No. 188 Winter 2000
Food for Thought
Peter Coxhead's letter in the last issue chiding the Society's members over their failure to support the outing to the Black Country Museum has brought forth a couple of letters from ladies saying why they did not come. One had only recently been there and the other lives in Cumberland and was recovering from a broken ankle and a cataract operation.
It goes without saying that nobody would dream of criticising such people. However, we were disappointed that only 28 came out of a menbership of nearly 1200 people, most of whom live not that far from the canal. Mrs Maynard says in her letter that Peter's letter gives a rather unfriendly impression to those who have not taken an active part.
I'm sure that this was not intended, but I think that perhaps the general membership fails to appreciate the frustration which sometimes overwhelms those few people who are trying to keep the Society going. They probably also fail to recognise just how few these people are. It may be that the majority of the membership feel that they have done their bit during the restoration years and don't want to play any further active part. Fair enough, but that was not the impression that we got from the replies to the questionnaire a year or two ago.
This trend does not appear to be confined to the Canal Society. The event at the Canal Centre that was advertised on the back page of the last Newsletter failed to attract a single ticket buyer and we have all heard about the lack of visitors to the Millennium Dome, despite massive publicity.
We are only a few months away from the Annual General Meeting and will no doubt be making our usual appeal for help in running the Society. I think that it is probably true to say that every one of the officers of the Society (the Chairman, Secretary, etc) would like to stand down if a replacement could be found. Indeed, finding replacements will be a necessity rather than an option before very long, given the age of some of the Committee. The Boat Company is also heading that way, despite having just had one of its most successful seasons ever.
I think we should make the future of the Society the theme of the next AGM to give the membership the opportunity to express their opinion. Things cannot continue the way they are and it would be better to make changes while we still have the capacity to manage them, rather than having it all descend into chaos because there is nobody left to turn the lights out.
* * * * *
In contrast to the shrinking support for physical involvement in the Society's
activities, there still seems to be a very
real interest in the Canal and committment to its continuing improvement, as Pablo Haworth's letter about the Water Appeal on page 8 indicates.
Perhaps what we need to do is concentrate on recuiting the next generation of members, but again this takes people to do it. Have you followed Jill Haworth's suggestion at the last AGM and recruited your extra member?
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In the last News, I praised the behaviour of some anglers that I had encountered. Sadly this seems to have been a one-off, because the roach poles were out across the towpath in force the last time I went along the Canal. Worse still, one of our Committee members was knocked off her bicycle by an angler who failed to notice her approach, which was neither particularly quiet or fast. To add insult to injury, she was then sworn at for damaging his rod.
Elsewhere in this issue, Dieter Jebens compains about litter on the Canal and, whilst not all litter comes from anglers, it is hard to avoid making a connection between the cans, crisp packets and sliced bread wrappers and the lines of fishermen sitting on the bank for hours.
The BCA's latest 5-year Development Plan for the Canal notes that there are inevitable conflicts between anglers and othe towpath users, mostly associated with the use of roach poles and notes that it is against BCAA regulations to block the towpath. The Plan's 10th recommendation is that ways of reducing conflicts are explored via the Recreation User's Group and BCAA/BCA management.
We would urge both organisations to sort this problem out. The anglers bring money into the Canal and have a right to use it, but not at the expense of others' enjoyment of it. It is in their own interests to police things properly to ensure that all visiting anglers taking part in the matches know what is expected. Then they can be seen as a friendly part of the canal scene and not the rather unpleasant presence that some of them currently are.
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Readers may have been wondering why Peter Coxhead only donated £2500 to the Water Appeal after I credited him with making £19100.84 profit from the Bridge Barn event. Sadly a slip of the keyboard allowed an extra zero to creep in, so he has not disappeared to the Caribbean, but will be available to assist whoever takes over from him to organise next year's event. (See Page 13)
Sorry Peter, but it was still an excellent total!
Autumn at Barley Mow
Photo - Dieter Jebens
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The year 2001 is the tenth anniversary of the re-opening of the Canal and is to be a year for celebrations. The Basingstoke Canal is moving forward into the new millennium with a long sought milestone being achieved.
The Woodham Backpumping Project has moved from being a wish list into the construction stage. By the time you read this report, work will be in progress, with up to three gangs working concurrently on the project. At the time of writing, a contract for the construction of the pipeline, pumphouse, intake and outlet structures is being awarded to Lean & Higgins Ltd. The Pumps and Installation Contract will follow.
It is expected that work on site will commence during the last week of November with two sections of pipeline being constructed concurrently. Work on the inlet structures will also start in early December. Testing of the pipeline installation is scheduled for early March 2001, meeting the operational target date of Easter 2001.
The Society has pledged volunteer works as Matching Funding contributions for the Heritage Lottery Award. Volunteers have already been active on this project, clearing the site and providing access and services. Further works are planned for volunteers, including internal fittings within the pumphouse and post contract site work.
As a member of the Project Team, I apologise for the unavoidable impact on towpath and navigation users for the next five months. Closure of the Canal is scheduled from November2000 through to March 2001 for the safety of the Public. Navigation of the Canal will also be closed as water levels will be reduced during excavations on embankments and a temporary dam will be place above Lock 6 for the construction of the new pumping outlet.
Returning to celebrations, the opening off the Backpumping Scheme in time for the Easter Bridge Barn Event in our Anniversary year is worth celebrating. Provisional plans for the year include the Bridge Barn at Easter, Official Opening of the Woodham Pumps at the Early May Bank Holiday and a Colt Hill Event over the Late May Bank Holiday. The traditional events in September include the Cavalcade of Transport at the Canal Centre and the Fox and Hounds rally.
