No. 181 Spring 1999
I have been banging on for the last six months about the need for more help with running the Society, so I shall not go on at length again. Suffice to say, though, that the need has not gone away and the AGM will be coming up on April 24th. There is already one new name on the back page list of directors, Verna Smith, but we still need more.
Included with this newsletter is a nomination form for the Committee. If you feel you could help, please don't be deterred by the formality of getting two people to propose you - send it in and we will contact you to sort that out.
Edwin Chappell has put together a questionnaire which is being distributed to members. We are looking for your views on the Society, its activities and its future. However, when you fill it in, please remember the words of JFK, and, to paraphrase them, ask not what your Society can do for you, but what you can do for your Society.
I am writing this editorial on March Island by chance have just realised that it is exactly 50 years ago to the day that the canal was auctioned on behalf of the Harmsworth family. Elsewhere in this newsletter is a reprint of a magazine interview with Mrs Joan Marshall which recounts her side of this episode, which of course ended up with her managing the canal. The IWA, who thought she was bidding on their behalf, have a somewhat different version! Who knows what would have happened if the young IWA had become the owner? Could it have coped with the many problems using its volunteer effort, or would it have been dragged down also as the canal fell into dereliction?
After the trials and tribulations of the last half century, it is fitting that for the last few years the canal has again been managed by a Harmsworth. Tony has been a good friend to the Society and certainly helped me when I was chairman of the Boat Company. I remember discussing some of our exploratory trips in the Pinkerton with him; he was always inclined to pessimism about our chances of success, but on the day (usually a Sunday} he was the one who turned out with his little tractor to tow us when we got stuck. He is due to retire in a year or two and will be a hard act to follow. We can only hope that his successor is a genuine canal man and not merely a country park manager. Perhaps we should be doing a bit of preparatory head-hunting ourselves.
This issue of the Newsletter again contains a list of forthcoming events organised by the Canal Centre. I am aware that there are those in the Society who feel that using rangers to take people for walks is a rather frivolous waste of time which should be spent on repairing locks and other work aimed at improving the canal for boats.
This viewpoint may be understandable from those who spent practically ever^spare hour of their time for 25 years on restoring the canal as a navigation. Unfortunately nowadays most of the canal's income comes from ratepayers not boats and I suspect that the BCA is required to take a somewhat broader view of its customer base.
In addition, these walks, etc. play a useful role in introducing people to the canal. The Society does its bit in this respect with the John Pinkerton and events such as that at Bridge Barn but we don't do much else in this line for the general public, so I am happy to publicise these BCA activities. The canal does not have so many resources that we can afford to waste them by bickering amongst ourselves.
Having said this, I do not subscribe to the view that the Society should just be a sort of BCA Supporters Club, raising money to boost their income and doing odd jobs that they can't find time or effort for. We do have our own, legitimate, priorities for the canal and have a perfect right to defend these against other pressure groups and to attempt to incline the canal's management to our point of view.
This will inevitably mean that we clash with the BCA and the County Councils over some issues, but these should be the exception not the rule. In return, I would expect a measure of understanding of the Society's commitment to the canal, even if it is to a degree emotional and sometimes inconvenient. We set out to restore a navigation and a quarter of a century of effort to that end will not easily be set aside and forgotten.
You may have noticed that our proof reading left something to be desired in the last issue (My apologies to the BCA for their demotion from an Authority to an Association!). I am on a steepish learning curve as far as the production aspects are concerned and we had a panic to try to get it out by Christmas which caused things to get missed. It will get better in future (I hope).
A load of bywash pipes passing Brookwood on its way to Woodham.
Photo: Dieter Jebens
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Good news for the Society, the canal and the Woodham Backpumping Project.
The Society has received a Landfill Tax Credit Grant for £30,000 from Surrey County Council. This money has io be spent on the project and provides a 'kick start' for volunteer work.
A revised Heritage Lottery application, agreed by the Canal Joint Management Committee, has been prepared; a significant contribution by volunteers is included in the partnership calculations.
The application result should be known within six months. Any partnership works carried out in the preceding 12 months will be eligible for the partnership contribution calculations.
Associated works for the Backpumping project include water control weirs, an access road and some services; other works may be included as plans are firmed up. The consortium of volunteer groups known as 'Dig Deep' is supporting the project and a number of weekend working parties are being arranged. This, plus our own volunteer efforts has enabled a significant start to be made on the project.
Lock 1 overflow weir is being constructed on the offside of the lock. Piling, a new pipe run, inlet and outlet spill-ways plus other minor enhancements are scheduled. The concept of providing a new overspill, rather than modifying the existing one, was decided on as the water levels are critical for houseboat sewage connections and could not be lowered sufficiently.
Finance for the backpumping and future phases of water enhancement is not fully assured. The Lottery application may fail for the second time. Future phases have been identified but not yet progressed to grant application.
