No. 211 Autumn 2006
By general agreement, the Brookwood Campaign Rally was a great success. We certainly enjoyed magnificent support from the boating fraternity, with 130 boats assembled between Brookwood Bridge and Hermitage.
Whether it will have an impact on the deliberations about the future of the canal remains to be seen, but there are certainly lessons that the Society should consider.
One of these is the fact that the preparations and organisation of the rally were done by a very small number of people, who worked incredibly hard.
We can't keep on trying to run events on the canal without better support from the Society's members. Despite appeals in the Newsletter from Verna Smith for help, there was very little response apart from the usual faithful few, many of whom are, to put it politely, getting on a bit.
Our French visitors from the Canal d'Orleans were amazed by the number of members in our Society, 30 or 40 times their organisation, but if we were to compare active membership, the ratio would probably drop to 3 or 4. Most of the people from the restoration days probably feel, justifiably, that they have done their bit.
We have recruited quite a lot of new members in the last year or two, 20 at the rally alone, and if the Society is to have a future, we need to get them more involved in our activities. Subscriptions are valuable, membership numbers are good for impressing politicians, but actual interest and involvement is what we need most of all.
From time to time one of our newer members accuses the Society's Committee of being aloof and inaccessible. Actually, we just feel a bit lonely.
To try to overcome whatever the communication problem is, we have organised a get-together for members who have joined in the last couple of years on the afternoon of Saturday 23rd September at the Mytchett Canal Centre. It will be an opportunity to meet the Committee and find out who does what, what goes on behind the scenes and what you might be able to help with. It will be followed by the general meeting for members to hear about the Canal Options Review.
Personal invitations to new members will be going out. Do please try to come along. The future of the Canal Society, and possibly of the Canal itself, depends on you.
The Canal Options Review is simmering away, with a series of meetings of the various working groups. The Society is represented on most of these and we have also had excellent support from the IWA in the person of Roger Squires to provide information about legal rights of navigation and the set-up on other parts of the waterways system.
It is tempting to wonder whether as much effort is being spent on studying other ways of saving money in the counties, but the fact of the matter is that, even without the crisis precipitated by the cuts in Surrey's government grant, the Canal could not carry on indefinitely as things stood.
There are encouraging signs that the participants are looking beyond the immediate financial problems of the counties genuinely to find ways of ensuring the future of the canal. In truth the cost of running the canal is peanuts compared to the sums they are trying to save, and the real savings that would be made even if the canal was shut down completely might well be negligible when the cost of the alternative drainage measures that would be needed was taken into account.
We have had some concerns. One agreed action was to obtain costings for essential maintenance from potential contractors; those suggested were the Surrey Wildlife Trust amd Landmark, who provide services for the MOD. Neither of these organisations has any expertise in running a navigation or, it is to be feared, much interest. We did not spend 25 years restoring the canal and its navigation infrastructure so that it could be turned into a wildlife park.
However, there are signs that things are heading towards a sensible set of recommendations, which might not be too unlike what the Society was suggesting before the canal re-opened.
To find out what the final recommendations are and to let us know what your opinions of them are, please come to the meeting on Saturday 23rd September at the Canal Centre (see the back page for details).
Isn't it nice when things work out unexpectedly well?
When I was sellecting the photos for the little 40 years commemorative booklet, I did not know who many of the people in them were, so I was delighted to meet founder member Paul Dyson, who had flown in from California for the party at Brookwood, and to be told that he was one of the two figures in the boat on the cover. The other was the son of another founder member, David Gerry. I hope a few other people were able to identify themselves.
Brookwood 2006. John Fletcher, IWA Chairman, opening the rally. Jim Woolgar cutting the Anniversary cake.
Photos: Duncan Paine & Roger Cansdale.
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The rains in May are now a memory as the drought tightens its grip on the canal; once again sections of the canal are dry and closure notices for the navigation are in force. We must continue our work on water supply initiatives and resolve this annual embarrassment.
The May Bank Holiday Campaign Rally was a success, achieving our objectives on the political need for a sustainable future for the canal, the recognition of Woking's support for the canal and, last but certainly not least, recognition of the volunteer input in completing the St. Johns pumping project.
