No. 187 Autumn 2000
We had a good day at the Black Country Museum - all 28 of us. Unfortunately, the Society's funds suffered to the tune of £157, because I had priced it on the assumption that most of the seats in the coach would be filled and I wanted to keep the cost as low as possible.
It wasn't a lot of effort to organise the trip and I hope the Committee will allow me to run another one on the same basis, but if that too makes a large loss, I am afraid that that will be the end of Society coach outings.
I had a letter from one lady complaining about the coach starting from Fleet. Had this arrived earlier, I could have organised a lift for her from St John's. There will always be people inconvenienced wherever we start from, and picking up from several sites adds a lot of time to the trip, but usually lifts can be arranged with sufficient notice.
We were somewhat baffled and not a little dismayed by the poor response, so if anyone has any suggestions as to how such outings might be made more appealing, or any bright ideas for an outing next year, please let me know.
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In contrast to the inertia which seems to have settled on our Society members, there seems to be a surge of energy in the activities of British Waterways. Presumably this is in response to the Government's encouragement and increased funding, but it is very good to see so many projects going forward - restoration of the Anderton Lift and the Montgomery Canal, construction of an entirely new canal linking the river Great Ouse with the Grand Union Canal, and feasibility studies for restoration of the Northern reaches of the Lancaster Canal, the Droitwich Canal, Foxton Inclined Plane and the Cotswold Canals.
Add to this the volunteer efforts on the Wey and Arun and Wilts and Berks Canals, and the country could have an enormously increased network of inland waterways in 25 years time, with a particular boost to the South of England.
It was good also to find that the upbeat attitude had spread down to the workers when I was chatting to the lock-keeper on the Caen Hill Flight last month. He took the view that his job was to help people enjoy their holiday and not to boss them about. He was there to ensure that nothing untoward happened, but he let them get on with it and was certainly not shepherding every boat up and down the flight.
Roll on the day when the Basingstoke's water problems are solved and a similarly relaxed attitude to lock usage can return.
* * * * * * *
The involvement of British Waterways in
managing our back pumping project has
clearly already been very beneficial both in reducing costs and in profiting from
their expertise. BW now have a mandate to get involved with other non-BW waterways, and I wonder whether it would be a good time to raise the possibility of the BCA coming under the wing of BW.
This is not to criticise the BCA, but it is seriously under-resourced even when all the riparian district councils pay their due contribution, which they don't. BW would probably require some sort of dowry to take over the Canal, but it might be easier to negotiate a one-off payment rather than having an annual battle for funds. It would simplify the boat licensing, possibly reduce costs and might also broaden the career opportunities for the BCA staff.
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We had a week's holiday on the Western end of the Kennet & Avon in August and thoroughly enjoyed it. The K&A is the nearest thing to the Basingstoke in terms of flora and fauna that I have come across - must be something to do with having a derelict spell before restoration.
We did Seend to Bristol and back and were very impressed by the new moorings in the Floating Harbour in Bristol which offered both water points and mains electricity if required. A bit pricey at 70p/meter/night, but very welcoming and convenient for the city centre. There is an excellent free booklet with all the necessary information about the Bristol harbour, available from the Harbour Office (0117 9031484).
The River Avon itself is delightful and caused no problems since the current at this time of year is almost imperceptible. Herons and kingfishers are to be seen and I can highly recommend the "Old Lock and Weir" pub at Hanham for dinner and an overnight stop.
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Last year I had a moan about fishermen and their roach poles obstructing the towpath. I don't know whether this reached the ear of the angling fraternity, but last month when I cycled back with my Sunday paper along the Canal, I met another angling match. Most of them were again using roach poles, but there was no obstruction of the towpath and one or two of them even wished me 'Good Morning'. Thank you gentlemen, it's a pleasure to share the Canal with you.
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It was a bit ironic that work on Lock 3 relevant to the back-pumping scheme should have caused the Canal to be closed for three weeks, in the first year when it might have stayed open for the whole season due to the wet weather. However, thanks to the efforts of KESCRG, WRG and our own volunteers, it re-opened on time. A splendid effort.
Work Camp 2000 at Lock 3. Photo - Dieter Jebens
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Work Camp - August 2000
Waterway restoration groups have again supported very successful work camps on the Basingstoke, tackling a variety of jobs including enabling work for the back pumping scheme, urgent repairs to [by-washes] at two locks, towpath work, lock painting and water control measures.
Kent and East Sussex Restoration Group (KESCRG) provided nineteen experienced and twenty one inexperienced volunteers for the first weekend, beginning 28lh July, and thirty for the rest of that week until 5lh August. For the second week, the Waterway Recovery Group had fifteen volunteers for the weekend of 12lh August and twelve for the remainder of the week, finishing on 18th August.
The major priority was the repair work to the [bywash] of Lock 3, because the Canal had had to be closed to permit
Installing the temporary bridge at Lock 3
this. Diversion of the public footpath which runs over the [bywash] was a requirement for public safety and this had been agreed with Runnymede BC. Unfortunately, the only available route was via a temporary footbridge across the upper lock wing walls - hence the Canal closure.
