No. 203 AUTUMN 2004
This year's Farnborough Air Show passed off uneventfully, but it was a different story in 1968. One has to ask whether such damage could be caused by the canal today.
Canals are artificial wateways and what man builds, nature can, and will, destroy given time. So the answer must be "Yes", unless maintenance is adequate to prevent it. The real questions are what the likelihood is and what the consequences would be today.
There is no doubt that in most ways the canal is in a far better state today than it was in 1968. However, the threat of trees falling over is propbably even greater now since they have had nearly another 40 years to grow. The New Basingstoke Canal Company was free to fell trees as and when it saw fit, without reference to the local tree Officer or English Nature and without worrying overmuch about what the public thought, but not a lot of systematic tree management was done during the restoration period.
The BCA is having to cope with a huge backlog of tree maintenance. If the oak tree that came down near Blacksmith's Bridge, reported in the last Newsletter, had gone the other way, it could have taken the bank with it and emptied the Hampshire pound into Tundry Pond.
As for consequences, one only has to imagine what the effect of a repeat of the other 1968 breach, on the Ash Embankment, would be. There are far more houses now around the canal, many of which are situated near embankments, and the effects of millions of gallons of water pouring down from a height of 20 or 30 feet would almost certainly be enough to demolish the average house.
The canal is a great public amenity, but all concerned with local government should remember that it is also a great liability.
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The other thing that the BCA has to contend with is vandalism, also reported elsewhere in this issue. It may be tempting to say that the boats should have been moored out of harm's way, but this is actually very difficult to achieve, particularly if you are short of manpower and don't want to spend all your time driving them about the canal. Vandals actually put a lot of effort into being a nuisance once they find something that looks fun to mess with.
We tend to think that this is a modern phenomenon, but the archives of the New Basingstoke Canal Company are full of reports of vandalism, up to and including the use of explosives by soldiers. Mrs Marshall's response was to recruit large numbers of volunteer bailiffs to keep an eye on things. We have the Lengthman scheme today, but all members of the Society are encouraged to keep an eye open for problems and to report them to the BCA (01252-370073) or the Police.
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I was delighted to get an e-mail from Andy Stumpf saying YES!!!!! He had just got the news that British Waterways' application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant for the Cotswold Canals had been successful. They now have a year to find funding to match the £11 million grant which will pay for the Phase 1 restoration of a six-mile stretch of canal from Stonehouse on the Stroudwater Navigation in the west to Brimscombe Port on the Thames & Severn Canal east of Stroud.
I am still amazed that this is still actually happening and, even more, that BW's top list of 18 more projects for possible completion by 2025 includes the Wilts & Berks Canal, which seemed even more of a forlorn hope. They list another 3 projects which have less direct connection with BW, and these include the Slough-Windsor link between the Thames and Grand Union, and the Wey & Arun. In this issue there is a Press Release from the Trust about their latest restoration progress. In 20 years time we could have a real network of Southern canals.
We obviously need to get our proposals for a link to the K & A added to this list.
If you want to see what Waterways 2025 is all about, have a look at www.britishwaterways.co.uk
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It's a curious thing that as soon as the BCA issues a canal closure notice in response to falling water levels, the heavens open. The canal was due to close on 11th August, but thanks to several downpours, the levels have risen again. It remains to be seen whether it can cling on to the end of the season, but it seems unlikely.
We still need more back-pumping or a reservoir.
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A canoe polo match at the Odiham Rally. Photo: Roger Cansdale.
The arrival of swallows has been a sign of summer for many years; those associated with the canal also expect a closure notice when hot sunny conditions last for a few weeks. This year is no exception as the canal has now been closed to through navigation, as the main holiday period commenses.
Navigation is open from the River Wey to Woking and from Deepcut top lock to North Warnborough, locks at St Johns, Brookwood and Deepcut being closed to conserve remaining water supplies in the summit pound.
Woking levels remain close to normal, some lock pounds at St Johns are already low and the contrast above and below Lock 7 is significant, a confirmation that the pumping policy is effective.
Cllr John Phillips (Chairman of the canal's Joint Management Committee) chaired a recent meeting on the dry dock with representatives of Surrey County Council, Guildford Borough Council and the Canal Authority, and the Society attended.
Issues arrising from the complaints of noise nuisance from the dry dock made to Guildford BC by a resident were tabled. Guildford Officers confirmed an evaluation of restricted working with power tools, imposed by the Canal Authority, as fitting the pattern of logged activities made by the complainant. This trial restricted power tool use in the dry dock, to three days per week for intermitent periods during these days.
My request for a Guildford Councillor to provide an update to his report compiled and circulated some 18 months ago, so as to reflect the current changes in dry dock operations was refused.
