No. 209 Spring 2006
EDITORIAL - Roger Cansdale
The Canal seems to be going through turbulent times at the moment, with good news all too often followed by bad.
It was a relief when the news came through of Ian Brown's appointment as the new Canal Director. I think Ian's past experience in the labyrinth of the NHS should stand him in good stead. The fact that he doesn't really have to worry about his career may also allow him to be a bit tougher in his dealings with some of the more awkward customers. Mind you, that might include us!
However, no sooner was Ian in post than Surrey County Council kicked him in the teeth by announcing that they were contemplating slashing their budget contribution by £50,000 in 2006/7 and by £100,000 in the following year. This before the Canal Strategic Review has had time to do anything!
The government is cutting its grant to Surrey County Council by £50 million, presumably on the basis that the majority of people in Surrey aren't going to vote for them anyway. It would not be so bad if the County Council was allowed to increase the Council Tax a bit to allow them to do what local people want them to do if they are prepared to pay for it, but this is also controlled by the government. Perhaps it's a cunning plan to reverse the southward drift of population by making life intolerable here.
In response, SCC paid Robson Rhodes over £1 million to tell them how to save the money cut. One of the things they said was that a County Council should not be in the business of owning canals.
This is a perfectly respectable, if debatable, point of view, except that it ignores the fact that SCC does own a canal and will continue to do so until it either fills it in or persuades someone else to take it over. As owners they are responsible for maintaining it in a way that preserves public safety. This aspect does not appear to have occurred to the consultants.
Perhaps the thing that made me most angry was when I went on to SCC's website to see what they had to say about their "Business Development Review". The whole thing is full of management-speak and appeared to be like something out of Orwell's 1984.
Thus we have slogans like "Making Surrey a better place" and the phrase "Opportunity to reduce", meaning threat of
cutting. "FTE" I discover stands for Full Time Employment; it actually means a job loss.
Another acronym is CPA. This stands for Comprehensive Performance Assessment and is a system devised by the Audit Commission for judging the performance of local councils. The SCC website states that there will be no detrimental CPA impact due to cutting the Canal's funding. Only one CPA indicator is recognised as being relevant, the percentage of rights of way easy to use by members of the public. I would have thought that C9 "Resident satisfaction parks/open spaces" might have more to do with it, given that the canal towpath isn't a right of way anyway. Maintenance of public safety does not apparently feature in the Audit Commission's view of what councils should be doing.
Why can the County Council not be honest with us and say that the Government is cutting their money, they don't like it but here's what they may have to do? At least that way they might get the inhabitants of Surrey on their side. Trying to flannel people merely puts their backs up.
The one thing SCC did get right appears in small print on the last page as a comment from the Service Director -"Reductions in grant to the Basingstoke Canal need to be carefully managed with potential for much negative publicity".
You'd better believe it, mate, it starts right here!
* * * * *
One bit of good news. In contrast to the Basingstoke, whose future seems threatened by its very owners, the Thames and Severn Canal is to receive £18 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to speed its restoration.
I hope they've got some binding agreements with local councils to make sure they can afford to run it once it's re≠opened!
It seems incredible that this amount is being put into the restoration of a canal, albeit a very important one, whilst one that has already been declared re-opened is being allowed to slide into decline again.
Should we be lobbying our MPs to get them to persuade the government or HLF to make a one-off payment to BW sufficient for them to put the Basingstoke back in order and take it over?
Given the vagaries of local government funding and the transient nature of politicians and their enthusiasms, this may be the only way of permanently safeguarding the future of our waterway.
Barge bound for Sheet's Heath Bridge
(Story on page 5) Photo: Kathryn Dodington
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Extra A5 sheet included with printed magazine --
IMPORTANT - PLEASE GIVE THIS YOUR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION
As a result of cuts in Government funding to local authorities, Surrey County Council is proposing to reduce its contribution to the Basingstoke Canal budget by £50,000 in 2006/7 and by the same amount in 2007/8. This represents a reduction of about one third in the grant made to the canal by Surrey. These reduced contributions come on top of substantial budget cuts made by Hart, Surrey Heath and Runnymede in recent years which are likely to be repeated this year. The reduced funding for the canal resulting from these cuts in grant will have a severe adverse impact on the ability of the Basingstoke Canal Authority to maintain and operate the canal in the year ahead. We are already seeing the effects of the financial cutback on the canal infrastructure - decaying lock chambers, shallow sections which need dredging etc.
The reduced contributions by the local authorities come at a time when the whole future management and funding of the canal is under debate. In October 2005 the canal Joint Management Committee took a decision to launch a full-scale review of the options available to the county and district councils. This review is now underway and the report by the group responsible for the relevant studies is likely to be available in the autumn. The Society is fully engaged in the review process and we are doing our utmost to ensure that, whatever the outcome, the canal remains as a fully navigable waterway connected to the main system. In view of the fact that the options study is in progress and bearing in mind that the BCA is struggling to maintain the canal to a basic operating standard, the Society is strongly urging Surrey County Council not to reduce its contribution in 2006/7.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
We need to make it very clear to Surrey County Council that, at the present time, a cut in its contribution would be extremely damaging to the canal and to the staff at the BCA. We are therefore asking you to write to Surrey CC urging them to maintain their contribution for this year to enable the canal to be maintained whilst the strategy review is in progress.
