No. 174 Winter 1996/7
One of the aims of the Canal Authority and the two County Councils (Surrey and Hampshire) is to turn the canal and the land they own into a linear park. The Society's Committee believes that it should be a navigation first and foremost but agrees that there should be easy access for all to the towpath. To this end Deepcut is regarded by most people as one of the most beauttful parts of the canal but regrettably there is little vehicular access for 'out of town' visitors to walk the Deepcut flight of locks.
Access to Deepcut is most easily gained from Lock 15 at Pirbright and there was always parking available around the lock cottage there; albeit there was a stonemason working adjacent to the lock. However at weekends parking was usually easy. Some time ago Surrey County Council bought the cottage at Lock 15 when it became available and also bought the land adjacent to the cottage which was used by the stonemason. Plently of parking was available but recently someone has erected barriers which sensibly preclude parking at the edge of the lock but these barriers also precude parking in the old stonemasons yard save for spaces for three cars. On a recent walk in the area it was noted that two of the car park spaces were occupied, one by a BCA vehicle and the other by a non-marked car; hopefully a visitor to the canal. So there was, on a Sunday afternoon, just one car parking space for anyone who wished to walk Deepcut. Yes there is parking available in Brookwood at the local Station and yes it is free on a Sunday but who knows that parking is available there ? The only other parking that is readily available for Deepcut access is some distance from the canal adjacent to Lock 22. So come on BCA, make the canal truly available to all who wish to visit it and enlarge the car park at Pirbright for those who may wish to enjoy the beauty of our canal. Car parking, in these days of almost total reliance on the automobile, is important if we are to play our part in getting people out and about to enjoy walking our towpaths; or could it be that someone is trying to limit the number of people disturbing the wildlife - perish the thought.
With the kind of winter weather we have been having of late, with the canal frozen from bank to bank for long stretches, it is sad to see so much flotsam and jetsam thrown (not only by small boys) on to the waterway. These items will in their turn impede boats navigating the canal in the warmer weather and may damage locks and cause additional expense to
the Canal Authority and loss of water at a time when we
are endeavouring to retain as much as possible. People (including, we understand, a senior member of the Canal Authority staff) have also been seen in this weather attempting to walk, cycle and play football on the ice and unwisely encouraging their pets on to ice as well. With enough tragic deaths from this foolhardy behaviour elsewhere in the country one wonders if it is time to have signs advising visitors of the dangers of the canal in all seasons but especially when covered with ice. We should not live other people's lives for them but perhaps a few strategically placed signs may avoid a possible tragedy. The Police in Woking advise that they have no powers to ban people from being on the ice (for whatever reason); all they can do is advise people behaving in such a way of the possible consequences of their behaviour. So come on Surrey and Hampshire County Councils please contribute towards water safety and put up signs at strategic places advising users of the canal of all the dangers associated with water; you won't stop people doing what they want but you will have morally fulfilled an obligation. There may not be a danger at the height of the freeze but with the slow thaw predicted the danger is only just around the corner.
A new Postman is required for the
Camberley area. This is not an
onerous task and supports the Society
If you can help please contact
Janet or George Hedger on
|Woking Winter Talks||6|
|Working Party Notes||7|
|Celebration in style||10|
|30 years on||13|
|Basingstoke Badgers under threat||14|
Just to remind you how cold and icy it really was over the Christman period
Photo - Dieter Jebens
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As I write this it is December and another year is drawing to a close; a time for reflection and a time to look forward to 1997.
The Bridge Barn event held over the May Bank Holiday was our first two day event of the year, it was well attended on the Saturday but rain and overcast conditions on Sunday reduced attendance. Visiting boats set new records for attendance with promises for a return next year.
In conjunction with the IWA we supported their Golden Jubilee Jigsaw Cruise, Victoria M carried the Basingstoke Canal jigsaw piece from Odiham to Woking, leaving Colt Hill on the Bank Holiday Saturday morning after a Civic presentation by the Chairman of Hart District Council, arriving at Bridge Barn on Sunday. A handover ceremony at Bridge Barn by the Mayor of Woking passed the jigsaw piece on to Hazelnut for its journey to Reading.
As predicted water shortages resulted in the locks being closed in mid June in order to conserve water on the summit pound and water levels did not recover until November, after the scheduled closure of Guildford Road Bridge (Kings Head) at Frimley.
The Canal Authority has arranged moorings for boats unable to return to their home base due to the bridge closure. The knock on effect is that the canal has been closed to through navigation from June to December with the bridge closure scheduled until Easter 1997.
We must support and encourage water supply initatives.
The sponsored walk in association with the IWA (IWALK) was a disappointment to the organisers and myself. The numbers of walkers was extremely low, was this due to apathy amongst members ? or perhaps the result of most waterways organising walks on the same day ? - I don't know. Given sufficient indicated support we intend to organise a 1997 walk, the organisers have enclosed details with this newsletter with a return slip. No response - no walk - reduced fundraising for water supplies. It's up to you, we need your support, without water there is no canal.
Other activities for 1997 are Bridge Barn, Fleet Carnival, the IWA National Rally at Henley where we will be supporting IWA Guildford and Reading Branch in running a boat jumble; profits to the Basingstoke Canal Water Supply Fund.
In September the Fox and Hounds Rally will be held on the same weekend as the visit from members of the Canal D'Orleans; our French visitors will be able to see the Basingstoke and cruise some of its length.
On water supply issues it is possible that the Bourley Hill reservoir supplies will be retained by the MoD, an alternative borehole supply may be possible and
investigations are proceeding. Funding of up to 80% may be available from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a feasibilty study and will be included in the application which will be submitted in January 1997.