A proposal drafted by the complainant, reducing activity in the dry dock to one day a week for the use of power tools, was tabled by Guildford Officers. This is a serious development and if imposed may prevent commercial craft operating on the canal, including our trip boat, from being properly maintained and surveyed for operating licences.
Surrey County Council, as owners of the canal, will be meeting with the complainant on the issues raised. Whilst the complainant, as second comer, has rights, the County should ensure that a viable dry dock facility is retained on the canal for the benefit of other people, who also have rights.
Surrey County Council HQ
At a recent well attended public meeting of the Woking Planning Committee the application for a new SCC HQ at Brewery Road was passed by 10 votes to 6. I understand that the decision will be referred to the government for ratification.
If approved, the application contains enhancements for the canal in Woking including a mooring facility. An ecological study of the canal and bank adjacent to the site will decide details of construction; this is expected during August.
Canal Finance and Management
The canal is funded by contributions from the County Councils and Riparian Districts on an agreed formula each financial year; the budget for this year was proposed as £500,000.
Some districts have not been able to contribute their full amounts with the result the Canal Authority started the year with a £57,000 shortfall.
Identified works required to maintain the canal in a safe and usable condition have been estimated at some £2 million, and with a reduced budget and insufficient reserves the BCA requires a massive injection of funds.
The Society is of the opinion that as some district councillors who have supported the canal for many years have retired, present councillors may not be aware of the facilities the canal provides for their residents, or of the importance of the safety aspects of the canal through their district.
A series of presentations to districts is being planned by the Society on the benefits of the canal and the value for money it provides. We hope to influence the decision-makers prior to the setting of next year's allocations. The County Councils will also be presenting a similar case to the respective districts.
The canal finances are, in my opinion, insufficient for the task of reducing the maintenance backlog and significant increases are required, a similar case to British Waterways some years ago.
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St Johns Back Pumping Project
Work on the St Johns Backpumping project has continued through the spring and summer. Excellent progress has been achieved with Society volunteers and visiting groups working on installation of the pipeline.
Consent of English Heritage was required prior to crossing the approach to Langmans Bridge, the bridge being a listed structure, this was given subject to a 4-week's notice of evacuation being given. Crossing the bridge approach involved letters to residents advising them of the dates and vehicle access, also the diversion of the towpath for the duration of the work.
Completion of the pipeline has been delayed by several unexpected factors including an underground oak tree and an uncharted gas main (see pictures below). These compounded an already difficult situation where care was having to be taken to avoid electricity and fibre optic cables.
|Tree stump obstruction||
Dave Lunn attacking tree stump|
We are now preparing for the summer camp which will commence the construction of the pump well. Society volunteers will continue the structure after the camp closes, with a target to complete in the autumn.
Details of the camp and volunteers' progress will be reported in the next newsletter.
Future working party dates
|25-28 Sept||PR/DJ/DL||St Johns Pipeline|
|9-10 Oct||PR/DJ/DL||St Johns Pipeline|
|23-24 Oct||PR/DJ/DL||St Johns Pipeline|
|13-14 Nov||PR/DJ/DL||St Johns Pipeline|
|27-28 Nov||PR/DJ/DL||St Johns Pipeline|
|11-12 Dec||PR/DJ/DL||St Johns Pipeline|
PR PETER REDWAY 01483 721710
DL DAVE LUNN 01483 771294
DJ DAVE JUNKISON 0208 941 0685
KR KEVIN REDWAY 01483 722 206
We have received further donations from the following:-
Dick Snell, D & B Woods of Horsell, Ian Moore of Woking and a large collection from the John Pinkerton.
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Restoration of the canal's locks, particularly those of the Deepcut flight was an amazing achievement. However, both the Society volunteers and the Surrey County Council staff who oversaw the work were on a very steep learning curve and with the benefit of hindsight, it is now clear that some things could have been done better.
Of course it is possible that if we had tried to do better at the time, the locks might never have got rerstored at all. However, the consequences today are that several locks have suffered from water geting round and through the sides of the chambers and eroding the ground. This has resulted in some spectacular holes suddenly appearing and also a number of by-wash pipes collapsing.
The BCA managed to impress the severity of the situation on Surrey County Council, who had funded a programme of work to inject urea-formaldehyde foam into the ground adjacent to the locks. The work was done by a company called GroundSafe based in Norfolk, using a technique developed in Holland. Work done at a Dutch university indicates that the foam injection is environmentally safe and should last for at least 50 years.
Steve Keevil-Jones and his Dutch colleague Martin van Zwolgen operated from a boat containing the tanks of chemicals and assorted pumps.