Please suppoprt these events, or better still, help out with the organisation - more hands mean a better, more enjoyable event.
Christmas is approaching and by the time you receive this Newsletter, the season of goodwill will be in full swing. In closing may I thank you for your support and efforts and wish you all a happy and enjoyable Christmas and New Year.
Work Party Report
Our last Newsletter reported on the Summer Work Camp and supporting work parties. When planning Work Camps, contingency work needs to be identified and this often requires completing after the camp. So fencing, grass seeding and final painting at Lock 3 was carried out in September.
With the Canal closed for navigation of the Deepcut Locks, our work parties concentrated on fitting some of the remaining access covers for the upper culverts on the locks. A number of serious leaks were identified on some locks, largely through the upper gate recess stonework. The stones were deep pointed during restoration and held water, but over the years the pointing has deteriorated, possibly due to the acidity of the canal water, and is now letting water through. Re-pointing, excavations and backfilling with clay behind the wall normally seals the leak - dirty and heavy work even with machines.
The recent storms have blown over trees, a number of which fell into the Canal or across the towpath. BCA rangers have cleared a way through for towpath users, but many trees remain in the water, Unity is working at the Odiham end of the Canal and our volunteers helped out at Deepcut.
A Christmas Work Camp is being organised in conjunction with the Waterway Recovery Group. Accomodation is being sponsored by Hart District Council in Elvetham Community Centre. The work is bankside clearing, both on the offside and towpath. Areas for attention are Malthouse Cutting, Crookham Deeps and West Hart Embankment, moving westwards towards Coxmoor Wood.
Dig Deep teams, WRG and Kent & East Sussex Groups have all supported the Basingstoke projects, which has provided a welcome boost to our progress and achievements.
Dates for Society Work Parties:
22 Dec-1 Jan Xmas Work Camp (see above)
2 Jan Clearing up work after the camp (PR/DJ)
13/14 Jan Colt Hill - Memorial seat bases (DJ/DL)
20/21 Jan Deepcut -Workboat building (KR/PR)
27/28 Jan Colt Hill - Memorial seat bases (DJ/DL)
3/4 Feb Deepcut - Workboat building (KR)
10/11 Feb Deepcut- Covers/leaks (DL/DJ)
17/18 Feb Deepcut - Workboat building (KR)
24/25 Feb Deepcut - Leaks, bank clearance (DJ/DL)
March Woodham Back-Pumping Scheme. Matching funding finishing work.
DL - Dave Lunn 01483-771294
DJ - David Junkison 0208 941 0685
KR - Kevin Redway 01483-722206
PR - Peter Redway 01483-721710
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BCA NEWS - Leigh Thornton
There is an old Chinese Curse which goes.. "May you live in interesting times" and the last month on the Canal has certainly been "interesting"! The last days of October brought high winds and the highest rainfall for, well, centuries. With such high levels of rainfall, our priority is to stop canal levels rising thus preventing water from overtopping the banks. Once running, water can scour out an embankment and cause a major breach. The control mechanism is to open sluices and let water out of the canal in a controlled manner. As soon as we got an inkling of the "storm", canal staff were out over a weekend opening sluices and lowering levels in anticipation. When it came we were ready, but it still meant Rangers and the Waterway Manager being out all night monitoring and adjusting. We kept it all under control - just! The problem was that with so much water around, our sluice channels were beginning to back up. The swollen River Blackwater burst its banks in several places and flowed up the sluice channel to meet our water going down. More water overflowed lakes in the Blackwater Valley and the unfortunate end result was some flooded homes in Ash. Norris weir contributes to streams running into Fleet pond and this too was reaching critical levels. This was all very sobering. However bearing in mind the severity of the rain at the time, and since, I think our emergency procedures paid off and I would like to publicly praise staff for all their efforts over a difficult time.
We also had over twenty major trees down along the canal as a result of the storms. Many were blocking navigation and causing dams - which were another flooding threat. The Dredger, Unity, was immediately dispatched to Hampshire to start clearing and Rangers worked all through the next two weekends to get things clear and safe. Canal Society
Society volunteers clearing a failed tree above
(Photo: Kathryn Dodington)
volunteers have also been out clearing fallen trees at various places and I would like to thank you for all your efforts.
On a more cheerful note, I am sure many of you are aware that we have now let the contract for the Backpumping scheme. Work is starting in the last week of November and is due to finish by mid March. Contractors, Lean and Higgins. won the contract after a day of cross questioning and discussion with a panel from BCA, Surrey County Council and the Canal Society. We look forward to a successful partnership and a completed scheme. Please note that for safety reasons the towpath will be closed between Locks 1 and 6 for the duration of the contract. Diversionary notices will be produced.
I think there is also some good news about the Canal Centre mooring basin. However, until things are signed and sealed I'll keep quiet, and its good to have something positive up the sleeve for the next issue!
British Waterways have recently carried out a structural survey of the Greywell Tunnel with the aim of producing a safe code of practice for future entries. Unfortunately the findings of the survey are in a flooded BW office in Leeds, so we'll have to wait a bit longer for the results!
English Nature (Hampshire) will be funding "Tree Project 2" along Coxmoor Wood this winter, hopefully to the tune of £10,000. Meanwhile English Nature (Surrey) have pledged £1,000 towards conservation measures for the plant Leersia oryzoides, or "Cut Grass". This extremely rare marginal plant only grows in a few places in Britain and we aim to strengthen its teetering foothold on the canal.
