Spring 2000

Cover picture info
Chairman's Comment
Woking Waterways

2000 Canal Events Diary
Woking Talks
Leigh Thornton
Working Party
New Weedcutter
Nancy Larcombe
The Houseboats
Book Review
Gongoozler's Gossip
Lookback - 1980
Towpath Topics

Contact the Society

  bcnmsthd160 (14K)
No. 185 Spring 2000
front pic (107K)

Page 2

As we enter the new millennium, this year looks like being a very busy one for the Canal. As you will see in this newsletter, we have a very active April to look forward to in Woking with the Waterways Festival and our own Bridge Barn Rally. It is hoped to complete the work on the Woodham backpumping scheme this year, which will involve both the Society and other volunteer organisations. In support of this, we are launching a Water Appeal Fund.

With all these activities, I have to make my annual appeal for more help running the Society. It's only a couple of months till the AGM so why not swarnp us with nominations for the Committee so that we can have an election again?

Please also note that the AGM will take place in the Brookwood Memorial Hall and not our usual venue. We had to change the original date to avoid a clash with other events during the Woking Waterway Week and had to find a different hall.

The behaviour of local councils is very hard to understand sometimes. In the past few years, Hart has been very supportive of the Society's work to improve the towpath by paying for the necessary materials and plant hire. It is therefore extremely disappointing to learn that, for the second year running, their Leisure Services Committee has voted to cut Hart's contribution to the BCA's budget from the £54,300 calculated to be their fair share to only £22,600.

This was apparently done in spite of representations from the Society and contrary to the recommendations of their own council officers.

I think that local councillors need to recognise that it is not enough to lob a few thousand pounds to the Canal Society to do work on the local length, and thereby feel that the canal is being supported. The Canal Authority must be adequately funded in order to be able to maintain and manage the canal as a whole. Apart from anything else, public safety is at stake. You only have to look at the stretch of canal from the Fox and Hounds to Coxheath Road Bridge to imagine the devastation that would occur to the houses below the embankment if a breach were to occur.

The canal is by far the most important leisure facility in Hart, used by thousands of walkers, cyclists, fishermen and boaters. I know that there are many demands on our taxes, but £50,000 is not a lot of money fora council such as Hart, where the number of households paying council tax is shooting up every year.

I shall be asking my local councillor what his views are on this issue and voting accordingly at the next election.

I don't think I have ever seen the canal looking as tidy as it does at the moment and the Canal Authority team deserve great credit for this. Where I have cycled round Crookham, Dogmersfield and Winchfield, the banks have been trimmed immaculately. Perhaps Hart's councillors need to get out and look to see where the money goes a bit more.

I notice also that Peter Munt has been hard at work on the cutting at Deepcut, pruning back the trees and scrub that have always tended to droop into the canal there.

Whilst this time of year offers the prospect of new growth and renewal, it also tends to be a harsh time when people are taken from us. This year has been particularly bad for the Society and we mourn the loss of three long time members, Marion Truman, Jack Tudgey and John Everton.

Marion and Derek Truman were involved in many of the Society's activities during the restoration days and Derek, of course, still runs the 200 Club. They had both been very ill in the last couple of years but we hoped that the worst was over. Sadly for Marion this was not to be and we send Derek and his family our sincere sympathy.

Jack Tudgey was a regular member of the Pinkerton's day crew until a few years ago, often accompanying Stan Knight, with whom he shared a birthday. Having grown up in the area, he enjoyed chatting to the passengers about the canal. We shall miss him.

John Everton had been a member of the Society's work parties for many years and a short appreciation of him by one of his fellow work party members appears elsewhere in this issue. One of the strengths of the Canal Society has always been the individuals that it managed to attract, and John was certainly an individual. Again, he will be much missed.



Saturday 13th May 2000
6 pm
at the

A reminder from the Membership Secretary that subscriptions are due in March. He apologies for the late reminders for last year's and thanks all those who gave extra donations.

December snow at Deepcut. Photo: Roger Cansdale
[back to top]

Page 3

As reported in the last Newsletter, the Heritage Lottery Fund assessors approved a grant of £295,000 on 29th October 1999 towards the Woodham Backpumping project. Now at last, after a delay of nearly four months which has caused a fair amount of nervousness and irritation, the HLF has sent the contract to the BCA. No money yet, but that will be paid in stages as the work progresses and at least things can start moving now.

The Society is preparing detailed working drawings for construction of the pumphouse, and obtaining estimates for the electricity supply and pumps. Phil Lawton of Pimms Pumps has provided detailed specifications and estimates for the pumps and controls within the building.

The Towpath Telegraph feedback indicates that some concern exists over my comments on future phases of water supply for the canal.

Our policy is that we investigate new water supplies for the summit pound in preference to extensive further backpumping. Consultation with the Environment Agency has indicated that they would prefer reservoirs for winter

storage of ourown water, which could then be drawn down in summer. A member has suggested possible sites for such reservoirs and these are being investigated. Promising sites may require a feasibility study with provisional costings.

The Canal Authority has almost completed the much needed lock gate repairs and those of you who used the Deepcut section of the canal last year will notice the difference this spring.

At the time of going to print, dredging at Winchfleld is about to start, with completion due in April. The section eastward from the Thatched Cottage will complete dredging of the silted section from North Warnborough to Dogrnersfield.

With renovated locks and a navigable depth canal we need an average British summer, extending the cruising period so that users can appreciate the benefits of the BCA's work.

Paddy, Leigh and their team are to be congratulated for the progress on canal maintenance over the last three years.

