No. 200 WINTER 2003
As I write this at the beginning of November, we have just had the first decent rainfall in this corner of England since the spring and the canal is as low as I have ever seen it, except below Lock 7, where the back-pumping scheme has ensured that proper levels have been maintained. The low water levels reveal a fairly dismal situation.
I think nobody can be in any doubt now that further enhancements to the water supply for the whole canal are essential, not only for boating but to preserve a viable environment for the flora and fauna, such as they are.
The view down the almost empty lower half of Deepcut shows how bad the aquatic plant situation has become, with little evidence of any life apart from a couple of patches of moribund water lilies in a dried-up flash.
Elsewhere, the low water levels reveal a multitude of holes in the banks caused by the signal crayfish and a good deal of under-cutting due to years of boat wash, as well as lots of brickwork in serious need of repair.
It all adds up to a lot of maintenance work for the BCA before the canal can re-open, assuming that we have enough winter rain to allow this to happen. The task may even be beyond the current work force, but will the BCA be able to afford to employ contractors, say to do the brickwork, given the shortfalls in their funding last year?
It was this sort of lack of resources that led us to suggest that management by BW might be a better option for the canal. This was rejected by
the counties, so it is up to them to ensure, via the JMC, that
the current crisis is dealt with.
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My comments about boat hire companies and their hirers in the last issue upset one of Galleon Marine's customers and drew accusations of lack of gratitude for the holiday that Jim Peile gave as a raffle prize. Let me make it clear therefore that my remarks were not directed specifically at Jim, who is a thoroughly nice bloke and a good friend to the Society, and who may, as my critics said, take more care than most in instructing his hirers.
Nevertheless, even some of his hirers do drive too fast. Maybe this is symptomatic of the pace of life in SE England, and as I said before, it is difflcultto know what more the boat yards can do to educate theircustomers. However, with the
latest issue of Waterways World reporting two more accidental deaths elsewhere on the inland waterways, it does seem to me that something needs to be done to pre-empt some heavy-handed law making to introduce driving tests and licences.
I have hired boats on about 8 occasions and, to the best of my recollection, I have never been asked to actually demonstrate that I was competent to drive them, nor that I had any knowledge of potential dangers. Perhaps boaters should be issued with a log book, which could be stamped up by boat yards after they had returned their boat in one piece. This would provide the next boat yard with better evidence of experience than the usual "Done it lots of times" statement, and might help them to know how much instruction to give.
Something forthe British Marine Federation to thinkabout?
The Pinkerton's 25th birthday party was a super event and it was really good to see so many of the old faces there. It also really brought home the invaluable contribution they had made to the restoration of the canal. Without their foresight in commissioning the boat and designing it right, the Society would not have been able to pay Frank Jones ' and his team to manage the Job Creation Schemes that restored Deepcut, nor do any of the other jobs that the estimated £340,000 income has paid for.
It is perhaps unfair to single out any particular person for credit, but I don't think that Peter Fethney ever really received the recognition that he deserved. This may have been because he was too modest to blow his own trumpet, but as the Society's Treasurer as well as Chairman of the Boat Company, he played a crucial role in the restoration. He also got Hancock & Lane to take 4 inches off the height of the Pinkerton's design, without which it would never have got under the bridges in Fleet!
Peter has been in hospital recently, so we wish him, and Ray, good health and many thanks.
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The long hot Summer followed by a very dry Autumn played havoc with the canal water levels, but at the time of writing this report (early November) the first real rain has at last started to raise water levels. Deepcut, Brookwood and St Johns have, in places dried to little more than a small stream between locks, Woking, Sheerwater and Woodham water levels have been maintained by backpumping at Woodham.
Subject to continued fundraising, the St John's pumping project should complete a further phase in water supplies during 2004. Lead times on these projects can be considerable, therefore preliminary planning for phase 3 water supplies will need to start this winter.
Developments near the canal have a potential for surface water drainage into the canal; we need to be aware of these developments and localised water storage and draw down facilities for the canal. Local Authority climate change policies and planning gain procedures may facilitate achieving these objectives.
Water quality and a decline in bio diversity of the canal, based on last year's (2002) survey, was reported at a recent Conservation Working Party meeting. A number of factors may contribute to these changes, but no prime cause has yet been identified.
Tree shading was identified as a possible cause and some three years ago a policy of bankside thinning was implemented. The surveys indicate some recovery of species in flashes that have been cleared but recovery in the main canal channel has not yet occurred.
Water quality and turbidity are being analysed by Farnborough Technical College, crayfish damage by the Environmental Agency and selective planting of marginal growth in cleared sections by the Canal Authority.
Tree work scheduled for this winter will be at: Ash on the off bank between the railway and canal, from Ash Vale Station Canal/Railway Bridge and Mytchett Lake Railway Bridge, also at Claycart Flash; these projects are funded by English Nature.
Tree Work is also scheduled on safety grounds at Deepcut on the towpath side of the cutting. Trees in danger of being blown over will be removed and others coppiced. The objective is the removal of larger older trees and encourage regrowth ata lower overall height.
A site visit prior to any felling application is being arranged by the Canal Authority for the Conservation Working Party members to view the extent of the intended works and communicate with members.
Surrey County Council have written to us on their intended move of the County Hall to Woking. The preferred site is on Brewery Road Car Park, a prime canal-side site in the centre of Woking. We need to consider the full implications of this proposal before responding to the County's letter, and certainly we require more details on the canal aspects and environment so that we can judge the full impact of these proposals at our next committee meeting. A small working group is being formed to evolve our responses..
A Tribute to Tony Rozelaar of St Johns
Tony suffered a long spell of ill health with dignity and cheerfulness and finally passed away at his home on Tuesday 9th September 2003. I saw him for the last time some 7 days before that date and I must say that despite his worsening condition he was as chatty as ever, our conversation ranging over many subjects and in consequence, I left with a feeling that here was a guy who really cared about what was happening in Woking, be it in connection with the Council or the Canal.
