No. 196 WINTER 2002
Some while ago in another moment of weakness, I offered to help catalogue the Society's archives. These include the archives of the New Basingstoke Canal Company, the previous owner. They were entrusted to us by Tim and Liz Dodwell, who is the daughter of Mrs Marshall, the manager of the canal at that time.
I have not got very far, largely because I keep reading the interesting documents that I find. They paint a fascinating picture of the way that Joan Marshall ran the canal. In many respects, it was more like a canal society than a company, because the small number of paid employees was augmented by a large band of voluntary bailiffs, who patrolled the canal and did a lot of the things that our volunteers do today. Christmas parties were organised for them as well as other socials. Joan also took a keen interest in other canals and wrote a number of letters to Ernest Marples, then Minister for Transport, in support of various restoration schemes.
There are interesting parallels and contrasts to the canal today. David Millett in his Musings complains about vandalism, but it was, if anything, even more of a problem for the canal in the 1950s. The archives are full of reports about people seen carrying shotguns and air rifles on the towpath. Lock gates were damaged, a bridge was set on fire and a claim for damages against the MOD was pursued after the army blew up one of the Deepcut locks. Perhaps the Canal Company failed to endear itself to the public by the authoritarian tone of its regulations which forbade boaters from arguing with bailiffs, banned cycling on the towpath and would have required me to get their permission to publish this Newsletter. Even so, the hooligan element was clearly alive and well in the post-war years.
The other interesting thing I found in the archives, a talk by Mrs Marshall in 1950, features elsewhere in this issue and gives an insight, which is new to me, into the mysterious goings on associated with the auction of the canal in 1949.
Paul Vine's book "London's lost route to Basingstoke" rather glosses over this episode, perhaps because too many of the people involved were still alive and old wounds might be opened. I have always got the impression that somehow, someone (by implication Mrs Marshall) pulled a fast one on the IWA and snatched the canal from under their noses. Joan's talk puts a different slant on the story.
The talk also gives an insight into her vision for the future of
the canal, which clearly differs from today's situation. She saw it mainly as a navigation with other income derived from subsidiary activities, such as selling water.
Although her sources of income were rather limited, at least she had a degree of control over them that the BCA lacks. QinetiQ paid £1/2 million to HCC for the wayleave to build the second Norris Bridge, but only a rather miserly 5% of this is actually finding its way into the canal's budget.
Joan mentions the Nature Conservancy as having an interest, but I doubt that she ever envisaged a body such as English Nature exercising the degree of control that it now does. The limit on the number of boat licences and movements that they imposed actually puts a stranglehold on future development of the canal. Local Authorities may be reluctant to dip into their strained resources to pay for improved water supplies if the extra boating that these would allow is then limited by English Nature. Similarly, ideas of a link to the K&A would instantly run into a brick wall because of the extra traffic that this would produce.
The Conservation Working Party already reports a decline in the canal's bio-diversity and it is obvious even to a layman that things ain't what they used to be. 10 years ago I could paddle past the Fox & Hounds watching shoals of fish swimming below; they may still be there, but I can't see them because the water is so murky. Nevertheless it is hard to believe that this has much to do with boats, given the low level of traffic on most of the canal.
A much more likely explanation would seem to be the rumoured increased levels of nitrate in the water, which kill off the water plants that keep the water clear. Why then are English Nature talking of installing more boat counters and yet, are not funding surveys to measure the nitrate levels in a systematic way? I think it is time that they put away their anti-boating obsession and did some real science for a change.
It would be good also if they could help fund the BCA to tackle the problem of the alien species that have invaded the canal and its surroundings. Swamp weed, mink and Signal crayfish seem to be the major threats at the moment.
On the subject of the crayfish, a remark at the JMC rather appealed to me. It was stated that their only natural predator was the duck-billed platypus! I've always thought that it would be nice to have otters in the canal, but I suppose platypi would be an interesting substitute...
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The Autumn round of canal meetings has raised some issues which need to be resolved by the various working partiesand management teams.
The canal provides high ecological interest with wide biodiversity of aquatic plants, this resulted in 28 miles of the canal being designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This summer's survey indicates a decline in the canal bio-diversity and an increase in Nitrate levels in the water, the Nitrate is not reducing at the same rate as it has in the past. Water sampling has been discontinued at the two sampling localities in Surrey, therefore the effects of the increase in Nitrate has not been recorded in the Surrey section of the canal.
The Conservation Working Party members represent the County Councils as canal owners, wildlife organisations, the Environment Agency, anglers, IWA, Canal Authority and ourselves.
The meeting discussed the Bio-diversity Draft report and possible actions required to reduce the degradation of aquatic plants, and as members you will be interested in the actions decided. Tree shading was identified as a prime cause as shade reduces the photosynthesis process and plants become weaker; alien species such as Swamp Weed and Signal Crayfish were also identified as probable causes. Boat movements and stocks of bottom feeding fish have remained constant for some years and have not been identified as a cause of the decline.
Actions were decided on as follows:
Continue with tree clearance projects, which are funded by English Nature and are aimed at increasing sunlight available to the canal channel. This winter's projects will be at Dogmersfield and the Brookwood area; pre-publicity has been promised. The balance of tree clearance against the canal environment is important, and wholesale felling for its own sake should be vigorously resisted if the tree screen between urban landscape and the canal is decreased.
The Canal Authority will press for the reinstatement of water sampling in Surrey. My opinion is that the source of the nitrate increase needs to be identified and any required action given priority.
Alien Species need to be controlled; Swamp Weed is probably out of control but other species are subject to ongoing research.
Mink is a predatorand where mink have been identified, other native wildlife such as water voles, dabchicks and other vulnerable waterfowl decline. A policy of trapping
mink has had a variable success rate over the past years, but new trapping locations are being identified for continuation of the trapping policy.
Signal crayfish are present in considerable numbers, grubbing the bed of the canal and eroding banks with their burrows. Methods of control have included commercial catching, but as the larger crayfish are removed by this process, larger numbers of smaller crayfish result. The EA will advise on the recommendations of a conference being held on the crayfish issue.
The canal west of the Greywell Tunnel was cleared by society volunteers starting in 1992. With various grants we resurfaced the towpath between the tunnel and Penny Bridge, constructed a Gabion Wall and drainage at the western end of the tunnel and re-profiled the land slip adjacent to the tunnel. Responsibility for maintaining the towpath west of the tunnel proved to be a very grey area; the BCA have no responsibility west of the tunnel and Hampshire Rights of Way maintained only designated Public Footpaths. The canal towpath became overgrown and was in danger of becoming derelict once again, and a number of our members raised their concern via letters to the Newsletter.
At this autumn's Canal Joint Management Meeting we proposed that the Western End should be transferred to the BCA and maintained to their published standards for the main length of the canal. An appropriate increase in budgets would also be required for the additional length of the canal. The proposal was endorsed by the JMC and will now be considered by Hants County Council Countryside organisation.
In support of our proposal we have recently cleared the towpath for the full length of the canal west of the tunnel. Further work parties will be required through the winter removing dead trees and saplings from the canal bank.
