Martin Leech

Jun 152020
 

 

 

This notice announcing the forthcoming opening of the Basingstoke Canal listed the ten wharves where goods could be loaded and unloaded. One might imagine that they would be equipped with cranes to assist the process, but in fact old photos show little signs of any.

This map of the terminal basin at Basingstoke in 1872 has a letter C next to the canal, which might stand for crane, but the photo below of the wharf dated from about 1860, shows no sign of one:

We have no photos of the wharf at Old Basing, but we do have some of the two wharves at Colt Hill, Odiham from around the turn of the 19th/20th century and neither of them appears to have had a crane.

This is the Little Wharf at Colt Hill on the west side of the bridge in 1914,

while this is the main wharf to the east of the bridge in 1904. The building in the centre was then the pub, called the Cricketers.

Even Spanton’s massive timber wharf and warehouse in Woking seems to have managed without one as this photo from 1967 shows:

In fact the only working crane that we know of was a very late arrival. According to Tony Harmsworth, whose grandfather owned the canal at the time, in the early 1930’s a contract was secured to deliver coils of wire by barge to a company near Monument Bridge that was producing wire nails. It was a subsidiary of Guest Keen & Nettlefold whose main headquarters were in Birmingham but were looking for a manufacturing facility in the south. To unload the coils of wire from the barges required a crane and a suitable crane was standing disused alongside the military railway sidings at Ash Lock. The crane was dismantled at Ash Lock and taken down to Monument Bridge where it was re-erected and used for a short while to unload coils of wire onto small electric trucks which then ran up the road and into the industrial estate to the factory. Unfortunately, shortly before the Second World War, GKN decided to centralise all nail manufacture in Birmingham and the trade ceased. Only the base and the winding gear of the crane remains as the jib which was wooden rotted away some years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above left in 1967 and right a few years ago after an inappropriate but not unattractive bit of spray painting.

But what about the crane at Ash Lock? That was salvaged from Lower Heyford on the Oxford Canal and installed by the Canal Society in 1984. It is missing bits, has had no safety testing and the BCA is not keen that it should, so it will remain solely as a decorative feature.

Jun 122020
 

The Perseverance dredger, tug and mud barges working near Barley Mow, 1980

If you leave the canal towpath and walk over the old road bridge at Fleet’s Pondtail you will come across a large plaque mounted on the bridge’s railing which is dedicated to the steam dredger ‘Perseverance’ and its volunteer crews who completed the dredging of the canal at the bridge in 1993. So what was Perseverance, who were the volunteers and what did the craft do to deserve commemoration?

The Craft’s Story

Steam Dredger Perseverance was built by Grafton Cranes Ltd of Bedford, who subcontracted the construction of the hull and pontoons to James Pollock & Son based on the River Thames at Millwall, having been commissioned by the Grand Union Canal Company in 1934. Registered as No. 14 in the GUCC, she was believed to have worked on the modernisation of the Grand Union during the 1930s. With the nationalisation of the canal network in 1948, ownership passed to the British Transport Commission then to the British Waterways board; she had a major overhaul in the 1950s when the boiler was replaced with one from a Luton laundry company, before being bought by the Kennet and Avon Canal trust in 1967.

The dredger was then purchased by the Surrey and Hants Canal Society (now the Basingstoke Canal Society) for £225 in 1973, but was in need of an extensive overhaul, including renewing the boiler tubes. Lying near County Lock in Reading, Perseverance was completely overhauled by the SHCS volunteers, not forgetting the Army who gave a great deal of assistance. After a successful boiler examination and certification the dredger was dismantled – with her now working crane used to help move some of the heavy parts – and the whole caboodle was moved to Odiham by road courtesy of Watney’s brewery. Reassembled and recommissioned, Dredger No 14 was named Perseverance after a competition held by the SHCS, in recognition of the those society members who had devoted so much of their time to the restoration.

