No. 189 Spring 2001
Michael Handford's letter inside makes some good points about the future of the Society, many of which your Committee has already recognised. The Society is a victim of its own success and if it wishes to rejuvenate itself, it probably does need some grand new project to aim at. However, I personally doubt whether restoration of the western end link to Basingstoke is the right one.
Basingstoke town centre is being re-developed, but, following the collapse of the borough's scheme to restore the link, it does not feature the canal, so we have missed the boat there. Anything is feasible, but to overcome the triple obstacles of the Greywell Tunnel/bats, the M3 motorway and the houses built on the canal line in Old Basing, would, I believe, require a radical departure from the original route of the canal, which then raises the question of why we would be doing it. Is getting to Basingstoke at all costs a worthwhile end in itself?
My feeling and, more importantly, possibly that of the general public is that it probably isn't. What I would really like to see is something like the planned Berks and Hants Canal, first proposed in 1810, to link the Basingstoke with the Kennet & Avon and produce a Berks, Hants & Surrey ring. If only the loop up to Turgis Green had been built instead of the tunnel, we would be half way there already!
New canals are being built elsewhere, so is this unthinkable? I don't know, but in the meantime, I agree with Dieter Jebens that the vitai thing is to get what we have working properly as a full-time navigation.
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The IWA has decided, after long deliberation, to support a proposal that the navigation functions of the Environment Agency should be handed over to British Waterways. This would mean that, amongst other things, management of the Thames would pass to BW. The IWA's support is not founded on any criticism of the Environment Agency, but on a belief that BW is the body best placed to be able to encourage investment in the inland waterways, particularly in eastern and south-eastern England and generally to improve the standards of navigation by separating this from the environmental regulatory functions of the EA. The IWA also sees this as a step towards a single national waterways licensing scheme for boats, which then raises the question of "If the Thames, why not the Wey and the Basingstoke?" Interesting times......
* * * * *
The clearance work at the end of the Farnborough Airfield runway near Eelmoor Flash has been done very efficiently and totally ruthlessly. Hardly a blade of grass seems to be standing on the offside bank.
I was rather struck by the contrast between this vandalism of the landscape, for which permission seems to have gone through without a squeak from either local authorities or the conservationists, and our experience some years ago, when our proposals for a small marina at Pondtail were opposed by a high-powered and misleading campaign by local green activists.
To add insult to injury, the recent work was accompanied by signs on the towpath saying 'M.O.D. Conservation Work in Progress'. All I can say is that if this is their idea of conservation, heaven help us if they really want to get rid of something - presumably napalm or nuclear weapons would be the order of the day.
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'Conservation' at Eelmoor Flash
Photo: Roger Cansdale
If my article about Wallis & Steevens in the last news has interested anyone in restoring a traction engine, 1 know where there are about a dozen sitting slowly rusting in a field. The only snag is that it is in a place called Bookham on the Hume Highway, about half way between Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, Still, it's a great country to visit, even if a bit short on canals.
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This issue seems to have suffered even more than usual from my not knowing initially what I am going to have to put in it, and then having so much that it threatens to burst at the seams. Thanks to everybody who has contributed and my apologies to those whose efforts have had to be left out or severely edited.
Winter cruising - Dick Snell at the helm of Athai near Baseley's Bridge
Photo - Alison Snell
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The running of the Society, can at times be quite demanding on a person's time and pressures at work also affect the time available to committee members. Some key members of the committee work long hours and frequently travel far and wide. Why am I publicising this information? It is, I feel, one of the reasons for changes in the running of the Society following a Committee member's need to reduce their personal workload. This will appear elsewhere in this publication when ratified by other directors.
On a happier note, I am able to report very good progress on the Woodham Backpumping Project. The Pipeline has been constructed from Lock 2 to Sheerwater Road. Non-Dig pipe construction under Sheerwater Road and Scotland Bridge should be complete when the Newsletter drops through your letterbox. The Pump intake structure has been
concreted and the Pumphouse structure is taking shape. The project is on target for the end of March tests and handover.
We have recently assisted the Swanage Railway Volunteers in recovery of railway track, our contribution being certificated excavator operators for work under Power lines. A letter from the Chairman of the Swanage Railway has provided the opportunity for closer links with the Railway. Many of our members have a joint interest, many of their volunteers are ex Dredger volunteers so we share a common bond ; watch this space for developments.
In closing, don't forget to diary the Easter event at Bridge Barn and the Colt Hill event at the end May Bank Holiday.
As hinted at in the Chairman's Report above, there are some personnel changes within the running of the Society. These have been occasioned by the decision of Edwin Chappell to step down as Membership Secretary after many years of service in this post.
Edwin's involvement with the Canal goes back to his schooldays when he joined the lock rebuilding groups at St John's. Since then and despite having to fight his way through serious illness, not only he but also his wife Joan and his parents have got drawn more and more into the affairs of the Society, running stands at events such as the Bridge Barn, dishing out tea and coffee at the AGM and sorting out the membership covenants, in addition to the standard duties of the Membership Secretary. It is perhaps this willingness to take on jobs which has produced an inevitable conflict with the demands of having to earn a living and have a sensible family life.
The Society is deeply indebted to Edwin, Joan, Yvonne and Brian for all that the Chappell family has done for it over the years. We wish them all well and hope that we shall continue to enjoy their company in less stressful circumstances.
Fortunately, we have been able to find replacements to take on the various jobs that Edwin did. Lesley Richards is to be our new Membership Secretary. She and her husband live in Fleet in a house backing onto the Canal, where they keep their narrowboat Merlin, and have already been active on Working Parties.
Lesley will look after all the membership functions, such as subscriptions/renewals and recording those who have completed Gift Aid forms, as well as providing address labels to make sure that Newsletters are sent to all members.