Tony worked for a number of years for a well known firm of solicitors in Weybridge, followed by some part time service with Woking Council, his task being the arrangement and running of the Town Carnival. I am pleased to say that on the occasion that the SHCS entered a float, we won first prize in our particular category. Oh yes, I must point out that Tony was not one of the judges !!
Away from work, his main interest was the Woking New Cinema Club which he formed and was Chairman for 12 years during which time, the Club won "Film Society of the Year" award.
Some of you must have been to the Woking Big Steam film presentations at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, also others where the canals were the subject matter, all of which saw Tony at the head of the organising teams.
His other interests included jazz, travelling and of course the dear old Basingstoke Canal. He was one of the group that restored the St Johns stretch and has been a regular supporter of the Woking Social evenings for as long as I can remember. In the ten years that I have been associated with the Bridge Barn Canal Festivals, I could always guarantee that Tony would offer to help in someway. He will be missed. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to his wife Joan, another loyal supporter of the SHCS.
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This summer work concentrated on the St. Johns Pipeline Project and Lock 8 by-wash subsidence. Our Volunteers extended the pipeline below lock 9 until early August, making good progress. Low water levels on the St. John's pounds gave problems in moving work barges, and we eventually moored the barges below lock 9 for the summer, as we could not move them with the tug.
As water losses continued we had to run water from above lock 11 to below lock 9 so the barges could move the pipes to the excavation in the towpath. The tug remained on its mooring developing an acute list as water losses continued.
Prior to the early August Work Camp the compound was set up and the accommodation support installed. The WRG advance part arrived on the Saturday morning and with our volunteers and WRG the Pumping Inlet Chamber was excavated. The excavation was 3m [?] below canal water levels and into the greensand and ground water table. Trench sheets were driven as the excavation progressed and acroprops set up to stabilise the trench sheets. Due to the conditions excavation took longer than planned, but by Wednesday the base concrete Premix was delivered and placed. The wall steelwork followed and the external shuttering set up. Although not complete, we had a good start for our volunteers to continue (below).
Other WRG Teams excavated the by-wash at lock 8, discovering extensive voids around and below the by-wash chamber and pipework. The pipes were supported and the voids filled with concrete, a 6m3 load was used to fill the voids back to solid ground. Water had been running along the outside of the pipes for some considerable time, so a CCTV Camera which can be attached to drain rods was loaned by the BCA and the remainder of the pipes inspected. A suspect pipe was excavated but had not moved and was on a firm base. The original subsidence was then excavated and another void was found, this extended for 3 pipe lengths and again was backfilled with concrete.
A third team was laying backpumping pipes and doing towpath reinstatement. Progress was steady but suffered when the excavator was diverted to more urgent unexpected tasks on the pump-well excavation.
After the camp our volunteers continued the inlet chamber. Due to the unstable ground, the walls have been cast in two lifts; when the lower section of wall was cured, we lowered the acroprops onto the concrete and were then able to fit the upper shuttering and cast the upper section of the walls. A water barrier was fitted at the joint so that water would not penetrate into the reinforcement. When the concrete had cured the shuttering was removed for re-use on the roof, the trench sheet removed and the excavation backfilled outside the chamber.
Work on the roof and beam shuttering is in progress and the
final reinforcement can be fabricated prior to casting the roof. It is planned do this during November with pipeline and finishing work continuing through to the Spring 2004.
The summer conditions were among some of the hottest on record, for the volunteers to have achieved so much in the conditions is a tribute to their commitment. My thanks to the teams from our society and WRG for their achievements.
FUTURE WORKING PARTY DATES
|8/9 Nov||DJ/PR||St Johns Pipeline|
|15/16 Nov||DJ/PR||St Johns Pipeline|
|22/23 Nov||PR/DJ||St Johns Pipeline|
|29/30 Nov||DJ/PR||St Johns Pipeline|
|13/14 Dec||KR/DJ/PR||Deepcut - Make and Mend|
|10/11 Jan||PR/DJ/DL||St Johns Pipeline|
|24/25 Jan||PR||Western End - Up Nateley|
|7/8 Feb||PR/DJ/DL||St Johns Pipeline|
|21/22 Feb||PR||Western End - Up Nateley|
|13/14 Mar||PR/DJ/DL||St Johns Pipeline|
|27/28 Mar||PR||Western End - Up Nateley|
Leaders: PR Peter Redway 01483 721710
DJ Dave Junkison 0208941 0685
DL Dave Lunn 01483 771294
KR Kevin Redway 01483 722206
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VIEW from the CANAL CENTRE
"It doesn't need restoring again, but if it was a car, you would say it was badly in need of a good overhaul" was Leigh Thornton's view of the current situation on the canal.
The BCA has identified £250,000 worth of work necessary on the flights of locks in Surrey alone, and has briefed the County on the need for capital expenditure. They already have permission from the JMC to consolidate various bits of money set aside for individual projects into a Canal Infrastructure Capital Budget, but it does not add up to the sort of money that is needed.
Another problem that has to be tackled in Surrey is the trees that have grown in the cutting at Deepcut. Those on the offside are the Army's problem, but there are a lot of very large trees at the top of the cutting above the towpath, which are the BCA's. Many are already starting to lean and could take out the road that gives access to the houses by Lock 28 if they fell. The BCA would like to pollard some of them rather than chop them all down, but the rangers are not qualified for tree climbing and such work, so contractors charging £400 per tree have to be used. The dredger Unity will be used to move logs down to Lock 28, where the mobile saw bench will turn them into planks, etc.
All is not gloom, however. The logs and other debris exposed by the low water levels on the Deepcut flight have been removed and a quote (£4000) obtained for removing and disposing of the sunken boat at Lock 15. Fitting the new
plastic paddles to the lock gates is continuing. The dry dock has new gates and a new cover and has been generally tidied up. A method of injecting urea-formaldehyde foam into the ground has been used successfully to tackle leaks round locks and in embankments; the latest of these saw a 4m3 void filled in the embankment at the end of Mabel Street in Woking.
