No. 170 Winter 1995/6
It's that time of year again when we can reflect on what the Society has achieved in the past 12 months. We have had a change of Chairman and we are indebited to David Millett to have left the Society in such a good position. Peter Redway has stepped into David's shoes and has moved us on. We have good news on the last five miles which is adequately reported elsewhere in this Newsletter and we have a big fund raising scheme in front of us which we hope will bring more water to Woking and then more water to the upper reaches of the canal in the longer term.
Elsewhere we have published a letter (in full) from Surrey Wildlife which was addressed to Lord Cranbrook of English Nature and literally a shotgun blast array of other organisations including the Society. It is left up to you to read the letter and make your own judgement on it. However we have also published the Society's reply. The committee also wrote, this year, to every Basingstoke and Deane Borough Councillor personally to encourage them to vote in favour of the project for the last five miles after the initial proposal was rejected by one vote by the Leisure Committee. The Society's letter was quoted at the subsequent full Council meeting and we believe that it not only played a part in reversing the original decision and gaining full Council approval for the scheme to go ahead but also ensured the Society's full participation in the work to be undertaken in Basingstoke.
The John Pinkerton is currently having a well-earned 'refit' at the drydock and by the time you receive this newsletter should have been passed fit by the Marine Safety Agency to ply the Hampshire pound again next summer for the enjoyment of the paying public and the benefit of the Society who receive an income from its operations which should top £18,000 this year making a total of over £250,000 since it was launched in 1978. If you want to help earn this money next year then please call the editor - address on the back page.
We are always looking for new blood on the committee, especially at this exciting time when we have the prospect of working with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council on their project and with Woking Borough Council and the Canal Authority on our own project to provide more water, initially for Woking, and later for the the whole canal. If you have a skill that
would be useful (we don't need a rocket scientist - although if you are one we will welcome you with open arms) please do call Philip Riley (as usual address and telephone number on the back page) for a no-obligation talk. What we are really looking for are Marketing and Fundraising skills. The AGM is not that far away - April 1996.
Elsewhere in this issue Peter Redway has reported on the completion of a major stage of the work at the Western End. I had the pleasure of walking from Penny Bridge to Greywell recently and I would like to challenge as many members as possible to undertake that same walk (and walk off some of that Christmas excess) and just see what Peter and his volunteers have achieved. The towpath is solid and well sign posted (do wear you boots though) and you can easily see the western portal of the tunnel. The Society will be concentrating a lot of its effort here over the coming years so even if you cannot help Peter and his team undertake his work please do go and have a look at his team's successes. If you walk from Penny Bridge to Greywell you could enjoy a nice pub lunch at the Fox and Goose before retracing your steps.
The new Pondtail winding hole is currently being built to replace the winding lost when Pondtail New bridge was built. The old winding hole, which is still situated between the two bridges, is of insufficient size for boats such as the John Pinkerton. The Society was surprised to learn recently of the Canal Authority's understanding that the new Pondtail winding hole should be used in place of Eelmoor Flash, where the John Pinkerton currently winds on occasions. It is no wonder that there is antagonisim between canal users and the Naturalist lobby when such pressure is applied to those that wish to use the canal for its design purpose - a navigation.
|Surrey Wildlife and the Society||4|
|A review of the Western End||6|
|The 200 Club||8|
|Letters to the Editor||13|
|IWA Golden Jubilee||14|
The start of work on the Western End in 1991 with - inset - the towpath today -
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Society Chairman Peter Redway|
As you are too well aware the current canal water supply is insufficient for maintaining through navigation in the hot dry summers we have had in recent years.
Comments have been made advocating summer closures for maintenance work, with navigation during the winter but with a series of winter closures planned for bridge reconstruction work (due to traffic requirements) we are left with minimal navigational availability.
My view is that the root cause
should be remedied and that
there should be more water available for navigation
during the accepted cruising season.
During the past year all options for water supply have been considered using our updated study on back pumping and the Canal Authority's study on Bourley Hill reservoir by Scott Wilson Kirpatrick.
The Basingstoke borehole was also considered but it appears that costly engineering work would be required here.
Timescales are also an important consideration as we need the water as soon as possible so two key schemes have been identified: the Bourley Hill reservoirs for the summit pound and backpumping the Woodham flight for Woking and Woodham. Both schemes are required to keep the canal open throughout the summer; Bourley Hill will provide additional water for the Deepcut Flight and Woodham backpumping will allow unrestricted access from the River Wey and up to Woking.
The Woodham backpumping for the Woking pound has been approved by the Canal Authority and now detailed planning can follow. Bourley Hill is subject to negotiations with the MoD and will follow the Woking scheme.
I understand the concerns expressed by some members that the canal will unacceptably revert to two linear ponds (below Brookwood and above Deepcut). The committee and I will continue to pursue a policy of
full navigation for the canal.
Now that the Canal Authority and the Joint Management Committee have fully supported our proposals, including the offer of fundraising, we have to consider the next stage.
IWA and BCBC
The IWA and BCBC have agreed to join us in a Joint Water Appeal. Woking will require £350,000 and this with other schemes places the target in the order of
The Society's 30th Anniversary and the IWA 50th Anniversary occur in 1996; this is a unique opportunity
for the launch of our Water Appeal and raising the
profile of the Basingstoke.