The first step at each lock was to check for voids in the ground. This was done with the aid of a water jet nozzle attached to the end of a long pole. This was used to probe the ground and appeared to be very effective at finding any dodgy areas - the pole just slid down 7 or 8 feet into the ground.
Once the area to be treated had been identified, the second stage was the actual foam injection, again done by means of a long pipe that was pushed into the ground. The top was sealed by means of earth to try to ensure that the foam filled any underground cavities.
The process seemed to work, as foam could be seen squeezing out between the brickwork in places. It was also noticable that a number of spots in the lower wing walls where water was squirting out, suddenly dried up as the foam went in.
It remains to be seen how effective this system is, but the Dutch should be the people to know about stopping water going where it's not wanted. Even if it doesn't do a permanent job, it buys time for the Canal Authority and it has to be repeated in 20 years' time, so be it.
The 'Woking vandals' have excelled themselves recently. A car was pushed into the canal and the BCA's dredger Unity, returned from its tree removing task in Hampshire, was called in to remove it.
Unfortunately, before the car could be dumped, the vandals returned that night and set it alight. The Fire Brigade's efforts to extinguish it left the dredger's hold full of water, but little real damage was done.
This was not the case, however, when they returned for a third time and attacked the dredger itself, cutting hydraulic pipes and causing several thousand pounds worth of damage. These attacks are not confined to Woking either, because the BCA's work boat has been repeatedly damaged in Hampshire. Windows were smashed and holes were drilled in it causing it to sink when it was moored at the Water Witch. Idiots!
This year's Farnborough Air Show in July provided another profitable week for the John Pinkerton, taking guests of one of the companies exhibiting down to Eelmoor, where they were taken into the show by bus, to be returned later for lunch and a view of the flying from the bankside, complete with liquid refreshment.
The John Pinkerton at Eelmoor with some of its passengers
just visible on top of the bank, watching the Red Arrows display.
Back in 1968 the relationship between the Canal and the Air Show was rather less happy. A review of events provides a salutory lesson as to what can happen if the funds and staff levels are inadequate to keep the canal maintained properly.
In 1968 the canal was still owned by the New Basingstoke Canal Company, but it was in a parlous condition, largely because it had lost its only real source of income, the sale of water to the National Gas Turbine Establishment at Pyestock. The Society's campaign to restore it was under way, but the real start of the work was still a couple of years away.
On the Sunday evening before the start of the Show, following several days of torrential rain, the bank of the canal near Eelmoor gave way. By the time that the Airfield Engineer, John Loader (BCA Ranger Andy Loader's father) arrived on the scene at 6.15pm, the flood water on the main runway was 2ft deep and rising rapidly. A call was made to the Army for assistance and 50 trainees from the Royal Engineers arrived at 9 o'clock and started filling and placing 1,000 sandbags.
Flooded airfield, 1st day of Show in 1968
(pic by Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST)
However, soon it was apparent that this was not working and that something bigger was needed to plug the hole. The fuselage of an old Devon aircraft that had been earmarked for practice by the fire brigade was brought by lorry from the other side of the airfield and manhandled into position by the soldiers, struggling waist deep in water. Another call was made to the Ministry of Public Works in Aldershot who managed to produce lorry-loads of rock and clay in a matter of hours.
The soldiers worked all through the night and it looked as if the breach would be filled some time in the morning. However, an old oak tree whose roots had been loosened by the flood, suddenly toppled over, leaving a 35ft gap through which the water flowed freely again.
At this point a decision was made to bring in heavy equipment. The Head of RAE's 42 Dept requisitioned the vehicles he needed, damned the canal near Eelmoor Bridge and 200 yards the other side of the breach and waited for the water level to drop. Bulldozers were then used to move tons of hard core, hoggin and clay puddle into place.
Repairs to the breach nearly complete, with temporary dam visible in top left corner (pic by Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST)
By Monday evening the battle was won, but the only aircraft to fly on the first day of the Air Show were helicopters and the Harrier, providing a convincing demonstration of the advantages of vertical take-off and landing. However, within a day, the airfield drainage system had cleared the floods, leaving only a collection of dead fish to be removed from the runway. Sadly, the year's misfortunes were not over, because on the Friday, the Breguet Atlantic aircraft crashed, killing 6 people.
Some time later the RAE received a strongly worded letter from the Canal Company announcing its intention to sue the RAE for trespass. Presumably this was a pre-emptive attempt by the Company's lawyers to deter the inevitable claim from the Ministry of Technology for damage to the airfield. Needless to say, it failed.
In July 1971 our late Vice-President, Cranley Onslow, MP for Woking, asked in the House of Commons whether the Minister was pursuing a claim against the Canal Company, and was told that this was the intention. However, it was not until 1973 that BC News was able to report that a settlement had been reached.