The heritage value of the Western End is considerable, and we would like to see restoration of the Brickworks Arm and Wharf, possibly recreating the original lift bridge at the entrance, stabilising water levels and a general upgrade of the canal and water quality. Restoration of the West Tunnel Portal to its original condition may also be possible.
We have made the first move, why not let us have your views, write to the editor or any Society committee member of your choice.
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Following Roger Reed's letter in the last BCN lamenting the state of the Western End of the canal, Peter Redway organised a weekend working party to clear the towpath from the tunnel end to Penney Bridge. The weather was I ideal on the Saturday but very windy on the Sunday. Some 15 people turned out and a small tractor and flail was hired (Below with Kevin Redway driving).
Kevin also managed to stir the Society's dumper back into
life after months, if not years, of inactivity.
Right: Marguerite Redway uses tape to mark the rare spindleberry trees that grow along this stretch of the canal.
Above: Society Vice-President David Millett loading the
dumper near Slade's Bridge.
Below: Ken Blake tending one of the bonfires.
Care had to be taken to avoid damage to wildlife.
Above: A fallen tree used by badgers as a bridge was left in place.
Right: Marguerite Redway uses tape to mark the rare spindleberry trees that grow along this stretch of the canal.
Above: Lunchtime in the soup kitchen, Mrs Smith's garage. The late Mrs Smith was a long time supported of the Society and when she died, she left a piece of land next to the canal in trust to HCC, with the Society as one of the trustees.
Opposite: David Millett and Peter Redway with the seat that the Society installed for Mrs Smith near Slade's Bridge.
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Above: The Brickworks Arm with the angle irons of the hull of Seagull just visible above the water in the foreground. This steam-powered narrowboat belonged to the brick company, which operated her at the end of the 19th century. Some years ago, a Society working party led by Stan Meller raised the remains of the hull for examination. Previously the steam engine had been removed and it is now on display at the Waterways Museum at Gloucester.
Above: David Junkison under Slade's Bridge, which he has been helping to restore. This parapet was rebuilt by the Society but the other side has still to be done.
As Peter Redway reports on his Chairman's page, the Society has a vision of restoring the Brickworks Arm and the western portal of the Greywell Tunnel as heritage projects suitable for Lottery funding.
We would also like to see the canal dredged to a reasonable depth and steps taken to stop the flow into it from septic tanks, which currently is happening. The improvement in water quality would benefit the wildlife and might also allow recreational use by canoes.
Above: The mouth of the Greywell Tunnel as it is today, and
Below: The portal as it was in about 1920.
A good start has been made, but why not help us finish the job by joining the next work party on 26/27 January?
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NOTES from the BCA - Leigh Thornton
In the last month I have been called on to give presentations about current Canal issues to Councillors from Hampshire, Surrey and Woking as well as the Canal JMC. This is something I am very pleased to do as it helps "spread the word" to key funders. However, it does also help focus on what the key issues are at the moment and what we have been doing to address them. I would therefore like to take the opportunity of the offer of space in the Basingstoke Canal News to demonstrate some of these key points to SHCS members. Of course, everybody has their own view of what the priorities are and what is important. However, the funding, running and maintenance of a canal is a complex thing and I hope this article helps put across some of these complexities and maybe open a few eyes to some of the stuff we, as canal managers, have to deal with!
Current Influencing Issues (in no order of priority):
Environmental Issues and Sustainability. The SSSI needs to be maintained. Under the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000 there is now a statutory obligation to do this. Failure could result in a fine! "Sustainability" (which warrants an article of its own) is a "buzzword" but a very important one and we need to be able to demonstrate sustainable practice to our funders.
Community Involvement: lifelong learning, social inclusion. More buzzwords, but issues high on Council agendas. We need to demonstrate that the canal can give added value to all members of its community. Let's not forget that two thirds of the canal budget comes from Council Tax Payers.
Health and Leisure Awareness and increased participation: a phenomena of recent years and another area where the canal has a vital role as a resource for walking, cycling, jogging, relaxing and rejuvenation. Furthermore, users are more discerning and demand higher standards.
Pressures on Local Authority Budgets: we live in a time of constant cuts and certain Councils have cut the canal budget. Hence the need to constantly demonstrate our value as a resource and seek new funding.
Water Abstraction and Supply: The historic issue of low water supply in Summer exists (although this has improved in recent years) and needs careful thinking and planning ahead.
Climate Change and Winter Storms: again a recent phenomena. The climate appears to be getting wetter with associated flooding risks. We also suffer from regular storms around the equinoxes.
New Health and Safety Legislation: new rules and regulations (inc. Boat Safety Scheme} are constantly appearing and require staff time and expenditure to comply with
Canal Safety issues: the 200 year old structure holds many surprises! Trees on embankments present a major breach risk. The lock gates and other structures need constant attention.
Canal Estate Issues: constant threats are presented from new developments, ownership issues etc. in what is an area of some of the highest valued real estate in the country.
However, it's not all gloomy! Many new opportunities exist, including:
New sources of funding from the Lottery, Landfill Tax etc.
The national high profile of waterways led by British Waterways.
The appearance of The Waterways Trust and the Association of Inland Navigation Authorities (AINA) which are working nationally for the betterment of waterways.
The presence of strong voluntary support on the canal from the Canal Society through to the Angling, Canoeing and Boating Clubs.
Overall there is strong local authority support and a mature partnership supporting the canal - something that other canals are desperately trying to develop.
Our response to the above issues over the last year or so can be summarised as the following:
Established "Resources Working Party" to:
Develop ongoing partnership with Waterways Trust
Produce Canal Asset survey (complete: findings presented to JMC and initial actions agreed)
Carry out a Base Budget Exercise (draft complete).
Instigating changes at the Canal Centre to maximise income from visitors:
Will bring tea room into "In house" management in 2003.
New play area.
Developing new shop facilities for 2003.
Creating new mooring basin for 2003
Customer Focus and Community Needs:
Introduction of simpler boat booking on procedures.
Restructured staffing to meet customer needs.
Renewed Schools programme to reflect National Curriculum.
Introduced 5 Year Development Plan.
Introduced draft "Waterway Standards" to set targets for appearance of canal and standard of facilities.
Incorporated new materials and technology:
Recycled plastic paddles - watertight, last for ever.
Expanding foam products to seal and fill leaks and voids.
Coir Rolls used for bank protection.
Purchased a portable saw mill to cut tree butts into any size planks on site: saves money and is very sustainable.
Researched and Developed a new portable dam for emergency situations.
Tackling summer water Shortages:
Woodham flight Backpumping complete and operational
St Johns Backpumping under construction by the Surrey and Hants Canal Society.
Drafting a "Sustainable Water Use" Policy to consider the future of water supplies, backpumping and demand. This includes a number of practical actions which can be taken now to minimise water loss.
Use of new technologies (see above).
Conservation Working Party have agreed a package of measures to tackle a perceived SSSI decline.
Funding support from English Nature for tree projects along the canal in both Hampshire and Surrey.
Ecological Surveys undertaken to assess areas under threat.
New "Canal Management Plan" to be introduced next year incorporating canal management and conservation issues.