Any members with Marketing and/or Fundraising experience who wish to become involved please contact me at the address on the back page.
Basingstoke Canal Park
On 2nd November the full Council of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council debated the proposals for a canal basin in the town centre, a terminus at Old Basing and a footpath link with the canal at Penny Bridge. After a 2 hour debate the Council approved the scheme by a majority vote of 30 to 17. This reversed the previous Leisure Committee decision.
The Society had written to all Councillors prior to the meeting urging them to support the project; public opinion was also in favour of the scheme.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council are applying to the Millenium Fund for £5-1/2M and are seeking support from the private sector for a similar amount.
Congratulations to the Council on a decsion which will provide a unique facility for Basingstoke.
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SURREY WILDLIFE and THE SOCIETY
Dear Lord Cranbrook,
BASINGSTOKE CANAL SSSI RATIFICATION 1995
Surrey wildlife Trust warmly welcomes the recent ratatication of SSSI status of the Basingstoke Canal. The Trust has been a keen participant in the conservation and restoration of the Canal and we have strongly supported English Nature's initiative to renotify this extremely important and unique waterway. We recognise the contributions made by the owners Hampshire County Council and Surrey County Council, Basingstoke Canal Authority, English Nature, the Wildlife Trusts and Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society, amongst others, in reaching this landmark decision which will help to protect nationally important wildlife.
The future of the Basingstoke Canal has been an important and sometimes Controversial local issue for years. The Canal is an outstanding wildlife habitat of national importance. It is the most important site for aquatic plants in Great Britain, supporting 102 species (43% more than Britain's second best site, the Montgomery Canal). 44 species are regionally or nationally rare and many are of considerable beauty. The Canal is also the best site in Britain for dragonflies. Part of it - the Greywell Tunnel - provides the largest winter bat roost in the country, home to the internationally important Natterer's bats.
The Canal is thus a unique and extremely important national site for nature conservation and one which brings pleasure to the Local community. It also represents an important part of Britain's natural heritage and has been recognised as such by nauralists for over a century. However, in more recent times, the Canal has been put under considerable pressure i.e - because of insufficient water supply and also by the recreational use of the Canal by motorised boats.
In recognition of its ecological importance, the Canal was one of the first sites to be designated a SSSI under the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. As you are aware the 1981 wildlife and Countryside Act meant re-examination of all SSSIs was necessary before renotification could go ahead. Thus the recent ratification of the SSSI represents a continuation of the earlier status rather than the imposition of a new SSSI as some have claimed.
English Nature (EN) and the two County Wildlife Trusts have always been aware of the delicate political situation and the need for full cooperation and negotiation with the recreational and other users of the canal and so EN delayed renotification to allow for this. Three years of negotiations allowed all parties to express their opinions fully. It has therefore come as a considerable surprise to see the recent Claims by some
members of Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society (SHCS)
that there has been no cooperation from EN and other conservation groups.
Surrey wildlife Trust had understood the need for compromise and took an active role in the Conservation Working Party to achieve this, We must also take into consideration concerns expressed to us i.e. the many phone calls about the visible loss of wildlife over recent years with increases in motorised boats. The final agreement allowing 1300 boat movements/year was well over the 300-700 conservation optimum range but we recognised the need for compromise. We also recognised the valuable Contribution SHCS had made to restoring the Canal and the rights of their members' views to be heard.
Another criticism has been that the Wildlife Trusts and EN have not put any resources into the restoration. This is incorrect: Surrey Wildlife Trust provided (at no charge) practical work, produced nature trail interpretive boards and also the enclosed leaflet, which is an example of our cooperation with the Canal (please see leaflet for further details of the Canal's ecological interest). For their part, EN gave funds to the project, in fact, in the last five years they contributed at least as much as SHCS; provided boat counters, carried out monitoring and created the Greywell Tunnel exhibition.
It would have been extremely unfortunate if such a long period of negotiation, which had resulted in mutual agreement for the way forward for the benefit of the Canal, had qone to waste at the final stage. It was a difficult situation with strong views involved but clearly compromise on both sides was the answer and we believed this had been agreed on by all parties on the Conservation Working Party in the writing of the Management plan.
In conclusion, we recognise the concerns of SHCS and other recreational users but the agreed management plan (and SSSI status) do not close the canal to boats
but facilitate the management of it. At present, monitoring has shown that on the number of boats using the Canal does not yet reach the level of 1300 movements/year on most stretches.
The ecological importance of the Canal is indisputable and, in our view, the management plan and SSSI designation represents the best possible way forward for all parties, so both the aims of wildlife and recreation can be satisfied and all can enjoy the Canal. The Trust warmly welcomes English Nature's Council's ratification of the SSSI status and the protection it affords.
Head of Conservation
Dear Lord Cranbrook,
BASINGSTOKE CANAL SSSI RATIFICATION 1995
The Society has received a copy of the Surrey wildlife Trust's curious letter to you dated 14th July, 1995. Although the letter was addressed to you, it is evident to us that, in giving the letter such a wide circulation, its real purpose was to repeat, before a large audience, the familiar grounds for the recent designation of a large part of the Basingstoke Canal as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Regrettably, in doing so, the Trust has presented a highly distorted and, in some cases, totally inaccurate picture of the background to the restoration of the canal and the contributions made by the Society and the wildlife trusts in the success of the project.
