Community Action scheme; together 10,000 man-hours were put in last year, working on the western end, on towpaths and bridges, rebuilding weir crests at Locks 12, 13 and 14 as recommended in the Mouchel report, bankside clearances and so on. Peter wished to record his heartfelt thanks to all who so willing give of their time and energy for the benefit of the community in this way.  (13K)
A Society working party, with help from The Waterway Recovery Group, building a By-wash at Lock 15 - Tim Lewis.

Roger Cansdale presented his last report as chairman of Surrey and Hampshire Canal Cruises, leaving that post after spending a third of his life involved in one way or another with the John Pinkerton. It had not been an easy year for running the John Pinkerton: there had been two break-ins - how do you protect the vessel against rogues equipped with oxy-acetylene cutters ? The new requirement for boatmasters licenses for all 25 skippers presented a challenge for the new chairman, Dieter Jebens, and the new training officer, Kathryn Dodington. Gill Heather, becoming Mrs Gill Freeman on that very day, was thanked in her absence for all the work she had put in as both training officer and housekeeper for the John Pinkerton. Roger made an impassioned appeal for someone to come forward to undertake the restocking of the shop on the JP. The winter had seen the fitment of a new shaft and bigger propeller, and the JP had been repainted with the aid of the Community Action Scheme people. Mike Munro was now doing the signwriting, and had undertaken to look after the engine in future in place of Andy Winks. Takings and bookings were going up, but new people were needed to crew the John Pinkerton. Club nights were reverting to Tuesdays. Roger concluded by thanking all who had helped, but particularly Ann Bird and Bill Homewood for all their efforts on bookings and maintenance.

Mike Munro thought that this would be his last report on dredging unless there was a proper priority put by the Canal Authority on this vital need. The last year was spent in disposing of equipment, which he graphically illustrated with slides showing the complexity of dismantling Perseverance and transporting her to the museum at Ellesmere Port. The dragline had been taken away with almost equal difficulty, and the two tugs at Ash Wharf were waiting to be lifted.

Dredging continued to be a vital task, but the tip site at Broad Oak was licensed for weekdays only, which effectively precluded the use of volunteers. New sites were desperately needed: without them, no dredging could be done. The canal was already too shallow in places, and unless this situation was addressed with urgency, the canal would inevitably revert to an unusable state. He had put to the Basingstoke

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Canal Authority some workable proposals as to how the Society could operate dredgers funded by the BCA, and the ball was in the BCA's court. But without urgent action on their part, dredging was liable to cease next year.

London's Lost Route
Paul Vine then described the additional research undertaken for the 2nd edition of his book 'London's Lost Route to Basingstoke', originally written in 1968. He described amusingly the involvement of the architect Benjamin Latrobe; the rogue but apparently indispensable tunneller, Charles Jones; the engineer John Rennie; the MP Horatio Bottomley; the authors CS Forester and Cyril Connolly. To get the full story you will have to read the book. Paul ended on a note of gratitude to members who had drawn his attention to interesting pieces of history of the canal, and appealed for any more information, particularly relating to canal Company reports for the period 1830-1865. He signed members copies of the book during the refreshment interval.

Audio Visual
This was followed by two of Arthur Dungate's intensely beautiful audio-visual presentations. The first was a most moving remembrance of Vic Trott, who died in February. It illustrated graphically Vic's ebullient, cheerful character and enthusiasm for canal activities, showing rallies not only here on the Basingstoke Canal but also his regular appearances at Little Venice and the prize winning decoration of his narrowboat, Tristan.

The second audio visual really set the scene for the subsequent events of the evening. It was a celebration of two hundred years of the Canal, with pictures, set to appropriate music, merging from one into another showing progressively the earliest photographs - monotone slides from ninety years ago depicting barges and boating activities - to slides of the decline into dereliction, weeds dilapidated locks and bridges, hazardous mud, eyesores everywhere. Mournful music quickened to excitement

with the formation of the Canal Society in 1966, and the sights of working parties clearing the canal bed, rebuilding bridges and locks, water flowing into the canal again, leading to the appearance of Perseverance with smoke and steam bellowing as it dredged its way from Odiham to Pondtail.

Then came the appearance of the John Pinkerton in 1974, with people able to enjoy the canal once again - the disabled were also able to enjoy its delights when the Mildred Stocks appeared. Then we relived the triumphal Royal reopening in 1991 when the whole length from Greywell to the Wey became navigable after so many years of neglect. Finally we saw the opening of the Canal Centre, the arrival of hotel boats, the canal being used as a canal should be used today, to give pleasure to thousands of visitors, to bring trade to businesses, to give opportunities for people to enjoy leisure activities or simply to savour the peaceful ambience of being by quiet waters.

English Nature
It was at this point that Dr Basil Lindsey and Simon Melville, representing English Nature, took centre stage to explain their proposals for designating virtually the whole of the canal as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Dr Lindsey explained that they had a statutory duty to notify the Secretary of State for the Environment any area of notable scientific interest, and that since the canal had been restored a variety of aquatic plants, dragonflies and other rare flies and beetles had flourished. He showed slides of water Soldiers, Fringed water lilies, Water violets, Irises and other plants to illustrate his point. He explained that they had surveyed the canal in 1986/7 and again in 1992/3. They now proposed to recommend to their council that the whole of the Hampshire stretch right to Hermitage Bridge and through Brookwood should be designated an SSSI. A management plan had been drawn up to safeguard these rare species, and this meant limiting the numbers of boat movements and
Continued on next page..

presentation of the Robin Higgs award (10K) Peter and Mark Coxhead with Robin Higgs after the presentation of the Robin Higgs award at the AGM • Dieter Jebens
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Continued from previous page..
consulting with English Nature about arrangements for dredging and other activities. They were concerned that at one point the number of boat movements already exceeded that which they considered the maximum to prevent harm to rare plants. Nevertheless they wished to work with the Canal Authority to ensure an equitable balance between conservation and the use for leisure of the canal. A certain number of boat movements and dredging operations were beneficial to the wildlife.

The notion that, after all the effort put into restoring the canal, the SSSI would mean curtailing boat movements was enough to inflame the mood of those who had put heart and soul into the restoration, and the visitors from English Nature were subjected to a barrage of questions about the real scientific interest of a few 'weeds', when these grew elsewhere. This mood was only exacerbated when it was explained that it was the assembly of different species rather than individual rare plants which formed a large part of the scientific value. Moreover, it was forcibly pointed out, the 'weeds' would not be there at all had it not been for the restoration efforts, and restoration was designed to enable people to enjoy it: the flourishing of the wildlife was a welcome bonus, but should not be allowed now to inhibit the use of the canal as a navigable waterway. Dredging was needed, and if the canal was not looked after, it would revert and be lost again both for leisure and for the scientific interest. The sequential dredging proposals of English Nature were unworkable. The English Nature representatives accepted that if their proposals were unworkable, they should be looked at again: they even hinted that financial help towards dredging might be possible, [an article, by English Nature, on the need for an SSSI appears on page 20]

More storm was to come. The main topic of the Open Forum which concluded the AGM was, as expected, the staffing proposals of the Basingstoke Canal Authority. David Millett, our Chairman, read out a letter he had written, expressing the Society's extreme concern at the BCA's proposal to restructure

the BCA in a way which would reduce the 'management engineering manpower'.

Concern was expressed from the floor that the canal could not even now be considered to be a working waterway: it was too shallow in places and there was no real prospect of proper dredging in the near future. It was said that the BCA was shirking its responsibility in this regard, and that the matter and concern should be brought into the limelight of public attention. There was a real danger that the canal was going to deteriorate. In this context, the decision of the Joint Management Committee (comprising Councillors from Hampshire and Surrey County Councils and other local authorities in whose areas the canal runs) to merge the jobs of the Canal Manager and Assistant Canal Manager would so reduce the engineering expertise and experience available that the demise of the canal would be accelerated. There was just too much work to be done. To their credit, nobody personalised matters by mentioning names, but it was evident that most felt strongly enough about the issue and the way the restructuring had been forced through the JMC to wish to see banner headlines in the local press alerting the public to the belief that their canal, so lovingly restored, was in danger. A resolution proposed by Eileen Meller was overwhelmingly approved as follows:

This Society expresses very grave concern at what we believe is an ill considered decision of the Basingstoke Canal Joint Management Committee in adopting the proposal to reduce the senior level of engineering management of canal staff who have the experience essential to preservation work on the canal.

