No. 186 Summer 2000
One of the nice things about the annual Bridge Barn event is the fact that it encourages boats from other canals to visit the Basingstoke. It is a real pleasure for a week or so after the event to meet "foreign" boats on the canal and to feel really part of the waterway system. Thanks to all those boaters who made the effort and thanks too to Peter Coxhead and his helpers for organising it, not forgetting "Singe", otherwise known as Graham St. John, the Manager of the Bridge Barn, who continues to provide sterling support to the Society's activities.
It would be nice if we could think of ways of involving some of the other canalside pubs. The Fox and Hounds in Fleet of course already both hosts a boat rally and provides the venue for the annual Mikron theatre performance, but it is many years since the riotously successful "Nobsurd" at the Waterwitch at Odiham and Potter's has never really made anything of its proximity to the canal despite being next to the Canal Centre.
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Only 63 people attended this year's AGM. This number was a further drop compared to previous years and it was suggested that the start might be too early for some people. However, looking at those present it was clear that the current format of the AGM was failing to attract the younger members (they do exist!).
During the restoration years, people came to the AGM to get an update on progress, but now that there is less of this to report, it is perhaps time to consider revising the programme for the AGM. Your Committee will be looking at this, but if you have any ideas for items that might persuade you to come next year, please let us know.
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In my last editorial, I criticised Hart Council for not contributing their full share of the Canal Authority's budget. I was agreeably surprised to discover that people actually read some of what I write when I received a letter from Councillor Peter Carr, the Chairman of Hart's Leisure Services Committee which manages the funding for the canal.
He blamed the unfair level of funding for Hart from Central Government for their inability to do better and expressed his pleasure at being able to grant £23,000 for the Society's activities. I suspect that the Canal does not come very high in Councillor Carr's list of priorities, judging by the fact that he did not appear to recognise the difference between the Society and the Canal Authority, and he of course has to make judgements about the best place to spend public
money. Equally, though, we are entitled to campaign for our interests. It is difficult for the Canal Authority, as public employees, to get involved in
|political lobbying, so it is up to us to do it for them.
I have sent a reply to Councillor Carr, pointing out that even if fully funded, the BCA's budget is only, mile for mile, one third of BW's. I also mentioned that Hart's actions were proving unpopular with other authorities such as Woking, who were fulling funding the BCA, and that they could set a dangerous precident that could endanger the future of the canal that we have worked so hard to restore.
I have not received any reply yet, but there has been a local election in the mean time. Councillor Carr was re-elected but I do not know what post he will be occupying.
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Ever since David and Rosemary Millett stood down as organisers of the Society's outings some years ago, it has been on the Committee's conscience that something ought to be done about resurrecting these events. Repeated requests for volunteers produced no result, so I decided to do something about it myself. The leaflets about the trip to the Black Country Museum went out to all members with the calling notice for the Annual General Meeting.
I have been very disappointed by the response which so far has only half filled the coach. The majority of the takers to date either are, or have been, Committee members. A high proportion also qualify for the Senior Citizen discount.
Unless something dramatic happens, I think I shall put my idea of a rock'n roll night on hold. I don't mind sitting in a half empty coach but I think that it would be unfair to inflict a similar lack of enthusiasm on a live band.
* * * * * * *
The latest government proposal aimed at making life difficult for the John Pinkerton's management has just appeared. Apparently aimed at cutting down under age drinking, it would require a named crew member of each boat to obtain a licence to sell alcohol and the same laws would apply as if sales were made from land based premises. A licence holder would have to be present on every trip!
Difficult to see how this would be enforced - if the boat had a full complement of passengers, it would be illegal for the crew to let anyone else on board. Presumably the law would also apply to other forms of transport, so every long distance train driver or airline pilot would need a licence.
I gather that the Boat Company will be raising objections to this latest piece of heavy handed, unnecessary, government interference.
Easter Bunny Verna Smith paddling up the canal during the Bridge Barn Rally.
Photo - Dieter Jebens
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Since the Chairman's report for the year has already been sent with the AGM papers to all members, we are filling his page with his
Work Party Report for 1999/2000
This last year has been one of increased activity for working parties, including Woodham weirs, access road to Lock 1, towpath work at Dogmersfield, bankside clearance at Coxmoor and the Johnson's Wax Community Day at Deepcut.
Since January 1999 we have constructed weirs at the five lower locks, the one at Lock 1 being the most complex. Logistics involved [57 yards] of concrete pipes, each weighing 920 kg.
Concentrated efforts during the summer work camps progressed the weirs at Locks 2, 3 and 4, where running sand caused subsidence which necessitated extensive piling to stabilise the towpath and embankment.
The final weir was completed in time to be operational for the March 2000 re-opening of the canal.
The access to Lock 1 required improvement and some undergrowth clearance. A water supply will be required for construction of the pump house, so the opportunity was taken to lay the water main during the improvement works.
The road is now capable of taking 20 ton lorries, which will be needed for the backpumping scheme work. This work, done with the permission of the owners, Woking BC, and the weir construction were financed by the £30,000 Entrust landfill tax grant.
The section of towpath between Blacksmith's Bridge and Chatter Alley had been left to last, being the most difficult to access. Work started last autumn when water levels in the canal allowed the use of the tug and barges for transportation of materials and continued through to May, with a break in February.
During the May Bank Holiday, a concentrated effort completed the project, landscaped the unloading area and moved the equipment off site.
Our volunteers have now resurfaced all the towpath from Morris Bridge to Barley Mow, with Hart DC sponsoring the work and paying for materials and plant hire - an active partnership working for the benefit of the canal, users and
community. The remaining part from Barley Mow to the Greywell Tunnel was surfaced by Canal Rangers and the Hampshire Training Project.