The need for a major fund-raising effort has been agreed in Committee and a public launch in the near future is being arranged. In-house Society options for sponsorship of the Woodham project are also planned.
The need for money to progress water enhancement on the canal is essential: future phases of backpumping or identification of a major summit supply all require finance. An ambitious target has been agreed for the Water Appeal, enabling research and planning for future phases with a summit supply taking priority if available.
Changing the subject, events for this year start with Bridge Barn at Easter; we hope that the new small trip boat for use at Brookwood and Hermitage will be launched at the event.
The John Pinkerton celebrates its 21st birthday over the first weekend in May with an extended cruise. We hope to arrange some civic functions as part of the celebrations.
In association with the BCBC and IWA we are exploring a Frimley lodge Park event in the summer. This is in addition to the established Fox and Hounds rally in September.
WOKING CANAL FESTIVAL
We will be holding our annual waterside event on Saturday 3rd April and Sunday 4th April at the Bridge Barn pub and restaurant, Bridge Barn Lane, Horsell, Woking from 11 am to 5.30 pm.
In addition to the colourful collection of boats, there will be rides and attractions for all the family, including boat trips, face painting, a children's corner, model boat display on the canal, craft and charity stalls, plant stall and Morris dancing.
A grand illuminated Boat Cavalcade with onboard Folk Group will depart the Town Wharf, Brewery Road Car Park at 8.45pm, arriving at the Bridge Barn between 9pm and 9.30. Refreshments available all day at the Bridge Barn, admission is FREE to all.
We are looking for a band of dedicated helpers for either or both days - an hour or two of your time will be greatly appreciated. For further information, contact Peter Coxhead on 01932 344564.
Apologies to Melvyn Lipscombe who I mistakenly called Mervyn in the caption to the photo on page 4 of the last Newsletter showing the illustrated notice board for Slade's Bridge.
In compensation I will point out that Melvyn is a professional decorator/decorative artist, so if anyone needs anything similar, give him a call on 01256-364336.
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Last autumn, with improved water levels on the summit pound and running repairs on tug Sapper completed, we returned to Crookham and towpath work,
Crookham wharf is the focal point for plant and material deliveries, all materials being transported by barge to Coxmoor Wood, stockpiled and then dumpered to the towpath site.
The first weekend of rain at Coxmoor turned the towpath into a quagmire, dictating a change of technique. By working outwards from the stockpile and providing a base layer of stone, the mud was contained and working back over the base layer, finishing as we went, a good final surface was achieved.
The wartime defences, concrete post-holes, unfortunately provided a weak line running along the towpath. Within a half hour period, we watched a crack follow the post-holes, widen and eventually the bank fell into the canal. The solution was reinforcement of the bank with concrete foiled sandbags up to water level before back-filling with clay.
Where possible, the towpath was routed clear of the defences, with dumpers remaining on stable ground. As conditions became more waterlogged, work became slower and more difficult. A break in the weather was needed for the towpath to dry out.
With the revised Lottery application for Woodham being prepared, we needed to dig trial holes to obtain information about the towpath. The result of these excavations is encouraging - no tree roots and clear compactable soil.
Scotland Bridge will require additional pipe fittings for negotiating the other services and the restricted room available.
The Dig Deep consortium of canal restoration groups have all worked on the Basingstoke Canal during our restoration. Indeed the consortium was formed to support other restoration projects.
To increase the potential volunteer partnership effort for the Woodham Backpumping, Dig Deep were contacted and agreed to support the project.
The second weekend in January had been allocated for the Newbury Working
Party Group (NWPG). Lock 1 was the
venue and the first task was piling for the upper overspill eir and bank protection.
Plant was ordered for delivery on Friday, but the piling was moved by our own volunteers from Ash Canal Depot during the week.
From mid January, six consecutive weekends have been worked by our volunteers, including Friday and Monday for deliveries and plant offhire.
Two long and hard weekends by our volunteers completed key works for the bywash pipes by finishing the reinforced concrete base for the [58 yards] of pipes so that the planned installation could take place.
The bywash pipes had been delivered to Deepcut, each [8ft] long and [3/4ins] internal diameter, weighing [what is 929 Kg in English?]; not easily moved across the canal or placed in position. It was decided that our tug and barge would be able to move the pipes, with some form of mechanical handling being required for unloading at Lock 1.
The tug and barge were moved from Crookham to Deepcut, loaded with 10 tons of pipes and taken on down to Lock 1. The remaining pipes were transported by road to Scotland Bridge and ferried by barge to Lock 1.
For unloading and placing the pipes, a substantial lifter had been designed and manufactured and a 13 ton excavator was hired for the weekend. Thanks are due to Runnymede Borough Council who allowed us to move the excavator across Heathervale Recreation Ground, subject to insurance and other conditions.