Support from the boating clubs and individuals was fantastic - 130 boats arrived over a period of some two weeks, with lock passage organised by Rodney Wardlaw and his waterside team. John Gibson (River Wey manager) and Ian Brown (Basingstoke Canal Director) agreed the lock passage for their respective waterways anticipating water shortages, but the rain raised levels and the anticipated problems did not occur, Ian agreed passage up the Basingstoke for those that wished to take the opportunity - well done Ian.
The land event suffered wet conditions and some exhibitors did not arrive. Unfortunately the food trailers were among those who did not turn up due to the conditions. Saturday stayed dry for most of the day with reasonable attendance, Sunday and Monday were showers with reasonable attendance in the dry periods.
This was our first IWA sponsored event on the canal since the National Trailboat Rally at Frimley Green in 1987 and lessons were learnt for future occasions. My thanks to all of the organisers and their teams for working so hard for the success we achieved.
With the Campaign Rally raising the profile of the canal, the meetings and discussions on the Canal Options study have increased in tempo. The target for recommendations to be made at the Autumn Canal Management Meeting is demanding, and meetings on each of the options are averaging one a week with sometimes morning and afternoon sessions.
A special meeting in order that we can update the membership on progress has been arranged prior to the Canal Management Meeting when the formal reports will be published. Please see the back page for details.
The Canal Conservation issues are under review with a draft Conservation Management Plan circulated for comment; the previous plan is some two years out of date. The draft plan is intended to replace a number of fragmented plans and the opportunity for achieving a practical working document in their place should be taken and supported by all consulted organisations. With Natural England being pressed by government for improvements in SSSI which are considered to be in poor state, I detect an authoritarian attitude emerging from their local officers.
I consider that authorisation of our boating events and boat movements should remain with the Canal Director, certainly not subject to any individual consent by Natural England. Major events would, by their nature, be "one off's" and have to be negotiated on their merits. The Conservation Management Plan is a vehicle regularising everyday activities on the canal without undue bureaucracy prevailing.
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Robin Higgs Award
Having failed to ensure the presence of the Knight family at the AGM, the Society managed to catch up with half of them on a Tuesday evening at Colt Hill, where, as usual, they were doing the routine weekly maintenance on the John Pinkerton.
Robin Higgs presented the cup to Robert and Christopher in recognition of the whole family's contribution to the
running of our trip boat for at least 20
years. Our apologies to Mandy and Elizabeth for picking an evening when they weren't there!
Working party activities concentrated on preparing the site and facilities for the Campaign Rally in late May 2006. The jetty was completed in March and is a permanent structure; the Canal Authority supplied the materials, the wood being recycled in their workshop using the felled timber from Deepcut.
Work on the temporary slipway for the event was next on the work list; galvanised steel channel and timber planking were donated from various sources. Prefabrication of the slipway on our smaller barge was commenced, but a moorhen's nest in a tyre fender of the barge was an unforeseen complication, and hatching of the eggs was critical to our timetable. In the event 5 chicks hatched the day before we needed to move the barge; all were reared successfully and a second clutch of eggs were laid when the barge returned.
A clean up of the canal was carried out in early May, and two skips of rubbish in the large barge were craned out during the following week. This year's clearance seemed to contain more cycles than usual and fewer shopping trolleys.
The week prior to the Rally was spent setting up the site services, but the rain continued and the site access became a quagmire. Geo-Textile underlay and woodchips were tried with some success, while it continued to rain. Site office, store and generator were early deliveries so at least we had a base. By Wednesday when Mike and his WRG colleagues arrived the site was at its worst. The only movements were by mini tractor and trailer - thanks Brian for their loan, you saved the day. The sun occasionally shone, the site started to dry, conditions improved, and we were in with a chance.
Above: Founder members don't fade away - they just keep working! Les Harris assisting with the rally preparations.
Friday panic - no water bowsers for drinking water: 300 metres of water pipe purchased, the pavilion hose and grounds mans water supply raided and courtesy of WRG mains water at the jetty.
Above: Verna Smith marking out one of the stall pitches, with wheel ruts in the swamp beginning to dry out at last.
Saturday was suit day for me, with the problems delegated toothers, and thanks everyone, especially Mike and Kevin. The change in the site almost overnight was astounding, a boggy field transformed into an event we can be proud off, a quart into a pint pot on the waterside with additional temporary moorings using the barge as a pontoon.
