For the first time, with the last issue, I got closely involved with the system and I was a bit amazed at the number of people involved. Some copies were passing through four or five pairs of hands between the printers and the members. The system has actually worked extremely well over the years and has saved a lot of money on postage, but delays are inevitable sometimes.
I have been trying very hard to get the Newsletter out on time and it is always a balance between having the latest news and giving adequate notice of coming events. Delays in distribution can easily upset this balance and there is nothing more irritating than finding that the event you want to go to has already taken place.
I am also concious that many of the people involved in the distribution have been doing it for a very long time, have perhaps only hung on out of loyalty to George and Janet and would probably like to give it a rest.
As a result of these thoughts, I suggested to the Committee that we should in future post everybody's Newsletters, rather than the 50% that we do at present, and this was agreed. There will still be the job of stuffing envelopes and sticking on labels, but this should only take a couple of days.
I shall miss my Postman's round and I am sure that others will too. We could continue to send out some bundles for local distribution, but I think that it will be less hassle to post the lot. If, however, anyone has strong feelings about this, please give me a ring.
To all who have helped to get the Newletters out in the past, a very, very big than you!
Good to see that the cost of short term licences for boats visiting the Thames has been reduced, effectively giving a free extra day on the river.
Also good to learn that the IWA has awarded a grant of £8000 to the Wilts & Berks Canal Partnership. Tony Harrison, the chairman of the IWA Restoration Committee,
said "The Wilts & Berks Canal is part of the proposed Wessex Waterway Network, which will provide new links between the Kennet & Avon Canal, the River Thames and the restored Cotswold Canals".
Wouldn't it be great if the Basingstoke could also become part of this network, via a new link to the K&A? If all these restoration projects come to fruition, will anybody bother in future to visit our route to nowhere?
Is a link to the K&A in fact a necessity for safeguarding the Basingstoke's future ratherthan a fanciful pipe-dream?
For the last thirty something years, the BC News has been the main method of communication with the Society's members and for most of them, I guess that it still is. However, there are times when, as editor, I feel a bit like some prehistoric man sending out smoke signals.
One of these times occurred recently, when I had a look at the Internet website that Arthur Dungate maintains for the Canal (www.basingstokecanal1.freeserve.co.uk). There, in glorious colour, were up to the minute photos of the Work Camp that only finished a week or so before. This is a technology with which I cannot hope to compete with a newsletter, printed in black and white, that only appears every 3 months.
Arthur does a super job in keeping the Canal website up to date and full of interest, and I would very strongly urge those of you who have access to the Internet to visit it at least once a month to keep abreast of events. Of course however, if you want to read the letters, you will have to stick to the BC News! Maybe one day we shall be able to e-mail it to everyone and save the cost of printing and postage.
The Internet also has the power to connect people in amazing ways. As a result of a passing reference on the Canal website to Percy Walker, one time head of Structures Dept at RAE Farnborough and author of a book mentioning Samuel Cody's use of the canal for testing a floatplane, we got an e-mail from Walker's grand-daughter, seeking information about the grandfather she had never met; I was able to send her a photo and a short biography. This sort of happening really does give meaning to the phrase "Global village".
The Boat Company is also benefiting from the Internet. It has its own website and Janet Moore is finding it useful for sending out lists and details of trips needing crews. It saves a lot of telephone time.
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The paltry excuse of conservation work given by the MOD fuelled a cynical and bitter reaction.
Those who suspected an ulterior motive may have been correct in their assessment, as a planing application for changes in the runway configuration was made to Rushmoor Council.
The society objected to the application on the grounds that the take off and landing thresholds were nearer to the canal, the safety of canal users would be eroded and disruption for canal users would significant. We also considered an increased risk of pollution would be created.
Any premature landing/crash landing on the canal bank for whatever reason could result in breaching the canal and possible flooding of the runway.
Farnborough Aerodrome Management responded with proposals which were passed by a majority vote at the last planning meeting. These proposals are:
Following the Planning Committee's majority decision and acceptance of the Runway modifications the Canal Director and I are seeking a site meeting in the hope of agreeing some screening of the proposed fence.
In my opinion the sequence of events follows a strategy with the objective of facilitating full commercial use of Farnborough, even if the adjacent environment is decimated in the short term, which is unfortunately the case.
Members may be wondering whether they have missed the promised official opening of the Woodham back-pumping scheme. The answer is 'no', because it hasn't happened yet, and the reason is that the Environment Agency does not recognise the BCA as a navigation authority and is demanding that they have an abstraction licence before the pumps are switched on.
This all goes back to 1871 when the canal was first put up for sale. Although ownership was transferred, there was no accompanying Act of Parliament to transfer the obligations and authority for the navigation. Thus, when Woking tried to get money for bridge repairs in 1912 from the then Canal Company, they failed. This is the background to Alex Harmsworth's attempt to get through to Basingstoke that Tony detailed in his article in last autumn's BC News.
Whilst one can understand the BCA's reluctance to have their status undermined, it is frustrating to have our attempts to improve the canal thwarted by the incompetence of a 19th century lawyer!
I gather that the cost of the abstraction licence is trivial and there should not be a problem with the granting of it, so I suspect that the EA's demands may have to be met, if for no other reason than the fact that the Lottery money has all
been spent and the results have to be demonstrated.
Perhaps the long term solution would be for the BCA to be formally established as the navigation authority by an Act of Parliament, and thus put an end to 130 years of wrangling, but the cost might be prohibitive.
The number of excavations carried out along the access road to the Pump house and Lock 1 had reduced the road to a mud slurry. We had expected to have to patch the road but not reconstruct it. In the event the mud had to be removed, uncovering a firm base, and placed on the existing bank and later levelled.
Terram was spread over the exposed road and a layer of crushed concrete was placed and consolidated to form a road base; a total of 900 tonnes of crushed concrete was required to complete the base.
We had agreed to host another work camp this year as visiting groups had pledged support for the Backpump projects. Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group volunteers were on site for the first week and Waterway Recovery Group volunteers for the second week.
Society working parties set up the sites and accommodation for the 27th July start. Woodham access road and Lock 11 at St Johns were the two main sites. Accommodation was at Mayford Village Hall which is an excellent venue in a semi rural location.
The work at St. Johns was the replacement of the lock bywash pipework. The original concrete pipes had cracked over time and the adjacent willow tree roots were frequently blocking the bywash. St Johns backpumping is dependant on efficient water control, therefore the bywash wasa high priority for replacement.
The workcamp also made a start on the backpump outfall structure at St Johns. Society volunteers and WRG joined forces for the second week to complete the bywash pipework and continue progress on the outfall structure.
The lower numbers of volunteers for the second week were concentrated on St Johns and the completion of the Woodham access road postponed until September.
The off hire and demobilisation of the site and accommodation was arranged for Monday 13th August; this was appropriate as collection drifted into Tuesday and Wednesday.
Future working parties will make the outfall structure safe, complete Woodham and then continue at St Johns.
A Deepcut lock survey has been made and some volunteer work may be requires when it has been fully analysed.