At the outset, it must be stressed that the Society has never disputed the growing ecological importance of the canal. Indeed, one of our aims has always been to recreate a place of beauty and a rich and diverse environment for flora and fauna. It is for that reason that we have co-operated fully with English Nature and the county wildlife trusts since the restoration commenced in the late 1960s. Having said that, it should be noted that, for a large part of the restoration phase, the naturalists were noticeably absent from the many discussions which we had with the County and District Councils at which the work on the canal was planned and reviewed. We are bound to ask why this was so, and why the naturalists were content to let us work with the local authorities in the restoration of a navigable waterway in the knowledge that they would seek to place severe restrictions on the use of the canal when restoration was completed.
Although the Society opposed the designation of the canal as an
SSSI, we agreed to participate in the Conservation Working Party and to review the proposals which led to the preparation of the Management Plan. It should be recalled that English Nature's original proposals were extreme by any standards. For example, the suggestion that no private boating
would be permitted above Colt Hill, Odiham, was totally unreasonable and needed to be challenged. However, in working with the Conservation Working Party, the Society could not be bound by the outcome which we feared (and which has been shown to be the case) would result in severe and unworkable restraints on canal use. In these discussions we recognised the need for compromise but we do not believe that the final outcome can be regarded as striking a fair balance between navigation and nature conservation interests. With regard to the 'many phone calls about the visible loss of wildlife over recent years with increases in motortsed boats', we can equally say that we receive many protests from people who regard the designation as a heavy handed measure which will deny proper access to the canal. The difference between ourselves and English Nature (and the wildlife trusts) is that, due to
our efforts, the canal has been rescued from dereliction and decay such that wildlife can now flourish. In this context it should be noted, for example,
that the notification of the canal east of Monument Bridge, Woking, was never contained in English Nature's original
proposals but emerged at the eleventh hour with very little opportunity for us to review it.
Turning to the contributions made by English Nature and the wildlife trusts to the restoration of the canal, we find the statements made by the Surrey Wildlife Trust to be astoundingly inaccurate. The society was engaged on the restoration for 17 years. During that time, we estimate that our volunteers and employed people under our management have contributed over 1/2M hours to the restoration of the canal, we have also raised a sum in excess of £1M which has been applied to a wide range of projects including the restoration of bridges, towpaths, locks, culverts, pumping schemes and weirs. We have also financed schemes which have contributed towards the enhancement of the canal environment; for example, the pumping scheme at Frimley has improved water levels and thereby created more favourable conditions for aquatic plants. We have campaigned for the restoration of the canal by organising events, running a trip boat and promoting the canal widely amongst the local communities and at the national level. Against that background, the contributions made by English Nature and the wildlife trusts, both in terms of financial support and human effort, are obviously minimal. The record shows that these organisations have never taken any practical steps of any consequence, or provided significant finance, to preserve or restore any part of the canal. For example, parts of the
SSSIs designated under the 1949 Act lost their ecological interest due to neglect and decay. We would ask why efforts were not made by the naturalists, in the 1960s and early 1970s, to reverse the decline. It is frankly laughable to suggest that the provision of display boards and boat counters (which make no contribution to the restoration of the canal) can, in any way, be equated to the immense effort, resource and finance put into the canal by the Society and by its partners in the inland waterways movement. It is beyond dispute that without our initiative in ensuring that the canal was taken into public ownership, and our efforts in bringing the canal back to life, there would be no question of designating the canal as an SSSI; the waterway would have continued to decay and would have eventually disappeared, or been lost to development.
In seeking to wildly distort the record and to paint the Society and its many supporters in the local communities as uncompromising advocates of the cause of navigation, the Surrey wildlife Trust does itself a disservice. We firmly believe that the canal will only survive into the millennium if it continues to operate first and foremost as a navigation possessing a very important ecological interest. This implies that the naturalists must take a more balanced approach and resist proposals to impose severe restrictions and controls on the waterway. The Society is committed to achieving that balance and, in so doing, would urge organisations such as the Surrey wildlife Trust to present a fair view and not to attempt to re-write history in the way they have sought to do in their recent letter to you.
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A Review of THE WESTERN END
In October 1991 voluteers commenced partial clearance work from Penny Bridge in order that the County Council could survey and peg the canal boundary of the recently purchased section.
[In] late summer 1992 Dave Gerry and I walked, or rather forced our way through the undergrowth of the towpath. Our brief from Dave was to clear the canal and reform the towpath. This required a rethink on how we would operate as this was more a forestry job than scrub bashing.
The committee gave their unqualified backing and Keith Weal of Beechwood Training agreed to train volunteers in the use of chainsaws over a six week period. The training was on site and there was
combined with progress; all volunteers passed the assessment at the end of the course.
Visiting groups from London WRG, BITM (Bit in the Middle) WRG and KESKERG returned to the Basingstoke providing valuable support over the years. Following behind the clearance team came the excavators operated by fully trainied volunteer. The excavators reformed the towpath building up levels with material reclaimed from the canal bed.
A refurbished bridge was erected over the Brickworks Arm on the site of the original lift bridge and can be converted to a lift bridge very easily should
the need arise.
Slades Bridge has also been renovated
below water level and it is anticipated that the work on the arch will commence in the near future.