The week following was off hiring equipment and reinstatement of the site, mainly filling ruts and access road. Boats were moving but many stayed to help out. The pump was required to maintain water levels for the week.
FUTURE WORKING PARTIES
|9-10 Sept||DJ/DL/KR||Deepcut Lock 22|
|23-23 Sept||DJ/DL/KR||Deepcut Lock 22|
|14-15 Oct||DJ/DL/KR||Deepcut Lock 22|
|28-29 Oct||PR/DJ/DL/KR||Deepcut Lock 22|
|11-12 Nov||PR/DJ/DL||Up Nateley|
|25-26 Nov||PR/DJ/DL/KR||Up Nateley|
|9-10 Dec||PR/DJ/DL/KR||Up Nateley|
|25-31 Dec||KESCRG/WRG||Woodham Xmas Camp|
PR - Peter Redway 01483 721710
DL - Dave Lunn 01483 771294
DJ - Dave Junkison 02088941 0685
KR - Kevin Redway 01483 722206
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The Brookwood Rally was the product of co-operation between several organisations, with Verna Smith the main organiser on behalf of the Society. She reports as follows:-
The biggest event on the canal for many years was voted a success. We raised the profile of the canal and some 20 new members were recruited. We had plenty of water for the boats and too much for the stalls so the visitors picked their way through an increasingly soggy site in good humour, for the most part.
Only one boater admitted to falling overboard, losing his glasses but not his teeth or his hearing aids. Two dogs had close encounters with the family of swans, which the swans won on points. We were humbled by the support that we received from the boating community, some travelling from the Midlands to support the event, and some very late entries that we had to turn away. The communal barbecue was a huge success, with live music and glorious evenings.
What was really apparent was that SHCS need a larger number of individuals who have the confidence and skills to run small and large events, and who know each other's strengths. We already know about the stalwarts who heip at Bridge Barn each year and we would like to expand this list to include more people with enthusiasm to build a team. Please let me know if you would like to ' be on the list'. Our next event will be a social event for new members on September 23rd.. .would you like to help?
Finally, many thanks to all who helped in large and small ways to make the event such a success.
And thanks too to Verna for all the effort she put in both before and during the rally. Please lend her a hand and join the Events Team. Apart from anything else, you can actually have a lot of fun!
For pictures of the event and the Society's 40th Birthday Party, see the following pages.
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Water, water, everwhere
As mentioned above, the weeks in May preceeding the rally saw some very impressive amounts of rain. Nowhere was this more apparent than on the canal itself, as this photo, taken by Duncan Paine during the Pinkerton's passage down Deepcut, shows. For some of the locks below short pounds, the water was within inches of the top of the lock walls, and well over the tops of both top and bottom gates. The River Wey authorities were reported to be complaining about the amount of water coming down the canal.
The following weeks saw a long spell of very hot weather, and the canal levels fell continuously. Even Ash Lock was closed to traffic and the John Pinkerton was forced to abandon doing trips to King John's castle because of the shortage of water and the amount of weed growth.
However, on the afternoon of Sunday 13th August, monsoon conditions hit the centre section of the canal and in the space of a few hours, the top pound in Surrey was flooding people's gardens and the Brookwood pound was over the
towpath. The Hampshire section came up sufficiently for the BCA to be talking of limited re-opening of Ash Lock.
Not all good news, however, because the rain caused bank slips on both sides of the canal a couple of hundred yards
above Lock 28, blocking navigation, although water can still pass. The major slip is behind the towpath, where the bank is very steep, and it may need to be stabilised in some way. Surrey County Council have been asked to send a civil engineer to advise on the best course of action.
Fortunately, this was where the BCA had done a lot of tree felling, otherwise the slip could have been a lot worse.
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With 130 boats asembled between the Hermitage flash and Brookwood Bridge, the stage was set for the official part of the rally to begin on the Saturday morning with the arrival of the Mayor of Woking by boat at the new landing stage, to be greeted by a Sea Cadet Guard of Honour.
The real formalities got under way around midday with the opening ceremony. Philip Riley, the Society's Vice-Chairman acted as Master of Ceremonies and first invited the Mayor of Woking to speak. He was followed by M. Michel Grillon, Chef du Syndicat du Canal d'Orleans, who said a few words on behalf of the visitors from France.