Denise Smith, Verna Smith's sister has agreed to take on the Administration jobs, such as Entrust returns, and organisation of things such as the Annual Draw and AGM. Many people will have already met Denise at functions such as the Transport Cavalcade at Mytchett last year. Perhaps the mildest thing one could say about her is that age does not let adversity get in the way of anything that she has set her mind to doing, so I think we can look forward to some vigourous organising! Unfortunately, she will be abroad during March, so the AGM will be a joint Committee responsibility this year, of which more elsewhere in this issue.
Finally, the important job of extracting money from the Inland Revenue will pass from Brian Chappell to Graham Hornsey. Brian has been doing a sterling job of getting everything that was due to us under the old Covenant scheme and when this is complete, Graham will implement the new Gift Aid system. He is a retired executive who dealt with tax affairs fora large corporation, so should be the ideal man for this job.
You can help him by filling out the Gift Aid form in this Newsletter, if you have not already done so (if in doubt, please do another). This will enable us to reclaim tax not only on your subscription, but on any other donations that you might make to the Society, such as the Water Appeal. Please don't forget this, as it is potentially worth several thousand pounds a year to us.
We are very grateful for their agreement to taking on these jobs, which was agreed at the February Committee meeting, and welcome Lesley, Denise and Graham to the Society's organisation.
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The Annual General Meeting will be held on 21st April and we shall be returning to our old venue of the Mytchett Community Centre.
Last year's attendance was lower than usual and your Committee has been giving some thought to ways in which we could improve the general appeal of the evening. Aided by some suggestions from the Society archivist, Jill Haworth, we have produced the following programme for the evening.
6.40 Book auction
7.00 Formal AGM business
7.30 Presentation of awards
8.00 Guest speaker
9.00 Open forum
Supper is optional and you need to book it (and pay for it) in advance using the form that was included with the official AGM notice that you should have already received. If you have lost it, send a note and your cheque, payable to S&HCS Ltd, to Peter Redway, whose address is on the back page.
Towards the end of supper, we will be auctioning the books donated by Dick and Alison Snell and listed on Page 13.
The formal business of the AGM includes the election of the new Board and presentation of the accounts. After the presentation of the Robin Higgs Award, there will be reports on various aspects of the Society's activities in the last year as well as, possibly, on some of the more interesting things happening on the Canal. It is intended that these reports will be fairly brief and that if people want to discuss any aspects of them, this will be done in the open forum at the end.
The major departure from the AGM format of previous years is that we have decided to have a guest speaker on a waterways subject not directly connected with the Basingstoke Canal; the speaker, however, does have connections. Scotland is the scene of one of the UK's major canal projects with the restoration of the Forth & Clyde Canal and the building of its sensational rotary boat lift, so to give a review of Scottish waterways, we have invited Andy Stumpf down.
Andy, who was involved with our dredging operation for many years, is now one of BW's upper management in Scotland, so we look forward to a really interesting talk, as well as the opportunity to see him again.
Finally, we will open the floor to the members to discuss anything they want to raise.
One final point. I mentioned above that the formal business would include the election of the Society's new Board. It would be very nice if we could have enough nominations for Directors to really make this an election. Following Edwin Chappell's resignation, we are down to nine Directors out of a possible twelve. I was recently glancing at a 1971 Newsletter from David Millett's collection and was interested to see that it contained short biographies of the then Committee members, which showed that the majority were in their 30's. We really do need some new blood in the Committee to knock about 20 years off its average age and get it back to that state, so why not give it some thought?
A nomination form was included with the AGM notice. If you might be interested and want to know more about what is involved, or if you need a proposer or seconder, give me or one of the other Directors listed on the back page a ring.
The impressive foundations of the
pump house for the backpumping
(Photo: Dieter Jebens)
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Woking Canal Festival
at the Bridge Barn
April 14th - 15th (11 am - 5.30pm)
We need your help please!
« To donate cakes & biscuits (both days)
« To help park cars
« To collect money (the main source of revenue)
« To man the SHCS stand
« To explain the role of SHCS and recruit new members
« And lots more!
I know it's Easter weekend, but if you could spare just one hour or longer on either day, it would really help our small organising committee make this event successful and fun!
Contacts: Peter Coxhead (01932-344564) Verna Smith (01252-517622) Bobby King (cakes) (01252-325268)
P.S. I might even let you wear the 'Bunny' costume!
Surrey & Hampshire Canal Cruises Ltd made a profit of £15,212 last year, which must be a record since they had to start paying for licenses, mooring, inspections etc. Well done everybody concerned!
There will be some operational changes in 2001. As public trips are often poorly attended, these will only take place on the first and third Sundays of the month, allowing for charters at other times. On Bank Holidays, trips will only operate on the Sundays and Mondays. These will go from Ash Wharf at Easter, Odiham at Whitsun and the Fox and Hounds in Fleet for the Spring and August Bank holidays.
Janet Moore is still the crew organiserand can be contacted by e-mail as well as telephone. If you would like her to contact you this way, send your e-mail address to Janet.Moore6@tesco.net.
There is to be the usual start of season crew meeting at the Standard of England at Ash on the evening of Wednesday 4th April.
12-13 May Country Fair at the Canal Centre
26 - 28 May Backpumping rally at Odiham
8-9 Sept CavalcadeofTransport at the Canal Centre
22 -23 Sept Fox & Hounds Rally (provisional date)
The winter evenings have continued to be enlivened by the monthly lectures at the Westgate Centre and the evenings have been well supported by members.