In closing may I wish you all a very happy Christmas and best wishes for 1997.
And please don't forget the Annual General Meeting in the Mytchett Community Centre 26th April 1997 at 6:30pm.
trip to the River Wey
Friday / Saturday / Sunday / Monday
2nd / 3rd / 4th / 5th May 1997
Join the John Pinkerton to see the early spring flowers and woodlands.
Travel on any day, or combination of days, you wish and enjoy the delights of the Basingstoke Canal
Day 1 Odiham - Brookwood
Day 2 Brookwood - River Wey
Day 3 River Wey to Brookwood
Day 4 Brookwood to Odiham
1 day £28:00
2 Days (one way) £48:00
All four days £80:00
(inclusive of lunch, morning and afternoon tea)
Please contact Ann Bird on (01252) 622758 for more information
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Swans need plenty of aquatic and waterside vegetation. Surface duckweed is particularly enjoyed by tiny cygnets whilst adults, when upended, are able to reach about a [yard] under the water to find a greater variety of food. Grassy banks provide additional food and resting places.
Mute swans may look for a mate from about two years old but, although in the first year together they will probably build a nest and may even mate, they are unlikely to breed. Once paired they will remain together until either one dies or they cease to breed. A new nest will take up to two weeks of constant work, the male, or cob, collecting and the female, or pen, painstakingly arranging the materials. She will make a shallow dip in the centre and line this with soft materials and breast feathers. The nest is repaired and improved each year and can become more than a [yard] wide and 3/4 [yards] high.
From February until early May swans can be seen following their ritual of mating. First they swim close together turning their heads and entwining their necks whilst occasionally dipping their heads in the water. The male then mounts the female's back holding onto her neck feathers with his beak and mating takes place. After mating they turn to each other and rise out of the water paddling with their feet before swimming together and preening for some time. They often mate a number of times before egg laying begins in April or May. The eggs are laid individually on alternate days until a clutch of 5 to 7 bluish-grey eggs is completed. During egg laying the female will go off to feed and preen but after the clutch is completed and incubation begins she rarely leaves the nest. If she does the male will sit on the eggs. The eggs are turned regularly to keep an even temperature during the 34 to 36 days they take to hatch.
The cygnets break out of the eggs using an egg tooth taking up to two days to break out and are then brooded until the down dries and kept warm. At first the babies survive on nutrients from the yolk sac but later the parents will help them to find food and will tear up vegetation for them. By the fifth day they spend most of their time in the water feeding or resting on grassy banks, returning to the nest every night for the first month. The initial pale grey and silver colour gradually darkens to brown as
their wings start to develop until at about four months they can fly. The plumage continues to change until by the end of the second year they have hardly any brown feathers. Adults moult once a year towards the end of summer and as they can be very vulnerable at this time being unable to fly, the pen moults first followed by the cob ensuring there is always protection for the family.
Although some cygnets may leave in the autumn many often stay until the end of winter when they are chased away by the parents. Juvenile swans congregate in non breeding flocks such as those at
Hampton. When old enough they may
find a mate and fly off to find a territory of up to two miles which they protect aggressively. They can fly at an average of about 30 miles an hour, the feet being used as a brake when landing on water. Adults need about 8lbs of wet food each day which can be a problem for the swans in winter when natural food declines. Most of the daylight hours are then spent looking for food and preening to ensure good waterproofing and insulation. We can help by supplying extra food such as cereals, bread, lettuce and willow leaves which contain aspirin and help with the winter aches and pains. Swans should only be fed in their natural surroundings, never in car parks which can lead to fatalities.
Unfortunately swans suffer from both natural and human hazards which can maim or kill. Natural hazards include parasitic infections; botulism, leading to
paralysis and respiratory problems, occurring mainly in August after hot dry weather; flying accidentally into pylons and bridges or crashing mistakenly on wet roads and railways; attacks by predators such as foxes or pike which take baby cygnets and territorial fighting. These we can do little to prevent although the Swan Sanctuary at Egham is sometimes able to alleviate the damage caused.
Injury caused by humans can and should be prevented. Although legislation to limit the use of lead weights in fishing was introduced in 1987 swans are still suffering. In their search for the grit which aids digestion they often stir up old lead which is highly poisonous. Fishing hooks abandoned when lines break can cause severe injury when swallowed whilst line can become entangled and cut into the body
impeding circulation and even causing paralysis. Fishing tackle misuse is happily not seen as a major problem on our canal although damage to smaller birds is sometimes caused by disposal of waste line in litter bins as they fly in seeking food and become enmeshed. Occasional swan problems are either dealt with by the rangers or, if necessary, the swan rescue agencies are called.
Oil, diesel and chemical pollution remain a problem particularly on the Thames where eighty swans at Hampton were recently oiled. Oil adheres to the feathers and causes loss of waterproofing leading to poor buoyancy and hypothermia as well as skin and digestive troubles. As diesel oil does not colour the feathers injury is often not noticeable until quite advanced. Problems of this nature are rare on the Basingstoke as all users and riparian owners are well aware of its special nature. Swans generally adapt well to the increase in activity on and around waterways in the summer unless it is excessive when the stirring up of river beds can affect the growth of the underwater plants they enjoy. However litter left behind on towpaths which is not biodegradable can cause entrapment and injury.
Most horrific are the reports from the sanctuary of sheer vandalism, injuries from sling shot, arrows and bricks being frequently recorded. We all need to be vigilant in protecting our local swans from such abuse. It is pleasing to know that the pair of swans resident on the pound between Brookwood and Deepcut were originally rescued by Swan Lifeline and brought to the canal for safety. Along with the other pairs of swans on the canal they are an important part of our wildlife. We must continue to care for them.