John Fletcher, the Inland Waterways Association's National Chairman, then formally opened the Campaign Rally with a rousing speech that emphasised the need for continuing support for the Basingstoke Canal (above). He then invited Angela Percy to unveil the plaque for the St John's back-pumping scheme, that dedicated it to her late husband Brian (above right).
The VIPs then went off to lunch on board the John Pinkerton.
Entertainment for the general public was provided by a variety of local groups, including the Bishop David Brown School steel band (below), Chinese dancers, and the Sea Cadet band.
The boaters enjoyed a barbecue n the evening with an Irish musical accompaniment.
The highlight of the Sunday was the Society's 40th Anniversary party in the afternoon, which saw many faces from the past reunited and many a reminiscence enjoyed.
Finally, the Sunday evening saw what must have been the best illuminated boat procession ever on the Basingstoke Canal - congratulations on a fantastic effort by the boaters!
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Among all the modern boats at the rally, it was great to see some of the working boats that have been preserved, and particularly nice to find the Narrow Boat Trust's 70 year-old pair Nuneaton and Brighton in the hands of Robert and Mandy Knight and their two children, Christopher and Elizabeth. At the end of the rally, they were taking the boats up to Oxford.
Some years ago, the BCA was told to get rid of our old tug which was part of the children's play area at the Canal Centre in case they got sued if a child hurt itself, so it is a relief to know that there are still people who want to share adventures with their children even if there is an element of risk. Well done also to the Narrow Boat Trust for letting them do it. As Arthur Ransom put it in Swallows & Amazons, "Better drowned than duffers, if not duffers, won't drown".
No duffers here and the spirit of the old Number Ones and their families lives on!
The illuminated boat procession was impressively well organised, with the boats motoring down to Hermitage where they gathered in preparation for a return to their moorings. Full marks to all for navigating a very dark and narrow channel.
Right: Corn Dolly heading back from Hermitage to its mooring.
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40th ANNIVERSARY Party, 28 May
It was great to see so many of the Society's early members at the 40th Anniversary Party at Brookwood, including most of the founder members, headed by Jim Woolgar. Paul Dyson had flown in from California and Kyle Bullace from Switzerland. Good also to see Paul Vine, still writing about lost waterways. Perhaps less well known was David Cooper, who did a survey of the canal on behalf of the IWA, sent to Surrey County Council before the Society was even invented.
Jim Woolgar cuts the cake
Here's to the 50th Anniversary Party and may it see the Canal with a more secure and settled future.
With special thanks to Laura Sturrock and Duncan Paine for the photos.
||Les Harris & David Gerry
||Peter & Natalie Jones
||Clive Durley & Mike Fellows
||David Millett & Paul Vine
||Philip Riley & David Cooper
||David Junkison & Mark Coxhead
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July saw the John Pinkerton spending 5 days commuting flying displays for some years, from the Fox & Hounds in Fleet to Eelmoor Bridge with
passengers bound for the biennial Farnborough Airshow.
The weather was swelteringly hot throughout this period, but provided ideal conditions for watching one of the best flying displays for some years.
Stars of the show were the new Airbus A380, which showed impressive manoeuvrability despite its vast size, the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which takes off as a helicopter but flies as a fixed-wing aircraft (below), and the Russian MIG 29 fighter, which did things that ought to be impossible.
Fair weather attracted a good crowd to the Fox & Hounds in Fleet for the annual visit by the Mikron Theatre in July. Their new production was based on the life and works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, from the point of view of Mrs Brunel.
Great engineer though he was, one feels that Brunel was probably not the easiest man in the world to be married to with his obsessive attention to every detail of his varied projects, and the play brought this out very well in the Mikron's usual lively and entertaining fashion.
Right: Ruth Cataroche as Mary Brunel, Daniel Wexler as the great man himself, and Emilia Brodie and Robert Took as everyone else.
Thanks to David Millett for organising the event as usual.
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Canal d'Orleans visit
The Basingstoke Canal has been twinned with the Canal d'Orleans for some years and a party from France came over for the Brookwood Rally.