It is still possible to identify the site of the breach. There is a depression in the towpath, which is full of builder's rubble, and a metal detector can still pick up signs of the aircraft fuselage.
My thanks to John Loader for his reminiscences and to the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) for the photos. If you would like to join this very worthy group that is trying to preserve the unique aeronautical heritage of Farnborough, contact their Membership Secretary, John Binge, 11 Coleford Bridge Road, Mytchett, Camberley, Surrey GU16 6DH.
There were fears that the annual gathering of boats at Odiham on the late May bank holiday would have to be cancelled again due to lack of support. However, thanks to a bit of gentle persuation behind the scenes, about a dozen boats made their way to Colt Hill.
|They were joined by a group of visiting steam launches (pic left).|
Rather to everyone's surprise, they were joined also by a canoe polo competition. This took place between the Basingstoke & Deane Canoe Club and the Alencon Town Canoe Club. Apparently it is one of the few remaining events from what was originally a Festival of Sport between the twinned towns.
Although the event was not co-ordinated with the Odiham Rally, there was plenty of room in the winding hole and it provided an entertaining interlude. All the participants got very wet and probably drank rather more of the canal than was good for them, but they didn't seem to mind. I have no idea who won.....
As usual, this annual performance on the Basingstoke was due to take place behind the Fox & Hounds in Fleet. The weather forecast though was very unpromising and at mid-day, David Millett took the decision to transfer to the nearby Fleet Football Club premises. Ten minutes befiore the show was due to start it looked as if we were going to miss a lovely evening, but as it started, David was proved right as the heavens opened.
The show, "On the Line" dealt with 200 years of British railways and was the usual entertaining mixture of songs, wit and social comment. It was much enjoyed by the audience who just about packed the bar area.
The cast, Robert Took, Peter Toon, Marianne McNamara and Elizabeth Eves
Our thanks to the Fleet Football Club for their hospitality, to David Millett for organising it all and, of course, to the Mikron Theatre Company for taking the trouble to visit us again. Let's hope that one day the canal will be fit for a visit by the Theatre Company's boat Tyseley.
We had no volunteers to take over Arthur Dungate's role as Woking Talks Organiser, but David Millett has stepped into the breach (temporarily he hopes) and has set up a programme for the winter months.
The venue has also had to change and will be the Parish Pavilion at Chobham - see the map. Start time will be the usual 8pm on the third Wednesday of the month.
Wednesday 20 October 2004
Bob Lang from Swan Life Line, Wibdsor:-
The mute swan, lifecycle, problems and how the Life Line helps.
Wednesday 17 November 2004
Narrow boat down the River Rhone and back. The Rhone is one of France's mightiest rivers and it is a daunting journey fpr a narrow boat from Lyon to the Mediterranean.
Wednesday 15 December 2004
Peter Crawford - Update on the K & A Canal's £29 million improvements programme.
Wednesday 19 January 2005
Paul Bryant of the Cobham Mill Preservation Trust:-
Restoration of this ancient Watermill.
The Basingstoke Canal fast seems to be becoming the place to do broadcasting from. It has featured in a couple of television programmes and on 3 July, the BBC's Radio 4 programme "Excess Baggage", presented by Sandi Toksvig was broadcast from Merlin cruising from the Canal Centre.
Sandy's guests were Olga Kevalos, one of the "Idle Women" who worked on the canals in WW2, Paul Gogarty, author of "The Water Road: An Odyssey Through England by Narrowboat" and Andrew Cracknell, who specialises in journeys by container ship.
Olga joined the Inland Waterways Wartime Volunteers aged 21 in 1943 to take over the narrowboat freighting jobs of the men sent to war, until VE Day. She worked on the boats for nearly three years - it paid £2.10 shillings a week.
It was nice to find that the Basingstoke Canal link at the bottom of the article about this programme on the BBC's website took you straight to the Society's website; as indeed it should, Arthur Dungate being an ex-BBC man!
SWIMMING THE CANAL
On the Friday of the Farnborough Air Show, the Pinkerton returned its final load of visitors from Eeelmoor to the Fox & Hounds and then had to be taken back to Odiham. The Society's Committee availed themselves of the opportunity for a long sociable cruise and volunteered to do the job.
As the boat approached Chequers Wharf to pick up the fish and chips, they were surprised to find themselves temporarily obstructed by an inflatable boat and a shoal of scuba divers.
It transpired that these were a group of 6 Royal Engineer from the 9th Para Squadron doing a charity swim for thi British Limbless Ex-Serviceman's Association and the Frimley Park Hospital Life Savers Appeal. They swam the entire length of the canal over 2 days in a time of 46 hours.
