No. 194 Summer 2002
The sun is shining, the flowers and grass are growing (not to mention the weeds} and I should be writing an editorial full of optimism and the joys of spring.
Sadly, the Annual General Meeting failed to instil this feeling in me. It wasn't just the mild feeling of chaos induced by not sticking to the agenda timing and the broken PA system. Such things can be overlooked if there is an atmosphere of enthusiasm and get-up-and-go. The support was still there but it seemed to me that the get-up-and-go had got-up-and-gone some years ago.
Symptomatic of this is the fact that we only have 8 people out of a possible 12 on the Board of Directors, of whom over half are 60+ years old.
We all feared that the Society would fall on its face as soon as the canal re-opened and maybe we were right: just a rather slow fall, but nevertheless there. Apart from the handful of members who still go out on the work parties, the only activity of the Society that still enjoys a reasonable level of support is the Boat Company.
I suspect that the reason for this is that operating the John Pinkerton is still fun, apart from the aggro of dealing with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency! If we are to attract new members, we have to offer people something fun to at least drag them away from their tele's if not to inspire the sort of obsession needed to kick off a restoration project. The trouble is that the fun bit is the restoration, with its challenges, struggles and triumphs, and the sense of comradeship that they produce.
We still have challenges of course, such as the need to provide year-round water supplies, and we are trying to address them. Yet we have a Catch-22 sort of situation in which we need fresh, interesting projects and goals to attract new members, but lack the people with the time and drive to launch them in the first place. Michael Handford has been nagging us about the Western End and I have been trying to float the idea of a link to the K&A, but neither of us, in all honesty, probably has the time to do much about either.
Unless we have a few more volunteers to join the Committee, I suspect that some time in the next 5 years we shall be facing a crisis when we find that we have nobody willing or able to fill one of the key posts, and the question of whether to struggle on or retire gracefully from the scene will have to be faced.
Boat owners who have got their 2002 licences and have read the attached canal regulations, may have been surprised to see that boating after dark is now banned.
I was all set to write an indignant editorial demanding to know why someone living in Fleet should not be able to boat down to Crookham for dinner at the George & Lobster and return home the same way afterwards. However, I am told that a similar question asked by the BCBC was met with surprise by the BCA, who didn't realise that they had banned It. I am told that they had just copied the River Wey regulations, without noticing the differences.
Whilst I am all for standardisation to avoid lots of different set of regulations, what is sensible for a fast-flowing river is not necessarily needed for a canal. I hope that the ban will be removed and that we shall continue to be able to enjoy the preasures of night time boating. I still remember a clear Tuesday evening on the Pinkerton that coincided with one of the autumn meteorite showers and left us all with cricked necks from staring at the sky. And we still didn't hit anything!
It is also interesting to speculate how such a ban might be enforced, given the apparent inability of the BCA to allow people to take their boats through locks even in the daytime. Boat owners attending the Bridge Barn rally in Woking found themselves unable to return home to Fleet on the Sunday afternoon, because they arrived at the bottom of the Deepcut Flight after 2.30pm.
The Bridge Barn rally is one of the big events of the Canal's year, so surely, as a matter of pride, an effort could have been made in this one weekend to at least pretend that the Basingstoke was operated as a proper canal. It is possible with a good crew to do whole of the Deepcut Flight in less than 3 hours, so there would be no problem in clearing the flight before nightfall with a much later start than 2.30.
I don't think that Tony Harmsworth is the sort of man to sit back and twiddle his thumbs and wonder what to do with himself in retirement, but he has kindly agreed to find time to contribute occasional bits for the BC News. In particular he has volunteered to use his vast knowledge of the Canal to try to answer those questions that most of us have wondered about when we come across some odd feature during towpath walks.
Like - What are those two great lumps of concrete for in the canal by the site of Coxmoor Bridge? What was the story of Lock 30? What happened to Chatter Alley Bridge?
Send me your queries and I will pass them on to Tony.
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Pipe laying for the St Johns back-pumping scheme. Photo: Dieter Jebens
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Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen, my report for this year is one of achievement, opportunities and challenge. First a review, secondly the way forward.
During our 10th Anniversary year, after reopening the Canal and the installation of a half million back-pump scheme at Woodham, rainfall was sufficient to maintain navigation throughout the year. With hindsight we should have anticipated the perverse, well known law which would decree that the pumps would not be required in anger.
Looking forward, the year ahead provides both opportunities and challenges for the society.
We are in the final stages of completing our partnership contribution work at Woodham; once completed the arrangements for the official opening will be finalised. The Abstraction licence issue is being addressed and the County Councils' strategy was considered by the Joint Management Team recently.
Your Committee have endorsed a Society strategy for Phase 2 Backpumping at St. Johns, and this project is
planned for a three year construction period.
Work at St. Johns started last Summer using the Water Appeal monies. We estimate that an additional £140K is required to complete the project with volunteers providing maximum input.
British Waterways sponsorship of the project included processing of our survey data, pipe and pump recommendations and supply contacts at BW prices.
Our objective is to have the St.John's back-pumping operational for the opening of the Brookwood Hospital Country Park. The vision, of all year navigation to a site suitable for events and boat trips, could realise the pipe dream of an "IWA National" on the Basingstoke.