The BCA has received a £42,000 grant via the Waterways Trust for access and environmental improvements, which will be used to address towpath and bankside problems in Hampshire. A start has been made in Dogmersfield, where different methods are being trialled for protecting the banks; these include coir rolls and hurdles. These are more environmentally friendly that sheet metal piling, but it remains to be seen whether they are up to the job.
With the low water levels, many people will have noted the holes in the banks made by the crayfish. The Environment Agency have been asked for recommendations for trapping, killing and disposing of them; we are talking of tons of these alien creatures, so the local appetite for this delicacy is likely to be saturated pretty fast!
A great deal of work needs to be done and good weather is needed to do it in, but unless we have a lot of rain between now and the spring, there won't be much boating next year. So, unless we have sunny days and rainy nights this winter, the canal is likely to be in difficulties next year.
Canal Centre Tea Room
The Canal Centre tea room at Mychett is now being run by the BCA, with all profits going to the canal. Jeanette Quay is in charge and seems to have made a remarkable difference, with hot meals being offered as well as the usual tea and cakes.
However, she is working single handed at the moment, so that if she or her children are ill, the tea room closes. She is looking for people who could assist her and, mainly, be able to act as back-up staff if she is away. On such occasions, they might even be paid! Training would be given to get the Food Hygiene Certificates needed by all catering staff.
The tea room will be open from Wednesday to Sunday throughout the year, with staff hours from 9am to 4.30pm. If you fancy lending a hand and indirectly doing a bit for the canal, why not pop in and have a word with Jeanette?
|Left: David Junkison, Pablo Haworth and Peter Redway taking a well deserved break in the summer heat at Lock 7 during the Work Camp.
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The dryest summer for decades has brought problems to many parts of the canal and has prevented any boats coming up above Woking since mid-summer. Up until then, things seemed to be going pretty well, but the lack of rain coupled with some very high temperatures, plus loss of water due to misuse of locks, brought a rapidly deteriorating situation.
The Hampshire pound is over a foot down on its proper level and the John Pinkerton was moved to Barley Mow to take advantage of the deeper channel between there and Crookham. The top Surrey pound seems to have been maintained a bit closer to its proper level, and the water continues down to Lock 21. Below that, Deepcut is almost empty until the pound above Lock 15, which is about a foot down. After that, things vary; Hertimage pretty full, but some pounds on the St. John's flight empty, presumably because some gates leak faster than others. Below Lock 7, the back-pumping is doing its stuff.
Perhaps more worryingly is the evidence of lowering of the general water table, which bodes ill for next year unless we have a very wet winter. This drying out and shrinkage of the ground has shown itself in cracking of Broad Oak and Baseleys Bridges (above).
The dry weather may also have had a part to play in the collapse of an oak tree that completely blocked the canal between Barley Mow and Stacey's Bridge for about a week. (Below) Fortunately the John Pinkerton and Galleon Marine's fleet were all on the Eastern side of this when it fell, so they avoided being trapped at Odiham.
The low water gives a good view of a great many holes in the banks, not, alas, the home of the friendly water vole, but the burrows of the signal crayfish, whose numbers now are reported to be at plague levels. Unfortunately a temporary lack of water does not worry them. There is also a fair amount of undercutting of the banks due to years of boat wash, so a large order for coir rolls to provide environmentally friendly reinforcements seems to be indicated. The BCA has received a grant from the Waterways Trust for such work and it certainly seems needed.
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The author of the sign on the balance beam remains anonymous, but it could well describe the feelings of the Canal Authority as the low water revealed the need for a huge amount of work that needs to be done before the Deepcut locks can re-open.
The simple bit was removing dozens of logs and other bits of debris that were clearly visible. These included a lump of concrete complete with bollard in the mouth of Lock 18.
Probably the biggest task facing the BCA is repairing the brickwork and masonry, some of which can be seen to be in a very poor state.
One object that is long overdue for removal, but not simple or easy, is the sunken boat above Lock 15. What is not clear is whether the wire cage that can be seen behind the warning buoys will remain there after the boat has gone. It is part of Ranger Peter Bickford's research project to try to determine the effect of various factors on the growth of aquatic plants and protects then from being eaten by fish, but unless it is intended to study the effects of boat wash, there would seem to be better places to put it.
A start has been made and much of the debris removed, but all-in-all it looks like a busy winter for Peter Munt, the Deepcut ranger, and his colleagues.
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IWA National Rally at Beale Park
This annual event is never likely to get closer to the Basingstoke, so the Society made a special effort with its stand, or rather, Verna Smith and her team of helpers did. Their reward was the trophy for the Best Canal Society Stand. Very well done to all concerned!
The theme of our stand was the past, present and future of the canal, with displays about the past restoration, the present work on the back-pumping schemes and the possible future represented by Roger Reed's maps of his proposed routes for a linkto the Kennet & Avon, which drew a good deal of interest and support. For the general public and their children, John Ross's boat Elizabeth Rose provided its usual attraction, and the sales stand also did well, with the Society's Christmas cards arriving just in time.
The Beale Park site provided an excellent venue for the rally, but it was a long, hot and dusty weekend for those manning the stand. "Good drinking weather though" as somebody said.
Dave Venn and Denise Smith on the Society stand
Cavalcade of Transport
This event returned to the Mytchett Canal Centre after a year's absence. In previous years the BCA had organised it, but the job had been handed over to the steam enthusiasts this year.
The mixture was much as before with traction engines, cars, motor bikes, buses and military vehicles, but due to the closure of the canal, not many boats attended.
There also seemed to be a lack of publicity, both in the local press and in the form of signs to the event, and the number of visitors reflected this. Those who did go, however, seemed to be enjoying themselves.