Last Christmas, WRG and KESCRG joined forces for their Christmas party and we were invited to host the event, with Coxmoor Wood being the chosen venue.
Winchfield Village Hall was booked and with 50 plus people, it was extremely cosy overnight. A good turnout on site for both days cleared the embankment and a considerable distance upstream. A highlight was Mike Palmer in shorts (he had forgotten his working gear and had to make do with his sports clothing).
Johnson Wax Community Day
Johnson Wax hold an annual Community Day and this year one of the chosen projects was painting all 14 of the Deepcut Locks.
Thursday 6th April dawned bright and sunny, materials and equipment were delivered and the volunteers briefed. Teams were allocated locks and soon cleaning down was in progress. By 4.30pm, 13 locks were complete and only the black paintwork was left to finish on the final one.
Supervision and support was a joint effort between the BCA and the Society. A good day's work by all involved!
Our plant and equipment needs tender loving care on occasions if it is to remain in running order and we owe the dedicated people involved a vote of thanks for their efforts.
The input by our volunteers and visiting groups is significant; if a daily rate was attributed, it would be in the tens of thousands of pounds range. Person Days worked in the last 16 months are:-
SHCS volunteers - 184
Visiting Groups - 743 (Work camp 378)
Johnson Wax - 36
Yotal: 963 Volunteer days
As always, I am indebted to the volunteers and leaders for their support and efforts during the past year. We have much to be proud of.
And, as always, we are greatly indebted to Peter for doing a large amount of the organising as well as more than his fair share of the actual work. Thanks again Pete.
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ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING - REPORT by Roger Cansdale
This year's Annual General Meeting was held in the somewhat unfamiliar venue of the Brookwood Memorial Hall due to the unavailability of the usual hall when we had to change the date to avoid a clash with the various activities of the Woking Waterways Festival. In the event, it proved perfectly adequate to accommodate the 63 people who attended.
The major part of the formal business was the presentation
of the accounts. Whilst these had been approved by the
Board, the Treasurer apologised for the fact that they were
in draft. This was due to his own pressures of work, a road
accident to the auditor and the fact that the books had had
to go to Entrust, who had made a grant of £30.000 to the
Society for the back-pumping under the landfill tax refund scheme.
On the income side, the drop in subscriptions compared to 1998 was largely due to delays in sending out reminders, and much of the difference had come in after the books were closed. This would, however, appear in the final accounts under
creditors. The major change in expenditure was under Projects and working party, but this included one-off costs of a new engine for the John Pinkerton and the cost of fitting out the new trip boat Dragonfly.
The Treasurer did not therefore feel that there was any need for concern at the loss of £14,125 over the year compared tothe profit of £5,190 in 1998. The Society still had £51,238 in the bank. The accounts were approved and Hiltons re-appointed as auditors.
The meeting then moved on to appoint the new Board of Directors. Sadly, once again there was no need for an election as only 10 names were put forward for the 12 seats. David Junkison was standing down, but John Ross was joining.
This completed the formal business of the evening and we then moved on to what for most people was the more interesting part. This began with the reports on the Society's various activities during the year.
Peter Redway's account of the working
parties' progress appears on the
Chairman's page, but he ended by expressing his thanks for support to the volunteers, the organisers, the BCA, Hart and Woking Borough Councils, the Society's Committee and, last but certainly not least, to his wife Marguerite. He looked forward to another successful year.
Ron McLaughlin followed with a review of Surrey & Hampshire Canal Cruises' season. The Pinkerton's new engine had proved a good investment, being not only quiet and reliable but also improving the handling. Ron even went so far as to claim that the boat could now be steered in reverse - bet I can't!
The trip down to the River Wey had made a profit of £1000 and overall profits were up by £2000. This year, despite poor weather, the Easter takings were £800 and the bookings were already nearly up to last year's total. The boat also had been booked for the whole of the Farnborough Air
Show by one of the exhibitors.
Dragonfly had been fitted out as a 10 seater trip boat with all weather protection. After being formally christened by the Mayor of Woking it had gone down to the River Wey for the Byfleet Boat Club's Open Day, where it took £200. It would be operating on Saturdays and Sundays, plus some weekdays during school holidays, at St John's.
Finally, Ron appealed for more volunteers to crew both boats and reminded everyone of the Tuesday Club Nights on the Pinkerton, leaving Odiham at 7.30 pm. These trips were free to Society members and friends.
Arthur Dungate reminded us of the existence of his Canal website (address on the back page), which he intended to expand and update. Future plans included the history of the Society's railway and the dredger Perseverance.
After the reports came the presentation of the Robin Higgs Award. As Robin and Heather were on holiday, this was made by David Millett. The recipient this year was David
(cont. on page 5).
David Junkison receiving the Robin Higgs Award from David Millett (left) and a picture from his fellow Working Party members from Peter Redway (right).
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Junkison and the Vice-president reminded us of the many parts of the canal that he had worked on since joining the Society in the early 1970s. He was also a regular on Wey and Arun work parties. David was soundly applauded and was also presented with one of Terry Harrison's prints of the canal by his work party colleagues.
Following this, there were a few general notices: - David and Judy Gerry would be moving shortly and so Boats for the Handicapped were looking for a new secretary and boat manager.
We were reminded that the Society was again Joining in with the Wey & Arun's Poddle on 4th June, and that there were still seats available on the trip to the Black Country Museum on 16th July.