In November we once again joined Richard Thomas on a fascinating journey, this time along the Foss-Way from the entrance to the old Exeter Canal Cirencester. December's journey took us further afield and away from waterways to the Darjeeling and Himalayan Railways with Robin Higgs once again our guide. Nearer to home the next talk was by Shaun Rendell Countryside Officer from Woking Borough Council who talked about the issues involved in administering the land adjoining Woking's waterways.
11 April "The Basingstoke Restoration Story" by Arthur Dungate
IWA Guildford & Reading branch
26 March AGM at Byfleet Boat Club. Parvis Bridge Road, W. Byfleet at 7.30pm. Followed by a talk/demo from Harley Crossley the well known waterways artist.
29 April A guided expedition for walkers and small boats on the backwaters of the River Wey. Meet at Newark Bridge (Map ref TQ 040573) at 2prn. Further details from Tony Davies (01932-844261)
1 July "Embassy Pairs" match. Chequers Bridge to
Ash Lock (350 anglers)
7 July "Embassy National Federation of Anglers Division Four Championship Event". Odiham to Mytchett (900 anglers)
This event is said to be one of the biggest matches of the year in Britain and fishing will start at 11am, going on until 4pm. Anglers will be travelling in their own cars, so there may be parking problems in the area and "Bikers and boaters are respectfully requested not to use the canal during the match to avoid any confrontation", although spectators on foot will be welcome. It is not clear whether the ban on boating and cycling that day has official BCA backing, or how it will be notified or enforced.
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From Michael Handford
I read the recent BCN with interest as usual and noted your appeal once again for volunteers for your committee. This seems to be repeated in many canal society magazines with certain exceptions. I will come to those exceptions later.
Why does this trend of volunteer starvation affect so many societies? Part of the reason is natural. There are so many more leisure time options now and so many extra calls on our time. All types of volunteer societies suffer the same problem - with again certain exceptions.
As far as waterways are concerned, part of the 'problem' is success. We have won - and won resoundingly - the aims and objectives identified by Robert Aickman when he launched the IWA in 1946. The facts speak for themselves. Money is pouring into waterways improvement, regeneration and restoration. There were days - years - when we struggled to raise £40,000 to restore the Stratford Canal. Now no one bats an eyelid at a £25 million HLF grant. That size of HLF grant may not be repeated but there are more and more sources of partnership funding. David Fletcher, Chief Executive of BW, tells us canals are now being restored faster than they were built in the 1790's Canal Mania. Things are not as rosy on the Basingstoke but the general picture remains true.
Part of the problem is also lack of clear, worthwhile, exciting objectives. I remember a sleepy two hundred strong Ashbey Canal Society in the early 1980's, now transformed into a vibrant five hundred strong active group. The difference - and it is the difference of all the exceptions - is that they have adopted a real challenge and risen to it. Real challenges attract people. No real challenges and people drift away and lose interest.
SHCS did attempt to spearhead the restoration of the Western End a decade ago. That came to grief because of appauling [sic] advice given from a national basis and the lack of a clear local strategic vision. It need not have ended up a failure if Basingstoke & Deane DC had a little more sense and SHCS had adopted a different strategy.
I suggest now the way to revive active members is to adopt a real challenge and that the challenge should be the restoration of the Western End. This time can we please have two changes? Firstly consultants chosen on criteria other than price. There are too many local authorities/canal societies who have wasted money saving money. Secondly, an SHCS policy decision to find a route round, not through Greywell Tunnel. Why do I say that? Because only that way do you avoid a battle royal. To restore the tunnel, bats have to be disturbed. If anything goes wrong, SHCS will be blamed. So ignore the tunnel - let the bats have it. In any event, they will lose it eventually because unless man-made
structures are maintained, they eventually collapse. Let English Nature restore the tunnel if they want to, therby making sure long term the bats can stay. If they don't it will collapse and the bats will be homeless. In those circumstances SHCS's hands are clean. I can just hear Manuel putting up his hands - "I know nothing!"
Forget timesharing the tunnel. II won't work and it isn't economic. And you need to put your skates on. The House of Commons Select Committee is looking at the future of waterways. The shape of new legislature (in the third year of a new parliament?) is already clear and this is likely to have a major impact on the waterways, including (perhaps especially) independent navigations. Prioritisation by IWAAC is now government policy. The Association of Inland Navigation Authorities is planning to identify strategic restorations adding significantly to the network. By 2010 new canals will be sexy, restorations old hat. The underlying political geology is changing beneath your feet. I would have thought Southern Canals Association might have flagged this up but apparently it is unaware (I am told).
If your restoration isn't well advanced by 2010 - and the Cotswold Canals, for example, are very likely to be - then we may see the end of those restoration schemes around for forty years and getting almost nowhere unless they are part of strategic new routes or (like the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal) reach parts other restorations cannot reach.
How about it SHCS?
265 Meadow Way,
Beds LU7 8XS
I have recently been in contact with Jennifer Watts of the Thames & Medway Canal Association regarding an ancestor of mine, William Minchell, who was a bargemasterin 1815 in Chertsey.
She suggested that I contact yourself regarding any background information such as is it likely that had their own barge or was he an employee of a large company. The type of merchandise involved, coal, explosives etc? What would happen when a bargernaster became too old for the life? Basically any information that you could supply would be of great benefit.
I know that William Minchell was in Chertsey in July 1815 because he had his children christened at St Peter's Church, a boy Thomas Kellam born 6th June 1815 and also a daughter Ann born 21st December 1812, as well as burying a son William in Chertsey
who died on 10th February 1815 at the age of 6.
Any information that you can supply would be gratefully received.