The Society asks the JMC to take note of the volunteer support which has been willingly given over many years and ensure that the level of engineering expertise is sufficiently high to maximise the benefits of such voluntary effort in the future.

On this note the meeting, which had started at 6.30pm, ended at 11pm.

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page 7

 7K)A  8K)B
 (8K)D  (7K)E

A: The National Rivers Authority conducting a survey of fish in the canal.
B: Mytchett Place Road Bridge under construction.
C: The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth (Cllr Alex Bentley) and Chairman of Hart District Council (Cllr Peter Carr) with Mike Hammersley enjoying a trip on the John Pinkerton on the Hart's Civic Day.
D: A new lock gate being made ready for installation at the Lock Gate Workshop, Deepcut.
E: Annette Weiss, Paddy Field and Terry Harrison with Terry's 200th Anniversary print.
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page 8
An Interview with TERRY HARRISON
Terry Harrison is a well-known local artist whose paintings and prints of the Basingstoke Canal figure prominently in galleries, pubs, shops and other public places in the South East of England. He painted the picture on the front cover specially for this edition of the Basingstoke Canal News. Brian Fox interviewed him recently at his home in Cove.

When did you first move into this area and encounter the Basingstoke Canal ?

In November 1965, when my father, who was in the RAF was posted to the Institute of Aviation Medicine at Famborough. Coming from Norfolk. I didn't believe there was a canal around here, and it was only when I went fishing with some friends from Cove school that I discovered anything about it. When they told me about it I expected to see something like the Manchester Ship Canal, but of course it wasn't at all like that. It was then quite derelict in places, but there were stretches where it was fairly intact.

And what did you do when you left school ?

In 1969 I went to Farnham Art School, before it amalgamated with the West Surrey College of Art and Design. But I didn't complete the course: I dropped out because they weren't teaching the sort of thing that I wanted to do. They were into abstract, Jackson Pollock type of painting, whereas my heroes were Turner and Constable. But I did realise from that time the importance of drawing, and I shall always be grateful to them for that. I joined a London graphic design studio, but retained painting as an evening and weekend activity. I was into aviation painting by then, partly because I came from an Air Force family. That led me into many interesting projects. I did box top illustrations for model manufacturers such as Airfix and Frog. One commission took me to Duxford before it was an Air Museum, to do sketches of a Liberator for an Australian publisher. At the Famborough Air Shows in 1972 and 1974, my paintings were hung in the Midland Bank's hospitality chalet, and this led to commissions for firms like Hawker Siddeley. My favourite painting from that era is one of Concorde landing at Famborough - and this still remains one of my best selling prints. It was, of course, necessary to be very accurate when painting aircraft: any inaccuracy is quickly picked up by the enthusiasts - and this is true also of canal enthusiasts, so my aviation painting stood me in good stead when I turned back to landscape painting at the end of the '70's. After the graphic design office, I joined Yellow Pages as an illustrator for 15 years, and then became a full-time professional painter in 1986. I've never regretted the change, and I've met a lot of interesting people.

Tell me about your first canal painting.

My first canal painting was at Broad Oak in about 1969. I stumbled across what I thought was a dried-up pond with a bridge. The bridge was virtually derelict, and beside it was a wooden footbridge: it made a great painting. I'd no idea then that it was part of the canal I also painted a lot in the Winchfield area. At Art school I used to do a lot of made-up paintings, incorporating bridges which I found very appealing. Then when I came back to landscape painting in the 80's, I decided to repaint some of the scenes I had painted 10 years earlier. I went back to Broad Oak, only to find that the lovely old derelict bridge which had so captivated me 10 years earlier had been completely restored to a brand new state and it didn't look at all as I had remembered it. But I have done a lot of canal painting since then, and these paintings and prints have proved to be very popular, not only in this area, but also in the Midlands and even in America, France and Ireland.

Your first paintings were in oils, but what makes them distinctive now is your use of water-colour and acrylics applied with a sponge. How did this change come about ?

Almost by accident really. In about 1987, I had all exhibition coming up in Hartley Wintney, and I hadn't enough oil paintings ready. I thought I'd do some watercolours, as they would be quicker, but I soon found that watercolours were not as easy as I imagined. I had had some acrylics by me for some time, and as these could be diluted with water like watercolours I started using these. I made some ghastly mistakes, and rushed to the bathroom to scrub them out with a sponge, and I found that by trying to rectify the mistakes I was actually getting the effects that I wanted by using acrylics with a sponge. I put the watercolour/acrylics into the exhibition, and they were the first to sell. People found them different, and it really developed from there.

When did you join the Canal Society ?

About 10 or 12 years ago, since when I've painting several pictures for Society members, and for presentations - for example the retirement presentation to Robin Higgs, the former Chairman, was a picture of Brookwood Lock with a train going across a bridge over the canal to incorporate his two main interests. I also had a commission to do a painting of King's Head Bridge for Surrey Heath as an historic record in case it was destroyed in any development, and that now hangs in the Surrey Heath Council Offices, That really is my favourite stretch of the canal in Surrey, and the Barley Mow - Spratts Hatch stretch is my favourite in Hampshire.

You are doing a lot of demonstrations now, aren't you ? Isn't it nerve-racking to have to paint in front of an audience ?

It certainly was at first. My first demonstration was to the Farnborough Art Club, and I was very nervous. But I normally can introduce a bit of humour now, and they are much more relaxed. I find now that I am doing about 2 a week on average, normally to Art Clubs - I'm going to Cardiff tonight to do a demonstration - and I now get invited to the Isle of Sheppey, the Kent coast, Cambridge, the New Forest and so on. I also sometime get invited to give demonstrations to Women's Institute or Rotary Club meetings, but these are more in the nature of entertainments where I have to produce a painting in half an hour, often after dinner. I was very pleased this year to be invited to demonstrate for Daler-Rowney at the Art Materials Exhibition in London in June.

What painters have influenced you, do you think ?

I've always admired most the paintings of Constable and Turner, but apart from those great masters, I think Rowland Hilder's landscapes have had a big influence. I knew Alwyn Crawshaw before he became popular on TV, and his attitude and enthusiasm rubbed off on me to some extent, and likewise with David Sheppard - though of course there's no question of mimicking any other painter; one must develop one's own technique. One man who did teach me a lot was Robin Ball, one of the tutors at the Farnham Art School, from whom I learned the importance of planning and thinking through a picture before you start to apply paint. Most amateurs don't really appreciate that.

Well, thank you, Terry, for giving me your time, and for painting our cover picture. I'm glad to see your business taking off, despite being launched during the recession, and I wish you well in the future. I know your paintings bring pleasure to a lot of people.

Terry Harrison (24K) Terry Harrison

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page 10

The Programme for the Southern Canals meeting included more subjects and speakers than ever before.

Chairman Robin Higgs opened the meeting by calling for a short silence in memory of Ken Goodwin and his service to the waterways as a member and past Chairman of IWA Council, and also in memory of Vic Trott who had done so much in the early days of the Basingstoke campaign.

First of the invited speakers was Alan Cavender giving a report on the 'Dig Deep' scheme of which he is the project manager. This was formed because many volunteers having gained experience and enthusiasm on 'Basingstoke' type projects, wanted more like it to which they could transfer their efforts. There are three volunteer groups now operating within the 'Dig Deep' programme.