The Western Portal of the Greywell Tunnel was reached in November 1994 with towpath grading following but heavy rain caused a stop to works until spring 1995.
Surveys by Stan Meller and Peter
Oates had recommended a gabion (wire baskets filled with stone) retaining wall and drainage of the hillside. The Civic Trust agreed a grant of £5,000 towards the work and final surfacing of the towpath from Eastrop Bridge to the tunnel and arrangements were made for a spring 1994 start.
Drainage work was completed by the autumn and the gabion wall followed; again rain in late December postponed work.
The WRG / KESKRG 'Christmas Party Dig' was held on the Basingstoke with more than 60 volunteers
on the ground over the weekend. A very creditable [765 yards] of towpath was surfaced and involved moving, laying and rolling some 400 tons of material.
The Last Five Miles
In June this year weather conditions allowed us to return to the gabion wall and this was completed in August during which time the landslip was replaced on the hillside. During this work the tunnel wing walls were uncovered and surprisingly most of the walls were standing although they had moved somewhat over the years. Towpath surfacing resumed in October and is now complete and this links a further 1-1/4 miles of towpath to the remainder the canal via the footpath over Greywell Hill; a step towards the last five miles into Basingstoke.
In closing I would like to thank all the volunteers who have worked on the project during the three years.
Other work is being planned so don't 'hang up your boots' yet.
(above) - Photographs taken over the years showing work on the towpath between Greywell Tunnell and Penny Bridge.
All photographs - Dieter Jebens
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Not exactly another begging letter- mainly a thank you [to] the SHCS members who have supported the club during this year. And a reminder that you all have another chance to join the 200 club in 1996. why put so much of your spare cash into the National Lottery when you have a much better chance of winning with the 200 club? Admittedly, the prizes are a touch smaller and given out only every two months. But at least you know that half the money goes to the SHCS and you get the all the rest.
The more who join, the bigger the prizes. If we can get enough members we may even be able to give away more than the current 24 prizes a year. So why not join the winners to date for 1995:
|Mr & Mrs R Charles||Guildford||£63||
||Mr J A Riley||Fleet||£64|
|Mrs C Ashford||Fleet||£31||Mr R Jenner||Farnborough||£33|
|Mr P Michaelis||Woking||£16||Mrs K Brown||Camberley||£16|
|Mr R McBeath||Sherborne||£16||Mrs B E Bird||Bristol||£16|
|Mr D B Maishment||Fleet||£64||Miss A Dunbar-Miller||Epsom||£63|
|Mrs J Greenfield||Yately||£33||Mr& Mrs R Charles||Guildford||£31|
|Mr D A Webber||Farnham||£16||Mr& Mrs M Marchant||Woking||£16|
|Mrs M Fry||Guildford||£16||Mr & Mrs P Redway||St Johns||£16|
|Mrs S M Anderson||Fleet||£63|
|Miss L Neville||Berkhampstead||£31|
|Mrs C Ashford||Fleet||£16|
|Mr D A Smith||Bristol||£16|
Each membership costs just £12 and you can have as many as you like. Just send a cheque with the enclosed application form to Derek Truman, Compton Cottage, 11 Connaught Road, Fleet, Hants, GUIS 9RA (01252 613435). Or complete the standing order form - which lets you pay each subscription at £1 a month - and send that to him, NOT to your bank. (But remember that because of bank charges, standing orders may be a relatively expensive way of paying). All subscriptions are very much appreciated but to save postage costs and increase the receipts for the Society, they will not be acknowledged. I am sure you will understand.
Society members Ronnie and Janet Ellen and their dog Funny enjoying the new towpath east of Pontail Bridge recently. The towpath has been relaid by Ken Halls and his team from the Civic Trust. Hart District Council have helped considerably by providing £45,000 over three years.|
Photo Dieter Jebens
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Bill Holmwood, Martin Bowers and Chairman Peter Redway with the John Pinkerton in dry dock recently.
- Dieter Jebens
Getting afloat always has an added attraction as a respite from sizzling summer sunshine. So it is not surprising that the John Pinkerton proved more popular than ever for both public and charter trips this year. As the trip boat headed east for the Deepcut dry dock and the annual winter refit in mid-October, a profit of around £18, 000 was forecast. Our thanks to all the captains and crews who helped achieve the excellent result. This year has seen some changes in the management of the boat. Embarking on a new career and with other charitable commitments, our treasurer John Elliott decided it was time to hand over and Nigel Bird volunteered to hold the purse strings. His wife Ann took over as bookings manager temporarily after the resignation of Carol and Mike Munro. The company was delighted to have crew members Marion Gough,
assisted by her husband Hugh, offer to handle bookings since they both have management and administrative experience. During the season Margaret Marsh, another experienced crew member, volunteered to manage evening and weekend crew bookings, taking over from Kathryn Dodington who now has more time for editing the 'Basingstoke Canal News' and crew training. We were also pleased to have Roger Speak volunteer to service the Fetter engine since he once worked for Petter Marine. The company has also welcomed boat (and aircraft) captain Peter Wright to become the company's secretary. Meanwhile the trip boat is undergoing its annual refit including a major repaint so that it will look smarter than ever. Organised by Martin Bowers, Bill Homewood and Ron McLaughlin, our thanks to a number of members who kindly volunteered to help. The boat is spending the winter at the Canal Centre before heading west again for the new season. En route we shall be taking a party of Hampshire mayors, guests of the Mayor of Rushmoor, on trip from Ash Lock to Eelmoor in March. A prestigious prelude to our 18th season.