All the fun of the fair - the view from the canal
Fox & Hounds Rally
Considering the low water problems, there was a very good turn-out for the annual rally at the pub in Fleet, but long gangplanks were needed to get ashore.
One of the immaculate steam launches.
The rally was basically on the Saturday only, but some of the boats went on down to Odiham on the Sunday to join in the Pinkerton's 25th birthday festivities.
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200th Issue of Society's Newsletter
Not being as professional an editor as Dieter Jebens , it was only when I was nearing the completion of this issue that I realised that we had reached another milestone - the bicentenary edition!
I hope therefore that you will join me in a nostalgic wallow via the pages of the 100th issue, with some of the photos of the restoration and a splendid article by June Sparey looking back to the very early campaign days.
The 100th issue appeared exactly 22 years ago.
The dredger was then approaching the Dogmersfield cutting, with no hint yet of the problems to come of bank slippage, that necessitated the building of the gabion wall. Perseverance had just been fitted with a new king post after a large fatigue crack was found in the original one.
The John Pinkerton had finished its fourth successful season, but was still confined to the length between King John's Castle and the Barley Mow. The first trip to Ash was still two and a half years away.
Stan Meller's railway group had just finished puddling the Ash Embankment and were about to put the rails and rolling stock into store.
At Lock 1, Dick Harper-White and his gang were battling with water inflow problems while they excavated the bottom cill before rebuilding the main chamber walls. Pablo Haworth and Co had completed the second chamber wall of Lock 5 and were about to set about demolishing the top cill and bottom recess walls.
At St John's, work was just starling on Lock 9, although the bypass channel was well advanced. The lower part of the offside chamber wall of Lock 10 had been demolished, the bottom cill excavated and the offside lower wing wall was going up. At Lock 11, the first chamber wall was two thirds rebuilt, while the state of the other wall was being assessed. The leaders of the St John's Work Parties were Ken Halls, Tony Gould, Peter Gates, Alan Grimster, Jules Wood, Peter Jones, Mike Fellows and, of course, Peter Redway.
Frank Jones and his team had nearly completed Cowshot Manor Bridge. Subsequently the remains of the old iron girder bridge would be spirited away and placed in the bottom of the rebuilt dry dock to support the boats.
Happy days! Let's hope that one day there will be a BCN editor reminiscing about the early days of the Hants & Berks canal project to link the Basingstoke and K&A.
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And now for June Sparey's look back to even earlier days:-
THOSE WERE THE DAYS...
Standing at the chairman's reception at County Hall, Kingston, recently, I overheard one of Surrey's top officials talking with great enthusiasm about the work being done on the Basingstoke Canal.
My mind drifted back over the years, to a day when three rather nervous people, clutching a great wad of papers, stepped through those same portals. Dave Gerry, then Society Chairman, Tony Harmsworth and myself had travelled to Kingston to present yet another batch of signatures on the "Save the Basingstoke Canal" petition to Sir Howard Roberts, then chairman of the county planning committee.
What a lot of water - yes water - has thankfully flowed under the canal's bridges since those days!
I remember, as a reporter on the local paper, following up Jim Woolgar's first published letter, asking anyone interested in forming a society to press for the canal's restoration to contact him. "Some nut wants to reopen the canal", I chortled on my return to the office.
Soon I was in there with the nuts. When I read the Newsletter today, and see the work that is now going on, I marvel at
what has grown out of those far-off days when all we could do was write letters, hold meetings, and generally amuse ourselves.
Do you remember that first Good Friday, the traditional protest day, when a small flotilla picked its way through the weeds to the gates of Lock 1 and hung a notice up? "Amenity or eyesore, Beauty or Decay, Action's needed now, Please save this waterway". It made the telly.
Then we embarked on a series of councillors' cruises, persuading officials and members of riparian councils to join us on a cruise - and I use the term loosely - along stretches of the canal where there was water to be found.
This mainly involved the wilds of Dogmersfield and Crookham - chilly days, but how often the sun shone on us. Dick Snell's pontoon, Nootnop, carved its way through the duckweed, hauled by volunteers, and there was that marvellous occasion when deep in the middle of nowhere Paul Buck appeared with trays of refreshments.
To show them what it could be like we took them on the Wey Navigation - and I remember the splendid sight of Sir Howard Roberts (Surrey) and Mr. David Pumfrett (Hants CC countryside committee chairman), chatting together as they sailed off on Desmond Briscoe's beautiful cruiser, 'Samanda'.
I always maintain that one of the Society's most positive achievements in those days was the bringing together of members of the two county councils. But no one should underestimate the help and support we got from those two gentlemen. Sir Howard and Mr. Pumfrett. Gentlemen they were - always ready to listen. Where would we be today without men of their foresight, I wonder?
Then there was that Sunday morning when we raised the North Warnborough lift bridge for the first time in years. Hundreds of spiders disturbed from their slumbers scurried forth, and the milkman skidded to a halt as the road in front of him suddenly reared heavenwards.
We scratched around to find non-canal company owned pockets of land where we could legitimately organise working parties - which were always supported by canine members of the canal society as well as human ones. Les Harris's marvellous mongrel Chertsey springs to mind, and my own mongrel, Tilly, walked the length of the canal.
We staged exhibitions, travelled along the canal with our public meetings. "It's like Monty Python's flying circus," said Les Harris with a grin, as he assembled the display boards for the umpteenth time in some remote and perishing church hall.
And that day when Mr Cooke appeared - at a public meeting in Aldershot Library. The committee looked at each other nervously but we needn't have worried. A vocal audience told him exactly what they thought of the canal company's plans for the canal, which would mainly have Involved turning it into a series of duckponds.
We kept a wary watch for planning applications that could prejudice the canal's future. In those days, of course, the canal really was nothing more than a muddy ditch - how to persuade a developer to alter his plans so that he would not ruin it forever?