You should send your letters to : Cllr David Munro, Surrey County Council, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN to arrive no later than 31st March 2005. If you live in Surrey you should also copy your letter to your local Surrey county councillor.
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CHAIRMAN'S REPORT - Peter Redway
A welcome to Ian Brown on his appointment as Canal Director, Ian's appointment was followed by the devastating news that Surrey County Council is considering reducing canal funding for 2006/7 by a third, hardly the welcome mat for the new director only a few days after being appointed.
The time for the Society to lobby Councillors on these proposed cuts was extremely short. We have written to the County Council Executive and Environmental Committees registering our concerns at these proposals; Surrey JMC members were also copied. The overall budget proposals were agreed by the full council on 7th February. We have until March to submit formal objections and have requested consultation on the proposals.
The workshops seeking a sustainable way forward for the canal need to be fully explored before any budget reductions are imposed on the canal. We consider that the proposals by Surrey County Council are premature and will severely damage the Canal Partnership of Counties, Riparian Districts and Voluntary organisations. We advocate that the workshop seeking a more stable future for the canal is fully explored before any member proposes unilateral changes.
Remaining with Surrey County Council organisation, a welcome to Rose Younger who has been appointed as the County Officer with responsibility for the canal. We have had a briefing meeting with Rose on a number of our outstanding concerns; this was before the proposed restrictions were public knowledge. Rose has taken action on a number of the issues which we identified, but how successful she will be in obtaining capital money for urgent repairs at Deepcut remains to be seen.
The options strategy has not been progressed as we expected, and the indications are that the two Counties, as owners, have only recently agreed a policy on procedures. Surveys of the
Deepcut locks in January 2005 indicated that considerable repairs are required; at the time of writing, no priorities or estimates of funding needed have been prepared by the engineers. The only work carried out is the temporary repairs to the lower wing walls of lock 22 following total collapse, in order to re-open the canal.
The Society's view is that the options workshops need to identify significant funding sources, and the canal infrastructure brought up to an acceptable standard before any recommendations for the future can be implemented.
Who would want to operate the canal in its present condition with inadequate money to do so?
The workshops now need to be organised as speedily as possible with recommendations made to the JMC this autumn.
The Boat Museum at Ellesmere Port has recently carried out a condition survey of the historic boats in their collection. The survey for Perseverance indicates considerable work will be required for full restoration and steaming. No indication of any priorities or time scales for restoration has been published, and we need to confirm these important issues. Some of you will have seen Roger Cansdale's article in "Old Glory". The interest shown by potential volunteers and ex-dredger team members is very encouraging and may open alternative options on Perseverance's future.
Water or lack of it is high on our agenda; Environment Agency analysis is that water tables are at summer levels. If average rainfall for the spring months is achieved forecasts for the summer are for acute shortages; this will have a knock on effect for the canal and adjacent waterways. With the Campaign Rally scheduled for May we need to monitor the water availability with the two navigation managers working with them to manage a scarce resource.
Peter Redway, Chairman
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Annual General Meeting
NOTICE is hereby given that the Twenty-Ninth Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held on Saturday 22nd April in the St John's Youth Hall, St John's, Woking, Surrey commencing at 7 p.m.
The formal Agenda for the meeting is as follows:-
1. To hear apologies for absence.
2. To confirm the minutes of the Twenty-Eighth AGM held on 16th April 2005.
3. To approve the Annual Accounts for the year ending 31st December 2005.
4. To re-appoint the auditors, Hilton and Company.
5. To elect or confirm the appointment of the members of the Board of Directors (Executive Committee).
6. To transact any other business relative to the Annual General Meeting of the Society.
By order of the Board of Directors
Honorary Secretary 9th February 2006
a) This Notice is issued from the Honorary Secretary's address at 63 Avondale, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants, GU12 5NE.
b) Every member of the Society who is entitled to vote at a General Meeting is entitled to appoint a proxy, who need not be a member, to attend and vote in his/her stead. Forms of Proxy can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary.
c) Only paid-up members are entitled to attend and vote at the meeting.
d) Copies of the Accounts can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary prior to the AGM upon receipt of an SAE. In accordance with normal practice the Accounts, when approved, will be published in summary in the Basingstoke Canal News.
e) Nomination forms for the election of the Board of Directors can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary.
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WORK PARTY - Peter Redway
The quotation for an electricity supply for the pump at St. Johns has taken far longer that I ever imagined, but at long last a design is in progress and I am pressing for an early result. A grant application for the final stage is awaiting the electricity quotation; once submitted we can make a start on the flow meter chamber and hand over to the contractors for the final installation.
Site preparation for the May Rally has progressed well, and bank side clearing on the non-towpath side is up to programme. Some leaning and infected trees need felling
and overhanging branches removing to improve height along the bank and waterway. Barges will be used for this work providing a stable platform to work off. All bank side work except grass cutting needs to be completed before the nesting season.
A jetty is almost completed and will remain after the event for a rural
|overnight mooring facility (Below).
Planning for site facilities is well advanced, confirming a need for volunteers to help marshal the event over the Bank Holiday.
Volunteers from HSBC local branches have helped with the bank clearing work (Below).