Perseverance then commenced the next stage of her life, dredging the silted up end of the Basingstoke canal. The stretch she dredged ran for some 10 miles from  from King John’s Castle to Pondtail in Fleet, and this operation resulted in the final stretch of the canal being declared fully navigable in 1993. Perseverance is now registered as part of the National Historic Fleet and is currently stored in a dismantled state at the Ellesmere Port facility of the Canal and River Trust.

Perseverance Herself and the Basingstoke Canal

So what on earth was this leviathan? Basically she was a 70 foot long by 7 ft beam rectangular hull, which was fitted with a pair of pontoons which increased the beam to 13 ft 9 ins. Weight was around 70 tons and there was a steam driven crane mounted forward, supplied from a boiler mounted down in the hull in an enclosed boiler room. Steam operated engines to raise and lower the jib, slew the crane and operate the formidable steam grab.

The crane was, in typical 1930s style, an ergonomic disaster with a myriad of unmarked levers and pedals and exposed gears, rods, cranks, wheels and cables whizzing around which would probably have a modern health and safety inspector running for the hills but certainly added to the dredger’s character! The operation of the crane was also magnificent, with clouds of steam enveloping the dredger and anyone close as the grab was plunged into the canal, closed, then lifted with its huge load of sediment which was swung round with water pouring out and into the canal and dumped into the mud barge tied alongside, all the time emitting clouds of steam and accompanied by a soundtrack of hisses, creaks, groans, whirring and clanking.

Watch (and hear!) the Dredger in action (51s)

Truly the operation of the dredge was spectacular and would attract spectators to the towpath like a magnet. Perseverance’s steam engine did not stretch to powering the vessel; she had to be towed to where she was going to work, and then a pair of steel cables was set up linking convenient canal-side trees to a pair of hand cranked winches on the dredger. All this activity was in stark contrast to the usually quiet and tranquil environs of the towpath!

Loaded barges would be pushed to the nearest dump site using little diesel powered ‘Bantam’ work boats built in the 1950s, where the spoil was offloaded by an ancient tracked dragline crane on the towpath. Perseverance was well named, as dredging started in May 1975, and as the operation was manned by volunteers the dredger was run at the weekend throughout the year, and the task eventually finished in 1993 after some 18 years. Once the dredger was up and running and everything set up, dredging could start. One grab would pick up about a ton of silt, and a shift would result in some 400 tons of silt being lifted. After an arc of silt had been lifted, the hand cranked winches were used to pull Perseverance forwards by the width of the grab so the next arc of silt could be removed.

It was calculated that Perseverance had extracted about 125,000 tons of silt between 1973 and 1983, and a quick estimate shows that in her 18 year stint, ending in 1993, Perseverance would have extracted about a quarter of a million tons of silt from the canal. Perseverance was manned entirely by volunteers, and required a crew of at least two – a crane man to operate the grab, and a fireman to keep the boiler going. Many other volunteers were needed to support the operation of the dredger, operating the dragline winches, supplying coal and wood to feed the boiler, operating the Bantams that shifted the mud barges, running the dragline crane at the dump sites and generally assisting in keeping the operation running.

Perseverance’s legacy is of course the canal as we know it today, a marvellous resource for the community to enjoy, a sight of special scientific interest due to its rich and diverse flora and fauna and a haven of peace and tranquillity. All made possible by an ancient, obsolete, uneconomical, cantankerous old dredger and of course the volunteer crew who restored, maintained and operated her and made today’s canal a reality.

More about the Basingstoke Canal restoration

Perseverance – Dredging the Basingstoke Canal by Roger Cansdale – Canal Society booklet, obtainable here.

Dredging Operations on the Basingstoke Canal 1993 (35m):

Perseverance Dredger being removed at Reading Road, Fleet, 1993 (including Meridian TV item, 24m).

The Perseverance hull at Ellesmere Port today

Specification:

Hull:

Length: 70 ft (21.3 m)

Overall beam: 13 ft 10 in (4.2 m) (This was made up of the central 7 ft wide hull and the two pontoons. Perseverance was never used without these for stability reasons, but they could be removed to allow it to pass through standard narrow locks.)