The hosting of the 18 visitors was shared between the various canal organisations and I am very grateful to those members of the Society who agreed to help out. The offer from Cllr Angela Gunning, Mayor of Guildford, was particularly helpful since she provided a host of appropriate status for M Grillon, the President of the Canal d'Orleans Management Group, and his wife, and she speaks French!
The party arrived at the Canal Centre on Friday evening, where there was an informal reception and chance to meet their hosts, who then took them home and fed them. On Saturday morning everyone assembled at the rally at Brookwood. Michel Grillon took part in the official opening ceremony and they then enjoyed lunch afloat courtesy of the BCBC.
After lunch, the party moved to Guildford, where a meeting had been organised in the Guildhall to discuss matters of common interest between the two canals, whilst the rest of the party went shopping. The day finished with a very enjoyable dinner in the Guildhall.
On Sunday everyone met at Old Basing House for a tour of the ruins of Old Basing House followed by lunch at the nearby pub, after which the visitors left for France.
It remains to be seen whether anything tangible comes from the twinning. The two canals share a common problem in lack of water, but are very different in other ways. No volunteer labour in France, but local authorities are obliged to fund the canal. Perhaps we could persuade the French to take over the Basingstoke Canal!
Whatever the outcome, the twinning provided a very enjoyable social experience and we look forward to a visit to France.
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MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY'S REPORT
I am pleased to report that we have enrolled a lot of new members since the last newsletter was published. Many of these joined at the Brookwood Rally.
A warm welcome to the following and thank you all for your support:
Mrs D M Buckle - Woking
Mrs S Hughes - Woodham
Surrey Hills Motor Group - Bisley
Mrs J Ayres - Ash Vale
Mr R Littlewood - Ash Vale
Mr P West - Winchester
Mr G Davies - Kettlewell Hill
Mr SM Burt - Winchester
Ms C L Wooden - Woking
Mr C M Gilham - Sevenoaks
Mr N Firth - Ottershaw
Mr & Mrs D Morris - Aldershot
Mr J Martin - Brookwood
Mr D P Martin - West Byfleet
Mr & Mrs J Moore - Hermitage Bridge
Mr K Lisley - Woodham Lock
Mr G S McCowie - Blindley Heath
Mr & Mrs D Winslow - Caversham
Mr & Mrs D Penkey - Walsham Lock
Mr R Badminton - North Warnborough
Mr D R Worth - Scotland Bridge Lock|
Mr D G Owen - Mayford
Mr M J Richings - Woking
Mr P J Oates - Nether Heyford
Mr A E Brown - Fleet
Mr M S Connor - St Johns, Woking
Mr N S Allen - Cobham
Mr C J D Peachey - Fetcham
Mr E A Cherrett - Addlestone
Mr & Mrs D D Hayward - Mytchett
Mrs P Johnson &
Mr R Steele - Whitehill
Mr B Arnold - Walton-on-Thames
Mrs J M Jacs - Scotland Bridge Lock
Mr & Mrs B Puttock - Chertsey
Mrs S Bone - Basingstoke
Mrs A M Macpherson - Crookham Village
Unfortunately, I am still awaiting quite a few 2006 subscriptions which were due back in March. May I please remind all members who have not paid this year to let me have your payments as soon as possible otherwise I will have to take your names off the newsletter circulation until the subscriptions are received.
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From Angela Percy
After having such a lovely day on Saturday, I felt I should just like to write and thank you all.
I was always very proud of Brian's efforts in the waterway cause, even if it did take over our lives sometimes. To now have public recognition for all he did, gives me a nice warm feeling inside.
So I thank you and everyone involved from the bottom of rny heart.
The plaque above was unveiled at the Brookwood Rally, but will eventually be placed near the back-pumping outlet at St John's when the scheme is finally completed.
The 40 Years booklet contained a photo that Margurite Redway gave me of a Lock 11 work party in the snow. Ken Halls tells us how it came about:-
As mentioned at the rally, I thought you would like to know more of the story behind the photo.
I woke up on a cold Saturday morning to find that it had snowed overnight. Now this in itself was not a major problem but as we had a visiting group coming to help us from Newbury, I went down to the works compound to open up just in case anybody turned up.
