No. 199 AUTUMN 2003
Robin Higgs, OBE
|Congratulations to our ex-Chairman, Robin Higgs, who received an OBE|
in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours List.
This issue of the BCN seems to have suffered even more than usual from a transition from having hardly anything to go in it to bulging at the seams, so there was no room to quote the whole of the citation for Robin's award. However, members hardly need to be reminded of his leadership during the restoration campaign, his similar work for the Watercress Line and his ongoing involvement with the Southern Canals Association and the IWA.
Thanks for everything, Robin and keep up the good work!
* * * * * * * *
Whilst Robin contemplates a trip to Buckingham Palace, Dieter Jebens remains in Farnharn Hospital battling with the effects of the stroke he suffered on Easter Monday.
Nobody ever claimed that life was fair, but it really does seem a bit rough on someone, who with his pen probably contributed as much as anyone to the restoration of the Canal.
Many of his friends are visiting him regularly and he has been out of the hospital on occasions, including a visit to the Guildford Boat Gathering, but we rniss his presence at our Committee meetings, questioning everything, giving us a hard time and generally keeping us on the rails. - - - Get well soon.
* * * * * * * *
Like many other people, I have always had a bit of resentment about the insistence on escorting boats through locks on the Basingstoke, a practice unheard of on most canals except for places such as Foxton or Caen Hill.
However, a number of events recently suggest that not all boaters can be relied upon to behave sensibly. Tony Beecher mentions examples in his article in this issue and an account in the Byfleet Boat Club's magazine of a visit to the Basingstoke tells of the three Brookwood locks being filled whilst waiting for the ranger to turn up to unlock the flight, and another crew emptying them again while the first was having breakfast. Neither crew seems to have checked to see whether anyone was coming in the other direction.
Frustration caused by problems with paddles and gates is understandable and perhaps causes people to rush things, but there was no excuse on a recent Saturday afternoon for the skipper of the Galleon Marine boat that burst through Colt Hill Bridge and passed the moored John Pinkerton doing a good 6mph. We shouted at him to slow down, but he belted across the flash leaving a wake like a destroyer and disappeared.
It must be very difficult for boat yards to know how much training to force their hirers to have, and it is impossible to teach common sense, but the horrific accident on the Wey at the end of May suggests that something needs to be done. The helmsman of a 10 berth hire boat attempted to take it through one of the side arches of Trower's Bridge near Godalming, rather than through the navigation channel, and one of the party standing in the front well was killed. How long before all boaters are required to take a driving test and hold a licence?
Such a requirement is the all too likely response of politicians and civil servants if such accidents continue.
* * * * * * * *
We were intending to send out books of tickets for our Grand Draw with this newsletter, but Denise Smith, the organiser, tells me that she has decided not to, because of the small number returned last year.
This year, rather than incurring the cost of printing and distributing thousands of tickets that go to waste, she will be selling them at the IWA National Rally at Beale Park in August, and on the Basingstoke Canal at the Cavalcade of Transport and the Fox & Hounds Rally in September, where the draw will take place. Once again, Galleon Marine have generously donated a hire of one of their boats as first prize.
If you would like some tickets, they are also available directly from:
48 Maple Gardens,
Hants GU12 5JZ
Telephone: 01252 517719
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Congratulations to our Vice President Robin Higgs. A well deserved OBE was awarded to Robin in the Queens Birthday Honours.
Dieter Jebens and Arthur Dungate are both currently in hospital, we wish them both a speedy recovery to full health.
Water, or rather lack of water, has again resulted in the canal being closed to navigation between Lock 7 at St. Johns and Lock 28 Deepcut, the Woodham Pumps maintaining navigation up to Woking.
You will read Tony Beecher's comments on water supplies and the major loss of water due to boats moving after rangers had sealed locks and paddles to conserve water. Users comment to me that water conservation measures are restrictive, and this may be a valid observation when the Basingstoke is compared with other waterways.
The hard facts are that in this instance replacing the lost water at Brookwood and St Johns from the Hampshire summit lowered levels to the extent that when boats on the canal returned downstream the canal closed. It is very difficult to support users as responsible people, when minority actions destroy the credibility of the majority; a more co-operative approach has to evolve between users and the Canal Authority.
We do not want a return to locks being secured after hours, indeed we wish to achieve far more flexible working arrangements, but to do this everyone has a part to play whilst canal infrastucture improvements progress. Longer term issues must include improved water quality and supplies for the benefit of all user groups. Woodham and Woking remaining open confirms that a water supply policy for the canal is an essential ingredient for the future of the waterway.
The Dry Dock saga continues: a used swimming pool cover made of fibreglass on metal frames, incorporating opening sections was located, the BCA was advised and the opinion of the planners sought.
The advice given was astounding to a layman. Whilst the covers were acceptable for use over a swimming pool, they were not acceptable for use over a dry dock. The reason given was that the covers did not comply with industrial construction requirements. However, a polytunnel type cover and frames are classed as temporary and can be used as replacement covers, in my opinion a bureaucratic rule that defies common sense.
In such a climate, I anticipate that relaxation of the noise pollution restrictions will follow protracted negotiations. In the interim users will be expected to conform to a reactive decision rather than one that followed a reasoned discussion.