Peter Redway

 (20K)  (23K)

Publicising the forthcoming Woking Waterways Festival, Mike Adams (left) with his 1932 Grand Union Canal tug "White Heather", moored at the Town Quay, Woking. On board, dressed in traditional style, are Peter and William Adams (seated) and, standing (left to right), Betty and Alec Gosling and Sarah Adams. Photos: Dieter Jeben
[back to top]

Page 4

NEWS RELEASE from Woking Borough Council 21 February 2000


The Woking Waterways festival 2000 will be providing a splash of colour throughout the Borough this spring.

With a ten day celebration of boats, history, waterways, wildlife, countryside and hands on fun, the festival programme is packed with something for everyone including films, walks, talks, boat trips and exhibitions.

From 15-24 April the variety of water related activities caters for both boating enthusiasts or people sampling the delights of Woking's Waterways network for the first time.

Included in the festival programme are
* Colourful boat weekend rallies and open days at Byfleet Boat Club
* The Bridge Barn Rally, Woking (23-24 April)
* An illuminated night time canal boat cavalcade
* Countryside talks
* Historic and environmental exhibitions
* Strolling players
* A film show
* Working and historical canal boats
* Galleries afloat
* Waterside walks
* A theatre performance

Devised by the Inland Waterways Association and the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society with Woking Borough Council, the Woking Waterways Festival 2000 is likely to be the largest series of events ever organised to celebrate Woking's River Wey Navigation, River Wey, Hoe Stream and Basingstoke Canal waterways.

Tony Firth, Chairman of the Guildford and Reading Branch of the IWA said: "The Festival offers something for everyone. We hope people will come along to have fun and discover more about the green and pleasant environment that runs through the heart of Woking. It will be a real celebration of Woking's waterways, with lots of boats to see, events to participate in and chances to find out more about the area's past and its natural environment".

Peter Coxhead from the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society said: "The Festival means this year's Easter rally at the Bridge Barn will be bigger and better than ever. We are expecting over 50 colourful boats to attend. All outdoor Waterways Festivals are FREE entry, so there's plenty of opportunity for families to have several enjoyable and inexpensive days out!"

Full details and Festival programmes are available at Woking Visitor Information Centre, telephone 01483 720103 or e-mail, or from the Basingstoke Canal Visitor Centre at Mytchett.

If any Society members would like to help out at the Bridge Barn rally, Peter Coxhead would be only too pleased to see you. His phone number is 01932-344564.

Page 5

Festival 2OOO

ALL EVENTS ARE FREE (except the film show) - Come & have fun!

Sat 15th,
Dawn Chorus Walk.Hermitage Bridge, WokingBCAPeter Bickford
(01483 4759640)
Sat 15th,
All day
Waterways Exhibition Live demonstrations & music. Morris DancersTown Square WokingIWA, S&HCS. WRG, BCA, Woking Boats for the HandicappedTony Firth
(01252 325831)
Sat 15th,
All day
Historic working narrowboatsTown Quay,
Brewery Road
The Narowboat Trust
Sat 15th,
All day
Boat trips & displaysTown Quay, Brewery RoadWoking Boats for the HandicappedColin & Ruth Ray (01483 761449)
Sat 15th,
All day
Work boats on displayTown Quay, Brewery RoadBCABCA (01252 370073)
Sat 15th,
Weyside 2000 Open Days with displays, rowing boat hire, trip boat, 'try-a-boat', nature trail, folk music.Parvis Bridge, ByfleetByfleet Boat Club, National TrustRodney Wardlaw (01483437082)
Sat 15th,
Historic warerways Film Show by the Huntley Film Archive
Tickets £3.50
Rhoda McGaw Theatre, The Ambassadors, Woking.Woking BC and Woking's NewBox Office (01483 761144 or 01483 720103)
Sun 16th,
Weyside 2000 Open Days with displays, rowing boat hire, trip boat, 'try-a-boat', nature trail, folk music.Parvis Bridge, ByfleetByfleet Boat Club, National TrustRodney Wardlaw (01483 437082)
Sun 16th,
Heritage walk to Old Woking PalaceStart at Old Woking Stream of River WeyIain Wakeford Heritage WalksIain Wakeford (01483 431082)
Mon 17th,
Talk and Slide Show 'Woking's Waterway Environment'Parvis Bridge, Premises of the Byfleet Boat ClubIWA, Woking BCPaul Miles (01932 401505)
Tue 18th,
Past & present of the Basingstoke Canal, byTony HarmsworthWestgate Centre, Chobham Road, WokingWoking History SocietyRichard Christophers (01483 772801)
Mon 17th to Sat 22nd,
11 -5pm
Gallery Afloat. Paintings galore to see and enjoy.Town Quay, Brewery Road, WokingNancy Larcombe (artist) with boats 'Nancy Bell' & 'Towed Haul'Nancy Larcombe (01428 682842)
Sat 22 - Sun 23Bridge Barn RallyBridge Barn, WokingS&HCSPeter Coxhead (01923 344564)

[back to top]

Page 6

Thur. 30, - Walk with Paul Hope, Meet at Colt Hill car park in Odiham for a Heritage walk. £1 each.

Sat. 15-Sun. 22 - Woking Waterways Festival - various canal related activities.
Fri. 21-Fri. 28 - Easter Egg competition at the Canal Centre. £1 per child. 11am- 5pm each day.
Bridge Barn Rally. Woking.
Walk with Peter Munt. Meet at Deepcut Bridge at 9.30am for a 3 hour walk along the beautiful Deepcut flight of locks. £1 each.

Country Craft Fun Weekend at the Canal Centre, 11am - 5pm. £3 adults, £1 children, £1.50 OAPs.
Tue. 9 - The Lockgate Discovery. Talk with Canal Rangers. Meet at Deepcut Bridge 1.45pm. Finishes 4pm. £1 each.