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PEOPLEWATCH - TONY HARMSWORTH
Tony Harmsworth's association with the Basingstoke Canal has been lifelong.
Tony Harmsworth - Photo Dieter Jebens
Born into the family who owned the canal it was part of his life from early childhood. The weekly Saturday morning ride on the crossbar of his father's bicycle from Ash Vale to Woodham to pay the lengthsmen is an early memory. After the family sold the canal Tony's involvement in waterway activity continued as his uncle was running barges on the Wey, the trade being shared with the Stevens who were family friends. When the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society was formed in 1966 he became a founder member and soon joined the committee. His leisure time was spent in the early unofficial efforts to prevent further deterioration of the canal whilst working for the RAEas a mode! maker and toolmaker. 1976 brought a crossroads in his career and fortuitously a vacancy arose fora Senior Ranger on the Hampshire section which had by then been purchased by the County Council. The work supplemented and assisted the Canal Society's activities of dredging and bank work, including establishing silt dumps in farmer's fields, building retaining walls and later dry dredging using the Hymac. Tony's work on the canal continued through to the reopening and the changes establishing the BCA until in 1994 he became Waterway Manager. This long association with the canal has left him with an overriding aim; that is to ensure that the canal survives into the next century and that no planning decisions are made which could hasten its early demise.
The role of Waterway Manager is one of great variety and no day is typical but, unless there have been phone calls reporting problems during the night, the day normally begins in the office receiving reports from rangers and dealing with the incoming mail. The next two or three hours are usually spent out and around the canal. Tony tries to visit some rangers every day to discuss work in hand and problems arising and during
the autumn and winter when lock gate work is being undertaken he will also visit the workshop. Technical problems with the pumping stations take a considerable amount of time whilst design work for such things as culverts and lock gates is an important part of the job. Sometimes a whole day will be spent on a particular task such as the recent investigation into the cause of leakage around the head of Lock 21. Although Tony's greatest pleasure in his work comes from dealing with
the engineering aspects and working on
the canal itself, up to fifty percent of his time is spent on the less rewarding but necessary administrative aspects of running the canal including phone calls, correspondence, meetings and planning. Although not involved on a day to day basis in the organisation of the centre he sometimes gives specialist talks on history and engineering which he enjoys. A new aspect of his work is the introduction of foreign hardwoods for balance beams which has involved liaison with a Dutch company which has expertise in the use of such woods.
Asked about the most difficult part of his job Tony bemoaned the politics of it. He feels that whatever action is taken is applauded by someone and decried by someone else. He can never please everyone since groups and individuals are likely to see things from only the viewpoint of their particular interest.
There are however compensations. A major pleasure over the years has been in seeing the canal returning from the dead, although it has never been able to fulfil everyone's ideals. Great satisfaction in his short time as Waterway Manager has been the completion of the aqueduct which, although it has involved an enormous amount of management time, was completed successfully owing to the good working relationships developed with the excellent main contractor and the county site engineers.
Tony sees the canal's continuing success dependent on overcoming the water supply problem and considers the answer to lie in a comprehensive back pumping system along the length of the canal which would require a massive amount of investment, not only for the initial work but also for the upkeep which cannot be met by the county and local council grants. Asked what he would most hope to achieve in the next two years he expressed a desire to find a means of increasing the income from the canal without which it will not survive and to achieve a successful lottery bid to enable a start to be made on back pumping on the Woodham Flight. A successful system to enable boats to reach Woking at all times would help to generate income by attracting visiting boats and encouraging development close to the canal. Over the next five years he would hope to make progress on a scheme to install a complete back pumping system which could only be achieved by successful lottery bids. Having been associated with the canal over such a period has encouraged Tony to take a long view of things. He firmly believes that short termism is no good and that the best materials should be used in order to make sure it lasts and avoid a legacy of expenditure. Do well what you can afford is his motto.
Tony still gains great pleasure from just being along the canal, his favourite stretch being the area between Lock 28 and Curzon Bridge. He prefers the Springtime when the canal is so pretty, the weeds haven't grown and the plentiful supply of water brings visitors from other canals which makes the canal come alive. His greatest wish as Waterway Manager is that past recriminations should be forgotten and that everyone should work together in harmony for the common cause.
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1997 Woking Talks
The Woking talks will continue in 1997 with talks on the second Tuesday of the month. The following is a list of what Arthur has in store for you for the remainder of this winter:
February (Tuesday 11th)
The Old Palace Site - Old Woking Stream with Steve Dyer
March (Tuesday 11th)
Holidays Afloat for the Disabled - David Gerry
April (Tuesday 8th)
Escape to Canada - A video presentation with David Freeman
The main thrust of our volunteer work parties has been on towpath improvement works from the Fox and Hounds in Fleet to Crookham Wharf. A partnership between Hart District Council, the BCA and the Society has resurfaced the towpath with some 500 tons of material; Hart DC sponsored materials and mechanical equipment, The Society provided the tug and labour and the BCA provided the barges.
The majority of the material was double handled as delivery by road was not possible west of the Coalpens. Work was required on the tug and was completed the weekend before work began and the trials were conducted as the barges were collected from Winchfield.
Three barges were used to tranship the stone from the Coalpens to the swing bridge and later to Poulters Bridge. Materials were then reloaded into dumpers for transportation along the towpath.
With the winter season now in full swing off-bank clearance work is in progress on two Sundays per month and provision of access covers on the top paddle culverts has been resumed working upstream from Woodham.
