Martin Leech

Apr 212020

The Basingstoke Canal Society has teamed up with not-for-profit organisation Trek View to capture 360-degree imagery along the entire navigable length of the Basingstoke Canal. It is available for the first time today on Trek View’s own platform, Explorer, allowing anyone with an internet connection to virtually stroll – or cruise – along the Canal, no matter where they are. This imagery will also appear on Google’s Street View in due course.

If this fails to display correctly, please try clicking twice on the top-right corner of the inset, lower left

Most people are familiar with Google Street View cars which tour the world capturing images of the public roads but using compact backpacks trekkers can now capture views of narrow waterways and paths and these have been used in places like the Grand Canyon, the world’s tallest buildings and highest peaks.

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The images of the Canal were captured by Trek View throughout 2019 with a bespoke 360 degree camera and backpack combination carried by a stand up paddleboarder along the full 32 mile route from Greywell Tunnel in Hampshire to the junction with the Wey Navigation in Byfleet, Surrey.

The Trekker captured a 360 degree picture every 5 seconds which are tagged with GPS coordinates so they can be mapped and then ‘stitched’ together to produce a seamless progression along the canal.

The Basingstoke Canal, owned by Surrey and Hampshire County Councils and managed by their agent the Basingstoke Canal Authority, now joins a number of other canals and rivers within the UK which are available for anyone to browse online, including the Wey Navigation, and also Bingley five-rise locks, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Little Venice.

With more organisations globally loaning Trek View cameras, ‘armchair explorers’ can view more of these remote and hard-to-reach places than ever before.

Ken Sankey, Co-Vice-Chairman of The Basingstoke Canal Society, said: “We’re delighted that, as a result of a Trek View initiative, the Basingstoke Canal can now be cruised online, and will be added to Google Street View shortly. We want more people to find out about the great locations and things to do on the Canal. Hopefully the online footage will inspire new visitors, whether they are from abroad, finding a new route to work or school, or already use the Canal regularly but want to discover new places to go. We hope that it will also encourage individuals to support the Canal in a meaningful way, not only by visiting it, but through volunteering, Society membership and donations.”

David Greenwood, Chief Adventurer at Trek View adds: “What a journey! The Basingstoke Canal is teeming with activity – and not just canal boaters. From rare wildlife nestled along the banks, historical artifacts telling stories from previous centuries, to those exploring more sporting pursuits. The Basingstoke Canal has it all. Supporting the Basingstoke Canal Authority, the work the Society and others continually perform to maintain this important local asset really shows. They have made it a place all of the family will enjoy exploring – we certainly did.”


Cruise online from various Canal locations

—- END —-

Supplementary Information

Here are some links to other start points along the Canal (all full screen):

Usage tips:

  • To navigate, click on the arrows at the bottom of the screen, or at the top.
  • Use the mouse to change the direction of view.
  • The thick arrow at the top shows a continuous slideshow view (but only in one direction).
  • The linking of photos has a few breaks. To resume on the other side of a bridge, lock etc, click on the top right arrow on the map at the bottom left to expand it, select where you want to continue from, and then expand the imagery again.
Apr 092020

The Basingstoke Canal Society has recently subscribed to several council lotteries which are intended to raise money for good causes in their respective areas. So, if you would like a flutter and also support the Society in raising money for the Basingstoke Canal, then why not sign up to one of these. Click on the links below to find out about the lotteries and to go to the Society page on each site:

Society page

Society page

Society page

Society page

The Canal runs through these districts and boroughs, and funds raised from lotteries towards the Canal will be allocated to benefit it in the respective geographic sections. For more about how the Society will use funds raised, please refer to the Society pages.

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Tickets cost £1 each a week, for which you can choose your own 6-digit number. Usually 50% of the ticket takings, that is, £26 each year, goes directly to the Society. The rest goes to a central lottery fund to which groups can apply for extra funding, (usually 10%), prizes (20%) and administration (20%).

Note that this prize is available with all lotteries

A prize draw takes place weekly on a Saturday night, and prizes are awarded as follows:

  • 6 matching numbers  – £25,000

and according to matching rules:

  • 5 matching numbers – £2000
  • 4 matching numbers – £250
  • 3 matching numbers – £25
  • 2 matching numbers – 3 extra tickets in next draw.