According to the local paper their leader, Staff Sgt Mick Stewart, said "It was a bit arduous going through all 29 locks, but not a problem really".
Do 6 frogmen going through a lock use as much water as a narrow boat? (Sorry, shouldn't have asked!)
Nancy Larcombe's impression of what the camal frontage of Surrey County Council's new headquarters at Brewery Road, Woking might look like.
Peter Redway received recently the following letter:-
Before rushing off on leave I would just like to express my thanks for the hard work put in by the Canal Society on securing what would appear to be a decent sum of money for canalside improvements in association with the new HQ development. Peter Coxhead has worked particularly hard on this and I believe has done a great job - although there is probably a bit more to do yet!
It is a very good example of how the Society's "independent" status can work well and how we can all continue to work in partnership for the betterment of the canal.
Please pass on my appreciation to all those involved to date!
The background to this is the plan by Surrey County Council to move their headquarters from Kingston, which is now no longer technically in Surrey, to the Brewery Road Car Park site in Woking.
The Society's Committee had mixed feelings about this since there has been a hope for a long time to see the site used in a way that would enhance the canal, and a large office block was not the best way of doing this.
However, recognising that our aspirations would probably not stop SCC's plans, we determined to try to get the best deal possible for the canal. In particular, we wanted to see improved facilities for boats visiting Woking, such as a hard edged mooring area. Unfortunately, English Nature have decided to flex their muscles again and object to this, despite the fact that it is not an SSSI and there is no definite evidence of rare species there. The developers have used this as an excuse to stone wall our proposals.
However, Peter Coxhead has indeed been busy lobbying everyone with any influence. At a recent meeting of the planning committee, the outline planning application was approved by 10 votes to 6, and it included Section 106 planning gains of £1. Ok for the back-pumping scheme and £150k for general canal improvements in Woking.
We will continue to press for decent moorings. English Nature are doing a survey shortly and we shall be closely monitoring their findings.
OTHER RESTORATION PROGRESS
First boats seen at the Wey & Arun Canal's Lordings Lock for over 100 years
Photos by Julian Morgan and Janet Phillips, courtesy of the Wey & Arun Trust
A volunteer working party led by Winston Harwood, a member of The Wey and Arun Canal Trust, has restored the remote Lordings site. This is about a mile from any road; the nearest village is Wisborough Green on the A272. On Sunday, May 23rd, a 1/2 mile stretch of newly cleared canal saw its first boats in about a hundred years at a special Small Boats event. Canoes, punts and even a small powered cruiser took to the water (Above left). The intrepid navigators were able to inspect the only turf-sided lock on the canal, the unique flood gates and the recently completed Flood Gate Bridge.
On the same day, the Trust celebrated the opening of the reconstructed water-wheel nearby (Above right). The rare, if not unique "undershot" wheel is about 14 feet in diameter and lifts water 10 feet from the River Arun into the Arun Navigation. It is powered purely by the force of the river Arun. Trust volunteers are also restoring the historic canal lock next to the wheel.
A new walkway which runs for 200 yards alongside the canal has been built, together with a new footbridge over a recently excavated section of river which is believed to have served as a flood relief measure. The site can be found on OS Explorer Map 134 or Landranger 197 at TW056245.
Winston, who led the restoration of this part of the canal, said he was delighted that the reconstructed wheel was attracting so much interest from passing walkers. At present the water raised by the wheel runs neatly back into the river on the other side on the canal. When restoration of the canal is complete, it will serve its original purpose of ensuring an adequate water supply.
For general information on the work of the Wey and Arun
Canal Trust, please telephone the Trust office on 01403
On 21 July, British Waterways issued a Press Release of which this is a part:-
"The restoration of the Cotswold Canals took a huge leap forward today, with British Waterways' bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an £11 million grant towards the first major phase of their restoration receiving a Stage One pass.
The bid, made by British Waterways on behalf of the Cotswold Canals Partnership, seeks just under half the funding for the conservation-led restoration of a six-mile
stretch of canal from The Ocean at Stonehouse on the Stroudwater Navigation in the west to Brimscombe Port on the Thames & Severn Canal east of Stroud.
As part of the project, the Partnership will also acquire the remaining four miles of the Stroudwater Navigation between Stonehouse and Saul Junction. This will ensure the protection of its historic structures, it will open a 10-mile multi-user trail and prepare the way for connecting the restored phase one section with the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal in the future".
Dear Mr Cansdale,
I, and others are well aware of the dangers facing the canal. At the next meeting of the JMC the funding situation will be discussed and, at my request, data to show how the deficit has developed historically will be presented.