Bill Nicholson arrived with a car full of people and informed me that they hadn't seen any snow until they had gone through Bracknell. Mike Fellows arrived from Reading and so we had a working party. The weather did dictate what we were able to do and so we decided that we would remove the old 'Jessop' lower cill. This was an old 8" square wooden beam made of elm. Not only did it go across the lock in one solid piece but also 18" into each of the side walls. The beam turned out to be as hard as a lump of iron and so our thoughts of sawing a bit out of the middle soon proved impossible. Not to be beaten, we all took it in turns to attack it with a mattock and finally managed to make a small gap in the middle of the beam (it was just after this that we discovered that it went into the wall). Having removed a considerable amount of brickwork around the beam, we finally got enough movement on it to take it out. It was at this point I thought the occasion was worthy of a photo.
I learnt at least three things that weekend -
• not only does elm not rot in water but it becomes rock hard,
• the original canal builders did a very good job and
• volunteers are a really hardy sort.
Regards Ken Halls
Thanks to Ken for this bit of Society history and apologies for not giving him a photo credit in the booklet.
It looks even colder in black and white!
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Chobham Social Meetings
The new season of social meetings starts on Wednesday 18th. October at our regular venue at the Parish Pavilion, Station Road, Chobham at 8pm. These meetings will continue on the third Wednesday of each month until April 2007. See map above for exact location. Coffee/tea and biscuits will be available during the interval. Friends of members are very welcome to come along as well.
Wednesday 18th October 2006
Runnalls Davis - 'The Venice of the Midlands'
Runnalls Davis will be returning to Chobham to describe the little known and fascinating waterways of Birmingham. His talk charts their industrial origins, their later decline, and modern reincarnation as leisure waterways. These changes are widespread, startling and sometimes beautiful.
Wednesday 15th.November 2006
Peter Boyce - The Moving Meadow'
Peter, from the IWA Solent and Arun Branch, will be describing and illustrating a recent trip from Bath to London along the Kennet and Avon Canal and the Thames in his ex-working narrow boat with a ton of turf. This was part of an environmental project to publicise and create a flowering meadow. All will be explained during his talk.
Wednesday 20th December 2006
Dr Roger Squires - 'The Thames Creeks'
Roger Squires, Deputy National Chairman of the IWA and Chairman of the London Branch will be illustrating and describing the St Pancras Cruising Clubs various visits to the fascinating Thames creeks.
Sad to say, the Fox & Hounds gathering that the BCBC organise every year in August had to be cancelled due to the low levels of water. These led to the closure of Ash Lock and also rendered the slip ways unusable by the steam launches that usually attend, so that the potential number of boats able to attend was drastically reduced.
However, the BCBC is not giving up and, on the assumption that it will rain again sometime, is planning an illuminated boat procession through Fleet at Christmas. The Society is also planning a similar event in Woking on 2nd December. Look out for further details in the next issue of the Newsletter. Let's hope that the weather doesn't go to the other extreme with the canal frozen solid!
Next year we plan to revert to the Bridge Barn for an Easter Rally (7th and 8th April) and this will be followed the next weekend by a boat gathering at the Canal Centre at Mytchett for those who take the opportunity to cruise the rest of the canal.
The other big, almost local, event this year is the IWA National Rally, which is again taking place at Beale Park near Reading over the August Bank Holiday weekend. This year marks the IWA's 60th Anniversary, so we hope to see you there. The Society will have a stand and would welcome any offers of help to man it. If you are going to the rally, why not stand in for an hour or so and let someone else have a look round the show?
We have probably acquired 50 or more new members over the past couple of years, but we haven't seen as much of them as we would have liked to. To try and break the ice, we have booked the Canal Centre at Mytchett for the afternoon of Saturday 23rd September for an informal get-together where newcomers can meet the Committee members and some of the other people who tend to feature in the Newsletter, and find out a bit more about what the Society is up to and who is doing what.
Hopefully some of the activities may appeal and the Society benefit from new enthusiasm, expertise and effort. There is a multitude of jobs that need doing, ranging from writing letters, envelope stuffing and general secretarial work to civil and mechanical engineering, plus, of course, crewing the John Pinkerton. Do come along, any time from 2pm onwards.