Sun. 11 - BCCC Marathon canoe races at Canal Centre. (Ash Wharf to King's Head Bridge)
Sat. 17 - BCCC fun regatta/Try-a-canoe day at Fleet Wharf. 1 pm - 4pm.
Sat. 24 - Society Members' Day. Canal Centre. 2pm till late. Barbecue & music in the evening.

Sat. 22-Sun. 23 - Millennium Canoe paddle from Dome at Greenwich to Fleet Wharf.
Sun. 23 - Mikron Theatre at the Fox & Hounds, Fleet, 7,30pm
Thu. 27 - Walk with Peter Munt, Meet at Deepcut Bridge at 9.30am for a 3 hour walk along the Deepcut flight of locks, £1 each.

Thu.24 - Talk and walk with Paul Hope, Meet, at the Canal Centre, Mytchett at 7.30pm. Slide show about bats followed by a walk along the canal.

Thu. 7 - Walk with Paul Hope. Meet at Colt Hill car park, Odiham at 8pm. Walk along the canal with bat detectors to discover the bats that live along the canal. £1 each.
Sat. 9 - Sun. 10 - Cavalcade of Transport at the Canal Centre, 11am - 5pm.
Sat. 16 - Fox & Hounds Rally, Fleet.

Walk with Peter Munt. Meet at Deepcut Bridge at 9.30am for a 3 hour walk along the beautiful Deepcut flight of locks. £1 each.
Tue. 31 - Spooky Halloween Walks for children of all ages. Canal Centre 5.30pm - 8.30pm. Pre-book.


Grand Finale of Woking's Waterways Festival. The Canal Society's 7th annual rally of boats at the canalside Bridge Barn restaurant and Travel Inn. Over 50 boats, boat trips, stalls, displays and entertainment for all the family. Procession of illuminated boats on Saturday evening 8.45pm from Town Quay to Bridge Barn. Contact: Peter Coxhead (01923 344564)


25th April - 8th October

Public trips every Sunday departing at 2.30pm from Colt Hill, Odiham. 30th April -8th October (plus Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 1B' August - 1s1 September & August Bank Holiday)

1" hour public trips:
Easter weekend (Ash Wharf)
Spring and Whitsun Bank Holiday weekends (Reading Road Wharf, Fleet)

Charters available throughout the season, (Mornings, afternoons and evenings), excluding scheduled Public Trip dates, all day Mondays and Sunday & Tuesday evenings.

[back to top]

Page 7

The November meeting gave a wonderful opportunity for those members who were not in the area at the time to discover how the restoration began and to admire the sheer persistence of those who were involved in the early stages of reconstruction. Pablo Haworth's excellent slides of the early working parties showed just how difficult an operation it was and one could not but admire the dedication of those who regularly spent their weekends on the work over many years. The problems they faced were quite daunting and it is good to see that their efforts has been recorded so well. Many of the team were in the audience and readily added amusing anecdotes to Pablo's tales. We have a lot to be grateful for and thank them all.

In marked contrast, emphasising the variety we get in the talks evenings, the December meeting gave us the opportunity to sit back in our chairs and be transported far from the canals of England to the railways of Peru in the company of Robin Higgs. We visited Lima and Lake Titicaca with its historic steamers before travelling to Cuzco and Machu Picchu where we were able to admire the construction ability of the Inca working

parties centuries ago. Whilst we didn't appreciate the thought of the four am. starts we did enjoy the wonderful pictures and Robin's really fascinating commentary. We look forward to the next one.

Future Meetings
MARCH -Tuesday 14 Mar2000: Ron Cousens - "Birmingham and the Black Country Canals" Ron Cousens is the Talks and Presentations Officer for the Birmingham Canals Navigation Society and his talk will show some of the many and varied activites on, in and around the BCN.
APRIL - Tuesday 11 Apr 2000: Arthur Dungate - "An evening of Audio-Visual films on 'other' canals and things" A chance to see some of the AVs Arthur Dungate has made on the Wilts & Berks and Wey & Arun canals, and for the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

Note: If you have any interesting ideas for future talks, the Talks Organiser will be pleased to hear from you! Please contact HYPERLINK "talks.htm" \ "Bookings" Arthur Dungate (details on back cover)

Kathy Garrett

"Time, Ladies and Gentlemen, please"

At a time when country pubs are closing at a rate of six a week, others are changing from locals to more sophisticated watering holes. Since the late Ida Hale's family, who owned the Chequers in Crookham Village for three generations, finally sold up in 1988, several new licensees have tried to keep the pub going without apparent success. Now the pub name has been changed to the George & Lobster and no doubt the costly crustacean and chablis have taken over from pork scratchings and a pint of mild. At any rate the inn sign now proclaims it to be a bar and restaurant.

The 18th century pub was once an inn, believed to pre-date the canal. It was certainly a hostelry used by bargemen, with stabling for their horses. Its existence was probably the reason Crookham Wharf was constructed and the winding hole below Crookham Bridge where boats turned and moored overnight. Ida Hale's grandfather George Cowley had a contract with the original canal company to board boatmen at two old pence a night for a straw bed in the stable loft, a clay pipe and tobacco. Barge horses were stabled and fed for nine pence a night each.

Until Mrs Hale's death, the pub had two

Chequers Inn (9K)

bars and a large functions room where the late Mrs Joan Marshall, the canal's manager for the New Basingstoke Canal Company, used to hold meetings. Latterly only one bar was in general use, where locals sat at a semi-circular bench seat round a table facing the bar from which Dan and Ida served ale drawn from barrels in a back room. Visitors were always welcomed politely by landlord and locals alike. As much a family home as a pub, there was no attempt to keep up with such innovations as fruit machines and juke boxes - cribbage and darts remained the time-honoured entertainment.