A prefabricated bridge, very nicely made by the Canal rangers, was craned into place on Saturday 29th July . Other bits of fencing and signposts were removed to allow access for a 5 ton excavator and a dumper, and work then began with excavations at the lower offside, where significant subsidence had occurred since last year's work carnp installed a larger weir.
These confirmed that extensive leakage through the lock structure had undermined the [bywash] pipes, which had not originally been laid on concrete. Dropped pipes, a blocked outlet and other leaks at the upper paddle culvert
Clearing the outlet at Lock 3
had to be remedied. The deep excavations necessitated the use of trench supports and cross braces.
New pipes were laid on and back-filled with reinforced concrete, despite thunderstorms which flooded the site and caused a lot of extra work before the concrete could be poured on the last day of the first week. The week between the work camps gave time for the concrete to set completely, so that it was able to withstand the excavator removing the trench supports, which was the first task for WRG and Society volunteers in the second week. On the Sunday, back-filling of the new pipework was finished and a new access chamber between the new pipes and the original outlet was prepared. The original pipes adjacent to the paddles were also excavated.
Brickwork and casting of ready-mix concrete completed the [bywash], apart from grouting of the pipe joints from the inside which was done by one of WRG's female volunteers. Whilst all this was going on, time was found to repaint Locks 2, 4 and 5.
Installing the bywash pipes at Lock 3
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Finally, the footpath was reinstated and tarmac was laid in time for the footpath to be re-opened, the temporary bridge to be removed and the Canal re-opened to boats on schedule.
A somewhat similar job was done at Lock 4, which had also suffered from subsidence along the [bywash]. Excavations revealed a large void, but no sign of a leak, which had probably been cured last year when the weir was constructed. The whole void was back-filled using appropriate compacting equipment and 4 tons of stone were required to restore towpath levels.
Preliminary excavations at Lock 10 to explore a seepage problem were also carried out. Some remedial work was completed, but further work is required.
KESCRG teams completed site clearance for the new pumphouse, access road and water pipe installation and landscaped the spoil. This work involved the removal of a quantity of scrap metal which appeared to be the remains of barges. A team also resurfaced the towpath from the River Wey to the pumphouse site, which had been in a very poor state.
Work camps do not happen by waving a magic wand - the preliminary setting up of the compounds and their subsequent removal, ordering and collection of materials and equipment are the responsibility of the Canal Society as sponsors of the camps.
I wish to thank Janet Greenfield, David Junkison and Pablo Haworth for their assistance before, during and after the camps, Ken Parish, Eddie Jones, James Hodgeson and Brian Amos for organising the KESCRG camp and site works, Helen Gardner and Paul Catermole for organising the WRG camp and site works, and all the SHCS volunteers who gave their time and efforts to the project.
The camps fully justified the efforts of all involved, achieving a number of objectives - the beginning of the Society's contribution to the the Backpumping Project, raising the profile of volunteer capabilities, and improving the liaison between visiting groups, WRG and the Society.
(Peter, as usual, is far too modest to mention his own contributions, which included all the preliminary planning, finding new accommodation for the visitors when the original arrangements fell through, and supervision of the activities for most of the time, despite simultaneously having considerable domestic problems to deal with. Thanks again Pete for a great job).
Some of the personalities:
Above: Society Chairman Peter Redway with WRG
leaders Paul Cattermole and Helen Gardiner.
Below: Helen again, showing what it takes to be a WRG
leader as she disappears into the [bywash] pipe
to grout the joints from the inside.
Below: I don't know their names but they were far too attractive to leave out.
Photos by Peter Redway, Dieter Jebens & Roger Cansdale
I'm pleased to take this opportunity to give a few updates and generally muse over one or two issues.
Firstly, I'm sure rumours about the Back Pumping scheme are flying around.... Yes, British Waterways are going to be project managing this scheme, bringing their wealth of experience in backpumping (and dealing with the Heritage Lottery Fund). In fact, they have already started, conducting site surveys and generally costing things up. This nicely complements the work being started by Pete's Working Parties on site. Work is due to start in earnest in October, with pipe-laying and pumphouse construction over the winter. We hope to be more than ready for a May 2001 opening to tie in with celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the re-opening. Stand by for a good party!
BW are also going to be conducting a survey of the Greywell Tunnel with a view to providing an assessment of its structural safety and a Safe Working Policy for any future entry.
At the Canal Centre, we are progressing with the project to dig a new mooring basin. A big issue is where to put all the spoil that is dug out. It has been confirmed as good quality building sand, suitable for infill in building and engineering projects. So, we're currently trying to find someone who will cart it free to a "good home"; it would cost an absolute fortune for us to transport and dispose of it. So, watch this space! If we can pull the project off, it will provide an important extra amenity on the Canal and some much needed income.
