No. 197 Spring 2003
As you will see from the calling notice for the Society's AGM in April, we have changed the format yet again by not having a guest speaker this year. We had thought of having an update on progress with the Wey & Arun, but this has already been arranged for one of the Woking meetings and it seemed unnecessary to duplicate this, given the likely large overlap between the audiences for the two meetings.
Instead, we have decided to try to review the aims and objectives of the Society.
Over the past few years, we have taken a bit of stick from some people, who felt that the original aim of full restoration to Basingstoke had been betrayed. It is certainly true that practical considerations dictate that it goes on the back burner while more pressing problems are dealt with, such as water supply. What we would like to debate is whether there are other worthwhile objectives that might offer a better chance of success in a shorter time scale.
In this context, shorter probably still means at least 10 and probably 25 years, which makes it unlikely that many of the current Committee will be overseeing the completion of such projects. However, this may not be a bad thing.
My wife gave me a book for Christmas entitled "Eden", written by Tim Smit, the originator of the amazing Eden Project in Cornwall. It is an inspiring story and the book itself could serve as a textbook on how to get such things off the ground and see them through to completion. It contains a number of passages which seemed to me to be equally relevant to some of the potential projects that we might contemplate.
One of them is
"You can only achieve the impossible by asking the young,
because they don't know it can't be done".
We need some objectives to inspire the young, as Jim Woolgar did back in the 1960s. He and Dieter Jebens and the others didn't know the canal couldn't be restored, despite the owners' determination that it wouldn't be, and so it was. We need the same vision and inspired lunacy today.
Tim Smit has something to say about this too. He talks about exit strategies - how to get out of a project if it goes wrong (something his bankers were heavily concerned about), and says that in his view, if you really believe in something, the only acceptable exit strategy is death!
Central to this philosophy are two ideas: Tinkerbell Theory and Last Man Standing. Those familiar with Peter Pan will remember that Tinkerbell was a fairy whose existence depended on people believing in her. If enough people can be convinced to believe that something can happen, it will, be it putting a man on the moon or building a canal.
Last Man Standing is a polite way of saying that you intend to turn being an awkward bugger into an art form. In other words you won't take no for an answer. However, many of the people who have to be convinced to say yes will have had a lifetime of experience of finding reasons to say no, and what is needed to turn the key is vision and inspiration to fire their imagination - precisely what Tim Smit had.
Can we find worthwhile projects to kick-start the next generation of Society members? I'm sure the potential is there, and we intend to air some interesting and exciting ideas at the AGM. Look out for some surprises. All we need is the people to pick up the ball and run with it.
A recent IWA Bulletin noted that 1039 miles of canal are now under active restoration, compared to 770 miles in 1995, and that £60 million was spent on restoration in the years 1999 to 2002 compared to £8 million between 1992 and 1995, so the tide might be running in our favour.
The Annual General Meeting is really the only opportunity for you to have your say about what you want for the future of the Canal and the Society. Please come along on 12th April and make use of it.
* * * * *
And a final quote from Tim Smit, the words transcribed on the entrance to the Eden Project:-
Work like you don't need the money,|
Love like you've never been hurt,
Dance like nobody's watching,
Sing like nobody's listening,
Live like it's heaven on earth.
Not a bad motto.
A Happy New Year to one and all!
Kevin Redway and James Tresidder doing offside bank clearance at Slade's Bridge.
Photo: Roger Cansdale.
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After many years, of often frustrating delay and disappointment, the Official Opening and hand-over of the Woodham Pumping System has been agreed for 29th March 2003, an opportunity to celebrate a Milestone achievement.
A feasibility study on back-pumping the Woodham Locks, was originated by Adrian Birtles, a Society member. This was updated some twelve years ago and provided me with valuable data required for the project. The concept of back-pumping water around locks is now an accepted tool of the waterways engineer, but in the late eighties and early nineties the practice was not as common as it is today.
A presentation to Woking Borough Council proved to be the political breakthrough point, and Committee approval of the project was followed by a finance committee decision to support partnership funding. The Society required partners for the project, and negotiations were successful, with the Canal Authority, Surrey County Council, Woking Borough Council, Runnymead, Guildford and Surrey Heath Councils contributing matching funding for the project.
A Heritage Lottery Grant application for this and other work was prepared by Paddy Field, the then Canal Director and submitted by Surrey County Council as owners of the canal; the Society contribution was volunteer days costed at the Heritage Lottery agreed rate. After a six month period our application was turned down, a month prior to the Inland Waterways Advisory Council report on restoration projects endorsing our project as a candidate for early funding.
A revised application was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund after consultation with our case officer. This was for a smaller scheme with only back-pumping and a higher matching funding ratio; this application was successful. An intended spring start drifted into the autumn, with project management, contracts and start dates accounting forthe delayed start.
Volunteers, visiting groups and the Society were able to work on the project
|as pipeline work cleared a section. The foot and mouth outbreak closed many volunteer sites on
other canals, but our project was still viable and the numbers of visiting groups increased. Towpath reinstatement and reconstruction of the road to Lock 1 was the volunteer contribution, and by completion we felt as if we had constructed a motorway.
At this stage of the project the Environment Agency demanded that an abstraction licence application was made, although at the start of the project they had confirmed that no abstraction licence would be required; the goalposts had been moved again.
A compromise solution has been agreed with the E.A. and at last an official opening is possible, enabling recognition of the hard work and efforts by the many people involved in the project. (See below)
A change of ownership of a house adjacent to Lock 28 and the Dry Dock has resulted in noise restrictions being imposed on weekend work in the dock. The restrictions are based on industrial premises criteria and currently the use of power equipment in the Dry Dock is banned between 13.00 hours Saturday to 07.30 Monday, also after 18.30 on weekdays.
Our opinion is that DIY power tools normally used in the domestic environment would not contravene the noise limits when monitored on the towpath. This opinion will be tested on a weekday by an independent person. If our opinion is valid, I expect restrictions to be eased as appropriate. The fact that over the canal's history the existence of a forge or dry dock on this site gives no security whatsoever to current activities indicates the extent that officialdom can dictate what organisations or individuals are able to carry out.
The act is fact though and we have to work within the law. We will however monitor the potential noise levels and press for use of normal power tools in the Dry Dock by users of the facilities.
Peter Redway, Chairman
Official Opening of the Woodham Back-pumping Scheme
The official opening of the first phase of the back pumping project will take place on Saturday 29th March 2003, commencing at 11 am at the Pumphouse just below Lock 1 at Woodham. The mayors of Runnymede and Woking and a representative of Surrey County Council will be present.
We hope that members will come to witness this significant event, which will be followed in the afternoon by a Society celebration for all those involved in the project, both donors and workers.
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ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
NOTICE is hereby given that the Twenty-Sixth Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held on Saturday 12th April 2003 at the Mytchett Community Centre, Mytchett Road, Mytchett, Surrey commencing at 7.00pm.
The formal agenda for the meeting is as follows:-
1. To hear apologies for absence
2. To confirm the minutes of the Twenty-Fifth AGM held
on 13th April 2002
3. To approve the Annual Accounts for the year ending
31st December 2002
4. To re-appoint the auditors, Hilton and Company
5. To elect or confirm the appointment of the members of
the Board of Directors (Executive Committee)
6. To transact any other business relative to the Annual
General Meeting of the Society.
