A Society Name and Constitution for the next 50 years?

At the Annual General Meeting on 14 May 2022, the membership voted on and passed with a significant majority two special resolutions. These were:

  • THAT the registered (that is, the formal, official) name of the Company be changed to The Basingstoke Canal Society
  • THAT with effect from the conclusion of the meeting the [new] Articles of Association …. be adopted as the Articles of Association of the Company…...

But don’t we call the Society that anyway? This is why the Society directors presented these resolutions to the membership.

What’s In A Name?

When the Canal Society first formed in late 1966, it was like a members’ club, though it was organised by a committee. It was planned to call the group, unsurprisingly, the Basingstoke Canal Society, but this drew criticism from the organisation that then owned and managed the Canal, the New Basingstoke Canal Company (the Canal wasn’t yet in Counties ownership). This was because they said it sounded too similar to their name and would cause confusion.

Relations between the Society and the Company were not good at the time – the Company objected to the Society’s stated aim of restoring the Canal to prevent further deterioration, because they had other plans, namely to fill it in and use it for residential development! This prompted the early activism from the Society that was in favour of conserving the Canal for future generations – the rest being, as they say, history.

So, the group instead called itself the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society (SHCS), and this was the name registered with Companies House when the Society became a limited company in 1977. However, it wasn’t the preferred name;  it implied that the Society’s activities were based around all canals in Hampshire and Surrey, which wasn’t really the case. Nevertheless, it stuck for over 50 years.

When the Society rebranded itself in 2013, the Committee decided to designate the “working name” of the Society The Basingstoke Canal Society (note the “The” is part of the name), which has become the most familiar to the general public, and which you see in the logo above and on other materials.  From then on, SHCS was used only in official documents.

Early in 2022, the directors decided it was now time to change the formal name of the Society from the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society to what we have been calling it for many years, and which is seen will carry the Society through the next 50 years. For this reason, the Committee put the first of the two resolutions to the membership.

Following members approval, the new name registration process has now been completed and the Society’s updated entries can be viewed on the Companies House and Charity Commission websites.

A New Constitution

When the Canal Society became a limited company in 1977, it adopted a Memorandum and a set of Articles of Association, as all charitable companies are obliged to do. This document was the Constitution of the Society and defined its Objects (its purposes, its reasons for existing), and the rules for conducting its affairs. Apart from one amendment in 1978, this document has remained unchanged over the following 45 or so years.

In addition to changing the Society’s formal name, the Committee also recently decided that the Objects and Articles should be updated (hence the second special resolution presented at the AGM). It was agreed that the Society’s Objects should be more closely in tune with our current activities and focus and that the Articles should reflect present day practices and current company law.

To read more about why and how these changes were made, please click here. It is worth restating however, the Society’s new Objects below as these represent the Society’s vision for potentially the next 50 years:

Revised Charitable Objects

The Charity’s objects are restricted specifically, in each case only for the public benefit to:  

Advance the heritage of the counties of Surrey and Hampshire by the protection, maintenance, restoration and improvement of the Canal as a navigable waterway to enable it to contribute to the industrial heritage of those counties and the wider region;

Advance the education of the public on the role of the canal system in general and of the Canal in particular on the promotion of social and economic development and as a historically important heritage and environmentally diverse asset;

Promote for the benefit of the inhabitants of communities in the area surrounding the Canal and of the public at large recreation or other leisure time occupations through the provision of access to the Canal and its environs to improve the condition of life of those inhabitants; and

Promote for the benefit of the inhabitants of communities in the area surrounding the Canal social inclusion by providing opportunities for volunteering and community engagement in activities that further the above objects.

Revised Articles of Association

The revised Articles document (dated 14 May 2022) can be found below. Please click the download button to save a copy.

Martin Leech
The Basingstoke Canal Society