In 1968 I was elsewhere but my connections with this area go back to 1980 when I became a Student Engineer at the RAE. I've been a Society member more or less continually since about 1984, permanently resident in Farnborough since 1986 and a Rushmoor representative on the JMC since 2000 (I was elected in 1999).
Although the various local authorities have representatives on the JMC (and many other bodies) those individuals generally have no formal "linkage" into the budgeting process. The introduction of the cabinet system (Rushmoor adopted it in 2001) has concentrated the decision making in the hands of a small number of councillors and the rest primarily exercise their influence thrugh the overview/scrutiny system where they can make recommendations to Cabinet or "call in" decisions made by Cabinet.
I believe that overview/scrutiny is a good mechanism to try and "persuade" the deficit authorities to see the error of their ways. The society needs to research what the canal "does" for these Boroughs, get the overview/scrutiny function to "investigate" the canal and then try and get the society along as a "witness" to give a short (5 to 10 minutes maximum), focussed, presentation that explains how supporting the canal helps fulfil the particular Council's objectives/priorities.
Researching the benefits of the canal to a particular Borough could well reveal a few surprises - of a positive nature! At present there are only a few defiocit Boroughs - reducing that number by the 2005-6 fiscal year will require a certain amount of hard work but is far from impossible. I'm unsure how peer comparision of this sort affects local government but it is certainly something that can be used in the local media.
Your comments comparing the funding the Basingstoke Canal receives with that of other waterways was something i was unaware of but I'm reminded of an ancient Chinese proverb to the effect that "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step".
All the best.
John Wall - Empress Ward Councillor, Rushmoor BC
Editor: John Wall also sent us a very useful explanation of the local government funding process and how best to influence it, which we intend to use to the full.
In the course of the fascinating correspondence regarding lock water usage on Page 11 of the Summer BCN, you write:
"The BCA's policy of leaving locks empty may have its reasons, but it also may lead to unnecessary use of water".
I have read in sundry places - but cannot now recall where - that one reason why the Kennet & Avon Canal declined during the period that it was under the control of the Great Western Railway was that Company's insistence that locks be left empty after boats had passed through. In time, this led to the bottom gates drying out and leaking badly thus making progress so difficult that by the time Nationalisation came in 1948 the navigation was almost impassable. This no doubt suited the GWR and the successor British Railways Western Region/Waterways Executive; traffic could then be concentrated on rail and the expanding fleets of road lorries.
The same policiy, viz. leaving locks empty, is followed on the Basingstoke Canal. It may be that the reason has been explained in a previous Basingstoke Canal News, if so, sorry, I missed it.
But then, perhaps the reason has yet to be explained; if so, can we be enlightened as to why our locks have to be emptied after use? If the K&A story is true, will this not lead to accelerated deterioration of our lock gates? It is of course possible that the story of the Great Western and the Kennet & Avon locks is one of those "watery myths", whereby someone somewhere (at one end of a public bar perhaps) puts forward a theory and by the time it reaches the saloon bar it has become an established fact. Perhaps all of the K&A infrastructure was neglected to such an extent anyway that rotten lock gates were the least of many hazards that hindered passage.
To repeat: can we be enlightened as to why the BCA policy differs to that followed on other waterways where locks are left either full or empty after use, regardless? In anticipation, thanks.
Editor: You're absolutely right about the effect on the gates, but I understand the reason for the BCA's policy is their greater concern about the actual structure of the lock chambers, which is not as watertight as it should be in many cases. This allows water to seep into the surrounding ground and, eventually, to erode large holes, as has happened in several places. Locks that were restored later are probably better than the Deepcut ones in this respect.
An Unhappy Day in the Life of a Woking Swan
During one of the trips on the Basingstoke by the Woking Recreational Boating for the Handicapped Group in the "Maggie G", crew member Colin Ray spotted a swan distressfully entangled in a fishing line and also embedded in the waterside reeds. As soon as he returned home, his wife rang the RSPCA but due to work pressure, they were not sure when an Inspector could visit. Colin and his daughter went out at dusk in order to check the situation. They found the swan still trapped in the reeds so with the aid of good lighting from the boat, they managed to at least cut the line, thus allowing the bird to swim away but still with part of the line wound around its beak. I was asked if I knew of a local Swan Sanctuary. Regretfully, I didn't, but I thought "I knew a man who would", in this case the Internet. I passed a couple of numbers to them but they proved to be on no use.
The following morning the BCA suggested the following:-SWAN RESCUE, Trevorand Sue Fox, 01483 765108. I am pleased to report that Mrs Fox found the swan and successfully removed the offending fishing line.