The western end has received some attention in the form of bankside trimming using the BCA tractor and miniflatl which was loaned for two weekends and enabled good progress to be made.
Other works later in the season will include the construction of a mooring for the John Pinkerton and Madam Butterfly at Colthill. This is subject to a formal agreement being acceptable to all parties involved.
The Society has managed to achieve a varied programme of work to maintain the interest and support of our volunteers who turn out in rain and sunshine working with a will. The Society and in particular the Chairman wishes to express their thanks for the unfailing support of the volunteers and their families.
Work Party dates for 1997
Work Party Leaders
Dave Junkison - DJ
Dave Lunn - DL
Peter Jackman - PJ
Peter Redway - PR
|19 January||PJ||Offbank clearance Hermitage or Brookwood|
|25/26 January||PR||Western End|
|2 February||PJ||Offbank clearance Hermitage or Brookwood|
|8/9 February||DJ/DL||Deepcut Locks|
|16 February||PJ||Offbank clearance Hermitage or Brookwood|
|22/23 February||PR||Western End or Odiham|
|2 March||PJ||Offbank clearance Brookwood|
|8/9 March||DJ/DL||Deepcut Locks or Odiham|
|15/16 March||PJ||Offbank clearance Brookwood|
|22/23 March||PR||Western End or Odiham|
If you would like to join a work party or find out more about them please give Peter Redway a call on (01483) 721710. Not only will you have the chance to work outside in some bracing weather with good company but the Society also can arrange specific training for you.
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Most of us have difficulty in distinguishing between Hipparus Vulgaris and Nymphoides Peltata but I am sure that many of your readers will have noticed the deliberate mistake on the cover of the Autumn edition of Basingstoke Canal News - the aircraft is not an An 124 but an Ilyushin 76. In any event, it's an excellent picture and Dieter Jebens is to be congratulated on his beautifully composed shot which set the scene for a very enjoyable edition of the'News'.
In response to Maurice Hewins' letter regarding the Greywell Tunnel in the Autumn issue of Basingstoke Canal News, I, and many others I am sure, have been waiting far too long for the restoration of the Greywell Tunnel.
The collapse of the Greywell Tunnel has always been a psychological barrier separating one end of the canal from the other. If it were to be removed it would encourage canal restoration activity towards Basingstoke, which I for one support.
Let us not forget some of the potential benefits to be gained from opening the tunnel, namely;
a) - the extra number of tourists visiting and wanting to see the second
tunnel in the south of England and the unique bat habitat.
b) - the political and financial support which would be forthcoming from the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council in an enlarged Basingstoke Canal extended westwards.
I hesitated in replying to to Mr John Gagg's intemperate letter In your last issue because the contrast in tone between his and Mr Hewitt's makes my point for me as does your frontispiece (though the inset should have been a glider) but perhaps it is worth saying that the Basingstoke Canal has never been used for its original purpose (to exchange sand for chalk in the hope of improving agricultural yields) and that motor boats had not been invented when it was constructed. I am all for canoeing, punting etc and even the use of horse drawn barges. Odiham castle - on the
canal bank - was built as a military installation, but were its ruins to be restored for use as a barracks I am fairly sure that even Mr Gagg would protest. Time passes; uses change; but our need for peace and beauty remains. Surely the value of leisure time is to enable us to escape from the noise, stink and vibration generated by the all pervasive internal combustion engine. Mr Gagg should work off his spleen with some healthy exercise in a canoe.
John A Davies
The John Pinkerton has had a difficult year with more than its fair share of mechanical problems which were manfully attended to by Ron McLaughlin and Bill Homewood.
Results from operating at Fleet (Reading Road) over the Bank Holidays were disappointing and the boat company is not sure if this was due to the weather or to perhaps having operated out of Fleet for too long. We will therefore operate from Ash Wharf over Easter, from Colt Hill Odiham over the late May Bank Holiday and again over the August Bank Holiday. During the early May Bank Holiday the John Pinkerton will once again make a trip to the River Wey and back. Please contact Ann Bird on (01252) 622758 to book a place and avoid disappointment. Details are in the advertisement on page 3.
The trip is a unique chance to cruise the whole canal in springtime through unspoilt woodlands, the rural Hampshire length, Ash Embankment (above the Blackwater River), the aqueduct, the lakes and flashes of Ash and the woodland setting of the Deepcut flight together with the attractive St John's and Woodham flights of locks.
This year we will be operating special trips in conjunction with the Watercress Line for parties of up to 50 people. You can enjoy a leisurely 2-1/2 hour trip on the John Pinkerton in the morning departing at 10:30am (weekdays) and 11:00am (weekends). After lunch, which can be provided (or you can bring your own) travel by your own transport to Alresford for a steam train trip on the Watercress Line in the afternoon, departing at 2:25pm (weekdays) and 3:00pm (weekends). The John Pinkerton charter fee is £90 (June, July, August) and £75 (other months). A special discounted train fare of £6:40 per adult (£4:70 for senior citizens) is available. For more details please call (01 962) 733810.
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Members will recall that in November 1995 the full Council of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council decided to go ahead with a scheme for a new basin in the Town Centre and a canal link to a new terminus at Old Basing plus a footpath to the canal at Penny Bridge.
