Spring 1996

Cover picture info
Chairman's Comment
Society events etc
The Right of Navigation
Towpath Topics
Gongoozler's Gossip

Contact the Society

            bcnmsthd160 (11K)
No. 171 Spring 1996

front pic (67K)

page 2

Lengthsman Scheme
I was walking the towpath recently between Sheets Heath Bridge and Lock 14 because my local residents association had complained about the state of the towpath. I was surprised, as the lengthsman for this length of the canal, to find a sign saying 'towpath closed'. I understand that the Society has a number of volunteers who walk designated lengths of the canal on a regular basis; the aim of which is to report anything that may have just happened or may (perish the thought) have been missed by the rangers - well they might be escorting bumblebee walks. I was concerned to find the 'towpath closed' sign because I did not know about it and because I did not know what it was closed for. I know I have reported a number of things that I have found over the years and my calls to the Canal Authority have been met with a variety of responses from no reply on the canal mobile telephone to 'we know about that' to 'that doesn't matter'. The Society is endeavouring to work with the Canal Authority on all aspects of the way the canal is administered and provides a tremendous amount of support in kind and in money and it strikes me as strange that those who give a little of their time to keep an eye on the infrastructure of the canal appear now to be disregarded. It is high time that this scheme is relaunched with the support of the Canal Authority and the Society.

Summer Canal Closure
In the March edition of Waterways World was a surprising report that the canal will be closed from 17th June to 14th October. 'It must be planned maintenance' I hear you say but no; it is the Canal Authority's answer to what they see as a water shortage. How they will know when the water will get to the level that prohibits boating beggars belief. Maybe they have a hotline that is not the priviledge of the Met Office just up the A322 at Bracknell or is it their way of limiting boats on the canal and avoiding confrontation between the Society and English Nature ? The suggestion that the Canal Authority offer is to come out of season; a time when planned maintenance should be taking place and stoppages are more likely.

We do have water problems on the Basingstoke but to turn prospective boaters (and their money) away at the time when it is easiest to wrest the money from the boater strikes the editor as curious. One wonders if this is a push by English Nature to completely rule the operation of the canal by citing lack of use by boaters. Elsewhere in this issue David Gerry raises the issue of a statutory right of navigation - if the canal is closed for

no material reason one has to question the legality of this action.

To pick a point directly from the Basingstoke Canal Boating Club Newsletter - The BCA often bemoans critisisim of their management but one cannot help thinking that they bring it on themselves.

Winter Boat Rally
On a more positive note it was a pleasure to see so many boats make the effort to claw their way through the ice to the Canal Centre for the first of the IWA's 50th Anniversary celebrations over Christmas. A number of them made it all the way to King John's Castle and back as the cover photo bears witness to. Some of them, who were unable to get on to the canal this summer made a supreme effort and came great distances and were ice-bound for a couple of days between Christmas and New Year. It was not surprising to hear that, after being stopped at St John's on their way down the canal because the ranger's working day had ended, that at least one boater cut the padlocks the following morning in order to get home in time.

Nominations have now officially closed for election to the committee for 1996/7 and it is disapointing to see that we have no new blood wishing to serve on the Society's managing committee. You don't have to be anything special - just have an interest in the Society and the canal. It is interesting work and only generally takes up a Friday evening each month. Rumours of the meetings lasting into the small hours of Saturday morning are now consigned to history - we haven't finished that late for some time and at the last meeting we were away by 10:15 - can you spare two or three hours a month to support the Society ? Just pick up the phone and call Philip Riley (01256) 702109.

Finally don't forget the AGM on Saturday 27th April at 6:30pm at the Community Centre Mytchett. This is your chance to find out what the committee really does and question them on their policies.

Chairmans Comment3
Society events4
The Right of Navigation5
Towpath Topics7
Gongoozlers Gossip8

Narrowboat Nuneaton breaking ice on approach to Ash Lock in December
Photo: Dieter Jebens

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page 3

It is with great regret that I have to report the demise of the Community Action Scheme. This scheme was run as a joint partnership between the Society, The Canal Authority, The Civic Trust (until a year ago) and latterly the Grand Metropolitan Trust.