In the next few weeks we will also be replacing the upper gates at Ash Lock. I'm sure many will know that this was the first set built for the restoration - even before the canal was purchased by the County Councils. They have lasted thirty years - a credit to Tony Harmsworth and his father who, I understand, were the main builders of the gates.
I think that's enough for now! Your comments and observations are welcome as always.
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Basingstoke Canal Joint Management Committee meeting, October 2000
|Original Budget||Agreed Contributions||Proposed Contributions|
|Surrey Heath BC||£18,000||£4,600||£18,400|
As a result £25,300 pruned from the Maintenance budget and £16.500 from the Dredging & Special Projects Research budget.
( Volunteer input estimated at £24.342 (148 unskilled @ £30 and 21 skilled @ £60 S&HCS days - £5700 + 358 unskilled and 30 skilled Visiting Group days = £9540 + £4406 spent on the Work Camp + £4696on SHCS Work Parties)
( Dredging in Brookwood next year.
( Lock gates constructed for Ash Lock to be installed this autumn. Set for Lock 14 being built, lowers for Lock 16 and gates for
the dry dock.)
( Survey of Greywell Tunnel being done by BW on behalf of HCC; will prepare a safe procedure for future entries.
( Toilet block and canoe store at Colt Hill: planning permission to be applied for before Xmas. Funding needed - Odiham PC,
Basingstoke & Deane BC, Sports Lottery Fund?
( Site for NEHWACA/Canoe Club at Pondtail: meeting to be set up between Defence Estates, BCA and English Nature.
( New Canal signs - Dark green background and cream/yellow lettering.
( 3 yearly environmental monitoring cycle in future to save money.
( BCA have £7000 Landfill Tax to spend on towpath improvements in Ash and Ash Vale.
( Award from Guildford HC to improve disability access along towpath at Lakeside Park, Ash.
( Mooring basin at the Canal Centre. Major problem to dispose of the sand.
( Boat licenses: Powered annual licence numbers up by 15% to 150.
( Powered visitor licence numbers up by 34% to 134.
( Unpowered licence numbers down by 30% but 1999 numbers artificially high. (217 vs 306)
( License fees to go up by 5% in 2001. 10% planned in 2002. but cost of running back-pumping to be assessed. For comparison,
a 60ft boat license in 2000 cost £125 on the Basingstoke (length 30.6 miles. 29 locks)
£122 on the River Wey (length 30.6 miles, 14 locks) £321 on the River Thames (length 198 miles. 44 locks)
( Permissive cycle route proposed to be promoted by Hampshire Borders Tourism Partnership between Greywell and Odiham
and Odiham and Swans Farm (by Sandy Hill Bridge). Risk assessment to be done. Any costs to be borne by Hampshire
Borders? Canal Director to approve any promotional literature. Project review after first season.
Own a piece of history from the man who started the Basingstoke Canal restoration!
Jim Woolgar is inviting offers for a virtually full set of Basingstoke Canal News.
Contact: Jim Woolgar,
37Sheldon Road, Ickford, Aylesbury, Bucks HP18 9HT
Donation to S&HCS
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A MOVING STORY - by Gill & Dave Freeman
Just where to start the story is difficult.
Did it all begin when we first visited Canada for our honeymoon in 1994? Maybe. We did see a lot of the country on that trip. Magnificent mountain ranges, wide open prairies, then lakes, trees and rugged hills.
During further visits we talked about living in Canada and in March 1999 went to an emigration seminar. Encouraged by the positive response we received, we decided to fill in the forms and sent them to Canada House. Next decision - which part of Canada? Not wanting to lose contact with the canals we opted for Ontario and the Rideau canal system. So in September 1999 we took another trip across the pond to look at the cost of living and possible means of making an income. We liked the idea of a B&B. Waterside properties abounded and all very cheap compared to Fleet. Then we walked into a house in Westport. The view was spectacular and the house ideal for a B&B.
Then started the waiting game, all the while hoping the house didn't sell. In February we returned to see how cold it really got. Very - minus 25F! However with bright blue skies and lots of crisp white snow it was quite beautiful and possible to get about if properly wrapped up. We started to make friends in the village and still wanted the house just as much.
In March we had our medicals, an experience in itself, but eventually we were both declared fit. Back to waiting. In April we committed ourselves to buying the house subject to receiving the Visas.
June 1st, almost a year after sending in the forms, the visas arrived and we could at last make arrangements to move. We now had 12 months from our medical to get to Canada. However we decided we wanted to be in before the winter. That gave us 3 to 4 months to manage the usual problems of house sale and removals, compounded by the transatlantic element.
We ended up living on Xanth, our 50 ft narrowboat, for 3 weeks in Pyrford marina on the river Wey. Xanth had been one of our dilemmas. Did we sell her or take her with us? We didn't want to sell but the cost of shipping her from Liverpool to Montreal was very expensive. If she stayed in Britain we would not be able to use her for more than once in two years and mooring costs would soon mount up. Pointless!
Klaus, a fellow boat owner at Pyrford and a customer of David's, solved our problem. Hearing of our intentions he sent us a message -"I have a ship which
|can take Xanth to Canada for you".
So we contacted him and asked "How much?" NOTHING!
That was an offer we couldn't refuse. His shipping line regularly runs between London and the Maritimes. OK that's about 1000 miles from our new home but a lot closer than England. All we had to do then was confirm which ship, and when, because we had to be in Canada before it docked. This unfortunately meant we had to leave before the ship arrived in London. Xanth stayed in Pyrford until news of a departure date was received. Two of our friends Greg and Rod who work at the marina then moved her down the Thames to a small marina just past Gravesend. By all accounts the trip was quite an adventure. All the windows had been boarded up in preparation forthe crossing and with two shady looking characters on the stern and heading out past the barrier, she was boarded by the river police.