Like the ghost of a man who died in the bar from a gunshot accident, the image of the Chequers past will reappear to passers by who knew it as a local pub where time stood still.     Dieter Jebens

[back to top]

Page 8

The new Canal Director was invited to give us his first impressions and a preview of the BCA's plans for the year:-

I am very pleased to be asked to contribute to the Society's Newsletter. I hope that most of you will have a rough idea about my background from the article in the last issue. Now, having been in post since September, I am starting to pull ideas together, having spent a lot of time exploring various issues.

What is very apparent to me is that there is a wonderful facility out there! It offers a great variety of opportunities for local people: excellent boating through attractive scenery, all year round on the Hampshire pound, with connection to the "system" for the best part of three seasons, a well used canoeing facility, superb wildlife value of national importance, excellent fishing, great walking and unique historical interest.

At BCA, I believe we have a duty to firstly, maintain the waterway. This is the very reason all the above activities and resources exist. The Waterway provides the unique factor that makes the canal so special, whether for boating or wildlife, fishing or just enjoying the waterside experience. Secondly, we have a duty to promote the canal and raise awareness amongst local people. Local Authority money provides some 75% of the revenue costs, and we therefore have to ensure local people have the chance to benefit from the canal. When it was first built, it would have brought trade, income and an improvement in the quality of life to people along its banks. I like to think that, now, the restored canal can once again bring improvements relevant to the start of the 21st Century.

It is important that we think laterally to do this, thinking beyond the more obvious canal related pursuits and look to other issues. For example, I am really pleased to see that the canal is to be used as a "stage" for two theatre productions this year. We are looking at developing a "health walk" route with Surrey Heath Borough Council. It is providing a venue for sponsored events and activities. It provides employment, both directly and indirectly. Initiatives such as the Woking Waterways Festival and the Backpumping scheme will help to regenerate areas around Woking Town Centre. I was very pleased to accompany David Millett to the Parliamentary Waterways Group recently to hear a presentation by the new Chair of British Waterways, Dr.Greener. I must say I was encouraged to hear his vision for the future of our canal system mirrored many of my thoughts above.

Of course we must not forget the driving force behind much of the restoration - the desire to get back a waterway fit for navigation and the enjoyment of outdoor pursuits. I really take my hat off to those who have dedicated so much time to this task, and continue to do so today. I hope you can enjoy the canal you have helped to restore for yourselves. But, think also of all the pleasure you have brought to other people, and the potential that is still out there! I am totally enthused by what we could all do. And by "we" I mean all individuals, organisations and interest groups along the canal. The Canal Society has a very important role in all this, being the key voluntary body and having so much accumulated knowledge, and so many contacts. I look forward to us working closely together, where possible, in the future.
Leigh Thornton

Cakes into Water

There will again be a cake stall at the Bridge Barn Festival. Bobbie King will be co-ordinating this. Last year, although many cakes were produced, the cakes ran out mid-morning on Easter Sunday so there is obviously potential for much more fund raising here if more cakes can be donated. Please help as much as you can as this is a major fundraiser for the water appeal. If everyone helps a little we can make it a real success. Bobbie can be contacted on 01252 325268.

For Sale
18ft 6ins Norman cabin cruiser, approx 26 years old. PRICE NEGOTIABLE Please contact Dick or Bobbie on 01252 325268

 (15K) Volunteer members of Kent & East Sussex Canal Restoration Group completing the new by-wash weir at Woodham Lock 5 in February. Photo: Dieter Jebens

[back to top]

Page 9

Working party members who cannot keep away from the canal kept me informed of developments at Dogmersfield, which occurred over the Christmas period. These events must come under the heading of a well known law that if anything can go wrong, it will -

On the last working party before Christmas, the last barge of the day was loaded rather more than was desirable; it was also the one which was least watertight. On the journey from Crookham to Dogmersfield, the tug steering cable broke and jury rigging the rudder flat was not effective pushing a loaded barge.

The fitment of a replacement cable in mid canal took some time and dusk was falling as we progressed towards Dogmersfield. Passing under Blacksmith's Bridge in the dark, the tug headlight revealed the excavator on its way out to Double Bridge Farm, so no unloading that Sunday night.

The following week it rained and the barge leaked. The hold filled and the barge sank leaving only one gunwale above water and at least 10 ton of stone on board.

The next working party came prepared to raise it with sandbags, 4 pumps, ropes, planks and 2 winches. The buoyancy chamber hatches were sandbagged and pumped out; nothing happened. The hold was then sandbagged with 3 layers of bags and pumped as dry as possible and we waited for the barge to float; it didn't!

The winches had been rigged to hold the barge from sliding into deeper water and, by taking up the strain on them, the suction was broken and the barge floated at last. We then had a late lunch before clearing up the equipment and unloading the barge. The rest of the weekend was spent trying to consolidate a very muddy towpath with a base layer of stone, and transporting the remaining stone from Crookham to Dogmersfield.

A reschedule of work was agreed, leaving Dogmersfield till March and, hope fully, better working conditions. Our working parties moved to Woodham to do some remedial work on the access road to Lock 1. and to re-profile the verge in preparation for a general upgrade for the backpump works machinery. Site access and road extension will be programmed when planning conditions on tree removal have been agreed.

Visiting groups have continued and weirs have been completed at Locks 1,2,3 and 4. A decision to fit grids to each weir means that further visits will be needed, but the work can be done with the canal in use. Lock 5 weir and a new interception chamber have been constructed in three weekends. Target for completion is the end of February and re≠opening of the canal.