Dredging depth: 4 ft 6 ins (1.4 m)

Draught: 3 ft 9 ins (1.1 m)

Crane:

Builder:           Graftons of Bedford

Identity           Crane no 2473

Capacity:         2 tons at 21 ft,  3 tons at 16 ft

Dredging:        2/3 cubic yard steam grab (used for heavy work)

Single Chain ring grab (used for speed)

Steam Engine:

Boiler: 12 NHP Loco Type built by Marshall. Works at 120 lb/sq in

Fuel Consumption: Approx 5 cwt (560 lb / 255 kg) of coal per hour. Could also run on wood.

 

 

Jun 122020
 

The Basingstoke Canal Society has made fantastic progress since it was set up in 1966. It kicked off the restoration of the canal with a huge mobilisation of volunteers working closely with Surrey and Hampshire County Councils who bought the land. Since then the Society has actively worked  with the council owners to help maintain the canal, and over the years has raised over £800,000 from trip boat operations which has been invested back in the canal through our working parties. It also continues to actively recruit volunteers and has over 250 people helping with day-to-day operations and the behind-the-scenes planning and promotional work.

However despite this effort, over recent years the future of the canal has increasingly become under threat as the County councils and local council budgets have increasingly become stretched with limits on the funding going into the canal. Indeed with the Society’s whole objective being to protect the canal for both the present and future generations our strapline is now a very clear ‘Keeping the Canal Alive’.

Moreover these council budgets will no doubt become even more stretched and under threat as a result of the Coronavirus. We are working with the councils to understand what this means in terms this funding ongoing projects and work on the canal.

However what has become very clear during the pandemic is that we have seen a very significant increase in people using the canal and seeing it as the ‘place to go’ for peace, relaxation and exercise. Quite simply, the message is that people love and value our local canal.

So what happens next? What can we all do?

Firstly, the message is that AS A COMMUNITY, we all need to get involved to help protect the canal.  Doing nothing is not an option.

So how can you help as it is important that we all “do our bit’? You can help by:

  • Volunteer: we are always looking for people to help both with practical tasks and crews, along with ‘behind the scenes’ roles. It’s great fun working as part of a team, and very rewarding.
  • And finally please email your local councillors to tell them how important the canal is for you and the local community. We need the local councils to promote and support the canal.

And let’s tell you what the Basingstoke Canal Society is doing. We are:

  • Continuing to improve the Canal by running regular volunteer working parties to help do necessary maintenance and development work.
  • Fundraising from our boat trip operations, donations, legacies, membership and corporate partners to fund a programme of projects including more information points, visitor centres and adding to and upgrading our trip boats with environmentally-friendly trip boats, along with improved facilities for disabled users.
  • Publishing a new website in the next couple of months which will help with donations and Online Membership.
  • Getting the local community, clubs and users actively involved in supporting the canal with such activities as boating, canoeing, walking, etc, all of which provide leisure, health and well being benefits.
  • Helping to identify potential water supplies for navigation and the protection of the natural beauty of the Canal and its species, this being a key environmental aim.
  • Working closely with the councils to ensure that they realise what a wonderful local amenity the Canal is, that is valued by the local community. Yes we understand the budgets are tight but there is a real opportunity for councils to actively promote and support the Canal for the benefits of all concerned, not only health and well-being, exercise and environmental.

Quite simply let’s ‘Keep the Canal Alive’. Just explore this website to find out more.

 

Jun 122020
 

Here is an update from Fiona Shipp, Canal Manager, at the BCA:

While some places might have gone quiet during lock down this certainly hasn’t been the case at the canal. We have seen large numbers of local people using the towpath for walking, cycling and jogging and hopefully appreciating the value of the canal as a wonderful local resource.