After Alan came the duet of Tony Harrison and Roy Sutton. Their subject comprised advice on the precautions to be taken when engaging professional consultants for studies and reports. They advised on drawing up specifications for proposed tenderers. Following the procedure set out in IWA Fact Sheet No 3 and close liaison with Tony and Roy can minimise the chance of pitfalls.

Colin Weston, structural Engineer to Blondecell then followed with a very interesting presentation about the potential use of a modern material for the manufacture of canal structures. He specialises in glass fibre reinforced plastic (GRP). Kevlar was especially mentioned as samples of the material were available for inspection as giving long life and ruggedness.

Mike Handford, speaking as Chairman of the IWA Restoration Committee, gave an update on current restoration projects, and changes in grant legislation. He reported on various matters including restoration schemes reaching final stages. It was interesting to hear that the IWA had won over half of the public enquiries that it contested. The 'Fact Sheets' continue in production: no 7 will soon be available. The stamp bank continues to raise money as does the Green Shield stamp collection, 'please continue sending them in'.

State of the Union
After lunch David Stevenson IWA National Chairman gave a 'State of the Union' talk. He reported that the BW Bill will soon go to the House for voting; that Tony Durant has resumed chairmanship of the Parliamentary Waterways Group and made some passing remarks about the effects of the requirement for Boat Masters Certificates (for canal trip boats). He reminded the meeting that 1996 is the 50th anniversary of the IWA. He warned of the possible threat of privatisation of BW. The views of the movement must be made known about this.

Then came Colin Stride {Monsanto Chemicals) and Dr Paul Beckwith (British Waterways) talking about control of Aquatic Vegetation (weeds !). Chemical and other means were both covered in this wide ranging presentation about management of weed control and there were conflicting views about the need to control boating to a minimum for environmental reasons and the need for boat movement to keep a limit on weed growth.

Wilts & Berks
Finally John Henn introduced the waterways 'hidden asset' or secret weapon - Arthur Dungate, who made a name for himself in production for S&HCS of the Audio Visual 'Promise of the Western End' about the Basingstoke, and on the Wantage 'Big Dig' for WRG. He has done it again for the Wilts and Berks. John made a presentation giving records of the phenomenal amount of work Arthur and he had put into the making of this Audio Visual. The statistics were staggering - 560 man hours, 4200 miles of car travel, 130 miles of m/cycle travel, 55 rolls of film, and 2000 slides are just some of the figures. The finale was a showing of the end product 'A Dream Coming True', with 'voice over' by Timothy West.

Robin Higgs closed the meeting by inviting representatives present to make short reports about work on their own projects. The Spring meeting will be a visit to the Bridgewater and Taunton Canal which will be formally re-opened in June this year.
Stan Meller

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The Lady of Camelot (23K)

'Lady of Camelot'

Dining in style on the Beautiful Basingstoke Canal aboard
our luxurious wide-beamed cruising restaurant.

With full central heating & double glazing Lady of Camelot
is available throughout the year for:

* Regular Sunday Lunches
* Family Celebrations
* Wedding Receptions
* Corporate Hospitality

The Lady of Camelot, on advertised dates, and for private
charters can be hauled in the traditional way -
by a magnificent Shire Horse

Together with freshly prepared gourmet cuisine and top class
personal service, Lady of Camelot makes a stylish setting for any occasion
For our full information pack telephone Jill Scratchard on

(0374) 649540

Lady of Camelot departs from
The Basingstoke Canal Centre. Mychett

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page 12

The 200th anniversary of the opening of the Basingstoke Canal seemed to be an appropriate time to be in conversation with Mr Arthur Attwood. Arthur's grandfather was a nephew of Samuel Attwood whose family owned a tailoring business in Basingstoke during the last century. Samuel kept a diary which covered a period of fifty years from 1818 to 1870. The author, Paul Vine, in his book 'London' s Lost Route to Basingstoke' quotes from Sam's journal in which there are, amongst the entries, thirty five references to the canal. There are many records of deaths and clearly they had a good summer in 1825. In July of that year the entry read 'A great number of people died suddenly and drowned because of the heat'.

Freeman of Basingstoke
Arthur was born in Basingstoke seventy eight years ago and since the age of four has lived close to where the canal used to be. Town Historian and Freeman of the Borough (one of only two people to be awarded this honour) his knowledge of the waterway and its fascinating history is considerable. Having retired from a career in journalism which took him to twenty-one countries (he still keeps in touch with people in many places around the world), and a life member of the National Union of Journalists, he continues to write as a freelance. Not satisfied with compiling 10,000 crossword puzzles he continues to add to that remarkable number at the rate of four a week. However, in spite of a very busy lifestyle (he is involved in an incredible number of activities), he retains a great interest in the canal, and in particular, the current discussions concerning the restoration of the stretch from Greywell to Basingstoke. He has been in touch with Keith Chapman (Mayor of Basingstoke in '93) about this and has high hopes of progress being made in this area. Mr Chapman shares his enthusiasm for the project. Arthur regrets that because of the modern development and the motorway it will not be possible to open the canal where it originated, near the Basingstoke bus station. In his article 'The Whys and Wherefores of Canal Reopening plans' written for the Gazette in October '93 there are some worthwhile suggestions and comments on the subject. He refers to there being much ignorance of the Basingstoke of the past. In this and two other contributions 'Ebb and Flow of a Canal's Fortunes' and 'History That Has Flown By' he does much to enlighten the readership of the town's history in relation to the canal.

Arthur is enormously impressed by the Canal Centre in Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett which guides visitors through thirty seven miles of canal with artefacts to illustrate the history from the time it was opened in September 1794. On a visit there he was pleased to see a picture, claimed to be the only one in existence, of the canal at Basingstoke.

His own memories take him back to the days when horses were used for haulage work. The area between the canal and Basing Road was m wharf where the great trees from forests surrounding Basingstoke were taken to be sawn and seasoned. He recalls teams of horses dragging timbers with huge tree trunks fastened by strong steel chains. The canal had two Eastrop bridges. One sited on the Basingstoke side of Greywell Tunnel, the other, Eastrop Lane bridge was the last before the canal reached the pool at Basingstoke Wharf. Little more than a delightful country lane, Arthur has a delightful Edwardian photograph of it. The caption reads 'An excellent spot for boating and fishing, with carp, roach and perch plentiful' - The tree lined canal flowed beneath along a route east of Eastrop Lane now used as a car park. The bridge, once one of his favourite walks reminds Arthur of his happy courting days:

Taking these trips down 'memory lane' about life as it was beside the canal, one thing everyone remembered with pleasure were the Sunday School outing on the canal. Arthur's reference to this pastime was slightly different. He complained of feeling a trifle dated when he read in an old copy of the Basingstoke Gazette that in 1909. Mr James Lunn had taken a party of children on a Sunday School outing by barge to Old Basing. He taught alongside Mr Lunn in the 1930s!

Last Barge
Having read somewhere that the last barge arrived in Basingstoke around 1950, Arthur has put the record straight. The last barge bound for Basingstoke left Thameside Wharf London with a load of sand in September 1914. After passing through the Greywell Tunnel the vessel was stuck in the mud and had to be towed back into deep water. After more water was pumped into the canal, the barge was finally towed into Basingstoke in January 1915. Arthur reckoned that it must have cost as much as a load of gold dust!
Margaret Insall

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page 13

Two hundred years ago this year
The folk of Basingstoke did cheer,
To realise that, at long last, they
Could navigate right to the Wey.

Hundreds of navvies and their wives
Spent several years of their short lives
Wielding many a pick and shovel
And living in a frightful hovel.

Thousand thousand tons of soil
Shifted they with all their toil,
That horse-drawn barges then may float -
And, latterly, the narrowboat.

From Basingstoke to Penny Bridge,
And on to Greywell 'neath the ridge,
North Wamborough and Odiham,
Where birds and fish and small boys swam.

And on to Winchfield then, and Fleet,
Aldershot, Ash and then Mytchett,
Brookwood and Wo king, through the locks,
And so to Byfleet, near the docks.