I'm sure you are aware that it has been a rather wet summer (so far). Great for the Canal in many respects, but also fraught with problems. All that extra water has put a strain on many structures and we have had a mad rush around, filling holes, repairing by-washes and generally keeping things in order. As Scottie from Star Trek would say "She cannae take it captain!" Special thanks must go to WRG and the Society's work parties for the superb job done on Lock 3.
I had a very interesting visit from a lady from Surrey Museums Service the other day, who came to offer advice on our education programme. She was full of the idea of "living history" and having people tell tales of the old canal and the restoration to visiting school parties. Who on earth could do that, we thought... Then it occurred that there must be an awful lot of tales to tell amongst Society members, especially about the history and restoration. There are some important messages there to pass on to the younger generation about caring for your own environment, doing things for the community and for the enjoyment of others. Food for thought, if any of you fancy a volunteer role?
I can't believe that I have been here a year now. It has gone incredibly quickly and has proved to be a very busy, very hectic, yet very satisfying time. I'm looking forward to the next year and beginning to put some new ideas into action. As ever, I'm always interested in your views.
A farewell to the Gerry's
David and Judy Gerry's impending move to Dorset was an excuse for a farewell party at David and Rosemary Millett's house. Seen here is David Gerry with the other past and present chairmen of the Canal Society, Robin Higgs, David Millett and Peter Redway. The Gerry's were given several presents, some of which David is seen holding here.
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It has been a very busy year with a considerable increase in the number of bookings over last year. Whilst being very welcome, this has brought its own problems. The number of members available to crew has been diminishing in spite of our recruiting campaigns and, with the fine weather coaxing our members to go on holiday or away for weekends, it has made the job of our crew organisers extremely difficult. Nevertheless, they have managed to find a crew for every trip and to keep our customers happy.
One booking in particular stands out. The John Pinkerton was hired for a whole week by an aircraft company for the SBAC show at Farnborough. Although the boat cannot get onto the airfield, it can moor near the back gate allowing our customers a view of the flying whilst still having access to the boat for lunch and other facilities. It proved to be a long day for our crews but they all enjoyed a good view of the air show. It was also appreciated by our customers as the accompanying letter shows.
The story is a little different to the John Pinkerton with our first season at St John's, Woking starting very slowly, in spite of a good reception at the early boat rallies. All the posters were put out but I believe lived a short life due to local youngsters obviously liking them and taking them home for souvenirs - well, they disappeared without trace. The lack of customers was boring for the crews, many of whole had been newly recruited. We limited our operating time to afternoons only in order to help the situation and were able to operate every Saturday and Sunday. In the school holidays however, we could only operate one, two or occasionally three afternoons a week due to crew shortage. The changes helped, with some more publicity, to produce a steady increase in customers through August, resulting in running a full boat load on several occasions.
The first season must be expected to bring up problems and now we have learnt a lot about running this type of boat, we hope to make considerable improvements in the future.
As stated above, we need more crew members for both boats. Can you come along and help? If not, do you have a friend or neighbour or relative or long lost cousin who might be interested? We give everybody training as needed, depending on their experience, and put them with experienced crews to start with. In any case, we have to have a licensed Captain on every trip.
Those interested need only ring 01252 672189 for further details or come along on a Tuesday club night at 7pm at Colt Hill, Odiham for practical demonstrations without any obligation.
From Air Charter, Gatwick Airport
Farnborough Airshow. July 2000
Without doubt our charter of the John Pinkerton during Farnborough week was a tremendous success and I would like to thank your society for ensuring that everything ran so well.
Your crews contributed greatly to the success of every day and they cheerfully volunteered above and beyond their normal 'boat' duties to help us with setting out food and ferrying tables and chairs to our guests. I have nothing but praise for each and every one of your crew throughout the week, who simply did a splendid job!
Indeed, the unexpected construction of the small jetty just past Eelmoor Bridge was a terrific surprise and I am very appreciative for the gesture which must have involved a great deal of planning as well as manual work. I don't think our guests realised how precarious their lives might have been if we had used a temporary gangplank, so thank you for spoiling us!
I simply cannot praise your Society enough for doing so much for us throughout the Farnborough week and I shall have no hesitation in recommending the John Pinkerton to any industry colleagues who may want to use it. Of course, as I discussed with you and Marion, we definitely want to book again for the next Farnborough Airshow which is in 2002, Monday 22nd until Friday 26th July. Perhaps you could just drop me a line to confirm this is in order?
Please pass my sincere gratitude to all concerned for contributing to the outstanding success of our Farnborough week and I wish your Society every success in future.
Canoe on offer
I have a two seater wood and canvas canoe which I never use and would be pleased to give to a good home. It doesn't leak too badly, but it could do with a spray deck. One home-made paddle included. Anyone interested, please ring 01252-616964
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PARTY TIME on the PINKERTON
There is no better endorsement for a product or service than the company's directors seen using it. So it was that Kathryn Dodington, a director of Surrey & Hampshire Canal Cruises, chose to celebrate a significant birthday in her life with a party aboard the 'John Pinkerton' for her work colleagues, fellow 2CV owners and local friends.