Evenings spent in Dave Gerry's loft as the duplicator reeled off the Newsletter - which then lived on my bedsit floor for a week until I'd collated, stapled, stuffed (into envelopes) and sorted out the 800 or so copies ready for our postmen. A word of special thanks to our postmen, who must have saved us thousands of pounds over the years, and proved their worth during the postal strike.
Just a little jog down memory lane - but when all you expert enthusiasts next set to work on the canal, spare a thought for we ghosts of the past who kept batting our heads against a seemingly brick wall, and eventually let the daylight in. It was hard, frustrating work - but I think we enjoyed it.
Editor's note: June Sparey, a Journalist, edited and produced the Newsletter from 1968-73 and combined the job with that of Secretary to the Society from 1969-71.
The cover picture of the 100th issue shows two narrow boats, believd to be Maudie and Ada entering Little Tunnel Bridge in 1904 or 5. No prizes for recognising the characters on the backpage!
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PINKERTON 25th BIRTHDAY PARTY
The boat was the excuse, butthe party was really about the people involved, and it was great to see so many of the old faces again. They included all four Boat Company chairmen, including Dieter Jebens, out of hospital for the day, and all four of the Society's chairmen.
Most of them managed to pile onto the boat and, despite traditional dire warnings from Tony Harmsworth about the low water level, enjoyed a rather slow but very nostalgic trip to the castle and back. Also on board were Brian and Carol Leversha, both Hart Councillors. Brian is also the current leader of Hart DC and Carol is the HCC Councillor for Odiham Division.
Once the boat had returned to Colt Hill Wharf and everyone had taken advantage of the barbecue and wine that was on offer, there were a few speeches. Peter Redway said
"A number of you are founder members of the project team who conceived the JP, drawing up specifications, ordering the shell, accepting delivery, fitting out and formally commissioning what has become the Society's Flagship. Twenty-five years of volunteer commitment to passenger operations and charters in the summer and maintenance in the winter have been invested by yourselves.
Your support has been invaluable to the Society; the JP has been used for many VIP events, culminating in the Royal Re-opening of the canal in May 1991. Many publicity cruises/charters over the years have raised the profile of the society and helped to achieve our political objectives. The JP has also been an important vehicle for many thousands of people to enjoy the tranquillity of a cruise on the Basingstoke.
Your efforts have also provided the society with much needed funds, for working parties and various major projects. An estimated £340,000 over the 25 years - a wonderful achievement by you all.
In closing, I wish to thank all of you who have given your time and commitment - the JP Management team, Bookings Team, Crew organisers, skippers and crews and the maintenance teams. You all have a record to be proud of. May you all continue to support the JP and enjoy the time given, and good sailing".
Ron McLaughlln added a few more statistics - at least 15,000 passengers, about 120 people on the current crew list and between 500 and 1000 overall. He said that one of Britain's great strength were the volunteers and he felt that it had all been worth it. He then went on to present one of them, Bill Homewood, with an inscribed decanter to mark his many years on the Pinkerton team (below). Bill is moving to Wales and will be much missed from his many activities on the canal.
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I read with interest the 'Objectives for the 21st Century' published in Basingstoke Canal News 199 and in particular the item, To develop and support the implementation of proposals for enhancing the scope of the Basingstoke Canal by the creation of links to other waterways'.
I welcome this initiative and see the proposals made at the AGM and reported in BCN 198, to link the Basingstoke to the K & A, as well suited to this objective.
To some however, the idea of a new waterway in the 21 st Century may seem farfetched, but we are not alone. There are currently a number of similar schemes at various stages of implementation. These include: -
• The Ribble Link. This broad canal was opened in 2002 and was the first new canal to be constructed since 1905. At 5km long and with nine locks, it connects the formally isolated Lancaster Canal to the national waterway network via tidal rivers.
• The Bedford and Milton Keynes waterway. After extensive consultation the route was published in February 2003. This 30km long canal will create a 'cruising ring' and will make the Fenland waterways more accessible. It is hoped to start construction in 2007, with completion by 2010.
• The Hatherton Canal. Restoration of this canal is
underway, with the trough of 'David Suchet's' Aqueduct
now in place. However, the eastern end of the waterway
and its connection with the Birmingham Canal
Navigations has been lost to open cast mining. Thus,
to facilitate through traffic, a new 5km long canal is to
• Rochdale and Ashton Canals. A short new canal is proposed to link these canals as part of the New Islington housing scheme.
• The River Avon. The 'Avon Committee' plan to extend the Upper Avon Navigation by about 20km to meet the Grand Union between Warwick and Royal Leamington Spa.
• In the Bow Back Rivers area of east London, the local council has proposed a new 2km long canal.
• Stort Navigation. There has been a call to extend this navigation beyond Bishop's Stortford, with the suggestion that a canal could extend this line through to Cambridge and the Fenland waterways.
At the moment, the proposals for a link to the K.& A. that were put before the AGM, are just that - proposals. However, I believe we should see how far we can take them. One day we may see the fulfilment a 200 year old dream.
(With acknowledgements to'Canal Boat and Inland Waterways'magazine and other sources).
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I am Mary Smith's nephew and I write to you about the piece of land near Slade's Bridge Mary left in her will to the HCC and the Society, and also about Mary's seat which was mentioned in Anne Pengilley's letter (See BCN Nos 196 and 198).
It is hoped that by the time this letter is published that the piece of land will have been "pegged out" (It has) and the ownership of the whole piece will have been clarified. Hopefully, the deed of transfer will also have been completed - A small piece of the land nearest Slade's bridge is part of the Klondike Brick Works, and I intend to keep the Brick Works area in my ownership. This area contains the so-called "garage" (in fact it was a battery hen house}, which, whilst possibly structurally unsound, the Society will continue to be able to use.