If you would like a copy of the 1996 cruising folder, contact Marion Gough on (01962) 713564. Any member wishing to train and crew the boat should contact Kathryn Dodington on (01483) 473630. That also goes for any existing crew member who would like to become an accredited captain. And don't forget Tuesday evenings are not just for routine maintenance work, but free cruise evenings for members and their friends. We'd like to see more members take advantage of the boat, introduce their friends
to the pleasures of canal cruising and perhaps
[NB: It should be 27th April....]
Please do not forget to attend the
Society AGM at the Mytchett
Community Centre, Mytchett Road,
Saturday 26th April 1996
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Branch Line to Upwell
including the Wisbech Canal
by Vic Mitchell, Keith Smith and Andrew C
Ingram Published by Middleton Press £10.95.
The latest in a series of photographic records of railways and canals by the Midhurst publisher which includes Surrey Canals and Hampshire Canals by PAL Vine featuring the Basingstoke Canal. Like the other titles, this new book is essentially a picture book containing 121 photographs and maps with detailed and well researched captions by experts in their field. Although the title makes it clear that the contents are Predominately about the railway, the reader is given an insight of the former 5-1/4 mile canal which linked the River Nene at Wisbech with the Ouse Via Well Creek at Outwell.
Opened in 1795, the Wisbech has some parallels with the Basingstoke: both were conceived to develop their respective towns as trading centres. Both suffered a shortage of water although the Wisbech more so because it relied on fortnightly spring tides to replenish it. and both, like many others, became victims of railway competition although in the case of the Wisbech it was a tramway. Not in the conventional way, used by trams, but built to a tramway specification avoiding the costly regulations associated with railway construction. Thus road users might well be confronted by a locomotive crossing their path with no more warning than a Sign Stating TRAINS CROSS HERE. Such was the unprotected juxtaposition of road, rail and canal that one picture shows an upturned lorry after the steering failed and the vehicle got guided along the railway before being pitched into the canal.
The canal was closed in 1926 but the railway survived until 1966. Although the book offers more to railway buffs, it is an excellent record of a bygone age.
London's Lost Route to Midhurst
by PAL Vine published by Alan Sutton
Publishing Price £16. 99
Subtitled The Earl of Egremont's Navigation, this is the third in Paul Vine's London's Lost Route series, starting With the Wey & Arun Canal, then the Basingstoke Canal, of which a new edition was published by Alan Sutton last year, and now London's Lost Route to Midhurst.
Perhaps because the entrance to the Rother Navigation to give it its actual title - is just below Stopham Bridge,
a short distance from the author's riparian home on the Arun, and possibly because he had access [to] the archives at Petworth House, the book is not simply based on arms-length research but locally based and original sources of information. The author tells us as much about the local social and economic history and personalities of the period as he does about the construction and use of the navigation.
The Third Earl of Egremont's enthusiasm for canal transport was fired at an early age by the successful exploits of the Duke of Bridgewater who opened his canal in 1761. By the late 1700s, when plans to make the River Rother navigable for barges, the country was alive with canal and river navigation plans. Interesting, engineers and contractors involved on the Basingstoke were consulted and employed hare too: William Jessop was consulted, Charles Jones who was engaged on building Greywell Tunnel as well as John and his nephew George Pinkerton.
Construction of the 12-mile navigation and eight locks began in 1791 and was completed with a basin in Midhurst four years later. A one and a quarter mile branch to Petworth followed with plans to extend it to the Wey at Shalford or to Horsham which had plans for a Dorking canal through the Mole Valley to the Thames. A vice-president of our Society, Paul Vine points out at the end of the book that while most inland navigations in the south have their voluntary supporters, the Rother Navigation remains unadopted. Providing riparian landowners and the National Rivers Authority were willing, it could easily be restored by voluntary labour for navigation, perhaps using rollers at locks, by small boats at least.
The Rother may have been a minor navigation but the lives and times of those who promoted it, constructed and used it make fascinating reading, lucidly written by an author who is an established waterways historian who leaves no stone unturned to pul all the pieces of the historical jigsaw together. An essential read and an excellent one.
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1996 Annual General Meeting
NOTICE is hereby given that the NINETEENTH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the SURREY AND HAMPSHIRE CANAL SOCIETY will be held at the Mytchett Community Centre, Mytchett Road, Mytchett, Surrey on Saturday 2]7h April 1996 commencing at 6:30pm.
All the Society's Directors (known as the Executive Committee) retire automatically each year at the AGM and are elibable for re-nomination if they wish to stand. However the Society's Executive Committee needs new blood with new ideas, especially to help with the administrative, fundraising and marketing of the Society's activities.
With around 2,000-plus members, there must be a number of you with time to help run the Society. Even if you do not wish to serve on the main committee there are many posts that need filling: i.e.
Social Secretary, Exhibitions Organiser, Talks Organiser (for other groups and clubs) and Rambles/Walks orgainser; none are onerous.
We have had to curtail some activities, especially on the Social side due to lack of organisers, so please offer your help.