Seen here introducing her guests, a convivial time was had by all. who agreed that the cruise was a memorable and sociable way to hold a party.
If you have a family celebration, firm's outing or club social to organise, the 'John Pinkerton' makes an unusual way to get together. For details contact Marion Gough, the Bookings Manager, who will be pleased to send you a leaflet (Telephone: 01962-713564).
Photo: Dieter Jebens
By the way, Kathryn, many happy returns on getting half way to your telegram!
Steam was well represented at the Cavalcade of Transport held at the Canal Centre in September, with boats, steam rollers and the majestic showman's engine 'Pride of the South', together with a host of working model engines.
One of the stars was undoubtedly The Mistress', a beautifully restored traction engine built by Wallis S Steevens in Basingstoke in 1890 and seen in the photo above.
Its presence in the Cavalcade at Mytchett was doubly appropriate,
because it was from a sand pit near
Mytchett Lake mat Wallis & Steevens got the moulding sand used in making their metal castings and, better still, the sand was transported on the Canal.
In fact, as Tony Harmsworth's article on page 10 points out, they took the last boat load ever delivered to Basingstoke, even if it didn't quite get all the way there by water.
(More pictures of the Cavalcade in the next Newsletter)
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From Peter Coxhead
Further to your comment made in the Annual General Meeting report in the last edition of BC News, I am pleased to report that, as promised, I have sent a cheque to the Back Pumping Appeal, the good news being that I have been able to increase the amount to £2500, For the record, the financial statements for the Bridge Barn Festivals of this year and last show profits of £19100.84 and £675-67 respectively. In addition, a total of £442.50 was added to the Fund by the boaters who attended this year's event and £255 last year. Also in 1999, the Basingstoke Canal Boat Club presented a cheque to the same fund. It is also good to remember that the Canal Authority collected several hundreds of pounds in licences over these and similar years. Well done everybody who helped achieve these figures.
I have been chairing the various teams that have run the annual Bridge Barn Festivals since 1993 and, as I will be 72 years young by the time the next one takes place in 2001, I have decided with considerable regret that I will not be offering my services in that position in future. Apart from anything else, new thinking should brighten up the scene. Any volunteers for this rewarding post? I will, however, be pleased to sit on the Committee in a lesser role for a while as I have built up a useful collection of contacts and know how over the years, which I am sure will be of some use to the new Team. I will continue with my role as the "Woking Organiser", which includes handling local planning issues, overall running of the Woking Social Evenings at the Westgate Centre, general liaison with Woking Borough Council and sitting on the Management Committee for the Woodham Back Pumping project.
From Peter Coxhead
I am sure all of those who joined the coach trip to the Black Country Museum at Dudley on Sunday 16lh July will join me in thanking Roger Cansdale for taking the time and effort to organise the event. The numerous attractions, all of which were described in the last issue of this publication, certainly succeeded in taking you back in time to the good or bad old days, depending on your own feelings about bye gone eras. I suppose for most of us, the canal trip into the Dudley Tunnel system was the most memorable part of the day, with its Disney type large screen display in one of the caverns which, together with an excellent commentary by our boat captain, really gave you a feeling for the tough life of a boatman working in that environment all those years ago.
Unfortunately only 28 of us took advantage of what is a very rare event these days, namely a Society-run "day out". A few years ago, similar trips, in those times thanks to David and Rosemary Millett, were usually overbooked. I think it is pretty awful that a membership of some 1700 bodies cannot muster the enthusiasm to fill a coach of 50 seats. There are two losers in this situation - those people who didn't bother to come on the trip, as they certainly missed an excellent day, and the Society funds which have to stand the financial loss.
a niggled Peter Coxhead.
From Graham Vine
"Millett's Musings" are frequently amusing, often perceptive, but - the big "but" - where are the SHCS members who believe the National Trust signpost pointing to the Basingstoke Canal at the anomalously named "Woodham Junction", which is actually in New Haw, is itself anomalous because it bears the National Trust logo?
This signpost is on National Trust land, was paid for by the National Trust and has been there ever since the National Trust provided the new footbridge crossing from their towpath to the BCA's. Those who find this anomalous ought to be pleased the National Trust spent their money drawing attention to someone else's canal when they had no legal obligation to do so. That's how it looks to me.
So who are these ungrateful people who think it's anomalous? If they are that worried, let them put up another signpost, on BCA land this time, with the appropriate logo rightfully displayed upon it.
Frankly, I believe they are just the usual malcontents looking for another excuse to start a quarrel over nothing. Well, you've got one. Answer me this. Why should the National Trust be expected to adorn their own signposts with BCA logos? When the BCA signpost appears, will these malcontents expect it to bear pointers with National Trust logos on them pointing downstream to Weybridge and upstream to Guildford and Godalming?
Surely this is some mischief not even worthy of April Fool's Day, not a serious proposal from adults?
David calls his column 'Musings' which my dictionary defines as ponderings,
ie things not necessarily to be taken too literally or even seriously. Fon't be too hard on him, Mr Vine - I need all the contributions I can get!