After two years, the scheme, which provided work experience for long term unemployed, has been closed by the Department of Employment. The scheme was a success, bettering the targets set by the Department of Employment whilst providing a resource for improvement of the navigation and leisure facilities of the canal. Examples of the work carried out by the Community Action Teams are:

# Woking wharf
# Resurfaced towpath between the Fox and Hounds and Pondtail Bridge in Fleet (for which the Society has been commended in the 1995 Hampshire Countryside Awards)
# Help with the winter maintenance of the John Pinkerton.

The first two were grant aided by their respective councils.

The scheme has been supervised by Society Member, Ken Halls, throughout its duration and was expected to continue into 1996. Unfortunately the Government policy changed and the scheme finished on 31st January 1996.

From the Society's point-of-view it is difficult to understand why the the scheme was dropped; no reasons have been given and it seems that a revamped scheme will not be forthcoming.

I have recorded our interest in continuing if an alternative scheme becomes available; this would of course be subject to suitable terms and conditions.

I would like to publically thank Ken Halls for his administration and supervision of the scheme, Dave Millett for his continued support and the Canal Authority for assistance with accommodation and equipment, without which we could not have met the requirements of the two trusts.

Society's 30th Anniversary
A reminder, as if you needed one, that the Society celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year. Peter Coxhead is planning an enhanced Bridge Barn event in May and other regular events, such as Fleet Carnival will have Society representation throughout the year.

A social event seems appropriate during September, the actual anniversary month - a Dinner/Dance, an outing or cruise or a bar-b-que - let us have your views as planning is flexible at this stage. Please contact any committee member.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the AGM on 27th April.
Peter Redway

 (10K) A belated photograph of the Redway Family receiv≠ing the Robin Higgs Award at last year's AGM - who will it be this year? Turn up on Saturday 27th April to find out for yourself.
Photo - Dieter Jebens

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page 4

 (14K) The Mayor of Rushmoor, Cllr Mrs Pat Devereaux (second left), hosting a party of Hampshire Mayors for the first trip of the season aboard the John Pinkerton on the Basingstoke Canal, as part of a tour of the Borough.
Photo - Dieter Jebens

Pinkerton's Progress
The John Pinkerton had a succsessful 1995 cruising season with a surplus of £15,000 being covenanted to the Society. We undertook 213 trips - down a little on 1994. We are indebted to Roger Speak, Martin Bowers, Bill Homewood and Ron McLaughlin for all the work they have done over the winter to provide the Society with such a smart looking boat with which to start 1996.

All crews and Captains should have received a copy of Pinkerton's Progress - if not please let Peter Wright (01344)772461 know.

We are always on the lookout for new crew, husbands and wives are welcome too, and you don't have to want to steer all the time ! We are holding an 'open morning' for all potential crews at Colt Hill, Odiham on 22nd April at 10:00. Just show up and say that you are interest in crewing and we will give you the opportunity to 'have a go' on a trip up to King John's Castle and back. You can even help with the lift bridge. Please feel free just to turn up - we will leave at 10:30 - or give Kathryn a call on (01483) 473630.

There will also be a training day for anyone interested in crewing on Saturday 27th April at 10:00am at Colt Hill Odiham. Ring Ron McLaughlin for further information.

The Pinkerton season started on Good Friday (5th April) with trips from our usual Bank Holiday site at Reading Road Wharf in Fleet.

Free Tuesday Night Trips
Every Tuesday evening during the season the John Pinkerton undertakes a trip on which all Society members are welcome - free of charge. The idea of the trips is to provide additional training and

to undertake all those little maintenance and cleaning jobs that can't be done during normal operations. Tea, coffee and drinks are available should you wish and of course there is the opportunity to find out more about crewing. The John Pinkerton is the major source of income for the Society so why not help provide the funds and have fun at the same time. Tuesday night trips depart at 7:30pm from Odiham (until 30th June) and then from the Barley Mow at Winchfield. You can even bring your bike and cruise one way and cycle home. Please call Kathryn (01483) 473630 or Ron (01252) 26722 for more information.