I was privileged to be invited to opening of the Drungewick Aqueduct on the Wey and Arun Canal. Dave Fletcher performed the grand opening, thus commencing a day of celebration for all present.
Peter Foulger, the Wey and Arun Chairman, and his committee deserve the congratulations they received from the waterway movement for this outstanding achievement. I am aware of some of the disappointments in the past which could have delayed the project, also the involvement of some of our volunteers; it is surprising the number of dual memberships within the waterways movement. Congratulations Wey and Arun on a successful opening.
Peter Redway, Chairman
Extra-Ordinary General Meeting
NOTICE is hereby given that an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting of the Society will be held on Wednesday 15th October 2003 at the Westgate Centre, Chobham Road Bridge, Woking, Surrey, commencing at 7.45pm.
The formal agenda for the meeting is as follows:-
1. To approve the Annual Accounts for the year ending 31st December 2002.
31st July 2003
By order of the Board of Directors,
Verna Smith, Honorary Secretary.
WORK PARTY REPORT - Peter Redway
A regular working party member, Mark Coxhead, is currently receiving medical treatment and has not been able to attend working parties. Our best wishes to Mark for a full recovery to normal health from all his colleagues.
The Pumphouse Opening was reported in an earlier Newsletter; it was a wonderful day in all respects, with full recognition of the volunteers efforts in the partnership project being officially recorded by the invited guests and Canal Authority.
Spring with an early Easter concentrated working party efforts on completion of the Lock 28 bywash and progressing the St Johns pumping main past the bywash inlet at Lock 9. This included repairing the many leaks in the bywash pipes which we uncovered as pipeline excavations progressed. Both projects involved the lowering of the canal water for safe working in the excavations below the normal water levels for navigation. Water levels had to be returned to normal for the Easter Holiday period.
Works on the St Johns pipeline have continued and we are now below Lock 9 with an interim test carried out, a test pressure of 3.5 Bar was achieved, which is twice the calculated working pressure for the pipeline. A water block has been constructed below Lock 9 so that any future seepage from the bywash can be monitored.
A one week summer work camp is organised from 9th August, and this year the camp will be working at St Johns, continuing the pipeline and starting work on the water inlet at Langmans Bridge. Preparation works by society volunteers have included installing a coffer dam in the canal so that the bank can be excavated in reasonable conditions.
Setting up the camp accommodation and site compound are other tasks which our Society volunteers carry out, together with accepting deliveries of materials and equipment into the site compound. At the end of the camp everything is dismantled, taken into store or off hired, again a society support function.
FUTURE WORKING PARTY DATES
|Date -||Leader -||Location -|
|13/14Sep||PR/DJ||St Johns Pipeline|
|27/28Sep||PR/DJ||St Johns Pipeline|
|11/12Oct||PR/DJ||St Johns Pipeline|
|25/26Oct||PR/DL/DJ||St Johns Pipeline|
|8/9Nov||DJ/PR||St Johns Pipeline|
|22/23Nov||PR/DJ||St Johns Pipeline|
|13/14Dec||KR/DJ/PR||St Johns Pipeline|
Right Tool for the Right Job|
The Society has made a donation of £400 to the Waterways Recovery Group "Right Tool for the Right Job" appeal.
WRG have been staunch supporters of the Basingstoke Canal from the restoration period to the present day, when they are still working on the St Johns back-pumping scheme, and there is absolutely no doubt that we shall be getting good value from our donation. They are aiming to raise £75,000 yo buy new equipment. If anybody would like to make their own donation, cheuques should be made payable to the IWA and sent to
WRG Right Tool for the Right Job Appeal,
PO Box 114,
The 200 Club for 2003 has not been as good as last year with only 112 members but this still means £672 for the Society and a top prize of £56 for the draws. Sorry I missed the last issue of the newsletter but the lucky winners forthe first half of the year are as follows:-
|107||Mr LH Phillips||£56|
|102||Mr & Mrs DA Paine||£28|
|13||Mr DC Wright||£14|
|44||Mr G Hibberd||£14|
|26||Mr DA Webber||£56|
|22||Mr C Bristow||£28|
|66||Mr J Meridith||£14|
|47||Mr & Mrs JJ Potter||£14|
|85||Mr & Mrs Redway||£56|
|9||Miss K Watkins||£28|
|129||Mr & Mrs D Newman||£14|
|62||Mr F Adams||£14|
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Water control on the Basingstoke Canal.
Over the last 10 years or so, the problems of retaining useable levels of water in the canal have been an ongoing problem.
Over the last 2 years, with a change in the regime of water control we have manged to keep the canal open, but only just. This has been achieved by the vigilance of the Ranger force, and by the co-operation of the users of the canal.
This year, we have had to close the canal once again through lack of water. There has been no let up in the vigilance of the rangers, but some of the users of the canal, maybe because the canal has had water for the last 2 years and so in their perception there is no problem with water, have not been as helpful as they might.
Since the beginning of the year, despite instructions on lock operation being nailed to all the jack heads, there has been a continual mis-use of Lock 29. On some occasions the chamber has been left full overnight with the lower paddles not fully down; on a number of other occasions, boaters have called the Canal Centre saying that they cannot fill the lock. When a ranger has arrived after being diverted from other duties, invariably the problem has been boaters trying to fill the lock without closing the lower gate paddles.