14th January 2003
By order of the Hoard of Directors
Philip Riley. Honorary Secretary
a) This Notice is issued from the Honorary Secretary's address at Wincombe Cottage, Broad Oak. Odiham, Hook. Hants. RG29 1AH
Every member of the Society who is entitled to vote at a General Meeting is entitled to appoint a proxy, who need not be a member, to attend and vote in his/her stead. Forms of Proxy can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary
Only paid-up members are entitled to attend and vote at the meeting.
d) Copies of the Accounts can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary prior to the AGM upon receipt of an SAE. In accordance with normal practice the Accounts, when approved, will be published in summary in the Basingstoke Canal News
e) Nomination forms for the election of the Board of Directors can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary
Following Ihe formal business of the AGM, there will be a forum for discussion of the future aims and objectives of the
Society. This will be introduced by short presentations on a number of topics, including further work on the Western End, water supplies, and options for a link to the Kennet & Avon Canal. If there are other subjects that you would like included, please let the Committee know in advance.
New members evening
To welcome those who have joined the Society in the last year or so, and who perhaps have not had a chance to get to know the Committee and other older members, a New Members Evening has been organised.
It will be on the John Pinkerton, starting from the Canal Centre at 7.30 on the evening of 25th April.
Because space on the boat is limited, this will be an invitation event. The Membership Secretary will be sending these out, but if you don't get one and would like to come, please feel free to give her a ring and see if there is room.
Food on the lines of a Ploughman's Lunch (in this case supper) will be provided if it is ordered when you reply to the invitation.
We look forward to seeing you.
You may have noticed that, in the list of jobs and people on the back page, the position of Exhibitions Manager is vacant. David Junkison has been doing this for as long as I can remember, but has now decided that the time has come to step down. We are therefore looking for a replacement.
From time to time, the Society is invited to put up a display at some event. We own a number of boards and stands and have a good selection of photos etc to put together a display suitable for most requirements. It is the manager's job to maintain and, if necessary, update them and transport them to the venue where they are required. Use of an estate car or van is therefore an advantage.
The job is not necessarily a solitary one and there are members already prepared to help man such displays. If you would be prepared to consider taking over the post from David, or would like more information about the job, please get in touch with Peter Redway on 01483-721710.
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Easter weekend, Saturday 19th to Monday 21st April. Bridge Barn Lane, Woking.
The usual collection of boats of all shapes and sizes, stalls, boat trips and other entertainments, including Morris Dancers and the excellent "Zimmer Boys" (right), who played last year. Free parking.
Illuminated boat procession on the Saturday evening.
If you can spare an hour or two to help at some time over the weekend, the organisers would love to hear from you. Please give a ring to Verna Smith (01252 517622) or Peter Coxhead (01932 344564).
Odiham Canal Festival
Spring Bank Holiday, Sunday 25th to Monday 26th May. Colt Hill, Odiham.
The same mixture as last year (left) - Boats, stalls, boat trips on the John Pinkerton. music and fun for one and all.
Illuminated boat procession on the Sunday evening.
The Water Witch pub nearby is under new management, offering improved facilities.
8 pm at the Westgate Centre, Woking, next to Chobham Road Bridge.
MARCH - Wednesday 19th March:
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.
APRIL - Wednesday 16th April:
John Gibson - The National Trust as Navigation Owners and Operators - River Wey & Godalming Navigations.
John Gibson is the Navigations Manager for the River Wey Navigations and he will give an illustrated talk outlining some of the recent works undertaken on the navigations and the National Trust's approach to owning and operating this special waterway during its 350th Anniversary year.
SHCS Newsletters, virtually full set from Number 1, plus original copy of Basingstoke Canal Act
Donation to SHCS
J.Woolgar, 37 Sheldon Road, Ickford, Aylesbury, Bucks HP18 9HT. 01844 339 558 Mobile 07703 574 556
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This Autumn work parties returned to Woodham. The water pipe to the pump house had been damaged, presumably during construction work, and the advice from the Water Board was that finding a leak in plastic pipe was difficult.
A technique called "Cut and Cap" was advised - cut the pipe and seal one end. then turn the water back on - if the meter runs the leak is father along the pipe between the water meter and the point under test. On the second weekend a pulled joint was identified and repaired, but unfortunately smaller leaks were still indicated. A second pulled joint was identified and repaired, and at last the pipe was watertight after three weekends of digging holes and filling them back in. Not the most rewarding activity.
One of our barges has been prone to sinking if rainwater in the hold rose above minimal levels. On docking it, water ran out of the barge as the dock water levels dropped, but at least this identified the leaks. The steel was very thin and replating was required, together with replacement of
ribs damaged during dredging operations.
Above: The barge undergoing repair in the Deepcut dry
dock. What is not visible, or audible, is Kevin Redway
inside the end bouyancy chamber, wielding a sledge
hammer to straighten some of the plates.
Photo: Roger Cansdale
Society volunteers continued the clearance the next weekend achieving the target of reaching Penny Bridge. Two large dead oak trees were also removed from the towpath edge as a safety precaution.
Above: Dave Lunn at work with the chain saw.
Our work boat was probably the first to navigate the canal west of the tunnel, for a very long time. It was very useful for offside bank clearance (see cover) and for cutting and removing the second tree which was felled across the canal and removed in sections.
The Woodham Pump will be officially opened on 29th March at 11.00. Volunteers and supporters of the project are welcome to join in the celebrations. The graffiti-prone locality will be cleaned prior to the event, and assistance in setting up the site will be required, also removal of any tentage afterwards - please keep the date free and come and enjoy the event.
FUTURE WORKING PARTY DATES
|8-9 Mar||PR/DJ||St Johns pipeline or Deepcut bywash|
|22-23 Mar||PR/DJ||St Johns pipeline|
|12-13 Apr||KR/PR||Woking clean up with tug and barge, and Bridge Barn if required|
|18-21 Apr||PR/DL||Bridge Barn event|
|26-27 Apr||KR/PR||St Johns pipeline||
|10-11 May||PR/DJ||St Johns pipeline|
|24-26 May||KR/DJ||St Johns pipeline or Odiham event|
DJ - David Junkison 020 894 10685
DL - Dave Lunn 01483 771294
KR - Kevin Redway 01423 722206
PR - Peter Redway 01483 721710
Please telephone the leader prior to the weekend to check that the venue has not changed.
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A number of changes have been taking place at the Canal Centre at Mytchett, including both the layout and the people who work there.
What was the exhibition area is now offices, and the exhibition, including the map of the canal and the boatman's cabin, is now immediately in front of you as you enter the building.
A larger shop area is just on the left. Items on sale include a selection of books and maps, and a range of wooden items, such as boxes and tables, which are made from timber from the canal banks by one of the rangers, Andy Loader. The BCA are also considering stocking a small range of boating essentials and would welcome suggestions, so let them know what you usually run out of.