Work camp volunteers constructing the St John's back pump outfall chamber above Lock 11.|
Photo: Dieter Jebens
WORKING PARTY DATES & VENUES
|8/9 Sept||DJ/DL||St John's backpumping|
|15/16 Sept||KR||Ash Lock|
|22/23 Sept||DJ/DL||St John's|
|13/14 Oct||DJ/DL||St John's|
|20/21 Oct||KR||Ash Lock|
|27/28 Oct||DJ/DL||St John's|
|3/4 Nov||All||Bonfire Bash|
|10/11 Nov||DJ/DL||St John's|
|24/25 Nov||DJ/DL||St John's|
Work Party Leaders
Dave Junkison DJ 02089410685
Dave Lunn DL 01483771294
Kevin Redway KR 01483722206
Note: Please contact Work Party Leaders before the
weekend in case of last minute changes.
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While we may not have won the best stand award at the Inland Waterways Association's National Waterways Festival, held over the August Bank Holiday at Milton Keynes on the Grand Union Canal, the Society's stand was undoubtedly one of the stars of the show judging by the large number of visitors attracted to it. Small wonder because it featured the traditionally decorated Mirror dinghy 'Elizabeth Rose' with rag dolls 'Rosie and 'Jim' aboard, owned by Society committee member John Ross who has won many awards for the colourful boat. He is an accredited member of the elite Waterways Craft Guild whose members promote the authentic art of painting 'roses' and 'castle' designs and he lectures and demonstrates the technique. John normally has his boat afloat but kindly decided to make 'Elizabeth Rose' a star attraction on the Society's stand.
Another star feature
was the first prize of a
long weekend's cruise
for four people aboard
a narrowboat on the
generously donated by
Jim Piele who now
owns Galleon Marine
at Colt Hill. Other
prizes included a short
term visitor licence on
the Basingstoke Canal
donated by the
Authority, who shared
the cost of the stand
with the Society, and
a painting kindly
donated by waterways
artist and writer Nancy
Larcombe whose work
can be seen aboard her floating art gallery at the Mytchett
The Society sold 570 tickets in the draw, the proceeds of which covered the our cost of the stand space and contributed £350 toward the Society's back pumping 'Water Appeal' for which 'Pablo' and Jill Haworth provided a graphic display of the Woodham project. Other attractions on the stand included a display panel showing the route of the canal, delivered to the site by the Canal Authority, a display by the Basingstoke Canal Boating Club and a selection of paintings by local artist Terry Harrison which not only helped decorate the stand but attracted a purchaser.
John Ross was responsible for designing the eye-catching stand and the Society's sales manager and committee member Verna Smith co-ordinated the various displays and leaflets. Both organisers spent the 4-day festival manning the stand with the help of Denise Smith, who
organised the draw, Bobbie King and Dick Elder past chairman of the Basingstoke Canal Boating Club and Susan and David Venn, the current chairman of the club. Peter Harman, a regular working party volunteer, and his wife Ursula also did a stint, along with Jill and Pablo and John Paddon who took time off from helping on the IWA's stand to give us a hand.
Apart from answering visitor's questions about the Basingstoke Canal, those manning the stand also heard the experiences - good and sometimes not so good - of those who have visited the canal by boat or have attempted to do so, which will be reported to the Canal Authority with the aim of making improvements in whatever way possible. The Galleon Marine short break cruising holiday was won
by Mrs A C Collins, a carer from Milton Keynes who was unable to afford a holiday this year and so was delighted to learn that her name came out of the hat first. The canal painting also found a welcome home at, surprisingly, Aldershot where the winner, Mrs C Fielder lives; she came up to the festival with the specific aim to buy a canals painting! The short term canal visitor boat licence went to Mr B Ing. A copy of GEOprojects' 'Britain's Waterways' went to Mr A Nichols from Chelmsford, a 12 month subscription to 'Canalboat & Inland Waterways' to Mr D C Bartram, and 12 month subscriptions to 'Canal & Riverboat' to Society member Pat Barton and Mr E Mulligan. We would like to thank all the people who generously donated these prizes.
The Society's stand was not only a star attraction but an excellent example of the closer working relationship the Society and other Basingtoke Canal users have developed with Canal Director Leigh Thornton and promotion officer Andy Howard whojoined the BCA earlier this year.
We may not always see eye to eye on everything to do with management of the canal but the co-operation between the BCA and the canal's users in promoting the Basingstoke Canal demonstrated that the old 'them' and 'us' regime seems finally dead and buried, which can only generate renewed enthusiasm from the voluntary sector.
Dieter Jebens, Vice Chairman
Visitors to the Society's stand at the IWA National Waterways Festival.
Photo: Dieter Jebens
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WOKING TALKS, Winter 2001/2002
As our last, and very successful season drew to a close, there was uncertainty about the future of the Westgate Centre. However, a 'stay of execution' has happened, and this convenient and comfortable venue will again be available to us from October 2001. It is situated by the canal in Woking, adjacent to Wheatsheaf Bridge (Chobham Road).
However, PLEASE NOTE that the day has been changed. It will still be a WEDNESDAY but this time it is the THIRD Wednesday in the month, at 8pm. There is free parking space in the Centre as well as ample space (free in the evenings!) in the nearby Brewery Road Car Park.
All meetings are free and everyone is welcome!
Here are the dates and details of the next season, as so far arranged -
Wednesday 17 Oct 2001:
Richard Thomas - The Impossible Dream - Part 2.
This is a journey along the Foss Way from Exeter to Lincoln, examining the history of this fascinating Roman road. Since it also links the two oldest manmade canals in England, we have an excuse to take a look at these and the 20 other waterways past and present that the Foss crosses. Last November Richard gave us the fascinating Part 1 (from Exeter to Cirencester). Part 2 now concludes the journey from Cirencester to Lincoln.
Wednesday 21 Nov 2001:
Dick Allan - Around the world in a small sailing boat
- or Sailing My Dream.
Mostly we visit exotic places around the world - the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Galapagos, Marquesas, Tropical atolls in the Tuamotus, Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, Australia, Indonesia, Malaya, Thailand, the Red Sea, Turkey Greece and home through the French canals. We shall also
discover something about the boat, encounter crew problems, planning, weather and routing.
Wednesday 19 Dec 2001:
Robin Higgs - A Trip on the Canal Du Nivernais
Last year this talk had to be postponed in deference to his talk on India. However it will take place now! In addition Robin will present his trip to Cuba.
Wednesday 16 Jan 2002:
Mike Lucas - 30 years of travelling with the Mikron
Mike Lucas is co-founder of the well-known Mikron Theatre Company which travels around the country giving performances on waterway themes. He will talk about his experiences, with excerpts from his new book about the travelling theatre.
Wednesday 20 Feb 2002: [still to be arranged]
Wednesday 20 Mar 2002:
Leigh Thornton - [title to be confirmed].
Leigh is the Director of the Basingstoke Canal Authority, and his talk will be on how this Local Authority owned waterway is managed.
Wednesday 17 Apr 2002: [still to be arranged]
Note: If you have any interesting ideas for future talks, the Talks Organiser will be pleased to hear from you! Please contact: Arthur Dungate, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Basingstoke Canal/Canal d'Orleans Twinning Visit
It is our turn to entertain visitors from France this year. The visit is timed to coincide with the Official Opening of the Woodham Backpumping Scheme over the weekend of October 12th to 14th. Our friends from the Canal d'Orleans are particularly interested in this project as they have had exactly the same water supply problems as ourselves; and it is slowing down their restoration scheme until a permanent solution can be found.