The low water level in Hampshire has been further exacerbated by what can only be described as theft of water.
Throughout the summer months we rely heavily on the supply of water from Broad Oak to maintain the levels in the Hampshire section. As levels started to drop off, full inspections were made to ensure that all available water was being retained. It was during one of these routine inspections I was making at Broad Oak, that something did not ring true. After further investigation I discovered that the inlet end of the pipe that feeds through to the canal had been blocked with a large piece of clear acrylic sheet. This effectively dammed the stream, and diverted it through a culvert into Wilk's Water. What this cost us in water I have no idea, but once the dam was removed the levels that are checked on a daily basis stabilised to some extent, though they are still dropping.
Low levels in the Hampshire pound have a knock-on effect throughout the entire canal in as much as, to attempt to maintain the water level, the by-wash at Ash Lock has to be throttled back and the Frimley pump turned on to maintain levels in the Mytchett pound. The Frimley pump puts enough water in to match losses by transpiration, evaporation and seepage, ie. subsistence water, but certainly not sufficient water to operate the flights of locks. With the Deepcut flight closed, boats using Ash Lock, which is fine as long as the lock is not misused, provide working water for the Mytchett pound.
A further demand on water this year has been caused by boaters using the locks outside the specified times, even when they have agreed with the duty ranger to remain morred below or above a flight of locks until the following day; as soon as the ranger's back is turned, the locks have been used. The next morning, rangers have had to refill reaches which have drained down overnight.
A serious case of this occurred at St. Johns recently when water was already getting short. A boat used the St. Johns flight outside hours and the resultant loss of water above St. Johns left the Canal Society tug and barges moored outside Pete Redway's house stranded.
One demand on water that has arisen this year is at Lock 25, Curzon Bridge on the Deepcut flight. During hot spells of weather, local youths have started using the lock as a swimming pool, filling the lock and then diving off the bridge. Before they were discovered, the reach above 25, which is quite long, was dropped by over a foot. The paddles on this lock now have to be locked.
We now hear on the 'towpath telegraph' that word is being passed around that you can do what you like on the Basingstoke Canal, once the ranger is off duty. The upshot of this, if it continues, will be a regime in which operating times for the locks will be strictly adhered to, Ash Lock will have restricted use, and any boats breaking the rules will have their licences revoked, rather than the flexible and friendly system that operates at the moment.
Comments are often passed to me about how nice it is to have the friendly, helpful rangers we have on the Basingstoke, rather than the officious unhelpful service that is offered on some other waterways. Well, after some of the antics I have seen this year, I can easily see how such regimes come into existence and I do not look on them with the same disapproval that I did 2 years ago.
The opening times of the locks are set out to give the duty rangers time to go through the flights of locks caulking up the gates and preserving as much water as possible. Particularly in times of water shortage, the operating times may not be ideal, but they are the best we can do with the manpower available, and as stated at the start of this article, with the help and co-operation of users we can offer a year-round service, but with the selfish actions of only a few boaters, this can be spoilt for everyone.
Tony Beecher, Canal Manager
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A RANGER
Since the Surrey & Hants Canal Society publishes this newsletter, it is not unreasonable for it to focus on the work of its members and other groups such as WRG. However, it calls itself the Basingstoke Canal News, so I feel that it should look beyond this. For all the good work put in by the volunteers, the day-to-day maintenance of the canal is done by the BCA rangers.
I therefore asked Leigh Thornton whether it would be possible for me to spend a day with one of the rangers to get a better idea of what they have to do. He agreed and persuaded Paul Hope (one of the Hampshire rangers) to be the chief victim, although I also talked to his colleague in Hampshire, Andy Foster, and the Head Ranger, George Copping. Paul had gone to some trouble to make sure that I saw a greater range of activities than would normally be covered in a single day - effectively a snapshot of perhaps a couple of weeks of normal work.
Strictly speaking, not a lot of their time in Hampshire is devoted directly to supporting boating, although water control is one of their priorities. Most of their work could be regarded as cosmetic, i.e keeping the canal looking nice. However, it has to be recognised that boating is a minority activity on the canal, and would probably drop off even more if the canal was not kept in an attractive state.
Especially at this time of year, as I know in my own garden, everything grows at a great rate and jungle control is really the name of the game. We therefore did bankside strimming, chainsawing of trees overhanging the towpath and checked up on outbreaks of Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam. I didn't see any weed cutting in the canal itself, but this was on the schedule, as was felling of the odd tree that was becoming a problem.
Cutting back trees and shrubbery on the offside bank is done periodically from the work boat if access is difficult from land. I didn't see any of this, but they said that they try to leave some untouched rather than blitzing an entire length. They made the point that it is usually quicker to get to places by land rather than moving work boats about the canal, as BW tend to do.
Paul and Andy pointed out that, although they are both qualified foresters of considerable experience, they always have to obtain permission from the local Tree Officer to fell anything of more than about 2 inches diameter. Although permission is normally forthcoming, this produces paperwork and delay. However, the acquisition of a chipping machine has made disposal of cut material on site very much easier and more environmentally friendly. The larger tree trunks are now transported to somewhere like Ash Lock to be cut up with the new planking machine and used on the canal.