Extra prizes are occasionally available, see right.

To find out more how the lotteries work, click here.

All of these lotteries are run by the same provider (Gatherwell). Note that although set up by local councils, they do not receive any revenues from their lotteries.

So again, if you would like to actively support the Canal in your area while at the same time stand a chance of winning a tax-free cash prize, then subscribe now!

Not all councils neighbouring the Canal have set up a lottery yet, including Runnymede BC and Woking BC. However we have heard that Basingstoke & Deane BC are actively considering it and may be up and running later this year. We will apply to that when we hear they have made progress.

Mar 292020

From a Victorian ‘message in a bottle’, a tragic World War 1 story, through to a 21st century hi-tech drone, the history surrounding Basingstoke Canal is amazing.

Here are just some of the stories, the detective work that surrounds them and how our Social media Manager, Ian Sims, is leading the campaign to build awareness of the Basingstoke Canal Society.

Message in a bottle

During recent maintenance work on the Woking stretch of the Canal that involved draining the water, we found a beautiful 19th century glass bottle manufactured by J. Woods & Co of Aldershot. Research by one of our volunteers, Graham Corsa, identified the owner of the company as Samuel Woods.

The next step was a campaign through social media…we used Graham’s work in a post on Facebook that has so far reached over 11,000 people and attracted 329 reactions, comments and shares. Such is the power of social media that we even reached Samuel’s great-great granddaughter in the West Country.

Canal maintenance can often be a muddy business and perhaps the saying “Where there’s muck there’s brass” has never been more appropriate. Certainly the social media team is turning our surprising historical finds into digital gold!

“Our social media post on Facebook has so far reached over 11,000 people and attracted 329 reactions, comments and shares”… Ian Sims, Social media Manager, Basingstoke Canal Society

Tragedy of World War 1 Hero

Another story that attracted attention includes an air accident over the canal in 1918.

A De Havilland two-seat bomber piloted by Lieutenant Derek Lutyens broke up in mid-air and tragically the crew died. Lutyens’ body was found quickly. However, despite a search by 1,200 soldiers that included dragging the Canal and nearby ponds, no trace of observer David Pinsent was found. Six days later Pinsent’s body was discovered floating in the Canal between the Frimley and Mytchett Bridges. We posted the story on social media and received a lot of reaction to this tragic story.

Drone strike that landed in the Canal

During the same maintenance session in March this year at Woking, the working party found a drone!

Cue more detective work… the team was able to access the memory card that among other things contained video shot by the drone in flight of a house. To trace the owner, we made a short video and posted it on Facebook.

So far the 53 second video has reached over 6,000 people and been viewed for a total of 1,079 minutes. 91 people actually engaged through comments and likes. The top audience for this video was woman aged between 45 and 54. Interestingly, on Facebook woman continue to be our overall top supporters.

The house was identified by a reader using Google Street who used a tree with an unusual bark formation that is positioned next to a lamp post of a particular colour and design. As well as fantastic detective work, it’s good example of how people can work together using technology to solve common problems.

The impact of social media

As well as highlighting these fascinating stories, Ian’s team is making fantastic progress in raising the profile of our Society.

With cuts in funding threatening the future of the Canal, public opinion and the level of awareness will count ‘big time’ in mobilising support to fight our battles. Social media is such a powerful tool in the armoury of the Society.

Here are a couple of further examples of the impact that we have made:

  • A competition based on winning tickets for our boat Kitty on Social media reached over 18,000 people. Social media gives the Basingstoke Canal unprecedented exposure.
  • The Society’s Facebook page has over 4,000 followers and numbers are growing all the time.

In social media terms, if each of those 4,000 followers has just 20 friends on Facebook, we could potentially reach 80,000 people. And in reality, people have a lot more than 20 friends on Facebook.

To protect the Canal, we need to be in a position to challenge as effectively as possible and that’s why increasing our digital presence through social media is so vital.

“With cuts in funding threatening the future of the Canal, social media is such a powerful tool in the armoury of the Society.”