They hope to bring over a coachload of up to 40 people; and this gives us quite a challenge in finding hosts for single
visitors, or more likely couples, for that weekend. We are anxious to welcome further participants into what is a very informal association; and one that has developed many friendships as the result of reciprocal visits. Are there any members or friends, please, on whom we might rely to assist with the hosting for 2 nights in their homes over that weekend? The need is urgent and we want to show that our hospitality can at least equal theirs.
If you would be interested in discussing what is involved, please in the first instance contact Tony Davis on 01932 844261.
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The 200 Club has been quite successful this year with 113 subscriptions raising £1356; that is nearly £700 for the SHCS. Winners to date for 2001 are:
|Mr D Heasman (Llantwit Major)||£57|
|Mr D G Tomlinson (Stafford)||£28|
|Mr J Foss (Woking)||£14|
|Mr & Mrs J Potter (Woking)||£14|
|Mrs D Bracewell (Woking)||£57|
|Mr JR Randall (Camberley)||£28|
|Mr & Mrs P Redway (Woking)||£14|
|Mr & Mrs G Vine (Bordon)||£14|
|Mr AF Hocking (Yateley)||£57|
|Mr D Larcombe (Chiddingfold)||£28|
|Mrs SA Trott (Woking)||£14|
|Mr A Stumpf (Glasgow)||£14|
|Mr r Stames (Winchester)||£57|
|Mr SA Goddard (Fleet)||£28|
|Mr D Heaseman (Llantwit Major)||£14|
|Mrs P Davey (Fleet)||£14|
It is good to see that some of our more distant supporters have been lucky and the list above reminds us all that however far they move away, people interested in the Basingstoke Canal do not readily drop their support.
CHANGE OF TREASURER of the 200 CLUB
The 200 Club does not, so far, make vast amounts of money each year but does provide a useful and steady income. Another £1000 was passed to the Treasurer this year (as usually happens about every 18 months). Let's face it, the Society is never likely to be in a position when it does not need more funds. After some 13 years or so begging you for your money, I think it is more than high time some one with fresh ideas and skills took over this task. We have been very fortunate in finding a "volunteer" to do just that.
The 200 Club will be run in future by Jim Johnstone, 7 Earlsboume, Church Crookham, Hants, GU52 8XG. (Tel 01252 626749).
I hope Jim will be in the saddle by the time this edition of the BC News is published. In the meantime, thank you for all your support over the years and be assured that every penny you contributed has been both appreciated and well spent (although I can't vouch for the expenditure of the winners!)
Our thanks to Derek, who as he says, has run the 200 Club for many years and good luck to Jim. Please give him your support.
New work boat|
Kevin Redway displaying the new Society work boat that he constructed from an old oil tank. Photo: Peter Redway
Regretably, the New Members Evening advertised in the last issue for 15th September was cancelled due to lack of takers. Perhaps we'll try again in the Spring.
If you are a new member, please don't feel shy about coming to the various events that the Society organises, such as the Woking talks. Tuesday evenings from Easter to September on the John Pinkerton are another opportunity to meet people.
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Without doubt the Foot and Mouth disease had a profound effect on bookings at the start of the year causing them to be considerably down on last year. In contrast to that, the Easter Weekend proved to be very successful. As the season went on bookings improved rising to near the level of last year. It is too early as yet to determine the overall effect on the season and the outcome will not be finally known until the season ends.
Once again a very good start was made to the start of the season with extensive usage of the boat at the Barn Bridge [!] Rally. Unfortunately the remainder of the season so far has been disappointing. Whilst press coverage (free) has been as good as expected the notices posted around the area have not remained in position long with the result that crews have been disappointed at the lack of customers. For the school holidays extra trips are being run during the week and a door to door mailshot has been undertaken around Goldsworth Park Estate and we await eagerly to see the result. If the service is to continue next year it is obvious that more help is required from people in the area. These will be required to arrange notices in their local shops, post notices or brochures in suitable areas or even do a mailshot over a local road, to crew the boat and a variety of other small jobs. Many volunteers putting in a couple of hours could make a tremendous difference.
Mike Hammersley was unable to receive the Robin Higgs Award at the AGM because he was tied up with his sheep. When lambing had finished, Ron McLaughlin did the honours at Colt Hill.
Seen right with Mike and Ron are (l to r) Robert Knight, Michael Prince, Dorothy McLaughlin, Jenny Llewellan, Fred Stow. Dave Cocks and Janet Moore, together with Robert's two children and Dave's daughter.
Saturday 1st September saw over 60 members of the Pinkerton's crew gathered at the Canal Centre for the first ever Boat Company Barbecue.
The weather was kind, the food was expertly cooked by Katherine Dodington and Hugh Gough and a very good time was had by all. The only mystery was why we never thought of doing this before in the boat's 23 year history! We'll certainly be doing it again.
L to R: Ann Barnes, Ron McLaughlin, Katherine Dodington, Hugh Gough, Andy Beale and Dieter Jebens. Photo: Roger Cansdale
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NATIONAL ANGLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
What an absolutely brilliant match this was to start off the National Championship season. Everything fell into place to make this probably the best ever match fished on the canal. We were dreading a hot sunny day like we had been having up to the build up of the match as we all know the canal does not respond in these conditions. However, the weather, played right into our hands for a change with a great overcast and cool day and even the heavy rain forecast held off until after the match had finished. At the awards ceremony at the Wavel Cody Community Campus, which proved to be an excellent headquarters, the BCAA received the highest of accolades from the Ken Ball, the President of the National Federation of Anglers and also from John Exon, PR Manager from Embassy on the running of the match. The BCAA stewards on the day also received glowing praise for their superb efforts.
Prior to the match it was predicted that the individual winner would come from either Eelmoor Flash or Great Bottom Flash and so it proved. 35-year-old John Clarke from Storrington, West Sussex, lost three big carp scaling more than 4.5 kg apiece but he still landed 14 bream up to 1.8 kg, three tench to 1.6 kg and a few small fish from Eelmoor Flash. John polefished cat meat over trout pellet at 16 metres for a total weight of 18.520Kg and took home £2400 in winnings.
Also on Eelmoor Flash was 32-year-old Martin Riches from Fressingfield, Suffolk, fished trout pellet tight to the weeds on the far bank with a 15 metre pole. Martin took a carp scaling 3.870 kg, three tench to 1.4 kg and eight bream to record 15.670Kg. Third place went to 36-year-old Mike McCabe from South Oxhey, Herts who took a netful of tench and skimmers for 12.730Kg from a peg in the middle of Great Bottom Flash.
On the team front the favourites, Fosters Tipton VDE based in Birmingham, won the day with a total of 430 pts out of a possible 574 pts and they were 10 points clear of outsiders Crewe Amalgamation. Evesham & District just pipped the second favourites Dams and Lock MG, also from Birmingham, by 1 point with 379 and 378 pts accordingly.
BCAA Match Secretary, Andre Grandjean would like to thank all the users of the canal for their co-operation on the day, especially Galleon Marine and the boat yard at Ash whom both stayed closed for the day. However, he was disappointed that the Canal Society saw fit to continue operating the John Pinkerton during the match, which curtailed catches at Odiham.