The challenge is the raising of the finance for implementation of sustainable water supplies. We see the Society's rote as an enabler for the projects, building on and enhancing existing partnerships, seeking Riparian District and County support and seeking grants from diverse sources such as Landfill Operators, Environmental Bodies, Business Interests and the Waterways Trust.
It gives me pleasure to confirm that, we have received our first cheque of the year from the Guildford and Reading Branch of the IWA, a wonderful start, for our fundraising team. Tony Firth presented us with a cheque for £11,500 at their AGM in memory of Brian Percy. Brian supported our cause for many years, a true friend of the canals in all aspects.
I commend this project to you - your support is essential as without water, we do not have a Canal.
Tony Firth presenting the IWA's cheque to Peter Redway.
Photo: Ray Carnell|
Bridge Barn is established as an annual land based and
boating event, and this year it was extended to a three day
The decorated and illuminated boats were a huge attraction with crowds lining the towpath and bridges. Many of you attended and I am sure you will join me in thanking the organising team for putting on a first class weekend.
Odiham will again host a late May event as part of the
Jointly organised by the Canal Authority, Basingstoke
Canal Boating Club and the Society, this may also become
an annual event.
FOX AND HOUNDS
The Fox and Hounds gathering is scheduled for September. The Pub has a new landlord following Ron Kettle's retirement and he intends to support the event, so come along and do likewise.
In conclusion, I wish to thank all the organisers for their hard work in making things happen, the Committee for support and judgement, and the Canal Authority for continuing support through the year.
Last but not least, my family for continued support through the year.
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ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2002
The AGM took place as advertised on Saturday 13th April with an attendance of just over 70 members.
In response to complaints in previous years that the traditional 6pm start did not allow people to eat first, a decision was made this year to start later at 7.30pm. This inevitably shortened the evening, so the intention was to cut the usual interval drastically. In the event of course, this didn't quite work out as planned and things were a bit of a scrabble, not least Bruce Hall's talk on the Cotswold Canals, which left me not only stunned but breathless. It was disappointing but perhaps fortunate therefore that nobody seemed interested in discussing anything in the Open Forum at the end, so that the meeting finished more or less on time.
The decreasing number of attendees and the lack of response from the audience suggests that the hall we have been using for the past few years is no longer very suitable and that something smaller, that would give a more intimate atmosphere, would make for a better meeting. It all seemed a bit remote - not helped by the non-functioning PA system! Maybe we'll get it all right one year.
The meeting began with the usual apologies for absence and approval of the minutes of last year's meeting. This was followed by the presentation of the annual accounts, a summary of which is shown on page 6. For the first time in many years, they showed a loss, of £4175. Jonathan Wade explained that this was due to the Society's expenditure on the back-pumping schemes and nobody seemed disposed to deny that this was a proper use of our money. As the Chairman later pointed out in his report, if we haven't got water, we haven't got a canal. The Society still entered 2002 with nearly £60,000 in the bank.
Jonathan mentioned that income tax refunds had been received thanks to Graham Hornsey's efforts, but had come after the end of the financial year so would appear in next year's accounts. He noted that some costs had risen, including printing which included the Newsletter, which had had several large issues last year. Because of the rising costs of providing such basic services to the members, he proposed an increase in the membership subscription, the first for several years. The increase for most of the rates would be £2 and the new figure would still be about the average for membership of a canal society. The new rates would come into effect in 2003.
The accounts were accepted and the subscription increases approved. Hilton & Co were re-appointed as auditors.
As has become sadly traditional, the number of people
willing to stand for election to the Committee fell well short of the number of seats available, so there was no election. We have in fact lost 2 members of the Committee due to business commitments, Kathryn Dodington and John Ross. Kathryn has been a Director for many years and was the previous editor of the BC News; it is largely thanks to her IT skills that I am now able to produce it. She is still involved with the John Pinkerton, so I hope we shall continue to enjoy her company and benefit from her antipodean plain-speaking advice! I hope also that John will find time to continue to give us the use of his calligraphic skills and grace the events with the presence of his much-admired boat Mary Rose.
This ended the formal part of the meeting and we moved on to the presentation of awards. Robin Higgs was on hand to do this and started with his eponymous award, which this year went to Pablo and Jill Haworth. Pablo and his hat seem to have been an integral part of things on the Woodham stretch of the canal for as long as anyone can remember and Jill has not only supported him in these activities, but has been acting as custodian of the Society'sarchives for some years.
Robin then went on to present a second award on behalf of the IWA's Restoration Committee. The Waterways Companion Award is given to som
Pablo Haworth accepting the award from Robin
Photo: Arthur Dungate
Robin then went on to present a second award on behalf of the IWA's Restoration Committee. The Waterways Companion Award is given to
someone who in their job has contributed to the restoration and management of a waterway and this year it was given to Tony Harmsworth. Given the involvement of his family since the building of the Basingstoke, it was probably inevitable that he would get involved when restoration started in the early 1970s. He and his father built the Society's first set of lock gates and he later oversaw their installation at Ash Lock. He subsequently joined the Canal staff as a Senior Ranger and rose to be Canal Manager until his retirement last year. A much deserved award that pleased everybody.