The Society's role of watchdog, guardian and supporter of the canal has never been more important than it is now and can only be tackled effectively if members come forward to help. There are always problems to solve and campaigns to be fought with all the changes going on both nationally and locally.
If you would like more information about serving on the Executive Committee (or to volunteer for any of the other posts) please write to me or call me on (01256) 702109. I will then supply you with a nomination form which must be returned to me by Friday 9th February 1996.
Hon. Secretary, Philip Ritey, Wincombe Cottage, Broad Oak, Odiham, Hampshire, RG25 1AH
Work Party Programme
The following are the proposed dates for Work Parties in the new year. Please contact Peter Redway for further information.
|7th/21st||Peter Jackman||Bankside clearance Deepcut|
|13th/14th||Dave Junkison||Western End|
|27th/28th||Peter Redway||Western End or Lock 15|
|4th/18th||Peter Jackman||Bankside clearance Deepcut|
|10th/11th||Dave Junkison/Dave Lunn||Lock 15|
|24th/25th||Peter Redway||Lock 15|
|3rd/17th||Peter Jackman||Bankside clearance Deepcut|
|10th/11th||Dave Junkison/Dave Lunn||Lock 15|
|23rd/24th||Peter Redway||Lock 15|
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The following is a copy of a letter from the summer issue of 'Bluebell News' and we are grateful to Peter Coxhead for discovering it.
On behalf of the Bat Conservation Trust and the Sussex Bat Group, I would like to thank you and the Bluebell for allowing us to survey the Sharpthorne Tunnel for hibernating bats on 3 February. My colleagues especially appreciated the way you barred the tunnel to approaching trains!
I have to say that I now respect the tunnel's permanent way gang even more, as I found the tunnel very wet and cold. It must be an unpleasant place to work ! However, it was ideal surroundings for the bats who reduce their body temperature to that of their surroundings whilst hibernating; thus conserving energy and body fat during the lean winter months, a constant temperature of 4 to 7 degrees being perfect. The bats hibernate from November to March, waking occasionally.
As may be gathered from the attached, the preconceived view of some of my colleagues was that any hibernating bats were most likely to be too disturbed in the current conditions of a live steam railway and that an historically good bat hibernating site had been lost. One or two colleagues thought that no bats would be found.
However I am pleased to advise that our final count was 18 bats of 3 species out of 5 or 6 cave bats we can find in Sussex, (9 Natterer's bats, 8 Daubenton bats and 1 Whiskered/Brandt's bat). This may not seem many, but they are only the tip of an iceberg because many other bats would have been hibernating, out of sight. The bats had many likely sites within the tunnel. Interestingly, the count was about even on both sides of the tunnel;
so being close to passing steam trains did not seem to make any difference (the track, or eastern side of the tunnel always used to be their favourite wall). Contrary to public image, most bats don't hang from the roof!
The Sussex Bat Group have surveyed the tunnel regularly since 1981 until about its reopening. Except for just after the 'hurricane' of 1987, when many tree hibernating sites were lost, this was our highest ever count. Sharpthorne Tunnel jumps back to the top of East Sussex's most inmportant known winter hobernating sites list.
We also (still) regularly survey other closed railway tunnels of West Sussex
(West Dean, Baynards etc.) and do find larger numbers of bats, but there we have installed many wooden 'battens' which are shortish wooden 'planks' hung up to an inch or so proud of the wall in order to boost the number of available attractive places where bats can sleep out the winter.
Our experience of Sharpthome may have caused the 'estabishment' to re-think the resilience of hibernating bats and that other 'live' tunnels must be thought of in a differing light. Maybe, the Channel Tunnel has a use after all!
On a personal note, our successful count means that I can now come out of the closet and admit to my connections with the Bluebell without fear of being 'battered'! Thanks again for letting us undertake the survey. Perhaps, if it can be arranged, we can do it next year.
The Editor wishes to acknowledge the source of this letter as being the Summer edition of Bluebell News.
This obviously throws an entirely different light (once again) on the Greywell Tunnel as the obvious first choice of linking the work at the western end of the canal with the restored canal from Greywell eastwards. Whilst there are still engineering problems to overcome, with the landslip inside the tunnel, the findings of the Bat Conservation Trust and the Sussex Bat Group suggest that it is reasonable to assume that use by narrowboats in the summer (and occasionally in winter) would provide a significantly less toxic environment to that in which it appears the bats flourish in the Sharpthome Tunnel. One wonders if the naturalists are, at times, as blind as bats! Does anyone have any thoughts on the matter ?
IWA Guildford and Reading Branch
The Guildford and Reading Branch of the IWA are holding a 'bit of a do' with wine and light refreshments at the Canal Centre on Sunday 24th December from 18:00-21:00.
Members of BCBC and the Society are welcome to attend and welcome visiting boaters.
Cost £2:00 per head
Please contact Pat Perry Barton on (01428) 606496 for more information.
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The landscape of the Basingstoke Canal presents a more wooded appearance than possibly any other canal in the United Kingdom but actually not so many of the tress actually stand on the canal estate. The majority stand on adjoining land but that doesn't alter the most important feature in the canal's 'shop window'.