As restrictions have eased, the increased use has also now spread to the water with large numbers of people discovering the joy of water sports for the first time. This is fantastic, but alongside all the increased use has been the need to educate about being respectful of each other while sharing at times a very narrow space and also letting people know about license requirements. (Also don’t forget to buy your licences for putting any craft on the canal – just go to basingstoke-canal.co.uk)

The rangers have still been working albeit in smaller cells and restricted work, initially focusing down on essential work to keep the canal safe and the water where it should be and then as things have eased they have been able to carry out a wider range of tasks and get on with clearing trees and vegetation to maintain access on the towpath and prepare for boats to use the waterway again.

So how have volunteers helped with this already and what are our plans for the coming weeks and months;

  • The lengthsmen have been working throughout the lock down where they have been able to do so. Using their length inspection as their daily exercise and reporting back any issues allowing the rangers to deal with issues quickly.
  • We are now introducing some work for hand-picked and less vulnerable volunteers, working in physically distanced pairs to help prepare for our vegetation survey, which begins at the end of June. We need to clear access at over 600 points along the canal to allow a grapnel (looks like a small anchor on a rope) to be thrown and retrieved from the canal to identify the water based vegetation. These surveys take place every 4 years and allow us to monitor change and assess the state of the condition of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Clearing the access will mean a more complete and accurate set of results. Alongside this there is also an opportunity to help with a canal length turbidity survey from a boat if you have some good boating skills and access to a boat and/or car and roof rack for carrying one of ours.
  • We hope to be able to restart volunteers using work boats in small numbers as the next task over the next couple of weeks. This will help us start to tackle the mountain of the invasive floating pennywort that is growing across the canal in Woking. This is a very visual example of what happens when we are not managing the canal as usual with our volunteers. This will also allow us to get the Patrol Boat out and start to clear any rubbish from the canal and also carry out checking of boat licenses to ensure all our new users are buying their licenses, as all this money helps to maintain the canal and is very much needed right now with our income levels heavily effected by Covid 19. We are also starting to form a small team of volunteers to go out on kayaks and canoes to also assist with license checking and some of our Lengthsmen are also helping with this from the towpath. If you have good kayak or canoe skills and your own boat and transport let us know if you would like to join as one of our official volunteer patrol or survey team while enjoying nice paddles on the canal.
  • The next stage which is still being planned at the moment, is restarting small work parties. There are several procedures we need to put in place for this so this is likely to be at least a month away as yet, but then we hope to crack on with the summer painting schedule down the lock flights. This will be in smaller numbers than usual as we still have to adhere to government guidelines. Over time as these hopefully relax we can then broader the range of volunteer tasks and increase the number of people able to attend.

We and the canal are really missing seeing our volunteers and we do hope we will be able to get them back in action as soon as possible, but it will be a slow process and very determined by current government restrictions.

Fiona Shipp – Canal Manager

Jun 052020
 

Go to AGM Documentation
Dear Member

As you are aware, regrettably the Society’s Annual General Meeting scheduled for 16th May 2020 had to be cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the government’s resulting lockdown arrangements.  Whilst measures are evolving, they still make large gatherings difficult to organise, so the Society’s AGM will therefore for this year only comprise a formal physical meeting of only two Directors, one of whom will be the Secretary, to carry out only the formal business of the meeting set out in the notice below.  Members will be able to appoint one or other of these directors as a proxy at the meeting which will allow members to exercise their voting rights at the general meeting. No other attendees can be admitted.

In the circumstances, members are strongly encouraged to vote by proxy – this will enable you to participate in the meeting by voting on the resolutions set out in this notice, without attending in person.  All resolutions will be voted for by way of poll and the results posted on the Society’s website after the meeting.

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Annual General Meeting of The Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Limited will be held at 11am on 3rd July 2020 at Redfields Garden Centre, Redfields Lane, Church Crookham, Hants GU52 0AB to consider, and if thought fit, to pass the following Resolutions:

  1. Approval of the minutes of the 2019 AGM held on 18th May 2019.
  2. To elect members to the Committee (Board of Directors) until the next AGM.
  3. The re-appointment of Barnbrook Sinclair Partnership LLP as Independent Examining Accountants.