All in all, the Centre now presents a rather more open and welcoming aspect. (Right]
Five members of the BCA staff are now based at Ihe Canal Centre. These include Leigh Thornton (Canal Director), Tony Beecher (Operations) and Andy Howard (Development and Promotions), who are all familiar faces. New to the Canal are Louise Cottrell, who looks after licences, and Helen Chalk, the Visitor Services Assistant.
The rest of the BCA staff are the rangers, who are now assigned to specific parts of the canal, apart from Job Curtis and George Copping, who form the Maintenance Team. Jon Green and Peter Bickford are responsible for the length
|from the River Wey to Lock 15, Peter Munt and James Emmett from there to Ash Wharf, Andy Loader and Tim Down from Ash Wharf to, and including, Ash Lock, and Paul Hope and Andy Foster the rest of Hampshire.
As part of the rearrangements at the Canal Centre, Leigh Thornton has moved his office, which used to be on the right of the entrance area, and has generously given over this room for use by the Society.
Our intention is to use this to store the Society's considerable archive collection, which has been lodged in Ash Lock Cottage and cluttering up various people's spare rooms.
The room has been redecorated and, courtesy of British Aerospace, furnished with filing cabinets and cupboards, which are all lockable, and tables and chairs. We hope to install a computer, which will be used to catalogue the papers. These include collections of committee minutes, newsletters, and the records of the New Basingstoke Canal Company.
The room is also suitable for small meetings of up to about 6 people.
Back-pumping scheme - Fund raiser needed
The IWA announced in December that they had decided to make a grant of £20,000 towards the back-pumping scheme at St John's. This brings the IWA's contribution to over £30,000, from both Head Office and the local Guildford & Reading Branch.
This has come at a very opportune time, as the supply of pipes is about to run out. Peter Redway said, "We are delighted to receive this grant which will go a long way towards the total estimated cost of nearly £140,000. Without such grant assistance, the Society would be unable to maintain work progress to meet its target completion date".
Progress with the work is good, but the Society is seeking
a volunteer to help raise further funds for the scheme. We believe that a number of local firms could be willing to support the project, but we need to approach them. So we are seeking someone to draw up a list of prominent companies based near the canal and write to them.
The Committee will give you any assistance needed, and the Society's room at the Canal Centre will shortly be equipped with a computer and printer which could be used for the correspondence. The task should be very rewarding, both financially for the Society and also in the achievement for the fund raiser.
If you would like to know more, please contact Dieter Jebens, Vice-Chairman, on 01252-715230.
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Could you please send this on to John Craig as I am not modern enough to access E-mail!
When I was a youngster I was barge lad and spent a lot of time with, and talking to, the old canal people and bargemen. Almost universally Monument Bridge was known as Bunkers Bridge, Chertsey Road was known as Guildford Bridge and Wheatsheaf Bridge as Hospital Bridge.
These certainly were not official names. As John quite rightly says, Monument Bridge, Chertsey Road and Chobham Road being the names in 1934, Monument, Guildford and Wheatsheaf the names in 1896. (understand from my Father, who is still alive aged 95, that Guildford Bridge became Chertsey Road Bridge in the 1920's when it was rebuilt. My Great Grandfather - 1839-1938 called Wheatsheaf Bridge, Horsell Bridge and my Grandfather - 1869 to 1947, always called it Horsell Wharf Bridge.
Many of the old canal people had never seen a map - and probably could not have read it if they had, so you take your choice! My Father who was well educated and certainly can read still to this day calls Zephon Common in Crookham "Seven Commons" because that is what he always heard it called and still believes the maps are wrong! Old names stick for a long time. Hope this is of some use. Best wishes.
Many thanks to you and Tony Harmsworth for that very useful and interesting reply. It is definitely helpful to me.
There is a loose end though - but not one for Tony. I would have thought there were some early canal maps (ie pre 1871) which would show the bridges with in all probability a name rather than a number. But if there were no names that too would be good to know. Is there anyone who knows about old maps of the canal?
Hope I am not being a nuisance
Can anyone help John?
In an issue or two ago of B.C.N. a question was asked about when did Coxmoor bridge get dismantled or fall down?
Back in 1975 or 6 during the winter and approaching a school holiday, we had had some very heavy rain and I was out checking that all was well. When I got to the bridge I found that about a third of the width of bridge arch had fallen into the canal, fairly effectively damming it up. A difference in water level of about 6 inches had already developed, so obviously something had to be done to prevent that situation from getting worse. I walked up onto the remaining part of the arch and could feel it shaking under me. So the problem was how to get the obstruction out from below the bridge and how to prevent school children from playing on it in a few days time.
Coxmoor Bridge did not carry a public right of way and so as my budget had no cash available for spending on it, and in order to achieve anything sensible, the arch would have to come down anyway, I made the dreadful decision to get it down as soon as possible, and I think that happened 2 days later. It is sad but there has been no cash to spare nor any justification to try to find some since.
Of course it is worth asking why had the bridge got into such an awful state and I am led to believe by a very eminent local gentleman that the parapets were robbed of bricks to use as hardcore for some of the anti-invasion obstacles that still stand nearby. The eminent gentleman was in the Home Guard at the time and had some hand in the awful deed. Still he has done a lot for the canal since then, so we'll forgive him.
Regards Dave Gerry
Perhaps I'll ask Stan Knight if he knows anything about this.
Semi-detached house in Woodham on 1/3 acre plot. Superb location with U-shaped drive fronting onto a green and a back garden leading down to a 45ft mooring on the off-side bank of the canal. 4 bed rooms, 2 reception, 2 toilets. 2 garages and a garden shed. Offers in excess of £375,000. 01932846767.
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Knotweed & other pests
Firstly, congratulations on the professionalism and excellent presentation of your Newsletter. Things have come a long way since the early 'seventies, when I used to print the "Basingstoke Canal News" banner on a hand press and the rest of the production was by Gestetner.
I should like to raise two, quite unrelated, issues:
1. In your letter to English Nature, quoted on the Letters page of your winter 2002 issue, you referred to the damage done by two alien species to the canal's environment- the American Crayfish, and mink. Elsewhere you mentioned another threat - Swamp Weed. You might, however, have added a fourth, and potentially the most serious: Japanese Knotweed. I quote from the webpage of the Washington State Department of Ecology:
"Japanese knotweed is a very aggressive species (Hitchcock and Cronquist 1964) that is capable of crowding out all other vegetation (Ahrens 1975); Hickman (1993) lists the species as a noxious weed. In addition, the plant can create a fire hazard in the dormant season (Ahrens 1975). Japanese knotweed is an escaped ornamental that is becoming increasingly common along stream corridors and rights-of-way in Washington. The species forms dense stands that crowd out all other vegetation, degrading native plant and animal habitat. This perennial plant is difficult to control because it has extremely vigorous rhizomes that form a deep, dense mat. In addition, the plant can resprout from fragments; along streams, plant parts may fall into the water to create new infestations downstream".
I note that this invader has already established itself in the vicinity of the aqueduct at Frimley and on the towpath side near Farnborough airfield. If nothing is done I am afraid we can foresee at time when the canal will be carpeted end-to-end with this weed. Is any action being taken to control it?