Linking East and West by water,
Making journeys that much shorter.
Plans there were for further travel
To Southampton and to Bristol.

But these things were never done,
For the railways had begun.
Trade there was from time to time,
Produce, bricks and sometimes lime.

Alas, the profit was elusive
As the trade was not exclusive.
The movements, which at first were fine,
Fell into a steep decline.

The nineteen-thirties saw a fall
That blocked the tunnel once for all.
The canal became a ditch in places -
horrid mud produced long faces.

Motorways and towns extended
Canal use was by then quite ended.
Then, twenty years ago, or more,
A chap named Woolgar said "Restore".
Some said, "He must be quite insane:
It never will hold boats again".
But Jim was not so self-defeating;
He organised a public meeting,

Working parties, high finance -
And we became 'Surrey and Hants'.
Locks were rebuilt, bridges restored,
To stop our youngsters getting bored;

To provide a waterway,
Where men could fish and kids could play;
And ladies walk, And talk and talk;

And boats could cruise,
And bright canoes
Which now our youngsters do employ
And everyone does so enjoy.

John Pinkerton, his ghost does run,
Gives parties in the summer sun
To King John's Castle at their leisure
Or Crookham Wharf for greater pleasure.

The BCA came into being
Charged with making sure and seeing
That this waterway stays free
For future families to see.

So let us work and strive and fight,
That future generations might
In twenty-ninety-four's display
Look back once more and say,

"How they deserve our claps
Those lasses and those chaps
Who had the energy and foresight
That the people of our time might

Still enjoy this beauteous view,
Still use our boats; fish; and canoe;
Still walk or cycle as we may,
From Basingstoke right to the Wey".

Explore the Basingstoke Canal
with Instep Linear Walking Holidays

The Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society
To celebrate the Bicentenary of the Canal
Saturday 20th - Monday 22nd August 1994

A canal walk in easy stages from new Haw Lock, West Byfleet
following its course through to the Greywell Tunnel, Hampshire.
Experienced leaders and guides. Illustrated talk, boat trip & cream tea.
Daily coach travel from Fleet, North Camp and Ash Vale Railway
Stations and the Canal Centre Mytchett.

For details contact 'Instep Linear Walking Holidays'
35 Cokenham Road, Lancing, West Sussex BN15 OAE
Ann & Mike Hartley (0903) 766475

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page 14
A VIEW from the CENTRE

As I write this, the canal is bustling with activity. We start the season with a full head of water and outside my window Rose and Castle, the hotel narrowboats are being prepared for their first trip. Next to them, Lady of Camelot, David Dare and Jill Scatchard's new restaurant boat venture is all ready to do business - even if it is still sporting the title 'Riverboat'! No doubt that will be upgraded in the near future.

A hundred yards or so away, Mytchett Place Bridge has been opened to navigation since the Easter weekend and in just a few weeks more the bridge should be re­opened to road traffic and the tedious diversions to the Canal Centre will be a thing of the past.

New Lock Gates
Down the canal, three new pairs of lower lock gates have been fitted on the Deepcut flight, all made by our rangers in the canal workshops, whilst on the Brookwood flight Peter Redway, Ken Halls and their Civic Trust team are lengthening the crests of the bypass weirs, a task which has been on the stocks for several years but which was given fresh impetus by Mouchel & Partners' recent hydrological study of the canal commissioned by Woking Borough Council.

The Canal Centre too is entering the next phase of its development, which will include the construction of a childrens play area, the provision of a tea room and the refurbishment of the old swimming pool. Behind the Centre, English Courtyard Association's new development of sheltered housing should be started later in the year. In eighteen months time the site will be unrecognisable.

200th Anniversary Events
With 1994 being the 200th Anniversary of the canal's opening we have busy diaries and few free weekends for the next six months. Boat rallies and other festivities are taking place from New Haw to Odiham, whilst canoeing takes on a high profile with the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club's challenge paddle from Odiham Castle to the River Wey on Sunday 8 May, the BCCC marathon on Sunday 12. June and the British Canoe Union (Southern Region) 200th Anniversary Regional Tour on Saturday 25 June. The Mikron Theatre is coming to the Fox & Hounds on Saturday 13 August and the celebrations reach a peak - but not an end - with the Bi-Centenary Weekend based on the Canal Centre on Saturday and Sunday 3 and 4 September 1994. This promises to be the biggest event held on the canal since the Royal Re-opening in 1991, with a multitude of land and water based events and activities. The steam narrowboat President and butty Kildare are also attending the celebrations.

We have just heard that a party of our friends from the Canal d'Orleans will be visiting us for that weekend, which will add a little Gallic spice to the weekend. By that time, we hope to have completed the piling of the frontage at the Canal Centre to make it easier of access for visiting boats.

The Basingstoke Canal Boating Club are putting on their annual Fox & Hounds Weekend on 17/18 September, and whilst they are hoping for a good turnout of visiting boats (some might stay on after the Canal Centre weekend) the impending closure of the canal as a result of the building of the aqueduct means that exit from Fleet eastwards will have to be pretty quick!

Work is due to start on the aqueduct in

mid-September and to be completed by 30 June 1995. Our experience with other highway/bridge schemes over the canal does not fill us with confidence, but we hope that the Blackwater Valley Relief Road project is of sufficient magnitude that the start will be made on time and the work completed according to schedule, which will re-unite the two halves of the canal in time for the 1995 summer holidays. In the meantime, the Hampshire pound of the canal will revert to its former status with navigation ceasing at Ash Lock.

Whilst this enforced closure is not of our choosing, we must seek to turn it to our best advantage. Even if we cannot, as Confucius would advise, relax and enjoy it, at least we can plan ahead to make use of the opportunity it gives us. We shall take the opportunity of the severance of the canal to carry out as much work as possible on re-building lockgates and to carry out a lot of essential maintenance and renovation on the Deepcut flight.

Reverting to the 200th Anniversary, we have a number of souvenir items on sale which you really cannot afford to be without! Terry Harrison's limited edition of 200 prints of the John Pinkerton coming under Poulter's Bridge and past Poulter's Cottage is selling well and if you stop too long to think about it, you may have missed your opportunity to acquire one of these splendid pictures. The lace plate commissioned in conjunction with the S&HCS is also a splendid memento of this momentous year, whilst we have the usual range of Sweat Shirts, Beer Tankards, Coasters etc. bearing our 200th Anniversary logo. Although not specifically produced for the anniversary year, the new Ramblers Guide to the Basingstoke Canal is also proving to be a best seller, and the 1995 Basingstoke Canal Calendar again commissioned in conjunction with the S&HCS should be available shortly.

A late addition to our programme is the 200th Anniversary Gourmet Dinner Cruise on board Lady of Camelot. Tickets for this 2nd September evening event, which is strictly limited to the forty seats available on board, are available from the Centre at £30:00 per head.

Finally, both the boating and environmental sides of the canal are catered for in a wide ranging series of courses taking place at the Canal Centre, including Fender Making, Boat Handling, Narrowboat Painting, Palette Knife Painting, Tapestry, Tree Identification, Fungi and Bat Evenings. You never knew the canal had so much to offer!

But with all these varying and exciting peripheral activities taking place, we must not be distracted into forgetting that the canal is a navigational waterway and that the towpath accounts for over ninety percent of our visitors. The BCA's main effort in 1994 will again be concentrated on striving both to maintain the standards of waterway and towpath quality that have already been achieved and to improve on these as opportunity and our resources permit.

Paddy Field, Director, Basing stoke Canal Authority

Barley Mow advert (13K)

Mytchett Place Road Bridge during rebuilding (15K) Mytchett Place Road Bridge being inspected by Surrey County Council during rebuilding in January 1994. It is interesting to note the Emergency Flood Flap gates which were uncovered during this rebuilding.

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page 16

June 94 11th/12th 25th/26th July 94 9th/10th 23rd/ 24th August 94 Copy time again and a last minute 'reminder' from the Editor has resulted in my exchanging tools for a pen once again.