The next item was a briefing on the Water Appeal. This was being administered by Pablo and Jill Haworth and was not just aimed at the back pumping scheme for Woking. The ultimate aim was to keep all the canal in water all the time. This would be of benefit to both boats and wildlife.
The next phase would probably be focussed on St John's using a reservoir and/or back pumping.
We have got lottery money, but more will be needed. Grants would be applied for but we would also be doing active fund raising and writing to all local businesses.
Pablo explained that he had dreamt up the buy-a-pipe idea some two years ago. Early in the restoration, a similar buy-a-brick scheme had raised money. Unfortunately pipes were more expensive, hence the £10/foot idea. Names of donors would be recorded and since the budget, charities could now reclaim tax paid on all donations.
Leigh Thornton, the new Director of the BCA, had bravely agreed to come to the AGM to talk about the tree project and to answer general questions.
He explained that the Basingsloke was Britain's most tree lined canal and whilst this contributed greatly to the beauty of the canal and benefited the wildlife, it also caused problems. The main ones were transpiration (a mature oak drinks 500 gallons of water a day), silting due to leaf fall, breaches caused by trees on embankments, blocking of the canal by fallen trees and a tendency to make the towpath wet. In addition shading by trees had been identified as the single most damaging factor for plants in the SSSI.
The intention was to open up some stretches. He felt that this would also improve the appearance of some of the "long green tunnels" which were a bit bland. The first such project
was in Rushmoor and English Nature had
provided £10,000 funding. Leigh admitted that it looked a little unattractive at present but he was confident that it would regenerate; tree stumps would coppice and the reed fringe would be encouraged, which should benefit the threatened water voles. Boats would gain from the removal of overhanging branches.
He felt that this project was one that would benefit all interest groups.
A discussion and general question and answer session followed. David Gerry warned that trees in Deepcut particularly needed managing and said that he had been advised that the legal position was that no trees were protected on the canal because of the original Act of Parliament, which simplified the job of managing them. Leigh, however, said that the BCA would still prefer to do it by agreement rather than rely on this.
David Millett asked whether there was any prospect of persuading Rushmoor to fund work on the towpath from Norris Bridge to Rushmoor without insisting on it being designated as a cycle way. Leigh
replied that grants had been obtained
from Hampshire forpart and from landfill tax, and that he hoped also to get money from DERA under the scheme to put in a second Norris Bridge.
Kathryn Dodington was concerned about the terrible state of the towpath from Lock 15 to St John's, which she said was exacerbated by the BCA rangers' habit of driving their vans down it when escorting boats. She said that this was unnecessary because there was road access to all the lock flights. Leigh said that he was not familiar with this stretch but promised to look into it.
David Junkison commented on the failure of Surrey Heath and Hart to contribute their full share of the BCA's budget, even though they had funded projects. Leigh agreed that this was a threat but felt that it was difficult to tackle.
In answer to a question about what happened to the timber from felled trees, Leigh said that it was usually burnt on site because it was uneconomic to extract it. However, he would like to see it used more for the benefit of the local community.
Closing this part of the meeting, the Chairman gave a brief update on his printed report that had gone to all members. The Bridge Barn event had been the best yet and he congratulated Peter Coxhead and everyone else concerned (Peter announced that he would be sending a cheque for a record profit of £2000).
The Heritage Lottery Fund had been slow with the contract and a project manager had to be recruited before work on the
back pumping scheme could proceed.
Finally he noted that next year would be the 10th anniversary of the re-opening and he asked for suggestions for a suitable celebration.
The last part of the evening was an Open Forum.
© David Millett asked about the proposed boat basin at the Canal Centre. Leigh Thornton replied that costings were being prepared and that he had agreement for a capital spend. The intention was to have space for 20 boats and it might be done by next year. The ground appeared to be good quality building sand which could be sold, though this might cause mineral extraction complications.
© Now that tax refunds could be claimed on donations, would the same be done on subscriptions? The Treasurer said that this would be done and it was to be discussed at the next Committee meeting.
© It was suggested that a good way of celebrating the year 2000 would be to increase the Society's membership to 2000 (currently standing at about 1800).
© It was suggested that corporate membership of the Society could be offered to local firms, thus ensuring their continuing interest.
© The poor turnout for the AGM was commented on. The formal part was criticised as boring and the minutes failed to record the discussions. It was explained that the minutes were only a record of the formal part and the Newsletter Editor pointed out that he was taking notes for a report in the next issue. However, consideration would be given to ways of making the AGM more appealing.
© An enquiry was made as to why the water from the pumping station at Greywell was not used to supply the canal. It was explained that this possibility had been investigated but, contrary to previous information, the station was still in service and the water was definitely not available for the canal.
The meeting closed at 9.30 and the usual thanks are due to the Chappell family for organising the refreshments.
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All change at GALLEON MARINE
The hire boat business at Colt Hill is under new management, with new owners Jim and Jan Peile taking over just after Easter.
Jim & Jan Peile, the new owners of Galleon Marine, with some of their customers in the background. RC
Jim has run his own building business for the last 20 years, but according to his wife Jan, has always wanted to get into the leisure industry. They owned a boat on the Thames when their three children were younger and Jim is also a keen fisherman, so, living as they do in
Odiham, they were delighted to find that there was a canal based opportunity
|right on their doorstep.
They intend basically to carry
on the business as before,
offering short break holidays
of up to a week in the five
narrow boats. The skiffs, punts and canoes will also be
available for those who enjoy messing about in boats
without going anywhere much.
Currently Jim and Jan are working very hard to sort out what
exactly they have acquired and to keep the customers who have already booked holidays happy. In the longer term, when they have managed to get their heads above water, they plan to repaint and refit all the boats, as well as tidy up the canalside premises. Jan would like to find time to do some gardening and add a bit of colour to the yard.