On the day of loading she was cruised alongside of the "Kent Reliant", and hoisted up and over the side. It had been planned to stow her in front of one of the hatches, but as it turned out she was lowered into the depths of hold number 3. Now Xanth is 50ft long, but she fitted across the hold. Big ship!!
The ships' captain was expecting a rough crossing, and therefor had 4 steel lugs welded to Xanth's hull. He then attached very substantial chains to keep her steady. By all accounts these precautions proved worthwhile. At one point during the crossinga list of 41 degrees was recorded. We are glad we flew over, although the guests cabin had been offered.
One thing you learn very fast about cargo ships is that their schedules alter about as often as the weather. Up until the day before she was due to dock, the destination port was changing at least once a day. The shipping agents for Kent Line put their hearts into the event with such enthusiasm we were amazed. Their Canadian agent Rob deserves a rnedal for his efforts and organization skills.
The ship might be diverted into Eastport, Maine, to load
wood pulp into holds 1 & 3. Xanth would be in the way and would have to be unloaded. Not much difference in distance from her original planned port, but she was cleared for entry into Canada not the United States. Aftersome mild panicking, we contacted trie US customs who turned out to be incredibly understanding. Providing we took her straight out via the nearest road border they would look the other way.
Weather forecasts for the Maritimes told of settling snow so when we set out from home to meet the ship on Friday 3rd November we went well prepared. We had a 900 mile journey in front of us following the St Lawrence Seaway past Montreal & Quebec City. After an overnight stop we called Kent line to confirm the port of arrival. At last a straight answer - Eastport.
When we arrived we discovered a very small New England village whose community makes a living from fishing and tourists. It was Saturday evening and dark. Where was the port? We found a small area with fishing boats and a ferry, but no big ships. We waylaid a very young looking policeman who escorted us out of town to the "new port".
We had booked into a B&B for the night overlooking the bay. The landlady's son, who helped at the dock, confirmed that the ship was due early next morning. Xanth was due to be unloaded at 7.30 am before the cargo loading could begin. So next morning we arose early and set out for the dockside at about 7 am and arrived a few minutes later.
The ship was there. Big sighs of relief all round. However due to heavy rain being forecast there would be no loading that day. The local unions would not allow the ship's crew to unload Xanth as it is in breach of regulations. So she would have to stay in the hold until the weather cleared. We went on board to meet the captain and descended many ladders to the bottom of the hold. Xanth looked very tiny.
Loading was re-scheduled for 6am next morning. The captain and port manager assured us that all would be OK, but we would have to wait a further day. Next problem - we would need somewhere to sleep. The captain insisted we stay on board as his guests. We were given a guided tour of the ship, fascinating stuff, before being fed, watered and given comfortable cabins for the night.
6.15 saw us on deck with cameras poised as the hatch covers are removed. The truck appeared on the dockside, we breathed a sigh of relief. A gaggle of local dockworkers came on board and peered into the hold. 6.30 Xanth was at last lifted clear of the ship and carefully
lowered onto the waiting truck. Strange looks from all around. Nobody had seen a narrowboat before.
After thanking the captain for his hospitality, we set off following the truck to St.Stephens and passed through
customs without a hitch. We arranged to meet the truck driver two days later at a boatyard in Merrickville, Ontario. We had previously arranged with Aylings yard, one of the few with a large enough lift, to store Xanth for the winter. Sure enough 9am Wednesday morning the truck arrives and she is safely unloaded onto Canadian soil.
The Rideau canal shuts down in October each year and reopens in May. We will launch her in the spring and bring her home to be moored at the bottom of the garden. Many people are looking forward to seeing her and she will no doubt causes quite a stir.
The whole of our lives is one big adventure at the moment. So much to do, never quite enough time to do it. Unlike Britain we have had wonderful weather this autumn and with an acre of ground there has been much to do in the garden. There are also lots of tempting little lanes (dirt tracks) to explore. Come the spring our B&B will be up and running. The village where we live is a real tourist trap with many yearly events - antique show, classic boat gathering and art show to name but a few. It is also very popular for weddings. There are not enough places to stay during the summer, so we have no doubt things will go well.
Now the advert -
We will be glad to welcome anyone from the UK who would like to visit the Rideau Canal. It is a beautiful and fascinating waterway, built by the British in the early 19th century. The canal runs between Kingston on lake Ontario, nearthe 1000 islands and Ottawa, Canada's capital. There is much to see in the area being within reach of Montreal, Toronto, Niagara falls and New England (and all its canals). Anyone wanting further details or advice on travelling in Canada is welcome to contact us at
THE TOY BOX B&B
81, Concession Street
Ontario KOG 1XO, Canada
Tel 001 613 273 5907 Email email@example.com
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WELL DONE MEMBERS!
I started receiving your contributions to the 'Buy a length of pipe' appeal even before I received my copy of the Newsletter. Thank you to all those who have kept my postman busy every day since. At the time of writing (at the end of October), the appeal has received £5000 plus reclaimable tax of £1283, making a total of £6283.
If you have not yet made a contribution, all donations are welcome to help the Society reach its target. The Society does not have a vast army of volunteers these days, and much of the work will be done by visiting volunteer groups (accommodation to be paid for) and under contract. Therefore our contribution towards the Back Pumping scheme will be mainly financial. A list of donors will be published in the summer issue of the Newsletter.
Please keep the Postman coming!