Commissioned structural safety survey by British Waterways.
Introduced "Water Level Protocols" to minimise any winter flood risk.
Introduced 6 weekly inspection regime of all Canal Structures.
Drafted new Emergency Procedures agreed by County Planning Officer.
Introduced new 2 person Standby Rota.
Phew, quite a list of achievements, but plenty more to do and I'm sure many other issues to address! It is the nature of the canal that you need to "expect the unexpected" and the best laid plans often go awry - especially with winter and its associated rains and winds rapidly drawing in. And of course there are all the more regular day to day issues of running the canal to deal with; boat movements, routine repairs, litterclearing etc. and these continue to occupy the most time, tending to detract from more "strategic" thinking.
However we do need to constantly think and act creatively to stay ahead of the game and keep the canal running. After three years here I can say that the Canal Director's job is an art rather than a science! As ever I am always pleased to hear your comments.
Tree Work 2002/3
This winter the BCA will be carrying out three major tree projects on the Canal. Two are conservation related and one is for safety.
The two conservation related projects are being carried out
at Dogmersfield (Chatter Alley) and Brookwood Lye. Both projects are funded by English Nature to the tune of £10,000 each and we are grateful for this support. The tree projects are designed to remove trees back from the waters edge to allow more light on to the canal and hence improve the SSSI. Tree shading has been identified as the greatest threat to the conservation value of the canal. Letting more light in improves the ability of the plants to photosynthesise and promotes growth. This makes the canal more tolerant of use and should increase the variety and amount of aquatic plants. Both projects are being carried out in full consultation with the local tree officers and with the full support of al members of the Conservation Working Party. The approach is not to "clear fell" but to leave glade areas and retain certain specimen trees to create a variety of waterside habitat. Dogmersfield cutting (opposite the "Great Wall") also has a number of trees which are rapidly becoming dangerous on the steep cutting sides and these can be felled at the same time.
The third project, at Deepcut Cutting, is purely safety related. The deep cutting forms a spectacular arched causeway of trees over the canal and we do not want to lose this effect. It has long been recognised that the aesthetic value of the tree canopy here outweighs the shading impact of the trees on the SSSI. However, the nature of the cutting means that many of the trees have become over tall and dangerous. Many lean at precarious angles and root plates are beginning to rip out the sides of the cutting itself. The access track to several houses along the cutting side is now under threat and in danger of falling into the canal. Our plan is to remove the most dangerous trees whilst ensuring that the overall "feel" of the cutting is retained. We have the agreement of the local Tree Officer for this work and will be carrying it out "in house" after Christmas.
With all tree works this winter we will, where possible, be retaining long tree "butts" intact. These will be picked up by the Dredger next year and transported to Ash Lock. Here we have a new saw mill which can convert all this wood into useful timber for the canal - from thin veneers to fence posts, hand rails and lock gate planking.
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Woking Classic Car Show|
The annual Classic Car show took place in the centre of
Woking in August, accompanied, as usual, bya mini boat rally based next to Brewery Road car park.
About 10 boats from the Byfleet Boat Club took part, as well as the Society's small trip boat Dragonfly (below).
Dragonfly's ability to attend the various events on the canal has been greatly enhanced by the donation of a road trailer by Mr Geofrey Cooke of Pyrford Marine Sales at Pyrford Marina. This will avoid the need to make voyages from one end of the canal to the other and will also provide a stable platform to hold the boat during its winter refit. The Society is very grateful to Mr Cooke.
Below: The Society's Sales Manager, Verna Smith, manning the stand, while her sister Denise promotes the water appeal. Some £600 was reported raised for the appeal over the weekend.
Fox & Hounds Rally, Fleet|
Despite the new management at the Fox & Hounds, the
16th annual Fox & Hounds rally took place in September. Just to show that nothing had really changed, Ron Kettle, the former landlord, also put in an appearance.
Above: Both Dawn and Dragonfly ran public trips over the weekend.
About two dozen boats attended, including the usual collection of immaculate steam launches, one of which, Jastelle, won the Witch Wey trophy for the boat that had travelled furthest to the rally.
David Venn, Chairman of the Basingstoke Canal Boat club, that organises the event, felt that it was one of the best F&H rallies ever, not least from a weather point of view, and it attracted a lot of local interest.
These popular social evenings are continuing through the winter on the THIRD Wednesday of each month at the Westgate Centre in Woking, near Chobham Road Bridge.
DECEMBER - Wednesday 18 Dec 2002:
Robin Higgs - Barging Through Holland.
Once again our good friend Robin Higgs, always a popular
speaker, will present one of his canal journeys for our
delight. This presentation is new, that of a journey made in
early September sailing a Dutch barge through the wide -
and also the narrow - inland waterways of Holland.
JANUARY - Wednesday 15 Jan 2003:
Frank Banfield - Transport films from the Olden Days.
Last season Frank Banfield gave us a most interesting presentation of archive films from his personal collection. Tonight he presents a further selection which includes a historic journey on the canals to Birmingham, a trip on a
Great Lakes steamer, and a hair-raising fast trip by rail. Don't miss it!
FEBRUARY - Wednesday 19 Feb 2003:
Since we last had a talk on the Wey & Arun, there has been much progress - two new bridges and an important aqueduct have been built, and the trip boat can operate over a longer length of this historic waterway. And there are exciting prospects just on the horizon!
MARCH - Wednesday 19 Mar 2003:
Robin Higgs - Re-building the Welsh Highland Railway.
In addition to his waterway interests, Robin Higgs has had a long association with preserved standard and narrow gauge railways for many years. This illustrated talk will show the progress in restoring this most scenic North Wales 2ft narrow gauge railway, and with a new section just about to open.
Divisionl National Angling Championships
Saturday saw 780 anglers from all over the country battle it out in blistering hot conditions for the title of Embassy National Champions 2002. The venue for the biggest angling match of the season in the UK was the Basingstoke Canal and the match was fished over 18 miles of canal from Odiham to Frimley.
The hot conditions did not make it easy for the majority of competitors though in the end there were only 4 anglers that failed to catch. The Shakespeare Superteam from Redditch won a close fought battle with a total of 592 points out of a possible 792. The team took home £1722 in prize money plus a £3000 donation from Embassy to fund their entrance into the World Club Championships next year. The Daiwa Gordon League team from Gloucestershire finished only 3 points adrift with 589 points and Wigan & District were third with 545 points.
Mick Evans from Bolton, fishing only his third national for Bury & District, was crowned Individual National Champion and took home over £3000 in winnings after catching a 6Kg [!] carp and six tench from peg D49 above Poulters Bridge for a winning total weight of 11,160Kg. Runner up was Sergeant Graham Welton from RAF Brampton fishing for RAF Tek-Neek Trabucco from peg A1 above Odiham after taking 8.250Kg of bream and third place went to Warrington based Jimmy Bryne (Lymm AC)with 6.960Kg which consisted of a 5.5Kg carp and a pike from peg D54 close to the winner.