AP Grandjean Match Secretary
I asked Ron McLaughlin, the Boat Company Chairman, for a comment on this last paragraph:
In reply to the Basingstoke Canal Angling Association Letter we have endeavoured in the past to accommodate them by arranging our trips around their event. In the past the match has not gone beyond Colt Hill Bridge and so we have sometimes operated westward from there. Unfortunately this year we had taken a booking for the afternoon before we realised that the Association had extended their match beyond Colt Hill Bridge and so required all boating to stop along the 20 mile stretch from Mytchett to the end of the canal. In consequence we felt that we could not stop our trip having accepted the customers booking in good faith. There are of course differences in opinion between anglers as to whether a passing boat spoils the fishing or enhances it. I do not think this has ever been proved either way.
Thursford Collection Christmas Show
Jonathan Wade advertised a visit to this traditional Christmas concert in the last Newsletter. Due, alas, to what seems to be becoming a traditional lack of response to social events by Society members, he is now organising it on behalf of the 3 Counties Steam Preservation Society. The good news, however, is that Canal Society members are still welcome.
The other change is that the trip will run over two days (8/9 December), with a stay in a hotel in Norwich rather than a midnight dash back from Norfolk. The cost will be in the region of £60 a head, covering coach, concert and hotel.
If you are interested, please contact Jonathan as soon as possible, because the steam enthusiasts have shown themselves very keen to go in the past and seats will rapidly disappear. Jonathan's address and phone number are on the back page.
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I was delighted to receive your letter dated 29 June, inviting me to become a Vice President of the Society. I feel this is a great honour, which I am delighted to accept.
It has been a privilege over the past 35 years to have been involved with the restoration of the Canal, first as a volunteer, then as an employee, and I hope to be involved for many more years yet.
Of course if there is anything that I can do to help the Society then the Committee has only to ask - I am as near as the nearest 'phone, as they say, and while I remain active I can come up to see you all, we are less than two hours away.
Over the years the Society has, for Judy & I, become something very special, a group of superb friends who have been very supportive when we have had problems, their help has been wonderful.
Best wishes to you all
I was very interested to read your article on Wallis & Steevens in the Winter 200CBCN. As you may remember in 1852, John Birnie was adjudged bankrupt and Richard Wallis was assigned sundry debts totalling - over C19 (See page 94 - London's Lost Route to Basingstoke 1994 edition). In 1835, Wallis & White were operating fly boats and offered to carry hops from London to Weyhill Fair for 2/5d per cwt. Whites' were the timber merchants on Basingstoke Wharf who partnered Richard Wallis as carriers. In May 1845, it was reported by bargeman Benham that Wallis' barge Harriet was nearly sunk at Ham New Mills by the unexpected drawing down of the waste gates at the mills.
The only consultation on the damage to Eelmoor Flash and the heathland beyond was between Rushmoor and MoD. Officially the work was 'conservation of heathland', but as everyone knows the real reason was flight clearance on behalf of TAG.
There have never been plans for the airfield to be turned into an industrial or housing estate. That was a rumour spread by TAG. The area was not cleared in the 1960s. The area previously cleared was immediately at the end of the runway.
The work this spring involved the felling of oaks a couple of centuries old. To add insult to injury, whilst the work was in progress a sign said 'MoD conservation work'. Worse was still to come. TAG wish to extend the runway towards the canal. Rushmoor failed to consult with the Canal Society, but were luckily tipped off by the public.
The report placed before the planning committee did not include an objection from the Society, but did include a letter from TAG rubbishing the objection.
Jets will now take off close to the canal. The noise on take-off will be horrendous. There are more than sufficient grounds for a complaint to the Local Authority Ombudsman.
P.S. Work to extend the runway had already started before the planning meeting.
I personally feel that it is important that the Society does not get dragged into the Farnborough airfield battle as such (I suspect that many of our members support the continuation of flying at Farnborough and, formal plans or not, are very concerned about the all too likely alternative uses of the airfield). We do, ofcourse, have a duty to monitor the impact of any planning applications that could affect the canal, and we did lodge an objection to the extension of the runway. The extension, however, will not be used for take-offs, but to allow space for stopping after aborted take-offs; I doubt that noise on the canal will be noticeably worse than it is now and that is a lot less than from the Lightnings, Hunters, Buccaneers, BAG 1-11s, etc that operated from the RAE in the old days.
I am also not convinced that the clearance work round Eelmoor Flash was done entirely at the behest of TAG, since the area bulldozed was far greater that necessary for flight clearance reasons. Editor
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re: Southern Navigations
Michael Handford's letter and Dieter's reply cause me to think of the three navigations we have in the south east - all in relatively close proximity to each other. The River Wey, the Basingstoke Canal and the Wey and Arun Canal.
The River Wey, which has learned some hard lessons in the past but has now a much improved management. The Basingstoke Canal, whose management seem to make it as difficult as possible for boats to visit and who appear to close the canal at the least excuse. It is surprising that the Councilors who vote the money have not yet queried the almost total lack of activity. And lastly, the Wey and Arun, a canal which has been under restoration foras long as I can remember.
Surely it is now time for the Basingstoke Canal to be handed over to the National Trust to manage on behalf of Hampshire and Surrey County Councils. There should be a common license and common rules and regulations. Licences should be available either in advance or sold at Thames Lock on the River Wey.
Considerable sums could be saved on management and administration if it was centred on the Trust's offices at Guildford. The money saved could better be spent on the maintenance and improvement of the canal.
Dieter must be right when he suggests that the most urgent problem on the Basingstoke is the water supply. Before any back pumping schemes are put in, it would be best to survey the summit level - both the navigable and un-navigable sections - to discover if there is an untapped aquifer on the line or nearby for it is easier and cheaper for water to run downhill rather than to go uphill.
Finally, the Wey and Arun. This should be the challenge for enthusiasts to create the last link of a southern navigation network. The canal, on completion, could be managed by the National Trust on behalf of the Wey and Arun Trust. A common license and common rules and regulations should apply - The three navigations should be marketed together, selling the very extensive navigation area available. At present, too many boats visit the Wey or Basingstoke if they have a few days spare while transiting the Thames between Brentford and Oxford. The three navigations should be a major attraction in their own right. The restoration of the Wey and Arun is a challenge. As Michael Handford points out, many seemingly impossible restoration schemes are either complete or underway. The Wey and Arun is probably a lesser challenge than some of these.
A major effort in this area would give fresh heart to those who
have spent so many years on this navigation.
I think that Mike is perhaps not totally in touch with activities on the Basingstoke and consequently does less than justice to the activities of those involved with it.
There has been a major amount of work on the canal over the last 6 months to install a back pumping scheme which will ensure access at least to Woking throughout the year. Work has just started on a similar scheme for St John's. Before this was done, considerable efforts were made to do what Mike suggests and find an untapped source of water on the top pound: no suitable aquifers were found, but Bourley Reservoir in Aldershot remains a tantalising possibility if the Army should ever decide to give it up (see below).