2. In the same issue there was considerable discussion of plans for the western end of the canal. One of the most intriguing and impressive pieces of civil engineering on the canal is Little Tunnel Bridge, about [273 yards] beyond the end of the canal currently in water. Could I suggest that, as top priority for the western end, the public right of way be extended to this structure, with a link up to the bridle path which crosses over the top.
I forwarded John's letter to the BCA and received the following reply from Leigh Thornton:
We do have a potential knotweed problem! We have been aware for some time of the clumps of knotweed and having carefully noted their size and position. There are other clumps in Brookwood and Hampshire. As you are aware it is a nightmare plant and very difficult to eradicate. The only real solution seems to be regular applications of herbicide which can conflict with the SSSI !! However it appears that the right type of herbicide is OK to use. We intend to tackle a couple of patches in spring (when the leaves appear) to see how it works. Like all the best Aliens (and I don't know if your are familiar with the film "Aliens " ?!) it seems that there is a motherlode from which all the others breed and this must be destoyed. I just hope it doesn't hide in the depths of a workboat whereupon it stalks Rangers and embeds itself in them ready to burst out of their stomach at an opportune moment....
It would seem that following herbiciding it is best to dig out the roots with an excavator and burn the lot without letting any bits break off. Herbicide needs re-applying throughout the growing season. All fun and games eh? As for Himalayan Balsam......
Poor Ken Blake. He must have been having a very bad day when he visited the Western End of the Basingstoke Canal. (Letter, Winter edition Canal News). Agreed that it is indeed very muddy around here at the moment, but this is winter, and this is, after all, the country.
The yellow scum referred to is a fleeting thing - dropped by the trees, pollen in spring, and dust in the autumn.
There is plenty of wild life. Last spring, as well as at least a dozen pairs of mallards with theirchicks, we have families
of moorhens and coots, and often have sightings of water voles, though these have been fewer of late. There was even a large Coy carp, obviously turned out of a local pond!
So, Ken Blake, please come back in the spring, and have another walk along the Western End - I am sure you will change your mind.
Eastrop Farm House,
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MEMORIES of the BASINGSTOKE CANAL - 1968-74. Bob Humphrey
Please find enclosed some slides, odd photos, maps etc, and a short article on "Early Basingstoke days" which you may find of interest. As we are "down sizing" prior to emigration, you are welcome to the lot.
I have for sale a brass New Basingstoke Canal Company boat registration plate A250 issued 1/1/1973 with original documentation, rules and regulations, etc; mint condition. Please ring me on 01733 576064, evenings.
I wish you well for the future. Regards
Bob's article appearsbelowand the slides, maps, etc will be placed in the Society's archives. If you are interested in the boat plate, don't delay because he is off to South West France in the spring.
I suppose it was in 1968, when I was 'called to arms' to save the Basingstoke canal. Working at the old Vickers Armstrong's works at Weybridge (never liked BAG, SBAC etc), I was approached by one of my colleagues Mick Fairless. We were both ex apprentices of Vickers and had the youthful exuberance that we thought could do anything. There was in existence a group of volunteers (The Basingstoke Agitators) who met regularly to carry out superficial repairs to the canal. In turn, they were directed by 'someone who knew the canal well' - perhaps best to remain anonymous! We would meet at Jim Woolgar's house for briefings, and plan the next project.
Our work was to maintain a dribble of water through as much of the canal as possible, to preserve the puddled lining. Materials (Mainly polythene sheeting and timber) was begged, borrowed - but never stolen and put in place over weekend working parties. Work was mainly on 'our section' the Brookwood flight. An interesting section, as many of you may know. Pirbright camp was a constant source of 'interesting material'. On several occasions, we would deliver munitions to Woking police station, and be asked to 'store it around the back'. During the troubles in Ireland, we were quizzed many times as to where we were digging.
We would make temporary dams of polythene and clay, patch lock gates and paddle holes, dig out culverts (well try to) and generally raise the level of water to a 'safe' level. I guess that we only mustered about a dozen of us on a busy weekend, but it was good clean fun !
During this time, we started collecting equipment, spades, slashers, a horse box and even a small Scammel Fire pump. Besides the Basingstoke, most of us were members of the Waterways Recovery Group, and spent spare weekends on the Stratford, Ashton, Kennet and Avon and other canals. But back to the Basingstoke. The time was fast approaching to make our band both legal and formal - as we worked against the New Basingstoke Canal Co with totally opposite objectives.
We were also archaeologists (or just out for adventure). We went up the Greywell tunnel, to see the cave-in. Our light was provided by removing the front grille of Mick's mini and mounting it on my dingy. The three of us rowed into the tunnel from the Up Nateley end which was completely silted up from the collapsed portal towards Basingstoke, whilst wives and girlfriends waited anxiously at the mouth.
Above: Preparing to enter the Western end of the Greywell Tunnel.
The silt outside the tunnel was hard enough to walk upon, and atthe high water level mark. I remember, the water was very clear, the air damp but not cold. The brickwork looked in good condition, and of a lovely soft orange in appearance. We rowed up to blockage - a pile of blue clay where the roots of the tree which had fallen in many years before were clearly visible. We saw a few bats hanging there, but mainly squeezed into gaps in the mortar. Once the western end was explored, the eastern end was explored. Launching at the lock side was much easier. Again we rowed up to the blockage, got out and scaled the clay mound. On our return, we looked over the side of the boat to see the natural springs percolating up through the brick invert in several places.
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On another occasion, we explored the old Brick works arm, and the remains of the steam boat. At that time, I recollect that the engine bedplate and cylinder were visible above water, and that the prop-shaft was still there (maybe the huge bronze prop was still attached). Naively, we attempted to pull the barge from out of the water with an ancient tree stump removal winch. I do remember that we wound the winch up so tight, that we could not release it!. We had to wait a couple of weeks before we could release the ratchet - so something moved !
We got better at our repairs and water levels rose, much to the disgust of some households who by now had claimed the canal bed as an extension to their gardens. During this time, we tried to bring to public attention the fact that there was a waterway that was worth restoring, not for commercial, but leisure use in our counties. To do this, I gave several slide shows to local history groups, W.I. and the like. There were many other events organised, even a rally of boats from the River Wey. It all raised awareness, until the famous public meeting in Woking. The hall was packed, many could not get in and stood outside. It was fantastic, the public were with us, and from this, the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society was formed.
Above: Curzon Bridge in 1972
During those early days, we formed the Machinery Group for SHCS. I would not like to say who were the complete group, but Jeff Holman, Mick Fairless, myself and Patrick Maguire formed the main bunch. Other members were our 'scouts', begging worn out equipment from local contractors. Tony Harmsworth allowed us to use his shed at Ash Vale for storage and the first machine arrived - an MG crawler tractor. This was fun, and with a few minor repairs, was ready for service - what we needed was a canal to work on, because at this stage, it was not in public ownership. Our next machine was a small Wingett dumper truck. This was in need of some serious attention. Jeff took over the reconditioning of the engine, others the rest of it. After a couple of months, the red and green monster was fit for duty. Following on was the Godiva Fire pump with a 4 litre straight 4 petrol engine. This languished in our car port at
home for some time as we looked for suitable pipes. It was a hand start engine, two people! and a brute. Priming was made by pouring water over the hot manifold, filling the suction pipe with steam. Just at the critical time of the steam condensing,
and a valve being opened, a rush of water would gush out of the two delivery pipes. Unfortunately, it was only used a couple of times in earnest, when one night out on location, the brass pump was stolen from off the unit. Next were a pair of BIG dumpers. We cannibalised one to make the other, such was our eagerness, that we were at the Ash Vale depot one night in February when the local constabulary paid us a visit. Ello ello ello, what's going on here. "We are repairing a dumper truck...... Could you give us a swing on the handle, cos
we are all worn out trying". Now they saw that we were serious, they left us to it, and it was another day before we finally got it working. We had many more successes, our first Landrover (Ex Wimpey) re-conditioned by ourselves with all parts and services donated to us by local businesses, Alien Autoscythes and many more.