We wish them well in their new enterprise and if, at the end of the boating season, anyone feels like lending a helping hand with some painting and decorating, ashore or afloat, they would probably get a warm welcome.
Their phone number, for this or for boating enquiries, is 01256 703691.
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Mikron Theatre Company
Date: Sunday 23rd July 2000
Venue: Canalside garden of the Fox & Hounds,
Crookham Road, Fleet
Once again, the Society is sponsoring a performance by the Mikron Theatre. For this year the cast is back to four members and they will be back to the more lighthearted style of previous years.
The show is entitled 'Don't start from here' and continues the transport theme, this time focussing on people moving. Judy lives in the city, Pete in the country. They decide to meet and that's where their problems begin as they embark on their nightmare journey. Will fate and our transport systems conspire to keep them apart or will love be allowed to blossom?
The traffic may be jammed, the trains late, but the show travels at a fast pace, laced with humour and original songs and music. Bring along a rug or folding chair, or just sit on the grass and enjoy yourself.
The annual Mytchett Transport Festival will be held on 9/10 September at the Canal Centre. Admission will be £3 per adult with free parking. Once again, there will be a wide variety of transport represented including Traction Engines, Cars, Buses, Lorries, Motorbikes, Boats, Fire Engines and much much more. The Canal Society and other canal groups will have a special area dedicated to all things waterborne and we look forward to seeing members at the event.
Surrey Heath Festival
This will take place at Frimley lodge Park on 28 to 30 July. There will be a circus, bands, horticultural show, arts & craft stalls, etc. Boats and boaters are encouraged to attend.
Members' Day - Cancelled
This was to have been on 24th June, but for various reasons, including of a clash with the Reading Water Festival, it has been decided to cancel it for this year. Our apologies for any disappointment.
Woking Talks - by Kathy Garrett
I am sure those members who attended the February talk given by David Moore, Chairman of the Friends of the London Canal Museum, will have been inspired to pay it a visit if they haven't done so before. David gave us a really interesting insight into both the history of the museum building itself and the development of the museum project as well as focusing on a number of the museum's most interesting exhibits. We heard too about efforts to overcome funding problems and the tremendous input from volunteers, including work by WRG and other groups in excavating the ice house. The museum is well worth a visit. It has an excellent web site at http://www.canalmuseum.orq.uk where details of opening hours are available. For those who prefer more traditional methods you can ring 020 7713 0836.
The Woking Talks have a very regular audience who don't like to miss an evening. Unfortunately a prior holiday commitment prevented my attendance at the March evening, a great pity as all who were able to go have highly praised the evening with Ron Cousens from the Birmingham Canals Navigation Society who entertained them with slides showing the many changes which have taken place in the Birmingham area over the years and demonstrating just how
much canals in inner city areas have to offer to so many
different people with varied interests.
Putting together an audio visual presentation is no easy task. I think many of us were amazed at the March meeting to see just how many steps there were in the process when Arthur Dungate let us into some of the secrets through an audiovisual of how it is done. We were then treated to AV's of the Wilts and Berks and Wey and Arun Canals and one made for the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, all of which demonstrated the creator's talent and showed just how effective this media can be.
It has yet again been a very varied programme and there has been much good humour and a really great atmosphere. If you haven't yet been along come along for the next season but note, the Woking Talks will in future be on the 2nd WEDNESDAY of the month and not on Tuesday as previously. The first meeting will be on Wednesday 11th October. Meanwhile we are very grateful to Arthur for his contribution to the society. Thanks too to Peter Coxhead and his team of raffle ticket sellers and coffee makers and to all to all others who have helped to make the series such a success.
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Society launches new trip boat
The Mayor of Woking (left) launching the Society's new trip boat
'Dragonfly' at Brewery Road Wharf, Woking. Photo: Dieter Jebens.
An 18ft GRP cruiser donated to the Society by members Bruce and Ros White has been converted into a 10-seater trip boat, which will be based on the Canal at St John's. Named 'Dragonfly', the boat was launched by the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Ian Fiddler on 8th April at Brewery Road Wharf. Before embarking on a short cruise up the canal, the Mayor
acknowledged the gift made to the Society and me work of John Abbott and Bill Bowbrick, who spent 18 months on the conversion, fitting a canopy and seating and renovating the hull.
'Dragonfly' is only one of three boats moulded by Reading Marine. It will be operated by volunteers from Kiln Bridge
at St John's, doing half hour cruises at
Holidays and some weekdays during the summer school holiday period. Trips cost £2 for adults and £1 for children.
The cruiser is being run by Surrey & Hampshire Canal Cruises, the Society's subsidiary company that operates the 'John Pinkerton'. 'Dragonfly' is also available for party
bookings, which can be made by calling Ron McLaughlin on 01252-672189.
Crewing is being managed by Robert Pring who would welcome calls from members willing to crew the boat. The financial success of the new service will be largely dependent on running as many trips as possible. The boat needs a crew of two people. Volunteers can reach Robert on 01932-344736.
Anderton Boat Lift
Splendid to see that this amazing device is to be returned to full working order. In fact it will again be hydraulically operated using a modern non-corrosive fluid rather than the unsavoury water of the River Weaver available to its Victorian designer, but the overhead cogs that were part of the subsequent conversion to electric power will also be set back in place to restore its familiar silhouette.