Some environmental works are planned but are waiting for English Nature approval before any start of the work.
A welcome back to Mark Coxhead after his illness, glad to see you back Mark.
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Work Party - Future dates/Sheets Heath Br
FUTURE WORKING PARTY DATES
|8 - 9 April||PR/DJ/DL/KR||Brookwood|
|6 - 7 May||PR/DJ/DL/KR||Brookwood|
|20-25 May||PR/DJ||Pre-Brookwood Work Camp|
|26-29 May||ALL||Campaign Rally Brookwood|
|30May-4June||PR/DJ||Post Brookwood Work Camp
Sheets Heath Bridge|
Sheets Heath Bridge in Brookwood has been overhauled recently. Although not a Society project, we were asked to lend one of the barges to the contractors doing the job to serve as a work platform. Kevin Redway, aided as usual by Zak (see Cover picture and below), did the delivery trip.
The bridge is constructed of two steel girders with what look like old railway sleepers bolted between them to provide the road surface. Over the years the bolts had loosened, so that there was a loud and rather alarming rumbling noise every time a vehicle went over. The bolts have now been tightened or in many cases replaced and life should be a little more peaceful for Kathryn Dodington who lives nearby and provided the photos.
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Canal funding under further threat
First it was Hart and Surrey Heath, then Runnymede, and now it is one of the actual owners of the Canal, Surrey County Council, that has decided to cut its contribution to the Canal Authority's budget.
Consultants brought in to advise the county on how to save the £50 million cut from their Central Government funding have stated that owning and maintaining a waterway for navigation should not be a County Council responsibility. They suggest that Grant Funding should be reduced and that alternative funding sources should be explored.
This of course was one of the things that the Canal Strategic Review launched last year was going to do, but Surrey's decision seems to have torpedoed the possibility of any sensible discussion. One of the consequences is likely to be loss of some BCA staff and it seems possible that the Head Ranger post that Ian Brown occupied before his appointment to Director may go unfilled.
SCC's consultants seem not to have recognised the responsibilities that still rest on the Canal's owners to maintain it in a safe condition, nor to have made any suggestion as to how the County might relinquish its ownership.
Above: Peter Redway and the crews of Vega, Tug No.1 and White Heather posing for the News & Mail photographer.
The Society has suggested previously that it would be better off in the hands of British Waterways, but they would require a lot of money tp take it over, particularly in its current poor condition. One thing is certain though, that this condition will only get worse and the problem more acute the longer the Canal is left in its current under-funded state.
It hardly needs to be said that the Society will be fighting to ensure the survival of the Canal in a fully navigable state. The volunteers did not work for a quarter of a century just to have it allowed to slide back into dereliction. Many letters have already been sent to coucillors together with copies of a brochure based on Leigh Thornton's excellent Value for Money paper for the JMC.
Surely someone in government can see the ridiculous illogicality of spending large sums of public money to restore the Cotswold Canals whilst allowing one that has already been restored to go into decline?
The forthcoming Campaign Rally at Brookwood could hardly be better timed. Please come and support it and show the politicians that we mean to keep our canal!
You can also help by writing to your local councillors and MPs.
When news of SCC's proposals reached the local newspaper in Woking, they contacted the Society to ask if some boats could be made available to have the picture taken for a headline story. With about 12 hours notice, three boats made it to the Bridge Barn on a chilly Saturday morning and the Society made its views very clear to the press.
Brewery Road project cancelled
As was forecast in the winter issue, the project to move Surrey County Council's headquarters from Kingston to the carpark site at Brewery Road in Woking has been cancelled as part of their drive to save money.
One particularly galling aspect of the Canal's funding crisis is the disclosure that the aborted move to Woking will have still cost the county over £6 million pounds. This would have funded their contribution to the canal for the next 40 years!
It remains to be seen what will become of the car park now. The County Council were intending to lease the new offices from a developer, who presumably still retains planning permission and could still go ahead.
It is to be hoped that Woking will be able to review the planning permission and perhaps get a more canal-oriented development on this prime site.
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New Canal Director appointed
Following Leigh Thornton's departure last August, the Canal Authority was left without a Director. Tony Beecher was left "holding the baby" and there was a good deal of concern about the absence of a Director at such a critical time for the canal. The good news is that this situation has been rectified
surprise to him.
Interestingly, our Chairman Peter Redway was invited to meet the various candidates and give his opinion. Happily, this coincided with that of the selection board.
Ian seems to favour a rather
with Ian Brown continuing his meteoric rise from part time maintenance man at the Canal Centre a couple of years ago to Head Ranger and now Director.
As I mentioned last spring, this rise is
less of a surprise when you know his
background. In his pre-canal career he
managed a research team of about 250
people in a major London Hospital. Problems of lack of
funding and government red tape should therefore be no
more robust line on some matters affecting the canal than was taken previously, so it is to be hoped that he receives the support he needs from the JMC. He is a quietly determined character who does not appear to be one to walk away from a battle or to give in easily. Importantly, he also does not have to worry about his future career.
We look forward to working with him, and the rangers we have spoken to seem to take a similar view.
New Countryside & Heritage manager at Surrey County Council
Nick Baxter left his job as Head of Countryside at SCC last year, and his job has been taken over, at least in part, by Rose Younger. She reports to Mike Dawson (Head of Countryside).