It was not always so for when the canal was dug there were probably no trees on the canal estate at all. The embankments and cuttings would have been just bare earth; the civil engineers of that time appear to have had little, if any, regard for the landscape but did set out to combat erosion on the bare soil by planting gorse or 'fuze' as they called it. They saw it as being a marketable material as it could be used, when dry, for kindling.
Today we admire the trees and seek to protect them with Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and the designation of Conservation Areas, yet some trees do grow in places where they can be most damaging to the canal and must be removed leading to complaints of desecration and doubts of others about seeking to protect trees in the first place. So should there be TPOs and Conservation of Trees or should the canal's management team be given a free hand and trusted to protect what can be protected and manage what can't ?
The legislation which protects trees in the United Kingdom exempts from that protection trees which stand on the operational land of statutory undertakings providing that work on the land cannot otherwise be carried out or that the trees consitute a hazard.
Basically Parliament accepted that statutory undertakings had to be managed or maintained and covered that in the relevant Act of Parliament and in later legislation has seen no need to amend that situation.
The Basingstoke Canal does have a fair sprinkling of trees that do constitute a
hazard; they stand on embankments and cutting sides and if they become windblown they are liable to cause flooding or blockages which in turn cause
flooding. Yet some of our local authorities have created TPOs, at some expense, in an attempt to prevent the canal rangers from managing the canal's trees. Surrey County Council have even included the preservation of all trees in the Deepcut Cutting in the canal management plan which is just about as irresponsible as it can be.
All of the trees that are exempt from protective legislation need management; that is they need to be felled before they become dangerous. This does not mean that trees cannot be allowed to grow but that they should be monitored constantly. On the face of it that is expensive but like many things in life the 'do nothing' policy can prove to be the most expensive in the long term. Remember the breaches of the banks in 1968 at Farnborough, Aldershot and Fleet all had trees involved. So our local
authorities should stand back and let the canal's managers manage and Surrey County Council should change its policy at Deepcut.
Does anyone have any thoughts on David's letter. If so please let the editor know!
Attention John Pinkerton Captains|
For those of you who have reached that certain age in life it is essential that you revalidate your licence in time for next season. Please check your licence to see when it expires and make sure that you obtain a medical certificate from your own Doctor in good time to renew your licence.
If you do need to renew your licence please contact Kathryn Dodington on (01483) 473630 to obtain the necessary MSA medical form. Refunds for the medical examination fee can be claimed from the Boat Company treasurer Nigel Bird, 25 Farnham Road, Fleet, GU139HZ. Please mention to your Doctor that the medical is for the Society (a registered charity) and encourage him/her to reduce the price.
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IWA Golden Jubilee|
The IWA is holding a Golden Jubilee photographic competition the theme of which is: The IWA's 50 Years of Achievement, Our Waterways Environment today. The competition s being sponsored by Canon UK Ltd., Agfa-Gayaert Ltd., and Blakes Holidays with Crown Blue Line France. The competition winner will receive a Canon EOS5 Camera and lens (value £760) plus a French boating holiday for two from Blakes Holidays. The second prize is a Canon EOS500 Camera and Lens (value £400) and a champagne trip in the AGFA hot air balloon. The competition is open to all amateur photographers and the closing date is 31st march 1996. Final judging will be at the IWA National Waterways Festival in August. There is an entrance fee of £1 for IWA members (new members joining will able to enter for the same fee) and for non-IWA members the fee is £6. For an entry form and competition details please send an SAE to: Brian Timms / Ray Carnell, IWA Photo Competition, 114 Regents Park Road, London NW1 8UQ or alternatively you may pick up an application form from the IWA Guildford and Reading Branch meetings at the Canal Centre on the following dates:
|22nd January||Waterway Quiz|
|26th February||Fenders and Ropework|
|25th March||AGM followed by a talk by Robin
Higgs on the Watercress Line|
|22nd April||Catering on the Cut|
|Tues 9 January 96||Early Canals in Britain|
|Tues 13 February 96||American Railways|
|Tues 12 March 96||A new film (Hugh McNight & John Humphries)|
|Tues 9 April 96||The National Rivers Authority (Mark Hodgins)|
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A Little Auk, more at home in the Atlantic than on the Basingstoke Canal, was spotted recently at Bridge Barn.
Fleet & Crookham
An amusing quote from 'Our First 10 Years - 1985-1995' published by the Fleet and Crookham Local History Group in the chapter 'Possible Programme Events for 1995' - We are invited to sit in on a friendly debate between the Canal Society and Friends of What's Left of the Earth. The subject: 'Are there still bats in the Greywell Tunnel ?'
Some of you will know that George Hedger has not been too well lately. However we are pleased to report that George is making good progress and without his (and his team's) hard work this Newsletter would not get to you. Thank you George and your team of Newsletter folders and stuffers !
There is a plan to create a footpath from Old Basing to link with the towpath at Penny Bridge.
Woking Town Plan
There is a proposal to remove some land near Spantons' from the Green Belt and use it for a Fire Station. The Society is to object to this application.
Conservation Working Party
A fisheries report wants to allow offside tres to grow to shade the canal; the Society is to oppose this. Conservationists want the offside bank cleared in sections which was felt to be impractical.
The following letter is reproduced from Navvies and we wish to acknowledge them as the source of this letter.