The planning paid dividends because by Saturday evening all the pipes had been placed in position. Sunday was spent in mixing some 12 tons of concrete for launching the pipes and joints.
Interesting statistics for Lock 1:
Volunteer days (Jan - mid Feb) 151.5
Deep Dig 100 days
SHCS volunteers 51.5 days
No wonder we needed a weekend off!!!!
Seriously, the response and concentrated efforts by our volunteers was wonderful - everything was in place for the sustained joint effort on the last weekend.
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FUTURE WORK PARTY DATES
GROUP DATE LEADER VENUE
10/11 April TBA Lock 1
22/23 May TBA Lock 1
5/6 June TBA Lock 1/2
6/7 March DJ/DL Lock 1
12/15 March DJ/PR Lock 1
20/21 March KR Tugs, Ash Lock
27/28 March DJ/DL Crookham
2/3/4/5 April All Bridge Barn
9/12 April DJ/PR Lock 1/Frimley
17/18 April KR Tugs, Ash Lock
24/25 April DJ/DL Frimley
1/2/3 May All Pinkerton events
8/9 May DJ/DL Crookham
15/16 May KR Tugs, Ash Locl
21/24 May DJ/PR Lock 1/2
4/7 June DJ/PR/DL Lock 1/2
Crookham or Slades Bridge
Please check with work party leaders for any changes in arrangements. Contact numbers are:
0181-9410685 01483-771294 01483-722206 01483-721710
Dave Junkison DJ 0181 941 0685
Dave Lunn DL 01483 771294
Kevin Redway KR 01483 722206
Peter Redway PR 01483 721710
Piling below Lock 1
WRG Work Camps
The Basingstoke is featured very prominently in the Waterways Recovery Group Canal Camps booklet for 1999. The group are planning three week long camps in July and will hopefully be working on the building of the pumping system.
The dates are provisionally:
Saturday 10th July to Saturday 17th July
Saturday 17th July to Saturday 24th July
Saturday 24th July to Saturday 31st July.
The camps are hard work but great fun and a complete change of direction for most people. If you, or anyone you know, would like to take part information is available from:
WRG Canal Camps,
PO Box 114, Rickmansworth
WD3 1ZY or
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Mikron Theatre Company
The annual visit by the Mikron Theatre Company will be on Sunday 18th July, 7.30 pm at the Fox & Hounds, Crookharn Road, Fleet.
The show this year will be Part 1 of Travellers' Fare'. A three year project about transport, its environment and its future. The show (not yet named) will be about the potential for carrying freight by water and will feature the freight carrying waterways of Northern England and their relevance to the new 'Integrated Transport Policy'.
The Mikron Theatre has received funding this year from, among others, British Waterways and Marks and Spencer. The Society will be sponsoring their Fleet show as in the past.
The Society has been invited to put up a team to compete in the IWA quiz during November.
Start brushing up on your knowledge of the canal system!
Forthcoming events in 1999 organised by the Canal Centre
Thursday 29th April
Guided Walk along the Deepcut Flight with Peter Munt. Meet at Deepcut Bridge at 9.30am. £1 per person.
Saturday 8th May
Dawn Chorus with Canal Ranger Pete Bickford. Meet at Curzon Bridge, Pirbright 5am - 7am. £1 per person.
Thursday 27th May
Heritage Walk Odiham - Greywell
with Paul Hope. 1.30pm - 4pm. £1 per person.
Thursday 29th July
Guided Walk along the Deepcut Flight with Peter Munt. Meet at Deepcut Bridge at 9.30am. £1 per person.
Car boot sales
Car boot sales are planned at the Canal Centre on the following Saturdays between 1pm and 4pm:-
10 April, 17 April, 24 April & 15 May
No sexism on canals - everyone gets the chance to carry bags of cement!
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At last sanity is seeping into the rninds of local councils towards increasing boat usage and counter apathy of general public.
All year activities need more encouragement especially for youth to counter vandalism and litter basket mentality. Woodham locks are near Shearwater sports arena - why not combine the two, senior rowing on the straight pounds plus leisure boats for the general public?
At present time the canal is worthy of mention in the Guinness Book of Records - A fully restored canal 32 miles long with 29 locks where the general public are limited to basic towpath walking and the English Nature treasures lie beneath water surfaces where the public are not permitted.
More interest could be created along the towpath with items connected with its "golden age" - very limited at present. Two do exist: a primitive wooden crane jib lies buried in a ditch at the Brickworks Arm at Up Nately with a rusting pulley in the shed at Slade's Bridge, and the remains of the swing bridge from, I believe Arthur's Bridge, can be seen at Lock 28.
Towpath repair is constant and expensive. Much of the moisture comes from the higher embankment. A drainage ditch between the two could counter this problem with a gravel base and clay bottom to drain into the canal. The Roman roads have lasted longer than our efforts of a few years in creating sponges.