11/12 MarDJ/DLDogmersfield towpath
18/19 MarKR/PRDeepcut
25/26 MarDJ/DLDogmersfield towpath
8/8 Apr
15/16 Apr
21-24 Apr
AllWoking Waterways Festival
6/7 MayKR/PRTug maintenance
13/14 MayDJ/DLWoodham
20/21 MayKR/PRDeepcut container
27/28 MayDJ/DLSlades Bridge

Work Party Leaders:
Dave Junkison DJ 0181 941 0685
Dave Lunn DL 01483 771294
Kevin Redway KR 01483 722206
Peter Redway PR 01483 721710
Note: Please contact Work Party Leaders before the weekend in case of last minute changes

Visiting volunteers party on the Basingstoke

A small army of volunteers from Kent & East Sussex Canal Restoration Group (KESCRG) and Waterways Recovery Group (WRG) chose the Basingstoke Canal as the venue for their annual Christmas party early in December. To work up a appetite, they spent Saturday clearing the offside bank along Hart Embankment at Coxmoor and Sunday working off the excesses of the night before, completing [656 yards] of clearing scrub and dangerous trees from the banks to a point just west of the site of Coxmoor Bridge.

The 58-strong working party sat down to dinner at Winchfield Village Hall, prepared by Maureen and Brian Amos and helpers. Among those celebrating were Ken Parish, founder of KESCRG who, with Mike Fellows the Society's working party leader, organised a number of productive summer work camps restoring locks at St. John's and Woodham in the 1980s. Martin Ludgate, WRG London co-ordinatorand a member of the IWA Restoration Committee also attended the party. WRG volunteers from all over the country joined the 600 volunteers who made up 'Deepcut Dig', one of the last national working parties held in November 1970.

[back to top]

Page 10

Fly-by-wire technology has been incorporated in the controls of a newly developed weed cutter launched on the canal in December. While the controls are becoming common in aircraft, the system has been patented as a new development by Brian Boner, a marine engineer, to control the propulsion, hydraulic booms and attachments on the weedcutter, named 'Millie 2'.

The craft has been custom built for the Canal Authority by Boner Engineering of Ardoss in Scotland for £60,000, half the cost of a conventional weedcutter. Comfortably seated in a soundproofed cab, the operator has a control panel in front of him with five joysticks, which operate the various functions.

The weedcutter is powered by a 37hp Kubota diesel driving two paddle wheels mounted on either side of the hull, giving precise manoeuvrability and capable of driving through thick vegetation without

getting stuck - weed simply slips off the paddles as they clear the water. Hull mounted heat exchangers keep the engine and hydraulic components cool, avoiding the risk of pollution or clogging.

Designed for the Canal's broad locks, 'Millie 2' has a beam of [nearly 4 yards] with weed cutter and rake attachments of the same width. Since the company intends to build the weedcutters to order, the design can be adapted to [2.3 yards] beam to operate on narrow canals.

The craft can also be used for general maintenance. A platform at the stern over the engine compartment has already proved to provide a stable working area when canal rangers used the boat to cut up and remove a tree that fell onto the canal in Fleet. It can also be used with suitable attachments for bankside piling and tree cutting.

new weedcutter (13K) Inspecting the new weedcutter.
(L-R) Leigh Thornton, Tony Harmsworth, Brian Boner and canal ranger John Green
Photo: Dieter Jebens

Remembering John Everton,
a friend and canal restoration volunteer, who passed away recently. John Everton (16K)

John's "mark" could be found on structures all along the canal and for some time his home/workshop, in the form of a VW van, was ever present.

I first met John some twelve years ago at Lock 2 at New Haw. He came and spoke to me on this first meeting as through we had known each other for years, in a way which I am sure many others will


Over the following years John could be found working at many locations on local canals and places such as Essex and Wiltshire, putting to good use his multitude of skills. These included bricklaying, carpentry, scaffolding, digger/dumper driving, tug steering and maintenance, and construction of boat moorings. He even found time to successfully complete a chainsaw course.

Sadly, John did not complete his dream of a narrowboat home for him and his partner Sandra, which he was in the process of fitting out when he was taken ill.

Those of us who knew him, and who he jokingly called the "semi-professionals", will miss his wit and humour. To Sandra, his son, daughter and all of his family, we send our deep sympathy in the loss of John.

Goodbye John and bon voyage.
Brian Smith

John's ashes were scattered at his request into Lock 2.

[back to top]

Page 11
NANCY LARCOMBE - Interviewed by Kathy Garrett

After crossing the swing bridge atthe Canal Centre it is hard to miss the unusual cottage-like butty moored behind narrowboat Nancy Bell. This is the cosy studio of Nancy Larcombe, a member of the Guild of Waterway Artists. Warmed by a solid fuel stove the studio, which is open each Sunday, houses a large collection of Nancy's pictures, many of the Basingstoke Canal.

Nancy was brought up in Huddersfield where, encouraged by her father, she began to paint at an early age before spending ayearof more formal training at Manchester Art School. Illness prevented further studies but she continued her artistic endeavours, concentrating mainly on portraits and still life using water colours, oils or pastels. Later when living in Chiddingfold she was involved for a number of years in painting scenery for local societies. Although her father had worked near the canal she was unaware of its existence and did not become a canal enthusiast until many years later.

A Broads holiday after her family had grown up renewed earlier hopes of living aboard and she determined to find her dream. This came in the form of a 40foot narrowboat moored at Farncombe Boat House and she was soon the proud owner of the re-named Nancy Bell.