Bridge Barn Event
1993, 1994, 1995 and now 1996. 'The Bridge Barn' as it is affectionately known is now firmly locked into the Basingstoke's annual programme. This year it is being held on 25th and 26th May. Water conditions allowing we anticipate being host to a good number of our boating friends. On the Sunday we will be welcoming a boat from Odiham which will be carrying a piece of the giant jigsaw which will be assembled in Birmingham as part of the IWA's 50th Anniversary celebrations.

The theme this year at Bridge Barn is 'War of the Worlds' which is the Society's contribution to the 100th anniversary celebrations of the publication of HG Wells' book which involves the canal in its story.

Call Peter Coxhead (01932) 344564 for more info.

Please do not forget to attend the
Society AGM at the Mytchett
Community Centre, Mytchett Road,
Mytchett, Surrey
Saturday 27th April 1996 6:30pm

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page 5

Legal Status
Those of your readers that have read "London's lost route to Basingstoke" will be aware of the legal history of the canal and confusion that now exists in some circles as to the canal's present legal status. Being as brief as I possibly can I will outline the situation. The canal is a 'statutory undertaking' (i.e. set up by Act of Parliament). It still is a statutory undertaking and will be until Parliament decides otherwise. Circa 1912 there was a legal dispute between the then canal owner and Woking UDC, the outcome of which was that three Appeal Court judges agreed that the canal was still a statutory undertaking but that the then canal owner had not inherited the powers or obligations of the original owners. In my view nothing has happened since 1912 that alters the findings of the Court of Appeal. Indeed it is fascinating that Basingstoke & Deane BC had recently planned to use the original act to restore the canal into Basingstoke centre if they had decided to use the original route; they have apparently decided to modify the route extensively if/when they get round to full restoration, and will then use alternative powers available to them. Hampshire CC have taken Counsel's opinion at least 5 times in the last 75 years, seeking to clarify the position and presumably because they anticipated becoming involved in litigation. Now when one seeks Counsel's opinion, the opinion one is given depends upon the question asked and the information one gives to counsel. 4 of the 5 opinions obtained by HCC all confirm the findings of the Woking case and in my view in the fifth case counsel was not given all the information he should have been given.

I guess that Surrey CC legal department have probably been through similar exercises yet today the County Councils deny that the canal is a statutory undertaking, but cannot produce any sensible reasons why things have changed. Indeed one senior Hampshire lawyer has said in a letter to an adjoining land owner "The canal has a legal right to exist", but failed to support that with any further information.

As in my letter about trees in the last issue, when parliament legislated to protect wildlife, had they wanted to change the status of statutory undertakings affected by the creation of SSSI's, they would have said so. Indeed if a public footpath runs through land being designated as an SSSI, it does not automatically close the footpath to the public. Nor does the SSSI legislation make any alteration to rights of navigation - those people with the right to navigate can still navigate. The problem then is who has the right to

navigate. There are doubts that the "world and his wife" have that right, some say yes, some say no, but how about commercial concerns ? The John Pinkerton certainly has the right of navigation, as does the Boats for the Handicapped Association, Galleon Marine and others, but does the County Council have the right to charge for navigation; the 1912 Appeal Court said no, today other lawyers say yes.

Free Navigation
In the Basingstoke Canal Act all adjoining land owners were given the right to navigate free of charge, including passage through the locks (providing that water was running over weirs). The adjoining land owners right was attached to the land and not granted to an individual and that right must still exist for all those households that live on land that adjoined the canal in 1788.

For example, practically everyone living in Brookwood, even in houses backing onto the railway rather than the canal, may be able to argue that they have a right to navigate free of charge. It seems to me that this begins to put the value of the SSSI in great doubt because there would be little point in limiting the number of boat movements to, say, 1200 if the number of people with the right to navigate F.O.C. was 10,000 or more.