The meeting shall also receive and note the Annual Report & Accounts of the Society for the year ended 31st December 2019.

 

All supporting documentation is available to view on the Society website (see links below) and can be posted if required (by sending a SAE to the Secretary – see below).

Members are entitled to appoint a proxy to exercise all or any of their rights to attend and to speak and vote at the meeting (Article 28), with Household members having two votes.  The form of proxy (see below) should be completed and returned to the Society secretary, either by emailing to secretary@nullbasingstoke-canal.org.uk or posting to Mrs C Griffiths at her address, 138 Alexandra Road, Farnborough, Hants GU14 6RN, to arrive not less than 48 hours before the meeting.

If you have any queries, please contact me.

Yours faithfully

Philip Riley, Chairman.
chairman@nullbasingstoke-canal.org.uk

AGM Documentation:

Jun 012020
 

To support Volunteers’ Week we wanted to say thanks to all our 250 volunteers for the fantastic  work they are doing to help ‘Keep our Canal Alive’. Indeed if you fancy doing some volunteering, why not contact us as there are lots of opportunities to help and be involved with the Canal.

Going forward the volunteer work in supporting the Canal will probably become even more important as the current Covid crisis is putting severe pressure on already stretched council funds (Surrey and Hampshire councils own the canal and fund it in conjunction with the local councils). So it becomes all the more important that the local community ensures that ‘we do our bit’ in helping support the canal – yes we welcome donations, but what  better way than to do some volunteering?

So how can you help?

Our website lists the main volunteer roles available. These range from people working outside in working parties managing the towpaths, cutting back vegetation along with doing some building work, through to crewing the trip boats at Woking, Mytchett and Odiham, along with lengthsmen who regularly walk local lengths of the canal and are the ‘eyes and ears’ reporting back any issues. However what people often forget is the huge amount of work going on behind-the-scenes including projects, planning, fundraising, communications, publicity and promotion. We also spend time working with the local councils and the canal management.

Covid has obviously put some of the outside work temporarily on hold, although we are looking at when we can get the trip boats and working parties up and running again, in line with government guidelines. In the meantime, lengthsmen continue to monitor the canal, and as mentioned, behind-the-scenes a considerable amount of work is going on to help protect and improve the canal for both us now and future generations. Indeed it is with some of this work that we particularly need help – if you have any experience in the following areas, and would like to help your local canal, then please get in touch with us:

  • project management : work as part of a team in planning and implementing projects
  • fundraising : we need fresh ideas and help in raising donations, grants, etc
  • marketing, press and communications : help us get the message out!
  • lobbying and liaising with local councils :

Volunteering is great fun and it is very satisfying working with a team like minded other volunteers. Indeed it is particularly rewarding being involved in helping protect such a wonderful local amenity as the Basingstoke Canal which is enjoyed by everyone be you a walker, runner, boater, or however you use the canal – including perhaps someone who just wants to enjoy the peace and quite of the Canal.

The fact that we already have 250 volunteers tells you how much people enjoy being involved, so if you are interested and/or want to find out more, please look at our website or email volunteer@nullbasingstoke-canal.org.uk.

We look forward to hearing from you – and thanks again to all of our existing volunteers.

Ken Sankey

Director, Basingstoke Canal Society

Apr 272020
 

Samuel Cowdery was born in 1867 in Iowa. In his youth he worked as a cowboy and in 1888 he started touring with the Wild West act in a circus. He came to Europe eight years later and changed his name to Cody in order to associate himself with the already famous “Buffalo Bill” Cody. He set up his own Wild West touring act with his English partner Lela and her sons, and the “Klondyke Nugget” show was a great success.