The letter above was originally sent to the Southern Canals Association and forwarded to us by Stan Meller, who had replied suggesting that William Minchell could have plied his trade on the Basingstoke. Wey & Arun, Thames, Grand Junction or even Oxford Canal. Stan also suggested
that the Public Records Office at Kew might be worth a visit, but can anybody help Mr Lean? To get a general feel for the life of his ancestor, he could do worse than read Dick Allan's "The Cry of the Heron" that we reviewed in the last issue.
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Dieter Jebens, a founder member of the Society and its current Vice-Chairman, comments:
Restoration of the 5-mile western end of the canal remains an objective of the Society. In 1990 the Society published "Basingstoke Canal: the Promise of the Western End". A comprehensive engineering study was compiled by our member Stan Meller, which included restoration of the 1,230-yard long Greywell Tunnel, provision of a short, adjacent hibernation tunnel for bats, and extending navigation westward to Penney Bridge. The total cost was put then at £1.25 million.
The report prompted Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council to consider complete restoration back to the town centre, including crossing the M3 motorway and constructing a new tunnel under Greywell Hill. Engineering consultants Scott, Wilson Kirkpatrick concluded the scheme was feasible and estimated the cost would be between £22 and £28 million. However, the local authority failed to get Millennium Commission funding for the project, and then considered restoration from Old Basing to the town centre, which narrowly failed to get committee approval.
Restoration of the western end remains an ambition of the Society but since the canal was re-opened to Greywell ten years ago, it has become apparent that getting adequate water supplies for the restored length also needs attention and is, perhaps, a more immediate priority. Hence the Woodham back-pumping project to conserve water, and plans to back-pump to St John's, Brookwood and Deepcut lock flights.
Michael Handford is right to propose a review of plans to restore the western end, but objectives have to be realistic and be assessed in the light of other priorities. Right now the top one must be to solve the canal's water shortage problem so that the canal is navigable all year round and not simply exist as a 'sometimes' navigable backwater.
What do readers think? The editor welcomes your views.
We also asked Stan Meller. our one-time Special Projects Manager, for his opinion on Michael's suggestion.
I would like to register a reply to Michael Handford's letter and his comment about restoration of the Western End. Since I was the leader of the team who produced in 1989 the "Engineering Proposal", the booklet "Promise of the Western End", and the video, I feel that I have all the material to make a full response.
It is coincidental that I recently got some more press publicity about the Canal and the town of Basingstoke. When the recent opening of the "Milestones" museum was announced, I was astonished to learn that there was not a single item about the Basingstoke Canal. A letter on the subject that I sent to the Editor of the Basingstoke Gazette was published. Apart from recording dismay at no mention in the museum, I took the opportunity to advise the residents how lucky they were to have a canal carrying the name of their town. And also what an advantage it would be to have it restored and what a magnificent leisure facility it would offer for Basingstoke to be linked to the National network.
There was minimal response to my letter. A personal letter from "Mr Basingstoke" - Arthur Attwood MBE (he wrote the forward of the booklet) lamented that there seemed to be no interest in the town to see the canal restored. There was one reply published by the newsletter from a resident of Old Basing, stating that he was quite happy to access the canal by travelling to Odiham! He also stated that the facility offered was not worth the cost of £1OOK; in a later letter he altered his random cost estimate to £1OOM!
There was no other response in the press to the subject. I must admit I did not expect any since I became well aware 12 years ago that the residents of Basingstoke have no interest whatever in a possible restoration plan and the residents of Old Basing are bitterly opposed. They cannot be persuaded to accept that the restoration of the canal through their village would add to the value of their homes, apart from the additional leisure and recreational facility.
I am sorry to say we have no alternative but to forget the possibility of restoration to a terminus in Basingstoke. A mammoth amount of work was done in past years but it was all to no avail. It was not just the bats in Greywell Tunnel that killed off the proposal but the lethargic reaction of the residents.
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I note the December BC News Editorial on anglers' roach poles and litter.
Firstly it occurs to me that any cyclist who rides so close up to an angler that they fall off are either purblind or deliberately trying to set up a confrontation. A bike can stop in a lot less time than it takes to pull back and disassemble a roach pole. (To me the event looks like six of one and half a dozen of the other). Knowing the high price and fragile nature of a decent pole I am not surprised at the angler's reaction.
That said, it is certainly true that on the narrow tow path, anglers (with poles or standard rods), walkers and cyclists are now regularly in contention. The towpath rules for fishing and cycling were set up before pole fishing became a near standard canal method, OR the mass use of recreational, fast, off-road cycles. Consequently, neither are now adequate or appropriate for either! I suggest the current problems were foreseeable at least five years ago when BCA should have re-thought the matter. Now, those who use the path are expected to tolerate the unfortunate results of this past neglect/complacency.
Yes, a roach pole does obstruct and inconvenience path users .., sometimes.
Cycles with their protruding handlebars are fast moving and threatening obstructions, their riders, many of whom seem to expect a totally unobstructed right of way, equally inconvenience others on the path (especially walkers)... sometimes.
It's just a matter of a point of view in a moment in time.
Suggesting the non-executive Recreational Development Committee should devise and presumably arrange to enforce a new set of rules is to duck the issue. The group are well aware of the problems. The BCA responses to their past attempts/requests to update rules have always been met by a bland "You must all share the path together, no changes needed". With that in mind, I suggest the SHCS members on BCA executive committees are far better placed to promote such matters, possibly guided/advised by the RDC.
One could also suggest that anglers deserve more consideration than cyclists. There are scores of miles of accessible, cycleable tracks in the canal
|vicinity. Anglers, however, need water to fish in and pay the BCA very well for the
privilege of using the canal... No doubt that remark will put a cat among someone's pigeons.