Subsequently the Council submitted an application to the Millennium Lottery Fund for £5-1/2m; 50% of the cost of the proposed project. Unfortunately the application was turned down in spite of the scheme meeting the criteria as it was not as distinctive as other applications. Other reasons were that an Order under the Transport and Works Act 1992 would have been required for the construction to take place and the Millennium Commission could not be sure this would be granted for up to two years, thus creating uncertainty in the award of funds. We also suspect that many residents of Old Basing who opposed the scheme, including the Parish Council, wrote direct to the Commission and their objections were taken into account. The Commission's criteria included the proviso that the local population should be in favour, and whilst the majority of the population of the Borough were, some of the residents of Old Basing were not and this didn't help the scheme. In spite of the fact that Basingstoke had committed itself to fund 50% of the project costs and had the support of the County Council, the proposals are now dead.
The vision of Councillor Keith Chapman, supported by the Council in spending approximately £300,000 preparatory studies and other work has finally come to nothing. However, full marks for trying. Members will recall the idea first came to our attention at the Pondtail Perseverance dredging paying off ceremony in April 1993 when Councillor Chapman announced that he had a dream of seeing the canal restored back to the original terminus
At the time most of us thought it was just a pipedream, with obstacles such as the M3 to overcome, but when he put the idea to the Council, and received their full support, the Society was also in full support and served on the Council's steering group to oversee the proposals. We understand that Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, working with the town centre developer may create a parkland link between the town centre and Eastrop Park. This may be water based. In any event some form of interpretation and display panels will be included in the new town centre on the site of the original canal terminus to record the history of the canal and its association with Basingstoke's history.
Spreading the Word
On a very wet morning in October a small group lead by canal ranger Peter Munt explored the area between Deepcut Bridge and Curson Bridge. Most of those present had no previous knowledge of the canal. During the walk features of the canal such as water inlets, locks, runs offs etc were pointed out as well as topographical features such as the steps created by the navvies digging out the cutting and remains of army training bunkers. The management of the canal was described including explanation of the reasons for the cutting back of trees and plans for the towpath resurfacing. A visit to the lock gate workshop in the old swimming pool gave opportunity for discussion of the need to renew lock gates installed during initial restoration. Visitors were able to see the new machinery which will
reduce time spent on chiselling whilst in the lock garden the remains of the old sawpit showed the difficulties faced by the original lock gate builders.
The working of the dry dock was explained and the group were able to see the work being done to a 1940's all wood tug. Peter also talked about measures to increase wildlife such as cutting back the trees to encourage
growth of bankside vegetation and
leaving top branches behind remaining trees to encourage new habitats. Two kingfishers were seen flying away from the island created by dredgings in the flash between the locks, their high pitched squeal being very evident in the stillness whilst above the locks mandarin ducks blended with the autumn leaves. Although not seen on this wet morning the group heard about the activities of foxes, badgers,
owls, bats and rabbits along the Deepcut. Examination of Peter's bottle collection lead to a discussion of the problems besetting dredging work in the form of restriction on dredging sites necessitating the costly removal of dredgings. During the second part of the walk the group heard about the need for continuing funding if the canal is to survive and the constraints resulting from reduction in payments from local councils. I am sure all present will become ambassadors for the canal and in the future the dissemination of such information to a wider audience may be crucial in ensuring the continuance of financial support as the county and local councils find themselves with difficult choices to make. Whilst in general it is desirable that, with so much work to be done, rangers time should be spent on the structure of the canal this was time well spent.
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Friday 28th October saw many members of the society scurrying through the unaccustomed rain carrying bags of
celebratory hooch towards the Brookwood Memorial Hall, venue of the first ever Canal Society Meeting 30 years
ago. Yes they were attending the Society's birthday party, and what a sight met their eyes - a long table groaning
under huge volumes of the most delectable goodies to whet the appetite and a throng of closely packed tables
soon to be filled to capacity by the host of members keen to join the celebration. The sales stand beckoned with
items for the
reminded us of
the passage of
time. It was
to be a good
Our Chairman Peter Redway spoke of the early years of the Society and of both the part played by the many volunteers in
working towards the reopening of the canal and that played by the two county councils. Looking towards the future he emphasised the twin needs of the provision of sufficient water and adequate dredging sites in order to achieve the Society's ultimate aim of year round navigation. To this end continuing fund raising would be essential.
The previous Chairman of the Society David Millet was awarded a life Vice-Presidency of the Society in recogni≠tion of over 21 years service to the Society.
After supper, which proved to be as delicious as it looked, we were treated to a humorous and enlightening demonstration of painting by Terry Harrison well renowned for his wonderful pictures of the canal. It was marvellous to see how he built up the picture using mainly sponge techniques. The picture was later raffled and appropriately won by Farnborough member Dawn Howes. Dawn frequently joins the John Pinkerton for members evenings, and so really appreciated having her very own original picture.
||Dawn Howes receiving her painting from Tony Harrison|
Photo Dieter Jebens
As the evening drew to a close members were able to reminisce together and talk of the future. It was a really great evening and I am sure all present would like to join me in saying thankyou to the committee, not only for the effort put into the organisation of such a wonderful evening but also for their continuing work on our behalf. For those of you who were unable to join us on this occasion we look forward to seeing you for the 40th Anniversary !
The November talk was presented by Richard Thomas ex officio member of the crew of Thames Tug General X111. Whilst showing slides taken of a journey from Beckton, up river to Wandsworth to collect London's refuse and down again to the landfill site at Mucking on the Essex marshes, Richard talked engagingly of life on the tug and the seamanship displayed. His excellent slides of the river, the Thameside buildings and bridges were accompanied by many amusing anecdotes about the history of the river and the people who use it. The extended question session showed just how interesting it had all been and we are grateful to Arthur for his work in arranging these evenings. Members who have not yet been along to the Woking meetings will be made very welcome. Do come along for a convivial evening in warm and comfortable surroundings.
