Letter to Volunteers from Society Chairman Philip Riley

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@basingstoke-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/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@basingstoke-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.


Philip Riley

Chairman, The Basingstoke Canal Society