On the subject of Mary's seat, I am grateful to Anne Pengilley for mentioning its restoration and the placement of a plaque (see below). However, itis David and Moira Bone who carried out the work and paid for the plaque. David and Moira were long-time friends and neighbours of Mary and I thank them for their love and support during her later years.
The significance of the piece of land is that it features part of the construction bank of the canal and also contains one of the rare Canal markers. When it is opened up I hope it will be an added attraction to the Western end of the Canal.
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From Peter Coxhead to Pablo Haworth, Water Appeal Organiser:
Re : Water Appeal (Back Pumping)
Just to keep the record straight, on behalf of the Woking Group with help from many friends from t'other end, I confirm handing to you on the 1st August 2003, a further cheque in the sum of £1800 for the above Appeal. In addition to this sum, a cheque for £80 was forwarded direct to you from Basingstoke Canal Boat Club tea / coffee earnings at the Bridge Barn. Our total contribution this year is therefore £1880, the source being the 2003 Bridge Barn Festival income (£1376.91), with the balance of (£503.09) coming from the Woking local account.
Our total donations to date are made up as follows :-
1999 and 2000 Bridge Barn Festivals||£2500.00|
|2001 Bridge Barn Festival||£1200.00|
|2001 August Bank Holiday Cotac Event||£500.00|
|2002 Bridge Barn Festival||£1800.00|
|(Includes £326 Boaters cheques)|
|2003 Bridge Barn Festival||£1880.00|
|(Includes £490 Boaters cheques)|
|TOTAL TO DATE||£7880.00|
Peter Coxhead, Woking Organiser
Water Appeal latest
Donations from Miss J. Nunn, Mr.& Mrs. R. Parr, Mrs. N.E.
Goddard, David L Franklin, Tim & Liz Dodwell, and Mike
Mellor, together with £1800 from Easter Bridge Barn have
brought the St John's account up to £7730. Pablo
My wife and I came to the talk by Richard Thomas in October, our first Woking Meeting since joining the Society. We were particularly struck by the Space Walk along the Bridgewater and Taunton Canal. A week later we found ourselves in Taunton and set out to find Pluto, the one planet which could not be fitted onto the canal proper. Richard said it would be found in Safeways car park. This proved to be slightly inaccurate. There is a second car park on the other side of the River Tone for the Brewhouse Theatre. The two are connected by a black footbridge and Pluto is by the bridge but on the opposite side from Safeways. Still, we had some fun trying to find it!
Mooring for sale!
73m offside canal frontage (Fleet) for sale. A site of 0.72 acres of woodland and garden which also contains a detached house with 4 bedrooms (1 ensuite), family bathroom, 3 reception, kitchen/breakfast/family and utility rooms. Double garage, workshop and covered storage area. Gas central heating, double-glazed with window locks throughout. Quiet, end of cul-de-sac location. No onward chain. Offers in region of £469,950.
Contact David & Margaret Back, 29 Forest End, Fleet, Hants GU52 7XE. Tel. 01252 684540
Rosie & Jim? Non - Marie et Jean
We met this lock-side couple whilst on a boating holiday on the Canal d'Ille-et-Rance in Britanny this summer. Most of the locks and their cottages were smothered in hanging baskets of flowers, but this one went one better with its decorations. I asked their names and was told Jean et Marie.
The canal itself was beautifully kept, every lock had a friendly and efficient lock keeper (as long as you didn't try to intrude on their lunch hour), and there were very few boats. Economic madness but very enjoyable. We also noticed that they fish for crayfish, and presumably eat them.
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Extra-Ordinary General Meeting
At this year's annual General Meeting, the Treasurer was unable to present the accounts for the previous year, because he was not satisfied with what he had received from the auditors. The problem was that they failed to show clearly the money received and spent by the Water Appeal.
The matter was easily rectified, but an EGM was needed to accept them formally. This was held in Woking on 15th October and a motion to accept the accounts was proposed by John Paton, seconded by Robin Higgs and accepted unanimously. Peter Harman pointed out an error in the summary of the accounts in the last Newsletter, where the right hand column should, of course, have been dated 31.12.01. My apologies.
In the last newsletter, we reported that Arthur had suffered a heart attack. This time it is a pleasure to report that he is alive and well and out of hospital. Indeed he seemed very full of beans at the October Woking meeting and regailed us with details of his death, resuscitation and other goings-on. He has also completed his house move and his new address and phone number are on the back page.
The talk at the first Woking meeting of the 2003/4 winter season was given by Richard Thomas on the subject of Waterways Wonders. These included the Foxton inclined plane, Harecastle and Standedge tunnels, the Anderton lift, Barton swing aqueduct, Bingley 5-rise and the Falkirk Wheel. Although the subjects were familiar, Richard's knowledge of their history led to a fascinating evening, which was linked together by a tour of the Solar System courtesy of Pip Youngman's "Somerset Space Walk" on the Bridgewater & Taunton canal.
The meetings are still being held at the Westgate Centre on the town side of Chobham Road Bridge. Parking is available there or in nearby Brewery Road car park.
17 December: Frank Banfield - Films of transport, etc.
Frank is back with more of his fascinating film collection.
21 January: Ian Wakeford - Woking Town Centre Illustrated History.
18 February: still to be arranged (but it will be!)
17 March: David Gerry - Pirbeck Minerals & Mining Museum.
Carlton [?] Television's "Country Ways" programme will be featuring the Basingstoke Canal early next year. Seen below, Ron McLaughlin and presenter Jill Cochrane being filmed on the John Pinkerton. (Photo: Hugh Cough)
Contact Verna Smith for your orders (see backpage).
Just in case anybody is still looking for Christmas cards, a reminder that the Society has two A5 size designs on sale at 50p each or £4.50 for 10. Both show winter scenes on the canal, one in portrate format of Lock 27 and the other in landscape format of Stacey's Bridge.
Mail Order Sales
Alec Gosling has given up doing the Society's mail order sales, which in future will be done by Verna Smith (unless someone else would care to volunteer?).