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1997 Annual General Meeting
NOTICE is hereby given that the TWENTIETH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the SURREY AND HAMPSHIRE CANAL SOCIETY will be held at the Mytchett Community Centre, Mytchett Road, Mytchett, Surrey on Saturday 26m April 1997 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 always needs new blood and 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 a willing person.
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 28th February 1997.
Hon. Secretary, Philip Riley, Wincombe Cottage, Broad Oak, Odiham, Hampshire, RG25 1AH
Member in the 1960s, contributed to the IWA's confidential report on the Basingstoke Canal submitted to Hampshire and Surrey County Councils in July 1965. The report formed the basis of 'Basingstoke Canal: the Case for Restoration' published in 1968. The IWA report put the cost of lock repairs at £17,000 and £25,000 for dredging (equally shared between Surrey and Hampshire). The report expressly did not address the issue of future ownership but did suggest setting up a Commission to manage the canal and a 'supporters club' with Trust status to raise funds and provide voluntary input. Although the report did not specifically propose public ownership it did suggest that representatives of Surrey and Hampshire County Councils should be on the Commissions board together with representation from a Trust, IWA and Thames Conservancy (River Authority).
A presentation was made to Ron Kettle (licencee of the Fox and Hounds) recently on the occasion of the Basingstoke Canal Boating Club's 10th anniversary. Pictured with Ron is the artist, Liz Cooper, a professional artist whose sketches appear in the BCBC's newsletter. Liz's husband, David, an IWA Council
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Due to a misunderstanding this 'commercial' did not appear in the last edition when the 200 Club membership forms were distributed. So here's the update.
The 200 Club paid another £1,000 to the Society in 1996. Since it started it's been able to do this every eighteen months or so. It would be even better if we could make this level of payment annually but to do so we need to increase the membership to at least 170 (in 1996 we averaged 120).
Granted we don't pay out National Lottery style jackpots but the chances of winning a useful prize every two months are pretty good. Half the money raised goes into the prize fund and half to the Society. If you haven't already done so - and my warmest thanks to those who signed up for 1997 - why not do the Society and yourself some good and take out a membership - or even several - for this year ? It's NOT too late particularly if you pay by cheque rather than instalments which some banks seem to have trouble in sorting out.
The cost is £12 per subscription and membership forms - if you have mislaid your original - can be obtained from Derek Truman, Compton Cottage, 11 Connaught Road, Fleet, Hants, GU13 9RA (01252) 613435. An SAE would be appreciated and please return the form direct to me, not to the bank if you are completing a standing order form. It takes ages to find out who originates the mysterious entries which suddenly appear on the club's bank statements I (Alternatively send me a brief letter with a cheque).
And of course you want to know who won in 1996:
|Mr HAG Morgan - Fleet||£58||Mr Mrs P Redway - St Johns||£58|
|Mrs A Terry - Woking||£29||MrJP Michaelis - Woodham||£29|
|Mrs J Green - Chichester||£15||Mr AH Palmer - S'hampton||£29|
|Mr G Owen - Eastleigh||£15||Miss LM Neville - B'hstead||£16|
|Mr & Mrs D Lloyd-Langston - Farnham||£58||Mr JWE Howes - F'borough||£58|
|Mr RM Adams - Cove||£28||Mr& Mrs JTLyddon - Woking||£28|
|Mr A Standfast - Epping||£16||Mr JP Michaelis - Woodham||£16|
|Miss J Barnicott - Camberley||£16||Mr WF Herbert - V Water||£16|
|Ms D Barnard - Seascale||£58||Mr & Mrs M Marchant - Woking||£58|
|Miss J Fowler - Winchester||£28||Dr IG Moore - Woking||£28|
|Mr DW Paine - Fleet||£16||Miss GL Miller - F'borough||£16|
|Mr M Fry - Guildford||£16||Mr & Mrs H Reed - F'borough||£16|
Crookham Village Parish Council
Dear Mr Redway
My council has been informed that the Canal Society were the principal party involved in restoration of the towpath at Malthouse Bridge.
This had been the cause of a considerable amount of correspondence to the Canal Authority because of the condition it got into after rain - it was almost impassable.
I am sure you can imagine the delight of my Council and towpath walkers when this particular stretch was restored and I cannot express too strongly the gratitude and thanks of my Members to you and your volunteers for a job so very well done. Where would we be without volunteers ?
Thank you all so very much - you will be remembered every time the towpath is walked this winter.
Clerk of the Council
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David Millett, a committee member for 21 years, a previous Chairman and recently appointed Vice-President looks back over 30 years.
Thirty years ago, a group of nine people met at the Brookwood home of Jim Woolgar. They formed the steering committee of what became known as the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society.
60 people attended the first general meeting at Brookwood Memorial Hall on 18th November, this hall was the venue for the recent 30th Anniversary Celebration Party.
The first newsletter was published in January 1967. It was reported that seventy five people had joined the Society and the then owners of the canal, the New Basingstoke Canal Company, had been approached for permission to work on the derelict waterway.
But the request was never granted. In July 1967 the owner's 'Bold Plan for Canal's Future' - as one local paper put it - was published, and so the Society's future campaigning role emerged.
A successful conclusion of our fight for public ownership was never assured. The Commitlee faced many setbacks when it seemed the goal might never be reached. In the end victory was an amalgam of hard work and determination, circumstances and widespread support from the community at large.