There would certainly be merits in unifying the management and licensing of the local waterways, but I am not sure that people would be prepared to forgive and forget some of the things that happened on the Wey in the past, and opt for the National Trust. They, after all, gave up managing the Stratford Canal and I would have thought that BW would be a better bet to 'takeover' all waterways, including perhaps even the Thames. We really would have unified licenses then and the BCA 's life would be a lot easier.
I would certainly agree that efforts to complete the Wey and Arun Canal should not be distracted by a probably futile campaign to restore a link to Basingstoke. and many of the people who worked on the restoration of the Basingstoke Canal have now transferred their attention to the W&A.
Bourley reservoir with one of the feeder streams in the foreground.|
Photo: Roger Cansdale
There are a number of myths prevalent in the local community regarding the houseboats moored at Scotland Bridge and St Johns. It saddens me to discover, after an unfortunate incident involving a member of a Society working party, that a small number of members of the S&HCS apparently believe them, I am therefore writing to set the record straight.
The facts are that the houseboat moorings are leased from Surrey County Council and generated an income of £59,000 for SCC last year from the boats at Scotland Bridge alone. There are no boats 'squatting' on these moorings or those at St Johns. The residents are liable for Council Tax in the same way as other householders and pay electricity, water and sewerage charges in the same manner. The idea that we are in any way 'freeloaders', living illegally or are able to avoid the charges levied on land based householders is entirely without foundation - I hope I will never again hear of such a view being expressed by a fellow member.
Having complained about the views expressed by one member may I take the opportunity to appeal for assistance from the remainder. The Scotland Bridge area, and the Car Park at Lock 2 in particular, is subject to a persistent vandalism and theft problem. This has involved vehicles owned by residents, visitors to the canal and plant hired by the Society. A recent worrying development was an incident where a female houseboat resident was threatened with attack with a screwdriver.
Can I ask members to report all similar incidents in the area and any relevant information to PC Oliver Little at Addlestone Police Station who has been assigned to the problem. For those 'on site', information passed to our Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, Steve McShane of houseboat 'Wenonah', will reach PC Little.
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e-mails: Subject: Odiham Rally
I was glad to see that the Odiham Rally went well but deeply disappointed to have missed it. The first inkling I had of the event was with my license reminder two weeks beforehand, by which time we were otherwise booked. Did I miss an announcement in BCN and could SHCS not have sent out a flyer to members? I have been waiting since the brilliant rally at Frimley Lodge Park donkeys years ago for a similar do. Can we have some more please?
I'm sorry that you missed the Odiham rally. There was a small mention of it in the Spring issue of the BCN, but the event was in doubt up to a late stage because of the foot and mouth problem, which had closed bits of the towpath round Odiham. By the time that we knew that it was definitely on (barring a local outbreak), it was probably too late for most people to rearrange things anyway.
The foot and mouth did however have the beneficial effect of bringing people to Odiham who had planned to take their boats to other rallies which were cancelled. We have also benefited from WRG work parties who have had to change their plans for the same reason.
Because of the success of the Odiham rally. I believe that the BCA are keen to make it a regular event, so perhaps you will be able to make it next year. Perhaps I shall too, as I also missed it. Hopefully things will be a bit more under control and we shall be able to give people more notice.
Best wishes, Roger
Understood. Thanks for your prompt response. See you at
the next one,
The boat and its occupants were a familiar sight on the Basingstoke Canal, but Gill and Dave Freeman and Xanth are to be seen here at the Westport Antique and classic boat show on the Rideau Canal in Canada. See page 19 for more about boating in Canada.|
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MIKRON THEATRE COMPANY|
The annual visit of the Mikron Theatre Company took place on Sunday 15th July, this year at the Basingstoke Canal Visitor Centre at Mytchett, due to the impending alterations at the Fox and Hounds in Fleet.
This year's tour, their 30th, featured their new show 'Warehouse Hill, the story of the Huddersfield Narrow, a unique Pennine Canal'.
With the 'impossible restoration' reopening for traffic on the 1st May this year, this was a very topical presentation.
The show mixed the original canal building, abandonment, dereliction, campaigning for restoration, reconstruction and reopening in a very entertaining format with words, comedy and song featuring in equal measure.
About 120 people attended on an evening that stayed dry in spite of the threat of rain and everyone enjoyed the show. Thanks are due to Richard Hatherly of the Canal Centre tea rooms, for the excellent BBQ and real ale (Tongham TEA from the Hog's Back Brewery) and Andy Howard, the BCA visitor promotions officer, for all their help with the event.
Mike Lucas, the founder of the Mikron and Resident Artistic Director and Executive Administrator, based at Marsden on the Huddersfield Narrow, has written the official history of the Mikron Theatre Company and the book has just been published. A full review will appear in due course but members may like to know that Mike will be the speaker at our January 2002 social meeting at Woking on Wednesday 16th January. Come along and hear the story of the company.
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The whole Mikron Company in the finale.
Photo: Roger Cansdale
NORRIS BRIDGE No 2
The whole Mikron Company in the finale.
Photo: courtesy of White Young Green
The new Norris Bridge is now complete. Perhaps the most interesting phase of the construction was the setting in place of the beams that formed its main structure.
I went to the new Norris Bridge site to take some pictures of the huge beams arriving and being lifted into position. While there we made contact with the Project Manager, Ross Mclntyre, who gave the following information:
The 10 beams were made by Tarmac Precast Concrete Ltd in Tallington. Each is 37.25 metres long, 1.8m high and 750mm wide. Average weight 62 tonnes. They are the longest/biggest pre-stressed pre-tensioned concrete beams ever taken by road in this country. It took about 1 hour to lift each one and move it into position. The heavy transport to convey them provided by D.K.Teasdale, and C.D.Fisher. Main contractor - Raymond Brown. Consulting engineers - White Young Green, of Farnborough. The Baldwins telescopic crane, hired to lift them into place cost £25,000 for 3 days. Its max safe working load is 1,000 tonnes. They are the largest cranes in Europe and there are the only 3 of them. This particular one (the only one in the country) was the one used in the Hatfield rail disaster.
I noticed that just before each beam finally came to rest in its position, the support slabs were coated with epoxy resin.
Due to an accident on the M25 on Wednesday afternoon, the beams were held up at South Mimms as the Police would not allow them to be moved until the accident was cleared up, and the rush hour was past. Thus the first two were not put into place until Thursday morning, and a further two in the afternoon while I was there. They were hoping to lift another one that day, with the remaining 5 arriving Friday.
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TONY HARMSWORTH'S RETIREMENT PARTY. WEDNESDAY 27th JUNE 2001
Waterway Manager Tony Harmsworth retired from the Basingstoke Canal on the 22nd June after 25 years service with Hampshire County Council.
He applied for a post of Senior Canal Ranger in 1976 after working for RAE Farnborough as a toolmaker and model maker. Of course, there had been a family involvement with the Basingstoke Canal since 1779 when the canal was being constructed. In 1986 he was promoted to Assistant Canal Manager and in 1994 he became Waterway Manager on the retirement of David Gerry, who was the first chairman of the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society before joining the canal as Canal Manager for the Hampshire section in 1974.
Tony's informal retirement party in June was a happy occasion at the Canal Centre attended by current and past rangers plus many others who had become involved with Tony over the last 25 years. The Society, Boat Club and John Pinkerton chairmen were all there to help give Tony a well deserved send off.