The rangers seemed very pleased with both these new bits of kit and also with the little quadbike that they have This is 4-wheel drive with low pressure tyres to avoid damage to the towpath and has a powerful winch capable of dragging large trees across or out of the canal.
As well as keeping the vegetation under control, the rangers have to try to keep contamination of the canal by man in check. As Paul pointed out, they could spend all their life picking up litter. In practice, this is done in conjunction with other work, but after a day, it still resulted in a van load of bags to go in the skip at the Canal Centre.
Andy was also doing the final tidying up after the departure of the travellers from Colt Hill and supervising the installation of a barrier, both additional and expensive jobs for the BCA.
New barrier at Colt Hill to deter 'traveller' invasion
Occasionally, they have to deal with a major case of fly-tipping. A recent example at the Farnborough Road car park saw nearly a skip load of waste paper and other rubbish dumped. However, the guilty party had been foolish enough to include documents with addresses on and the rangers were able to track him down. He admitted having done it and is likely to be prosecuted, hopefully with maximum publicity to deter others.
There are several aspects to water control. We checked up on a couple of bank leaks that the rangers had found and stopped, one near the Odiham bypass bridge and the other behind the winding hole at Chequers Bridge; both were now dry. As well as water going out, Paul checked up on the Broad Oak Stream coming into the canal. As Tony Beecher mentions elsewhere in his article, this has been deliberately blocked in recent months with the apparent intention of filling up Wilk's Water, the small lake behind the towpath near Broad Oak. This time there was no obstruction.
Paul and Andy laying a track up to the old wharf at Colt Hill
Paul also checks up daily on the canal level at the Farnborough Road weir and reports it to the Canal Centre. Following the report when I was with him, it was agreed to close down the bypass at Ash Lock to preserve the Hampshire level, which was about 7 inches down.
Daily water level check, Farnborough Rd weir
The rangers have other miscellaneous jobs, such as monitoring and reporting on the condition of King John's Castle and making sure the bottle banks and waste bins in the car parks are being emptied. They do, however, manage to find time to do some enhancement work, such as improving vehicle access to the disabled boats on old wharf at Colt Hill.
Talking to Paul, it was clear that he is immensely knowledgeable about the environmental aspects of the canal and cherishes it greatly. He is also a bat enthusiast, but
nobody's perfect, and he does take the trouble to do some real scientific studies of them rather than exagerating their numbers. It was also clear that he recognises that the canal is there to be used and enjoyed by people and that their impact on the environment has to be accepted, but managed where necessary.
The Broad Oak Stream. The pipe on the left goes into
the canal and has been blocked recently
by a sheet of Perspex.
About once a month, Paul and Andy do a duty week in Surrey sealing up locks after boats go through, and perhaps I will try to spend a day or two watching this aspect of the ranger's work some time.
The rangers feel that some of the lock problems result from the way the restoration was done, but that this was as much the fault of the owners of the canal, who should have managed the process more carefully. As George said, without the volunteers the canal would never have been restored and he and the other rangers wouldn't have a job!
In the pub afterwards, we talked about all sorts of things - Bourley Reservoir and water supply (Andy is something of an expert having been responsible for it in his previous job. Did you know that it was built between 1855 and 1865?), otters (Paul started talking about building some artificial holts to attract them) and the day-to-day problems of dealing with the public, and the Canal Society!
They came over as a decent pair of guys trying to do an honest day's work, very knowledgeable and very appreciative of their working environment. I certainly am most grateful to Paul for organising a very varied and interesting insight into their job and I look forward to seeing them again.
Festival of Transport
After a year's absence, this pleasantly informal event at the Canal Centre, Mytchett is back again over the weekend of 13/14th September.
It should be the usual mixture of boats and various forms of land transport - cars, traction engines, etc. Organiser is Reg Connell (01252 656618)
Fox & Hounds Rally
The annual rally organised by the Basingstoke Canal Boat Club at the Fox & Hounds pub in Fleet will be taking place on Saturday, 20th September and will be followed on Sunday, 21st September by the
John Pinkerton 25th Birthday Party.
It is a bit stunning to realise that the Society's trip boat has been ploughing up and down the Canal for a quarter of a century, but, as they say, "Doesn't time fly when you're having fun!"
The party will be based at Colt Hill, Odiham and will get under way at about 11 am.
The intention is to invite as many of those originally involved with the enterprise as we can remember. If you were involved, but don't get an invitation, please forgive us and come anyway. It's a long time ago and memories get fuzzy with age! In fact all members of the Society are welcome, as are any boats and crews staying over from the Fox & Hounds rally and prepared to cruise up to Colt Hill.
The intention is to have a couple of trips up to the Castle for the invited guests, repeating those made on 20th May all those years ago. A lunchtime barbecue is planned, the Farnham Town Band will be on hand to provide a musical background and, hopefully, someone will organise a beer tent (hint, hint).