Many thanks for all you[r] efforts, Alec.
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The old bridge on the A325 Farnborough Road is to be rebuilt this winter to withstand modern traffic levels. This will entail closure of the canal at this point from 24 November untilthe week before Easter. The traditional appearance will be retained, as will, unfortunately, the low head room because this is due to the newer bridge built in the 1960s. Should the opportunity ever present itself, the Society will press for this and the other 2 low bridges to be raised to something closer to the BW standard. The fatal accident on the Wey earlier this year demonstrated all too clearly the dangers of such low bridges.
King John's Castle
The Heritage Lottery Fund has made a grant for preservation work on Odiham castle. This could include reinstatement of the moat. It would be nice if this resulted in linking the River Whitewater to the canal, but this seems highly unlikely!
English Nature are sponsoring another programme of tree felling to increase the amount of light getting to plants in the canal. This time the main scene of operations will be Ash Vale. The Society has made its interest known to the local Tree Officer, whose permission is needed for the felling. We intend to have our say before the chain saws start work this time, to try to avoid the rumpus that occurred last year over the programme in Brookwood.
The most recent survey of aquatic plants in the canal made gloomy reading for naturalists, but the cause of the decline has not been identified. After some years of lack of scientific interest, the water quality is to be monitored again. A student at Farnborough College of Technology will sample and analyse the water at 8 sites along the canal 6 times a year.
Given the concern elsewhere about the canal's water quality, it is rather ironic that the Environment Agency has just given permission for up to 7 cubic metres [?] of treated sewage to be discharged daily into the canal at Up Nately.
The Society feels that this could have been piped underthe canal directly into the stream into which the canal overspills at the Brickworks Arm, and is seeking the opinion of English Nature.
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The new owner of the "Wilderness", the large house next to Lock 28, has objected to noise from the dry dock and has
involved the local ombudsman, reportedly accusing the authorities of malpractice.
The dry dock is shown in place on old maps and, since the Society re-built it in 1983, it has been in regular use without any previous complaints. The John Pinkerton has used it every winter since 1985 and had a complete new bottom welded on there about 10 years ago.
The Society made some accurate noise measurements earlier in the year and delivered a report to the BCA which showed that, even on the towpath, the noise from ordinary powertools in the dock was almost inaudible and less than that from trains, aeroplanes and even nearby poultry.
Aldershot Army Camp
The Army is to release 240 acres of land in Aldershot in a redevelopment of its base there, providing space for 2500 new homes. A new bridge over the canal may also be built to replace Silvester's Bridge which they demolished only a couple of years ago.
Such developments have to provide for management of surface water and Peter Redway recommended to the recent JMC meeting that steps should taken to ensure that this would be used to augment the canal's water supply; the suggestion was adopted.
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Brewery Road Car Park
Surrey County Council is to move its headquarters from Kingston, which is no longer in Surrey, to Woking. They propose to build on part on the Brewery Road car park, adjacent to the canal. The building would be 3 storeys high, with a 2 storey underground car park beneath it. The scheme seems to have come as a surprise to Woking and the height of the building contravenes the Council's guidlines for development there.
A letter to local residents claimed that their proposals included enhancing the attractive canal side environment, but gave no indication at all of how this would be achieved. The Society has indicated its unease about the proposal and will be taking a critical look at the detail plans which are to be made available for public comment before the end of the year.
Basingstoke & Deane
Now that responsibility for the Western End has been passed formally to the BCA, the final legal processes are being gone through to bring Basingstoke & Deane onto the canal's Joint Management Committee.
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# What a glorious day! The 'John Pinkerton' 25th Anniversary cruises and BBQ at Colt Hill were blessed with lovely sunny weather and was a time to meet many of the early stalwarts, many of whom have moved away from this area. It was also good to meet up with Colin Bonsey HCC's retired County Recreation Officer whose support was vital in the early days of trying to acquire the canal for public use.
# Interested to watch sequences for a forthcoming Meridian TV Country Ways programme being shot on the Hampshire section of the canal. Canoeists were being filmed at Crookham Deeps and the 'John Pinkerton' at King John's Castle and the Lift-up bridge at North Warnborough. The programme will be shown next Spring or early summer.
# Dog mess on the towpath is still a major problem, especially on the well used public footpath section of the towpath from the Lift-up bridge to King John's Castle. Why won't dog owners clear up aftertheir pets? It took the Society 13 years to get By-Laws introduced forthe canal and towpath but there is not a sign in sight to inform dog owners of the requirement to clear up after their pets. A well publicised prosecution underthe By-Laws might have some effect. Over to you, HCC, SCC and BCA.
# Fanciful thinking! A recent property editorial in the Fleet Courier publicising canal side properties in Fleet for sale stated 'What better way to relax than having the tranquillity of the canal at the bottom of your garden. Fancy an evening stroll or a weekend cycle ride, perhaps a trip to Basingstoke by boat or indeed canoe' (Romans of Fleet).
# Good to hear that the Canal Centre Tea Rooms run by Jeanette Quay are doing good business. The Tea Rooms will be open all winter from Wednesday to Sunday for 'Winter Warmers' for delicious meals, snacks, hot soup and drinks. Ideal for those taking towpath walks or rambling in the woods nearby.
# A litter pick in the Bridge Barn area organised by Margaret Reeder of the Swingbridge Community Boat recovered, in addition to 15 bags of litter, two shopping trolleys, several bicycle tyres plus an abandoned computer. Will people never learn not to use their local amenity as a rubbish dump? It seems to be a way of life for a minority of the population.
# The new Eastrop Link in Basingstoke is now open and the Basingstoke Heritage Society are to be congratulated on working with their Council to install a plaque with information about the canal at this point together with replicas of the tokens with which the navvies were paid when coin was in short supply during the Napoleonic Wars.