Leigh Thornton, Canal Director, gave a brief resume of his career with the canal and past family involvement, and on behalf of the Canal Authority and rangers gave Tony a machine tool to help with his model making of steam locomotives. The rangers presented Tony with a miniature lock gate (as he sometimes got millimetres and inches mixed up!) and a miniature canal plug and chain with Great bottom Flash 1791 stamped on it (as he was always saying there was a canal plug in Greatbottom Flash !). Both the miniature lock gate and canal plug were made by Andy Loader the canal carpenter.
Left: Leigh Thornton and Tony Harmsworth with his plug.
Photo: David Millett.
Right:New Canal Manager Tony Beecher.
Photo: Roger Cansdale
Peter Redway, as Society Chairman, presented Tony with two tickets for dinner on the Watercress Belle together with vouchers for wine for the meal. Peter mentioned that he got to know Tony when the Hampshire and Surrey canal restoration operations merged and he took over as working party co-ordinator from Mike Fellows. He thanked Tony for all his help with volunteers over the years and for the good working relationship he had with him. As Tony already had many Tony Harrison prints of the canal he was very pleased to be able to dine on the Mid-Hants Railway's Watercress Belle with his wife, Mary, especially as his hobby is model locomotive and aeroplane building.
Ron McLaughlin, Chairman of Surrey and Hampshire Canal Cruises, the Society's John Pinkerton operation, thanked Tony for his help over the years to encourage and support the John Pinkerton.
A very enjoyable occasion ended with Tony thanking everyone for coming to his retirement party and thanking the rangers for their work over the years under his leadership (plus a few anecdotes!).
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NEW CANAL MANAGER APPOINTED
The Canal has a new manager and I am delighted to report that my fears about having to make do with a country park man with no canal experience were unfounded, as the man to replace Tony Harmsworth is Tony Beecher, the Senior Ranger in Surrey since 1983.
Tony has a background linked to water, the countryside and boats, albeit sea-going sailing boats. His father was a keen yachtsman and they built themselves a 6 ton replica East Coast fishing boat in the 1960s. Tony went on to sail all sorts of traditional sailing vessels. He spent 10 years in the Fire Service, but became disillusioned after the fireman's strike and in 1978 moved to Shetland with his wife and a knitting machine. He made what sounds like a slightly precarious living there, knitting jumpers, gutting fish in the local fish factory and delivering batteries to the lights on the skerries. His wife was taken to the hospital for the birth of their son by a fishing boat.
He then went to work for the Forestry Commission in Scotland and ended up running a camping site and its shop on Loch Long. It was whilst he was down south on holiday visiting relatives that his wife saw the advertisement for the Canal Ranger's job in the local paper. He applied and arrived home to find an invitation to an interview. The offer of a job followed equally rapidly and he joined Les Foster and George Copping on the Surrey section of the Canal, where he has been ever since.
He readily admits that his knowledge of the Canal and its history is never going to equal that of Tony Harmsworth. However, he clearly is not lacking in ideas of his own and had already made a couple of changes.
One of these may have been noticed by those living by the canal in Hampshire. Tony feels that the same standards and practices should apply throughout the length of the canal and so, to comply with what has always been the case in Surrey, he has removed the towpath gates in Hampshire. This will allow the contractors who do the towpath maintenance to gain access much more easily. If problems with misuse occur, he will think again but, for the time being, my cycle ride to and from work, made necessary by the Morris Bridge works, was much less hindered.
Tony's other innovation came as a bit of a surprise to me, since I had vaguely assumed that it was already the case, but in fact it will only be from the beginning of August that individual rangers will be given responsibility for their own bit of the Canal. They will also be given a small budget for their own projects. Initially at least, Peter Bickford will look after the bottom length from the Wey junction to just below Lock 15, where Peter Munt takes over up to the Canal Centre. The remainder will be looked after by Paul Hope and Andy Foster.
Tony is keen to get the lengthsman scheme working again and has talked to David Millett about this. In the past it was seen by some as not working as well as it should because of poor communication links with the BCA, and the new scheme ought to improve this. Provided that the lengthsman and his or her local ranger get on, things ought to work much better in the knowledge of who is responsible forthe local length. Tony also sees a role for the Society volunteers to supplement his resources in areas such as the Deepcut Flight, where a survey that Tony did earlier this year has flagged up a number of problems, such as the lower sills, one of which has already split.
Tony would love to see open access to the Canal, which would release his men to do maintenance rather than shepherding boats through locks. However, he points out that it is not just water shortage that makes such activities necessary, but the need to check licences of boats coming onto the canal. As a licensing authority, the BCA is legally obliged to check boat safety certificates and insurance documents as well, which can be a real pain as people often do not carry these on their boat. Andy Howard, the BCA's new visitor liaison man is redesigning the application pack for visiting boats to explain the situation. Tony would welcome BW taking over all waterways, as it would make his job a great deal easier, but doesn't see this happening just yet. In the shorter term, he is hoping to extend the entrance time for boats to 9.30am to 11 am.
Other items of workin the near future will include dredging of the Brookwood pound from Lock 14 to 15, and, fingers crossed, excavation of the mooring basin at the Canal Centre.
Tony is currently 52 years old and seems content to spend the remaining 13 years of his working life on the Basingstoke. He clearly has good relationships with Peter Redway and David Millett and seems to me to have the right instincts about the way the Canal should go, so we wish him well and hope that the BCA and the Society can continue to work together to preserve and enhance it.
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MILLETT'S MUSINGS - David Millett
# Had a look at the Basingstoke Canal Heritage Footpath between Eastrop Park and Basing House recently. The interpretation boards are very interesting but the one at Red Bridge is missing and the one at Eastrop Park has been covered with graffiti. Just what do vandals get out of plastering everything with graffiti?
# Glad to see the initial towpath cutting completed at the end of June. With the contractor using a tractor and a flail/mulching machine behind, Tony Beecher, the new canal Operations Manager, had authorised the removal of all the gates on the Hampshire section to facilitate the operation and the use of machinery on the towpath in future. If problems arise in the future, he will consider installing full width gates.
# HCC have started initial surveying with a view to replacing Malthouse Bridge, Crookham Village when finances allow. They will keep to the traditional appearance but with the gas and sewage pipes incorporated in the roadway.
# Good to see the Society are opposing the proposed development of 20/30 houses on the land between the canal towpath and the B3349 at North Warnborough, which has recently gone to appeal. Also the Society is objecting to the proposed development of a pair of semi-detached houses, and removal of trees, in the garden of the house immediately next to the Fox and Hounds in Crookham Road, Fleet.
# Bang!! Galleon Marine boat hirer seen ramming the landing stage at the Fox and Hounds at full forward throttle recently, damaging the steel piling and wooden waling. Must have got completely confused between forward and reverse.
# Pleased to see that the travellers and their caravans who invaded the grass area at Colt Hill recently have been evicted and an earth bund created to prevent, hopefully, the same thing happening again. Jim Piele of Galleon Marine had a break-in while they were there and valuable equipment stolen. Just a co-incidence?
# Next year will be the time to visit magnificent canal structures either being restored or built new. Both the 1875 Anderton Lift at the junction of the Trent and Mersey Canal and the River Weaver, and the radical and amazing Falkirk Wheel at the junction of the Forth and Clydeand Union Canals in Scotland will be operational. Both will have excellent visitor centres alongside.