This is the bad news and very frustrating it is. Dredging work parties have not been able to commence work west of Colt Hill for want of a silt site. The Society has put forward proposals for an updated volunteer dredging organisation to the BCA, but unfortunately RED TAPE and officialdom has ruled the day, resulting in a total lack of response.

We expected ACTION but what has been achieved ? The only silt rehandling site there still is waits removal of soil before any dredging can take place, so the answer is NIL. Restrictive planning conditions strangle operations at weekends. The use of dredgings as fertilisers seems not to be recognised.

My message is a simple one -


Bankside Team
The good news is that lots of progress has been achieved by Peter Jackman and his team, the offside bank has been cleared of undergrowth and some timber. This was cut and removed from site so that embankment inspection and remedial work can be carried out by canal staff. Clearance from lock 15 to lock 17 was completed before the start of the nesting season, work has now been suspended until the autumn. A well earned thank you to Peter and his team.

Construction Work
Brookwood Weirs
For the Easter opening of the canal, final timescales were very tight. But we just made it.

The connection of the weirs to the existing by-wash system was more complex and time consuming than anticipated; each one is different, lock 12 involved breaking through 15 inches of reinforced concrete and brickwork for a [2ft] pipe; lock 13 involved the construction of a new inspection pit and lock 14 completed the sequence by requiring complete reconstruction of the by-wash chamber and overflow.

Western End
Little progress has been possible on the western end during the winter due to rain. Drainage work had to be suspended; plant and machinery could not negotiate the towpath in safety. Our work parties could only remove offbank undergrowth and consolidate work on Slades Bridge.

Community Action
The Society is operating a Community Action Scheme in association with the Civic Trust. This scheme provides work experience and job search facilities for the long term unemployed. The scheme currently has 18 people on the register; when fully up to strength the scheme will provide two teams of 15 people for two days per week for work on the canal. Ken Halls is the Society's full time supervisor. Since February the team have helped in the refurbishment of the John Pinkerton and the Brookwood Locks.

The Community Action programme includes painting wood and lock furniture, the provision of access covers for the upper lock culverts and the construction of some weirs later in the season.

Thanks go to all the volunteers who turned out every weekend to complete the Brookwood Weirs on time.
Peter Redway
Work Party Co-ordinator.

Work Party Dates and Venues

Leaders: Dave Junkison DJ
Dave Lunn DL Peter Redway PR
June 94
25th/26thDJ/DLWestern End
July 94
23rd/24thPRWestern End
August 94
27th/28thPRWestern End

Note: When Deepcut water supply work commences additional work parties will be arranged for unallocated weekends and weekdays.

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page 17

We were all greatly saddened to hear of the passing of Vic Trott in February just a few weeks before his 60th birthday. As most of us were aware, Vic had borne his suffering with cheerfulness and fortitude for a long time. Send Parish Church was full to capacity for his funeral, this Society being well represented along with many of his Waterway friends and old work colleagues. Vic would certainly have approved and I am sure enjoyed Peter Jackman organising a work party to bump out of the way a car which blocked the lane from the church and held up the cortege for some time.

Vic and Shirley Trott (23K)
Vic and Shirley Trott enjoying Ash Lock Rally in 1985 - Dieter Jebens

Vic and Shirley were married in 1965, moving to Woking in 1968. When he retired in 1992 he was Advertising Manager of TV Times, having enjoyed some 30 years of service with that Company.

Mike McGrath also of TV Times and an IWA and SHCS member encouraged Vic and Shirley to join the Society in 1968. They started as most of us did, by 'gardening' which meant cleaning the jungle along the centre section of the Canal. In 1969 they joined a team restoring Lock 25 by Curzon Bridge. Thereafter, Vic was closely involved with the many rallies held on the Basingstoke and the Wey. His speciality was publicity and entertainments and it was in the latter field that I had the pleasure of working with him.

In those early and exciting days of restoration, our main source of income was the annual Sponsored Walk. Here, year after year, you would find Vic and Shirley at one of the marshal points signing forms and generally spreading cheer amongst the hundreds of walkers who passed their way.

Another service he undertook with great enthusiasm in 1976, was the Chairmanship of an IWA team, their brief being to consider the implications relating to a canal running through a town or city. Naturally he chose Woking, the result being a publication entitled URBAN WATERWAY STUDY - THE BASINGSTOKE CANAL IN WOKING. Although I may be slightly biased, as I was one of the editorial team, I would say that the ideas and recommendations that came out of Vic's leadership, still hold good today and to a large extent were picked up in Woking council's Gillespie Report published last year.

There are many more aspects of Vic's life I could dwell upon, like his beloved narrowboat Tristan II. the Byfleet Boat Club, his support for the IWA but in conclusion I feel that we have been very lucky in this Society to have had 25 years of continuous loyalty from a man of his stature over the critical years of Restoration of the Basingstoke Canal.

As a postscript, I have been asked by Shirley to pass on her thanks and appreciation to the many members who have shown such kindness by sending flowers, writing and telephoning their sympathy.
Peter Coxhead

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page 18

Dear Sir,

Proposed Senior Engineering Management changes in the BCA

Because of the small amount of time given to this matter at the recent AGM it seems, apart from a privileged few, members of the Society have no knowledge of this subject, how serious it is, and what a threat it is to the survival of "our" canal. I hope that the magazine will include a full explanation of the proposed changes and the implications.

As one of the privileged few, I would like to tell the members that they owe a very large debt to our Chairman for the enormous amount of work he has given to this matter attempting to ensure the members of JMC made the right decision. Unfortunately they listened to an alternative view and decided to follow that advice.

The members of the JMC overlook the fact that our Chairman attends meetings and expresses the view for 2,000 persons many of whom helped restore, and are dedicated to preservation of, the canal. Since the JMC comprises mostly councillors they should not overlook the fact that the 2,000 members also have a vote to cast at elections. It would be wise to listen to the view of the 2,000. Their future as councillors could depend on it.

There are only two persons employed by the BCA with the engineering expertise required to deal with the special problems that arise in canal operation. Those of us who have worked, as volunteers, on the canal for nearly 20 years know some problems that can arise. If, as proposed, only one knowledgeable person remains, and he is on leave when an emergency arises then chaos could well be the result. This possible situation was put to the JMC by one member with common sense, but they were told that the BCA could "buy in" technical assistance from British Waterways. What a useless solution, imagine if one's house was on fire, being told to "buy in" technical assistance from a remote address !!

I hope that we can find a solution to this problem that will ensure common sense prevails. I expect our Executive Committee to call a meeting and advise members how to support them in further action.
Stan Meller

If you want to express your point of view to a councillor member of the JMC, contact me for names and addresses. My address is on page 27 of this magazine. Management trees (12K)

The Ranger allocated to the visitor programme will alternate with the other rangers to gain experience of interface with the public.

It has been stated that the changes will take place in the autumn.

Note that the Canal Manager and Assistant Canal Manager are the only two persons on the staff who have extensive knowledge of dealing with canal engineering problems. In the new management structure one of these persons will be redundant.

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page 19

... Horizontal lines suggest peace ...
We all like being near water. We walk by it, swim in it, sit by it. boat on it, fish in it for hours. The pictures we put on our walls often feature water in some way or another: sea, lake, river or canal. Most of us take holidays which, if not actually at the seaside, feature water in some way - in the Lake District, perhaps, or on a boat or island. Think of your favourite spot - in nine cases out often, the answer will be near water.

Why is it we like water; or rather, why is it we like water so much? There are one or two rather obvious reasons: the reflections are attractive; it is fluid and therefore always moving; there are so many activities associated with it, from swimming to powerboat racing; water­fowl and other wildlife dependent on it give us a sense of being close to nature. The presence of water always seems to enhance the beauty of a scene. Mountains alone can be bare and forbidding, but with a lake or river they are transformed into peaceful, pleasant vistas. But why should this be ?