Tony Harmsworth with his Waterways Companion
Photo: Roger Cansdale
The Chairman's report appears in full on page 2. He followed it with a report on the year's Working Party activities. Since these have been reported fully in previous Newsletters, it suffices to say here that they included the work on the Woodham and St. John's back-pumping schemes with the summer work camp, the backside clearance work by the "Bonfire Bash" and Christmas work camps, and the work to make the tug Sapper canalworthy again. Peter concluded
"As always I am indebted to the volunteers and leaders for their support and efforts during the past year to achieve magnificent progress.
My thanks go to Society leaders, David Junkison, Dave Lunn and Kevin Redway for the organisation of working parties, and to Pablo Haworth and David for logistical support and meeting deliveries. Also to Ken, Eddie and the KESGRG team, Martin and Lesley of London WRG, the two Grahams of NWPG, also Tony, Dave and Graham of BITM for all their efforts during the year, and Liz and Ian Williamson for the Bonfire Bash.
Thanks to Leigh Thornton and Tony Beecher of the BCA for their support and assistance during the year, to the SHCS Committee for their work during the year at events and behind the scenes.
Finally thanks to my wife and family for their support".
Ron McLaughlin gave us an overview of another good, and mechanically trouble-free, year for the Pinkerton. The major problems for the future all seem to come from the increasingly heavy-handed regulation from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Quite what either of these aspects has to do with a boat that is never more than 10 feet from dry land is not clear and it is greatly to the credit of Ron and his team that they continue to cope with it all. The coming season promises to be a good one for the Pinkerton with a profitable week taking guests to the Farnborough Air Show. Dragonfly will concentrate entirely on events this year to minimise costs and crew boredom waiting for passengers.
Guest Speaker - Bruce Hall
Bruce gave us a whirlwind tour of activities on the Stroudwaterand Thames & Severn Canals, which probably accurately reflected the sense of exhilaration in the Trust when BW's involvement rocket boosted the restoration from the prospect of maybe 50 years of uphill slog to a completion target date in 2012.
The first phase will be complete within 5 years and will see restoration coming in from both ends. There will be some "quick wins", such making a bridge swing again which has been fixed ever since the Stroudwater was abandoned in 1954. Major obstacles remain, such as the "Missing Mile" which was filled in with rubbish generated by the building of the M5, and the odd blocked railway bridge which will be reopened at a cost of a mere £0.75 M.
Sapperton Tunnel will be tackled in Phase 2. Two thirds is in good condition, but there are a couple of falls in the brick lined parts. Interestingly, the tunnel has been deemed too warm for bats so there should be no Greywell-type problems. Perhaps a benefit of global warming will be to free up restoration of our Western End!
The Thames & Severn has an 8 mile summit pound which will require back-pumping. This will be installed during restoration and there is a possibility of income for the canal from water transfer. At the eastern end, the canal will link a water park 50% bigger than the Norfolk Broads with the outside world. All in all the Thames & Severn has 56 locks in its 36 miles.
I thought that Bruce's talk was the high point of the evening. When it was over, the raffle was drawn and, in the absence of any takers for the Open Forum, the meeting ended after a few closing remarks from the Chairman at about 10pm.
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[page 6 - Annual Accounts are not included]
Boats of all shapes, sizes and colours - decorated boat competitions - procession of illuminated boats (Sunday evening) - free parking - canalside pub with garden - craft and charity stalls - face painting - model boats - public boat trips. Phome 01252 370073 for more information.
Saturday 1 June -
Rotary Club Party on the Wharf|
Bring the family and a picnic and enjoy great live music. 7.30pm onwards.
Adults £5, Under 12 years free.
Sunday 2 June -
Canal Festival 2.00pm - late.
Monday 3 June -
Canal Festival 11.00am - 4.00pm. Free entry
Colt Hill Wharf, Odiham. Free rally plaque for all boaters!
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MIKRON THEATRE COMPANY
Date: Sunday 7th July 2002 Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Canalside at the Basingstoke Canal Visitors
Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett. Outdoor show with indoor backup in case of rain. Bar and BBQ available before, during and after the show.
Show: "All Steamed Up" - a new production, with original songs and music, telling the story of Richard Trevithick, the Cornish engineer, inventorand pioneer of steam.
Over 200 years ago, in December 1801, the young Richard Trevithick took some friends for a ride on his latest invention up the hill to Camborne Beacon. The vehicle was the world's first steam carriage - 28 years before Stephenson's Rocket - and Trevithick's fame and fortune seemed assured. Yet, 32 years later, he died in poverty and without the recognition he deserved.
The Stephensons, Brunei and Watt are celebrated in the history of engineering technology, while Trevithick, who started it all, has been pushed into the background. His Camborne engine was effectively the forerunner of the motor car: his field engine became the agricultural traction engine: and the engines he built for the Pen-y-darren iron works in South Wales were the first railway locomotives.
Mikron tells the story of this remarkable giant of a man, whose restless energy and inventive genius were ultimately his downfall. Trevithick worked at the very edge of technology. At a time when low-pressure beam engines were immovable giants, he developed the first practical high-pressure steam engine. This enabled engines to be portable so that they could be used wherever they were needed. Trevithick applied his energies to mine engines, locomotives, steam cars, dredgers, tunnels and ever more grandiose schemes. His life is an adventure story - literally, in the case of the 11 years he spent in the mountains of Peru, where he encountered the revolutionary leader, Simon Bolivar, and was nearly eaten by a crocodile.