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Illustrated Talks in Wokinq Winter Season 2000/2001
Once again, our venue will remain the comfortable Westgate Centre in Woking, just by Wheatsheaf Bridge (Chobham Road Bridge). However, PLEASE NOTE that the day has been changed and now will be the second WEDNESDAY in the month, at 8pm. There is free parking space in the Centre as well as ample space (free in the evenings!) in the nearby Brewery Road Car Park. Tea and coffee are served in the interval. All meetings are free and everyone is welcome!
The 1999/2000 Season proved to be very successful. Here are the dates and details of the next season -
OCTOBER - Wednesday 11 Oct 2000:
Peter Smith - The Wilts & Berks Canal Restoration.
Peter Smith is the Working Party Organiser for the Wilts & Berks Canal Amenity Group which is actively working to restore this waterway.
NOVEMBER - Wednesday 08 Nov 2000:
Richard Thomas - The Impossible Dream - Part 1.
This is a journey along the Foss Way from Exeter to Lincoln, examining the history of this fascinating Roman road. Since it also links the two oldest manmade canals in England, we have an excuse to take a look at these and the 20 other waterways past and present that the Foss crosses. Part 1 is from Exeter to Cirencester. (Part 2 will be Cirencester to Lincoln - next season?).
DECEMBER - Wednesday 13 Dec 2000:
Robin Higgs - The Darjeeling Himalayan Railways
(India), - plus - A Trip on the Canal Du Nivernais
A double bill this time with two of Robin Higgs' popular travel talks. This evening should please both waterway and railway enthusiasts!
JANUARY - Wednesday 10 Jan 2001:
Sean Rendall - Planning for Woking's Waterways.
Sean Rendall is the Principal Landscape and Countryside Officer for Woking Borough Council. The talk will cover a range of issues concerning the landscape adjoining the Borough's rivers and navigations, ranging from pressures for new development to golf courses and water voles.
FEBRUARY - Wednesday 14 Feb 2001: Amanda Huntley - Steam on the GWR amongst others.
Amanda Huntley, daughter of John Huntley, the well-known film historian, will be presenting some fascinating railway films from the archive collection.
MARCH - Wednesday 14 Mar 2001:
David Gerry - Reminiscences of my time on the Basingstoke Canal - David Gerry has been Chairman of the Canal Society, on the staff of Hampshire County Council, and Canal Manager with the Basingstoke Canal Authority.
APRIL - Wednesday 11 Apr 2001:
Arthur Dungate - The Basingstoke Canal Restoration
10 years after the canal was officially re-opened, here is a chance to see again some of the AV films depicting the restoration to final Royal Re-opening.
If you have any interesting ideas for future talks, the
Talks Organiser will be pleased to hear from you!
Arthur Dungate. or e-mail: email@example.com
Earlier in the year a group of youngsters from the Fairbridge organisation in Southampton spent a day cleaning up a stretch of the canal. The idea came to them last November when they had a day canoeing on the Canal. It was their first visit and the weather was great, but the only thing that spoiled their enjoyment was the rubbish dumped in the canal, so they decided to do something about it.
Using Canadian canoes, they retrieved crates, bottles, pipes and all sorts of other debris donated by the thoughtful local inhabitants. So to Pete, Mark, Lewis, Ben, Luke, Paula, Tony and a couple of others whose names I haven't got, thanks very much and please come again; sadly there's plenty more rubbish where that came from.
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THE LAST ATTEMPT to get to BASINGSTOKE - Tony Harmsworth
As is well known, after the failure of the Nately Brick and Tile Company in 1902, the only movements of freight at the western end of the Canal were bankrupt stock bricks and some disused machinery being boated from Nately to Basingstoke where they were transhipped to rail. Also, bankrupt stock bricks were moved down to Ash Wharf and Frimley Wharf for use by local builders.
Approaching Pondlail, Fleet
There were still occasional freights of up to 15 tons of moulding sand to Basingstoke Wharf for Wallis & Steevens, the agricultural engineers, up until 1910. The last was 10 tons of sand from the pit adjacent to Mytchett, which arrived in Basingstoke in October 1910.
Due to the high costs of maintenance and persistent leakage, stop planks were put in at Brick Kiln Bridge, Up Nately, in November 1910, and the section from there to Basingstoke Wharf was allowed to dry up.
Woking Borough Council had included in their Borough Act of 1910 some clauses which allowed them to rebuild Canal bridges and to try to claim the cost back on tolls from barges using the Canal. The Canal's owner, Mr Carter, appealed against this decision and this culminated in a high profile appeal in 1913.
There were different legal opinions about the status of the Canal. The Canal Company's barrister, King's Council Mr Martelli, felt that the Canal was private freehold property, because when the original company had gone into liquidation in 1866, the liquidator had sold it to its first private owner in 1871 without the benefit of an enabling act. Mr Martelli felt that therefore the statute of limitations had applied and hence the Canal was now private freehold property.