Funding her new acquisition was a bit of a problem and soon Nancy had her art materials out. Having been told, quite erroneously that Wey boats were decorated with poppies and corn she began producing wooden plaques of these surrounding small scenes of the river. It was soon apparent that her buyers were more interested in the scenes than the flowers and her new life as a landscape artist began. A disastrous visit to the IWA rally at Godalming when, with her pictures carried two at a time, she had to slither across a mud packed field, convinced her that a floating studio was desirable and the hunt for Towed Haul began. Nancy's early experiences of learning to steer Nancy Bell and to work the Wey Locks in the 1970's are told engagingly and with great humour in her recent book "It's a Boat's Life". The book covers her first years of cruising on the Wey and Thames and also the acquisition of Towed Haul during a cruise from Godalming to Fenny Compton on the Oxford Canal. It has lively illustrations of the people and scenes passed and is a very good read.

During her time on the Wey Nancy drew portraits of all the lengthsmen. This resulted in the suggestion that she draw Captain Steve White, one of the last bargemasters who worked their craft

between the docks in London and the River Wey and Basingstoke Canal. Realising that his stories of working days on the River Wey should be preserved Nancy took on the daunting task of not only taping his stories of barge life but also transcribing them to produce the fascinating book "Captain White's River Life".

Nancy Bell had her first really long distance cruise to the end of the Rufford Arm of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The purpose of the visit was very special. Nancy's mother, living at St Anne's near Blackpool had recently celebrated her 94th birthday and had never seen the boat. She was unable to travel south and therefore Nancy Bell must go to her. During the voyage her owner made copious notes and drawings filling several volumes of her log book and thus began a new venture, for on their return the editor of Canal and River Boat agreed to publish 6 articles about the cruise including black and white line drawings. The articles proved to be so popular that Nancy has since become a regular contributor to Canal and Riverboat, her articles now including colour sketches.

Having been moored on the Basingstoke for two years now Nancy appreciates not only the beauty of it but also the friendliness and the fact that there is no risk of flooding. She is very appreciative of the opportunity she has had through her painting to meet so many interesting people.

Nancy divides her time between the boat and her home in Chiddingfold. The other great joy in her life is her grandchildren whom she hopes will take up boating themselves. She cherishes the memory of her twin grandchildren sitting in a dog basket on the roof of Nancy Bell safe from danger. One thing is certain Nancy has no regrets about her purchase of Nancy Bell. Would she like to change anything - well she would love to be able to moor on the Deepcut flight - wouldn't we all!

Nancy and her boats and paintings will be a feature of the Woking Waterways Festival, moored at the Town Quay from Monday 17th April to Saturday 22nd, 11 - 5pm.

the Nancy Bell (12K)

[back to top]

Page 12
THE HOUSEBOATS - Tony Harmsworth

I am often asked how the houseboats between Lock 3 and Lock 1 came to be there, as, obviously, they are mainly constructed from the hulls of narrowboats, and none of the hulls are old Basingstoke Canal boats.


In the late 1950's the Canal's owners were anxious to increase income in any way possible. They had already been warned that they were unlikely to keep the contract to supply water to the test cells at the National Gas Turbine Establishment at Pyestock beyond 1962/3. A company was formed called "Floating Homes Ltd", of which Mr Cook, the owner of the Canal, was a director. The idea was that they would convert boat hulls into houseboats, moor them along both sides of the Canal, and obviously charge rents for the privilege.

All the hulls, apart from one or two which subsequently were not used, came from the canal system north of Brentford, mostly from the Birmingham area. Old disused BCN "Joey" boats were rounded up along with some wooden British Waterways butties which were lying out of work. They were brought down the Grand Union Canal to Brentford using Boy Scouts on holiday and any single working motor boats that were prepared to tow one or two down through the system.

Six at a time the hulls were towed from Brentford to Weybhdge by the McAnn towing company of Putney. The firm consisted of Rodney McAnn, his father and grandfather, and on the first few trips all three manned the tug and crewed the string of six narrowboat hulls breasted up behind. On arrival at Thames Lock, Weybridge, they were locked through two at a time and then continued on up the River Wey to the bottom of the canal at Woodham. As can be imagined, this was quite a slow process and took all day because only two boats could be locked through at a time, and the tug, so each lock required four passes to get them all through. As soon as they reached the junction with the Canal, they were just pushed into the entrance and left.

At this time, I and a fellow apprentice at RAE Farnborough, John Vaughan, used to spend most summer weekends at Weybridge staying in the barge cabins or the old wharf shed and canoeing on the Thames and the backwaters of the River Wey. As the McAnn towing company had other work on the Thames, they used to arrange to tow up from

Brentford on a Friday afternoon and then spend all day Saturday moving the narrowboats up to the bottom of the Canal, so we used to help them.

One amusing incident occurred when John and I were crewing the six boats, towing up to Town Lock, Weybridge. The tug entered the lock leaving the six boats strung out between the lock and the road bridge, so I jumped down into the hull of one of the steel Joey boats with a boat hook in my hand. As I did so, the point of the boat hook connected with the steel bottom of the boat and went right through. Immediately a waterspout some 6-7 inches high started fountaining into the hull. A quick trip ashore was made and a piece of hazel was cut from the hedge, whittled to shape and wedged in the hole. The boat continued to make water all the way until we got to the bottom of the Canal, where the complete tow was hastily abandoned and we all jumped aboard the tug and quickly retreated to New Haw Lock. This small incident gives some idea of the condition of some of the hulls before they were ever converted to houseboats and, to say the least, all involved were not impressed.