Come along on foot, by car or by boat (the more boats the better to add to the atmosphere).
The show is sponsored by the Society and by Kralon Polymers of Wimbledon, but your donation via the collection at the end are vitally important to help keep the Company going year by year.
PS. David Millett tells us that the title of the show was dreamed up by Mike Lucas in their shower the morning after his talk at Woking in January. He must have had a very hot and steamy shower and he announced the title when he arrived downstairs for breakfast!
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The annual Bridge Barn Rally took place at Easter and this year, as an experiment, was extended to a three day event from Saturday to Monday. This proved something of a mixed blessing, since many of the boaters needed to be going home on the Monday and the organisers were also ready for a break by then. They had had to contend with the usual crises before and during the event, but, again as usual, had managed to overcome them. They were helped in this by the re-appearance of our old friend "Sinj", who despite no longer managing the Bridge Barn, returned to lend a hand.
Nearly 50 boats lined the banks of the canal at the Bridge Barn, half of them belonging to members of the Byfleet Boat Club. The Mayor and Mayoress of Woking clearly enjoyed their waterborne tour of the site aboard the Maggie G.
(Below) Photo: Ray Carnell
The weather was the usual spring mixture, but certainly not all bad. In particular it held up for the Saturday evening illuminated boat procession, which was enjoyed by a huge crowd that lined the towpath and bridges- The prize for the best illuminated boat went to Dick and Alison Snell's Athai.
Above: Crowds lining Arthur's Bridge to watch the illuminated boats.
Left: Boats assembling at the rally site.
Bottom: The Morris Dancers joined by Pablo Haworth and Peter Coxhead.
Photos: Roger Cansdale
Shore-side entertainment for the public was provided by a variety of stands, including stalwarts such as Dick Harper-White with his painted canal ware and Dick and Alison and their fenders. Music came from a live band in the pub on the Saturday night and on Sunday, by Morris dancers and the splendid Zimmer Boys, who kept everyone's feet tapping in the afternoon with a mixture of blues, skiffle and anything else that could be played on guitars and mandolins.
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Masterminded by Chairman Peter Redway, work is steadily proceeding to install the next phase of the back-pumping scheme, at St. John's. This will ensure that the whole length from the bottom of the Brookwood three locks to the River Wey will stay navigable throughout the year.
Work is being carried out both by the Society's own small volunteer force and by visiting groups such as KESCRG. Work is also going on to finish off the Woodham scheme.
Unlike the latter, which had money from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the St. John's work is currently funded only by the Society, using money raised by the Water Appeal. This currently falls far short of what is needed to complete the job and we are about to launch an appeal to local companies to become partners in this enterprise by contributing funding. The Society has set up a small fund raising working group, chaired by the Vice-Chairman, Dieter Jebens and including Denise Smith, Verna's sister, and they are exploring all other potential sources of money, such as grants from various bodies and land-fill tax revenue.
Above: Nearing completion of the outfall just below Kiln Bridge at St.John's.
Meanwhile the Water Appeal started by Pablo and Jill Haworth is still open for donations. All contributors should have received a handsome certificate as a thank-you from the Society. At the AGM, Pablo reported that the appeal had raised a total of £14,500 to date, including £7,400 from members and £4,200 from the Bridge Barn rallies. The Society can also claim Gift Aid tax refunds from the Inland Revenue on donations, provided that the appropriate form has been completed (see Graham Hornsey's piece on page 13).
Left: Reinstating the towpath after the pipelaying shown on the cover.|
Photos: Dieter Jebens
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THOUGHTS ABOUT THE WESTERN END
Recently a friend, unfamiliar with the area, mentioned he had failed to find the horse path over Greywell Tunnel. This prompted me to revisit the route for the first time for many years. I was surprised to find what a confusing network of paths exist on the hill - I'm not sure I chose the easiest route! A few more signs might encourage visitors to discover there is more canal west of the tunnel; the section to Penny Bridge is a credit to all those involved in the restoration. Also, the sign indicating the footpath over Little Tunnel Bridge does not mention this impressive, listed structure; is this because you can only see it by scrambling down the bank - and trespassing? Finally, I wonder how many visitors enjoying the historic buildings of Old Basing leave without realising the canal once ran through the village?
My point is that the more the western end is publicised, the better the chances of support for whatever option is adopted to restore/retain it.
I share your view that the warning notices on Odiham Castle are unsightly, and also share your hope that they are temporary. I trust you have advised Hampshire County Council, as well as the readers of the Basingstoke Canal News, of your views on these notices and will report their reply in a future issue.
Your comment that the fencing of Odiham Common "is being strongly opposed by many local people" is true but incomplete. Hart's plans for the management of Odiham Common has attracted local support as well as opposition, and was endorsed at a public enquiry a few years ago. While SHCS might prefer to see more of Hart's resources devoted to the canal, it is not justifiable to portray Hart's plans for Odiham Common as a Council whim with no local support.
Chairman, Odiham Society
The Society has written to HCC about the notices but I have not seen a reply as yet. Editor.
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Subject: BANK CLEARANCE WORK
Date: 18 March 2002 23:01
This past weekend saw us carry out an electrofishing operation on the Hampshire pound of the canal in order to remove small pike and do a general fishery survey.