Rubbish dumping anywhere is simply evidence of generations of adults not having or teaching their children respect for our environment. Every open space is now treated as a tip. Inevitably, canals also have their inconsiderate visitors, including litter lout anglers and walkers with their many path fouling dogs. Bemoaning the fact will cure nothing.
Editor: Thank you Bill for your usual forthright opinions. I asked the cyclist who has involved about the circumstances of the incident with the angler and it appears that, far from trying to set up a confrontation, she was trying to pass quietly behind him when he rapidly withdrew his pole right in front of her, causing her to have to stop so suddenly that she fell off.
This illustrates the quandary that I always have - do I cycle along making a noise all the time (I know one cyclist who has a permanently jangling bell) or do I try not to disturb. Personally I prefer to be quiet in keeping with the canal, but this then runs the risk above unless anglers remember that there maybe other people about.
What is the experience of other users of the towpath? Would you wish to see roach poles banned? Would this really upset anyone other than the manufacturers of fishing tackle ? Should cyclists give audible warning of their presence at all times?
I met a different sort of hunter of fish whilst cycling the towpath in Aldershot in January, when I spotted this minx sitting on the partly frozen canal. It dived into the open water when a boat approached.
Photo - Roger Cansdale
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The following people and organisations have so far donated a total of £7355 to the Water Appeal, A further £2500 was raised by last year's Bridge Barn Rally.
Mary Miskin Charitable Trust (£1000)|
Mr. & Mrs. D.A. Boorman
Alan & Jeanne Gooding
Peter & Maureen Coxhead
Mr P.R. Chase
Mr. G.H. Gandy
Mr.& Mrs. PLG Holland
John Richard Wood MBE
Mr Guy Manning
Graham & Valerie Vine
The Moore Family
Nancy & Don Larcombe
Tim & Liz Dodwell
David L Franklin
Peter & Marguerite Redway
Mr & Mrs G Griffiths
Alastair W. Sayles
Kathleen M. Sayles
Dr. & Mrs. J Sigger
Miss EM Carling
John H King
Mrs Pamela Samson
Roger M. Hand
Mrs. KF Hammond
R & P Weeks
Mr. M Colwill
Richard & Claire Allnutt
David Robinson of Horsell
The Byfleet Boat Club Ltd|
David & Kathleen Seaton
Arthur Keith Jebson
Mrs. Marion Joan Green
Lewis H. Philips
Paul & Kathy Garrett
Mrs JB Keep
Mr & Mrs DA Lunn
Kenneth A Blake
Miss D H Grose
Hazel M Scott
Mr. Mrs. JH Anstey
Mr.& Mrs. M Barker
Clark Family of Tug No 1
Roger & Marguerite Calvert
Mr & Mrs J Richardson
RJ & EA Debenham
Mr. MJ Garwood
Graham 0 Bowyer
MJ & RA Beynon
Mr. D Mayhew
MR & Mrs AW Shilling
Mr & Mrs P Pilford
Angelas John Mann
Iain Charles Douglas Cairns
Ms Helen Allsop
Alan & Adnenne Fairlie
Mr & Mrs J Pothecary
Mr.& Mrs. GW Cox
Pamela M Ford-Young|
Mr. & Mrs. L Brown
Mrs. Joan Sanger
Dr.Graham D Hawkes
R & L Graham
Francis Egerton Spanton
Philip G Sharps
Mr.& Mrs. J Meredith
Mr WML Howard
Mr. S Mrs. AC Merchant
Mrs. E Bevis
Mrs. BM Prior
Mr. JM Fraser
Joan & Tony Rozelaar
Mr & Mrs JR Perrett
David Keith Reid
Mrs. K Brown
Mr & Mrs Gill
David Stuart Millett
Dan & Kath O'Neill
Mr JE Fawkner-Corbett
Peler Edward Terry
Lynda and Derek Ellis
Mrs LE Whitehouse
Roy A Knight
Mr. CR Perris
The JM Williams Family
Mrs. NE Goddard
David J Gammage
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The extreme weather conditions of the last few months has resulted in changes to the working party programmes. The intention of completing the access covers during this winter's stoppage has become a victim of circumstances. Lock 25 was dealt with and work started on Lock 18, which involved replacing the stone slabs with previously cast concrete ones. An extensive void was discovered under the towpath side slab, and excavations the following week confirmed leaks through the upper gate recess stonework. The water leak had followed the brickwork of the paddle sluice and undermined the towpath. Repairs were carried out with quick setting cement pointing of the stonework and clay backfill of the excavation.
Having checked the scheduled boat movements before lowering the water levels above lock 18 - none scheduled, we re-pointed. At this stage a narrowboat escorted by a Canal Ranger entered Lock 19; the resultant 1 hour plus delay did not endear our working parties or the BCA as far as the boats crew were concerned. You can't win them all as the saying goes.
Other leaks at Lock 18 were discovered on the off bank around the [bywash] and open channel, but the extreme wet conditions were making access and the lock 17 clay loading area very slippery and we were forced to suspend work pending drier conditions.
Christmas arrived and with it came Father Christmas - well Martin does have a beard! - in the guise of the WRG Unofficial Work Camp, an impromptu happening. There was nothing unofficial about the bankside work however, a schedule agreed with the BCA and copies of land Registry Maps were available to the leaders. Bankside work from Malthouse Bridge to Zephon Common Swing Bridge was achieved over the Christmas/New Year Holiday. Support from our volunteers for the camp was, as ever, helping in the setting up and returning items to the hirer after the event. Visiting groups and our own work parties continued the bankside works to the end of January, virtually completing the schedule agreed with the BCA.
The success of the Christmas Camp is due to the Work Camp Leaders, Clive, Garry and Karen Alderman, Martin, Lesley and Marcus, who organised the day to day camp activities. Thanks one and all.