Her job also includes managing the Surrey Wildlife Trust contract for Surrey's Country Parks, but Rose appears to be capable of looking at more than just conservation issues. In her first fortnight of looking after Surrey's canal interests, she put in a bid for £100,000 for capital works on the canal; we may not get it, but it's a good first move! She has also
put the process in motion to get the enhanced abstraction licence for back-pumping (365 days a year hopefully), and replaced Surrey County Council's copy of the British Waterways report on the risk assessment that they did on the canal a few years ago on behalf of the BCA. This highlighted the risk of flooding etc in the event of breaches caused by lack of maintenance, but SCC had mysteriously lost their copy.
Rose also looks like someone we can work with in a constructive way.
Our picture shows Chris de Wet (left) with his daughter Robyn on the occasion of her marriage to Basingstoke Canal ranger Jonathan Green (right) on November 5th at Branksome, Hindhead, Surrey.
After the reception families and guests enjoyed a brilliant fireworks display
followed by traditional jazz played by Tony Karavis and his band.
Robyn met Jon when she was working at the Mytchett Canal Centre during her university summer vacation. The couple spent their honeymoon in Scotland. Their home is in Aldershot and Robyn is employed by the Guide Dogs for the Blind organisation as a fundraiser.
Chris de Wet was a founder of the Basingstoke Canal Boating Club in 1989. For more of his news see the Letters page.
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New gates for Lock 6
Opening of refurbished towpath
Rushmoor Council has funded the resurfacing of the towpath from Farnborough Road Wharf to Norris Bridge. To celebrate the opening of the first section of this work from Farnborough Road Wharf to Eelmoor Bridge, Rushmoor held a small ceremony on 2nd November 2005. Councillor Peter Moyle gavea short opening address before the Mayor of Rushmoor, Councillor John Marsh, formally opened the first section of this work. There were representatives of a number of the
regular users present at the ceremony, which was held between the heavy rain showers by the bridge at Famborough Road Wharf. After the Mayor had formally
cut the ribbon Councillor Peter Moyle gave a short speech on the work the council does for the environment.
The party then boarded the John Pinkerton for a cruise along the canal up to Eelmoor Bridge to allow them to see the new towpath. Their transport collected them at Eelmore Bridge.
Work on the next section of the towpath to Norris Bridge should be started in December after formal authorisation for the removal of a few trees along the edge of the path.
The work done so far has produced a very much-improved path over this section, which was one of the worst in the Hampshire section. This certainly shows up the stretch from Farnborough Road Wharf through to Ash Lock, where Aldershot Council would now do well to follow the excellent example of Rushmoor and resurface this section.
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Vandals or rustlers?
In mid-December and again in January, the inhabitants of Brookwood awoke to find their stretch of canal virtually empty, because someone had pulled the paddles on Lock 14. lt may have been vandals, but there is a strong suspicion that it could have been a more organised and criminal operation. It was fairly general knowledge locally that the canal had been re-stocked with fish just before the second episode, and many of them have disappeared.
This is clearly a very serious matter for the Basingstoke Canal Angling Association and also for the canal in what has been another very dry winter with no scope for wasting water. However, the Brookwood Residents Association has agreed to fund a pair of level detectors that will sound the alarm in the event of future tampering with the canal in this area. If they work, they could be fitted elsewhere.
Tight fit in Lock 2
A new hull for one of the houseboats was designed to the maximum dimensions that would fit in a lock. Unfortunately the hull was rectangular so that it would not go into the lock far enough to clear the bottom gates. In the end, the "bows" had to be winched up to rest on the cill and the gates just scraped past the stern.
Interesting to know how this was allowed onto the canal since even its dimensions don't appear to conform to the standards normally required of boats.
Above: With the bows on the top cill, the stern just clears the bottom gates.
Left: The empty Brookwood pound at Pirbright Bridge
Four Seasons Hotel
Despite objections from the Society to plans from the Four Seasons Hotel for buildings near the canal in Dogmersfield, the application was allowed. Now a very large house is being built right next to this formerly secluded part of the canal.
Their latest application is to be allowed to have clay pigeon shooting in this area for 6 days a week. The Society has lodged very strong objections to this, for environmental, noise and safety reasons. If necessary we will make use of the noise regulations that have been deployed against the dry dock users.
Above: Latest development from the Four Seasons|
(Photo Alison Snell)
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IWA Campaign Rally 2006. Brookwood
Over 100 boats have booked to join in this year's IWA Campaign Rally at Brookwood during the late Bank Holiday weekend (26th-29th May). The commemorative boat plaque has now been designed. The design incorporates two important anniversaries in 2006.The diamond shape alludes to the Inland Waterways Association's Diamond Jubilee and the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society (SHCS) logo celebrates their 40'" anniversary. SHCS are hosts for the rally on the Basingstoke Canal.
Rodney Wardlaw, harbourmaster for the boat festival, says "we are overwhelmed, but delighted, at the number of boat entries". A new jetty is being built at the site to accommodate the number of boats and visitors to the event.
The events in the countryside park area (open to the public with free enlry and car parking) will be on the Saturday, Sunday & Monday from 11 am onwards. The entertainment team on the organising committee have booked live musicians to entertain visitors as well as craft stalls, food stalls and a supporting cast from local canal and community societies. Most of the organising committee are veterans of the popular Bridge Barn boat rally held every year in Woking, so there is a wealth of experience to draw on for this very special event in 2006 on the Basingstoke Canal.