We travelled by boat from Colt Hill to Ash Lock and quite frankly I was appalled at the state of the canal. I e-mailed you a few weeks ago regarding the amount of floating debris in the canal after we had received complaints froma couple of clubs and we have now witnessed this for ourselves.
Obviously no action has taken place to rectify the situation as the canal still remains a mess. The problem is with the contractors that cleared the towpath side of the canal. The towpath vegetation being cut by a tractor with a mower attachment (witnessed by Mike Wild above Ash Lock) and the debris has just gone straight into the canal. The recent winds will have contributed with 2 or 3 of the larger branches we came across but the rest of it is definitely cut material.
Also I have never witnessed so many bottles and cans in the canal as there are at the moment, we removed quite a few from the water but unfortunately we were not prepared for a litter pick and so most have been left at the back of the towpath for future collection. As anglers we often get a lot stick for leaving litter (I know not from you!) but just for the record I picked up 2 empty hook packets a couple of old pegs and we saw probably 300-400 bottles and cans. So who leaves the litter - us or Joe Public?
Please let me know if you have any plans for sorting out the above mess, if not then I shall endeavour to get a working party of our own to sort it out and pass on our expenses to the BCA.
Finally, Why does the bank clearance work have to be so drastic? We have a committee working on Habitat Improvement yet all that appears to be happening is that the habitat is being systematically destroyed. Fish love cover i.e.. overhanging bushes and weed. Both these offer the fish cover from predators and supply a source of food, yet rather than trimming the bankside vegetation we are seeing the banks being totally devoided of the this essential cover. The canal has had a reputation of being one of the most picturesque canals in the country, that reputation is rapidly diminishing with all the work that is going on and in places the canal is resembling a bland drain rather than the picturesque canal we all love.
In the past (before your time I admit) we had agreements that bank clearance work would be carried out on short sections of 250 metres at a time. This would still leave
enough cover in the vicinity for fish and other wildlife to move to whilst the vegetation recovers. The following year the untouched sections can be cleared. This appears to be a much better solution than the downright vandalism that is taking place at the moment.
I would be interested in thoughts on this matter and look forward to hearing from you.
Match Secretary, Basingstoke Canal Angling Association
RE: BANK CLEARANCE WORK ETC.
Thankyou for your note. I must say that I found the overall tone of it rather aggressive and unconstructive. Of course we can't get everything right on the canal to everybody's satisfaction, but then we do try to be flexible in dealing with users as well. I feel we have been particularly flexible and supportive with yourselves recently - happy to let you get on with it generally and providing support where we can (as outlined below and also in defence of angling matches etc.) - so I am feeling disappointed by this reaction.
Anyway, to pick up your points:
I am sorry you feel the canal is in an "appalling state". Many other people have commented how good it is looking at the moment and our staff have been working particularly hard over the winter to sort out many problems. Even members of your own committee have said (un prompted) that the canal is looking good. I have walked most of the canal in the last month and must say I have found it looking the best cared for for a long time. I have not personally observed large amounts of floating debris. However I must assume some is present as this has obviously inspired your letter and the previous correspondence - and I have only toured the canal by foot. I appreciate some problems can only be seen when on the water. When our staff have completed winter tree works in the next week they will sweep through the canal by boat and clear out debris and rubbish that is floating. This "sweep" occurs every year, usually before Easter, but this has been particularly early this year. We will also talk with the contractor who does next years cut to ensure debris does not fall in to the canal.
I note your comments on bottles and cans. An ongoing problem, as we all know. Despite you only finding a
couple of fishing hook packets as direct angling litter, you must face the fact that some of the cans and bottles are related to angling! Yes we do defend anglers when we get (numerous) litter complaints (hence more of my disappointment). We have also paid fora number of "Don't Drop Litter" signs with your logos on - which were still sitting in Ash Lock barn last time I looked - and supplied bailiffs with free litter pickers. The conditions of the Angling Lease state that "(the BCAA) will prevent ....the deposit of litter and rubbish". This is of course very difficult to enforce to the letter, and regular litter picks by the Angling Assoc. in the past have helped keep things under control. I also thought that specific clubs looked after sections of the towpath with regards to litter as part of their membership of the Association. Is this still the case? We now have specific Rangers looking after each stretch plus a book of "Standards" required for the canal. We are linking in with a new "lengthsman" initiative that the Canal Society are starting and have had talks with some of your Ctte. members about linking in as well with your bailiffs. Thinking about it, it would make sense for each club responsible for each section to linkup with the appropriate Ranger as well.
Of course not all litter is Angling related and we have a responsibility to clear it as well. If you let us know where you have stacked the bottles and cans you collected I will get them picked up (if they are still there). We have had a real run a round this winter with fallen trees and the Rangers have mainly concentrated on keeping the "honey pot" sites litter free (car parks etc.). We have today pulled 13 push bikes out of the Canal in Woking alone and we extracted an entire P Registered 1100cc Motorbike from the Aqueduct 2 days ago (using a JCB).