Our tug Sapper had shown signs of power loss in reverse gear and the reverse gear band had been adjusted
many times, but the symptoms always returned. The renewal of the Ferodo lining material was decided upon and
measured as 3/16th inch - no Metric equivalent, hence special machining was needed. The banding was returned oversize and prevented re-assernbly of the gear clusters; local machining by Mike West saved the day and, at the third try, we had reverse gear.
After all this, Sapper was iced in at Ash Lock, preventing it from being used to support the water-borne removal of bankside trimmings from the badger sets, where no burning on site was permissible. The loan of the BCA workboat saved the day and bankside work was able to continue.
Repairs to the barge which sank at Dogmersfieid were also carried out on the Slip at Ash, but further work in the Dry Dock is required. A work pontoon is being constructed for volunteer use with donated materials; more details as the work progresses.
My thanks to all SHCS working party members for their continued support.
WORKING PARTY DATES AND VENUES
|17/18 Mar||KR||Back pumping|
|13-16 Apr||DJ/DL||Bridge Barn|
|12/13 May||DJ/DL||Slade's Bridge|
|26-28 May||DJ/DL||Colt Hill, Odiham|
Work Party Leaders
Dave Junkison DJ 0181 941 0685
Dave Lunn DL 01483 771294
Kevin Redway KR 01483 722206
Note: Please contact Work Party Leaders before the
weekend in case of last minute changes.
WRG at work on the cutting near Malthouse Bridge, Crookham. (Photo: Martin Ludgate)
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After a season of endless rain I feel we're gradually coming out of the grey grip of winter and things are beginning to stir along the Canal. A couple of sunny late February days have brought a lot of visitors out and I've even seen a couple of boats beginning to move! I actually had a great day this week, taking the opportunity to "cruise" a section of the canal on a recce. David Dare had kindly lent "Daydream", and accompanied by David Millett, Trix and Ian Davey and a couple of flasks of coffee we set off from the Fox and Hounds for Coll Hill. It was a cracking day - clear and blue, but a bit chilly - and the canal looked fantastic. I had forgotten what an excellent view you get from a boat, with some tremendous vistas through the leafless Irees across Tundry Pond.
It was really encouraging to see the evidence of volunteer, contractor and Ranger work, with some very well carried out bankside trimming at Malthouse Cutting, courtesy of WRG: English Nature funded tree work at Coxmoor Wood and the Rangers neatly cleared emergency works. I thought it looked a great credit to all who have worked hard over the winter. Oh, and I saw a Kingfisher!
The "winter cut" of the towpath is now taking place and that should clear up some overgrown patches and remove those pesky bankside saplings. We also have 15 new Canal Signboards nearing completion which will replace the rather embarrassing, old, peeling boards we have. The new boards will be in dark green with yellow lettering and herald the start of a gradual process of updating and renewing all signs in the "new colours". We also hope to get back on schedule with the workplan over the next month after the disruptions of the storms. We particularly wish to finish off the towpath work from Ash Vale to Ash Wharf.
A visit to the Backpumping Project with the Advisory Committee last week was very encouraging. The pumphouse is up to roof level, and the pipes are all buried bar the road crossings. It is an enormous undertaking, and I think all present were glad that British Waterways had got involved and brought their tremendous experience of similar schemes with them. The project is on time, on budget and looking good (he writes, seriously tempting fate!) and we look forward to the "first squirt" in April.
Another one of those "interesting" days took place yesterday when the canal featured as part of a Civil Emergency Planning Exercise, working with
|Hampshire, Rushmoor and Hart Councils
as well as the military and emergency services. I hope the day will help raise the profile of the canal and demonstrate the need for continued funding to pay for essential maintenance works. In one of those ironic twists, we actually had a (minor) breach on the day of the exercise! Fast acting Rangers quickly arrived on the scene and no damage was done, but we have lowered the Woking pound whilst repairs are undertaken. Thanks to those Society members who helped with communications and information!
Back at base we will shortly be interviewing for a new Canal Promotions Officer and look forward to them being able to kick off some innovative new ideas and schemes. We will also be starting the difficult process of finding a replacement for Tony Harmsworth, who will retire at the end of June. In the meantime, keep on enjoying the Canal!
Some Diary Dates:
Easter Weekend: Bridge Barn - details will no doubt be elsewhere in the magazine!
12th/13th May - Canal Centre Country Fayre: Falconry, Dog Show, Fireshow, live band. Country crafts and demonstrations, children's circus workshops, welly flinging, flycasting and lots more! Any help welcomed!
26th/27th May - Colt Hill Rally and 10th Anniversary Celebrations! A new event organised by the Canal Society. Boat Club and Canal Authority. Looks like the Canal D'Orleans will be over to visit as well!
Tony Harmsworth supervising the replacement of the top gates of Ash Lock, which he and his father huilt in 1969 and whose installation in 1980 was one of the most symbolic acts of the early restoration programme. (Photo D Jebens)
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The Canal has been having a rough time this winter, both due to the effects of nature and the hand of man.
The autumn storms and floods created nation-wide havoc and the canal was not spared, with trees being blown down along the length of the canal. Rangers cleared the towpath while Unity worked westwards clearing the navigation. Society volunteers helped out at Deepcut and other places, clearing fallen trees from the canal and bankside.
A more insidious effect of the heavy rain made itself apparent in Woking when the back of the offside bank collapsed near the Step Bridge. Water seapage through or round a storm drain seems to have been the cause. The BCA lowered the water level in the Woking pound by about a foot to relieve presure and prevent a complete collapse before piling and back-filling could be done.