Painters have long known that if they wished to convey the feeling of peace in a picture, they should incorporate smooth horizontal lines, whereas jagged, upright, disjointed lines evoke feelings of turmoil, restlessness or unease, Look at Van Gogh's 'Landscape near Aries' painted in 1889 - the year he went into a mental asylum. Do not these engender feelings of unease ?

Whereas the pictures with strong horizontal lines suggest peace and assurance. And this is what water does.

Its flat surface gives us a sense of peace and security, probably touching some chord deep in subconscious minds which equate calm horizons with safety, but which link turbulent seas with danger or even the wrath of God. Similarly colours can produce emotional reactions, red giving rise to activity and alarm, whilst green brings tranquillity and rest. Recently it was reported that scientists had developed a theory that a walk in the country was a response to a deep subconscious biological urge associated with our distant origins when the countryside was our ancestors' natural dwelling.

None of these considerations were, of course, inherent in the decisions to build canals two hundred years ago. Those decisions were made on strictly economic grounds - economics which proved to be very shaky with hindsight and with the coming of the railways. Nor did they enter consciously into decisions made this century to restore canals degenerating into dereliction. But they are psychological factors we should not ignore now. It is in towns that most vandalism occurs. It is in towns also where skylines are jagged, not horizontal; where open spaces of water are rarely in evidence; and where greenery is relatively scarce. Our waterways, artificial as they are, restore some of the balance that townscapes have taken away. They provide a calming influence, a path to walk as if beside a river in the country, green trees, a means of achieving the solitude we all need from time to time, a place for reflections in more senses than one. Let us value them accordingly.

Van Gogh painting (18K)
Van Gogh's 'Landscape near Arles'

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page 20

Anyone who has boated on - or walked beside the Basingstoke Canal can hardly have failed to have taken in its rich wildlife. From overhanging Alders to mats of water crowfoot, from dabchicks to damsel flies or from the shapes of darting fish to fringes of loosestrife, the canal provides a rich tapestry of colour and movement throughout the year.

We are all concerned to ensure the canal remains a place of tranquillity where we can be close to nature and enjoy its rich bounty.

dabchick drawing (4K) This view has been put to me on a number of occasions
during the past couple of years whenever I have met boaters. It seems to me that there is much'common ground' to be explored and that the entrenched positions of the extremes must be avoided if the man-made heritage and the natural wildlife colonists of the Basingstoke Canal are lo benefit future generations.

What's So Special ?
The amazingly rich wildlife of the canal was first recognised officially in the 1940s. Later after the creation of the Nature Conservancy, part of the canal was scheduled as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1955 (and further sections added 1979). There have obviously been changes to the distribution of many of the plants and animals associated with the canal as a result of its restoration, but it is still today the richest open water site in Great Britain. Eightyseven different plants live in its waters - more than half of our native aquatic species, and five of them are classed as 'nationally scarce'. Twentyfour of our fortynine species of dragonflies are seen along the canal and nineteen of them are known to breed here.

Part of the reason for the wide range of wildlife is the change in the water chemistry along the canal's length. The canal is largely supplied by calcareous water from springs situated at the junction of the chalk and clays of the Reading beds at Greywell.
Water Crowfoot (3K)Further downstream it is supplemented by progressively more acid spring and stream water from the Aldershot heathland district
and, as any gardener knows, different plants will grow in soils of different acidity. Fourteen distinct vegetation types have been identified along the length of the canal.

A number of the canal's plants are very attractive - such as the flowering rush, bogbean and lilies - but others have more exciting names than looks ! Ranunculus pencillatus subspecies pseudoofluitans var. vertumnus, for example, which is actually first described from the Basingstoke Canal.

Past Problems
English Nature has been working with the Canal Authority and others to ensure that a balance is reached between two extremes of 'close the canal to all except wildlife' and 'open the canal to all and let the wildlife look after itself. Neither of these views is viable.

It must be realised by the 'naturalists' that voluntary effort has restored the canal to its present state. Perhaps the real failing by the naturalists was not to become involved with helping, through giving practical advice, with the restoration at its earliest stage. It is only in recent years that the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) and its successor English Nature, have been putting money into the canal for scientific monitoring and education.

Equally it is clear that the wildlife of the canal cannot 'look after itself. The canal today is very different from what it was Common Blue Dragonfly (4K)
in the last century. Whereas once it was merely a ribbon of open water running through agriculturally 'unimproved' meadows, spinneys, wetlands and occasional villages; today it forms a vital wildlife corridor through a largely man-made and, in places, heavily urbanised, landscape. There are no longer adjacent pools from which the wildlife of the canal can be restocked.

It is the changes in the wider landscape, brought about by the rapid changes in agricultural practices and pressures for urban development in the decades after the Second World War, that led in 1981 to the passing of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. This hefty piece of legislation bound the NCC to consider for notification sites of national importance for their wildlife and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The restored Basingstoke Canal clearly qualified as being of national importance and in 1989 the NCC put forward proposals to notify the canal as an SSSI.

Looking to the Future
Following initial discussions with interested parties, the NCC agreed to put the notification process 'on ice' for a period of three years to enable all the parties to consult and co-operate in the production of a mutually acceptable management plan. It is now time for the SSSI designation to go ahead and English Nature has recently put forward its new proposals to the Conservation Working Party.

Anyone who is involved with the canal in anyway should see its designation as an SSSI as an accolade - not as a bureaucratic threat. The designation reflects the importance of the canal's wildlife. It does not prohibit activities but rather is a vehicle through which the best nature conservation can be obtained.

The management plan for the canal, recently drawn up by experts at Liverpool University, is the day by day tool for the management of the wildlife and navigation interests.

Through the custodianship of the canal in the ownership of Hampshire and Surrey County Councils and with the example of the excellent work to date of these two councils and the Canal Authority, English Nature is convinced that the effective implementation of the management plan will ensure that the important recreational and wildlife resource of the canal can be preserved for future generations.
Simon Melville
English Nature

Grand Draw

This year's Grand Draw will raise money for the enhancement of the water supplies to the canal. As everyone knows a plentiful supply of water is essential to keep the canal in good working order, not only for boaters but for everyone's enjoyment.

Enclosed with this newsletter are five books of draw tickets which I am asking members to sell. As you can see the prizes are particularly attractive and I am sure members will have no trouble selling them. Should you require more please contact me on (0372) 272631 and I shall be delighted to let you have some. There will be a prize of £20:00 for the member selling the most tickets.

Please help me make this year's Grand Draw a really successful one to help celebrate 200 years since the canal was opened.
Yvonne Chappell

New Members
We welcome the following members who have joined the Society recently.

Mr J AbbottFleet
Mr CR AndersonSt Johns, Woking
Mr NR DentCrookham Village
Mr & Mrs R EllamOld Basing
Mr & Mrs EG HorabinMytchett
Mr PJG HowardSt Johns, Woking
Mrs RA LovegroveWest Heath, Basingstoke
Mr CJ ParkerFarnborough
Miss JS PickettFleet
Mrs EW PindarFarnborough
Mr& Mrs G PondChurch Crookham
Mr MP TannerStaines


now open for the 1994 season
Luncheon and Dinner cruises along the River Wey

Rowing boats and canoes * River Trips
Self-drive Holiday Narrowboats

Details: Millbrook Guildford Surrey GU1 3XJ (0483) 504494

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page 22

Saturday/Sunday 28/29 May

Organised by the Society at the Bridge Barn Restaurant and Pub.