If you are free to help over the weekend, Verna Smith would like to hear from you (01252 517622). Tell her what you DON'T want to do and she says she will find you something else! Contact her also if you or someone you know would like a stall at the rally.
Fox & Hounds Rally
This annual event at the Fox & Hounds pub in Fleet will be taking place earlier this year, on the 12th August, to avoid a clash with the
IWA National Rally
which will again be held at Beale Park, Pangbourne over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The Society will be represented, though probably not on quite the same lavish scale as last lime when we won the trophy for best society stand.
Wednesday 15th March 2006
Peter Hammond - "Charter Fairs to Village
Peter will illustrate the history and development of travelling fairs and their showgrounds and describe the life of a travelling showman.
Wednesday 19th April 2006
Peter Oates - "The Andover, Southampton &
Peter is from the Southampton Canal Society. He will recount the history of these long abandoned canals and show slides of the few sections that are still in water or discernable on the ground.
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MEMBERS TRIPS to & from BROOKWOOD on the John Pinkerton
Water supplies and all else permitting, the John Pinkerton will be going to the Brookwood Rally. Members are invited to join the trips free of charge.
It will be returning from Colt Hill, Odiham to Sheets Heath Bridge (walking distance from Brookwood Station) on May 26th and returning on May 30th, both starting at 9am and finishing about 4pm.
You MUST make your own travel arrangements and bring your own food. Non alcoholic drinks will be available all day. The Bar will be open for part of the day.
Further details and bookings from Marion Gough on 01962 713564 after 18th April.
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CANAL D'ORLEANS TWINS BASINGSTOKE CANAL
To the general public the idea of a twinning between Orleans, with its romantic historical associations with Joan of Arc, and Basingstoke with its romantic er, urn..., may be puzzling. However, they do have one thing in common - a canal. The Basingstoke is slightly ahead in that most of it has been re-opened, whereas the Canal d' Orleans has yet to be re-connected to the main system in France after closing in 1954. However, judging by the photos on their website, in some respects its locks are in better shape than ours, even if they don't have gates on yet (below).
Paddy Field, a great Francophile, helped to set up an informal twinning arrangement between these two very similar waterways when he was Canal Director.
Several reciprocal visits have taken place, the last one over here being in 2001, when the visitors were shown the newly installed back-pumping scheme at Woodham. This particularly interested them in view of the similar summer water supply problems that they experience.
An invitation has been issued to the Friends of the Canal
d'Orleans to visit us again in 2006, this time during the weekend of the Brookwood Rally, May 27th to 29th. It is thought that they might be particularly interested in seeing what goes on at a British Boat Rally, since they hope to run their first one in 2007 on
the part of their canal which it is hoped will be re-joined to the main French waterway system by then. We may well get an invitation to it and encouraged to take over trailboats, canoes, etc.
Whereas the official invitation is being issued by the Chairman of the JMC to the President of their Restoration Syndicate, it will be up to us members to come forward and offer hospitality to them for 2 nights over the weekend.
Sociability and enthusiasm are much more important than any ability to speak French. 4 groups connected with the Basingstoke make up the British end (BCBC, BCCC, IWA local branch and, of course, the S&HCS).
The representative and liaison officerfor the Society is me, so I am looking for hosts. I would be very grateful for the names of members who have helped previously and would be prepared to do so again, and for any new participants who would like to join in and offer hospitality - with a view to it being reciprocated next year.
There is one final reason why we should be seen to support wholeheartedly this twinning - it is just possible that there could be some EC money in it under INTERREG funding to help to solve mutual problems, in our case obviously that of water supply. This may seem far-fetched, but at least one other waterway twinning has received encouragement in this respect. So, there is a serious background purpose beyond what has always proved to be very friendly and hospitable short weekend visits.
Please do contact me if you would like to help to promote our "Entente Fluviale"! Roger Cansdale
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The Mikron Theatre Company will be paying its annual visit to the Basingstoke Canal on Sunday 9th July. Start time will be 5pm behind the Fox & Hounds pub in Fleet, weather permitting; there will be a back-up indoor venue if rain is forecast. The reason for the early start is to avoid a clash with the football World Cup Final that evening. You never know, England might just be in it.
The Mikron has another new show this year and it again breaks from their traditional waterways theme. Entitled "Mrs Brunel", it is timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It charts the ship, bridge and railway
building achievements of Britain's most celebrated engineer through the eyes of his wife Mary.
This will be the 35th year of touring for the company in their narrowboat Tyseley No. 183. although sadly they will not be bringing it up the Basingstoke.
Please don't miss this show. As well as providing a great evening's entertainment, the Mikron need all the support they can get, because they also have lost some of their core grant funding.
Bring something to sit on. Admission is free, but there will be the usual collection afterwards. For further information, please contact David Millett on 01252 617364.
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I thought it may be of interest to my friends in the Society to
hear a little of what I have been doing of late.