Cody’s hobby was kite flying and they grew bigger and bigger until they were capable of carrying a man. He managed to sell these to the War Office for use as observation posts instead of balloons. In 1906 he was appointed Chief Instructor for Kiting at the Balloon School in Aldershot and soon after moved to Laffan’s Plain in Farnborough where the new Balloon Factory was set up. This later became the Royal Aircraft Factory, then Royal Aircraft Establishment.

Cody was still experimenting and his kites began to look more like biplane aircraft and one was flown as a manned glider. He became friends with the Commanding Officer at Farnborough, Colonel Capper, and helped him in the building of an airship, the Nulli Secundus. This made a notable flight to London, but later came to grief and Cody was allowed to use its engine in a powered aircraft that he was designing with Army backing.

British Army Aeroplane No 1 made the first manned flight in England on 16 October 1908. Within 6 months he had flown it over a mile and in August carried passengers, first Col Capper and then the intrepid Lela. His contract with the Army came to an end, but he continued to work using his own funds and his Cody V machine won the 1912 British Military Aeroplane Competition.

Legend has it that when he was doing engine runs he tied his aeroplane to a small Scots pine that grew a few hundred yards from the Swan pub on the A325 in Farnborough. The tree, always known as Cody’s Tree, eventually died and began to fall to bits after WW2. Attempts were made to impregnate the wood in resin (see below), but this made it heavier and not a lot stronger, so finally a full-size replica was cast in aluminium in the RAE’s workshops. This now stands on the QinetiQ site at Ball Hill.

He became a British citizen and took to calling himself Colonel Cody after being erroneously addressed as such when he was introduced to King Edward VII – if it’s good enough for the king….!

A small model of “Cody’s Tree” given to Roger Cansdale on his retirement, mounted on a piece of the original tree, showing some of the resin that was injected in the 1940s.

His connection with the Basingstoke Canal is probably due to the fact that he lived in Ash Vale only about a quarter of a mile from Alec Harmsworth and his boathouse. No surprise then that when he decided to build a floatplane he got Alec to build the floats. He did stability tests on the aircraft on the canal at Eelmoor Flash, but never flew it as a floatplane. It was rebuilt with a wheeled undercarriage but on 7 August 1913 it suffered a mid-air structural failure which resulted in the death of Cody and his passenger, William Evans, the captain of the England cricket team.

His funeral drew an estimated 100,000 people and his grave stands today in Aldershot Military Cemetery. His house, on the corner of Lysons Avenue and Frimley Road, carries a blue plaque and there is a handsome statue of him outside the Farnborough Air Sciences Museum, not far from where his tree grew. The museum has a full-size replica of his first aircraft – well worth a visit.

Roger Cansdale

Apr 272020
 

Denise, centre, with from L to R, sister Verna and Dick and Alison Snell, in front of the award-winning Society stall at the IWA Beale Park Rally in 2006

It is very sad to have to report the passing of Denise Smith. Until quite recently she handled the Society’s mail order sales and with her sister Verna was the “face” of the Society presiding over the Sales Stand at many local events for most of the last 15 years.

What many people may not be aware of were her sporting achievements. She had polio as a child and later in life was seriously injured when a drunk driver went into her car. However, she never let being wheelchair bound stop her doing what she wanted to do. She was the winner of the first London Wheelchair Marathon in 1983 in a time of about 4½ hours – no racing chairs then.

She then represented UK in the 1984 Winter Paralympics, winning three Silver Medals for Ice Sledge Speed Racing. Her involvement in many different sports, including becoming World Champion waterskier, and encouragement of other disabled athletes, led to her being named the Sunday Times Sports Person of the Year in 1990.  The 2016 International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation Competition Handbook still lists her as holder of the World Record jump for the MP1 category.

A serious waterskiing accident put an end to her competitions, but not her involvement with sport and in 1992, she was awarded an MBE for service to Sport for the Disabled. She also began a career as a motivational speaker – “If I can do it, so can you!” For some years she was an Ash Vale Parish Councillor.