Whilst I fully agree with Graham Vine in respect of his comments about the sign at the "Woodham Junction" I thought I may add the following. In 1823 the bridge to which he refers and wrongly credits to the National Trust was known as High Bridge. It was, on the Basingstoke Canal side, well within the boundary of the Tithing of Woodham Parish of Chertsey and just within the boundary of that parish on the Wey Navigation side; it would therefore seem reasonable to accept that the junction could have been known as Woodham Junction in those days as it was by the Wey bargemen in the early sixties when I first came to the Navigations and lived aboard my narrow boat on the "Common Lane" moorings (much changed since the construction of the elevated section of the M25 motorway).
To put the record straight may I also add the following. The idea to replace the old bridge was an initiative by Surrey County Council not the National Trust. In a letter dated 21st November 1986 to the then Manager, Mr Ratcliffe, Mr Brierley, who was at that time County Valuer & Estates Surveyor, stated "it is proposed to construct a footbridge which will link the Basingstoke Canal and the Wey Navigation towpaths at New Haw to replace the previous one". The letter went on to express the opinion that there would be mutual benefits to both navigations and sought to secure part funding from the National Trust. An approximate cost of £40,000 was quoted
as was the expectation for contributions from both the Countryside Commission and Runnymede Council. Not impressed with the original design, I contacted Surrey County Council on 1st December
1986 with a proposal and a re-designed bridge quoting a price not exceeding £28,000 to construct it. I received a reply from SCC on the 4th December expressing interest in my proposal and following various meetings between us, SCC applied for planning permission to build the bridge in
1987 (application No 87/0965) and on the 8th February 1988 my company was formally invited by SCC to submits tender to "Supply, Deliver and Erect a Steelwork Footbridge across the Wey Navigation Canal to link the two towpaths".
On the 29th February 1988 Illeta Col (Marine) received an official order from SCC to carry out the works of supplying, delivering and erecting a steel footbridge in the total sum of £29,000 (the extra £1000 being price increases in the past 14 months and the addition of wooden treads). The bridge was fabricated at Weybridge by Mick Cockburn and myself in the grounds of Penfolds Boathouse and the three sections transported by barge to the junction, and, if I remember correctly, completed and opened in May 1988. I think I am also correct in saying that the NT's final contribution to the cost was the £11,000 price reduction which resulted from my intervention.
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The new Woking Talks season started in splendid fashion in October with a much enjoyed talk by Peter Smith. Peter is the Working Party organiser for the Wilts and Berks Amenity group and his detailed knowledge of every mile of his canal quickly became apparent. We were impressed with the work which had been achieved, much of it supported by land fill tax rebates and were amazed at the problems which had already been overcome. We were, however, left in no doubt as to the extent of the work ahead, not least the construction of several miles of new canal around Melksham and the reluctance of a number of landowners to allow access. Peter confidently spoke of a target date for re-opening of 2020 and one couldn't help but feel that even this may be optimistic. It is great to think that so many people willingly give up their weekends to achieving small parts of a whole which they themselves are unlikely to benefit from and we wish them well. The extended question time indicated just how much the members had enjoyed this well presented talk.
During the interval we were pleased to hear news from Dave and Gill in Canada and to know that they are settling in well. Their photos and maps made their venture look very appealing.
I think we have all enjoyed the cosiness and comfortable chairs during our time at the Westgate Centre and so we were sad to hear from Peter [Coxhead] that this will be our last season at this venue and that he is looking for a new home for the monthly meetings. However for the rest of this season of talks we will continue to enjoy the centre and look forward to hearing Robin Higgs again on December 13th with more travel tales, Shaun Rendall, Countryside Officer for Woking Borough Council on "Planning for Woking's Waterways" on January 10th and Amanada Huntley with fascinating railway films from the archive collection on February 14th.
Remember that all meetings are on second Wednesday of the month now at the Westgate Centre. Woking. All are welcome.
Visit to Canal d'Orleans
A party of 24 representatives of organisations connected to the Basingstoke Canal (BCA, S&HCS, IWA, BCBC and BCCC) paid their third official visit to the Canal d'Orleans, with which it is twinned, at the end of September. Once again we were royally received by the French enthusiasts, and were hosted by French families for the weekend.
Many good friendships are now developing. Not surprisingly, good food and wine played no small part in the proceedings, but we were also taken around a number of sites on the canal, where restoration work is proceeding, albeit slowly. We also saw round a partially restored motorised Berrichon from the 1930's; perhaps the nearest boat on the
French waterways to a traditional British narrowboat. There were many discussions on the water supply problems which mirror those on the Basingstoke Canal.
This is in no way a closed organisation, and anyone
interested in France and French waterways who has not already let us know of their interest, and who might be interested in becoming involved, perhaps in hosting a French couple when they come over next year or in going on the next return trip, perhaps in 2002, is invited to send their name to the S&HCS representative. Edwin Chappell (address on the back page) and they will be kept informed of developments.
Unrestored lock on the Canal d'Orleans (Photo Kate Firth)
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This autumn has produced some of the most unpleasant weather in living memory and has certainly caused problems for the canal. The BCA rangers have been on flood alert on several occasions, adjusting weirs and keeping close watch on levels. In fact, heavy rain has caused the canal to spill over the towpath in a couple of places, fortunately without causing major damage.
Although we have not had anything as bad as the great storm of 1987, high winds blew over something like 30 trees along the canal, which kept both rangers and volunteers busy. A party led by David Junkison found that it was necessary to de-water one of the pounds of the Deepcut flight to enable them to cut up and remove a tree that fell right across the cut. (Picture on page 4)
A more insidious effect of the weather was discovered by a Society work party which was attempting to take one of the mud boats down to Deepcut. This ran aground on a sand bar which had been washed across fhe canal by one of the streams which runs in near Rushmoor Flash.