Until March of last year I was living in Lincolnshire near the point where the River Nene joins The Wash. 2005 was spent refurbishing a house that Tricia and I bought in Bollington, just north of Macclesfield. My narrow boat, Holly, was moved from March on The Middle Level to Furness Vale on the Peak Forest Canal at the end of July. Robyn and my (then) soon-to-be son-in-law Jon kindly crewed for me during the two-week, rather wet, journey.
The Macclesfield Canal passes through Bollington, a small, friendly and very active town and community. Every five years the town holds a two week Festival at which anything and everything happens - the principle focus of the activities is a 'big top' that is erected as a theatre just below the canal. Performances here encompass orchestral music, jazz, pop, stand-up comedy, and theatre - in fact pretty much anything goes. The 2005 festival attracted big name artists such as Ken Dodd and Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen.
The 2005 Festival also saw the launch of a community radio station - Canalside Community Radio. The station is based in Clarence Mill immediately beside the canal and broadcasts to Bollington, Macclesfield and surrounding areas. And so it was that mid-year saw the beginning of a new canal-related activity for me - I answered an appeal for volunteers and joined the team. My initial involvement was to help support the studio computer systems, but since then I have moved on to become a part of the station's management team, gained overall responsibility for all the station's systems ... and become a radio presenter!
The station broadcast for four weeks at the time of the Festival, and again for four weeks over Christmas and New Year. Until we gain a full-time broadcast licence we are only allowed a limited number of 28 day transmissions. During the latter broadcast I co-presented the Sunday morning breakfast show, the New Year's Eve broadcast (till 3.00am!), and my own speciality show.
This show, entitled 'Waterscape' (sorry BW!), ran for two hours each Tuesday evening and focused, unsurprisingly, on our waterways system. I interviewed a number of studio guests, amongst them John Liley, waterways author and waterways journalist and a Bollington resident, and Matthew Corbett of Sooty fame and one-time Society member.
Canalside intends to run another broadcast, most probably in May, and I will continue to explore different facets of the waterways in 'Waterscape'. If you would like to learn more about Canalside Community Radio, take a look at www.ccr-fm.co.uk - from here, if you choose, you can listen to the broadcasts when we next transmit. You can even listen to me!
May I send my best wishes to all in the Society. Chris de Wet.
It's been a while since we communicated, and I've become aware over the debate about the Basingstoke Canal's future. Obviously it's a huge asset, but it also needs to fill a role in the future of the waterway network.
20 years ago, the only waterway in the south of England was the Wey, (and Thames). Now we also have the K & A, most of the Basingstoke, and progress on the W & A. Each with a different owner, some of them reluctant!
Very simply, my long range suggestion is to develop the concept of the "Southern Waterways", that would operate as a group. This would increase their political clout, allow joint marketing and maintenance, allow a vision to be created of a sizeable recreational and conservation asset, develop policies for water supply and conservation, etc. etc.
The jurisdiction could be BW, or some other existing body, or a new entity, based on the counties, or on a trust "The Southern Waterways Conservation and Development Trust". It would have the resources to develop long range plans, co-ordinate with other jurisdictions, and construct improvements. These might include helping the W & A finish their restoration, and pursuing a water link between Reading and Basingstoke.
Anyway, you get the picture. I would be happy to go into this in more detail. Please pass this on to others if appropriate.
Gerald lives in Seattle, but is a fairly regular visitor to these parts. He made some very useful suggestions abou possible routes for our proposed junction canal to link the Basingstoke and K&A that Roger Reed did so much work on. Unfortunately the crisis over water supply, funding, etc has demanded all our attention and we have not been able to progress the project. It is something we shall bear in mind though in discussions of the future of the Basingstoke, because it would greatly enhance the justification for its existence.
Gerald's idea is very good, but would be easier to launch if all the waterways were under the same ownership, and preferably one with some real enthusiasm and interest in waterways!
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David Millett has made the bright suggestion that we ought to hold a photographic competition. We haven't decided on the judges yet, but since David suggested it, I shall probably appoint him and Rosemary. Prizes, too are undecided but will hopefully be something better than merely the honour of seeing your photo in the Newsletter!
I think we should have a theme to focus peoples' ideas, so since it is the Society's 40th anniversary this year, the
subject of the first competition will be "Then and now", a pair of photos showing the same bit of the canal before and after restoration. "Then" need not be your photo, but "Now" must be. I'll accept traditional photos or digital, and the closing date for entries will be the end of July. Winners to be announced in the autumn issue of the BCN.
Entries to me please. Good luck and good shooting!
Membership Secretary Report
We would like to welcome to the Society the following new members who have joined during the past year:
Mr & Mrs David Martin, Woking
Mr Iain Stewart & Ms Helen Addison,
Mr & Mrs John & Yvonne Kilburn,
Mr Brian Timrns, Pulborough
Mr Peter Scriven, Farnborough
Mr Rick Waterman, Woking
Mrs Ann Muggeridge, Woking
Mr Noel Robinson, Borden
Ms Pamela Houghton, Crookham Village
Mr Peter Kempley, Mytchett
Mrs L J Taylor, Carnberley
Mr & Mrs Anthony 8 Grace Orme, Little
Mr & Mrs Graham & Ann Sweeney.