Boats, competitions, charity stalls, Society Sales Stand, waterbome and landside entertainments and attractions. Decorated boats, etc. BBQ Saturday evening, light refreshments in pub garden, boat trips Firework display Sunday evening. Full details and offers of help: Peter Coxhead (0932) 344564: Boat entries (free) to: Ian Edwards (0420) 85088

Saturday 11th June

Reading Road Wharf, Fleet to Fox and Hounds, Fleet

Boats (including steam boats), boat trips, stalls, refreshments decorated boat procession 3pm, illuminated boat procession 10pm, all the usual attractions, 12 o'clock Boat entries to: Gordon O'Nions (0252) 524525 General details: Doug Morgan: (0252) 623246

Saturday 25th June

Boats, BBQ in evening (bring your own food), at Colt Hill Wharf. Festival and processions in afternoon in Odiham. Contact Canal Centre (Annette Weiss) for full details (0252) 370073

Saturday/Sunday 30/31 July

Heathen/ale Recreation Ground. Boats, music, entertainment. Free entry. Details: Canal Centre (0252) 370073

Saturday 6th/Sunday 7th August

Lodge Farm (adjoining canal) at North Wamborough. Come by road or boat (and moor alongside towpath) Biggest show of its kind in the South of England, a hundred fire engines of all ages plus entertainment etc. Full details: (0256) 703576

26 Sept Canal centre section closed for BVR aqueduct construction. Reopening mid 1995.

Saturday 13th August

Back by popular demand with their new show 'Beer Street', a heady draught of people, pubs, beer and brewing at the Fox and Hounds' pub garden, Crookham Road, Fleet, 7.3Opm.

The annual visit to the canal arranged and sponsored by the Society. Collection. Come by road and boat. Moor up and add to the atmosphere. Last year the Fox and Hounds had the record attendance in the country for one of their shows. LETS HAVE MORE THIS YEAR - DONT MISS IT.

Saturday/Sunday/Monday 20/21/22 August

Organised by In-Step Walking Holidays in conjunction with the Society. Cost: £28 including all coach travel. Slide show Friday evening, Society guides on walk. Contact Mick or Ann Hartley for full details and brochure: (0903) 766475

Saturday/Sunday 3/4 September

This 2-day event will take place at the Canal Centre and adjoining fields with a varied programme of water and land based activities including the following: Theme boat rally, day and night illuminated boat processions. Entertainment: Day Star theatre company Circus Workshop, Boat trips (including horse drawn) John Pinkerton, Mildred Stocks and Lady of Camelot Dragon-boat races, try-a-canoe and aqua-fun Music and dance: jazz band, silver band etc. Craft stands and canalware and Society stand, Steam engines and hot air balloon Refreshments Saturday evening BBQ (members only, bring own food) Special attraction: Steam narrow boat President. Bi-Centenary Rally plaques £7.50. Full details and boat entry forms from the Canal Centre (0252) 370073

Friday/Saturday/Sunday 16/17/15 September

(incorporating the official AWCC South and West Region Rally). Free entry, commemorative plaques available. Full details and boat entry forms from: Chris De Wet: (0252) 850387

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page 23

We have for some time been planning a 6/7 berth holiday boat to be used by handicapped people and their helpers. The boat will have lifts at bow and stern, special boarding planks and hoists for use in the bathroom and at the side of some berths. It will have a through gangway and all doors suitable for wheelchairs.

It is for the use of handicapped people and their helpers to take holidays afloat - a wonderful freedom for many. Some use as a dayboat will also be possible but we already have a dayboat - the Mildred Stocks which takes up to five wheelchairs and six other passengers (or twelve with less wheelchairs). We also have special canoes, a twin-hulled rowing skiff and a sailing boat specially adapted. A hoist is available at NEWACA to help with getting in and out and fit boating attend by arrangement.

The Basingstoke Canal will be the home base for our latest venture, but cruising on the Thames and adjoining wide canals will also be possible. We have just gone out to tender, with drawings, for the steelwork but we need more

money to purchase a completely finished boat. The longer we wait, the higher the final price is likely to be. Funds for fitting out are vital, so as part of this year's fund raising, we are promoting The Canal Celebrations Draw. The first prize is a commemorative carved chair, made from teak and mahogany, 35" high to cerebrate 200 years of the Basingstoke canal and all prizes will be presented to the winners with a certificate and history. The second prize is a stool made from oak and the third prize a loving spoon made of wild cherry. The mahogany and teak came from Robert Haining School (now the Canal Centre) and the oak and wild cherry from trees that stood beside the canal and were blown down in the storm of 1987.

Tickets at £1:00 will be available at all 200th Anniversary events, the IWA National Rally and the BCBC rally at the Fox & Hounds Fleet on 17th/18th September, where the draw will take place at midday on the Sunday.

Audrey Townsend (Draw Promoter)
Boats lor the Handicapped Association. Registered Charity No. 295034

Chair and stool (10K) The chair and stool carved by David Gerry which will be the first and second prizes respectively

advert (19K)

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page 24

200 years ago, on September 4th 1794, the Basingstoke Canal formally opened, though apparently without the ceremony and celebrations that normally marked an official opening of this sort. The official notice shown here shows that barges were planned to ply between London and Basingstoke regularly every Thursday, goods being transported the whole distance for 12 shillings per ton - 60p in today's depreciated currency.

The canal had cost £153,462 in total to build the whole 37 miles - or £4,147 per mile, including the Greywell tunnel, 68 bridges, 29 locks, 5 lock-houses and 3 warehouses. Even so, this was over £60,000 more than the original estimate made in 1777 - a 40% overspend. Does that bring the Channel Tunnel to mind ?

Longest Tunnel
William Jessop, an eminent canal builder, was appointed as surveyor and consultant engineer. It was hoped to complete the canal in four years, and the contract to build was given to John Pinkerton on 3rd October 1788, Pinkertons being the largest firm of canal builders of that day. The cutting of the canal started the same month, from the Wey Navigation at the Woodham end, but the digging of the tunnel at Greywell also started the same autumn because of the size of that vast undertaking one of the longest in the south of England, and 140 feet below the surface in places. There were lots of problems: complaints about Pinkerton's work; 161,480 bricks condemned as faulty; changes in specification because of doubts about the water supply; Jessop being preoccupied with other projects; subscribers failing to pay their promised sums; a sub­contractor absconding with

the workmen's wages; requirements for more money; malicious damage; and so on, with the result that the canal took six years rather than four to be completed. However some merchandise was carried before 1794 as parts of the canal where operable - the first being in 1791 on 28 tons being transported from the Wey to Horsell.

Women Navvies
French prisoners of war, incarcerated at the chalk pit at Odiham, were almost certainly employed to help with the building. Women also were employed as navvies. There was a shortage of minted coins with which to pay the labourers, so Pinkerton produced copper and silver tokens to pay them, changeable at local shops and public houses, including the George at Odiham where at least one meeting of the affected landowners had taken place. During the digging, a Saxon idol was found at Basingstoke and buried treasure at Basing House. Then the canal was finally operative, it was never a financial success. It was the first canal to be built primarily to open up the countryside and enable underdeveloped heathland to be used for agricultural purposes, rather than to carry raw materials or manufactured goods between factories and their markets or seaports. Plans for linking it with Southampton and Bristol never came to fruition. The railways finally put paid to grandiose ideas of profitable use, though its heyday of activity probably was in the 1850's, with the decision to establish a military camp at Aldershot.

These fascinating snippets are from 'London's Lost Route to Basingstoke' by Paul Vine, to whom we are indebted for this information.

Notice of the opening of the Basingstoke Canal (54K)

page 25
The Pinkerton has started the season well with a number of trips to King John's Castle and the ever popular Bank Holiday trips from Reading Road wharf at Fleet.

Club nights are now on Tuesdays at 7:30pm and all Society members are welcome to come along and lend a hand in keeping the Society's highest fund raiser looking good and to enjoy an evening cruise. In June we will operate from Colt Hill. Odiham and from July onwards from the Barley Mow at Winchfield. The Pinkerton belongs to the Society so come and enjoy an evening with us.

Bookings for the rest of the summer are looking very good and we may need extra crew. If you are interested in joining the crew (and learning all about the Pinkerton) please either come along on a Tuesday evening or alternatively there is to be a special training morning on Saturday 18th June at 10:00 from Colt Hill which will involve a trip to King John's Castle. Please ring Kathryn on (0483) 473630 if you are interested in this opportunity.