Above: Janet Greenfield sorting equipment for tree clearing
(Photo: Kathryn Dodington)
The stream comes down from the sandy ground by Rushrnoor Arena and has always brought sediment into this part of the canal; the John Pinkerton nearly got stuck there some years ago. Eventually the empty barge was pushed over the bar, but the tug was unable to get through until the next weekend when a winch did the trick. Apparently the BCA's dredger
Unity also got stuck there on its way to deal with fallen trees in Dogmersfield, but was able to drag itself across with the aid of its bucket.
Hopefully it will do some spot dredging on its way back, because the canal now appears to be only about a foot deep at this point. In the long term some provision is needed to trap the silt, which not only blocks the canal but could also be damaging the wild life. Some years ago after heavy rain a large number of dead fish were found in this area and this was attributed to something which had been washed into the canal and which clogged their gills.
One of the Society's barges stuck on a clearly visible sand bar coming in from the stream on the off-side bank. (Photo: Roger Cansdale)
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"The Cry of the Heron" by Dick Allan, published by Longfellow Publishers, Farnham. ISBN 0-9533201-2-7. Paperback. 237 pages. £7.99
This is Dick Allan's second book, but his first novel, the first book having been an account of his round-the-world voyage in a small sailing boat. He has now left the sea and owns a narrowboat on the Kennet and Avon, and it is the inland waterways of Southern England that provide the scene for "The Cry of the Heron".
The book is set in the second half of the eighteenth century and the tale revolves round the lives of the rival Cartwright and Cryer families. Both earn their living as bargemen on the Thames and Wey and Dick has obviously done a great deal of research which has given a real air of authenticity to the description of life at the time. The story progresses to Cartwrights'involvement with the building of the Basingstoke Canal and the ensuing opposition from the boatmen working down the Thames from Reading, egged on by the evil Nat Cryer.
The book can best be described as a historical melodrama, with distinctly Dickensian overtones if not perhaps Dickens' flair for characterisation. Nevertheless, it is a very good read and for Society members it has the great attraction of being built around places and events that we are familiar with. I ended up with the feeling that, but for an accident of birth in the twentieth century, it could have been me steering a barge up to Dapdun Wharf or dodging the Press Gang down in the London Docks. I also ended up feeling that I knew a lot more about how people lived 200 years ago and how local happenings related to events on the larger World scale, such as the American War of Independence.
The book is dedicated to all those who contributed their time, money and effort to the restoration of the Basingstoke Canal.
"Images of England: The Arun Navigation" by P A L Vine, published by Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-2103-4. Paperback. 128 pages. £9.99
Paul Vine needs no introduction as the author of "London's Lost Route to the Sea", the definitive history of the Wey & Arun Canal, first published in 1985. Since then he has written and compiled a number of books on waterways of South East England, including a photographic record of the Wey & Arun Canal published last year.
This sequel covers the 26.5 mile Arun Navigation from Newbridge to the sea at Littlehampton. One might wonder whether sufficient photographs existed of this rural waterway, but the author's research over many years has resulted in a book of over 200 images and many detailed maps showing the places that became associated with the navigation.
In use since the Norman Conquest, navigation of the tidal Arun was improved by a succession of Sussex landowners during the 16th and 17th centuries. Improvements to Littlehampton Harbour gave rise to the Arun Navigation Act of 1785 to improve the navigation above Houghton. The Act authorised £10,000 to be raised for the construction of a 4 mile canal from Pallingham to Newbridge and for the 3 mile long Coldwaltham Cut with the 375 yard long Hardham Tunnel to bypass a 5 mile loop of the Arun. The improved navigation became an important trade route from the coast into Sussex. Then the opening of the Wey & Arun Canal in 1816, linking the Wey Navigational Shalford with the Arun,
followed by the Portsmouth and Arun Canal in 1823, led to further improvements and construction of the Rother Navigation from Stopham to Midhurst, which has its own 'chapter'.
The author's detailed knowledge of the Arun adds greatly to the picture captions and maps, such as a view of the entrance to the Arun Canal at Pallingham; while not particularly interesting as a picture, the caption explains that the canal was operated independently of the Wey & Arun Canal and remained open for 17 years after the latter closed, adding a sense of purpose to the picture and highlighting a fact perhaps not widely known.
The dedicated Wey & Arun Canal Trust workers and visiting volunteers have long since proved that restoration of what some sceptics once considered a lost cause is fast becoming a reality. The IWA recently donated £20,000 towards the Drungewick Bridge project which, when completed, will complete restoration of some 7.5 miles of the Wey & Arun, or a quarter of its length, from Loxwood south to Newbridge.
While this book focuses specifically on the Arun Navigation and its commercial past, it will help introduce many more people to the exciting prospect of reviving the Wey & Arun link.
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Profits for 2000 are estimated to be a record £17,000, which is about £4000 more than last year, due to increased charted business from coach companies and the Farnborough Air Show.
What is it about some anglers that they appear to have no conscience about leaving their litter behind? If it is not actually left on the towpath, it is discarded behind bushes not far away, as seen at Eelmoor Flash.
To the west of Claycart Bridge, the problem has been addressed, but not solved, by providing a large concrete pipe section to serve as a litter receptacle. Seeing the overflowing contents, it is obviously well used but how about someone emptying it?
We have a Canal Authority, Basingstoke Canal Anglers Association, canal rangers and water bailiffs. Surely between them, they should monitor the situation and take remedial action.