A digger ready for bank repairs near the Step Bridge
Malthouse Bridge in Crookham was the victim of a hit-and-run car driver who demolished part of one parapet. Repairs have now been done, but, although appropriate bricks were used, the scars are still fairly apparent.
On the other side of Fleet, work has started on preparatory work for the installation of the second Norris bridge. This has inevitably involved some bank clearance work. Some of this is to make way for the foundations for the crane which will lift the new span into place, so some replanting may take place after this has done its job and been removed.
Even more startling is the clearance that had been done at Eelmoor Flash. The Society was aware that some work would be done to satisfy the Civil Aviation Authority's requirements for use of the Farnborough airfield by civilian rather than military aircraft, and was broadly in favour of the continued use of the airfield for flying rather than conversion into a vast industrial estate which seemed the most likely alternative. However, nothing had prepared us for the devastation that now meets the eye as one drives down the Fleet to Aldershot road.
It is arguable that this stretch of the Canal was kept free of trees back in the 1960s when the RAE was operating a large variety of military aircraft and gantries for runway approach lights were mounted near the Canal. However, the work of the contractors with their heavy machinery has left a scene reminiscent of a World War One battlefield. Even though it should re-grow fairly quickly, it does seem unnecessarily harsh and has caused local uproar - too late unfortunately since the damage had already been done.
The strange new landscape at Eelmoor
The Ministry of Defence is probably the Canal's single largest riparian landownerand one feels that they should be made to be more answerable where security is not involved and be obliged to consult more with local communities and the BCA.
(Photos: Dieter Jebens & Roger Cansdale)
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Many people have got to know Dick and Alison Snell through their boat Athai, and one of them was Jack Ellard. He was the pharmacist in Ripley from the end of WW2 until he retired when he was nearly 80. He met them whilst walking his dog when they were moored on the Wey about 20 years ago and thereafter spent every Christmas with them on their boat until he died last year.
Athai and her crew enjoying a winter cruise during the snows of January.
Photo: Roger Cansdale
Jack acquired a small cabin cruiser in about 1960 and took a 3 week holiday on it every year, usually single handed apart from his dog. When he died, he left his collection of canal books to Dick and Alison. as well as the comprehensive logs that he kept of his voyages on the inland waterways. Many of the books duplicated those already in Athai's library, so they have very generously donated them to the Society.
We intend to sell them at the AGM, perhaps by some form of auction since it is difficult to value them all. The list of titles includes some very attractive and out-of-print items. Top of the list must be a copy of the first edition of Paul Vine's "London's Lost Route to Basingstoke", which sells for anything up to £70 if you can find one in a shop. The complete list is as follows
"London's Lost Route to Basingstoke" by Paul Vine (1st edition 1968)
"London's Lost Route to the Sea" by Paul Vine (3'u edition 1973)
"Narrow Boat" by Tom Rolt (Revised edition 1948)
"The Canaller's Bedside Book" by John Gagg (1973)
"Canal Enthusiast's Handbook 1970-71"
"Slow Boat through England" by Frederic Doerflinger (Paperback 1970)
"Slow Boat through Pennine Waters" by Frederic Doerflinger (Paperback 1973)
"Waterways in Europe" by Roger Pilkington (Paperback 1972)
"Canal and River Craft in pictures" by Hugh McKnight (1969)
"Canals in Camera" by John Gagg (1970)
"Canals in Camera -2" by John Gagg (1971)
"Captain White's River Life" by Nancy Larcombe (1985)
"The Art of Coarse Sailing" by Michael Green (Paperback 1968)
"The KennetS Avon Canal Re-development Scheme" (Booklet 1961)
"A Short History of the Narrow Boat" by Tom Chaplin (Booklet 1968)
"The Canal at Foxton" by M Matts (Booklet 1970)
"Teach Yourself Navigation" by A C Gardner (1958)
"Coastwise Navigation" by G G Watkins (1973)
"The Thames Book" (1972 edition)
"The Thames Book" (1978 edition)
"The Thames Cruising Guide" (Second edition)
"London's Waterway Guide" by Chris Cove-Smith (Paperback 1977)
"Gateway to the Avon" (Booklet 1984)
"Pearson's Avon Ring Companion" (Booklet 1988)
"Nicholson's Guides to the Waterways" (4 volumes of the original edition, well used!)
"Nicholson's Guide to the Thames (1969)
"Waterways World Guides" to the Trent & Mersey and Caldon Canals (N & S - 2 booklets),
and Coventry, Ashby& North Oxford Canals.
"British Waterways Inland Cruising Booklets" for Llangollen, Oxford, Grand Union (3 parts),
Trent & Mersey and Severn.
If any of these appeals to you, and you cannot come to the AGM, send your bid to our Sales Manager, Verna Smith (address on the back page).
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# At long last Hampshire County Council's Countryside and Community Department should be submitting their Heritage Lottery application in respect of environmental improvements at Odiham (King John's) Castle by April. These will include upgrading the towpath to incorporate proper whaling in a sympathetic manner. However, even if successful, it will be at least the 2002 season before the work is done. What a pleasure it will be to moor the 'John Pinkerton' properly at this popular location.
# The saga of the eyesore at Colt Hill (opposite Galleon Marine) continues with no news yet of the long awaited planning application for a canoe store etc. at this location. The most popular canalside location on the Hampshire section of the canal deserves better, especially as the toilets have been closed for many years now.
The site opposite Galleon Marine, complete with old motor car, corrugated iron, etc.
What a transformation to the offside of the canal between Malthouse Bridge and Poulters Bridge, Crookham Village. The Christmas and New Year camp of the Waterway Recovery Group was very successful followed up by the weekend camp of the Newbury Working Party Group. Well done and thanks to Hart District Council for making the Elvetham Heath Community Centre available for the sleeping and cooking arrangements.