Local organiser and Match Secretary for the Basingstoke Canal Angling Association, Andre Grandjean said after the event "Despite the impressive winning weights the fishing was hard for the majority of the anglers but this helped to make it a very close match and in the end the best team triumphed and I wish them luck in the World Club Championships. I would like to thank all the canal users for their support and co-operation for this event which went off without a hitch".
EMBASSY DIVISION ONE NATIONAL ANGLING CHAMPIONSHIP (Basingstoke Canal) TEAM:
1. Shakespeare Redditch 592 pts; 2. Daiwa Gordon League 589 pts; 3. Wigan & District 545 pts; 4. Oakwood NJC 528 pts; 5. Barnsley & District 523 pts.
INDIVIDUAL: 1. Mick Evans (Bury & District) 11.160Kg: 2. Graham Welton (RAF Tek-neek Trabucco) 8.250Kg; 3. Jimmy Byrne (Lymm AC) 6.96Kg: 4. Phil Leak (Abu Garcia Wigan) 6.860Kg: 5. Steve Welford (Browning Hotrods) 6.640Kg.
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# Good to hear that the only remaining evidence of the existence of the Basingstoke Canal in Basingstoke is safe. The hawthorn hedge that formed the canal boundary through Eastrop Park is to remain rather then be removed as part of local improvement works.
# The new Festival Place shopping complex is now open in Basingstoke and part of it is built on the site the now removed bus station which in turn was built on the site of the old canal terminus and wharf. The Society is pressing for an interpretation board to be erected to show the canal history of the site.
# Good to see that the 1-1/4 mile section west of the Greywell Tunnel has been re-cleared by Society working parties. It would be good to see this section reconnected with the footpath section from the centre of Basingstoke to Old Basing which was created by Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council a few years ago. A continuous footpath from Greywell to Basingstoke would be a great achievement.
# Hampshire County Council received £'Million from DERA as compensation or wayleave for the new Morris Bridge near Fleet. £375000 is being used to repay corporate capital debts, and of the £125000 received by HCC's Recreation and Heritage Department £100000 is being used for the replacement of Salterns Cottage at Pennington Marshes, Lymington and £25000 is available for safety improvement works on the canal.
# Improvements need to be made to the appearance and surroundings of Locks 15 and 28 and their adjoining cottages. Passing them on a cycle ride in September made very depressing viewing, certainly not up to the expected standard.
# Yobs at work again. In August hooligans on the offside of the canal near Swan Bridge, North Warnborough pelted a group on board Dawn, one of the boats belonging to the Accessible Boating Association with bricks and apples. Luckily no one of the party celebrating a 95th. birthday was injured. What a reflection of some of the current youth of today.
# Another pub refurbishment is taking place. Extensions and improvements to the Waterwitch at Colt Hill, Odiham are in full swing.
# Another storm on 27th October brought down 20 trees along the canal so the ageing weak trees are being thinned out by nature's forces. The canal rangers were soon hard at work clearing the debris.
# Apparently there is a perceived decline in the ecological value of the canal in recent years. It is mainly due to increased nitrate levels (the reason to be investigated) and more mink which kill the water-vole and waterfowl population including little grebes and moorhens. In addition the numbers of alien signal crayfish are exploding. They are voracious predators and burrow into the banks. A further increasing problem is crassula helmsii or ornamental waterweed, which spreads rapidly and chokes out native plants.
# What next? A bogus Angling Association bailiff was reported to be at work along the canal in the Mytchett area. He was "charging" adults and children £5 for a forged day permit after showing them what he claimed to be a bailiffs warrant card. Let's hope he was caught. The 30 accredited bailiffs carry an official warrant card with a gold coloured name and address tag and a photograph. The correct charge is £4 for adults and £.2.50 for children per day.
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Congratulations to the winners for August and October, I hope you have received those lovely cheques by now. The lucky people are:-
|Ms PA Wells||Woking||£37|
|Mr C de Wet||Spalding||£19|
|Miss LM Neville||Berkhamsted||£19|
|Mrs BM Scammell||Aldershot||£75|
|Mr H Morgan||Fleet||£37|
|Mr BC Smith||Byfleet||£19|
|Mr lh Phillips||London||£19|
Unfortunately it is coming to that time when we have to ask for some more subscriptions so this issue should contain an application for 2003, and if you are not in it, you can't win it!
Wishing you all lots of luck for 2003
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(From Society Newsletters No 48 January-February 1973 and No.49 March - April 1973)
# Formal notice that Hampshire County Council is to seek compulsory purchase of the Basingstoke Canal has been served and took effect on December 6 1972. The order has been submitted to fhe Environment Minister and the period for objections expires on January 8th. HCC have set aside £10000 in the current year's capital programme and a provisional figure of £90000 in next year's budget.
# Surrey County Council Valuer's Department is still carrying out surveys along the Surrey stretch to establish precise ownerships of the banks. When complete SCC will push ahead with the CPO for which authority has already been given by the Council.
# Brick Kiln Bridge at Up Nately has been saved from demolition. HCC has responded to the many letters of objection sent to them and thanks are due to members who wrote in.
# Membership of the Society is fast approaching 2000 and it is hoped to make a presentation to the 2000th member at the forthcoming AGM.
# A group of SHCS members are going to Stratford on Avon to assist the National Trust in general maintenance work on the southern Stratford Canal. A further party will be working on the Wey and Arun Canal at Birtley.
# At the Society's AGM in January, Chairman David Gerry told the members present to "take a deep breath-you're going to need it". The joint working party to consider the canal's future is about to make its recommendations and he believes they "will please all waterway enthusiasts". As the Society's representative on the working party he praised the work of Hampshire's Land Agent, Colin Bonsey and the Ministry of Defence. "The canal is lucky that it the canal comes within Colin Bonsey's sphere of responsibility" he said.
# The New Basingstoke Canal Company has now made a settlement of the cost of damage and repairs to Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) property caused when the canal breached in 1968, flooding Farnborough airfield just before the September show. Vice President, the late Cranley Onslow pursued this matter diligently in the House of Commons.
# It has been suggested that a pre-fab footbridge could be built for the Aldershot Road, Fleet spillway weir.
# Machinery working parties are to be held at the Barge Yard at Ash Vale to coincide with the Open Day on April 29th 1973.
# The lock gate construction working party is making good progress with the start of assembly of the cut timbers. Offcuts will be used for paperweights or ornaments.
# A burst has occurred in the canal at the Colt Hill culvert, Odiham. An alert member contacted the New Basingstoke Canal Company and an employee carried out temporary repairs.
# Society Sales Manager, Tony Jarrett, is now taking orders for the new Society tie at a cost of £1.15 plus a small amount for postage.
# The Society Rambles Group led by John Peart have organised a ramble for every two months throughout 1973.These will vary from shorter family walks to longer walks for the keenest ramblers.
# The Surrey lengthsmen are meeting in March at Tony Turner's home to put into practice some useful ideas that have been put forward. A Hampshire lengthsmen group meeting is to be held shortly.
Graham Hornsey, the scheme's organiser, reports that although the scheme is up and running, there are still a number of gaps in coverage. The two major sections needing lengthsmen (or women of course!) are Hermitage Bridge, St. John's to Mytchett Place Bridge and Farnborough Road Bridge to Norris Bridge, Fleet.