If you are already an accomplished crew member make Bill Homewood's day by giving him a ring on (0276) 61343 and seeing what opportunities he has for you.

advert (9K)

advert (24K)

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page 26

The Mayor of Woking, on behalf of the Woking Civic and Conservative Association, presented Peter Coxhead, on behalf of the Society, with a Civic Pride Award of the 1993 Canal Funday at Bridge Barn.

Bert Scammell
Betty and Andrew Scammell would like to thank all those who sent messages or cards or attended Bert's funeral as many people who live outside the 'Aldershot News' area will not have seen their thank you.

Civic Trust Grant
The Society has been awarded a £5,000 grant for the Western End by the Civic Trust - more details later.

Seat of Learning
The Society recently hosted the 'Seat of Learning'quiz. Question were set and asked by the Howarths. The Society did well on the 'Basingstoke' questions but were pipped at the post on the general waterways questions. Final results were:
Byfleet Boat Club 40
Wey Cruising Club 36

Canal Tokens
The Society has been generously left the following canal tokens in the will of the late Ronald William Smith.
Basingstoke Canal Token 1789
Stort Navigation Token 1795
Thames and Severn 1795
Manchester Halfpenny 1793
Ironbridge Coalbrookdale 1792

For Sale
Canal & Riverboat from issue 1 to August 1993. Perfect condition £50:00 - Roy Thumwood (0256) 24652

Fleet Carnival
Fleet Carnival will take place this year from 18th-25th June. The Canal Carnival will take place on Saturday 11th June

Robin Higgs Award
David Millett presented the Robin Higgs trophy at the AGM to Peter Coxhead and his family for their outstanding efforts in support of the Canal Society. See photograph elsewhere in this issue.

April JMC
At the JMC meeting on 15 April, it was announced with great regret that Mrs Caroline Fowler, the former secretary to the Committee, had died. Members of the Committee, including David Millett, paid tribute to her work for the committee overthe years.

Canal Maintenance - JMC
Mytchett Place Road Bridge was reopened to canal traffic in time for Easter. Poulter's Bridge had needed repair, and this had also been completed. The opportunity had been taken to construct three pairs of lower lock gates for locks 18, 19 and 22 to replace those which had failed in service and to replace wooden paddle frames on locks 20, 21, 22 and 23 with cast iron paddle frames. New steel jack head gearboxes are being fitted to replace wooden ones.

Canal d'Orleans
Representatives of the Canal d'Orleans will be attending the Bicentenary celebrations on 3rd/4th September, which will include a 200th Anniversary dinner aboard the new restaurant boat Lady of Camelot now moored outside the Canal Centre at Mytchett.

Manpower Proposals
The BCA proposals for restructuring its manpower were approved by a majority vote. The Society vigorously opposed these proposals on the grounds that they involve a reduction in the experienced engineering management by merging the posts of Canal Manager and Assistant Manager.

SSSI Notification
English Nature propose to notify 28 miles (Greywell to Woking) of the 32 mile Basingstoke Canal as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in early autumn. The Society has expressed severe reservations about the effects of an SSSI over most of the length of the canal.

first boat through bridge (9K)The first boat through the reconstructed Mytchett Place
Road Bridge

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page 27

Broad Oak Silt Dump
It is hoped to start work in June or July on the clearance of the Broad Oak site to enable dredging and refilling to take place. The problem of finding more sites for depositing silt is urgent, and essential for the future of the canal.

Woking Pound
The Woking Pound is now relatively free of duckweed, but it is expected to grow again shortly. Plans are afoot to make an start to weed Cutting this year, and to introduce grass carp as a trial in containing weed growth.

Canal Centre Visitors
Some 15,000 people have visited the Canal Centre since it was opened on 22 May 1993. Sponsors are providing a working model of a lock and an audio-visual presentation to enhance the educational value of the Centre.

Towpath Upgrade
The work upgrading the towpath at various places along the canal will be continued this year with emphasis on the stretch between North Warnborough and Greywell. It is hoped also to upgrade the towpath in the Fleet area.

Rambling On
A new booklet called Rambles on the Basingstoke Canal has been produced with the help of Woking Borough Council and Mr George Hyde of the Ramblers' Association.

Optically Speaking
Negotiations are under way into the possibility of putting fibre-optic cabling beneath the towpath along a substantial stretch of the canal.

Swing Bridge
As soon as weather permits, contractors are to put a surface suitable for horses to cross the new Crookham swing bridge.

Notices detailing the new By-Laws are to be posted al intervals along the canal.

200 Club
Derek Trueman would be delighted to have 200 members of the 200 Club in the 200th Anniversary year. Make his day and join the 200 Club NOW.

Bridge Reopenings
Mytchett Place Road Bridge was reopened to traffic on Saturday 21st May and Pirbright (Brunswick Road) Bridge on Monday 23rd May.

Copy date for Next BC News: 15th July 1994

Editorial Team:
Kathryn Dodington Sequoia, Sheets Heath Lane, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey, GU240EH (0483) 473630
Brian Fox 60 Dinorben Avenue, Fleet, Hants, GU13 9SH (0252) 613147

Chairman: David Millett 14 Dinorben Close, Fleet, Hampshire, GU13 9SW (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, RG251AH (0256) 702109
Hon. Treasurer: Jonathan Wade 30 Hanover Gardens, Cove, Famborough, Hampshire, GU14 9DT (0252) 524690

Membership Secretary: Edwin Chappell The Spinney, Meadow Road, Ashtead, Surrey, KT21 1QR (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, Camberiey, Surrey, GU144QG (0276) 32096
Working Party Information: Peter Redway 1 Redway Cottages, St John's Lye, Woking, Surrey, GU21 1SL (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) 811707
Sales Manager: Gill Freeman 35 Holland Gardens, Fleet, Hampshire, GU139NE (0252) 624612
Mail Order Sales: John Greenfield 9 Mistletoe Road, Yatetey, Camberiey, Surrey, GU177DT (0252) 873167
Exhibitions Manager: David Junkison 4 Thames Meadow, West Motestey, Surrey, KT146BE (081) 941 0685
Audio Visual Producer: Arthur Dungate 187 Ellerdine Road, Hounstow, Middlesex, TW32PU No Telephone
Talks Organiser: Janet Greenfield 9 Mistletoe Road. Yatetey, Camberiey, Surrey, GU177DT (0252) 873167
Distribution: Janet & George Hedger 7 Gorse Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU139NA (0252) 617465
Press Officer: Dieter Jebens 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Famham, Surrey, GU103NJ (0252) 715230

[Back cover]

Prints of the Basingstoke Canal
Terry Harrison

painting (45K)

The Barley Mow Bridge, Winchfield

The image shown above is one of a range of prints taken from original paintings by local artist, Terry Harrison. The range, which includes the special limited edition print of Poulters Bridge, Crookham (available from the Canal Centre), features many picturesque views of the Basingstoke Canal.

Canal Scenes currently available are as follows:

TitleFramed sizePrice
The Towpath Walk (King's Head Bridge, Frimley Green) 25"x19" £69.00
The Barley Mow Bridge, Winchfield 25"x19" £69.00
The Canal Trip (King's Head Bridge, Frimley Green) 16"x13" £22.00
Gone Fishin' (Colt Hill Bridge, Odiham) 16" x 13" £22,00
Bluebell Walk (Sandy Hill Bridge, Winchfield) 16" x 13" £22,00
Summer on the Canal (Mytchett Place Bridge) 16" x 13" £22.00
Broad Oak, Near Odiham 16" x 13" £22,00
Barley Mow Bridge, Winchfield 16" x 13" £22.00
Spratchs Hatch Bridge, Winchfield 16" x 13" £22.00
Mytchett Place Bridge 16" x 13" £22.00

The above prices are for prints supplied fully framed. Unframed prints are also available on request.

To order or receive further details, please telephone Harrison Arts on (0252) 545012
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Last updated August 2005