I tell the story because, I hope members will take note of this contact number and if they hear of a similar situation, they will quickly be able to limit the suffering of a swan. Also, please advise the BCA if you see and cannot remove a loose fishing line which you consider could affect the swans.
There seem to be more and more reports of alien species in the Canal. We have mentioned before the American Signal Crayfish which now infest much of its length and whose burrows can be seen in the banks as water levels drop, but now we have tutles and catfish as well.
A 35lb catfish was caught in Surrey and must have given the anglera bit of a shock. Also surprised was Nigel Searle who sent me the following photo and note:
"Thought you might be interested to see this turtle I came across sunning itself in the canal between Arthur's Bridge and Lockfield Drive, Woking, today. Sorry about the picture quality but it's the nearest I could get to the beast without actually joining it in the canal! Although not obvious from the photo it is about 10" long, and did not seem at all concerned by my presence. After a while it swam off as if totally at home in what certainly isn't its natural habitat. Unfortunately it is probably a pet that has grown too big and, as a consequence, been dumped. Hopefully it hasn't gota mate as I don't suppose there are any predatory species in this country that would keep numbers in check if breeding took place".
Above: Not an alien but a native freshwater mussel. Many of these were exposed when one of the Deepcut pounds was drained to allow work on a lock, Ranger John Green went up and down the banks and threw them back into the water in the centre channel. Unlike their seawater cousins, they are creamy coloured and some 4 inches long. Don't know what they taste like but mixed with crayfish, we could have the makings of a Basingstoke bouillabaisse.
If anyone spots an alligator, tell the BCA. They need something to guard their boats (see page 5).
A Tribute to Alec Gosling
As noted in the previous issue of the BCN, Alec Gosling, who was definitely one of the "characters" in our Society, passed away recently, aged 68. I expect that most of you, like me, were not aware that he had been diagnosed with a heart malfunction way back in 1987. Again quoting my experience, despite this set back, whenever our paths crossed at various canal functions, he was always cheerful, usually "pulling my leg" about something or other.
Alec and Betty and of course their narrow boat "Betty G" have for many years figured prominently in the local boating scene having attended numerous IWA and SHCS rallies including the Bridge Barn Festivals, indeed he acted as harbourmaster at the first of these events. He was a member of the organising committee for the Re-opening celebrations in 1991, his particular responsibility being in charge of the Eastward (down stream) Cruise from Frimley Park down to New Haw. Also until last year, he ran the postal sales forthe Society.
In addition to his membership of the IWA and SHCS, he was also a member of the Basingstoke Canal Boat Club, Weybridge Mariners, Byfleet Boat Club, Oatlands Park Pipe Band and the Royal Air Force Association.
A memorable event occurred in 1999, when Alec and Betty concluded one of a number of lengthy trips around the UK canal system, by attending the "London on Water" rally, joining a large number of craft from all over Europe and the UK. A competition had been arranged for longest trip to the rally and "Betty G's" trip log was duly entered. Alec and Betty were awarded the Pavilion d'Or which I believe was the top award for power boating in Europe for 1999. The presentation took place in the Painted Hall at Greenwich with Alec and Betty wearing their traditional boating outfits. That must have been a great day to remember.
Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Betty, her two daughters and her grandson. We hope that we will see Betty at one or two of our future events on the Basingstoke.
STAN KNIGHT - a Tribute
The Canal Society and indeed the canal itself lost one of its staunchest supporters when Stan Knight died in July. Although he was never involved in the running of the Society, his 30 year's of service on the Crookham Village Parish Council made him an invaluable ally. As well as helping with restoration work, he persuaded many others to do likewise, and he crewed both the Pinkerton and the various boats for the handicapped.
Stan Knight (centre) and some of his many friends
at the Pinkerton's 25th Anniversay last year
"Old Stan" as always he seemed to be referred to affectionately, had lived virtually all his life in Crookham Village, as had his father and grandfather before him. As a keen local historian, he had in fact traced his ancestors back to John English, yeoman of Crookham, who died in 1681. Stan remembered his father taking him as a small boy to see a narrowboat that had just moored in the winding hole at Chequer's Bridge, whose remains were still there until a few years ago.
Although Stan had a great interest and knowledge of local history, he was also passionate about preserving the future of his village. He recognised that for a community to survive, it needed children, which in turn meant young couples, who needed somewhere they could afford to live. This is becoming increasingly difficult to find in this part of the world and Stan was instrumental in getting some housing built for rent to such people. In recognition of his efforts, the road was named Knight Close.
One of my memories of him was meeting him at King John's Castle one Tuesday evening in the early '80s as we were turning the Pinkerton. He and his dog had just celebrated his 60th birthday by walking the length of the canal. His grandfather probably would not have regarded this as any great feat, since he used to walk from Crookham to the Greywell saw mill every working day, but it seemed a pretty good effort to me. I only wish I had had time to get a few more of his stories written down.