Both these sections tend to be away from inhabited areas, but could be cycled without too much difficulty. If you live somewhere near either and would like to help by keeping an eye on "your length", please get in touch with Graham (01252 623591).
Having held a meeting of volunteers for the western half of the canal at the Water Witch in August, Graham is currently trying to organise a meeting of volunteers for the eastern end.
The recent gales provided a test for lengthsmen, with a number of trees down across the canal to report.
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Following a couple of jaunts along the towpath recently I sent the self-explanatory e-mail to English Nature and received the reply below.
Dear Mrs Chatters,
During walks along the Basingstoke Canal recently, I have been concerned by the invasion of foreign species of animal and the effects these must be having on the native wild life, and I wondered if you could tell me whether English Nature has any plans to try to counter them.
Two invaders particularly concern me. The first is the American crayfish, which I gather an idiot dumped into the canal some time ago and which must have multiplied prodigiously judging by the ease they were being caught by a couple of lads I saw at Eelmoor. I guess the native crayfish are long gone, but they must be competing with other fish in the canal.
Perhaps of even more concern is the effect that mink are having. I cycled about 4 miles along the canal this morning and only saw 1 domestic duck - not a sign of moorhens, coots or mallards. A boatman I spoke to claimed to have seen dozens of mink on the bank at Winchfield and I can only assume that these are responsible for the decline in waterfowl (not to mention the poor old water vole).
Can, and is, anything being done?
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Dear Mr Cansdale
BASINGSTOKE CANAL SITE OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST, HAMPSHIRE/SURREY, CONTROL OF ALIEN SPECIES
Thank you for your e-mail message received on 9 September 2002 regarding the control of American crayfish and mink on the Basingstoke Canal Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
As you know, the Basingstoke Canal SSSI is owned by Surrey and Hampshire County Councils and is managed on their behalf by the Basingstoke Canal Authority.
English Nature is keen to support the BCA's control of invasive, alien species within the SSSI.
During 1994 we issued consent to the BCA in accordance with the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for the control of mink "in the interests of good canal management by approved, humane methods".
More recently (in April 2000 and July 2000) consent has been issued for the trapping and removal of signal crayfish from the SSSI.
I am due to attend the Conservation Working Party during October and will let Leigh Thornton (Director of BCA) know your concerns.
Catherine Chatters (Mrs)
North and East Hampshire Conservation Officer
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English Nature obviously recognise the problem and are happy for someone else to deal with it. However, given the tightness of the BCA's budget, I would have thought that some financial or practical help would have been in order. How about transferring the money currently spent on counting boats ? How about allowing permit-free fishing for crayfish and paying a bounty for each one caught?
The BCA is considering allowing commercial fishing (they are edible) and trapping on one section of the canal to assess the effect. There is also to be a national conference to discuss trie problem being caused by the Signal crayfish and a report from this is to be prepared for the next JMC meeting.
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It is difficult to gauge whether the Western End is visited till one reaches the tunnel portal - it is very popular.
One should be well shod for possible hazards encountered starting from Greywell village. One must use Foot Path 13 and Byway 21 which for the foreign tourist and curious visitor can leave them bewildered and soiled with mud.
An encounter with a sty - they may not have used one before - How does one traverse it? For the older or infirm person impossible.
Once over, whilst standing in animal dung, there are three possible directions. The indicator is to the left, a broken piece of plywood. Up the slope to short square posts with blue and yellow arrows pointing in various directions. The middle one seems well used, to gate and metalled surface then down into dusty interior. When it rains a complete contrast - ponds each side rapidly rise and overflow; there is nowhere to bypass. Proceeding, the track narrows and a huge mud hole blocks the way. Further on lesser areas exist and eventually reach the tunnel portal.
It has collapsed. Sheer numbers and lack of care have destroyed the original passage surface. Bikers do not dismount and they can penetrate deep and with great force through the tree roots, leaving walkers to stumble across.
At last the goal is reached. A bitter disappointment. A hideous cage blocks the entrance, isolated in waterlogged surroundings. Stones from stabilising cages have been removed to create stepping stones to the entrance but one cannot see through the gloom.
The whole area needs renovating and a wooded frontage resembling the Eastern End constructed, letting in more light to the interior. It will be expensive and how long will it last. Constant attention will be required. It will have to be solid to resist pounding from bikers indifference.
There is a possible alternative which should be considered, which is a "missing link" towpath above and parallel with the tunnel. A straight line continuing from the western end of the tunnel to line up with the short track across the road at Forge Farm to the eastern end.
The use of rights of way, constantly in use, cannot be very attractive to land owners; ramblers are welcome, visitors tolerated. The strip of land may have to be purchased. It will be enclosed but interior of wood more attractive. Bonus is that it is well drained and offers a view over the downs and keeps bikers away from softer byway below.
Personally, the Western End is not very attractive. It has no purpose, nothing special, it is just a ditch, a very muddy one with little pond life. The oozing mud, black and sinister muck covered with a yellow scum, not used by ducks, few in number anyway. Several lengths of pipe deposit unknown liquids into the muck.
If the canal is to be of any use, the mud needs removal, a bottom of clay required and a channel constructed, at bottom a slope to gather this muck before it can reach channel surface. It has a commercial value, ideal for green lawns; local recommends it. A holding pond will be required.
I have reported these paths to Robert Thompson, Rights of Way Officer North East, Hampshire County Council (01730 235824).
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I have been away on holiday and have just read your Basingstoke Canal News No.194. I was interested in your letter page and the correspondence between Andre Grandjean and Leigh Thornton. I walk along a small section of the canal generally 4 times each day to work. The following day after I read your letters, I observed along the small stretch of canal where I walk that there were three lots of people fishing, one elderly man, a group of 3 youths and another group of two people. Between lunchtime and when I walk home at approximately 6.30 pm. I noticed that where the two groups of people had been fishing there were 7 bottles and tins in one area together with crisp packets and other rubbish they had also burnt the grass where it would appear that they had lit a fire. Where the other group were sitting there were 4 bottles and cans together with plastic bags and crisp packets etc. I am not sure if these people
had a fishing permit but they certainly left a lot of mess. I also noticed that as these people sit on the edge of the canal, they not only flatten the growth but break down the edges of the canal bank.
I apologise that my first letter to the Society is a little depressing. With regard to Graham Hornsey's section asking for lengthsman I have been looking after the small section of the canal for 20 years being Langmans Lock, Bridge and Lane. As I walk past the locks each day if that section require a lengthsman I would be willing to take on the job. Perhaps you will let me know and inform me of the duties involved.
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Once again we have the sad duty to report the death of one of our long term members. Peter was one of that gang of people without whom the canal would never have been restored.
Peter Jones, who worked with him for many years, reminisced about the picture, right (from Dieter Jebens' and David Robinson's book "Basingstoke Canal Restoration"), which shows the methods used in the early days to clear rubbish, in this case from Lock 25 under Curzon Bridge. [Below], Peter Bond and Pablo Haworth (in the hat) can be seen hauling a bucket full of silt from Peter Jones' hands, while Frank Jones explains to a visiting girl how to use a shovel and have a dirty weekend (Peter's words!).