Waterways Properties Ltd built a small sleeper stage in the bed of the Canal between Lock 3 and Lock 4 at Woodham and this was used as a dry dock. Boats were taken above Lock 3 three or four at a time and the pound was filled about 4 feet deep. Boats were positioned over the stage one at a time and the water was lowered to drop them onto it, where they could be worked on with relative ease. Eventually the houseboats were moored in the vicinity of Slococks Nursery which is now the Bridge Barn restaurant, and between Lock 3 and Lock 1 on both sides of the Canal. In many places, certainly in the vicinity of Arthur's Bridge and from Scotland Bridge to Lock 1, the towpath could not be used by the general public as it was enclosed as part of the houseboat gardens.

Two boats were moved up to Hermitage Bridge where they remain to this day. I believe that all movements of houseboats up to Woodham had ceased by mid 1961; the locks on the Canal rapidly deteriorated after the IWA rally at Woking at Easter 1962 and all were in total disuse by 1964.

The boats moored near Arthur's Bridge were moved to new moorings below Lock 3 during 1990 as part of the preparations for re-opening the Canal. Many of the boats still remaining have now had replacement hulls. Management of the houseboats and land agency matters are carried out on behalf of Surrey County Council by their agents Bruton Knowles Ltd, and all income from the houseboat moorings goes direct to the County Council. The Canal Authority does not benefit in any way from the boats being moored on the Canal.

[back to top]

Page 13
BOOK REVIEW - Dieter Jebens

"The Wey & Arun Junction Canal"
compiled by P.A.L Vine and published by Tempus Publishing. Price £9.99. (ISBN 0 7524 11712 5)

The latest title in the 'Images of England' series. Its author. Paul Vine, a Vice President of the Society and author of the 'London's Lost Route' series of canal histories needs no introduction.

Having researched the definitive history of 'London's Lost Route to the Sea', first published in 1965, Paul collected a great many photographs and maps of the 18-mile canal which links the Wey and Arun river navigations. This new paperback has provided him with the opportunity to present material which could not be included in the first book. In addition he has included contemporary pictures showing that the canal is far from lost but is an increasing hive of restoration activity by the Wey & Arun Canal Trust.

Like the Basingstoke, the Wey & Arun is largely a rural canal and so lacks the architectural features associated with canals that served industrial towns. As such, and because its commercial life spanned only 55 years from its opening in 1816 to 1871, photographs of trading boats are

scarce. Included in the book is the only known picture of a barge on the Arun Canal, identified by its number '12'. However, such is Paul's exhaustive research that he informs the reader that the boat was operated by Fred and George Dunkerton, pictured around 1885 below Newbridge, and that their father was wharfinger from 1868 to 1886. From quite ordinary scenes of the dry bed of the canal at Rushett Farm we discover that materials were unloaded on the bank for the adjacent vinegar works. The inclusion of many old maps helps to identify other industries, such as the brickworks at Cobden's Farm at Alfold where barges moored two orthree abreast waiting to load.

With pictures of restoration work already done, the Trust's trip boat 'Zachariah Keppel'- named after one of the canal's local contractors - operating from the Onslow Arms and imminent prospect of restoring Drungewick Aqueduct, what to many observers once seemed an impossible dream is now becoming a reality, even though there are still a good many obstacles to overcome. But then, nobody could envisage back in the 1970s, when many riparian landowners were strongly opposed to restoration, that a local farmer would be chairman of the Trust!

Zachariah Keppel (19K) Members of the Southern Canals Association aboard the 'Zachariah Keppel' in Baldwin's Knob Lock.
Photo: Dieter Jebens

[back to top]

Page 14

St George
The theme for the decorated boat competition at the Bridge Barn Festival is to be St George and the Dragon. Houseboat Joan Marshall at Hermitage Bridge has been pre-empting this by flying the St George's flag for several months. It always seems to be flying remarkably well making one wonder if this a particularly breezy part of the canal.


The Festive Spirit
This year the people of Fleet were treated to a very special Christmas entertainment. Jacqueline and Bill Findlay's garden which borders the canal was transformed into a magical scene of monks, choirboys and frogs with appropriate music and spectacular illuminations. The scene was reflected beautifully in the still canal and was well worth a visit. Mulled wine and mince pies were provided opposite on the canal bank at the bottom of Regent's Road and visitors were greeted by Father Christmas who had arrived on Narrowboat Pip. Jacqueline and her helpers were raising money for the charity Water Aid to supply water to villages in Africa. A repeat is planned for next year with even more ambitious plans being discussed! Look out for it. You will not be disappointed.

Speedy Work
It was good to see that the tree which was partially blocking the canal in the stretch above lock 6 on Boxing Day had been removed by New Year's Day. One of the delights of the Basingstoke is the many trees but of course they do cause problems from time to time and it is not always easy to know when problems have occurred. Members can help by reporting mishaps they see when walking along the towpath.

New John Pinkerton brochure
The John Pinkerton's 2000 brochure of charter and public trips has a particularly eye catching front cover with traditional sign writing as well as a serene picture of

the JP looking her best floating through the Basingstoke's beautiful scenery on a perfect day. Don't forget to mention it to anyone you know who organises group outings. Why not keep one handy in case to the opportunity occurs. Remember that every charter and public trip helps the society to further its work.

Basingstoke Canal Heritage Footpath
With assistance from Dieter Jebens, Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council have produced a very attractive leaflet on the 2 mile long footpath that now joins Basingstoke Town Centre and Old Basing, closely following the line of the canal. It has maps, historical details and old photos and is available free from the Canal centre, the Willis Museum in Basingstoke and our sales stand at events. In the longer term it is hoped to extend the footpath to link up with the towpath in Up Nately.