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# What a wonderful sight to see around 130 boats of all sizes at the Brookwood Canal Festival over the Spring Bank Holiday. The colourful narrow boats along the curve of a glorious wooded section of the canal between the Hermitage and Brookwood bridges was a sight to behold. Some boats had made long cruises to get to Brookwood, one included the Thames Barrier in its itinerary. It was certainly Wellington boot weather on the site however, after all the previous week's rain. Let's hope the turnout of so many boats to support the Basingstoke Canal from many parts of the country demonstrates to the local authorities the prime value of the canal as a navigation first and foremost- Any thoughts of closing the canal to navigation must be fought and resisted. Without the navigation the canal is nothing.
# Good to see the Basingstoke Canal getting some good coverage in the Daily Telegraph and the Times recently about the funding issues for the future operation and maintenance and sustainability of the canal. In addition Meridian TV had an excellent item on their Meridian Tonight programme about the Surrey County Council proposal to cut a third of their funds next year . Both our editor, Roger Cansdale and Peter Wright, the chairman of Surrey and Hampshire Canal Cruises (John Pinkerton), featured in the item by their reporter Keith Malone. Roger was seen on the Deepcut flight of locks and Peter Wright was on the helm of the John Pinkerton.
# A planning inspector has dismissed the appeal by developers to construct flats and maisonettes at 84-86 Crookham Road, Church Crookham on the approach to Fleet from Crookham Village, One of the two main reasons was to protect the Basingstoke Canal Conservation Area and the views from the towpath at this location. The Society had fought the case strongly at the appeal hearing and, thankfully, the inspector agreed with our views. It is a continuing battle to protect the environment of the canal, especially in the built up urban areas, and on their outskirts.
# A pat on the back for Rushmoor Borough Council who have now completed the remaining section of towpath improvements and resurfacing from the end of the Farnborough runway to the Hart boundary at Morris Bridge. The monies for this have come from TAG, the operators of Farnborough Airfield, through their continuing contribution to local environmental improvements. A sum of money goes into the Rushmoor Strategic Partnership for every landing or take-off at the airfield, and this is used for various schemes within the borough and near the airfield and includes a contribution to the Fleet Pond Society for work at Fleet Pond.
# Vandalism is still an ongoing problem mainly in the urban areas along the canal. Recently a yob, presumably returning from a local night club at about 2am, smashed a window in a narrow boat moored at Reading Road Wharf in Fleet, depositing glass over the occupants asleep in their bunks. Around the same time the canal information board and map was ripped out of the ground and thrown in the canal at the same location. Now, neither Reading Road Wharf, Fleet or Colt Hill, Odiham have information boards which are so very useful to local people, visitors and canal users alike. Let's hope the Canal Authority can replace them in due course.
# Climate change really does seem to be with us with the increasing periods of long dry spells and temperatures. The canal has had to be closed to navigation, except for the top pounds, once again by the end of June. The need for reservoirs to serve the canal becomes ever more pressing, but these will come at great cost. We can only hope for a very wet autumn and winter to come to fully recharge the underground aquifers so that the springs at the western end of the canal really flow next summer.
# One of our local riparian Members of Parliament visited the Canal Centre in July at the invitation of the Basingstoke Canal Canoe Club. The key reason for his visit was to formally celebrate and mark the achievement of BCCC obtaining Club-mark status. Rt.Hon. James Arbuthnot MP for North East Hampshire, is supporting both River Access improvements nationally for canoeists and also funding issues forthe Basingstoke Canal. He also attended the Parliamentary Waterways Group meeting at Westminster in June at the invitation of the writer who represented the Society at the meeting whose topic was 'The Funding of the Waterways'.
# A few weeks ago a [20-foot high] fence suddenly appeared across the aqueduct at North Warnborough to completely block off the view down the Whitewater river. This view is very much appreciated by so many local people not only canal users. Luckily it turned out to be a mistake by a contractor acting for the new owner of the large house nearby whose ownership includes the fishing rights on the river downstream of the aqueduct.
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From Society Newsletters Nos. 70 October 1976 and 71 December 1976
# September 1976 marks the the Society's tenth anniversary. On Friday, 23 September 1966 a group of nine people met at the Brookwood home of Jim Woolgar and formed the steering committee. Sixty people attended the first general meeting at Brookwood Memorial Hall on the 18 November and the first newsletter - a modest quarto sheet - was published in January 1967. By then seventy five people had become members and the New Basingstoke Canal Company had been approached for permission to work on the waterway. But the request was never granted.