We are fortunate that Arthur Dungate had already begun organising this winter's series of talks in Woking, before he was taken ill (see page 15). The meetings will again be taking place at the Westgate Centre, next to Chobharn Road Bridge, starting at 8pm on the third Wednesday in the month. There is free parking at the centre and more in the nearby Brewery Road car park.
15 Oct 2003: Richard Thomas - Waterways Wonders. A tour of some of the engineering marvels around the waterways system. We visit Foxton Inclined Plane, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Harecastle Tunnel, Anderton Lift and Bingley Five Rise Locks among others perhaps not quite so well known. Obviously this will be another of his fascinating presentations.
19 Nov 2003: Dick Allan-Barging into Burgundy.
Dick Allan describes the problems, costs and benefits of taking a narrowboat to France, and his trip southward from Calais to the heart of Burgundy.
17 Dec 2003: Frank Banfield - Films of transport etc.
Frank is back for yet more fascinating films from his large collection.
Extraordinary General Meeting
Those who attended the AGM in April will recall that the annual accounts for 2002 were not presented for approval because the Treasurer was not happy with what the auditors had produced. The problems have now been resolved and the accounts will be presented to an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Society, which will take place at 7.45pm, immediately before the Woking meeting on the 15th October. The venue will be the Westgate Centre.
All being well, there should be minimal delay to the start of Richard Thomas's talk. The profit and loss accounts can be found in this newsletter on page 13
Only 146 shopping days till Christmas!
Unfortunately by the time the next BNC comes out, it will be only 25 days and too late to be thinking about Christmas cards - which is why we are advertising them now. Two designs will be available of the Basingstoke Canal in winter, and will be on sale at the various events, the Canal Centre, or from our Sales Manager, Verna Smith.
Wey & Arun - Drungewick Aqueduct Opening
The Wey & Arun Trust's trip boat Zachariah Kettel
crossing the newly opened aqueduct.
A very important milestone was achieved on 31st May with the formal opening of the new Drungewick Aqueduct on the Wey & Arun Junction Canal. The aqueduct carries the canal over the River Lox and extends the navigable section a further 1/2 mile southwards towards the ultimate goal of connecting with the Arun Navigation. The construction of the aqueduct was part of a larger scheme involving the rebuilding of Drungewick Lane Bridge, the restoration and re-gating of Drungewick Lock and the provision of a new winding hole below the lock.
The opening ceremony was performed by Dr. David Fletcher CBE, the former Chief Executive of British Waterways. After cutting the tape, appropriately bedecked with the Union Jack, David Fletcher joined the WACT Chairman, Peter Foulger, and other invited guests on the Trust's trip
boat, Zachariah Keppel for a passage across the aqueduct. Later in the day the Trust's smaller boat, John Smallpeice, took the official party to Drungewick Lock for the formal opening performed by Iris Piggott. The cost of the very impressive lock gates, constructed in African hardwood, was met by Mrs Piggott in memory of her late husband, Desmond.
There is no doubt that despite the many formidable obstacles which still lie ahead of them, there is a well founded mood of optimism in the Wey & Arun Canal Trust that full restoration of the important link to the South Coast will be achieved in the not too distant future.
Report and photo by Philip Riley
It is sad to record the loss earlier this year of one of the Society's long-standing Vice Presidents, Lady Redgrave.
As Rachek Kempson, she had a distinguished acing career, which paused only when she married Michael Redgrave and started the famous acting dynasty. She became Lady Redgrave when he was knighted in 1953.
The canal connection came from their home in the house beside Wilk's Water near Broad Oak.
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Dear Mr Cansdale
As a now very old man with fond childhood memories of the canal before the war, I write to say how much my generation appreciate all the hard manual work and hard thinking that have gone into its restoration by men and women such as yourself who care about social amenities more than getting and spending for themselves. Could I make one comment and a suggestion? The comment is that the canal has historic importance in more or less mapping the course taken by King John from his castle on the canal bank at Greywell where he stayed the night before to Runnymede where he signed the 'Magna Carta'. The suggestion is that an attempt be made to replace the mink that have colonised the canal with otters which I understand are more than capable of seeing them off.
Yours sincerely John A Davis
One of the most rewarding parts of the whole restoration has been when people such as Professor Davis, say that they are pleased to see the canal back to the state they remember from their childhood.
I think his suggestion about otters is a splendid idea: perhaps they might also develop a taste for crayfish! There is a report in the summer edition of the Blackwater Valley News that tracks and spraints (droppings) of an otter have been found by the River Lodden near Wokingham. One of the tributaries of the Lodden is the River Whitewater that passes under the canal next to King John's Castle in North Warnborough, so they might be with us sooner than expected. Otters are a key species for the Lodden Catchment Biodiversity Project that will be co-ordinating further habitat improvement work to ensure that otters will be back to stay on our local waterways.
The role of Odiham Castle in the story of Magna Carta needs to be treated with some caution. At least two local historians have cast doubt on it, pointing out that the whole reason for the choice of Runnymede as a venue for the meeting was that it was half way between the barons' encampment at Egham and Windsor Castle. It seems more likely that the king would have stayed there rather than have a 20 mile ride from Odiham. I suspect that this is a story that has progressed in the telling from "Odiham Castle, where King John might have stayed on his way to Runnymede" (perfectly possible, but maybe days of weeks before) to "Odiham Castle where King John stayed the night before signing Magna Carta".