IWA members will have already received a leaflet appealing for help to raise the
last £250,000 needed for this project. The IWA itself has donated £10,000 to become the first
'Gold Patron', and your Committee agreed to a donation of £240 on behalf on the Society, but you can become a sponsor for a modest £5 a month for the next 4 years; Gift Aid tax relief adds another 28% to this. Sponsors will receive a souvenir plaque, a newsletter and an invitation to ride the lift when it re-opens.
If you are interested and have not got a leaflet, call the Appeal Hotline on 01923-201383 or e-mail email@example.com
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From Mr & Mrs Sayles of Leeds, West Yorkshire
WOODHAM LOCKS BACK-PUMPING SCHEME
We would like to thank the Society for organising a most enjoyable Easter weekend rally at Bridge Barn, Woking.
As we do not live locally, it is always a pleasure, when visiting the area, to have the opportunity to enjoy the canal and see it being put to good use. The boats that gathered certainly made a memorable sight and sound on Saturday evening!
Looking at some of the leaflets available, we were interested to see the new leaflet giving information about, and requesting donations for the back-pumping scheme on the Woodham flight. The leaflet is very impressive and, given the relatively short time available in which to collect the £181,000 required to match the Lottery funding, it is important that it is widely circulated. As well as spreading the message locally, it will also enable Society members not living locally, such as ourselves, to (a) have the opportunity to contribute, and (b) pass the information on to local groups nationally so others may know about and be able to support the scheme.
Presumably the need to support and promote the appeal will be reinforced in forthcoming newsletters and hopefully covered in national waterways publications such as Waterways World, Canal Boat and the IWA's magazine Waterways.
From Richard Fairhurst of Charlbury, Oxfordshire
I was very interested to read Tony Harmsworth's article on the Basingstoke houseboats in the Spring 2000 issue. Could I perhaps, through the pages of the Basingstoke Canal News, ask if any of your readers know any more about the history of these boats?
Last autumn, we acquired Christina, which was moored by Scotland Road Bridge. We are now restoring it on the Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union.
It was one of ten 'Big Ricky' ex-Grand Union Canal Carrying Company wooden butties brought down to the Basingstoke Canal in 1961 by Floating Homes Ltd. We would like to find out the original name of the boat.
With help from various sources, we have eliminated Sunbury (probably later known as Tikina), Roade, Oxted (aka Charmed Annie), and Tilbury (aka Triton). This leaves Downham, Hagley, Stoulton, Baling, Feltham and Halton as contenders.
If any readers can identify the fate of any of these boats, it would help us greatly. Tania (part-sunk at Scotland Road) and John P (previously John B and Lodore), both still on the Basingstoke, are both Big Rickys: Laughing Waters (once Still Waters) and Mamsterdam (broken up in 1998) may well have been, too.
March, April and May are to my mind when the Canal is at its best and, apart from the appalling weather during April, this year has been no exception.
The rainfall seems to have had little effect on the bankside vegetation, which is currently a mass of wild flowers. The stretch from Chequers Bridge in Crookham to Double Bridge at Dogmersfield is particularly rich in the varieties that flourish. The wood anemones have nearly all gone now, but the primroses, cellandines and violets are still going strong and the dangling flowers of the water avens are popping up all along the water's edge. Purple spikes of bugle abound and you can also find the delicate pale pink flowers of lady's smock down by the water, whilst the woods are filling up with bluebells.
Butterflies are appearing too, with brimstones awaking
from their winter sleep some of the first to show. Look out too for orange tips.
A young grass snake slithered across the towpath near Double Bridge and dived into the canal at the sight of me on May Bank Holiday Monday and the birds of the Canal are getting into their usual Spring fever. The ducks at Colt Hill are particularly frisky, but it is nice to see plenty of moorhens and coots about. There was a pair of great crested grebes on Tundry pond a couple of weeks ago, and you can still find their smaller cousins, the little grebe or dabchick, between the winding hole at King John's castle and the Greywell Tunnel.
Badgers are still thriving along the canal, judging by the quantities of newly dug earth in the cutting between Malthouse Bridge and the Zebon Copse Swing Bridge. Moonlit May evenings are the time to see the cubs emerge.
These days the Society takes Health & Safety at Work very seriously and, as a consequence, £1300 has just been spent on CIT approved training for Dave Lunn and Stewart Collier. They are now registered as approved to drive forward tipping dumpers and 360° excavators of below 5 tons weight.
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WOKING WATERWAYS FESTIVAL
This took place between the 15th and 23rd April and was a joint venture sponsored by Woking BC, the Guildford and Reading Branch of the IWA and the SHCS and organised by a committee drawn from these organisations. Its aim was to raise the profile of Woking as a 'waterway town'.
The Right Royal Revels helping to
publicise the Festival.
The week started off with a Dawn Chorus walk, attended by 8 hardy souls - a good turnout considering that it was cold, dark and raining. I can report that at least Tony Davis enjoyed himself.
Unfortunately the weather of the early spring persisted for most of the Saturday when we took over the Town Square. However, we achieved our main aim, which was to publicise the Bridge Barn Easter Festival, with hundreds of leaflets being handed out to the passing shoppers.
Saturday evening saw an excellent show of archive films at the Rhoda McGraw Theatre; it was a complete sell out.
Both Saturday and Sunday saw Weyside 2000 Open Days at the Byfleet Boat Club and a lot of hard work by the Club turned this into a great success.
There were several other well attended events during the week, including Tony Harmsworth's 'Past and present on the Basingstoke Canal'.
All in all a worth while effort which we hope will encourage the residents and business folk of Woking to support our Water Appeal for the back pumping project. My personal thanks to Tony Davis and Tony Firth for the original idea
and their subsequent input, and well done to all those members and associates who contributed to the week.
Dick Harper-White demonstrating his
painting to the Mayor and Peter Redway..
