Sep 132016
Society co-president Liz Dodwell performing the naming of nb Kitty at the Woking Canal Festival

Society co-president Liz Dodwell performing the naming of nb Kitty at the Woking Canal Festival

Here is a re-issue of an article by Roger Cansdale in the latest Basingstoke Canal News regarding the use, and naming, of our new trip boat Kitty at the Woking Canal Festival.

“As reported in the last BCN, the Society has bought a 12-seat passenger boat from the Chichester Canal Society. After delivery by road to the River Wey, the boat, then named Egremont, went to TLC at Byfleet, where it was craned out for hull inspection, minor welding and blacking. After a few days, it was back in the water and up the Basingstoke to Ash Lock, where painting of the upper works and general tidying up was done in time to go back down to Woking for the Canal festival.

There our Co-President Liz Dodwell renamed the boat Kitty (above right) after a horse that worked on the canal in the 1940s and ’50s and also used to draw their family caravan. nb Kitty ran public trips over the Festival weekend (below) and raised £170 in fares (£1 for adults, kids free).

Kitty will be going back to Ash Lock for the winter for further work before, hopefully, starting regular public trips in Woking next Easter. However, this will depend on a number of factors.
A suitable mooring needs to be identified with somewhere for crews to park their cars. This isn’t easy to find in Woking but we have offers and ideas.

The main thing we need though is people to set up a group to operate the boat. Again, we have had quite a few expressions of interest, but more would be very welcome. Please contact Martin Leech ( 01276-452754).”

Kitty Operation Update

kittyA lot of thought and preparation has gone into how a trip boat operation in Woking might operate. There are a number of issues still to overcome, but this is the status so far

  • Though we have been kindly offered the use of  a mooring at the end of Pablo and Jill Haworth’s garden in Sheerwater, this is some 35 minutes cruising from the centre of town, which would add a considerable time to the crew’s working day, fetching and returning the boat. We are therefore searching for a mooring closer to the Woking Wharf (near the WWF building), from where trips would probably run. We are following up lines of enquiry.
  • Wherever the boat is moored, parking for the crew could be a problem because of the extensive restrictions in the area, which we are trying to address. We have had a positive response for help in this respect from Woking Borough Council, though have still to have a conversation about the details.
  • We think that circular trips will run from (probably) Woking Wharf, turning at Bridge Barn and Monument Bridge, which would last about an hour each. Since nb Kitty is part of the John Pinkerton Canal Cruises “fleet”, bookings for trips would be handled in an extension to the JP trip booking website.
  • There are many jobs still to be done on the boat itself, which are not likely to be completed during this winter. However, maintenance work will continue probably from the beginning of October when the boat is returned to Ash Lock (reopening of lock flight closures permitting).

Can I thank all those who have come forward showing interest in the Kitty operation and offering to helm, crew, undertake maintenance or provide administrative support. My hope is to hold an open meeting towards the end of September to go over the plans as they stand at the time, by which time I hope some of the outstanding questions above will have been answered.

Anybody else who would be interested in being involved, please contact me, Martin Leech by email or on 01276-452754.

We need to identify a group of people who would be willing to take on the management of the Kitty operation, dealing with both day-to-day matters (eg creating a trip schedule, downloading passenger details for each trip, rostering crew, and organising refueling etc) and making “strategic” decisions about how the operation is adapted or expanded according to demand. This would entail many of the aspects of the JP operation, so there is a blue-print to follow.  I hope such individuals will make themselves known to me before or at the meeting.