As a member of SHCS, I attended many working parties, and had great fun and expended an enormous amount of energy . Very few artefacts were ever found in the canal itself. The odd horse brass, BCC marker stones and of course beer and pop bottles. I seem to remember that a prize find were some of the 'cannon balls' from one of the swing bridge bearings.
There was no boat traffic at this time, except for rowing boats at Warnborough, and house boats between St. Johns and New Haw. I did have a New Basingstoke Canal Co licence, for my dingy which we rowed in the few places where it was possible. Mytchett lake was only 'navigable' during the winter months due to the abundance of soldier weed (most appropriate name for its location), and then not beyond the wire fence that stretched between the canal and the army camp. We were around when the RAF lifted the flying boat hull from the lake which had been used as a blockade during the war - an interesting exercise considering the fragility of the wooden hull. Major incidents were the breach on the Ash embankment and the subsequent damming up of the lock upstream, and the breach of the Farnborough embankment during the air show week - this was quickly filled by chucking a couple of old fuselages in the hole and then bulldozing material on top of it.
About this time, I married and left for the plains of Bedfordshire, which mainly closed my active involvement with the Basingstoke, I will always have fond memories of it and the many people I became involved with. I apologise if I have omitted a few notorious names, there were so many, but the fact remains that from a few, a great movement was created bringing back from the grave, one of Britain's prettiest canals, and I am proud that in some small way like many others to have helped.
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MILLETT'S MUSINGS - David Millett
# Now open again after a £3/4m refurbishment, the Water Witch Inn is now part of the Chef and Brewer estate of Scottish and Newcastle breweries. Originally it was known as the New Inn at Colt Hill, Odiham until 1976. It was once owned by Crowleys, an Alton brewing firm. The new managers are Paul and Nicky Smith. The New Inn was once a popular haunt of canal bargemen and in later years was a popular venue for men from Thorneycrofts factory at Basingstoke, who came to Odiham for the fishing, and it was not unusual to serve 60-100 teas on a Sunday afternoon.
# A lucky escape occurred by Glen Road, in Fleet on 29th January. An elderly man fell into the canal in the late afternoon but was spotted by a roofer from the firm T.M. Roofing and Building Contractors who was working on a roof opposite the towpath. He shouted down to his 18 year old mate who dashed to the canal and jumped in to pull the man out. An ambulance took him to hospital and intensive care. Without the roofers the chances are that the man would have drowned.
# Chainsaws nave been at work again on both sides of the canal just downstream of Eelmoor Bridge between Fleet and Aldershot. They would not seem to be on the flightpath and have decimated what used to be an area of beeches and sweet chestnuts. The area looks terrible at present but let's hope it recovers after a couple of years or so. MOD contractors have been responsible but the exact reason is unknown.
# There's talk that Hampshire County Council may electrify the operation of the winch at the North Warnborough Lift Bridge. Let's hope so as the operation of the mechanism became very difficult after adjustments were made to prevent the bridge dropping too hard onto its stops. Access to the winding hole and King John's Castle is one of the attractions in navigating to the top of the canal and one of the most popular trips for our 'John PinKerton' trip boat.
# Interested to hear about the new technology being used along the canal, such as recycled plastic paddles which are much more efficient, being watertight, and supposedly will last for ever. Tubular bars are being used with these new paddles which are less prone to buckling. In addition ureaformaldedyde expanding foam products are being used to seal and fill leaks and voids behind the chamber walls.
# Contractors working for Bryants Homes were unable to complete the works associated with the new culvert which was installed under the canal near Zebon Common Swing Bridge at Crookham Village in November. The rains arrived with vengeance and tuned the areas at both ends of the new culvert into a quagmire. They will be returning this spring to complete the work.
# Another delay to the start of the construction of the mooring lay by at the Canal Centre has been caused by the need for a new landscaping plan. The original plan was rejected by the SCC landscape architects who are now drawing up a new scheme for approval by the SCC planners. The sooner construction starts the betteras it is years since the basin or lay-by was first discussed.
# Good to see that the number of powered craft licences issued up to the end of September 2002 was 299, up from 288 in 2001, which is a 4% increase. The benefits of increased rainfall, which means the canal can stay open longer is apparent in these figures. The maximum number allowed by the Joint Management Committee is 400 so there is still plenty of capacity.
The £29m six year Kennet and Avon Canal Partnership Heritage Lottery Project was completed on time last December, To celebrate the completion of the project the Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes were illuminated over the Christmas and New Year period. A spectacular display was created to make the flight look like a waterfall. Very impressive.
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Thanks to the people below, who have donated since the last newsletter:
John & Karen Crawford
David & Amanda Leathers
Christopher Ian Doubell
Christopher Ian Doubell|
Miss Elizabeth Carling
Richard Elder & Bobbie King
Total for St. Johns is now £ 4930
From Society Newsletters No.50 May-June 1973 and No.51 June-July 1973
# An Open Day was held for Members at the Ash Vale Barge Yard on June 9th to mark the completion of a pair of bottom lock gates and their presentation to Surrey and Hampshire County Councils. 500 or so members attended the ceremony and displays were puton by the working party group,the ramblers group and the natural history group.
# Accepting the lock gates on behalf of Hampshire County Council, David Pumfrett, Chairman of HCC's Countryside Committee revealed that the canal company had decided to sell the Hampshire stretch to the County Council. He said that the county hopes to gain possession of the canal later this year - "possibly as early as August". He went on to say that anything other than full restoration would be, as far as he was concerned, a waste of money.
# Mr.Reginald Reekie, Chairman of Surrey County Council's Town and Country Planning Committee described the lock gates as evidence of the "enormous store of ability and knowledge" which the Society has among its members. "We in Surrey are striving to overcome the difficulties of acquisition", he went on. "But I am sure that they will be overcome and we shall succeed in acquiring our length of the canal". Finally he added, "You deserve every bit of encouragement we can possibly give you".
# What is the connection between the Eddystone Lighthouse and the Basingstoke Canal? Why did the brickworks at Up Nately fail? What were the provisions of the Basingstoke Canal Bill? Have you a right of way along the towpath? What happened to Lock 22 in 1957? These and many other questions are answered in "The History of the Basingstoke Canal" which has been written for the Society by Glenys Crocker. Surrey County Council has now published details of its compulsory purchase order for the Surrey stretch of the canal. It includes the bottom 6ft. or so of many gardens, which are probably rented from the canal company in any case.