Do you have a story to tell?

If you have a story, or a news item, that you think would be of interest on social media, please contact us at

 Last updated by on 3 April, 2020
Mar 262020

My Name is Martin Thompson. I’m aged 23 and have been volunteering with Basingstoke Canal Society for the last three years.

I first found out about the need for volunteers when I was walking home along the Canal and saw a sign asking for volunteers to help with the conservation of the Canal. I thought this sounds like fun and decided to get on board.

Nearly three years later, I’m still a volunteer

The work varies quite a lot and you can work as part of a team or as an individual. Typical tasks include canal bank scrub clearance, managing over hanging trees, fencing work, repairing damaged banks, painting lock gates…anything that needs to be done to keep the Canal looking good. It can be hard work but it’s also a lot of fun.

I was really impressed with how well you are looked after. Volunteers get very good training in how to use equipment such as mechanical hedge trimmers, brush cutters and grass mowers. They treat you as a person as you become part of the community of volunteers.

“I was really impressed with how well they look after volunteers. You get very good training and they treat you as a person.”

Volunteering with the Canal Society is very relaxing, and in some way, I find it therapeutic. It helps to take my mind off pressing issues in my frequently chaotic (but fun) model aircraft business. I always make a point of leaving my mobile in the car as it’s good to focus on things away from work. By volunteering, you gain a different perspective.

Not all volunteering is the same

When volunteering with the Canal Society, I really like some of the ‘soft’ stuff’ such as the happy celebrations when it’s a fellow volunteer’s birthday. Suddenly a birthday cake appears! That’s on top of the regular the tea, coffee and biscuits in the rest breaks. After a busy day, it’s also not uncommon for the work party to recuperate at a local pub with a well-earned pint or two.

How volunteering has shaped my life

Volunteering has been, and still is, a massive part of my life. I first started volunteering with the Surrey Wildlife Trust on Chobam Common when I was seven years sold. I had recently taken up the hobby of flying model aeroplanes on the Common with my father.  In stark contrast to some of my fellow school classmates, who have subsequently found themselves facing challenges such as drug addiction and other serious issues, I believe that volunteering and my hobby have given me the building blocks for life. Both have helped me to stay on the ‘straight and narrow’ path.

The influence of older people who were more than happy to talk about their lives and their experiences have been key in helping me to avoid potential problems. And with the support of my Dad and his “Let’s do something practical” attitude to life, I kept out of trouble at school.


“Volunteering and my model aircraft business have given me the building blocks for life. Both have helped me to stay on the ‘straight and narrow’. Over the years I have met some fantastic role models who have helped me a lot to see life one step ahead.”  

A couple of years ago, I was very fortunate to volunteer in Bangladesh with an organisation called VSO – VSO is a voluntary organisation that sends volunteers overseas to help disadvantaged communities. The Canal Society helped me with my application – they were able to vouch that through my volunteering I had shown commitment, dedication and that I was reliable – key requirements for a VSO project.

Upon returning home to the UK, we were asked to carry out what VSO calls “Action at Home”. My project was to walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path with two friends in support of the Alzheimer’s society. We raised over £2,000 for the charity.

After recovering from the Pembrokeshire coastline, I felt I could do more and have recently been asked to go on BBC Radio Surrey to spread the message about volunteering as well as to speak about my experiences in Bangladesh.

Would I recommend volunteering with Basingstoke Canal Society?

Absolutely! It’s something that I would recommend to any young or older person. It’s really about ‘Give back’ to society and I encourage you to get involved.

“Basingstoke Canal society is a fantastic organisation to volunteer with. The people are amazing from the staff through to your fellow volunteers. It’s always an enjoyable experience… even when it’s raining!”

Find out more

For more information about how you can get involved as a volunteer with Basingstoke Canal Society, please go to our Volunteer page. You can also contact Ken Sankey on 07850 652769 or at



 Last updated by on 27 March, 2020
Mar 152020

14 March 2020

The issues are well publicised. For The Basingstoke Canal Society, there are two main concerns.