# Ten years of public ownership of the canal has been completed, after a battle which was fought and won through the dedication, determination and sheer hard work of members of the Society. It took 20 years to build and open the canal in the 18th century. Another decade must not be allowed to pass before the canal is once more re-opened.
# The editorial column raised the need for a Basingstoke Canal Trust, separate from the Society. This would not affect the councils' ultimate authority and responsibility as owners of the canal. A trust would represent all interested parties - local government and volunteers alike. The scope would be broadened in terms of raising cash from other charitable organisations.
# An artist's impression of the proposed steel-hulled 8'6" beam boat, designed to carry up to 56 passengers, with toilet and refreshment facilities, appears on the front cover of this newsletter. The committee intends to place a contract with Hancock and Lane (Engineers) Ltd of Daventry. An appeal is to made to raise the funds through sponsorship and an appeal to members.
# Restoration of Lock 25 (Curzon Bridge) is nearing completion and work continues on Locks 26 and 27. The overall co-ordinator for this work is Peter Jones. In addition other work parties include dredging, lock gate building, bridge hole clearance and offside and towpath clearance in Hampshire and Deepcut.
# Accident prone member David Junkison has so far managed to fall in the canal three times while on working parties. Is this a record?
# 1976 marks the bi-centenary of the first survey to be made of the canal's route as we know it today. It is also the much publicised bi-centenary of the USA. America has changed beyond recognition but the canal has changed relatively little. The character of the canal has remained largely intact.
# The steam dredger 'Perseverance' has now completed the dredging of Swan Cutting at North Warnborough, probably the most difficult section on the whole canal. In four months the channel has changed from 15' wide and 6" deep to 25' wide and 4'6" deep. In the words of one local resident "I didn't think it was possible, but I've never been so pleased to have been proved wrong".
# Johnson Wax of Frimley have sponsored the purchase of two Bantam tugs from the St.Albans Sand and Gravel Co.Ltd. Called 'Pledge' and 'Sparkle', they were launched at Colt Hill, Odiham by 56 MT Training Squadron of the Royal Engineers based at Church Crookham.
# A Victorian Musical Evening was enjoyed by about 70 members and friends at the Byfleet Village Hall. The entertainers were the 3rd Harlington Scout Group. Many members were dressed in Victorian style or as canal bargees of that era which made for a very colourful evening.
# An official re-opening ceremony to mark the completion of the new Farnborough Road weir by volunteers led by Peter Mayne was held in December. Once again, many came along in appropriate canal bargees clothes.
# A Marks and Spencer Fashion-Go-Round evening is to be held next year at the 900 seatAldershot Military Boxing Centre. Tickets £1, £1.25 and £1,50 now available on a first come, first served basis.
# 2000 tons of silt were removed from the canal at Coxheath Bridge area, Church Crookham. The silt was sold locally and 650 tons were snapped up by 70 people which raised £500. This paid for the lorry, hire and also covered the cost of removing the remaining 1,400 tons. A Hymac was used for this operation.
(Editor's note: One of these loads was ordered by the wife of one of my colleagues at the RAE. He arrived home one evening to find a large soggy mountain in his front garden. It took him some weeks to distribute it, but he said it was very good for the garden, apart that is from the rather odd crop of weeds that came up next year!)
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Canal Options Review meeting
The review of options for the future funding and management of the Canal is due to report to the autumn meeting of the Joint Management Committee. This will clearly be of vital interest to the members of the Society and we intend to have a meeting to brief and get feedback from you on Saturday 23rd September at the Canal Centre at Mytchett. We aim to start at 5pm and finish by 7pm.
This really is about the survival of what the Society has worked for over the last 40 years. If you want to know what the County Councils who own the Canal propose to do with it, please come along and give us your views. If you intend to come, an e-mail or phone call to Roger Cansdale or Verna Smith would help us to gauge numbers (details below).
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 31st October 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: Jonathen Wade* 30 Hanover Gardens, Cove, Farnborough, Hants GU14 9DT 01252-524690
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 A3 Design, Farnham.
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