She was unstoppable. She didn’t even seem too bothered after a car ran into the Society’s gazebo at a local fête and put her in hospital with a broken leg; she just began planning on how to spend the compensation on a motorised wheelchair. It is just very sad that she isn’t going to benefit from plans to equip her house better or from the new car that was being built for her.

We shall miss her greatly and send our sympathy to her sister Verna and the family.

 

 

Apr 222020
 

Here is an update from the Canal Management team:

Under present conditions we are encouraging people to limit their use of the towpath. The Basingstoke Canal remains open and available for walkers – it’s a form of access land, which like rights of way the Government is not giving us powers to close. With hundreds of entry points it is not practical to close the towpath.

We will be installing additional signage to encourage people to follow Government guidance on staying at home and social distancing. However, this requires people to act responsibly – if it’s too busy please take your exercise elsewhere.

At the weekend, we saw hundreds of people using the towpath, and at that level of use it’s very difficult to keep your distance, especially if you are cycling or running. Unfortunately, if use of the towpath doesn’t reduce, we may have to temporarily withdraw the permission for cycling on the towpath to relieve pressure on this popular area.

You are respectfully requested to:
• Run or cycle elsewhere at this time
• Not stop, picnic or sunbathe
• Give other walkers respect and keep your distance
• Consider walking elsewhere on other local paths

Apr 222020
 

Given the current restrictions resulting from the pandemic, I wanted to write to you, as one of our volunteers, to let you know what is going on along the canal.

Firstly, I want to take the opportunity to express our sincere thanks for all the work that you and your fellow volunteers are doing along the canal towpath, behind-the-scenes, crewing boats, etc. Without question your volunteer effort is absolutely central in ‘Keeping the Canal Alive’. Thank you.

As you know, our physical work is paused for the time being with no work parties, all boats and events cancelled and only the lengthsmen continuing to walk their stretch. As you know, the guidance given to us is that the towpath can only be used by local people and even then users need to take care to ensure that they observe the social distancing rules. We continue to work closely with BCA and they are essentially undertaking essential risk management at the present time.

We hope that as soon as possible our lives can start to revert to normal and then we can then get back out on to the canal. However, in the meantime, you will be interested to know that, in addition to some lengthsmen continuing their patrols, work continues behind-the-scenes including:

  • A new website is being developed which will include an online membership facility and a new booking system for electronic online booking of JP and Kitty – this work is being undertaken by Ian Sims, Dick King and Ian Moore
  • Regular articles are being posted on the social media keeping people aware of the canal. We have also revamped our electronic bulletin which will now go out monthly with regular short stories about the canal – please send in any stories that you have to bulletin@nullbasingstoke-canal.org.uk
  • Various projects are being progressed including investigating the option for a diesel/electric hybrid replacement for Kitty, possibly utilising grant funding, along with an initiative to provide a series of information points along the canal
  • To help finance projects, we now have a fundraising team and we will be approaching grant funding organisations for support. Additionally, various initiatives have been commenced including plans to approach local businesses to secure their financial backing. In addition to this we are now part of the Hart, Rushmoor, Surrey Heath and Guildford council lotteries
  • We also want to raise funds through increased membership and we have a new membership leaflet which we are keen to distribute to attract new members, volunteers and donors. Obviously we can’t hand out hard copies at present but please use the website link to send the leaflet electronically to friends and contacts (https://basingstoke-canal.org.uk/bcs/web-archive/bcs/web-archive/join)
  • Work also continues in building links with local councils. Richard Kelly in Woking has had great success in building and then maintaining relationships with various councillors and officers of Woking Borough Council

I hope that the above gives a flavour of some of the work we are doing to help the canal move forward and to secure its future. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at volunteer@nullbasingstoke-canal.org.uk if you want to help with any of the above.

In the meantime please follow the safety advice and we will continue to keep you up to date with developments – and most importantly thanks again for your help.

Regards

Philip Riley

Chairman, The Basingstoke Canal Society

 

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