The bank clearance has been quite thorough this year in terms of cutting back hedges etc as most of the towpath was getting impassable with a lot of leggy growth. It will sprout back thicker this spring. However we do not anticipate such a thorough cut again for some years. The winter towpath cut goes to waters edge and has been carried out in such a way for some years (prior to my arrival). The summer cut just clears a strip along the centre of the towpath, leaving plenty of bankside flora for summer shade. Cutting right down in winter actually encourages a richer variety of wildflowers rather than grasses. It is important to remember that the canal has two banks, and the "offside" goes largely untouched providing a lot of shade and shelter. This gives us a mixture of habitats - ideal for all forms of wildlife, including fish. No doubt come May / June we will be getting complaints about the "overgrown towpath" and the uncared for appearance of the canal- c'est la vie. The other common complaint is "blokes with strimmers out
at night cutting holes in the bankside growth", usually around June the 14th....! Incidentally we had a couple of calls the other week about some "men in a boat with nets being chased along by a gang of boys" and "a large dead eel-like fish on the side of the bank" I assume this was the pike cull? Luckily Jim had mentioned in passing about the cull (he wanted a boat) so I knew about it, and consequently I was diplomatic in responding, being able to explain the Angling Association's actions. As an aside, we also had a call last week about a "large black cat like creature bigger than an Alsation" near Norris Bridge....! We are always careful about leaping to conclusions with all 'phone calls.
Getting light in to the water is recognised as the priority at the moment by the Conservation Working Party. It is good for aquatic plants and also encourages important marginal growth. With all the will in the world we would never clear the banks fast enough to compete with the overhanging growth (nor would we want to) and a patchwork of habitat will always be present.
I have just authorised the ordering of 20 coir rolls which Hampshire Rangers will be installing in April / May to start to re-establish some reed margins in the denuded areas of bank which have previously been shaded. The Angling Assoc. have talked about helping with this in the past. I am sure our lads would appreciate some assistance if available during the close season.
I am not familiar with the "250 metre" sections you mentioned and there appears to be nothing in the SSSI management plan. The idea may have merit in some areas. Any details on it you have would be useful to see.
Unfortunately I tend to take criticism of the Canal too personally - which is my problem of course - but at least I care. My main concern is that we work together to sort out problems, as I thought we were beginning to do, having had constructive talks with some of your members over the last few months.
Perhaps we can move forward from this point?
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Many thanks for your lengthy and detailed reply to my email. I didn't mean it to be aggressive but I meant it to be to the point as I feel you fobbed me off with the reply you gave to my previous email. And despite our repeated comments to the BCA about the way the canal is cleared every year, you still seem to take no notice of what we say to you.
I was trying to be constructive by trying to get over to you that we (or rather the fish) like to have overhanging vegetation to live under. I can see no problem with vegetation overhanging the water by up to [20ins] on the non-towpath side. This would not cause any obstruction to boats, would retain an adequate amount of cover for aquatic wildlife to continue unhindered and would also retain the asthetic feature of the canal. Any vegetation that extends beyond [20ins] should be trimmed back not removed completely as what happens now.
I may be wrong but I'm fairly confident that I'm right in saying that the BCA have never consulted with us or asked for our advice prior to commencement of bank clearance work as we would always offer the above advice. I also offered our help to clear the debris if you could not resolve the problem, though as I see it, it should be your contractors clearing up the mess not us or your rangers. I am happier now that you have stated you will be doing a 'sweep' of the canal in the near future, (had you stated this in your first email you probably wouldn't have got the second one!) and again if we can assist you we will.
I am now hearing that all the rushes are being removed from below Ash Lock. I do hope that not ALL are being removed as this is the most prolific breeding and nursery area for tench on the whole canal, we were also planning on transplanting some of these rushes ourselves to other 'barren' areas of the canal.
With regards to the litter, my point is exactly that we do not recognise any of this as coming from anglers. Our rules are very strict and cans of any sort are banned from the towpath as far as our anglers are concerned, perhaps we should ban the public bringing them to the canal as well. The sections I referred to are regularly match fished and no competing angler is allowed to be weighed in if there is litter in his peg. As you rightly say our bailiffs have been issued with litter pickers and only our Head Bailiff can answer if they are being used effectively - perhaps they are not! Quite a few of the notices have already been erected at various access points (and some removed by vandals!) but this has been temporarily put on hold as our Fisheries Officer is recoveriing from an operation, which you should be aware of. As far as the clubs go, the fishing season is now closed on the canal and so we would not expect the clubs to go near the canal until the beginning of June to prepare for the new season. There is the possibility that the scouts will do their annual litterpick on the canal in May which we organise. So overall I think we do a great deal to remove litter from the canal yet we still get loads of criticism for leaving litter which is grossly unfair.
Finally, I think the communication has improved between ourselves but still could be better. We pay a lot of money for the privilege of fishing the canal but still do not appear to have any say or influence on how the general maintenance is carried out and I think we should.
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King's Head, Frimley Green and the River Wey. Anyone who would like to volunteershould contact me (address and telephone numberon back page), but be warned -a cottage no longer comes with the job!
Many members may recall that at various times in the past the Society has operated a scheme whereby volunteers take responsibility to regularly inspect a small stretch of the Basingstoke Canal with a view to reporting any occurrences that require the attention of the Canal Authority's Rangers or maintenance team. Indeed, although the scheme lapsed some years ago, several members continue to patrol their patch unofficially.
I have taken on the job of restarting the scheme and I am currently seeking members who are prepared to volunteer to take on the role of a lengthsman for a stretch of canal near where they live or that they visit regularly. So, what is required of a lengthsman?