Singe taking delivery of'Dragonfly's' cargo
from Ron McLaughlin.|
Photos: This page -
Top: The Right Royal Revels helping to
publicise the Festival. Centre: Singe taking delivery of'Dragonfly's' cargo
from Ron McLaughlin. Bottom: Dick Harper-White demonstrating his
painting to the Mayor and Peter Redway.
Opposite page -
Top: Verna Smith and Janet Greenfield try to
tempt the Mayor with a souvenir. Bottom: Award winners. Photos by Ray Came// & Dieter Jebens
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This year's event was the finale to Woking Waterways Week and was well supported by the people of Woking. Bridge Barn Pub & Restaurant acted as our host once againand all the staff supported the event enthusiastically. A good variety of boats attended, including the Society's
new trip boat Dragonfly, and the theme for this year was "George & The Dragon".
Verna Smith and Janet Greenfield try to tempt the Mayor with a souvenir.
On the land, the selection of attractions included Try-A-Digger (courtesy of Elmbridge Plant Hire) which Dave Lunn ran all weekend. Also present were Dick Harper-White, the local IWA branch, sheep from a local Sheep Sanctuary, the Basingstoke Canal Authority and many other attractions. The Society was well represented with its Sales Stand, an Archive display and a games stall for children.
Many members helped the event by collecting donations from the public in buckets and this hard work is much appreciated by the Society.
Several competitions were held over the weekend and the results are shown below:
Best Decorated Boat||
|Runner up:||Tristan III|
|Best Illuminated Boat||Winner:||Which Wey|
BCA Weed Cutter
|Best Bonnet||Winner:||Valerie Wardlaw|
|Runner up:||Shirley Trott|
|Best Dressed Boaters||Winner:||James & Hazel Bell|
|Runner up:||Joe & Maggs Lockswood|
The Saturday night saw the very popular Illuminated Boats Parade. This drew large crowds and is now a regular fixture of the event. The crowds were entertained by the Roughditch band and the procession of boats drew many favourable comments from the spectators.
There was a new attraction on Sunday night in the form of the Daystar Theatre Company who performed to a full house in the marquee. Their appearance was made possible by the grant received from the Millennium Commission to the Guildford & Reading Branch of the I.W.A. and this also paid for the hire of a marquee for the weekend.
Although Edwin kindly agreed to write the report on the Bridge Barn, as Chairman, I cannot let pass the opportunity to publicly thank the Committee for all their work. Those involved were Edwin & Joan Chappell, Bobby King & Dick Elder, Peter Harman, Verna & Denise Smith and, last but not least, our champion Harbourmaster, Rodney Wardlaw.
They join me in thanking Singe & Jackie of the Bridge Barn, who have been closely involved ever since the first meeting last October, and also the site owners, Whitbread, for amongst other things, providing 5000 colour leaflets.
Also, I must put on record the magnificent backing we and the IWA received from Woking Borough Council, particularly for the posters advertising the rally and all events of the preceding week.
Photos: Ray Carnell & Dieter Jebens
Finally, to end on a humorous note, I had a telephone call from a lady who had obviously been to the rally, enquiring where she could hire the digger on which Dave Lunn had been expertly supervising children trying to pick up various objects. In reply to my question "What do you want it for?", she replied "For a children's party". Could this be a new source of income for the Society?
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'Wheels Along the Towpath'
Published by The Boats for the Handicapped Association. Price: £1.00 from the Canal Centre at Mytchett, or £1.35 including postage from: Peter Dryden, 59 Green Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU9 8QE (Cheques made out to the publisher above).
There are a number of guide books to the Basingstoke Canal, but none provide information to help disabled people who rely on wheelchairs to access the waterway. Now the Boats for the Handicapped Association has put that right with its own guide 'Wheels Along the Towpath', compiled by David Gerry and wheelchair user David Cooper.
The 18-page A4 size guide gives suitable access points (and unsuitable ones) for wheelchairs and comments on any problems the researchers encountered.
At the western end of the canal, the authors found access at Penney Bridge very narrow and appeal to the Canal Authority to improve it. There is also a plea to remove a tree stump under Brick Kiln Bridge, which wheelchairs cannot negotiate.
While the condition of the towpath is generally regarded as satisfactory or even good for wheelchairs, users are warned that protruding sharp stones, especially along Ash Embankment where the surface was not properly compacted, can cause wheelchairs to skew off course, as happened to one user who ended up in the canal. Fortunately rescuers were on hand! The advice is to take a minder with you until you feel confident. And users of wheelchairs with inflatable tyres are recommended to carry a puncture repair outfit.
Short gradients at locks have been reported to be beyond the capabilities of some powered wheelchairs and they should all have efficient brakes for the descent. Manual wheelchair users definitely need help for the ascent at locks.
Although the authors missed out some lengths of the towpath which had already been researched by other wheelchair users, they believe one of these days someone will enter the canal record books for covering the entire 32-mile length of the waterway by wheelchair.
Nicholson Guide to the Waterways. Thames, Wey and Kennet & Avon.
New editions of all seven Nicholson canal guides have been published. For reasons best known to the publisher, the Basingstoke Canal is not listed on the cover of guide Number 7, although it appears first, along with the Thames, Wey Navigation and Kennet & Avon Canal. Look out for 'NEW EDITION' on the cover.
The Basingstoke is well covered in 15 pages with Ordnance Survey maps. Pub and restaurant listings have been updated, including the deletion of the Star at Hookheath which is nowhere near the canal. Instead the Hood'n Horse at Knaphill is listed, which is a tidy walk past the Hunter's Lodge (apparently also in Knaphill although actually in Brookwood). I don't know the former but can recommend the latter.