Peter describes how they went about the restoration of this lock and ends up
"Just a resume, but I can assure you that Peter had a great deal to do with it all. His quiet attention to detail and measured ways were a levelling and calming influence on myself. In many ways you could say he was a pioneer and innovator. Certainly without him, the lock would not have been finished when it was".
After the lock was completed, Peter retired to being a lengthsman for the top half of the Deepcut Flight for many years. He also helped with the Newsletter distribution in Camberley.
Sad to report the death recently of Jim Foley, one of the few remaining ex-employees of the New Basingstoke Canal Company.
We published an interview with him in the Autumn 2000 issue of the BC News in which he recalled joining the company in 1960 on wages of £14 a week, taking responsibility of the length from Dogmersfield to the further side of Fleet. He lived with his father and sister at Poulter's Bridge Cottage in Crookham in the log cabin he built there, which still stands. Jim's other claim to fame lay in the picture in Paul Vine's "London's lost route to Basingstoke" of him leading the bow-hauling procession at Mark Hicks' funeral.
Stan & Iris Knight
On a much happier note, congratulations are due to Stan and Iris Knight, who recently celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Both were born in Crookham and, indeed, Stan can trace his family connection with the village back for over 300 years. Stan has been a member of the Society and the Pinkerton's crew for many years and as a Crookham Parish Councillor took a keen interest in the restoration of the canal. Plaques on the bridges in Crookham record the local involvement.
We wish Stan and Iris many more years together.
Mike Adams, acting chairman of the Guildford & Reading Branch of the IWA, attended the last Society Committee meeting to present a cheque for £2000 to the Water Appeal. He said that the money had been in their Basingstoke Canal "Fighting Fund" for campaigning, but that they felt that now it would be more use to the Water Appeal.
Our grateful thanks again to the IWA.
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1st prize, £200.||Mr D Gumm of Bracknell (donated £20
back to the pipeline appeal).|
|2nd prize, Box of wine.||Mr A Bixley of Bramley.|
|3rd prize, Canal and Inland Waterways subscription.||Mr
T Sim of Newbury|
|4th prize, Canal picture by local artist.||A Dorman of St
|5th prize, Special bird box.||Mrs Bevis of Woking.|
|6th prize, Geo Atlas.||E Brothers of Crookham Village.|
|7th prize, Hamper.||Mrand Mrs F Webb of Woodham.|
My thanks to all who donated prizes and sold tickets. The response from members was encouraging with one in five returning their tickets. A big thank you for those members who also purchased lengths of pipe £210 worth-excellent. All monies raised from this raffle approx. £1000 will be going to the pipeline appeal.
Watch out for more fund raising activities in 2003.
Your canal needs you!
Denise Smith, Draw Promoter.
Due to changes in local government rules, members of bodies such as the Canal's Joint Management Committee must now be local residents. As a result, the JMC's chairman, Councillor Alan Rice, has been forced to step down. His deputy fell victim to the same thing, and a new chairman and deputy have yet to be elected.
Alan has been a good friend to both the Canal and the Society for many years and as a token of thanks, Leigh Thornton presented him with one of Nancy Larcombe's paintings, appropriately of the Swing Bridge at the Centre.
I think it must be senile decay setting in. For no good reason I Introduced our new committee member in the last issue as Bob Thornton instead of Bob Malcolm. My apologies to Bob and to anyone else confused by this. His name and address do appear correctly on the back page.
Our appeals for new Committee members seem to be bearing fruit with the arrival of Tony Clark. For some time, Tony has been on the Fund Raising Sub-Committee that Dieter Jebens chairs, and he has now joined the main committee.
As a boat owner, Tony has a keen interest in the Canal's water supply and how best to sustain this to ensure that navigation is possible all year round.
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For the first time in 5 years membership subscription rates will be increasing from March 2003 as agreed at the AGM held in April 2002.
New Rates from March 2003:
Adult £10 (Was £8), Family £12 (Was £10), Junior £3 (unchanged), Senior citizen £5 (Was £3), Senior citizens(couple) £7 (Was £5), Group £15 (Was £l2) and Life £120 (Was £100).
If you pay by Bankers Order, you will shortly receive a letter from me which will include a form for you to sign and return. This will be passed on to your bank and noted in your membership record. If you do not return the completed form to me, I will assume that you no longer wish to contribute to the Society and your membership will be withdrawn.
For those members who pay annually by cheque, cash or postal order you will receive your usual renewal letter, the only difference being the increase! Regarding this year's subs, just a few members are rather overdue with payment despite the renewal notice and reminder letter in June/July. I am afraid that this will be the last newsletter you receive!
Sorry for the tough words, but the Society is a charity and cannot afford to continue to print and post newsletters and constant reminders which are not being paid for.
New Members Evening
Since January this year 31 new members have joined, which is a little down on last year when 46 newcomers joined up. As I am quite 'new' to the job, we thought it would be a nice idea to have a get-together - a 'new members' evening. This will be held on the evening of Fri 28th April on board the John Pinkerton which will be based at Mytchett. There will be other Committee members present and it will be an opportunity to find out more about the Society and ask questions and for us to meet you. Invitations will be sent out in the New Year with more details.
Thank you to all members who offer their time voluntarily on the various projects managed by the Society, including crewing the trip boat, work parties, helping out at stalls and events, envelope stuffing etc. If any of you would like to volunteerand haven't done so before, please feel free to give me a call or drop me an email and we'll find you a job! Also if you have any questions or suggestions please get in touch and if I can't answer, I will pass it on to someone who can.
Finally, I wish everyone a very happy and peaceful Christmas
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Receipts from the Bridge Barn Rally: £1800
Resulting from the distribution of the donation form in the Newsletter earlier this year, donations have been received from the following:-
David & Doreen Ward|
Philipa Gray & Michael Lind
Peter & Marguerite Redway
George & Janet Hedger
Richard & Claire Allnutt
Len & Celie Davis
Ian M. Hawker
B.H.& J.A Glover
Alan & Elsie Croxford
HA & G.J. Griffiths
Bank of England Inland Waterways Society
Tim & Liz Dodwell
Elizabeth & John Debenham
George & Fran Hibberd
Daphne H Grose
D & C Kirkpatrick|
L.F.& S-E. Crutcher
Mr. D. Mayhew
R & D Follett
Mr. R. Hand
Joan & Tony Rozelaar
Mr. & Mrs. J. Meredith
Keith & Maureen Young
Philip G Sharpe
Mrs N.E Goddard
Dr. T.D. Haskins
Mrs. Barbara J Farrell
Mr & Mrs N Broyd
Simon & Teresa Smith
Peter Edward Terry
Mrs E.J. Gemson
Ann & Ian Woodhead
David & Rosemary Millett
Miss Paula Burger
David J Gammage
Many thanks to all of these.
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The summer work camps were reported in the last newsletter. Both major projects have continued with our own volunteers and also visits from other restoration groups.