Mr Jason Holdcroft, Mytchett
Mr Stafford Neeld, Fleet
Mr Tony Edens, Woking
Mr Adrian Murnaghan, Camberley
Mrs Penny Kavanagh, Greywell
Mr Colin Davis, Awbridge
Miss Amanda Cadden, Basingstoke
Ms Catherine Ellison, Basingstoke
Mrs Penny Martin, Water End
Miss Kate Thomas, Basingstoke
Mr Eric Pysden, Wokingham
Mr Eryl Williams, Frimley Green
Mr Stephen Castle, Woking
Mr Jim Johnstone, Church Crookham
Mr John Blackmore, Aldershot
Mr Paul Hopper, Woking
Subscriptions for 2006
Subscriptions for 2006 are due on 1st March. As we have quite a lot of members who are still paying at old rates may I please remind those of you who pay by Bankers Order to check that you are paying the correct amounts. With the increasing cost of postage, it is important that the Society
receive the following minimum subscriptions:
Pensioner x 2: £7
Those of you who pay by cash will have received a reminder and we look forward to receiving your payments shortly.
Thank you all for you co-operation. Your continuing
membership is very important to the Society and much
The John Pinkerton got an unexpected bit of advertising in the form of a composite painting done by members of the Fleet Art Society and the U3A, who painted the 48 panels without knowing what the overall picture was! Father Christmas and the JP were on display at Fleet Library.
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MILLETT'S MUSINGS - David Millett
# Well done, Rushmoor Borough Council and their Strategic Partnership for utilising about £30,000 of the monies received from TAG, the operators of Farnborough Airfield, towards the upgrading of the towpath between the A325 Farnborough Road Bridge and Eelmoor Bridge. The new surface is excellent and this section will now be much better for walkers, cyclists and the disabled. Shortly the remaining section will be tackled from Eelmoor Bridge to the Hart District Council boundary at Morris Bridge.
# The Basingstoke Canal was mentioned extensively last autumn in an article about American signal crayfish in the Telegraph Weekend. Andre Grandjean, the Basingstoke Canal Angling Association's secretary, fed up with increasing numbers of these alien crayfish, which were taking over the canal to almost plague proportions, obtained a licence and crayfish traps and set to work. Between April 2004 and April 2005 more than a ton of signal crayfish were caught, the largest being sold the local restaurants. This has brought about a lull temporarily but everyone is under no illusions that the problem will get worse again.
# By the time you read this Hampshire County Council should have heard whether they have been successful in obtaining Phase 2 funding for the work to be undertaken to repair the crumbling facework of Odiham (King John's) Castle. In addition, the moat may be excavated to create a more watery appearance and greatly improved interpretation will be carried out. It is also intended to reinforce the towpath edge with Nicospan and to dredge to allow boats, including the 'John Pinkerton' to moor against the towpath. New mooring posts will also be provided. Detailed design work will be completed by the end of the year and work will probably commence in Spring 2007 with completion by the end of that year.
# A large article in the Daily Telegraph last November gave great prominence to the £4m to be spent by the end of 2008 to restore all 80 of BW's listed historic buildings and other structures, which are in a poor state of repair. Bridges, locks, warehouses, boatyards and cottages plus milestones are included. This project will see the virtual completion of the 10-year programme to clear a £300 million backlog of repairs on its 2000 miles of canals and river navigations. These repairs were identified when British Waterways was turned into a public corporation in 1995. 200 miles of waterways have been re-opened in the last five years. British Waterways see this as 'the second golden age of canals' with 300 million visits to the waterways each year for boating, cycling, angling, photography, dog-walking and nature study.
# The above success story is in startling contrast to the Basingstoke Canal where dwindling support and finances from some of the local authorities is threatening the whole fabric of the canal. All the work put in in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s by the volunteers and the local authorities will be wasted and the canal will revert to the same derelict state as it was before restoration started. Surely this scenario cannot be allowed to happen, so it is up to everyone to lobby all your councillors about the wonderful benefits of the canal for the local communities.
# Sorry to hear that Jim Piele of Galleon Marine has placed his business at Colt Hill, Odiham on the market and it has been advertised in the waterways press. Jim has been an excellent proprietor of the boatyard since he arrived on the canal and his ever helpful manner will be sorely missed. He gave great support to the canal's Accessible Boating organisation and their boats 'Madam Butterfly' and 'Dawn'. Jim now wants to take life more easily and in addition, he is experiencing joint problems which affect his mobility. He and his wife also wish to visit their family in Australia.
# Congratulation to lan Brown on his appointment as Canal Director from the start of February, lan came to the canal about three years ago to help (part time) with maintenance work around the canal centre area then was appointed as Head Ranger early last year. We wish him well at this difficult time for the canal and let's hope his determination will shine through. (See BC News Spring 2005 for his CV)
# When the writer gave a recent talk and slide show about the canal to Sunrise Senior Living residents at Virginia Water, one resident, Roy Evans (86) recounted that he used to hire a rowing boat from the Ash Vale Boathouse in 1939. The slide show brought back many memories to him about the canal and the pleasure it gave him.
# Sad to reflect that the money that Surrey County Council are thinking of cutting from the Canal's budget could have been saved many times over from the money spent already on the now cancelled move of their headquarters to Brewery Road in Woking. Sadly, this also probably means that the Canal will not be getting some of the Section 106 money that we were hoping for from this scheme, unless some other development takes place there. If it does, it would be nice to think that it might be a bit more canal-oriented than just another office block.