Perhaps as good an epitaph as any is an e-mail sent to me by Arthur Dungate -
"I remember him as a kind friendly person, who should not be forgotten".
He won't be. Our love and condolences go to Iris and the rest of his family.
# The updated 2nd Edition of the Basingstoke Canal Guide is well worth buying for all the up-to-date information it contains. The new edition has a green cover and copies at £3.50 (plus p&p) can be obtained by ringing Verna Smith on 01252 517622 or e-mail: email@example.com to make an order and delivery arrangements.
# My reference to the lack of moorhens and coots in the Spring Newsletter mainly referred to the Hampshire section of the canal (excluding Greywell cutting). I am pleased to see they are thriving in Great Bottom Flash and in the Ash Vale area. Hopefully numbers will recover elsewhere where they are presently lacking.
# Good to see many people in the Fleet area used the towpath to walk or cycle to the biennial Farnborough Air Show whether to visit the show or just watch from the airfield perimeter by Eelmoor Flash. Also pleased to see many boats moored there on the public days with the 'John Pinkerton' used for the regular charter to the show during the trade days.
# The late first mowing of the canal towpath this year didn't help public relations along the canal. With the heavy rainstorms we experienced the fast growing brambles and nettles drooped over the towpath making walking and cycling very unpleasant in places. it is essential the contractor empoyed undertakes the first cut during June in future.
# Sad to hear of the passing of Stan Knight of Crookham Village during July. He was involved in so many local organisations and knew the Basingstoke Canal all his life. As a child he used to open the Zebon Copse Swing Bridge in return for a copper. For many years he was a regular skipper of the John Pinkerton and served as Chairman of 'Boats for the Handicapped Association'. His collection of early Basingstoke Canal postcards was second to none. Our condolences go to Iris his widow and family.
# The Division Two National Angling Championships along the canal on 3rd July drew 800 anglers from all over the country. The week before I came across an angler from Kent who had driven to Fleet to practice so it shows how keen some anglers are. The winner's total weight was 35lbs 7oz and one of the largest fish caught was a 15lb carp.
# Congratulations to the Cotswold Canal Partnership on being granted £11 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the £25 million cost of the Stage One restoration of the section between Brimscombe Port on the Thames and Severn Canal east of Stroud to the ocean on the Stroudwater Navigation west of Stonehouse. They have one year to raise the rest of the partnership funding required. This section contains a high proportion of the canal's historic structures, enhances wildlife sites and delivers the majority of the economic benefits through the Stroud canal corridor.
# With planning approval having been given by Woking Borough Council to Surrey County Council's new headquarters on the Brewery Road Car Park site (subject to the Government Office of the South East agreement), let's hope that the £150,000 to be given for canal improvements in central Woking will enable the Society's landing stage proposals to be constructed. As this 100-yard section is not part of the canal SSSI, English Nature's objections are a nonsense.
# Congratulations to Hampshire County Council Highways on the magnificent rebuild of the Farnborough Road Wharf Bridge, which has enabled the 'temporary' wooden supports to be removed.
# At least the rainstorms topped up water levels for a time, meaning the Deepcut, Brookwood and St Johns locks didn't need to be closed until 11th August, but the hot weather at the end of July brought things to a head with increased evaporation and transpiration.
We would like to welcome to the Society all the following new members who have joined this year:
|Mrs EA Seward||of Lightwater||Mr & Mrs D&B Wood||of Woking|
|Mr SC Muggleton||of Camberley||Mr G Shaw||of Fleet|
|Mr D Enticknap||of Woking||Mr LJ Bradford||of Fleet|
|Mr & Mrs AW & P Hallett||of Woking||Mrs G W Ansell||of Portsmouth|
|Mr BM Andrews||of Surbiton||Mr & Mrs W&S D Cousins||of Farnham|
|Mr & Mrs R&S Shrubsall||of Fleet||Mrs SL Wallis||of Woking|
|Mr RA White||of Woking||Mr V Cook||of Leeds|
|Mr DS & PW Barber||of Camberley||Mr A Small||of Fleet|
|Mr D Tolhurst||of Woking||Mr CJ Newell||of Woking|
|Mrs BT Fryatt||of Portsmouth||Mr L Ayrton||of Fleet|
|Mr CB Pease||of Fleet||Mr & Mrs J&G Weeks||of Aldershot|
|Miss T Norrie||of Guildford|
Please note Arthur Dungate's new e-mail address below:- firstname.lastname@example.org
Date for next copy 31st October 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 A3 Design & Print, Farnham
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