St Johns Backpumping
The pipeline construction is now at Lock 9, the halfway stage. Unfortunately, to negotiate the by-wash chamber we need to excavate under the by-wash taking a line between the by-wash pipe and the optic fibre duct.
The pipeline excavations passing any lock are the deepest of the section, in the order of [2 yards] deep, so safety precautions involve trench sheeting and as we are excavating under the by-wash structure, the temporary lowering of the canal above Lock 9 to reduce possible water ingress into the trench. Prior to the recent rains, water levels on the canal were low and with visiting boats on the system, it was decided to postpone pipeline works until water supplies improved and we could refill the pound above Lock 9.
The outfall has been back-filled and the towpath reinstated at Kiln Bridge. Final landscape and seeding works remain, and will probably be carried out in the spring. The underwater outfall opening and bund removal will be scheduled when the pipeline is complete and control valves fitted, avoiding any possibility of waterflowing through the pipeline into our excavated trench.
Lock 28 By-wash Installation
This was a job planned for the summer work camp as part of the BCA's dry dock improvements, as the existing by-wash also drains the dry dock. Unfortunately any water flowing over the by-wash level boards can cause often cause local flooding of the dock via the dock drain which links into the by-wash system.
The plan was to construct a new by-wash along the towpath from the weir above lock 28 to a new outlet below the lock, a reasonably straightforward job for the week, we thought. The remains of a 200 year old culvert were under the towpath on the exact line of the new by-wash pipe. Piling anchor plates were very short due to the culvert brickwork and were hanging in mid air as excavations progressed. The piling seal between the weir brickwork and piles was disturbed with the vibration as demolition progressed and the works flooded, but after two days of moving clay and puddling the outside of the piling work continued.
The base of the new chamber was cast and shuttering installed for chamber construction, and the towpath was reopened with a temporary bridge over the chamber excavation at the end of the week.
A return visit by Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group on 25th September completed the chamber and installed two lengths [13 yards] of plastic pipeline and drove
full length piling anchors with extended tie rods. Society volunteers have since extended the by-wash pipes to the lower gate recess, and future weekends are scheduled to complete the works.
Future Working Parties
This work is suitable for family involvement, soup and hot drinks available.
|7/8 Dec||St Johns or Lock 28||DJ/DL/PR|
|14/15 Dec||Barge Repairs||KR|
|Dec 26 Dec to 1 Jan||Christmas Work Camp||DW (WRG)|
|12/13 Jan||St Johns or Lock 28||DJ/DL/PR|
|26/27 Jan||Up Nateley bankside||PR/KR|
9/10 Feb||St. Johns||DJ/DL/ PR|
|23/23 Feb||St. Johns||DJ/DL/PR|
|9/10 Mar||St. Johns||DJ/DL/PR|
|23/24 Mar||Bridge Barn||PR/DL|
DJ - David Junkison 0208 941 0685
DL - Dave Lunn 01483 771294
KR - Kevin Redway 01483 722206
PR - Peter Redway 01483 721 710
Please telephone the leader prior to the weekend to check that the venue is not changed.
New culvert at Zebon Copse
Left: Contractors boring a new culvert under the canal near the Zebon Copse Swing Bridge.|
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COPY OF A TALK BY MRS. JOAN MARSHALL, HON. SEC. OF THE BASINGSTOKE CANAL PURCHASE COMMITTEE, GIVEN AT THE MEETING HELD AT THE VICTORIA HOTEL, ALDERSHOT ON 6th JANUARY, 1950.
You have now heard the Public Announcement in full as Issued by my Committee, and in this talk which is intended to clarify the situation in view of certain rather conflicting statements, I would like to deal with the past, the present, and try to throw some light on the future of the Basingstoke Canal. Some of you are already aware of the following facts, but others may be rather hazy as to the exact position, so I an afraid I must ask for your patience if I have included points which are not new to you.
When my Committee - which was created from the General Committee sponsored by the Inland Waterways Association, consisting in the main of persons ready to Invest money towards its purchase, bought the Canal in March 1949, this waterway was suffering from many years of neglect, caused in a great measure by the lack of water available, and other setbacks during the War Years. It had been decided to purchase it if funds to the amount of £10,000 could be made available, with further promises of another £5,000 for its maintenance, as it was estimated that a year, or perhaps 2 years of heavy expenditure would pass before it began to produce an income sufficient to maintain it. I should like to state here that the figure £3000 mentioned freely in the press, was never a fact. Promises of large sums of money were undoubtedly received, as is always the way when a project as nebulous as this was until just before the Auction, but in actual fact the total received was a long way short of this. Funds for the purchase money were collected as follows:-
Basingstoke Canal Purchase Committee||£5,200|
|Promise of Mortgage from Executors of Canal||£2,500|
|Sundry subscriptions (being returned) approx||£550|
|Donations (returnable upon request) approx||£70|
The sum actually spent by the Committee including purchase of equipment, legal and accountants fees, all secretarial organisation and office expenses amounted to approximately £10,500, the deficit of £500 plus £550 and certain other expenses totalling approx. £1,000 etc. being subsequently borne by the Committee. The Wages etc. of the Canal employees has been included in the purchase price.
Most of you are probably aware of the reasons which prompted the Committee to purchase the Canal, so I will only touch briefly upon them; Mainly to save the Canal from dereliction or from its purchase from speculators which would certainly have resulted in the carving up and draining of the water course itself. In particular, I must draw your attention to the footnote to Mr. Cooke's letter in which he states that he intends to maintain the bridges at their original heights. Some of you will appreciate the fool-hardiness and short-sightedness of a policy which involved either the drainage of certain portions of the Canal in order to avoid the expense of rebuilding essential bridges, which,
incidentally, were scheduled for reconstruction before the last war. Owing to the construction of the canal, a swamp would have inevitably developed in these portions as the cost for filling it in and directing the water elsewhere would probably have exceeded the cost of repairing the bridges by a similar amount. The alternative, to lower them and thus create a cheese pairing short term saving is equally impracticable, because the only effectual way of maintaining a clear, and as matters now stand, indispensable flow of water, is by ensuring that the channel is kept open, which is best achieved by the passage of craft up and down it, whether by the ordinary working dredge punts, commercial traffic or pleasure boats. This, combined with our interest and belief in the waterways of this country, and in view of our disturbing lowering of the water table - about which I will go into later - led to my Committee making the final decision to attempt to buy the Canal.