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From Society Newsletters No.68 June 1976 and No.69 August 1976
# Former Woking Borough Councillor and Society member David Boorman wrote a letter detailing his family's weekend on a narrow boat on the River Wey. The weekend was a prize for their efforts in raising funds on the Society's Annual Sponsored Walk along the canal. In thanking the Society for making the weekend possible he said 'although we spent our weekend almost in sight of Woking we felt that we were as completely on holiday as if we had been a thousand miles away. The view of the country and the pace of life were made so different by the simple act of getting aboard a boat. This has reinforced my conviction that the Basingstoke Canal must be quickly restored. As value for money there can be no leisure facility to equal it'. (That comment says it all about the benefits of the canal to the local communities and that funding must be forthcoming to keep the canal going).
# The late David Pumfrett, then Chairman of Hampshire County Council's Recreation Committee congratulated volunteers for their high standard of work at the ceremony to mark the re-opening of Blacksmith's Bridge, Dogmersfield which was restored by the Society. The 9th St.Andrew's Surton and Cheam Venture Scout Unit did much of the preparatory work and the re-building was undertaken by the Aldershot contractors Newman and Kerry, at a cost of £1731.The Society raised the rest of the money, part of which came from a fund of £1000, which was contributed by members for special hand made capping bricks used in the restoration of other minor canal bridges by the County Council.
# The appointment of Tony Harmsworth as a Senior Canal Warden in Hampshire has been announced. He had been working at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough but decided to revert to 'the family business'. When the Harmsworth family sold the Basingstoke Canal in 1949, they severed a working connection spanning well over 100 years and four generations. Tony's great-grandfather started working on the cut as a carpenter in the 1840's. His grandfather, Mr.A.J. Harmsworth, bought the canal in 1923, built barges at Ash Vale and traded on the canal until his death in 1947. The Society wish Tony every success in his new job. (He finally retired as Operations Manager a few years ago to be succeeded by Tony Beecher).
# The Society appealed for more members to volunteer their special skills to help the restoration work. Carpenters, builders, construction engineers and engine fitters are all required including a skilled mechanic to organise our machinery maintenance group.
# The 'Water Nobsurd' weekend at Colt Hill.Odiham on the 9th-10th July was voted a great success. Water Nobsurd was short for 'What-an absurd weekend that was, and this summed up the weekend completely. Stan Googe and his band of helpers pulled out the stops with a varied selection of entertainments ranging from a canal-side barbecue and country and western music to a children's angling contest and the crowning of a Water Princess. The steam launch John Player's 'Hero' was used for boat trips and there were radio controlled boat displays, vaulting over (but mainly into) the canal, life saving and under water diving demonstrations, canoe races, horse-drawn bargetrips, a bath tub race plus a water bicycle event. However the most popular events were the ancient sport of welly tossing and the greasy pole. Blacknest Engineering team member, Sue Hart, quite clearly lost on the greasy pole..... the top half of her bikini.
# EEC Commissioner, Sir Christopher Soames has recently joined the Society.
# The Society now has an impressive collection of machinery to work on the dredging of the canal. Apart from the steam dredger 'Perseverance', a further mud boat has been purchased from the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust. The Society now has three mud boats and two small crawler mounted cranes, a Smith Super 10 and a Priestman Wolf. The Smith crane will be rigged with the grab recently donated by Higgs and Hill to empty mud boats, and the Priestman, rigged as a dragline, will shortly go into action dredging part of the canal. Two Bantam tugs have also recently been acquired, the cost of these being met by a generous donation from Johnson Wax of Frimley.
# The Barley Mow bridge hole clearance and stop plank installation was completed at the end of May when the group moved on to Double Bridge, Dogmersfield.
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40th Birthday Party
2006 marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Canal Society, and we intend to have a bit of a reunion at the Brookwood Rally to celebrate.
We would like to invite as many of the early members as we can. I have the job of trying to find who they are and where they now live. I have found quite a few, but I am sure that there will be many that I miss and I apologise for this now.
If you helped to launch the Society or took part in those early work parties, and would like to come along, PLEASE do so, even if you have not received a personal invitation.
Any time from midday onwards on Sunday 28th May. Also, if you have any photos from the early days, we'd love to see them. More details from Roger Cansdale (Phone number, etc, below)
Membership Subs are due soon!
Anyone interested in joining the Society should contact the Membership Secretary, Mrs Doreen Hornsey, whose contact details are listed below. The annual subscription is Adults £10, Junior £3,
OAP £5, Family £12, 2 OAP £7, and Group £15, payable on March 1st each year.
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Date for next copy 30th April 2006
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 a
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: Philip Riley* Wincombe Cottage, Broad Oak, Hook, Hants RG29 1AH 01256-702109
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: Peter Wright Holly Lodge, 39 The Avenue, Crowthorne, Berks RG45 6PB 01344-772461
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: Roger Cansdale; e-mail: email@example.com 01252 616964
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
Director: Roger Ilett* 30 Waterend Park, Old Basing, Basingstoke, Hants RG24 7BB 01256-764211
Director: David Lloydlangston* 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
Canal Society Internet Website: www.basingstoke-canal.org.uk
Printed by Careprint, Crookham Village.
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