If the appeal went against the Canal Company, it was likely
that the Canal would be still subject to the 1888 Railway and Canal Traffic Act, which stated that if a canal had not been navigated for three years, by application of the Board of Trade, the canal could be closed and the land upon which it ran could be handed back to the adjoining landowners.
The appeal was due to be heard in October/November 1913 and Mr Carter, the Canal's owner, asked AJ Harmsworth, then the only trader on the Canal, to try to get a boat through to Basingstoke to prove that it was still navigable, and preferably with a cargo on board.
Wallis & Steevens were approached and agreed to take a small quantity of moulding sand if it could be delivered to Basingstoke Wharf. The narrowboat "Basingstoke" was quickly painted up and prepared, and about 5 tons of sand was loaded aboard at the Mytchett pit.
Amongst much publicity they left Ash Vale boathouse at 6am on 16 November 1913 and reached Nately Brickfield at 1pm. In preparation for this trip, Canal labourers had walked through the dry section from Brick Kiln Bridge, Up Nately, towards Basing, puddling any obvious cracks and trimming out the Canal bed and towpath. On the previous day, stop planks had been installed at Penney Bridge and they started to flood the intervening section.
Passing through Poulter's Bridge
By the time that the "Basingstoke" arrived at Brick Kiln Bridge at about 1.30pm, the stop planks there had been removed and they immediately began to move the boat forward to Penney Bridge. Stop planks were then installed at the Little Tunnel and attempts were made over the following two days to refill the section back to Up Nately. However, it was leaking quite badly in this section and it was not until around midday on the 19th that they were able to remove the stop planks at Penney Bridge and quickly move the boat up to Little Tunnel.
Stop planks were then installed in the vicinity of the Frog Lane swing bridge and the next section was filled, but great difficult was experienced in filling these sections and stop planks were reinstalled at Brick Kiln Bridge, as the amount of water that was being used was beginning to lower the main pound backthroughGreywell Tunnel towards Odiham.
Waiting to go through Penney Bridge
Water was allowed to flow over the top stop plank at Brick Kiln Bridge to run into the disused section and there was much puddling and corking with long boots and waders to try to get sufficient water into the Canal to enable "Basingstoke" to float forwards to Frog Lane swing bridge. This was eventually achieved and they carried on in this manner round behind the Hatch Pub and so all the way to Old Basing, which they reached on about 10 December 1913.
However, the result of the appeal had been heard on 28 November, when the solicitors for the Canal owners wrote to Mr AJ Harmsworth saying that Mr Mossop, the Clerk of Woking Borough Council, had been "placed in the position of Napoleon at Waterloo" and that costs had also been awarded to the Canal owners. The journey with the "Basingstoke" lost much of its significance, because the outcome of the appeal meant that the Canal was indeed private freehold property and therefore not subject to the 1888 Railway and Canal Traffic Act.
It was decided to try to get the boat to Basing Wharf and this was eventually achieved, being where the "Basingstoke" was left while the crew came home to Ash Vale for Christmas. For the records, the crew on this particular trip varied from time to time, with much help supplied by Canal labourers and local people, but mainly it consisted of AJ Harmsworth attending from time to time, with his brothers Fred and William and his son-in-law Alf Hyde remaining with the boat for most of the attempt.
However, after their Christmas break, they went back to Basing and due to the fact that the Canal was now wet, although not holding very much water, the clay was beginning to swell up in the bottom of the Canal and it was found much easier to keep enough water in the Canal for the boat to proceed onwards. It was turned at the wide water behind Basing House and brought back to Basing Wharf, where the sand was unloaded and carted to Wallis & Steevens at Basingstoke.
The narrowboat "Basingstoke" never reached Basingstoke Wharf and this journey in the ensuing years has become the stuff of legends, with plays being written about it and some very highly coloured accounts appearing in print at various times. This was largely brought about by the fact that the Daily Mirror photographers accompanied the boat on various days. Many of the photographs that were taken appeared in the paper at the time and have since become well known. They doubtless produced much useful publicity.
The "Basingstoke" returned to Ash Vale in early January 1914 and quickly settled back into its usual task of acting as a lightening boat for barges arriving from the Thames with 60 - 70 tons of cargo, some of which had to be offloaded to allow them to make the journey up the River Wey and the Basingstoke Canal to Woking.
High and dry in Old Basing
(One of the bridges in the distance is probably the one whose parapet still stands in Church Lane; see page 15)
The "Basingstoke" was scrapped in 1932 when the new barge "Basingstoke" was built at Ash Vale. The metal frames were subsequently used for the building of the barge "Brookwood" in 1935, whose remains are still sunk in Great Bottom Flash to this day.
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MILLETT'S MUSINGS - David Millett
# Glad to see that an earlier cut of the towpath growth has been made this summer. With the wet Spring growth has been exceptional and it was difficult to avoid being badly stung by nettles or scratched by brambles when cycling or walking in shorts.