Ron Follett has written to say that a friend of his, who belonged to the tennis club in the Sheets Heath area, recalls that in the 60's and 70's the club suffered numerous losses of food and drink, as well as two sets of the club's nets. Nobody was ever apprehended and he feels that this is further evidence for the marauding midget submariners and perhaps two submarines.
Who knows, but unless there are any further really startling revelations, I think that this had better draw this chapter in the canal's history to a close. Thanks Ron and thanks too to Mr Burtoo and his little green men, whoever they were!
Ken Blake's letter here makes one or two interesting points, although it has to be recognised that it is lack of water rather than the efforts of English Nature which is currently limiting the number of boats on the canal.
His point about the need to preserve artefacts from the canal's past is a good one. Thirty years ago. the most visible of these were the boats which still remained stranded along the length of the canal.
Tony Harmsworth wrote a number of articles in the Newsletter during the 1960's, which were put together into a booklet 'Boats from the Basingstoke's Past'. This is long out of print and many of the boats have now disappeared, but one story from the book has always haunted me and I make no apology for reprinting it here.
Maudie and Ada
In the small flash above the bottom lock (Number 15) of the flight of fourteen locks at Brookwood lie the remains of two old iron narrow boats.
Little is known about them, but they are thought to be the Maudie and Ada, owned by Nateley Brickworks and offered for sale between 1906 and 1907. They were bought by a man from Richmond, who collected them from Nately with his wife and children. The family, living in the cabins, began bow-hauling the boats down the canal. Maintenance work was being done on the bottom lock of the fourteen, so they waited above the lock. But while they waited, the family contracted diphtheria.
The children were taken to an isolation hospital in Guildford and the parents left the boats. They never returned, leaving tolls and dues unpaid. The boats were moored in the flash and later sank.
The remains of the boats were removed to clear the flash when the Deepcut flight was being restored during the 70's and 80s, but the mysteries surrounding the tragedy remain - who was the man from Richmond and what happened to him and his family?
I have always felt that this could be the basis for a book or film - any screenwriters out there?
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There it was, 20 feet above the ground, looking huge, turning gently until it caught in the tree. The giant crane swung slowly back and the John Pinkerton was free again to move slowly through the air past the tree, onto the back of the lorry. So began its journey to Reading Marine at Aldermaston to have its new engine fitted. It is also the first time that it has left the Basingstoke Canal since it was first launched.
After two years of breakdowns at inconvenient times in spite of a complete overhaul it was obviously time to take more drastic action and what better time than on its 21st birthday. It is being fitted with a Japanese Kubota engine which has been adapted for marine use by Beta Marine and comprising a complete package with gearbox, alternators, control gear etc.
Timing is a little worrying because it is intended to bring the boat back by water but there are lock closures on the Thames lasting until 7th March whilst the season is due to start on 30th March. Then we will also be dependent on the water flow down the Thames being at a navigable rate. However we are not short of offers of help to bring it back. It will not be an easy trip as we need to bring it back as quickly as possible in 4 days or perhaps even in 3 days with working from dawn to dusk whilst living and sleeping aboard. The frying pan will get plenty of use, as there is only a hob with two burners aboard.
Hopefully next season will be trouble free but we will at least have the backing of Reading Marine under their warranty for the engine. Business was down by about 25 percent last year compared with the year before. We think that the reason was the poor weather and the advent of the World Cup. Fortunately in spite of a much lower turnover profit was up on the previous year. Brochures are already in circulation for the coming season. Some 3000 have been distributed in addition to those which have gone to the Tourist Information Offices.
We were sorry to lose the services of Martin Bowers as a Director of the Company after 21 years with it. He was one of the crew on the first trip of the John Pinkerton and has been involved ever since, not only as a crew member and Captain, but also for many years he worked throughout the winter painting and maintaining the boat. We are deeply indebted to Martin for all that he has done and for the many, many hours he has spent making the John Pinkerton such a success. Not that he has finished as he is still a Captain taking out regular trips and only last week he helped man the stand at Southern Tourists Board's exhibition at Newbury. Once again Martin, all the crew and all the members of the Society thank you for your unstinting service.
Easter trips will run from Ash Wharf, after which the boat will operate from Odiham until 27th June when operations will shift to Barley Mow. As noted elsewhere, the Spring Bank Holiday will be devoted to going down to the River Wey and back. Trips over the Late May Bank Holiday will start from Fleet and over the August Bank Holiday from Odiham.
The booking manager is still Marion Gough (01962-
713564 from 10am to 8pm only please).
Janet Moore (01483-771843) has taken over as crew
organiser for evening and weekend trips and hopes to be
contacting everyone on the crewing list soon to find out
what their preferences for crewing are - why not save her
the trouble and phone her first?