Lottery bid to conserve Odiham Castle
Members of Hampshire County Council's Countryside Committee took a trip on the 'John Pinkerton' from Colt Hill to King John's Castleat North Warnborough in November. The trip gave councillors a chance to see the canal and experience the trip boat service.

Councillors went on to inspect the ruins of the castle from which King John rode on to Runnymede in 1215 to seal Magna Carta. An application for nearly £100,000 is being made to the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the cost of stabilising the structure and other works. These will include improvements to the towpath and a visitor's landing stage. Cash is also needed to limit access to the ruins which have become a venue for unauthorised, and sometimes noisy, late night parties during the summer.

Give us sunlight
English Nature wants more sunlight on lengths of the canal overshadowed by trees. The aim is to encourage aquatic plants which invertebrates feed on to grow and so maintain the canal's value as a wildlife habitat. Conscious of public concern about felling trees, especially along the canal which has an abundance of mature oaks, beech, Scots pine, horse and sweet chestnut, English Nature is undertaking a trial canalside clearance project, starting [164 yards] east of Claycart Bridge to Rushmoor Flash. Trees and scrub will be cut back to a distance of [11 feet] from the water's edge, but a few specimen trees will be spared. Work was due to start in mid-February.

[back to top]

Page 15

{From Society Newsletters No. 89 February 1980 and No. 90 April 1980).

# At a Society Special General Meeting held in November 1979 the Society Committee received full support for their plan to employ four of the Job Creation supervisors and to increase subscription rates.

# In response to a Society appeal for funds to help keep the Job Creation supervisors employed permanently, the Woking firm of James Walker & Co. Ltd offered the sum of £500 to set the ball rolling. The sum of £30,000 per annum was needed and the Society had enough in its coffers for the first six months. Frank Jones, Job Creation Co-ordinator, stated that the four men could make and fit four pairs of lock gates.

# Lock restoration continues on Lock 16 and 19 of the Deepcut flight of locks, The Society steam dredger 'Perseverance' has been stopped 500 yards short of Barley Mow Bridge for boiler repairs and retubing. Work also continues on Lock 5 and Lock 1 at Woodham.

# Following a note in the August 1979 newsletter, 26 members attended a meeting at Dick Abbott's house and the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club was formed.

# The Manpower Services Commission agree a grant of £15,000 to provide employment for twelve young

people and their supervisors. The work will provide good industrial training and to learn something of the construction and building trades.

# HCC issue a report on the recreational and access issues at Colt Hill, Odiham with the view to acquiring the Colt Hill Wharf site for canal use once the Odiham By-pass is built across the cricket field. A public meeting is arranged in Odiham to discuss the proposals.

# HCC suggest that the best place for a boat basin along the Hampshire section of the canal is east of Pondtail Bridge, Fleet, on the south side of the canal.

# Membership of the Society stands at 2,300 including family members. A donation of £2,000 received from the Queen's Silver Jubilee Appeal Fund.

# During the last year HCC had repaired the breach in Ash Embankment, restored Ash Lock, and dredged the section through Aldershot Military Town.

# In Surrey, SCC had dredged the canal cutting at Deepcut, over Ash Embankment and in the Ash Vale area. The Ash embankment was to be relined with clay throughout to a high standard.

# The 90 year old steel girder viaduct, which carried the former Brookwood to Bisley branch line over the Basingstoke Canal above Pirbright Wharf, has been demolished by British Rail.

Book Review

"Bridges in Hampshire of Historic Interest",
published by Hampshire County Council, price £14.99.

The book features over one hundred bridges which are all individually presented with a colour photograph, location maps and supporting historical and architectural information. Each bridge is also identified by name and number in a colour-coded location map and section.

A variety of bridges are featured, ranging from medieval river bridges to structures of ornate design, many on private estates. Twenty two bridges on the Hampshire section of the Basingstoke

Canal are included, from Old Basing Bridge in the west to Wharf Bridge, Farnborough in the east. The Society helped to provide some of the information on these bridges.

For anyone interested in historic structures, this book will prove very informative. It is beautifully presented and is available from the Canal Centre at Mytchett or from Hampshire County Council's Information Centre at Farnborough Library. Extracts can also be found on Hampshire County Council's website at

[back to top]

Page 16

Answers for the Quiz in the December Edition

Norbury Junction. Lincoln. Netherton. Upton on Severn. Idle. Erewash. Tardebigge. Wendover. Marston. Middle Levels. Ellesmere Port. Newbold. Endon. Harecastle. Lancaster. Inverness.

The initial letters of each clue make the phrase "The New Millennium"

For the increasing number of people with computers and access to the Internet, I can really recommend the Canal website that Arthur Dungate has set up. As well as pictures and descriptive and historical matter for the general public, Arthur is keeping it up-to-date with coming events, and will also include articles from the Newsletter. You can find it at

And finally, to save any embarassment to Nick Halford, who has been helping to lay out the Newsletter since I took on the editor's job, I ought to say that he had nothing to do with this issue. The Society has paid for me to install PageMaker on my home computer and I have been wrestling with it over the last ten days, with occasional telephone and e-mail help from Kathryn Dodington. So if there are oddities in this issue, I apologise and will attempt to do better next time. RC
[back to top]

Date for next copy 30th April 2000

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.

Editorial Team:
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

President: The Earl of Onslow

Chairman: Peter Redway*. 1 Redway Cottages, St John's Lye, Woking, Surrey, GU21 1SL (0483) 721710
Vice-Chairman: Dieter Jebens*. 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Famham, Surrey, GU10 3NJ (0252) 715230
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: Verna Smith*. 63 Avondale, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants. GU12 5NE (01252) 617622
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
[back to top]


Last updated October 2005