The Lengthsmen Scheme

I’m Barry Jones, and I recently took over as Coordinator of the Basingstoke Society’s Lengthsmen Scheme.

The essential upkeep of the canal, towpath, locks and other features is carried out by many people including the Basingstoke Canal Authority, Rangers, Basingstoke Canal Society (BCS) and Volunteer’s alike.

Many of the tasks they carry out are as a result of issues brought to their attention by Lengthsman, a group of around 70 BCS volunteers who each patrol a particular “length” of the canal on a regular basis and report anything untoward.

My role is to act as the main point of contact for Lengthsmen, monitor all their reports and forward any serious issues to the Canal Manager or the Patrol Boat.

I am also responsible for their initial training and ensuring that all parts of the canal have enough overlapping Lengthsmen to ensure full and frequent coverage.

Apart from being the reliable eyes on the canal, especially at times following storms, our Lengthsmen often undertake some basic maintenance jobs such as litter picking or the removal of overhanging branches.

At this present time, some of our group are self-isolating, and others are unable to reach their particular length because of travel restrictions, so we could make very good use of additional Volunteers.

I would be pleased to hear from anyone who loves the canal as much as we do, and who might be in a position to become a Lengthsman and take on a stretch of the canal, typically between 1 and 5 kilometres in length. The role does involve regular reporting, including sending photographs, by email, so anyone interested should be familiar and comfortable with these practices.

If you would like to know more, I would be delighted to talk to you further about the vital work we do and how you might be able to fit in.

I can be contacted on

I look forward to hearing from you, and maybe welcoming you to our band of dedicated “guardians of the canal”.

Many thanks.

Barry Jones