In the interests of science, may I ask the advice of readers on how to respond to Byelaw (sic) 74 (1) of the National Trust's new Draft Byelaws for the River Wey Navigation, upon which the IWA were asked to comment:
'No person shall organise any boat-race, regatta, public procession or other event or function which may result in a gathering of vessels, or which may cause a crowd to assemble on or by the Navigation, without the consent of the National Trust'
I have to say that until now I have not been forced to consider the reproductive behaviour of boats. Whether or not they had a sex life has not been uppermost in my mind amongst life's other pressures.
But now you mention it, I have noticed that boats have been proliferating in recent years and I am begining to wonder from whence they come. Do they indeed use regattas as their meeting place, where they can surreptitiously eye up one another ? Is the constant flow of boats up and down part of the mating ritual whereby one vessel may show off to another ? Is the accidental nudging of 'Lady Jane' by 'Sir Galahad' just that, or is there more to it, which we do not yet understand ? Now I come to think of it, maybe 'Little Woolwich' came out of a union between 'Big Ricky" and 'Slack Alice' who met at last year's National ?
One can well see why the National Trust do not want crowds of idle voyeurs on the towpath ogling a
spectacle that should only be done between consenting craft in the privacy of their own moorings. On reflection, please send your comments on this draft byelaw [sic] to the National Trust, not to me.
Guildford & Reading Branch
The Society's effort so far this year on the canal has included 432 man-days and £17,000 spent; equivalent to £95,427
Sanction has been given for six linear moorings at the Canal Centre.
Bridge Barn Motel
The Bridge Barn wish to erect a 40 bedroom motel.
The proposed realignment of the A332 at Brookwood will require a new bridge to cross the canal adjacent to Lock 12.
There are currently 1,300 subscriptions to the Society which is equivalent to approximately 2,000 members.
The Society is to object to the proposed boom to be installed at Eelmoor Flash following the completion of the new Pondtail Winding hole.
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New IWA Office Manager|
Neil Edwards has been appointed as the new Office Manager for the IWA.
Hart District Council have written to the Society expressing their thanks for the work on the towpath in Fleet.
Society Objects to Cycle Way
The Society has objected to the towpath being designated a cycleway.
Application for Grant
The Society has applied for a grant of £500 from Surrey Heath Council and from the Heritage Fund for money for the proposed backpumping scheme.
The Society and the BCA have objected to yet another planning application to build on a site adjacent to the canal in North Warnborough.
Pondtail Winding Hole
Work has begun on the Pondtail winding hole just east of Pondtail New Bridge on the non-towpath side of the canal The Society's tug has been helping by moving the excess earth up the canal.
There will be a boat rally on 24th September 1996 to help celebrate the Society's 30th Anniversary. Details later.
An SSSI, according to the BBC's
Country File programme, should only be notified to protect naturally occuring Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Was the canal created by nature or did a man called Pinkerton have a great deal to do with it ?
There will be another event at Bridge Barn in 1996 following the recent successful events there. The dates are Sunday 26th and Monday 27th jpay 1996. More information from Peter Coxhead on (01932)344564
Congratulations to Joan and Edwin Chappell who raised £1,160 for Society funds on their recent sponsored walk from Greywell to the Wey Navigation.
Copy date for Next BC News: 15th February 1996
Kathryn Dodington Sequoia, Sheets Heath Lane, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey, GU24 0EH (0483) 473630
Chairman: Peter Redway. 1 Redway Cottages, St John's Lye, Woking, Surrey, GU21 1SL (0483) 721710
Vice-Chairman: Peter Coxhead. 17 Abbey Close, Pyrford, Woking, Surrey, GU22 8PY (01932) 344564
Hon. Secretary: Philip Riley. Wincombe Cottage, Broad Oak, Odiham, Hampshire, RG25 1AH (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, GU13 0TB (0252) 624643
Special Projects Manager: Stan Meller. 101 Branksome Hill Road, College Town, Camberley, Surrey, GU14 4QG (0276) 32096
Working Party Information: Peter Redway. 1 Redway Cottages, St John's Lye, Woking, Surrey, GU21 1SL (0483) 721710
Trip Boat Manager: Dieter Jebens. 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3NJ (0252) 715230
Trip Boat Bookings: Marion Gough. St Catherines, Hurdle Way, Compton Down, Winchester, Hants. SO21 2AN (01962) 713564
Sales Manager: Gill Freeman. 35 Holland Gardens, Fleet, Hampshire, GU139NE (0252) 624612
Mail Order Sales: TBA
Exhibitions Manager: David Junkison. 4 Thames Meadow, West Molesley, Surrey, KT146BE (081) 941 0685
Audio Visual Producer: Arthur Dungate. 187 Ellerdine Road, Hounstow, Middlesex, TW3 2PU No Telephone
Talks Organiser: TBA
Press Officer: Dieter Jebens. 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Famham, Surrey, GU10 3NJ (0252) 715230
Archivist: Jill Haworth. Sheerwood, Woodham Lane, Woking, Surrey. GU21 5SR (01932) 342081
Woking Area Director: Peter Coxhead*. 17 Abbey Close, Pyrford, Woking, Surrey. GU22 8PY (01932) 344584
Director: Roger Cansdale*. 79 Gally Hill Road, Church Crookham, Hampshire. GU13 0RU (01252) 616964
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