# Late July and boats are still coming up the canal, the latest for many years. The rainfall in April and May has ensured a longer boating season for the full length of the canal, so rainfall is good news for the Basingstoke Canal.
# Good to hear at the AGM that the towpath improvement work urgently needed east of Morris Bridge in Rushmoor will be tackled now that funds from various sources may be obtainable. This improvement will avoid the quagmire like conditions after heavy rain especially in the winter months.
# David Jackson, Chairman of the Zephon Common Residents Association and a few of his members recently cleaned all the green algae which had accumulated on the white railings of the Swing Bridge over the years. Many thanks are due to this group for this community work which has improved the appearance of the Swing Bridge no end.
# Interested to meet Dick Allan from Farnham in his narrow boat 'Longfellow' at Reading Road Wharf recently. He has taken up narrow boating with his wife after having sailed his small boat 'Greylag' on a 28,000 mile voyage around the world. His book of the voyage entitled 'Sailing My Dream' is a very good read and his non-technical narrative will take you with him to some of the world's most picturesque locations. If you would like a copy contact him on Farnham (01252) 726250.
Seen above are the cast of the Mikron Theatre at the Fox and Hounds in July. The show entitled 'Don't Start From Here' was a great success and very well received by the 80 or so people there. This was about 100 less than last year and those who didn't come missed a treat. The show was a fast moving, highly entertaining and richly comic romp, sharply and wittily written, and delivered in the extrovert, physical style which is one of Mikron's hallmarks. Anna Winslet (sister of film star Kate Winslet of Titanic fame) was a real star in the show.
Fleet and Church Crookham entered the Britain in Bloom competition (Southern Region) this year and the judges also looked at Reading Road Wharf during their tour of the town. This was to hear details of environmental improvements and community involvement so I was able to show them photographs of Reading Road Wharf before and after restoration and to give them details of the Society volunteer involvement in the canal's restoration.
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Vice-President LOOKBACK to 1980
(From Society Newsletter No.93 October 1980 and No.94 December 1980)
# Spectacular event cancelled. A Puma helicopter of 33 Squadron based at RAF Odiham was due to airlift four lock gates built by apprentices at the RAE to Lock 20 on the Deepcut flight. This combined military services operation was called off due to an unbending insurance company wanting a £2500 premium to insure the helicopters, a sum the Society could not afford at the time.
# A grant to employ six jobless school-leavers and a supervisor has been made to Hampshire County Council.
# Steam dredger 'Perseverance' now well clear of Barley Mow Bridge, Winchfield and heading off towards Fleet.
# The narrow-gauge railway group under Stan and David Meller working on the Ash Embankment has now tipped clay up to the site of the new overflow weir (now demolished for the aqueduct), which represents a third of the job done. A third locomotive expected shortly.
# 200 people entertained by the Mikron Theatre Company on their first visit to the Fox and Hounds, Fleet to perform 'Mud In Your Eye', the story of the restoration of canals. Mention made of the Basingstoke Canal and our Chairman, Robin Higgs.
# Member Marguerite Redway (the present Chairman's wife) has won £5000 in a Spar competition for supporting an environmental improvement or restoration project. She submitted an entry after picking up a leaflet whilst out doing her weekly shopping. She nominated Lock 11 at St. Johns. Her entry won from 500 entries for projects all over the country. The Rt. Hon. Tom King MP. Minister of State for Local Government and Environmental Services made the award at the start of the project on site.
# The Society's Smiths dragline has now been retired and the work taken over by the Priestman's dragline on loan from the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust. The Smith's dragline was discovered originally lying unused in the back garden of a house in Albany Road, Fleet. The Society arranged a low cost lease of the machine on an annual basis. Some people keep unusual things in their garden!
# The Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club is one year old, with about 200 members and 50 on the waiting list. Trips away from the canal included the rivers Mole, Wey, and Arun and canal trips on the Mon. & Brec. and K & A, plus sea trips around Hayling Island, the Pembroke coast and the Witterings.
# In August the 'John Pinkerton' made its first trip eastwards from Odiham to Barley Mow, Winchfield, in gathering darkness. Due to the number of members on board the return trip consisted of bouncing through most bridgeholes as the steerer couldn't see properly due to the number of heads on the roof!
Editor's note: In fact, this was actually its second eastward trip, as the Boat Company committee had made a sneaky voyage of exploration the week before. Seen above is the boat turning round for the first time at the winding hole at Barley Mow. At the helm, Tony Karavis, who later took over as Bookings manager, and on his left. Peter Fethney who was the first Chairman of the Boat Company. On Tony's right is Doug Wilkinson, then chairman of the Archery Club at Farnborough's Royal Aircraft Establishment, most of whose members at the time were also on the Pinkerton's crew list, leading to the suggestion that the club should be re-named the RAE Bow n'Arrow Boat Club!
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Many people will remember Les Foster, who was the only employee of the New Basingstoke Canal Company to continue working on the Canal after it was purchased by the County Councils. Jim Foley's name will be less well known, but owners of the first edition of Paul Vine's book "London's Lost Route to Basingstoke" may recognise him from the adjacent photo , where he is pictured leading the procession at Mark Hick's funeral in 1966.