Although trip boats have been updated to include the Boats for the Handicapped Association's 'Dawn', and 'Merlin' and 'Astra' at Mytchett, less obvious changes have not been made. Apparently a collection of used cars is parked almost at the edge of Brookwood Bottom Lock, although they were moved back and the garage separated from the canal long ago. Inevitably some changes are beyond the publisher's control, such as a knife and fork symbol at Lock 28. Although no mention is made, this no doubt indicated Peter Munt's lockside tea garden, which I am told is no more. Perhaps the guide has found an army field kitchen open for refreshments or the dry dock has been turned into a restaurant!
Navigation notes recommend boaters to check the depth of the many 'wide pools' along the canal before straying off the main line. Better advice might have been 'keep to the prescribed channel' and let the wildlife have their space.
Having written and compiled a guide to the canal, I can sympathise with the authors of Nicholson: it's a painstaking job and, sometimes, what appear to be mistakes are changes that miss copy dates. It's still one of the most comprehensive guide books available, spring bound to lay flat on a cabin top, with lots of information for visitors.
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Starting in April and continuing until September, the Woking Community Play Association has embarked on an exciting new project - to perform in every part of the Borough of Woking ten pieces of theatre, devised, written and performed by local people. One at least is based on the canal and could Pablo be one of the "Eastenders"?
Called the 'Community Chronicles', each is a dramatised guided walk with a difference - a true promenade performance - using the historic landscapes of the area as a 'set'. With a pinch of 'dramatic licence' the play-walks chronicle Woking's history over the past thousand years - each play looking at a different village in a different century of the last millennium.
The remaining plays are
Saturday 24th June - St Johns - Misdemeanours, Merrymaking & Mayhem
Saturday 8th July - Sutton Green - The Wey Ahead
Saturday 22nd July - Goldsworth Park - Barge-Poles & Brickbats
Saturday 5th August - Knaphill - Rough Justice
Saturday 19th August - Sheerwater - The Eastenders (of Woking)
(The first of these is a free performance as part of the St John's Village Fete, otherwise performances are at 2pm, 4.30pm & 7pm, with adult tickets £2, children's £1. Tickets available from 166 High Street, Old Woking, GU22 9JH and cheques to be payable to The Woking Community Play Association).
Gill Freeman (seen left at the Bridge Barn) and her husband Dave
are emigrating to Canada in the autumn. For many years Gill was the Training Officer on the John Pinkerton, as well as keeping it supplied. She then took over the Society's sales activities and provided a fair proportion of the sales stock herself in the form of traditionally painted articles. Dave is a very skilled filter-out of boats.
Gill and Dave will be living in Westport in a house on the banks of the Upper Rideaux Lake, through which the Rideaux Canal runs on its way from Lake Ontario to Ottawa. This will be handy as they are taking their narrow boat Xanth with them. They plan to run a bed and breakfast establishment initially but it will be surprising if they don't also end up messing about with boats in some way.
We wish Gill and Dave the very best of luck in their new life and we shall probably be publishing an advert for their B&B in a future edition for would-be holiday makers in Canada.
Not a lot of people know that.
What has the Birmingham Canal Navigation got in common with the Basingstoke Canal, apart from the same initials?
The answer is John Pinkerton!
John Pinkerton was appointed as the main contractor for the construction of the Basingstoke Canal in 1788, with construction to be completed within four years. By 1789 there were complaints that he had deviated from the specification and had ignored warnings given by the resident engineer. There were other reports that he failed to supervise his agents (sub-contractors); 161,840 bricks were found to be unfit for use and by 1840 wing walls and lock sides needed rebuilding.
He was also engineer of the Farmer's Bridge flight of locks on the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal and exceeded his estimates, causing him to be removed from the works. Litigation between Pinkerton and the BCN lasted until 1801. He then libelled the Company and was imprisoned for a month and fined £200.
To such men we owe our canals!
Researched by Doug Morgan
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# Gordon Muchamore's Galleon Marine business at Colt Hill. Odiham has been sold to local man Jim Peile. Best wishes to Gordon on his retirement and good luck to Jim for his future involvement with the canal.
# Glad to see that recent dredging in the Barley Mow area has been completed. This means that over the last few years the whole of the western end from King John's Castle winding hole to Double Bridge. Dogmersfield is now at a good navigational depth.
# Interested to see a 1935 ex-working narrow boat "Hyperion" moored at Barley Mow during the dredging (see photo below). It is owned by the tug driver involved with the dredging operation.
# The trial canalside tree clearance project in the Claycart - Rushmoor Flash area looks rather stark at present, but let's see what it looks like in a year or two's time after the area has recovered.
# Environmental vandalism has been taking plaee at the back of the car park at Reading Road Wharf. Fleet. Someone, whether local gardener or a self employed person, has been dumping
hedge and garden cuttings there. Some
people are just too lazy to drive to the tip and have to resort to
despoiling their local recreational asset. On a recent cruise on the "John Pinkerton" from Woking town centre to the River Wey and back, the amount of litter along parts of this section, especially east of Chertsey Road Bridge, was very disappointing to observe. The Canal Authority can provide rubbish bags and litter pickers to anyone who would like to help improve the appearance of the canal. Just contact them on 0152-370073 to make arrangements.
# The finger post pointing to the Basingstoke Canal on the towpath of the River Wey Navigation at the junction always causes confusion. Why? Because it has the National Trust logo on it rather than the Basingsloke Canal logo. Many people would like to see this anomaly rectified.