# Congratulations to David Dare, the owner and proprietor of Heart of England Hotel Narrow Boats and the three trip boats at the Canal Centre at Mytchett, on being appointed a member of the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council. He is also chairman of the Southern Region of the Association of Pleasure Craft Operators and, of course, is a firm supporter of the Basingstoke Canal.
# Good to see the new canal notice and information boards are going up although not all are in place yet. They certainly create a better impression to visitors. Ash Wharf has never had a board so one would be very welcome at this important access point.
# Mud ! On a cycle ride from Fleet and Woking recently we were very surprised with the muddy state of the towpath through Deepcut cutting even at the height of summer. Granted there had been some heavy showers but improvements are sorely required and also between Farnborough Wharf bridge and Ash Lock.
# Pleased to see that most (but not all) of the towpath by Farnborough airfield has been resurfaced after the devastating clearance there last winter.
More pictures from Tony Harmsworth's retirement party.
Above: L to R:
Peter Coxhead, Peter Redway, Tony Harmsworth, Ron
MvLaughlin and David Venn (BCBC Chairman)
Right:Mary and Tony
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(From Society Newsletter No.41 November-December 1971)
# The committee were pleased to announce that the Earl of Onslow had agreed to become the society's first President. He was very well acquainted with the Basingstoke Canal and its problems, and was, (and still is) very interested in waterways, having cruised on holidays on canals in this country and France.
# When the bill on local government reform was published, the campaign to keep north-east Hampshire in Hampshire, rather than transfer it to Surrey, bore fruit. The earlier White Paper had recommended its transfer to Surrey. The Committee welcomed this, which meant that two county councils would help in financing the restoration, but worried that each might want to run the canal in their own way, which would be detrimental to overall unity.
The Committee urged members to write to their county councillors to ask them to compulsorily purchase if the prolonged negotiations, which were at a delicate stage, finally petered out.
20 adults turned up (including four children in pushchairs) on John Peart's first family ramble based on the canal. A six mile walk was undertaken along the canal.
# A team of frogmen recently had a fish's eye view of the leak in the Whitewater Aqueduct, which is responsible for low water levels in the overgrown Hampshire section. A very satisfactory survey was undertaken along
towpath and public footpaths in the Mytchett area.
# A dozen members of SHCS visited Dudley in the West Midlands to help clear the site for the proposed Black Country Museum. According to the report the Society chairman "with the autoscythe, soon had the towpath clearand wide". (This was from a ten verse poem which is too long to reproduce here).
# Appeal issued for bricklayers (professional or amateur) to help with some bridge maintenance work in conjunction with Hampshire County Council at Barley Mow Bridge, Winchfield.
# Robert Harris has designed a new symbol/logo for the Society based on the original canal token issued to the navvies who worked on the construction of the canal. It was decided that the side of the token showing the sailing barge was the best basis and the final design of the logo was a clear up to date version, which captures the grace and movementof the original and which would have a good impact. The logo is to be used on letterheads and on a new car sticker.
# The Society chairman, David Gerry, attended a meeting of Dogmersfield Parish Council, whose members had been a little critical of the restoration plans. He found out that they did want to see the canal restored but were concerned about noisy outboards polluting the environment and masses of people trespassing on adjoining private gardens leaving tons of rubbish everywhere. He dispelled their fears by saying that waterway lovers are just not like that.
# Appeal issued for new members to serve on the committee.
# Two well attended public meetings held at Farnham and Aldershot, which resulted in a crop of new members. At Farnham there were two guest speakers, Sir John Verney, author, and John Anthony, from the radio programme "Roundabout" and Southern Television. At Aldershot the guest speaker was General Sir Hugh Stockwell, chairman of the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council, member of the British Waterways Board and chairman of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust. The meeting was chaired by Brigadier Rowly Mans, Aldershot Garrison Commander, who pledged the Army's help with the future restoration.
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MEMORIES of the DREDGER - 2
Entering the canal from the River Wey was not really on. It would have involved towing the dredger down the River Thames, then along the Wey Navigation to its junction with the Basingstoke at New Haw. Then each lock would have had to be repaired in turn and the pound above filled with water to allow the dredger to work upstream.
The case for the dredger we listed as follows:-
Minimal first cost Scrap prices.
Economic to operate The boiler was capable of burning wood, an ample supply of which would be available on the banks of the top pound.
Simple to operate We envisaged members being able to operate the crane and boiler with a minimum of instruction.
Floating machine There would be no destruction of the bank side, except for silt disposal.
Powerful Able to dig a hard bottom.
Silent Except for the steam noise.
Attractive as a live steamer We thought it would pull the crowds at bridges (which in the event it did at Swan Bridge, Odiham, where we finished up widening the narrow cutting and hauling the mud to the dump by diesel train).
We estimated 14 years to work from Greywell to Aldershot.
We recommended Colt Hill as the best place to launch the dredger, for a number of reasons. The B3016 led conveniently from Hartley Wintney, across Odiham Common, direct to the cricket pitch (now the Colt Hill car park). The present by-pass cut this road to form the cul-de-sac which I think makes the canalside area now such a delightful spot.
A track led easily off the road right up to the water's edge. The actual pitch was well away from the canal, so there was no danger of encroaching on the hallowed turf. Eventually the County Council found an alternative site for the Cricket Club.
The New Inn public house (later renamed the Water Witch) did nothing to detract from the advantages which the site offered for the proposed launch of the dredger, also the winding hole would allow us to turn the dredger to face the other way.
The Report was accepted and the dredger was purchased for, I believe, £225, just £3 a ton.
And So To Work - about early 1970 I should think it was.
We found a spot near Fobney Lock in Reading, behind Courage's Brewery. It was quiet, remote from vandals, under the eye of the Courage's night watchman, yet accessible for the Society's recently purchased Land-Rover, another restored relic! The dredger was towed there by a helpful chap with a powered barge, And we set about the job of bringing our hulk back to life.
Ian and I spent most week-ends motoring up to Reading, leaving about 8am and often not returning until after dark. The first thing was to cut out the boiler tubes, Ian borrowed an oxyacetylene cutter and sliced through the middle of the tubes, leaning into the manhole. Then we cut both the belled ends off with cold chisels and drove the tubes into the boiler. Many long hours were spent cleaning and polishing the tube plate holes, as it was important to remove all the scale.
New tubes were ordered, for delivery to Robin Higg's Nursery at Chobham.
By that time the Society had a Land-Rover and a trailer, as well as a sales caravan, and now a dredger. No access to the canal as yet, but plenty of hardware to show we meant business!
Transferring the boiler tubes from Chobham to Reading, was for me quite an adventure. It was the first time I had driven a Land-Rover, and the first time I had towed a trailer!
We took the tubes firstly to Ash Vale Boatyard. I was interested to see the hulks still lying there, and the rope marks on the trees where barges were hauled out of the water years ago.
Left: Ron's son Dave working inside the boiler.