Mike Hammersley (01252-314443) is still organising the
daytime midweek crews after an unbelievable 21 years in
21st Birthday Trip
The John Pinkerton will be 21 in May and with her new engine installed will, we hope, have many more fund raising years to come. She has carried the Duke of Kent to re-open the canal, was used at the opening of the viaduct and has been present, as a sturdy representative of the Canal Society, at just about every event to take place on the canal since she was launched.
To celebrate this event, the Boat Company has decided to run a 4 day trip to the Wey on the Spring Bank Holiday - 30th April to 3rd May.
We will leave Colt Hill, Odiham, at 9am on the Friday and cruise down to Sheets Heath Bridge, near Brookwood Station. We leave there next morning at 10am, cruise to the River Wey, turn round and return to Lock 1, not far from West Byfleet Station. Sunday, 10am, from Lock 1 to Sheets Heath Bridge and Monday, 9am, return to Odiham.
As you most probably know, the Pinkerton is only a trip boat so passengers will have to leave the boat every evening and either stay in local hotels, or return home by car or train. We have a list of local hotels who will be pleased to make you welcome.
This is a really fantastic opportunity for members or friends without boats of their own to cruise almost the entire length of the canal. The scenery and wildlife are so beautiful at this time of year and you will be able to see for yourselves why seasoned canal travellers say that the Basingstoke Canal is one of the loveliest in the country. You will have a full day's boating, morning coffee, a two
course lunch and afternoon tea, and if you want to help with the locks, you wil! be more than welcome.
The cost will be £35 for one day, £60 for two days (one way), or £99 for the full 4 day experience.
If you want any more information or wish to make a booking, please get in touch with me and I will be only too happy to help.
Ann Bird, (Phone 01252-513969)
118 Reading Road,
Hants GU14 6NY
We have space for only 35 passengers a day, and an advertisement will be appearing in April's Waterways World, so don't leave it too late and miss out on this golden opportunity.
John Pinkerton starting its journey to Aldermaston
PHOTO: Jeff Trolley/Aldershot News
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Switching on of the Lights|
A group of "traditional boatmen" from the Canal Society took part in the procession around Woking which preceded the switching on of the Christmas lights. They were placed prominently behind the reindeer. The society is grateful for their efforts since, in addition to providing fun for onlookers such appearances also help to promote the society.
A Change of Speed
The bridge over the canal in Woking near the moorings proved to be a useful vantage point for members of the public who witnessed a very different form of transport when Mika Hakkinen drove down Victoria Way in his championship Grand Prix car on Sunday 22nd November. Mika was on his way to Town Square where an exhibition of McLaren cars had provided much interest for the large crowd awaiting his arrival. It was an opportunity for local people to welcome McLaren and Mika Hakkinen back to their home base in Woking to celebrate winning the F1 Constructor's and Driver's World Championship. One wonders what the old boatmen would have thought of it all.
Waste into Water?
Under the landfill tax credit scheme, 20% of the tax charged for waste disposal can be ploughed back into local environmental and conservation projects by the
waste disposal operator. Surrey County Council has been able to able to offer help to seven projects as a result of this measure. It is good to hear that one of the beneficiaries is the Pumping Scheme at Woodham.
Too much water!
Whilst tremendous efforts are being made on the Basingstoke Canal to overcome our customary shortage of water in the summer and consequent closure of the lower canal the River Wey has suffered considerable disruption to Navigation in December and January due to flooding. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a happy medium!
Improved BW Funding
Although of no direct benefit to the non-BW Basingstoke Canal, the recent announcement from the Government about extra funding for British Waterways is very welcome. BW's chronic maintenance backlog has at last been recognised by the powers that be and BW is to have its Grant in Aid increased by £8 million per annum for the next three years at least. In addition, some existing debts are being written off, leading to savings of up to £1.9 million per annum and BW will be allowed to carry funds over from one financial year to the next and to enter into commercial partnerships with the private sector, local authorities and other organisations. Further details of these and other measures are still to be announced.
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The obituary for Joan Marshall in the spring Newsletter last year, prompted one of our members, Ted Sedman, to send in the following article, which was originally published in "Today Magazine" in 1960. A few tips for the BCA perhaps?
Here's how one woman got away from it all
"I went to an auction - and bought a CANAL!" says Mrs. JOAN MARSHALL
It's a busy life for any housewife -
but when you own a 33-mile long canal the daily
routine is full of surprises.
by Audrey Powell.
MRS. JOAN MARSHALL has always liked buying things at auctions. Once she bought a brightly painted gypsy caravan and took her two daughters holidaying in it across the South Downs.
Another time she bought the Basingstoke Canal, in Hampshire. All thirty-three miles of it - for £6,000.