Dear Mr Cansdale
The best way of obtaining funds for projects is to make a start on the area in need, to show possible donors the final effect.
The Western End portal - we cannot construct it immediately, but we could clear the entrance and create a 100 yard stretch of water, of chalk stream texture containing local native plants free of weeds and debris from the slopes.
The bottom of the slope needs a flat or ditch to collect dead wood etc, with a possibility of benches or seats for people to stop and admire the surroundings.
A pressing problem would be where to dump the muck. It could be of use to local farmers as natural compost.
All these canal schemes for joining the K&A to the Basingstoke raise the question of where the water will come from. For restoration beyond the Western End there is no large quantity of water to be obtained from the tunnel area. If the Society presses up to the outer defences of Basingstoke, the concrete "wall" of the M3, there is a possibility of supplies from the higher grounds and canal sector now buried beneath the roadway.
Personally, I did not believe the tunnel will be restored internally or the M3 excavated - there seems no benefit for the huge sums involved.
The number 2053. Do you realise we will all have passed on? Who have we to pass our skills and knowledge on to? There are other societies with many younger members. Will it be that SHCS will have to amalgamate with one to survive without an influx of younger members?
I enclose a copy of an article from the New Scientist, March 2003 - a way od thinning bat numbers and providing a unique fly catcher.
The article from the New Scientist is about the efforts of an American doctor in the early 20th century to persuade Mexican bats to take up residence in central Texas, where he hoped they would eat the vast numbers of mosquitoes that plagued the area and led to hundreds of thousands of cases of malaria each year. His initial attempts to tempt them into "bat towers" were unsuccessful, but subsequently a tower on a more suitable site did attract a colony. More bats moved in after he evicted them from their previous roosts by playing brass band music at them! The mosquitoes did disappear, but doubt has been cast over the bats' part in this. However, we now know how to clear the Greywell Tunnel - just send Ron McLaughlin and his band down there!
On a more serious note, we are trying to work up plans for the Western End in conjunction with Basingstoke & Deane Council, and we will bear Ken's ideas in mind. Like him, I doubt whether the cost of restoring the tunnel is justifiable, given the further obstacle presented by the M3, which is why our ideas for a link to the K&A start from the eastern side of the tunnel. Clearly, water supply will be high on the list of problems to be solved, but it may also provide one of the justifications for building the canal if it can be designed to take run-off water from new developments in the area. One of the reasons for initiating this project is to try to generate a more dynamic image for the Society in the hope of attracting new, younger, members.
It was pointed out at a Committee meeting earlier this year that it was good management practice for organisations to have clearly defined objectives and to review these periodically.
The Society's objectives, although probably reasonably well understood by at least the longer-standing members, were felt certainly to be overdue for a review and were also not well publicised. The following were agreed by the Committee, who would welcome any comments.
OBJECTIVES FOR THE 21st CENTURY
|1.||To promote the Basingstoke Canal as a navigable waterway and a multi-function amenity for the use and enjoyment of the community.|
|2.||To protect, preserve and restore as appropriate the natural and historic features of the Basingstoke Canal for the benefit of present and future generations.|
|3.||To improve and develop awareness of the Basingstoke Canal as an important component of the nation's waterway heritage.|
|4.||To monitor the upkeep of the Basingstoke Canal and assist the managing authority by -
|(a)||providing voluntary manpower and raising funds for specific improvement projects.|
|(b)||reporting on the condition of the canal and carrying out routine maintenance tasks.|
|5.||To maximise opportunities for improving the water supply to the Basingstoke Canal.|
|6.||To develop and support the implementation of proposals for enhancing the scope of the Basingstoke Canal by the creation of links to other waterways.|
The Swan Inn in North Warnborough, which claims to date back to the 15th century and to have a resident ghost, is under new management. Suzie and Richard Swinhoe are the new proprietors and are introducing a few changes.
Although the pub is next to the canal and was used by the boatmen of old, there is currently no direct access from the towpath. Suzie and Richard intend to enhance the beer garden at the back with steps down to Swan cutting. Unfortunately, this is probably the worst place to moor on the whole canal, given the restricted width. No Parking signs may become necessary, because the Pinkerton last Saturday met three rowing boats tied up bows-on to the bank there. However, it should be useful for the visiting boats which often moor near the lift bridge.
Richard used to run his own brewery and, although he no longer has time to do this, the Swan does have a good selection of well kept real ale. The food side is also not being neglected, with a fairly restricted menu of good quality home made dishes rather than a huge selection. I have only sampled a ploughman's lunch, but this definitely had the right emphasis on the cheese and bread, rather than the mess of limp salad that usually seems to form the majority of such dishes nowadays (how did a ploughman eat cole slaw?). Evening meals are available and the pub looks like a good choice for our next annual Committee dinner.
If you fancy giving it a try and want to book, the number is 01256 702727.
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A Radio 4 programme in the series "Ramblings", with Clare Balding, broadcast on 23rd May, featured George Band, who was the youngest man on the successful Everest expedition of 1953. He now lives close to the Basingstoke Canal and the ramble took them along the towpath from Barley Mow. Although Everest featured in the programme, more of the talk was about the canal and the Society's efforts were generously praised.