# Frimhurst Lodge, by the winding hole at Guildford Road Bridge at Frimley Green had an interesting owner in 1867. Ken Clarke, a local historian in Camberley, has found out that it was once the home of Dame Ethel Smyth, a concert pianist and composer. She was part of the suffragette movement and once reportedly conducted the girls' singing with a toothbrush waved through the bars of her prison cell after she was arrested. She was also a great friend of Empress Eugenie. the widow of Napoleon III, who lived at what is now Farnborough Hill School.
# Congratulations to our Hon. Secretary and Sales Manager, Verna Smith and her team, who won the award for the best Canal Society/Charity stand at the IWA National Waterways Festival at Beale Park, Pangbourne in August. The stand was a great attraction to visitors to the Festival.
# Good to see that Arthur Dungate has recovered from his heart attack and he has now moved to Church Crookham.
# Let's hope the autumn and winter bring above average rainfall to replenish the underground aquifers. With the canal up to 18" below normal, we certainly need it.
Successful Boat Jumble at the National Waterways Festival
Thanks to the generous response to our appeals, we had a wide selection of boat jumble of all shapes and sizes for sale at the IWA Guildford & Reading Grand Boat Jumble at Beale Park. With a steady stream of customers throughout the event, most of the goods had been sold by the Monday afternoon and over £800 raised to support local waterways.
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(From Society Newsletters No.54 Jan-Feb 1974 and No.55 Mar-Apr 1974)
• The first two official working parties have taken place and were highly successful. 60 people attended on the Saturday and 120 on the Sunday, and cleared the jungle of the towpath from Barley Mow Bridge to Sprats Hatch Bridge, Winchfield, a distance of just over a mile. The second party cleared the towpath from Broad Oak Bridge, Odiham to Sprats Hatch Bridge and was attended by a similar number of people.
• Among interesting items which came to light under Barley Mow Bridge were a 'marble' stopper pop bottle and stone 'marmalade'jars.
• Restoration plans for 1974 included:
HCC to use contractors to repair the Whitewater Aqueduct, Colt Hill culvert and North Warnborough culvert.
SHCS volunteers to clear the towpath, except in the military area, from Greywell to the county boundary to agreed standards. Also to clear all the bridge holes and rubbish from Barley Mow westwards and if complete to start from Barley Mow eastwards. Also to move the steam dredger to the towpath from Reading in June and to scale and paint hull ready for launching. Army to clear towpath and rubbish from canal bed in military area.
• In February 1974 a small group of SHCS volunteers will be visiting the Stratford-on-Avon Canal to assist the National Trust/Waterway Recovery Group with maintenance.
• Bolinders Co. Ltd of Kings Cross have given to the Society a free loan of an Archimedes Penta U2215hp outboard engine. The engine was soon put to work powering the work pontoon to enable overhanging branches to be cut back. This type of engine is just being introduced into UK and the Society is using one of the first to be delivered. The pontoon is the first work boat on the canal for over a quarter of a century.
• A private demonstration of the steam dredger was recently staged forthe benefit of Hampshire CC. Messrs Pumprett, Bonsey and Dixon saw the vessel in steam and working once again on the Kennet and Avon Canal at Reading and were delighted at the lack of noise and obvious efficiency.
• HCC have now made a formal planning application for the Odiham By-Pass, first proposed at a public meeting in Odiham in February 1973. On the whole the scheme is acceptable to the Society with the exception to the proposal for the B3016 Hartley Wintney road to be carried over the new by-pass requiring the construction of a new bridge alongside Colt Hill Bridge and the provision of embankments of a maximum height of some 25ft. Visually this would be disastrous for the canal environment and the Society proposed making the London Road a cul-de-sac at Colt Hill with traffic from Odiham to Hartley Wintney being channelled via Broad Oak roundabout. (This suggestion was later adopted by HCC).
• The Society AGM on February 161974 was attended by about 170 members, about a tenth of the membership, which is very encouraging. Sales Manager Tony Jarrett reported that sales had topped £1000 for the first time. Costs for moving the dredger from Reading to Fleet will be between £700 and £1000 but it is hoped to obtain sponsorship for the move.
• There was discussion at the AGM about motor cruisers being allowed on the restored canal. After discussion it became clear that all those present were in favour of motor cruisers being allowed providing that sensible regulations governing them were established.
• Observant members must have noticed that this Newsletter now features photographs for the first time, on a trial basis.
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SKATING ON THE CANAL
"The prolonged spell of keen frost held over the Sunday, and the more sportive of the community were much in evidence where the ice held. Especially on the Canal from North Camp to the Wharf Bridge were the sliders and skaters in force, and with the surface favourable - although a little rough in places, good sport was the result. Mere man predominated of course, but there was no lack of venturesome damsels who glided swiftly and gracefully along on the arm of soldier or civilian, much to the evident satisfaction of large crowds which congregated on the banks. During the afternoon the spectatorate swelled considerably, and the many amusing incidents - side slips, falls and figure cutting collapses - whiled away an afternoon most pleasantly, despite the nippy cold atmosphere which abounded. Fortunately although there were many immersions in the Canal, no fatalities were reported".
Discovered by Janet Hedger in the Fleet News, Odiham & Hartley Wintney Gazette No. 684, Saturday, January 18th 1908
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Lesley Richards has been doing a great job as our Membership Secretary for the past few years, fitting in between her paid job of creating and maintaining websites. Unfortunately for us, the website job has proved to be such a success that both she and her husband are now employed full time at it and she doesn't feel that they can find time to do justice to the Membership Secretary job.
Therefore, we are looking for someone with a tidy mind, a modest degree of computer competence and, most of all, a bit of spare time, to fill this essential job for the Society. We could provide a computer and there is a well set up membership database ready to go.
An ideal job for a retired person, who would like to do something to help the canal, but doesn't feel like getting covered in mud!
If you feel that you might be interested in taking this on, or even just lending a helping hand, and would like to know more about it, please give Lesley a call on 01252 684112.
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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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