Jim recalls that most of the people there were regulars at the Chequers (now renamed the George and Lobster for some unknown reason), which was clearly the focus of social life for those working on and living by the Canal. Mark used to play draughts there with Jim and his father. The boat
with Mark's coffin on it was towed from Chequer's Bridge, where Mark lived in the cottage, to the small wharf near Blacksmith's Bridge in Crookham. Mark had worked as a lengthsman on the Canal for so many years that he appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as the person longest employed in the same job. Jim recalls that the funeral featured on that evening's local television news.
Jim was born in Ireland but followed his father across to Wales, where he worked in a steel mill. He served in the army during the war and still suffers from the effects of being at Arnhem. His sister and father moved to England and settled in Poulter's Bridge Cottage, which she bought for £200. In 1960, Jim joined them, living in the log cabin there, which he built.
He joined the Canal Company and was responsible for the stretch of canal from Dogmersfield to the far side of Fleet, on wages of £14 a week. His fellow workers were Les
Foster and Joe and Ron Harmsworth, with Mrs Joan Marshall as manager.
His duties were to ensure that no dangerous leaks took place, to maintain the towpath and to cut the reads, particularly at Crookham Deeps. This was done using a long knife witha rope tied to each end, which was pulled back and forth across the canal. These maintenance activities were largely for the benefit of fishermen although there were rowing boats for hire at Crookham. He was involved in repairing the breach, which occurred in the bank near Eelmoor Flash and flooded the beginning of the Famborough Airshow in September 1968.
Jim was clearly a very useful general handyman as he also remembers installing a new lintle over the garage door at Mark Hick's cottage, using a spare slop plank as material.
Mr Cooke, the owner of the Canal, also used to get the canal workers to help with gathering the hay in on his farm at Long Sutton. Jim believes that Mr Cooke's money came from his involvement with a biscuit making company, Cooke and Watson, which contrasts with a previous story about a patent fishing reel being the source of his wealth.
The Canal's only real income came from the sale of water to the National Gas Turbine Establishment at Pyestock and from fishing licences.
Jim left the Canal when it was taken over by the County Councils, but continued to work for the Council and was responsible for a lot of the work on Fleet Pond. Now 80, he still takes an interest in the Canal and is seen here with his daughter Ingrid back again at Chequers Bridge.
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Artist's impression of the new Norris Bridge
The Canal is due to aquire a second Norris Bridge in the not too distant future as part of the Defence, Evaluation and Research Agency's plans to redevelop its Farnborough and Pyestock sites.
Ever since the Royal Aerospace Establishment became an agency, there have been rapid changes round the airfield at Farnborough. All the old factory site has been abandoned, although it is hoped that some of the historic buildings, such as the 24 foot wind
tunnel, will be preserved. The staff have moved to new premises at Ball Hill, where Structures Department used to be and where the Concorde fatigue testing was done.
Immediately opposite, on the other side of the road at Pyestock, is what used to be the National Gas Turbine Establishment. Back in the 1950's, NGTE's engine test cells' need for cooling water provided virtually the only
source of income for the New Basingstoke Canal Company. Now, sadly, these cells are also to close, but the rest of the establishment will be more closely linked with the rest of DERA when the NGTE and RAE sites become one.
To do this, the current public road from Norris Bridge to Farnborough will be re-routed through the NGTE site, leaving the engine test cells outside the boundary fence, presumably to be demolished eventually.
As part of the new road
scheme, a roundabout will be built at Norris Bridge, using the existing and new bridges as two sides of it. Current plans show a bridge of similar design to the current one, which replaced the original brick arch. This remained in place after the steel bridge was put in place, but finally collapsed in the 1980's.
Work on the new bridge should start in the near future.
Old Basing Bridge
How many of the inhabitants of Old Basing recognise this rather badly repaired wall in Church Lane as the one remaining parapet of one of the Basingstoke Canal's bridges?
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BACK TO THE '70s with the BCA
7.30 at the Basingstoke Canal Centre, Mytchett on 14th October
to celebrate the end of the Summer and
to help raise some much needed cash for the Canal.
Re-live the 70's,
dig out those flares, pull up the knee-length boots and
dance the night away to the sound of the 70's!
DISCO KAREOKE HOT BUFFET BAR RAFFLE
Also, Nancy Larcombe has kindly donated an original painting to auction.
Tickets from the Canal Centre tea rooms or phone Richard Hatherly on 07899 701041
for more information. Cost is £20 if you come in 1970's attire or £25 if you don't.
Half of this will go to the Canal fund together with the bar profits.
Come along and raise some money and have a laugh!
Date for next copy 31st October 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: David Lloyd-Langston. 7 Fernhill Close, Upper Hale, Farnham, Surrey. GU9 0JL (01252) 723309
Director: John Ross*. 14 Heathcote Road, Ash, Aldershot, Hants GU12 5BH (01252) 330311
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