# At the AGM, the majority of members present approved a proposal to try and acquire a dredger. A small group was subsequently set up to carry out a feasibility study, as an old steam dredger had become surplus to requirements on the Kennet and Avon Canal. After a favourable study, the executive committee unanimously agreed to buy it and it will become available on 1st. June at a cost of £225.
# A Dredger Restoration Group has been formed with George Welch as administration manager, Ian Cripps as technical manager, and Ron Jesse as consultant engineer. The first task is to remove the old boiler tubes and retubing is about to start. Also chipping and scaling has started with red oxide paint being applied to everything.
# Companies are to be approached to sponsor the move of the 78ton 70ft long dredger in due course from Reading to Odiham by road. Three low loaders will be required, one for the main hull, and the other two for the two side pontoons.
# The 'Green' Report of the Joint Working Party on Restoration and Management of the canal has been issued. Chief members were Colin Bonsey (HCC), P.Carnegy (SCC), Major S Johns, RE (MOD), David Gerry (SHCS).
1. The canal to be fully restored from the River Wey to
Greywell to permit full range of uses including
2. A charitable trust to be called the Basingstoke
Canal Trust to be established to restore, develop
and manage the canal.
3. All new bridges to be built with not less than 7ft.6in.
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Safety Manager appointed
The laws relating to health and safety at work become ever more demanding, and apply to voluntary organisations as much as the leargest company. It is necessary to be able to demonstrate compliance.
To this end, the Society has appointed a Safety Manager, who will be responsible for drawing up safety policy documentation and ensuring that it is observed.
Many people will know David Venn through the Basingstoke Canal Boat Club. When his current tenure of the Chairman's post comes to an end in March, he has agreed to take on the Safety Manager's job for the Society and has been co-opted as a Director.
David has a background in this type of work and we are very grateful for agreeing to take on thois important role.
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Members will remember that our old steam dredger 'Perseverance' completed its mammoth dredging operation on the Hampshire section of the Basingstoke Canal at Pondtail Bridge, Fleet on 17th April 1993. This was the occasion for a great party with many speeches plus a jazz band and BBQ in the evening.
Above: The John Pinkerton passing Perseverance near the end of the dredging at Pondtail.
It started work at Colt Hill, Odiham in 1974, dredged much of the canal to the winding hole at North Warnborough, and then worked back to Pondtail Bridge, a total of 87 miles.
On 20th October 1993, it was dismantled at Reading Road Wharf, Fleet and transported by road to the Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. It was donated by the Society to the Boat Museum with the intention of it being fully restored as a working exhibit within a year or two.
For various reasons, including financial and other constraints, progress has been very slow but we have now received an up to date report on the work done up to Christmas 2002.
The Museum staff and a small volunteer group are led by Jim McKeown, the Museum's Boats and Engineering Manager.
Work done so far includes:
• Complete overhaul of crane engine in the workshop, including work on the crossheads and slides, con rod bearings, new piston rings, new studs all round, slide valves faced and lapped, new lagging and gland backing.
• Positioning winches removed, stripped, all bearings cleaned, new brake gear made and fitted for 3 winches, new cables purchased for all four.
• Boiler room chipped and painted, new floor made and fitted. New steam, and water pipe work made up and fitted in boiler room, all water filters overhauled and rejointed and fitted to hull.
• Main hull and pontoons patched and painted, steam grab stripped and overhauled, new studs and joints and packing added.|
• The falling jib has been shortened to its correct length and extra ballast removed from crane rear end.
• The standing jib has been cleaned and painted and the original chain jib head pulley replaced.
• New lifting and luffing chain has been purchased and the main body of the crane has been cleaned and painted.
• The engine crankshaft has been removed and the main bearings, big end bearings and valve eccentrics have been adjusted to give correct clearances.
• Locating beams and bolts have been cleaned and painted and the boiler room externally cleaned and painted.
The main item, which has had no work done on it, is the locomotive type boiler supplied with the vessel. The cost of re-furbishing this boiler is beyond the Museum's means at present.
Perseverance is at present a collection of basically ready to assemble parts, which leads neatly into the next stage of the project.
The Museum has just applied to the Science Prism Fund for a grant to enable them to re-assemble and launch Perseverance and in addition it will give them funds to connect up Perseverance to an existing gas fired auto package boiler already on the site so that they can operate the machinery of the crane in steam without the initial and ongoing cost of the vessels own boiler. This method will also cut down on their labour costs to run the dredger.
Watch this space to hear of its final completion in due course. David Millett, Vice President
Above: Farewell to Perseverance as it set out 10 years ago on its journey to Ellesrnere Port.
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The story of the Society's acquisition of the steam dredger from the Kennet & Avon Canal was told by Ron Jesse in the BCN Summer 2001 issue, but how did the K&A get it?
This story was told in the November 1967 issue of the K&A Canal Trust's journal "The Butty". A copy of this and a set of photographs are in the Society's archives relating to the dredger, and I hope that the people involved will not object to me paraphrasing the article, because it tells an epic tale of an amazing journey.
In April 1967, Perseverance, or as it was then rather unromantically called, Dredger No. 14, lay at Hillmorton on the North Oxford Canal just south of Rugby, property of the British Waterways Board. It had started its working life in the 1930s, but had finally been superseded, at least as far as BWB was concerned, by more modern diesel powered equipment, so it was to be donated to the K&A Trust.
Hillmorton to Reading via the Grand Union Canal and the Thames is 160 miles, with 124 locks, those at Hillmorton being single ones, designed for narrowboats only. After lengthy correspondence between Nick Hill and the K&A Trust's consulting engineer, it was agreed that Nick would do the move using his working narrowboat Jaguar.
BWB removed all the jibs, etc, which were placed in Jaguar. The side pontoons were then unbolted, to allow passage through the locks; this alone took 2 days, The journey began on 24th June 1967 with the passage to Braunston - 5 miles, which took 5 hours. Jaguar towed the centre section of the dredger on a 90 ft line, with a further 30 ft line connected to the pontoons, making a convoy over 100 yards long. Nick commented that this certainly kept the pleasure boats at bay!
The pontoons were re-attached at Braunston and the journey resumed the following weekend. Braunston Tunnel was blocked to prevent an embarrassing encounter with the now 14ft wide dredger and they were through in an hour. However, a pontoon had to be removed to allow passage through Bridge No 6 because of subsidence and this had to be repeated elsewhere.
David Blagrove joined the party as it continued its slow way down the Grand Union, with numerous hold-ups due to running aground. They finally reached the Thames on 19th August and managed to get onto the river after rousting the keepers in charge of final lock out of the nearby pub. Progress up the Thames against the tide was very slow until a police launch took pity on them and used its 150hp engine to give them a tow as far as Teddington Lock.
Above: Teddington Lock
Three days later they were at Reading, only to get stuck above Blakes Lock. Dropping sluices on the weir raised the level and they tied up at High Bridge wharf for the night. The next day, 23rd August saw the end of theirjourney, beginning with a difficult tow through the tight bends of Brewery Cut. They just managed to get the dredger into County Lock, but the worst was still to come. A deposit of silt just above the lock had reduced the depth to 3ft, compared to the 4ft draft of the dredger. No amount of pushing or pulling would persuade it to go any further and they were forced to go back and tie up below the lock.