If fishermen are not prepared to take their rubbish home, then the BCAA should be made responsible for its clearance. Perhaps the Canal Authority should write a clause into their lease agreement making clearance of litter their responsibility? Or add the cost of employing a refuse collection firm to deal with it.
One way or another, the litter problem must be tackled for the sake of an otherwise attractive environment and all other canal users.
It was good to see in the December issue of Waterways World that Society member David Catherall has managed to find time from helping with the annual winter refits of the John Pinkerton to fit out his own 60 ft narrowboat. He has done this so well that it features in this month's "Every one a Winner" article as an example of how it can be done.
David worked for many years as a scientist at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and his boat has a number of innovative design features. He was a long-term member of the now sadly defunct Staff Mess and has managed to incorporate a couple of souvenirs from it in the boat. The oak bar has provided some of the interior timber and the boat is named "Hieronymus Bosch" after the painter of the famous "Garden of Earthly Delights", a copy of which used to hang in the Mess as a frequently ignored warning against the perils of over-indulgence!
Peter Coxhead and other Society members took the opportunity to advertise our trip boat Dragonfly with a float at the Woking Carnival in September.
Canal Heritage Path in Basingstoke
The latest newsletter from the Basingstoke Heritage Society reports that the signboards are now up and the Council are keen to have an opening ceremony before the end of the year (as it is a millennium project). The Heritage Society contributed to the cost of the signboards and encourages people to go along and see the work that has been done in Eastrop Park and from there to the limepits in Old Basing. They hope to organise a walk in the Spring when, hopefully, things will be a little less wet. A very nice leaflet about the path, which follows the line of the last two miles of the canal, can be obtained from places like the Willis Museum in Basingstoke.
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The last issue of the BC News included an article about one of the traction engines at the Transport Cavalcade, in which I noted the fact that the makers, Wallis & Steevens, had obtained supplies of moulding sand from Mytchett and had used the canal to transport it. What I did not know at the time was that they actually had a much closer association with the canal.
The Wallis family moved to Basingstoke in the 18th century and traded as corn merchants. The business flourished as the increasing prices encouraged more arable farming and in the first half of the 19th century was being run by Richard Wallis and one of his sons, also Richard. When the canal arrived in Basingstoke, the business was moved to the wharf, from where they also traded as coal, slate and salt merchants, and operated as canal carriers.
In 1816, the elder Richard was involved in the barge owning partnership of Grively & Wallis, and there was another partnership, Wallis & Fayle, also operating. The latter was taken over in 1826 by John Birnie.and Grively withdrew at some stage leaving Wallis & Co in 1844 owning the barges "Alresford", "Defiance", Dispatch", Dolphin", "Harriett" and "Independence". They plied from London with general cargoes, including nails and ironware for the company run by Richard's other two sons, Frank and Charles. They were operating as ironmongers, ironfounders and agricultural implement makers in response to the increased demand for agricultural machinery.
The coming of the railway to Basingstoke had the same adverse effect on their business as on all the other canal
carriers and in 1849, Dolphin carried its last load (5 tons of guano and 40 quarters of wheat for Farnham and 42 tons of coal back to Basingstoke). Despite the downturn in its fortunes, the canal had made Basingstoke a focus for trade with London, so that when the trains came, it had a flying start over its neighbours.
Richard Wallis & Sons extended the iron foundry business and became agents for a number of leading machine makers. Charles Steevens joined the company as a businessman rather than an engineer, but he was a bachelor so that, although his name stayed with the company, it was run subsequently only by the Wallis family. The firm made just about every conceivable item possible from iron, including carts, well pumps, garden seats and even domestic washing machines (hand operated). The core of their business was still agricultural
machinery, which by 1850 included portable steam engines.
Wallis & Steevens built their first traction engine in 1877, designed by the 31 year old William Fletcher, who later achieved considerable fame in the traction engine world.
The engine that appeared at the Transport Cavalcade, Number 2149, was notable for being the first road roller built by the company. It was in fact a convertible engine,
built to be used with either rollers or ordinary road wheels. It was delivered to Carter Brothers, a road building contractor in Billinghurst, Sussex, in 1890 and was still working for them in 1941. It was finally sold for scrap, but escaped being cut up and was rescued for restoration in 1972.
Bridge Barn Rally Organiser
After last year's Bridge Barn Rally, Peter Coxhead announced his retirement as organiser. We are delighted to say that Verna Smith, the Society's Sales Manager, was kindly volunteered to be promoted from her role as this year's Millennium Easter Bunny (see the cover of the Summer Newsletter) to next year's organiser. Peter will nevertheless still be around in a advisory capacity. Thanks very much Verna.
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# With the massive autumn rainfall, what a pity the surplus rainfall cannot be stored for use in the summer when the canal is short of water. If only we had a reservoir along the top pound. Unfortunately all the surplus water is released over the weirs and helps to top up the rivers which then flood the surrounding areas. We can't win.
# Extra work was caused by the strong winds in October when about thirty trees fell across the canal - and towpath. Since then the rangers have been hard at work removing them using their workboat as a platform.
# Good to hear that the Boat Safety Scheme is being reviewed and updated nationally. Some of the regulations have been too onerous the result being that the starter and cheaper end of boating has been decimated. Everyone has to start somewhere and if people cannot get involved early on they might not therefore progress up the ladder of boatowning later.
# The Inland Waterways Association National Waterways Festival and Inland Boat Show is being held in the south again in 2001 over the August Bank holiday at Milton Keynes. Not too far to travel from this area.
# The longer period before the canal locks in Surrey were closed to navigation last summer resulted in a growth of 15% in annual powered licences (129 to 150) and 34% in powered visitor licences (100 to 134). However, unpowered licences were down from 306 to 217. Fees for 2001 will be increased by 5%.