We built a fire, and plunged the tube ends in to make them red hot and soften them. The ends were then buried in a sand heap to cool slowly — all this to the amazement of passing train passengers! This job done, we loaded up again and proceeded to Reading. From memory, there were about 80 tubes, each 2 inch diameter and 10 foot long. They were quite heavy, and had to be locked away down below each time we left the dredger. How our arms ached, at the end of a long working day.
To be continued.
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Xanth was launched, successfully on 15th May at Merrickville having managed to find a black paint to re-do the hull. It was nice to see her back where she belonged.
The next day we returned with buckets and mops to give her a good clean as she was very dirty after the long sea voyage, road journey and 6 months on land. Fortunately the river water was very clean and warm. Not a perfect job but at least she looked impressive and could now be taken out to meet the public. We also managed to fill the water tank as we were moored next to a tap, another job we need to do before cruising otherwise the bow has a mind of its own. Meanwhile David reconnected the water system and adapted the gas system to connect to their bottles. All-in-all a successful morning.
The following Monday was a holiday over here so we left home early to drive to the boatyard in order to be there and ready to go when the locks opened at 9am. All the locks are manned and have set hours depending on the time of year. This means they know where all the boats are and radio ahead for the locks to be ready for you. Even on a holiday we didn't have to wait but went straight into every chamber.
In 30 mins we were through the 3 locks at Merrickville and on our way, with many turned heads and puzzled expressions from other boaters and public alike. While in the locks we were asked by a woman (blonde with French accent) "What did that used to be? Was it a train?" David's response through clenched teeth - "No it was and is a British narrowboat".
The lock keepers were suitably impressed and declared it had 'class'.
The stretch from here to Smith's Falls is mainly river - very wide but shallow on the edges and three more locks. We could have cut corners according to the charts as there was still enough depth for Xanth but it was VERY VERY weedy and we didn't want to get stuck on our first trip. After Merrickville is Kilmarnock and now we knew we had made it as we were greeted by our first 'awesome' - the in phrase over here. While cruising I was able to attack the brass work which was in a bad way. It still wouldn't have won any prizes at a National but at least it began to shine.
At Smith's Falls they have replaced the staircase of three by one very deep lock. We were asked what headroom we required to which we responded that magic figure of 5' 10" and so they radioed ahead to the next lock to prepare for a 50ft boat but don't open the road bridge (6' 6") as we were coming under it. When we arrived the lock keeper had a very puzzled expression as he had never had a boat that long come under the bridge before.
From here to Lower Rideau Lake you join a narrower twisty
river stretch, more like being on the Thames, with one lock in a beautiful setting with lock house. We are now only one lock from Westport but it is 19 miles away and we have 2 very big lakes to cross. The water was quite choppy as we had a head wind most of the time but Xanth just cut through the waves. Even when the speed boats came rushing past the wash did not cause a problem. Most of the boats approached bow up, huge waves out the back and then came to an abrupt stop as heads turned and you could also most hear the 'What the **** is that?' Some people even did complete laps around us just to make sure they weren't seeing things.
4hrs later we reached the narrows lock and were into Big Rideau Lake and home waters having cruised this area in Tender Behind. We eventually docked at 19:30 having travelled 42 miles and 11 locks. Garth our neighbour was there to meet us and we had a glass of wine to celebrate.
Biggest draw back to boating over here is that you are not allowed to drink alcohol or have open bottles on show while cruising. On boats with living accommodation you may have alcohol in lockers which can be consumed while moored or at anchor. Many people obviously ignore this as last year they had 100 deaths on the water in Ontario alone, of which over 50% were alcohol related. However we are told they are becoming more strict, with lock keepers, police and coast guard all able to search your vessel. Even this far inland we have coastguard because the border with the USA is water and very close to us.
The waterway is very beautiful but very different from Britain. Although called a canal and build by the British there is only 19km of man made canal in the all system from Kingston to Ottawa. There are only 5 villages and 1 town along the whole length. Apart from that the only moorings are at the locks. There is no towpath and most of the banks are privately owned. So the only alternative is to drop anchor out of the channel. You begin to appreciate why so many boats stop at Westport - there is nowhere else to stretch the legs or do any shopping for a long way. It also surprising how many houses/cabins there are tucked away along the shore and on the islands, some only accessible by water.
Since having Xanth here we have done several trips round the lakes with friends who are fascinated by the whole concept of a 'narrowboat'. We even had 2 young children (9 & 11 yrs) come out for the afternoon and far from being 'bored' as you would normally hear, they didn't want to come back.
If anyone is interested we are advertising our B&B on the BBCanada website and our address is http://www.bbcanada.com/toyboxbandb.
Gill & Dave Freeman
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In the last list published we omitted to indicate that these four donors had donated in memory of their relations, as shown below.
Shirley Trott in memory of her husband Victor
Tim & Liz Dodwell in memory of Liz's mother Joan Marshall
Mrs. K F Hammond in memory of her husband(Ted with scythe)
Janet Greenfield in memory of husband John
Since the last list, donations have also been received from the following
Barry & Tracy Woodward
Richard & Alison Snell
Peter C. Bond
Bridge Barn 2001
Robin & Mary Field-Smith
J.E.& Mrs. P.J. Dohoo
Mrs. B.J.F. Allen
I M Piggott
Chesterfield Canal Society
Peter & Barbara Beck
The total for the Water Appeal currently stands at £13,800, including the tax refund. With thanks to all those who have contributed.
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Date for next copy 30th November 2001
Published by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Ltd., a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered as a Charity. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Society. Executive members of the Committee are shown in bold type and Directors of the Society
have an asterisk (*) after their name.
Editorial Team: Editor:
Roger Cansdale* 79 Gally Hill Road, Church Crookham, Hants GU52 6RU 01252-616964
Photos: Dieter Jebens* 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3NJ 01252-715230
President: The Earl of Onslow
Chairman: Peter Redway* 1 Redway Cottages, St John's Lye, Woking, Surrey GU21 1SL 01483-721710
Vice-Chairman: Dieter Jebens* 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3NJ 01252-715230
Hon. Secretary: Philip Riley* Wincombe Cottage, Broad Oak, Odiham, Hants. RG291AH 01256-702109
Hon. Treasurer: Jonathan Wade* 30 Hanover Gardens, Cove, Farnborough, Hants GU14 9DT 01252-524690
Membership Secretary: Lesley 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 01483-721710
Trip Boat Manager: Ron McLaughlin 94 Guildford Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants GU12 6BT 01252-672189
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 01252-517622
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 Molesey, Surrey KT6 1TQ 0208 941 0685
Website Manager: Arthur Dungate 39 Sian Close, Church Crookham, Fleet, Hants GU52 6BT 01252-622101
Talks Organiser: Arthur Dungate 39 Sian Close, Church Crookham, Fleet, Hants GU52 6BT 01252-622101
Press Officer: Dieter Jebens* 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3NJ 01252-715230
Archivist: Jill Haworth Sheerwood, 501 Woodham Lane, Woking, Surrey GU21 5SR 01932-342081
Woking Organiser: Peter Coxhead 17 Abbey Close, Pyrford, Woking, Surrey GU22 8RY 01932-344564
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 OJL 01252-723309
Director: John Ross* 14 Heathcote Road, Ash, Aldershot, Hants GU12 5BH 01252-330311
Canal Society Internet Website: www.basingstoke-canal.org.uk
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