During the next yearand a half, the dredger was overhauled, its boiler tested and its paint changed to K&A green livery. It took its first bucketful of mud out of the canal on 11th May 1969. It set to work in earnest at Foundry Brook and was also used to clear a shoal at Fobney Lock. Four years later, however, the boiler failed its annual inspection and in August 1973, the Branch Committee reluctantly decided to offer it for sale.
Their loss was our gain!
Left: Jaguar with the dredger on tow. (Photos from The Butty)
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Above: One of the cleared areas at Brookwood showing some of the oaks that have been felled and the muddy and rutted towpath.
In his article in the last BCN, Leigh Thornton stated that the tree management programmes had the full support of the Conservation Working Group. Whilst this was true in principle, no detailed plans had been put forward for approval, as was done for the work at Eelmoor.
There was some surprise and alarm therefore, when recently the Society's Chairman and members of the public discovered contractors on the stretch between Hermitage and Brookwood Bridges felling mature oak trees, some well back from the towpath. A call to the BCA produced an immediate visit from Peter Bickford, the ranger responsible for organising the work.
As Leigh stated, the purpose of felling trees near the canal is to improve the amount of light available to aquatic plants. Apparently the reason for removing those further back is to clear the shading of the streams that run under the canal into the adjacent area of scrub
land, which is still home to water voles. It
is hoped that they will fare better there than they seem to do in the canal itself, where they are rarely seen nowadays.
This tree felling has again caused a good deal of anger, which might have been reduced had the detailed plans
been available beforehand for comment. Leigh stated that specimen trees would be left, but all the oaks next to the towpath seemed to bear the red spot showing that they were to be felled. There seems to be a lack of consideration for the aesthetic aspects of the canal, with
a focus purely on getting more light on it.
As the recent depressing survey by Chris Hall shows, the plants seem to be dying even in areas where there is no shading at all. Something is causing turbidity in the water to increase and killing the plants off, but it would be tragic if this proved to have nothing to do with shading, after the trees had been cut down.
We will be pressing for detailed plans relating to all future tree felling to be put before the Conservation Working Party for approval before work starts. It is not acceptable for this to be decided
purely by a ranger and the local tree officers, with English Nature supporting anything which is claimed to be good for "conservation".
It is to be hoped also that the felled tres will be put to good use as timber and that some of the money which English Nature has contributed will go towards reinstating the towpath, which is now in an even worse state than before.
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Survey of the Canal
A recent walking survey by Chris Hall paints a very gloomy picture of the biological state of the canal. Whilst Chris's views and activities in the past have not exactly met with the Society's approval, to put it mildly, it is obvious to anyone familiar with what the canal was like even 10 years ago that something has gone badly wrong.
Where once one could look down watch shoals of fish swimming by behind the Fox & Hounds, the water is now murky and opaque. The fish may still be there, but you can't see them, and according to Chris Hall, the plants are dwindling, both in numbers and variety over virtually the whole canal.
His report contains several comments that suggest that
tree shading has little to do with this. Typical is the bit about the stretch near Pondtail -
"As the water was too turbid to see any submerged plant growth in the deeper water a total of 18 points were sampled by grapnel in the very open Pondtail Heath stretch. Recent tree felling had reduced shade still further on an already relatively unshaded section of the canal but even so six of the samples yielded no living plant material. The others produced just one species, M.spicatum, usually a single stem".
Interestingly, this section of the canal has a sandy bottom
and the passage of boats used to cause very little increase
The report has frequent comments such as "The water was turbid and dark grey".
At the recent Conservation Working Party meeting, Dr John Eaton of Liverpool University confirmed that the number of boat passages was well within the recommended limits, so if it isn't boats and it isn't trees, what has caused this change?
The prime candidate must surely be the increased levels of nitrates that have been observed in the canal water. This encourages the growth of algae, which coats the leaves of underwater plants and reduces their ability to breath. Farnborough Technical College will be doing analysis of water samples.
Other possible causes that have been identified are bottom feeding fish and the American crayfish, which can dig deep holes in the banks and bed and eat pretty well anything. Unfortunately, there currently appears to be no way of getting rid of them without eliminating all the other fish.
When the canal re-opened and its designation as an SSSI led to restrictions on boating, there was widespread and understandable indignation amongst those who had toiled away for so many years on the restoration, so it is tempting to ask whether the canal is approaching a state where it no longer has special scientific interest. However, boating was only part of the attraction and much of its charm lay in the clarity of its waters and the abundant and visible life therein. We all have an interest in solving the problem.
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The Swingbridge Community Boat was officially launched on the Basingstoke Canal in Waking on 11th July 2002 by renowned actor and canal boat enthusiast, Mr Timothy West CBE. Local charity, The Surrey Care Trust, has spent over two years developing the boat and will manage the exciting new project.
A rainy start did not deter 135 guests from across the county listening to the celebratory speeches by Mr Richard Stilgoe QBE DL, Trustee of Surrey Care Trust, Mr Michael Varah, Chief Officer of Surrey Probation Area and Mr Mike Tempest from Thames Water. One offender who helped fit out the boat spoke about his positive experience of the Project and Mrs Lesley Myles MBE JP DL, Vice Chairman of the Surrey Care Trust, who had the original idea for a community boat for Surrey, thanked everyone for their support. Mr Timothy West spoke enthusiastically about the boat and, fortunately, was able to perform the official ribbon cutting ceremony in glorious sunshine.
The Surrey Care Trust bought the bare hull of the boat in 2000 with a £10,000 donation from Thames Water pic who also sponsored yesterday's launch with the Bridge Barn Out and Out Restaurant, generous hosts of the colourful event. Since then the boat has been painstakingly put together by a selection of offenders serving Community Punishment Orders and the commitment of an enthusiastic group of volunteers offering their time and skills. It will be dedicated to serving the community, taking groups of vulnerable, disabled and disadvantaged people on canal trips in the summerand carrying out clearance and environmental work in the winter.
The boat is available to any not-for-profit group and, while there will be no charge for its use, donations would be welcome.
Swingbridge Project Manager, Mrs Margaret Reeder, has
said "Getting the boat to this stage has been a real team effort. We have had financial support from large companies, small local businesses, grant making trusts, and gifts in kind from many organisations who are just too numerous to mention. It has been a truly inspirational process. There is a lot of enthusiasm for the project and we already have 25 bookings for canal trips in August, September and October. I am really looking forward to the future".
If you would like to make a donation to the Swingbridge Project, join up as a volunteer (maintenance, crew or skipper) or make a canal trip booking for your group, please contact Claire Fry at The Surrey Care Trust, Number One, 1 Old Elstead Road, Milford, Godalming, Surrey GU8 SEE tel/fax. 01483 426990, email: email@example.com
Below: At the launch: Margaret Reeder (Project Manager of Swingbridge), Timothy West CBE, Richard Stilgoe OBE DL (Trustee of Surrey Care Trust), Lesley Myles MBE JPDL (Vice Chairman of Surrey Care Trust) and Michael Varah, Chief Officer of Surrey Probation Area.