# At long last a major replacement and update of the canal signs is taking place this winter as the present information boards are now very tatty. The colour scheme is being changed to a dark green background and cream/yellow lettering similar to the colours already adopted around the Canal Centre. Good news.
# Well known waterways personality Peter Harrison Chaplin has passed away. His 1989 book 'Waterways Conservation' has been very useful to many canal restoration schemes. He supported high quality workmanship along sympathetic and traditional lines even though some modern methods were cheaper. He campaigned from early days for the IWA and the Kennet and Avon Canal. His firm, until taken over, was well known along the Thames, and southern waterways. Landing stages and piling work on the Basingstoke Canal were undertaken by his firm including the Fox and Hounds in Fleet.
# Anticipated revenue expenditure for the canal in 2001/02 is £613,600 and revenue income is budgeted at £145,800. Let us hope that Hart and Surrey Heath can start making up for their previous cutbacks.
# The Basingstoke Canal Joint Management Committee has given approval for capital schemes totalling £125,000 in the next financial year so the Canal Authority expect to spend £95,000 on the new mooring basin at the Canal Centre and £30,000 on refitting the existing workboat.
Ian Bullock 1933-2000
Ian passed away peacefully in October after much suffering from Alzheimer's Disease for four years.
Born in 1933 he joined the RAF in 1953 and left in 1971 as a Squadron Leader Navigator, From then until retirement in 1993 he was with the Civil Aviation Authority, his last position being Head of the Safety Regulations Group.
In 1974 he happened to be looking over Colt Hill Bridge. Odiham and saw Ian Cripps working on the newly acquired steam dredger. Being a steam enthusiast he immediately joined the Society and became involved in many Society activities associated with the restoration of the canal.
These included bank clearance, helping the Mellers with the
narrow gauge railway used for silt disposal, and latterly as a tug driver for many years often accompanied by his wife Pippa and son Peter.
Our condolences go to his family on their sad loss.
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(From Society Newsletters No.95 February 1981 and No.96 April 1981)
# Record 1980 season for the 'John Pinkerton' reported. The surplus was £10,584 for the year and 4,497 passengers carried. 17% increase in charters totalling 241 out of a total number of cruises of 316. For the 1981 season trips will be able to be made to Winchfield for the first time, as the steam dredger 'Perseverance' has now passed this point.
# Amanda Ward is a regular volunteer with the Kent and East Sussex working party working on restoring Lock 19 and comes along about every six weeks. Being a Radiographer and now working in Holland she made a supreme effort to join the 6th/7th December 1980 working party. She finished work on the Friday, drove to Zeebrugge and arrived in Dover at 2am. She slept in the car (with a morning call from the Police at 4am and drove to Ash Hall to help the working party ladies prepare Christmas Dinner for the navvies. She worked all day Sunday and returned to Holland on the Monday to start work on the Tuesday. What an effort.
# Stan Meller's narrow gauge railway gang has laid a mile of track along the off-side of Ash embankment. The mammoth task of moving thousands of tons of clay to re-puddle the embankment is now well advanced, with the help of Hampshire's canal rangers and visiting groups of volunteers.
# Four new lock gates for Lock 20 built by eight first year woodworking apprentices at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough moved to Pirbright. Transport was undertaken by the Army from Church Crookham.
# New scheme commenced sponsored by the Manpower Services Commission to the tune of £103,000. 32 young people will be employed for 12 months under the supervision of Martin Smith, Jim Reid and Robert Mew, and working to Project Manager Frank Jones.
# Suggestion that the half-way mark of the restoration programme mooted by Peter Cooper in his working party notes. With the chamber restoration on the Deepcut flight nearly complete, Ash Lock restored, and visible work taking place on the other three flights of locks, he has a valid point. Additionally the clay-shifting job at the newly restored Ash Embankment is now well advanced and the 'Perseverance' is progressing from Winchfield towards Crookham.
# Open Forum held in September 1980 reported upon. This was held to discuss the suggestion of operating a second trip boat on the centre section of the canal. It was decided to set up a Working Group to study the feasibility even though only Peter Jones and Robert Mew were willing to take part.
# Tour of work sites made by Committee and Officers of the Society together with husbands and wives. Day out organised by Peter Cooper.
# Death of Robert Aickman reported. After reading L.T.C. Rolt's classic 'Narrow Boat' he suggested the formation of the Inland Waterways Association and then spent the next 18 years as Chairman. The Basingstoke Canal had a special place in his affection and he was heavily involved when the campaign to restore it was started in 1948, prior to its auction.
The death was announced in mid-November of William Harris, the 6th Earl of Malmesbury, at the age of 92. His connection with the Canal was firstly that he owned Greywell Hill House, under whose grounds the Greywell Tunnel runs, and secondly that he was Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire from 1973 to 1982.
It was in this role that he performed the official re-opening of Broad Oak Bridge after its re-building by Society volunteers. This was followed by a trip on the John Pinkerton, which he enjoyed so much that he presented the
Society with a electrically powered
outboard motor shortly afterwards; appropriately ideal for trips into the Greywell Tunnel should they ever become possible.
Boat Company Chairman Peter Fethney (left) with Lord & Lady Malmesbury on board the John Pinkerton.
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CHRISTMAS PUZZLE - by Kathy Garrett
Just a Little Holiday Fun
How well do you know your canal junctions?
Hidden on the left are 14 canal junctions.
They can be up, down, across, diagonal or backwards.
See how many you can find.
Answers in the next Newsletter.
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Date for next copy 10th February 2001
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