# Sorry to hear that Peter and Maureen Munt will not be providing teas and light refreshments in their lockside garden at Lock 28, Deepcut this year. Apparently this service had become so popular that it had taken over their lives completely at weekends. Anyway, thank you Peter and Muureen for the years that you have given to this excellent service.
# The recent very wet April has highlighted the appalling state of the towpath between Norris Bridge and Eelmoor Bridge in Rushmoor Borough Council territory. Come on Rushmoor, copy the enlightened view of cash strapped Hart by finding some environmental improvement funds WITHOUT insisting that the towpath be designated an official cycle way on completion.
GIVE AS YOU EARN
Since the Budget in April, the Government has chosen to donate an extra 10% to every Give As You Earn donation made, for FREE! Therefore now is a good time to set up a regular payment to the Canal Society through your payroll and know that your donation is suddenly worth even more to the Society. Details from Edwin Chappell.
New Chairman for the Boating Club
The Basingstoke Canal Boating Club has a new chairman, Dick Elder, whose term in office under the constitution had come to an end, will be followed by Dave Venn whose boat Daisy V is a familiar sight along the canal. The boating club is always happy to welcome new members, with or without boats. Details can be obtained from Membership Secretary Bobbie King. Tel 01252 325268
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(From Society Newsletter No.91 June 1 980 and No. 92 August 1980)
# Society working parties about to complete the restoration of Lock 16 at Deepcut. Visiting groups are making good progress on Lock 19, the biggest job remaining being the re-building of the top cill. The full lime Job Creation workers are making rapid progress on Lock 1 8 under the leadership of Frank Jones.
# The steam dredger "Perseverance" is approaching Barley Mow Bridge, Winchfield from the west but is finding the work hard going in this section.
# The railway group under Stan Meller is well advanced in preparations for the big summer job on the Ash Embankment. Track laying is nearly complete and ballasting is in full swing. A new engine shed is being built and two locomotives are about to be delivered.
# Second Society tug is now back in operation having been repaired with parts purchased after an Antarctic Survey ship recently returned to the UK. £2000 worth of spares purchased for £200.
# 460 canoeists take part in the third annual Canoe Trials from Reading Road Wharf, Fleet.
# Plans are made for an 'Open Forum' to discuss the possibility of a second trip boat on the centre section of the canal.
# Divers from the Southampton Underwater Explorers BS-AC survey the Greywell Tunnel both above and below the water. They also had a close look at the 'adits', the small tunnels cut into the porous chalk to help increase the water supply.
# HRH Princess Margaret visits the Society exhibition stand set up on the occasion of the opening and dedication of the new St. Mary's Community Centre at Ash Vale.
# Disused canalside crane standing alongside the Oxford Canal near Lower Heyford purchased for £1.50. It will be dismantled and brought back to Ash Lock for reassembly and restoration before going on display as a feature there.
# Peter Mayne's working party have dismantled the old footbridge at Broad Oak, Odiham and an excavator used to demolish the concrete footings. An estimate of £5000 from F.E. Pratt & Sons of Yateley accepted for the final stages of the rebuilding of the original bridge, much preparatory work having been done by Society volunteers.
# Canal between Coxheath Bridge and Reading Road Bridge drained by HCC for the repair of the culvert running underthe canal from Dinorben Avenue to Glenn Road. Whilstthe canal is drained the remaining section past the Fox and Hounds pub will be dredged and the silt deposited over the Dinorben bank.
From the Woking Review, 1 April 2000
Canal enthusiasts await spring bore
For the first time in 148 years, the Basing bore, a vertical wall of water, is due to come upstream along the Basingstoke Canal this spring.
The bore was last recorded in 1852 when the water reached a height of around half a meter at certain narrow sections of the Canal.
Enthusiasts will be travelling from all over the country to see this physical geographical spectacle but officials warn that it could be dangerous to stand too close to the banks when it approaches.
In Britain, the best known is the Severn bore at Bristol,
which can be over a [yard] high and has moved at [10 to 12 miles] an hour.
The formation of a bore requires special conditions of river flow, incoming high tide and the shape of the channel. It is thought that the unusually warm winter and recent early spring heat may have contributed to the formation of the rare Basing bore.
If the bore retains its momentum it is expected to travel through the Woking stretch of Canal from around 6.30am and will continue as far as the Wey Navigation at New Haw where, because of the changing shapeof the canal and the River Wey, it will eventually subside.
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There is still time to join our coach trip to the famous Black Country living Museum at Dudley on Sunday 16th July.
The museum has won numerous awards and provides a super day of pure nostalgia. The attractions include an old fashioned village, complete with pub, fish and chip shop,
ironmonger, cobbler, general store, sweetshop, baker, etc., a coal mine, a Newcomen steam engine and, of course, canal trips into the Dudley Tunnel and a
chance to try your hand, or rather feet, at legging the boat.
The cost for the coach and entry to the museum is £15 for adults, £14 for those over 60, and £12 for children between 5 and 17, Canal trips are extra, payable on site.
The coach will start at 8.15am from Church Road car park in Fleet (behind the Somerfield supermarket), which is free on Sundays, and we will also pick up from Fleet Station at 8.30 in case anyone wants to come by train. We should be back at about 7.30 pm.
Enquiries please to Roger Cansdale on 01252-616964, or send cheques payable to S&HCS Ltd, with your name and phone number, to 79 Gally Hill Road, Church Crookham, Fleet, Hants GU13 ORU. Please state where you want to join the coach.
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Date for next copy 31st July 2000
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
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
Director: John Ross*. 14 Heathcote Road, Ash, Aldershot, Hants GU12 5BH (01252) 330311