George Band, Clair Balding, Peter Lowes and
Jannu the Gordon setter at Barley Mow Bridge
(Photo courtesy of the BBC)
Arthur Dungate downloaded the broadcast from the BBC's website and we have it on CD should anyone who missed it want to hear it (Phone Roger Cansdale on 01252 616964).
The canal has also been featured on television recently. Meridian ran four weekly 5 minute slots about the Basingstoke in their Tuesday 6pm news broadcasts. The first covered the length from Odiham to the Greywell Tunnel and actually ventured a short way into the tunnel. The second went from Odiham to Crookham, after which there was a jump to Ash Lock to the Canal Centre at Mytchett for the third. The last took the viewers on down to Lock 28. Peter Redway was involved in the third programme, which actually took many hours to film and involved Daydream being driven in and out of Ash Lock a great many times.
We are getting a tape of the broadcasts if anyone would like to borrow it.
The affairs of the Basingstoke seem to feature regularly on the Internet newsgroup uk.rec.waterways. thanks to the efforts of "Canalman".
His latest offerings include a reported sighting of a coot eating a crayfish and hints of dirty deeds at the bottom end of the canal involving water levels, houseboats and general aggro for the BCA staff.
The Milestones Museum in Basingstoke, displaying aspects of Hampshire life in the last century or so, recently had a week devoted to wood and its uses, and a contribution was requested from the Basingstoke Canal.
The BCA was unable to staff this, so the Society put together a display, illustrating the various uses of wood on the canal, from piling and shuttering for building bridges, etc to lock gates and Alec Harmsworth's boat building. The display included the old wooden barge jack that lives in the Canal Centre, but belongs to the Society, and a typical joint used in making the frame for a lock gate. This was made by the rangers and served to illustrate the scale of the carpentry done on the canal.
SHCS display, Milestones exhibition
The exhibition was not as well attended as hoped, probably because the weather was too good, but a lot of leaflets were taken and we have established a liason with the museum, which could one day result in a permanent display about the canal. This was in the original plans for the museum, but they ran out of space and money.
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SOCIETY ACCOUNTS FOR 2002
[these are not on the internet version]
# What a mess! Travellers invaded the Colt Hill Wharf picnic area in June, and left, after having an eviction order served, in July. The rubbish, debris and fouling of the area had to be seen to be believed. The massive clearing up costs have to be borne by the Basingstoke Canal Authority, which is another drain on their limited budgets. The present legal situation on trespassing by travellers still seems to benefit the travellers rather than the site owners. Colt Hill Wharf and picnic area is Hampshire's main access to the Basingstoke Canal and has now been very disfigured for the main summer period.
Some of the rubbish left at Colt Hill
Anybody had an asbestos garage roof replaced cheaply recently,
or a leylandi hedge removed? Now you know where they went.
# Congratulations to Robin Higgs on his award of the OBE in Her Majesty the Queen's Birthday Honours. Robin was Chairman of the Society from 1974 to 1991 and has also been Chairman and now President of the Mid-Hants Railway Preservation Society plus many other involvements with waterway and railway preservation. He is also current Chairman of the Southern Canals Association. A very well deserved honour.
# Sorry to hear that Arthur Dungate, the Society's winter talks organiser and website manager, is in hospital after a heart attack. Very best wishes for his speedy recovery.
# Considering the struggle the Society had to get £20,000 as Hart District Council's contribution to the canal budget for this financial year, it is very disappointing to read that the cost of the Odiham Common fencing issue has been around £25,000 (including grants) which will be wasted now that the Inquiry has been concluded and the already installed fencing on the north side of the common has to be removed. A sad example of differing views between English Nature, DEFRA and Hart Council.
# Good to see a number of visiting boats this spring and early summer on the canal. However, these have now stopped as of now (July) due to the need to conserve water during this long hot spell of weather.
# At long last, work has started to repair Malthouse Bridge at Crookham Village after a lorry demolished part of the brick parapet earlier this year. Special matching bricks with Imperial measurements have to be made by a specialist brickworks, in this case Michelmersh Brickworks near Romsey in Hampshire.
# The refurbished and altered Canal Centre is a great improvement on the old layout and the tea room plus picnic tables outside add to the facilities. The whole site looks much tidier now thanks to the employment of a part-time maintenance man.
# Hope to see many members at the National Inland Waterways Festival and Boat Show at Beale Park by the Thames near Pangbourne over the four days of the August Bank Holiday. Should be a good event at a beautiful site and over 600 boats and 200 exhibitors have booked in. Let's hope the combined Society and BCA stand attracts a lot of interest.
# Good to see a good turnout of approximately 120 people at the Fox and Hounds, Fleet for the annual show by the Mikron Theatre Company entitled "A Woman's Place".
How did women get the vote - Mikron show
The finale with, l to r, Charley Moon, Marianne McNamara, Kate Buzton and Peter Toon.
- from BCN 52 Sept-Oct 1973 and BCN 53 Nov-Dec 1973.