# Changes to come at Morris Bridge on the Hart and Rushmoor border. A second bridge is being built later this year in connection with the new road through DERA to Southwood so each bridge will be for traffic in opposite directions.
# Mud, mud, everywhere, or, at least on the towpath between Norris Bridge and Claycart Bridge. The very wet autumn and winter has made this section a terrible rness. Let's keep our fingers crossed for the promised improvements.
# Comparative figures for operating canals make interesting reading. British Waterways costs approximately £70,000 per mile whereas the Basingstoke Canal costs about £20,000 per mile. So the Basingstoke Canal represents very good value for money.
Length: 30.5 miles - 14 locks
Budget: £l million (approx)
Length: 32 miles - 29 locks
Budget: £600,000 (approx)
# Latest figures indicate there are 40,000 boats in use on the main connected non-tidal waterways (excluding The Broads and tidal rivers). This is probably the most accurate count for years as they are based on the Boat Safety Scheme pass certificates.
# What a year 2001 should be for the waterways with the re-opening of the Forth and Clyde Canals, the Huddersfield Canal, the Rochdale Canal and the probable re-opening of the Anderton Lift. And work has started on the Ribble Link. One would have been laughed at if one had suggested this would happen ten years ago. Times and Lottery money changes everything.
# The answer to the Woodham junction sign conundrum is simple. The BCA should erect a welcome sign to the Basingstoke Canal on our side of the junction. The National Trust have one at Thames Lock to welcome boaters to the River Wey Navigation.
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(From Society Newsletters No.37 March 1971 and No.38 May 1971)
Public recruitment meetings organised at Woking and Frimley to boost membership and support pressure on Surrey and Hampshire County Councils to acquire canal. Recent public meetings at Farnborough and Church Crookham brought in 250 new members.
Various members' letters published commenting on a previous article on the value of the (private) unofficial working parties taking place along the canal. These were generally very favourable and it was hoped that they would impress the County Councils in their endeavours to purchase the canal from the New Basingstoke Canal Co. Ltd.
Les Harris, Dieter Jebens and June Sparey not seeking re-election to the Committee this year, but would continue to help the Society actively. Les and Dieter have been committee members since the Society was formed in 1966. (Dieter is still involved as our current Vice Chairman).
At the AGM it was reported that the agents acting for the New Basingstoke Canal Company were expected to ask for "a six figure sum" for the canal. This was greeted with incredulity as this would probably put the Councils' off altogether.
Members were asked to write to the Clerks of the County Councils to continue with the negotiations to acquire the canal and, if necessary, to use their compulsory powers.
Coach trip organised to the Crofton Pumping Station on the Kennet and Avon Canal.
Permission obtained from the Ministry of Defence for volunteers to clear out Cowshot Stream, a feeder into the canal which rises on Bisley Ranges and runs into the canal below Lock 16.
Unusual gift made to Camberley Museum - two stuffed pike caught by Mr. Thomas Morris in Mytchett Flash about 1900 - One measured 36 inches and weighed about 20lbs. The other was 28 inches long.
With the rapid rise in membership, it has been agreed by the Committee to switch from a six-weekly newsletter cycle to a two-monthly cycle. More postmen required urgently.
Membership rates are: adult - 60p, family - 75p, junior - 30p. With the disappearance of the 10s
Jack Pocock, one of the stalwarts of local canal restoration, who died on January 16th, 2001.
Jack was known to many of us for his involvement with the Basingstoke and Wey & Arun Canals. He 'appeared' at Lock 1 around 1978. How he came to be a volunteer, no one seems to know - having semi-retired, perhaps? Do many of us really know how we became involved in canal restoration?
I have tried to avoid a list of sites worked on by Jack, but he was at so many over the years - moving to Locks 2 and 3, Slade's Bridge, and even crewing the John Pinkerton, teaming up with Ernie Pull to become that well known partnership, 'Jack & Ernie'.
Then followed a long association with the Wey & Arun Canal at sites such as Drungewick Lock, Fast Bridge, Farnhurst Bridge, Tickners Heath, Gennets Wood, Brewhurst, and he was even working on the landing stage at Loxwood shortly before his death.
Jack was a dab hand at producing relatively simple devices to make tasks easier, such as holders to aid the cleaning of second-hand bricks. I enjoyed many chats with Jack at lunchtime, but could never quite come to terms with his choice of sandwich filling - beetroot - which I never offered to exchange for one of mine.
Jack will be greatly missed, as a devoted volunteer and a personal friend. My condolences go to Jean and family in their loss.
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If you are moving house, please don't forget to notify the Membership Secretary of your new address so that we can continue to send your Newsletter to you. As you may have read elsewhere in this issue, Lesley Richards is our new Membership Secretary and her address is below.
Although the majority of Newsletters go to people living reasonably close to the Canal and are delivered by hand by Society "Postmen", a fair number go further afield and are sent by post. So, even if you are moving to Australia, if you want to continue to keep in touch with the Basingstoke Canal, just let us know your address and our literary masterpieces will continue to arrive.
If anybody walking the Canal near Tundry Pond should spot a fierce looking bird of prey, about the size of a crow and with bells on its leg and tail, Chris would like to hear from you. He lost his male goshawk there in mid-January and is offering a reward for information leading to its recovery. You can get him on 01252-661548 or 0775-9374780.
Answers to the Christmas Wordsearch
Aldersley. Autherley. Beeston. Castleford. Fradley. Gayton. Hanbury. Horseley. Hurleston. Kingswood. Marsworth. Norton. Saul. Trent.
Date for next copy 10th May 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: Leslie Richards, 9 Denning Close, Fleet, Hants GU52 7SP (01252) 684112
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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