Political Motivation
This demonstrates that English Nature are politically motivated and are not the conservationists they claim to be. The conservationists of Britain's canals are the members of the Inland Waterways Association and SHCS and many others. A true conservationist appreciates when conservation is both practical and possible and where it is not. A true conservationist will seek to establish new habitats that are sustainable. Artificial waterways are not sustainable as habitats for all species; they must be drained, dredged, reinforced etc., etc. from time to time. Some wildlife will survive that trauma, some will not, and English Nature should urgently set about creating the new sustainable habitats that are obviously required for if species are lost on the Basingstoke Canal the responsibility will not rest with the boaters but with English Nature.
David Gerry

Urgently Required
Mooring for 18 foot
Cabin Crusier in the Odiham

If you can help please call
Mike Parkes on

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page 6

From Paddy Field, Director BCA

I read with interest David Gerry's letter in Issue No. 170 of the Basingstoke Canal News dealing with the subject of trees along the Canal banks. I thought that it might be helpful if your readers were brought up to date with our policies in this particular area.

In November 1993 the Joint Management Committee approved the following policies for the management of trees on the Basingstoke Canal:

a. Trees should not be permitted to establish themselves within 4 [yards] of the water's edge.

b. Trees should not be permitted to establish themselves on the upper two-thirds of embanked slopes nor on the lower third of cutting slopes and never above the level of the bed of the canal.

c. Where trees have become established in these areas, they should be moved back selectively over a period of years; dead, diseased or dying trees being dealt with first.

d. Where appropriate, re-planting with native species should take place in acceptable areas to replace the tree screen.

e. The Basingstoke Canal Authority should consult with the appropriate District or Borough Council to produce an agreed plan of action.

f. Wherever appropriate and possible, advance publicity should be undertaken by the Basingstoke Canal Authority and the relevant District or Borough Council to explain to the general public the need for the measures being undertaken.

The Joint Management Committee also expressed its concern at the action of one particular borough in imposing a Tree Preservation Order on trees within the Canal Conservation Area.

Since that date we have had extensive discussions with the Trees Officers of most of the riparian districts, and have been able to carry out a considerable amount of work to put these policies into practice. For example,

in Runnymede Borough we have agreed a five year plan with the District Council and have implemented the first phase of that plan, resulting in a great improvement in trimming back trees on the offside bank below Lock 1. We have similarly, with the co-operation of Guildford Borough Council, enabled Peter Jackman's working party to operate with a much freer hand on the offside bank of the Deepcut flight of locks, whilst in Hart the Hampshire Training Team has successfully cleared back a large number of potential future problems on the offside between Colt Hill and Barley Mow.

The problem is not one which will go away overnight. The many trees which have become established over the past 50 years or more now form a landscape feature of the Canal and arouse very strong local emotions if proposals are made to take drastic felling action.

Whilst David Gerry is quite right in his analysis of the provisions of the Basingstoke Canal Act, there are many legal, political and practical constraints which militate against a reliance on those clauses. As with many other issues, we have sought to move forward by agreement and co-operation, rather than standing on "our rights". Those who live centrally to the Canal will have read of the public furore which has been caused by both railways and highways authorities acting in such a manner to tree felling.

David Gerry is, however, wrong on one point. Surrey County Council have not been responsible for the inclusion of the preservation of all the trees in the Deepcut cutting in the Canal Management Plan. This was a provision which was proposed by the Conservation Working Party and accepted by the Joint Management Committee of the Canal and is one of the areas which will be considered for revision when the Management Plan comes up for its annual review.

In summary, David's concerns are well recognised and have been addressed. There is, however, no short cut answer to the problem and measures that are being put into effect must be achieved slowly and without detriment to the outstanding scenic beauty of the Canal.
Paddy Field
Director, Basingstoke Canal Authority

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page 7

Work Party News
With the closure of the Community Action Scheme a revised programme has been agreed with the Canal Authority. We have taken on two Grant Aided projects originally intended for the Community Action Teams. These need completing by the end of March.

Weekday work parties will be required to complete these projects as the icy winter weather has prevented construction work.

Other works include bankside clearance, upper paddle culvert access covers, memorial seats and, once the spring arrives, a return to the Western End. Due to my hip operation I shall only be undertaking adrnin tasks and supervision for some time. I shall need a work party leader for the fourth weekend of the month - any volunteers ?