She got three friends to join her and it was not until the morning of the auction that they were able to raise enough money. Then along went Mrs. Marshall and outbid her rivals. At the drop of the auctioneer's hammer she became the only woman in Britain to have bought a canal.
That was in 1949. Since then she has been overcoming the hazards of running it. Now it is the only canal in Britain to pay its way.
Mrs. Marshall who lives at Winchfield, near Basingstoke, is fifty-two, motherly and attractive. After she has done her housework and arranged the meals, she rides along the canal bank either on a bicycle or in a van inspecting a different section each day. She often combines her daily inspections with a shopping trip.
Sometimes she finds it worthwhile to take a train. Much of the railway track runs beside the canal, and she can hang out the window and examine the bank for cracks. She has to cope with all the emergencies a 170-year-old canal can produce.
"Winter is our busiest, if less spectacular, time", she says. "Rat holes fill with water and everywhere we get reports that the canal is leaking. Leaves have to be cleared to keep the locks free".
"The banks have to be cut back - the fertilisers which help the farmers don't help us. The rains carry them down to the"
"canal banks and the weeds flourish. Our wild flowers look like cultivated ones".
"We have had to start spraying weeds with chemicals to try to control them. But we have to be careful not to poison the fish. It's the coarse-fishing time now, with some fine pike to be caught".
At this time of the year there are shrubs to be trimmed back along the canal edge and trees to be felled. The houseboats also move off in winter, when the water is higher. It all means more work for canal manager Mrs. Marshall, whose post ranges from twenty to sixty letters a day.
It's when the canal freezes that the staff keep their keenest watch on it. Sometimes a thousand children go skating on it then.
"Officially they are not supposed to, but you try to stop them", says Mrs. Marshall. "The staff can only keep a constant lookout to see that no youngster falls through the ice into perhaps six or seven feet of water".
If the ice is too thin to be safe, Mrs. Marshall and her staff take out the punts and the sixty-ton barge that acts as an ice-breaker and smash the ice with iron bars.
The Ministry of Transport estimated that it would take £60,000 a year to run the canal, but Mrs. Marshall manages on much less. "And we are keeping our heads above water", she says. But immediately after the auction the canal ran, one might say, into deep water.
A member of Mrs. Marshall's group appealed for money to save the canal. In poured donations to the tune of £1,000. Then the group found that they were infringing the Companies Act and the money had to be returned.
Another company was formed and Mrs. Marshall was made general manager of the canal - but she had no money to run it. So she thought up one of her several unorthodox but successful ideas. She found that it cost a lot to pay bailiffs to keep an eye on the canal, which runs from Up Nately, in Hampshire, to Weybridge, in Surrey. She also found that damage was being done by hooligans to the canal's banks, its fifty bridges and its twenty-nine locks.
There are about 15,000 houses on each side of the canal, and it is one of Mrs. Marshall's jobs to keep an eye on the water level after heavy rain and to warn canal-side residents if their homes are in danger of flooding.
She decided to save money on bailiffs and to interest local people in the canal at the same time by starting a system of honorary bailiffs. Now several hundred canal-side
residents and many of the youngsters who had been causing vandalism have been enrolled as bailiffs - and they are strict protectors of their own piece of the canal.
"One of the worst little horrors has become my staunchest bailiff", she says.
In exchange the honorary bailiffs are allowed free fishing, special rates for canoes and can join in the social affairs like regattas and film shows about canal life, that Mrs. Marshall runs.
The army, at nearby Aldershot, sometimes cause damage to the canal in their training. But Mrs. Marshall has them on call if there is a flood warning.
She never goes out of the area without leaving her phone number, in case an emergency arises. Once when she was on holiday abroad a special plane stood by because it was thought she might have to return quickly to deal with trouble on the canal.
The canal was built for transport purposes, but the roads killed its trade. The last barge went right through in 1931. Mrs. Marshall feels it would still be possible for barges to use part of the canal - from Woking - advantageously for timber carrying, and she hopes eventually to get them back.
She needs all the income she can raise from the canal, for she has about a dozen lock-keepers, weirs-men, bailiffs and other employees on her payroll, beside Captain, the canal horse. Money is needed, too to keep the canal clean, the locks and banks in repair, the reeds cut and silt and rubbish removed.
"Enough domestic things come out to build a house", says Mrs. Marshall, "and enough food to provision a barracks. Old cars have to be removed every week".
A recent discovery in the waterway was an army gun carriage.
Income for the canal company comes from factories who use the spring-fed water and from the National Gas Turbine Establishment, which takes a vast amount of water from the canal.
Money also comes from selling fishing rights and from local councils who use the canal for surface water drainage.
Then there is money from the boats which use the waterway and the houseboats which have moorings along it. The canal company also acts as contractor for schemes involving pipe-laying, pile-driving and dam-building.