  • The safety of all our volunteers, their families and those we come into contact with, and
  • Doing what we can to help reduce the risk of any additional pressure on the medical services and the NHS.

Accordingly with immediate effect, we plan to implement the following:

  • Boat trips – Our trip boats Kitty and John Pinkerton will temporarily cease operations. We will be contacting those who have already booked trips where required.  For more information, see the John Pinkerton Canal Cruises website.
  • Saturday Working Parties – Will be temporarily put on hold.
  • The Annual General Meeting – Which was planned for 16th of May will now either be deferred or conducted by some form of electronic webinar. Further details to follow.
  • Chobham Meetings – The Chobham meetings will be put on hold from the end of this month. All other local events are put on hold.
  • Lengthsmen – Recognising that in this role lengthsmen are meeting the public. Lengthsmen need to be aware of the ‘one meter rule’.
  • Other meetings – We are aware that there are various other meetings and work being done by volunteers behind-the-scenes. It is the volunteer’s choice if they wish to attend any small group meetings (or as above carry out Lengthsman duties). They should ensure they follow appropriate hand cleansing and other guidelines. Where possible we encourage the use of remote working technology including Skype to avoid unnecessary face to face discussions.

The above plans have been coordinated with the Basingstoke Canal Authority who are implementing similar changes.

We will of course review these decisions in line with developments.

We are sure that you fully understand the above and thank you for your help in ensuring that the Society does what it can to protect volunteers and canal users.

The Basingstoke Canal Society.

Feb 022020

John Pinkerton II Public and Theme Cruises in Hampshire

The season starts early this year with two cruises on Mother’s Day, 22 March; the afternoon cruise is already sold out.

There’s an underlying theme to several of the theme cruises: food, drink and music.  A perfect way to enjoy a summer’s evening on the canal.

Our theatre cruise this year commemorates the role the Basingstoke Canal played at the beginning of WWII, 80 years ago. Two nights of drama, comedy and song (and a fish and chips supper).

Children will especially enjoy the Easter egg hunt on the Easter Sunday cruise and the Pirate Treasure Hunt in August.

If you can’t decide whether to walk the towpath or cruise the cut, there are two trips in August when you can do both, and enjoy a ploughman’s lunch in the middle.

If you just want to relax and enjoy a few hours cruising through the beautiful Hampshire countryside, there are public trips on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the season, and Fridays as well in August.

Find out more on the JP public trips page or go straight to bookings.

Kitty Public and Charter Trips in Woking

Our 12-seater narrowboat Kitty runs trips from the town wharf in Woking from April though October.  You can join a 1 ¼ hour public trip or charter the boat for that special occasion for up to 2 ½ hours.  The boat has a hydraulic lift and ramp and can accommodate up to two unpowered wheelchair users per trip.

Find out more on the Kitty trips page or go straight to bookings.

Nov 122019

Family reunion, birthday celebration, club or business away day?

A charter cruise on John Pinkerton II is the perfect way to celebrate

with family, friends or work colleagues.

You can…

                            • Bring you own music
                            • Arrange catering for food
                            • Decorate the boat
                            • Arrange the furniture to suit

Licensed bar onboard, serving hot and cold drinks and snacks


Morning, afternoon or evening cruise

April through October

Approx 2.5 hours, up to 50 people

The skipper and crew will man the boat and galley while you and your guests enjoy a cruise through beautiful Hampshire countryside.

Check date and time availability

Nov 092019

An ideal present for birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions.

John Pinkerton II in Odiham: vouchers between £10 and £100, for use on any public or theme cruise, can be purchased online here.

Kitty in Woking: vouchers between £10 and £60, for use on public or charter cruises, can be purchased online here.

Give them to family, friends and work colleagues, and allow them to enjoy the wildlife and beautiful countryside along the Basingstoke Canal.

(Please note: vouchers are not interchangeable between boats)

Aug 082019

If you are interested in seeing what the Society’s work parties, and visiting groups, having been working on over recent years, then see the updated photo album here. It starts with the most recent jobs. (Note that the file is quite large at 11Mb.)

Most of these works have been funded in full or in part by revenues generated by the Society’s John Pinkerton trip boat operation.