Ideally, a lengthsman should walk or cycle a stretch of about a mile of canal every week ortwo and note any of the following:
Vandalism or other behaviour the results of which
will detract from others'enjoyment of the canal.
Encroachments onto canal land.
Disrepair of towpath, fences, bridges, etc.
These are a selection of the most important things to watch out for and report to the Senior Lengthsman (that's me) except in cases of extreme urgency, when the report should be made direct to the Duty Ranger.
After periods of extreme weather conditions, it would be appreciated if an extra visit could be made to inspect for leaks, fallen trees, etc.
The scheme has the approval of the Canal Authority who regard lengthsmen as the eyes and ears acting on behalf of the Rangers. Guidance notes have been agreed with Tony Beecher, the Operations Manager, and will be available for volunteers shortly.
Whilst this is primarily an observation role, there is the possibility of organising small working parties with neighbouring lengthsmen and others to deal with minor maintenance tasks such as seasonal branch removal from the water, etc. And if any lengthsmen feel like clearing litter they will be encouraged to do so!
About two thirds of the canal is covered by those who have volunteered so far, so volunteers are sought for the remainder. The stretch from Fleet to the Greywell Tunnel is fully served, but elsewhere there are many gaps, particularly between the Ash Aqueduct and Fleet, and between the King's Head, Frimley Green and the River Wey. Anyone who would like to volunteer should contact me (address and telephone number on back page), but be warned - a cottage no longer comes with the job!
Since the introduction by the Government in April 2000 of the new simplified Gift Aid scheme, more than 800 members have signed declarations enabling the Society to recover part of the tax that they pay. This has enabled tax repayments to be obtained for the first year of its operation, ie the year to 5 April 2001 , amounting to £3,750, of which £1,450 relates to donations to the Woodham Locks Backpumping Appeal while £2,300 results from general subscriptions and donations.
Claims for the year 2001/02 are now being prepared which should result in further recoveries of tax of £2,500 for the Society's benefit.
Whilst the technical explanation of how the tax system works is complicated, the operation of the scheme is simplicity itself! All that is required is that a brief declaration be completed by the member (or donor if not a member). Only those who pay tax should complete forms, but very few people pay no tax - many people think that they do not pay tax because it is deducted from their income, eg a pension, but even though they do not draw a cheque in favour of the Inland Revenue they are still paying tax! It is only necessary to have income which exceeds the tax allowances available - and I should stress that there is absolutely no cost to the individual member.
Whilst about two-thirds of members have completed forms, I urge the remaining members to consider doing so. If they did, we could regularly recover about £4,000 from the Inland Revenue each year, plus more from any further appeals for specific projects, so you can see that it really does make a difference. If you wish to complete one and have not already done so, you may still have a blank form that was sent to you in the past with your subscription reminder (unless you pay by bankers' order). If you need one to be sent to you, please let me know (address and telephone number on the back page).
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• Welcome to Tony and Jackie Haynes at the Canal Centre who are operating 'Merlin', 'Daydream' and 'Astra' for David Dare for the summer season. Last year in their narrow boat 'Dreamcatcher' they undertook a 1000 mile tour of the canal network, without any untoward incidents even in the urban areas of Birmingham.
• In the early days of the Basingstoke Canal restoration Tony brought a group of volunteers to help with lock rebuilding under the title 'MOB-H' the latter standing for 'Mystical Order of Bracken Hunters'. This stemmed from when they camped in the canal side garden of the then New Inn at Colt Hill, Odiham (now Waterwitch) and forgot to bring their bedding and so went bracken hunting on Odiham Common.
• Since they started operating 'Merlin' at Easter they have observed children dropping small concrete blocks off Mytchett Lake Bridge. If a boat had been going underneath the consequence could have been serious. On another occasion they had children, who were fishing by Kings Head Bridge, drop a load of maggots on them as they were passing underneath. Another charter party in 'Daydream' had a waterfilled balloon dropped on them as they were picnicking in the open front cockpit. It seems that children are getting more mischievous or even dangerous. Is it lack of parental discipline or what?
• What exciting times we live in. At the 19th March British Waterways 'Unlocked and Unlimited' launch in London they announced their 'second Phase' of waterway restoration projects. They are committed to proceed with the restoration of more than 100 miles of waterways, ranging from London to the Lake District and including an entirely new canal between Bedford and Milton Keynes.
• Other exciting schemes announced were Bow Back Rivers, Cotswold Canals (reconnecting the River Severn to the River Thames),Droitwich Canals (creating a new 21 mile waterway cruising ring connected to the RiverSevern), Foxton Inclined Plane, Liverpool Extension to Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal, Montgomery Canal and the Northern Reaches of the Lancaster Canal (a further 14 mile extension to Kendal in the Lake District).
• Another great occasion was the formal reopening of the Anderton Boat Lift at Northwich (a first phase scheme, last operated in 1983 before being closed as unsafe for use). Some
technical problems have occurred but, hopefully, these have now been resolved.
• An act of environmental vandalism took place on the Basingstoke Canal at the West Hart Embankment at Crookham recently. A narrow boater was seen with a large sheath knife cutting out large clumps of primroses from the towpath by an alert Society member. This was reported to the Canal Authority and, hopefully, a prosecution will result. One hopes this boater was an exception as 99% of boaters will be horrified by this. Flowers, plants and birds are one of the main attractions for cruising the waterways.