An important job is keeping the locks in order. In 1957 four of them were damaged by explosives. This paralysed the central part of the canal. Mrs. Marshall hopes to get compensation from the War Office for the damage. In addition, Mrs. Marshall sends the Ministry of Transport regular reports on how the canal is run.
How does an ordinary wife and mother become involved in managing a canal?
"I was born interested in water", she says. "My mother destined me for the navy before I was born. My sex upset that, but I spent much of my time in the nursery drawing canoes and canals, and I used to play with boats when other girls had dolls".
"I first saw this canal when I was four - and was enchanted with it. It was my first love".
At Reading University, Mrs. Marshall studied interior decoration and coxed the university's women's eight. She then became a shop assistant and eventually the soft furnishings buyer for a large London store. But her heart was in canals, not in bedspreads, so she began doing sparetime work for the Thames Conservancy.
Then she moved to a house near her beloved canal. And then came the auction...
Mrs. Marshall's ambition is to bring the canal back to its former busy transport life. For this she foresees the need for a special type of cob horse to pull barges. So she is planning to breed her own cob horses.
But horses have to be shod - and blacksmiths are hard to find. These facts don't daunt Mrs. Marshall. She is as ready to become the first woman to run a smithy as she was to become the first woman to run a canal.
And who knows? She may even pick up a blacksmith's forge at an auction.
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The Woking Talks which are held on the second Tuesday of the month at the Westgate Centre, Woking have continued to be well attended and have certainly provided a variety of topics.
November's guest Richard Thomas, made a very welcome return to continue his story of the River Lee, telling us about the river below Bow Locks. His talk, filled with anecdotes and humour was, as usual, accompanied by excellent slides. We journeyed along Bow Creek and along the Bow Backwaters finding out just why Richard is so adamant that local knowledge and an understanding of the tides are necessary for this bit of exploration. We learned much about the history of this fascinating area including the historic Three Mills. It was a most interesting evening and we look forward to seeing Richard again in the future.
David Freeman's talk in December proved equally fascinating. He led us stage by stage through the fitting out of a narrowboat at his Pyrford Marina base. It was lovely to hear someone talk about their job with such enthusiasm and we were left in no doubt about the care and forethought David puts into his boats, building individually to each clients' requirements. David had managed to get his camera into all sorts of inaccessible places and so we were able to follow the progress of the boat from arrival on the Wey, through the insertion of ballast, wiring plumbing, and lining out through to the completion of the interior and the external painting. We learned about both the problems and joys of fitting out a boat whilst enjoying David's good humour.
Our January talk was somewhat different. We travelled far away from boats on
|canals to South America where we joined
Robin Higgs on a fascinating railway tour. Robin had travelled to places far from the normal tourist route. His enthusiasm for the old engines and machinery found along the track and preserved by the dry desert air was catching. We too were soon eager to investigate the next bit of line to see what monsters from a bygone age, often with nameplates from England, lurked in unexpected places. The scenery was spectacular particularly the views taken during the journey from sea level at Arica, climbing to over 16,000 feet and down to 12,000 feet at La Paz. Views of the train snaking around the mountains with vertical drops below or travelling over spectacular trestle bridges were quite daunting and one could only admire the tremendous effort that must have been put into getting the railway into these inhospitable parts. We were well rewarded for turning out on such an unpleasant evening.
Such variety of interesting subjects has resulted in a good attendance at the Woking meetings and the evenings offer a great opportunity to meet other members as well as to keep up to date with happenings on the canal. Please look out for anyone who is alone or new to the society and make them feel welcome.
The final talk of the season will be on April 13th, when Michael Goodenough will talk about the "Kennet and Avon Pumping Scheme".
If you haven't yet been to the Woking Talks do come along. If you are a regular and have ideas for future talks do let Arthur hear about them
The Pipes are calling
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Good to see the completion of the dredging contract between the remains of Pillar's Bridge, near Broad Oak and the Old Thatch Cottage at Winchfield. Cruising through Sandy Hill cutting and beyond should be much easier this year.
As Hart District Council's capital funding for towpath improvement works runs out in April, let's hope that our volunteers connect up with the section already under taken by BCA's rangers, as this is a quagmire at present. On completion the towpath between Norris Bridge, Pyestock, and Double Bridge, Dogmersfield will be complete. Thanks Hart for the funds for material and plant hire.
BCA's rangers have done a good job in offside bank clearance east of Malthouse Bridge but, unfortunately, over enthusiastic cutting back opposite the Fox and Hounds, Crookham, has decimated the backdrop to the canal as seen from the towpath at this location. The rhododendrons were a picture in June.
The old coal pens at Crookham have been in use again with the 'John Pinkerton' having been lifted out recently on its way for re-engining at Aldermaston. Soon the replace ment for the 'Mildred Stocks' will be craned in at the same location. The new 12 sealer will be named 'Dawn' after the late Dawn Murrell of Woking.