It is perhaps necessary at this point to clarify the legal difficulties referred to in the public statement. It was the fixed and announced intention of the Committee as it now stands, to launch a Limited Liability Company, and endeavour to run the Canal on a business basis. Valued advice taken before the sale, pointed to the wisdom of this course. Unfortunately, however, certain public utterances containing allusions to a non-profit making concern, coupled at the same time with an appeal to the public for funds, produced grave complications. It seems that legally a non-profit making association implies that the people investing their money are prepared to surrender their capital permanently and, scarcely surprisingly in these changed times, our subscribers were not able to do this. We were informed on advice from what we believe was the best Counsel obtainable, that in view of the contrary statements which had been made, we were prohibited from launching a private Limited Liability Company. The alternatives were to establish a Public Company for which, at that time, we had neither the assets or the funds to do this, or take over the shares of the old Basingstoke Canal Co. This also proved impossible and that Company is now in liquidation. Only one course remained, and this was to achieve what is termed an "arms length" sale to someone entirely unassociated with the previous negotiations, who would express his intention of maintaining the canal on the lines laid down by my Committee. This has finally been achieved, and two Companies have been launched: The New Basingstoke Canal Company Limited, and Waterways Properties Ltd. In the intervening period, and with the very small sources available, the Committee has concentrated upon establishing the future of the Canal on as firma basis as possible, mainly by negotiations for contracts for its water, fishing, timber, commerce, its claim outstanding on the War Department, boating, the possible cultivation of its vegetable waste, by undertaking essential repairs, and by keeping the waterway as one whole in this exceptional year of drought.
The Basingstoke Canal, which is a waterway 32 miles in length, with 29 locks to maintain, is a private property unendowed by public funds, and not, as certain ill-informed people appear to imagine, a local strip of water, their own respective property for them to use or abuse as they feel fit. Instead, it should be viewed as a whole, as it was at its inception by the brilliant engineer who created it, and for such common good as its owners can reasonably be expected to bestow on it.
The extent of the damage caused by ignorant hooligans has at times almost wrecked the Canal, and the report of the Committee recently set up on Juvenile Delinquency, is awaited with interest.
The damage caused by obstructions thrown into the Canal from the bridges and towing-path, and the throwing down of the Lock Gates and interference with the Locks themselves has resulted in an enormous increase in the cost of its upkeep, and renders the idea of relaxing any control of the towing path quite out of the question. The co-operation of the public in helping to put down these serious nuisances, similar to those which are causing so much damage all over the country, is earnestly sought.
In a country where a serious water situation is beginning to develop, and where every watercourse is of the utmost value - in fact essential to the well being of all - it is vital that their functions must be viewed with new eye. Abundance of water in the past, coupled with an absence of drought, has blinded people to the seriousness of the present situation. The practice of the drainage of the water meadows, which serve as natural storage grounds, and the carrying off of every available drop of water to the sea, has, in combination with a complete lack of planning, coupled with a most serious drought, (prophesied to last for several years more) resulted in a most alarming fall In the water table levels of this country. The primary function of this particular waterway, as is the function of many other waterways in this country, is to act as a reservoir. Upon the value of its water depend the contracts which are essential to obtain the income necessary to pay for the restoration of the Canal. It is now an infinitely more favourable proposition from a financial point of view than it has been for many years, and it is this that will ensure its continuance as a waterway more than any other factor. This Canal has, by Act of Parliament, priority water supply over all Water Companies at its source.
It is scarcely necessary to say that all suitable craft are being encouraged to use it in future, and various plans are being considered and worked out as to how best to further its use for them, because that is the most practicable and economical way of maintaining a steady flow of clean water in a weed free bed.
Voluntary labour has been extremely useful at weekends and in people's spare time. We have always been delighted to welcome anyone who would give a hand with the huge task tackled.
Regarding the locks themselves, a great deal of money has been spent on them, and much has been done. A schedule has been drawn up to effect the many repairs necessary. A vast amount of clearance has already been effected in the most essential parts, and people may be assured that plans have been made to clear the whole length, according to claims of priority and importance. Without their assistance in the first place, it would have been impossible to carry on. This also applies to all voluntary assistance received.
It is hoped that the Records and the Ancient Monuments Committees will interest themselves in the repair and maintenance of some of the original bridges approached by footpaths, as their upkeep is not the responsibility of the Canal owners and cannot be undertaken by them.
Broadly speaking, the top part of the Canal will be used for fishing, pleasure boating and possibly supplying certain important factories and works with water and with pleasant walks along the towing path for the public. The main use of the centre portion with all its Locks will be by the Army, the Nature Conservancy set up by the Government, and for fishing. The lower part will be for water contracts, commerce, pleasure boating, mooring and fishing. Each of these, as you can imagine, will help the other with the lack of water overcome.
Various other interested bodies such as timber merchants, lighterage firms. Gas and Electrical Companies etc., and myself, have had long discussions on the reclamation of the Canal, and they will, I feel sure, bear fruit soon. Unfortunately, the drought has retarded our progress a great deal.
Regarding lack of water in the bottom reaches of the canal, it is not anticipated that the contingency which made this necessary will arise again. Owing to the unexpectedly early demand by the Woking Electrical Company for water on a large scale, coupled by the amount required by the Gas Company, and the fact that with the assistance of Army hooliganism the middle reaches were emptied, it was essential to keep a certain amount of water in the Woking reaches, otherwise, Woking and District would have been without power or light.
In closing, I must say that the disappointment the Committee feels in not being able to float its own Limited Liability Company is offset by the fact that they have been able to pass it into the hands of someone who has expressed his intention of maintaining their original aims and we hope the new Companies will receive the support and assistance
given to the Committee from the public, the various Councils
concerned and, in particular, from the Thames Conservancy.
We shall be calling another meeting for our subscribers and would-be subscribers in the very near future, the date for which will be announce [sic] later.
Thank you for your patience in bearing with my rather lengthy talk.
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A Crew Organiser's view of the season
Thank you to everyone who helped to crew the Pinkerton this year. Despite a fairly slow start we seem to have had a busy year with some very enjoyable (and profitable) trips. Some passengers have appreciated our bar stocks with the record, I believe, being over £300.00 taken in one evening over the bar. On other trips one crew member had spent almost the entire trip selling trinkets, in one case all but depleting the entire stock!
The year started with a surprise 70th Birthday Party for crew member Ann Barnes. Ann's family wanted her to turn up to crew and be surprised to find it was her own party. However, despite strenuous efforts Ann insisted she was unavailable so instead had to be tricked by the ruse of a pub lunch! A good time was had by all.
The award for crewing this season's most arduous trip goes to Robert and Mandy Knight, who with Ann and Roger Langworthy managed to control a works outing for
over ten hours on what turned out to be a very alcoholic pub crawl! This was not the most pleasant of experiences and all four must have been absolutely exhausted by the end. The only consolation is the £1000 raised in total by the day! However we will try to avoid any more experiences of this kind.
Customers are becoming ever more inventive in their use of the JP. Apart from jazz bands and other musical entertainment, this season saw the first agricultural use with a marrow contest being judged on board. The winning marrow had been fed on a bottle of Guinness a day!
Welcome to the new crew members who have joined this season - we hope you have many happy hours helping with the boat. A particular thanks to any of you who are moving on to pastures new - please visit us if you are back in the area.
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Date for next copy 31st January 2003
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
Director: Bob Malcolm* Little Willow, College Road, Ash, Aldershot, Hants GU12 5DA 01252-659876
Director: Tony Clark* 9 Lynwood Close, Woodham Lane, Woking, Surrey GU21 5TJ 01932-340607
Basingstoke Canal Authority:
Canal Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett, Surrey GU16 6DD 01252-370073
Canal Society Internet Website: www.basingstoke-canal.org.uk
Printed by Commercial Press Ltd, Farnham
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