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AROUND AND ABOUT - News from Here and There
The Wey Navigations, an Historical Guide by Alan Wardle ISBD0953812227
The latest publication by the Surrey Industrial History Society has been researched by one of their members, Alan Wardle. It gives a detailed history of the navigations from the Thames to the limit of navigation at Godalming Wharf, covering over 300 years of commercial operation.
Much use has been made of the archives of the Wey Navigation, the Godalming Navigation and William Stevens & Sons. The book contains a number of illustrations as well as 37 pages of maps, which are spread throughout the book to correspond, as far as possible, with the text. These have been taken from archive maps held by the Surrey History Centre.
The book will be on sale from early May and there is to be a launch on 8th May, between 6.45pm and 8.45pm, at the Surrey History Centre, 130 Goldsworth Road, Woking. Admission will be free, complimentary wine and soft drinks will be served, and copies of the book will be on sale at £11.95. The book will also be available, postfree, from John Mills, 35 Trotsworth Avenue, Virginia Water, GU25 4AN
From the New Scientist:
Steam jet engine for boats
A revolutionary new steam engine, described by its inventors as "an underwater jet engine", may soon be powering dinghies and speedboats more efficiently, cleanly and safely than a conventional outboard motor.
The Pursuit Marine Drive produces thrust by using the energy from high-pressure steam to draw in water through an intake at the front and expel it at high speed through the rear. A 30hp version has been run but the company says it can be scaled up to 300hp.
Water emerging from the engine is no more than 3 or 4°C warmer than the water it draws in, so there is no danger of scalding. And as it does not leak oil like conventional outboards, and has no propeller that could injure large sea creatures, it should be less damaging to the environment.
Bat bite causes rabies death
A British man suspected of having rabies died just hours after the diagnosis was confirmed by laboratory tests. David McRae, a bat enthusiast licensed by Scottish Natural Heritage to handle bats, had been bitten by a Daubenton's bat and is the first person to have died from rabies caught in the UK since 1902.
"This seems to indicate that EBL is present in the British bat population", a spokesperson for Tayside NHS trust told New Scientist. "The public health message is blindingly obvious - the public should regard all bats as a possible source of infection".
He says that members of the public should avoid contact with bats and anyone attempting to handle them should wear protective gloves to avoid being bitten.
Poor old Malthouse Bridge in Crookham has been in the wars again. Early on the morning of 15th February it was struck by what appears from the damage to have been a blue lorry. Unfortunately, this did not stop so the tax payers of Hampshire are going to have to foot another repair bill. The only good thing is that the damage is to the bit that was repaired last time, rather than to the original structure. Perhaps more worryingly, there is a large crack towards the other end of the same parapet, which suggests that the whole of it may be unsound.
Hampshire do have plans to rebuild and widen the whole bridge, but in the current financial climate these are likely to be delayed.
New Canal Web-site
Those members with access to the Internet may have already searched for web sites about the Basingstoke Canal. The best known is Arthur Dungate's www.basingstokecanaLl.freeserve.co.uk which carries up to date information about forthcoming events as well as a lot of interesting information about all aspects of the canal's history from its beginnings to the restoration.
Another site that I would thoroughly recommend is Roger Ford's www.canalsguide.co.uk. This has sections on the Croydon and North Stratford Canals as well as the Basingstoke. It describes itself as a photo guide and, indeed, there are many good photos taken at the end of last year, but the text is also very good with both descriptions of the canal and its surroundings and a fair amount of historical information.
The guide covers the entire canal from the junction with the River Wey to Basingstoke Bus Station, and the section on the lost Western End beyond the Greywell Tunnel is perhaps the most interesting. Roger has clearly done a lot of research to establish where the route of the canal lies through Hatch and Old Basing and into Basingstoke itself and illustrates this with a multitude of photos, some of which show the line of the canal superimposed on the M3.
He tells me that he first became interested in the Basingstoke one weekend in 1977, when he was invited to a party in Fleet by an old school friend. He developed a special fascination for the Western End and remembers struggling to find the lost bits during the early 1980s. His more recent explorations have benefited from having old maps and aerial photographs to work with.
For anyone intending to explore the Western End, this is essential reading.
Recent high winds brought down the large oak tree on the offside bank just below Hermitage Bridge, completely blocking the canal and towpath.
Fortunately the Society and WRG were on hand to remove most of it over the weekend. Both tug and barge were used to support the tree while it was cut up.
North Warnborough Lift Bridge to be electrified !
The chances of a fatal heart attack occurring on the John Pinkerton have been reduced on two counts.
First is the impending removal of the most likely cause of a heart attack, the imfamous lift bridge at North Warnborough. When the Pinkerton started operating, this was operated hydraulically using an electric pump. However, the hydraulics suffered cronic leakage problems and there was always some doubt as to whether it would go up - particularly worrying if you were on the Greywell side of it.
The bridge deck was replaced and a manual winch installed. Unfortunately, the bridge was not counterbalanced properly and was hard work. More recently, it was "overhauled", and it has required huge amounts of effort to overcome the brake that was set to prevent the bridge coming down too fast. Ironically, the bridge needed more effort to lower than to raise and it was only a matter of time before someone collapsed while operating it, or simply walked away and left it in the raised position. Fortunately, the appeals made by Ron McLaughlin and the Boat Company seem to have hit home, because a notice has been sent out to notify that the canal will be closed there for two weeks beginning on 10th March to allow the bridge to be electrified. Hooray!
The second anti-heart attack factor is that all the designated Pinkerton Captains have been on a First Aid course as now demanded by the Marine Safety Agency. The most recent one saw eleven of them spending a day at the Canal Centre learning how to resuscitate victims of heart attacks or drowning, as well as dealing with less dramatic or life threatening problems. The course was run by Carole Seaton of the St John's Ambulance Brigade, who did an excellent job of making the day both instructive and interesting.
Left: Some of the Pinkerton Captains with their instructor, Carole Seaton, 4th from the left.
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Subscriptions are due for renewal from 1st March and, as we noted in the last newsletter, the rates have gone up to adults £10, families £12, senior citizens £5, senior citizens (couple) £7, groups £15 and life membership £120. If you pay by cheque, please send these to our Membership Secretary, Lesley Richards at 8 Denning Close, Fleet, Hants GU52 7SP.
Those who pay by standing order will have already received a letter from Lesley with a mandate to be filled in with the new amount. She would be deeply obliged if these could be returned to her complete with an envelope, stamped and addressed to the member's bank. This will save her a lot of time, and the Society expense, and will also save you getting a reproachful phone call, like I did. Sorry Lesley!
And a final thought - Are you stuck for ideas for a birthday or Christmas present?
Why not give them a Canal Society membership?
Free certificate and copy of the newsletter to go with your card.
Contact the Membership Secretary for details.
Date for next copy 30th April 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
Safety Manager: David Venn* 75 Carfax Ave, Tongham, Aldershot, Hants. GU10 1BE 01252-668697
Canal Society Internet Website: www.basingstoke-canal.org.uk
Printed by Commercial Press Plc, Farnham.
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