The Society acknowledged the support of local and County Councillors. Men of vision such as the late David Pumfrett of Hampshire County Council and the late Sir Howard Roberts of Surrey County Council. Though they had to be impartial, their interest and enthusiasm encouraged the Society to continue the battle. Local organisations like the Fleet and Crookham Amenity Society and residents associations; Members of Parliament such as the late Sir Eric Errington and Mr (now Sir) Cranley
Onslow; the IWA and thousands of
individuals helped win the day. Circumstances also played a part. At a national level, the Government's 1967 White Paper on Recreation and Waterways spelt out the
tremendous amenity value of our waterways. Locally it became increasingly obvious that without proper maintenance of the increasingly derelict canal, the safety of the canal was at risk.
But, most of all, the battle to save the Basingstoke Canal was fought and won through the dedication, determination and sheer hard work of Society members. Thousands of hours were devoted to recruiting members, raising funds, compiling reports, issuing Press releases, meeting officials lecturing to other societies etc.etc.....................
Thirty years on, the rest, as they say, is history. But the Society still needs new members, needs to organise fund raising and keep the canal in the public eye. Even though the canal is restored and operational (at times) it still has many problems to resolve, not least that of the desperate shortage of water. When the restored canal was re-opened in 1991, it still wasn't fully complete as the last few years have shown.
There will always be a need for improvements, continuing maintenance and dredging if the canal is to achieve its potential as an essential navigational and recreational amenity for this increasingly built up area.
The canal needs an active, voluntary Society to support the Canal Authority, and the Joint Management Committee, but to act independently, on occasions, when the need arises, as guardians of the canal.
Those members who were active as volunteers during the seventies and eighties are, in most cases, becoming more mature in age, and it is essential to recruit younger members of the public and their families to join the Society to help ensure its long term future.
Founder member Les Harris, exercising the right to navigate the canal in 1967|
Photo - Dick Snell
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BASINGSTOKE BADGERS UNDER THREAT
Leaving Fleet and heading westward along the canal, Malthouse cutting at Crookham might be described as the gateway to rural Hampshire. It marks the start of a rich tapestry of arable land, pastures, ancient woodlands, coppices and the magnificent Dogmersfield parkland, with only a handful of properties to be seen all the way to Odiham.
One senses that wildlife still reigns
supreme. For more than a 100
years badger setts have been a
feature on both sides of Malthouse
cutting. Badgers resident on the
non-towpath slopes once had acres
of Velmead and Freelands farmland and hedgerows to forage for
their varied diet including beetles,
snails, mice, snakes, lizards,
rabbits and birds. If he was lucky
Mr Brock enjoyed nothing more
than a nest of pheasant eggs and -
given the chance - mother for his
The Thatcher government's green field development policy transformed the badgers rich, natural hunting ground to a landscape of bricks and mortar, tarmac, suburban lawns and neat herbaceous borders. Admittedly the area is still a source of sustenance for the badger population, but their excavations are less than welcomed by proud, urban gardeners.
Now Mr Brock's feeding ground is to be further eroded with the development of scrub and woodland at the back of Tall Pines nursing home off Gally Hill Road. One might have thought this land could have been preserved as a natural amenity for wildlife and human communities alike. But the Local Plan, not
logic, is the watchword of local government officers.
Crookham Village Parish Council did its best to head off the development but failed to persuade Hart planners that there were a number of loopholes in the Development Brief.
Hart District Council, having long ago conceded to the farmland development of 800 or more homes, had, it seemed, passed the point of arguing over a few more properties on a site that was already a lost cause.
Disappointingly, the Canal Society took an ambivalent stance in stating that it had 'no objection in principal to the development but careful consideration was required for the badgers environment. ..' A contradictory statement to say the least.
The County Surveyor was no help to the badgers either, being preoccupied with the increased traffic resulting from Hampshire's pressure on Hart Council to build more houses and clog local roads. But wait, help was at hand. Surely English Nature (EN) would speak up for the badger population ? Well, yes, in a sort of way. They expressed 'concern at proposals to permit the badgers to cross Gally Hill Road and reduce the likelihood of road accidents'. Who has given the badgers permission to cross the road was not made clear but if we build houses on their feeding ground it is fair to assume that they will go hunting elsewhere. Not that there is a lot of undeveloped land on the other side of Gally Hill Road but perhaps word has got round that the Fox & Hounds does a good pie and a pint.
As the bright young things at EN so
rightly pointed out, there is no way under Malthouse Bridge on the non-towpath side and, it seems, badger reflectors have not proved very effective partly because they have to be kept clean which 'would be impractical' for council workers to do. So the EN whizz kids came up with the solution: contrasting coloured road surfaces, rumble strips and badger road cross signs. Ingenious, eh ?
It was left to the East Hants Badger
Group to point out that the development site 'is an important foraging
area' and suggested reducing the
scale of the development to minimise the loss of feeding ground.
The group emphasised the value of
the existing deciduous woodland
providing invertebrate food throughout the year. It, too, had its own
ideas for badgers to cross Gally Hill
Road safely by means of a tunnel
or a badger cill along Malthouse
Enough said. It was agreed that an 'acceptable balance' had been reached whereby the area around the badger setts will be retained with adequate access to foraging corridors. Sounds a bit like a prison exercise yard. But, always looking on the bright side, there was even a 'direct benefit' from the development in making Gally Hill Road safer for badgers to cross. Surprisingly, no mention was made of the additional bonus the housing estate will bring to the badgers attracted by the aroma of discarded pizzas, Indian takeaways and fish suppers and whatever else finds its way into wheelie bins - must beat black beetles any day.