• The Basingststoke Canal Authority are investigating the possibility of the re-excavatiog and re-filling of the original moat around the ruins of King John's Castle at North Warnborough as part of HCC's long delayed project at this site. Watch this space.
• Good to see that the first dredging along the Surrey section of the canal has been completed at Brookwood with the mile long pound between Locks 14 and 15 now back to a good depth.
• A dramatic change of aspect has taken place between Pondtail Bridge at Fleet and the Gelvert Stream with the clearance of the trees and scrub behind the towpath. It's a shame so many trees were cleared from the towpath itself.
The view now from the towpath between Pondtail and Norris Bridge, with the newly cleared area on the left. Photo: Roger Cansdale
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From Society Newsletters No.44 May-June 1972 and No.45 July-August 1972
# Canal purchase to go ahead. Both HCC and SCC have agreed to apply for compulsory purchase orders to acquire their respective halves of the canal.
Hampshire hope their CPO may not be necessary by giving the New Basingstoke Canal Company a deadline by which it must make up its mind whether or not to settle without a CPO
# In Surrey the position is more complex with the main problem being the basis on which the canal should be valued. To do this the NBCC should apply for an Alternative Development Certificate to ascertain the use the land could be put to had it not been subject to a CPO. The land is then valued on whatever use is named in the certificate. As the NBCC will not submit an application SCC is forcing the issue and applying themselves.
# A working party is being set up to plan a restoration programme and a management system to run the waterway. Representatives from HCC, SCC, the Army and the Society will sit on the working party.
# Society to undertake a new project to build a second pair of lock gates to demonstrate our commitment to the future restoration, and volunteers experienced in joinery or carpentry are [s]ought.
# The Society's new pontoon has been painted and fitted out and will make an excellent work boat.
# Two dozen SHCS members take part on 'Ashtack 72' with 1000 other volunteers, to begin the Cheshire Ring Restoration Programme on the Ashton Canal. The object is to clear a bridge-hole and they were given a crane, skip buckets and a tipper lorry.
# On 6th May an alert schoolboy discovered that the canal was leaking at Crookham. Member Stan Knight was contacted and by 11pm several members had gathered at the site, downstream from Crookham Swing Bridge. With two NBCC employees also on site an attempt was made to plug the leak with sandbags and straw. With only partial success everyone went home at 3.30am, having made up a temporary dam with stop planks upstream of the Swing Bridge.
# Society members have a look at the steam dredger which the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust use, and which we were offered on loan. However it was thought that transport was too big a problem and too costly.
# Old fashioned "pop" bottle, complete with ball stopper, found in the canal at Broad Oak, Odiham which bore the name "Basingstoke Mineral Water Company". It may be that one of our older members "gave" the bottle to the canal in his courting days.
# The Basingstoke Canal monster has given birth. In reality the monster is a creation resembling Nessie built of junk hauled out of the canal near Les Harris's home in St. Johns. The creation has appeared at Fleet and Farnham carnivals and the Woking Whirl to publicise the benefits of restoring the canal.
# A member, taking her dog for a walk along the towpath at Woodham tossed a twig on a thick patch of duckweed. The dog jumped in, thinking it was grass, and sank into the ooze. Our member felt that the dog would join the Society if it could - judging from the expression on it face as it hauled itself out.
# The committee's thanks go to the anonymous person who has mown about a mile of towpath at Odiham. A "good angel" indeed.
Left: Tony Harmsworth and his father building the Society's first set of lock gates in 1969 at Ash Vale Barge Yard. (See AGM report on page 4) Photo from 'Basingstoke Canal Restoration' by Dieter Jebens & David Robinson|
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See the Tall Ships aboard the SS Shieldhall, a 268ft long, steam powered ship built in Renfrew in 1955. The ship is operated by unpaid volunteers of a registered charity and the trips are organised by Glajd (UK) Ltd, a company run by and for enthusiasts of steam, vintage vehicles, model engineering, etc, organising specialist tours and excursions.
On Saturday 17th August, the Shieldhall will leave Dock 4 at Southampton Eastern Docks and go down the Solent for a tour of Portsmouth Dockyard to review the tall ships at anchor. A similar tour on the Sunday will be able to see them under way out in the Solent, but places are in short supply for this one. Both trips will start at 11am and return at about 5pm. Cost is £35 a head, which includes a buffet lunch aboard.
If you are interested, phone 01980-621418 and speak to Boz or Linda. More information on their website at www.gladj.co.uk or www.ss-shieldhail.co.uk for the ship itself.
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Date for next copy 30th July 2002
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
Gift Aid manager: Graham Hornsey* 'Mallards', 94a Aldershot Road, Fleet, Hants GU51 3FT 01252-623591
200 Club organiser: Jim Johnstone 20 Hawkins Grove, Fleet, Hants GU51 5TX 01252-626749
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: David Lloyd-Langston* 7 Fernhill Close, Upper Hale, Farnham, Surrey GU9 OJL 01252-723309
Canal Society Internet Website: www.basingstoke-canal.org.uk
Printed by Commercial Press Ltd, Farnham
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