30thSHCS canal cleanup
7thPJBankside clearance - Deepcut or Woking
13th/14thDL/DJPaddle culvert access covers / jackheads
21stPJBankside clearance - Deepcut or Woking
27th/28thTBATugs and paddle access covers
11th/12thDL/DJPaddle access covers
25th/26thPRBridge Barn weekend

For more information call Peter Redway on (01483) 721710

For Sale

Pixie Dee Micro-Plus 2 berth Cabin Cruiser
Ideal Weekender - All mod cons. 9.9 Yamaha outboard
All on galvanised trailer
Please ring Tony Daw on (01252) 811664

BMC Mini Diesel (948cc) or piston set for same
Please call (01276) 64631

IWA advert (15K)

IWA Golden Jubilee Rally
One of the most photogenic events of the IWA's Golden Jubilee year is sure to be the putting together of a giant jigsaw waterways map of the country at the National Centre in Birmingham at the end of June, the pieces having been carried there by boat from each of the Association's 35 branches. The Guildford and Reading Branch's piece will be sent off on Saturday 1st June at 3:00pm for the Boat Rally which they are organising on Thames Side Promenade, Reading; and the constituent parts of this will have been carried over the previous week from the extremities of the five waterways within the branch area, of which the Basingstoke Canal is one. The Canal Society has voluteered to play the leading role in carrying this piece by boat and David Junkison is organising its journey. It will start at Odiham with a Civic send-off on Saturday 25th May; call in at the Bridge Barn Rally on Sunday afternoon; join a convoy of other pieces at Weybridge on Monday evening and thence to Reading during the following week.

Two days of land and water based events are being organised at Reading on 1st and 2nd June from 11:00am until 6:00pm and free entry is available for Society members on production of a copy of the Basingstoke Canal News or your membership card. The rally will take the form of an old fashioned Boat Rally with bands and dancers.

The Mikron Theatre Company will also be in attendance with one of their most popular shows - a Jubilee performance of Still Carrying - which starts at 7:30pm on the Sunday evening.

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page 2

Community Enterprise Awards
The Society has been awarded an Honourable Mention in the 1995 Community Enterprise Awards.

Countryside Awards 1995
The Society has been commended in the 1995 Hampshire Countryside Awards for the work on the towpath through Fleet.

Enjoyment at Potters
One of the customers at Potters Steakhouse obviously enjoyed themselves recently. Upon getting into his car the customer turned left (instead of right) and drove into the canal by way of the slipway. Canal Manager, Tony Harmsworth, had the wet job of removing the car from the canal.

Old Copies of Waterways World
This month we have had two offers of old copies of Waterways World for sale. Please contact either David and Judith Gerry on (01252) 622520 or Dick and Alison Snell on (01428) 712936 for more information.

Diary Dates for the Summer
Mikron Theatre will be performing at the Fox and Hounds, Fleet at 7:30pm on Sunday 23rd June. The 1996 show is 'Still Carrying' and tells the story of their narrowboat Tyseley.

Fleet Carnival will be on Saturday 6th July from 1:00pm onwards at Reading Road Wharf.

For information on both events please call David Millett on (01252) 617364.

Robin Hood
The Sunday Telegraph has likened organisations such as English Nature to the Sherrif of Nottingham and the Society to Robin Hood.

IWA Photographic Competition
The closing date for the IWA's 50th Anniversary photographic cometition has been extended to 31st May 1996. Please send an SAElo: Brian Timms/Ray Carnell, IWA Photo Competition, 114 Regents Park Road, London NW1 8UQ for an application form.

Sponsored Walk
The Society is planning a sponsored walk for the autumn. Watch future editions of the Basingstoke Canal News for more information or contact Edwin Chappell on (01372) 272631.

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Copy date for Next BC News: 15th May 1996

Published by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Ltd., a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered as a Charity. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Society. Executive members of the Committee are shown in bold type and Directors of the Society have an asterisk (') after their name.

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
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: Ron McLaughlin. 94 Guildford Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hampshire GU12 6BT (012520 26722
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: Alec Gosling. 12 Mole Road, Hersham, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. KT12 4LV (01932) 224950
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: David Junkison. 4 Thames Meadow, West Molesley, Surrey, KT146BE (081) 941 0685
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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Last updated April 2005