Another Bitter Winter
In 1813 the Chairman of the canal company reported that the canal had been completely frozen for several weeks and that the fall of snow had been 'unexampled for quantity'. This necessitated the employment of additional labourers to 'clear the drains, unload the banks, open the mouths of culverts and lower weirs'. As no trade was possible during this time it must have been a hard time for all.
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Fleet Carnival will be held this year between the Fox and Hounds and Reading Road Wharf on Saturday 19th July.
Most of our members will know Andrew Scammell, son of Betty and the late Bert Scammell.
Andrew is a great helper on work parties despite having hearing difficulties. Andrew has recently been awarded a gold pin and certificate by the National Blood Transfusion Service for giving 50 pints of blood since starting at the tender age of 18. Father Bert had given 49 pints before he was unable to give more due to his health.
Millenium Award for Huddersfield Canal
The Millenium Commission has announced a grant of £14.8 million to complete the restoration of the 20 mile Huddersfield Narrow Canal. The canal was officially closed in 1944.
The commission also announced grants of £8.1 million to the Cross River Partnership for building a new bridge across the Thames at Westminster and £1.1 million to the Broads Authority for dredging work on Barton Broad in Norfolk.
Decisions on applications for grants by the Ribble Link Trust and by British Waterways for restoration of the Forth & Clyde and Union canals in Scotland were deferred until January.
11 City Tour
On 4th January the Dutch ran their '11 City Tour' for only the 15th time this century and the first time for 11 years. The event, an ice-skating race, is held on the canals in Friesland, in the north of Holland.
16,000 skaters took part with over 1 million watching and, according to the BBC, the rest of the country watching on television. The event was won by a brussel sprout farmer from Belgium. The event was limited to 16,000 as the organisers advised that that was the limit the 8 inch ice could hold.
The Bridge Barn event will be held on the Saturday and Sunday (24th / 25th) of the late May Bank Holiday. Peter Coxhead has agreed to organise this event again and would be grateful to hear from anyone who could offer assistance (of any kind). Please ring Peter on (01932) 344564 if you think you may be able to help.
Sheerwater has been host to a lady
Moscow recently who expressed her delight at being able to enjoy the beauty of the canal.
The Society now has an Internet E-Mail address which is:
Lodge Copse Bridge
A planning application has been submitted to replace Lodge Copse Bridge (between Colt Hill and Swan Cutting). The Society is keen that the application is approved as it will clear the way for spoil from dredging operations in that area to be spread on local farmland. There has been one objection but the Society has written to every Councillor to support the planning application.
Stop Press: This planning application has just been approved as we go to press. It is hoped that dredging will start in February and continue until the nesting season starts. Dredging will take place
from Colt Hill towards King John's Castle but should not impede on John Pinkerton operations at the start of the summer season. Dredgings from the canal will be spread on adjacent farming land.
A proposal to build a canoe store at Reading Road Wharf has been
The Society has a new address for
Membership matters; it is:
PO Box 74
Surrey KT21 2WA
Fox and Hounds Rally
The Society is to join with the BCBC for the Fox and Hounds Rally in September. The date will coincide with the visit of members of Canal D'Orleans.
Want to go boating once a week ? The Society's trip boat, John Pinkerton, makes a weekly trip (initially from Colt Hill, Odiham (starting after Easter) and from July from Barley Mow, Winchfield) on which all Society members and guests are welcome. Come and learn all about the Society's top fund raiser. Please call Kathryn on (01483) 473630 for more details.
A Bit of History
The Woodham Locks Register for October 2nd 1923 showed that six boats passed up the locks. Five were owned by AJ Harmsworth and carried coal; the sixth, Halford, carried timber and was owned by CW Becket. Another Becket barge, Bell, came down empty. In the whole of October there were 104 lock passages of the Woodham Locks.
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Lottery Grant for K and A|
Members who were able to attend the presentation on the Kennet and Avon Canal at Woking in October heard a very clear account of the reasons for making a lottery bid and will be pleased to know that the bid has been successful and that a £25 million grant from the Heritage Fund will be made towards further restoration.
Home at Last
It was November 9th before the four boats from the Woking pound were able to return to their moorings after their summer cruising although they had been able to get through lock one and moor amongst the house boats a couple of weeks before. Hotel boats Rose and Castle completed the procession of boats up the locks. A number of local people watched and without exception said how
pleased they were to see boats moving. It was a lovely Autumn day and although there was some confusion over times given it was good to see that the leaves had been cleared from the pathways to the gates and even better that the Woking pound was clear of weed - what a difference from last year when it was almost impassable.
A Familar Voice
Visitors from the Basingstoke Canal to the Canal Museum at Foxton will be able
|to use a new 'touch screen' audio-visual presentation on the history of the locks and inclined plane. They will find a familar voice as our talks organiser, Arthur Dungate, has assisted with the voice-over.
Time to be Counted
The Basingstoke Canal is a small but significant part of the national
waterway system. IWA members were told at their Annual General Meeting that without 'realistic funding' the network as we know it today will not survive. Unless adequate government funding is made available the canal system will fall into decline. All who are interested in the future of canals and navigations are asked to write to their MPs stressing the urgency of the need for adequate funding.
One Less Licence
British waterways and the Environmental Agency (formerly the NRA) are to allow boaters licenced with one authority to have 15 days per annum of boating on the other authority's navigations free of charge. This will be of benefit to boaters coming [to] the Basingstoke Canal from British Waterways canals and should make visits more attractive since the need for four separate licences has been a considerable deterrent.
Copy date for Next BC News: 9th March 1997
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 (0181) 737 4896
Talks Organiser: Arthur Dungate. 187 Ellerdine Road, Hounstow, Middlesex, TW3 2PU (0181) 737 4896
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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