Sorry to see the amount of litter at some locations along the canal. Bad locations are at Eelmoor Flash, the most popular place on the canal for individual anglers, and opposite the old Spantons Timber Wharf site in Woking. If only the British public would take their litter home with them instead of leaving it lying around for others to clear up.
Just like old times to see Society volunteers (the same few, unfortunately) and visiting working party groups beavering away at Lock 1 on initial work for the back pumping scheme. Good luck to them and we all give them our encouragement and best wishes.
The wet autumn and winter has really shown up the unimproved sections of the towpath, especially the section between Norris Bridge and Aldershot in Rushmoor Borough. Lets hope some way can be found to fund and upgrade this section in the next few years. It is virtually impassable this winter.
Severe government cutbacks have decimated Hart District Council's budgeting for 1999/2000 and, unfortunately, with great reluctance, they are having to reduce their revenue funding for the canal by 50%. Instead of the requested £54,000 it will be half that. If finances improve, they hope to re-instate the full payments in future years. This shows the fragility of canal financing year on year.
Millett's Lookback 1979
(From Society Newsletters No.83 - Jan-Feb 1979 and No.84 April 1979)
Letter to the Editor received from Robert Aickman, Founder and Vice President of the Inland Waterways Association, drawing attention to the importance of the recently issued Select Report on the future of the waterways of this country. Sadly Robert is no longer with us. In his time he gave great service to the IWA and to the restoration of derelict canals.
Members query the early limitation of boats on the canal to a maximum of 14ft and with a maximum of 6 h.p. engines. Canal Manager says this is subject to review and came about as a result of a formula recommendation of not more than 1/3 h.p. per foot of length published in the HOC Consultation Draft of March 1977.
Working parties are taking place every weekend on the re-building of Lock 16 at Deepcut and at Lock 19, on the latter with input from the Southampton Canal Society and Kent and East Sussex IWA.
The steam dredger 'Perseverance' reaches Baseleys Bridge, west of Barley Mow.
Two new employment grants made by the Manpower Services Commission to provide jobs for unemployed people, i.e.
£86,231 for full time work for 15 young people
and £49,669 for work for 15 over 19s under the Short Term Employment Programme.
HCC have completed the Hymac dredging of the 3 mile section between Farnborough Road and Pondtail bridges.
Funds raised from the operation of the 'John Pinkerton' trip boat to be used for the re-building of Broad Oak bridge ai Odiham.
HCC announce that under David Gerry, HCC Canal Manager, work will commence on the Ash Embankment and the breach of 1968 will be filled. Volunteers are already clearing the very overgrown bed of the embankment.
The 'John Pinkerton' trip boat to be operated by a separate company - Surrey and Hampshire Canal Cruises Ltd - with all the profits covenanted to the Society. The company has been set up for charity law and tax reasons.
Reading Road Wharf in Fleet comes up for discussion as it is still owned by the New Basingstoke Canal Company, not having been included in the purchase arrangements when HCC acquired the canal. The application by the Company for two two-storey blocks of maisonettes turned down by Hart DC. Hart and HCC in discussion over who should acquire it for recreational purposes and as Fleet's main access to the canal.
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30th Anniversary Mugs; white or yellow. Now||£1.85+75p p&p.|| £20|
|Tea towels (Map of canal)||£2.75+40p p&p.||£3.15|
|Sweatshirts. L or XL. Red, royal blue or bottle green.||£12.50+£1.20 p&p.||£13.50|
|Guide to Basingstoke Canal.||£3.50+54p p&p.||£3.95|
|Circular rambles on the Basingstoke Canal.||£3.00+45p p&p.||£3.45|
|Wildlife on the Basingstoke.||£1.50+35p p&p.||£1.85|
Other items to be added. For details and to place orders, please contact
Alec Gosling, 12 Mole Road, Hersham, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey KT12 4LU. Telephone 01932-224950. Cheques
payable to Surrey & Hants Canal Society.
For those of you who have access to the Internet, the Mark II preliminary version of the Basingstoke Canal website is up and running. You can visit it at:- ww.surflink.co.uk/users/arthurdungate/bascan.htm
Any feedback - ie comments and suggestions will be welcomed by Arthur Dungate.
Date for next copy 30th April 1999
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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.
Editor: Roger Cansdale*. 79 Gally Hill Road, Church Crookham, Hampshire. GU13 0RU (01252) 616964
Photos: Dieter Jebens. 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Famham, Surrey, GU10 3NJ (0252) 715230
Layout: Nick Halford. Frimhurst Farm, Deepcut, Camberley, Surrey GU16 6RF (01252) 836160
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
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: Kathryn Dodington*. 8 Sheets Heath Lane, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey GU24 0EH )01483) 473630
Director: Verna Smith* 63 Avondale, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants. GU12 5NE (01252) 517622
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