# Members are asked to write to the Department of the Environment stating that you support the Compulsory Purchase Order made by the County Councils of Surrey and Hampshire and that you agree that the Basingstoke Canal should be acquired for public amenity purposes. The Public Enquiry is to be held on 2 October at Farnborough Town Hall and soon afterwards in Woking for the Surrey section. This is crunch time. If the resjult is unfavourable then 6-1/2 years of effort will have been in vain, and a big setback for what has been described as the biggest social adventure of our time.
# A link between canal cruising and pot smoking? The boatmen of old often fed their cage birds on cannabis seed (hemp) and cleaned out the cages into the towpath hedge, with the result that in some areas this is one of the characteristic canalside plants. If the waterways publicity machine were put into operation we might get the police to organise towpath clearance parties.
# The dredger restoration is going well. The re-
tubing of the boiler has been completed and the boiler
has successfully undergone a hydraulic test. However
chipping and painting is behind schedule and members
are asked to volunteer their services and see the
Monster of the dredger closeup. It is lying at Reading on
the Kennet and Avon Canal above County Lock, not far
from Courages's brewery.
# As soon as Hampshire County Council knew that the
compulsory purchase order on their part of the
Basingstoke Canal was going ahead, they asked the
Society to arrange a meeting to set up a committee to
plan work on the canal three months in advance. The
Society representatives are to be David Gerry, David
Robinson, Robin Higgs and Jeff Holman. At this stage
the towpath only is to be cleared so that engineers can
get to the banks to make a full assessment of their
# So Re-opening the Basingstoke Canal is expensive?
Walsall Corporation are planning to infill and culvert just
over 1-1/2 miles of the abandoned Bentley Canal, part of
the Birmingham Canal Navigations. The estimated cost?
# As yet there is no official decision on the degree of
restoration to be done, or on a policy of navigation. It is
essential that the Society throws in all its weight now.
to show that we can do what we've claimed. Major
Johns, of the MOD, has advised army units which want
to take part in the work to affiliate with the Society. Some
have already done so.
# In response to the appeal in the last newsletter for
members to write to the Department of the Environment
supporting the compulsory order, 190 members did so,
which may even be a record for a matter of this kind. This
has made the Society's job easier, and brought restoration closer.
# Enclosed with this newsletter is a working party questionnaire, as the time to volunteer will be NOW rather
than some time in the future. The Joint Working Party
report states that the estimate for full restoration has
included the sum of £98,000 byway of contribution from
voluntary labour - a massive 98,000 hours.
# Mick Fairless, the Society's transport organiser has
appealed to drivers with a current driving licence to
volunteer some time to drive the Society's Landrover and
other vehicles, particularly carrying equipment to and
from working parties.
# The first official working party has been arranged for the
weekend of 17-18 November 1973 working eastward
from Barley Mow, Winchfield, clearing the overgrown
jungle of the towpath.
Sad to report that Arthur Dungate suffered a serious heart attack at the end of June. Fortunately, he was at the house of a friend, who was able to call for an ambulance, and the paramedics were able to resuscitate him.
Arthur was responsible for several audio-visual productions about the restoration of the canal, the Western End, etc..
as well as organising the popular Woking talks each winter. He also runs the Society's website and that of the Wey 8 Arun Canal.
Arthur has been fitted with a pacemaker and is home again, but his intended house move from Hounslow to Fleet has been delayed. We wish him well for a complete recovery.
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More opportunities to give money to the Society
The Society may benefit from new rules being introduced by the Inland Revenue. When you complete your tax return next year, if you are due a tax repayment you may elect to give it to your favourite charity - which we hope is the SHCS! You will be asked to put a code number representing the charity of your choice on your tax return. The repayment will then be donated as GiftAid by the Inland Revenue on your behalf direct to the charity, complete with the tax for which the charity would normally have to make a claim (making my life easier in the process!).
You will be able to get the code from a list that the Revenue will maintain and all the Society has to do is to register that it wishes to take part in the scheme and give the Revenue its bank account details. So, how about paying a bit too much tax this year and giving it to the Society next year?
Graham Hornsey, GiftAid Manager.
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Date for next copy 31st January 2004
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
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: Verna Smith* 63 Avondale, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants GU12 5NE 01252-517622
Hon. Treasurer: Jonathan Wade* 30 Hanover Gardens, Cove, Farnborough, Hants GU14 9DT 01252-524690
Membership Secretary: Doreen Hornsey 'Mallards', 94a Aldershot Road, Fleet, Hants GU51 3FT 01252-623591
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 &
Mail Order Sales: Verna Smith* 63 Avondale, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants GU12 5NE 01252-517622
Exhibitions Manager: Position vacant
Website Manager: Arthur Dungate 39 Sian Close, Church Crookham, Fleet, Hants GU52 6BT 01252-622101
Talks Organiser: Position vacant
Press Officer: Dieter Jebens* 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3NJ 01252-715230
Gift Aid manager
& Lengthman Organiser: 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
Safety Manager: David Venn* 75 Carfax Ave, Tongham, Farnham, Surrey GU10 1BE 01252-668697
Director: Philip Riley* Wincombe Cottage, Broad Oak, Hook, Hants RG29 1AH 01256-702109
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: Peter Wright* Holly Lodge, 39 The Avenue, Crowthorne, Berks RG45 6PB 01344-772461
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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