Woking Canal Festival – August 6th/7th 2016




All those involved with the recent Woking Canal Festival have declared it to be resounding success. Not only did the many members of the visiting Historic Narrow Boat Club all enjoy their visit to the Basingstoke Canal, the welcome they received from locals and the support provided by the Basingstoke Canal Authority, the event was well organised and was well attended by the general public. So far, all the feedback we are receiving is distinctly positive (see below).

A strong message can therefore be put out to the boating community at large that the Basingstoke Canal is “open for business”, and which will hopefully finally dispel any negative reputation that the Canal has (if somewhat unfairly) acquired.


The opportunity was taken during the Woking Canal Festival to conduct a ceremony to name the Society’s recently acquired second trip boat, nb Kitty. Mrs Liz Dodwell, Society co-president, with the aid of her grand-children, did the honours.


Walkers on the Basingstoke Canal in Woking may well have already seen the first of the 50 or so historic and other boats expected to arrive on the Canal in readiness for the Woking Canal Festival. Many boaters will be taking the opportunity to enjoy the Canal either before or after the Festival, so the next couple of weeks will be a good time for boat spotting along the entire length. See below for a schedule of boat movements:


  • The Woking Canal Festival on August 6th and 7th looks set to be a spectacular event on the Basingstoke Canal in Woking, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Canal’s re-opening. A huge amount of planning and organisation has taken place, and with less than 3 weeks to go, the countdown has started.

2014_1870emAlready things are beginning to happen. The 50 boats expected to visit the Festival are now on their way and the first will be on the Canal next week. A large proportion of these are owned by members of the Historic Narrow Boat Club, who with the Basingstoke Canal Society are also celebrating their 50th year.

A commemorative display and an exhibition of professional photos of workparty activity on the Canal has opened at the Lightbox, and will be open until August 8th. The Woking & District ramblers have also organised a series of towpath walks, heading towards the Festival site at Brookhouse Common.

On the Festival weekend itself, a parade of historic boats from the Festival site towards Woking takes place each day from 10am, and boat trips will be available. There will be a full programme of entertainment and a display of photographs of the work of the Society’s volunteers and films of the Canal’s restoration. In addition, there will be a wide variety of stalls present, including other canal societies, boating clubs and other local organisations, plus food, drink and a real ale bar.

Do come along and celebrate with us!

Lock 4 at Woodham, in a derelict state, before restoration

Lock 4 at Woodham, in a derelict state, before restoration


This year is a celebration of 50 years since the formation of The Basingstoke Canal Society. A collection of pictures of how the Canal once looked in Woking, ie derelict and neglected, show why the Society was founded, and the huge restoration effort necessary to return it to the wonderful amenity that passes through the town today.


There has been some confusion over where the Woking Canal Festival is going to be held. Apparently, Brookhouse Common is not a name known to locals. I hope this post will clear things up:


A programme for the entertainment taking place at the Woking Canal Festival has now been published. Needless to say, this is subject to change and will be dependent upon availability and of course the weather. However there is something for everyone. We will keep you posted of any changes to the schedule should they occur.


Perhaps a little bit late (for which we apologise), a collection of information for boaters is now available for those intending to cruise to the Basingstoke and attend the Woking Canal Festival. If you haven’t already, you will need to book yourselves in by filling in and returning a form – details of which are in the pack. The closing date is 30th June 2016.


The boat rally in Woking planned for the weekend of 6/7th August 2016 will mark several anniversaries.

Firstly, the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society, now known as the Basingstoke Canal Society, will be celebrating its 50th year. In 1966, the Basingstoke Canal was derelict with an owner planning to fill in parts of it for development. A letter in the local papers gathered a group of people together to fight for its future. The Society persuaded the County Councils of Surrey and Hampshire to take it into public ownership and after some 20 years of largely volunteer restoration work, the canal reopened to navigation in 1991. 2016 therefore also celebrates 25 years since the reopening.

The Historic Narrow Boat Club was also formed in 1966, as the Narrow Boat Owners Club (NBOC) at the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) National Rally of Boats at Marple, and is one of the oldest inland waterway boat clubs. They are celebrating their half centenary by bringing over three dozen historic working boats to the rally at Woking on the Basingstoke Canal.

Anyone else wishing to bring a boat to the rally should contact the Basingstoke Canal Authority on 01252 370073 or Dick King on 01730 264178 or email at wheelersfarm@nullbtinternet.com


Issued by: Roger Cansdale (Editor, Basingstoke Canal News) 01252 678608 / roger.cansdale@nullntlworld.com

More about the Woking Canal Festival


The Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society was founded in 1966 to campaign for the Basingstoke Canal to be taken into public ownership and restored to a navigable standard. This campaign was successful and the canal was acquired by the Surrey and Hampshire County Councils in the early 1970s. Following its acquisition, the Society entered into a partnership with the County Councils to restore the derelict canal.

The Society organised volunteer working parties which undertook a wide range of tasks. These included dredging 12 miles of canal in Hampshire, rebuilding 28 locks in Surrey, rebuilding bridges and weirs and clearing the towpath and offside banks. The work was completed in 1991 and the canal re-opened from the River Wey Navigation in Surrey to Greywell in Hampshire that year.

The Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society sees itself today as the guardian of the Basingstoke Canal.

It exists to:

  • Promote the use of the Canal as a navigable waterway and general amenity
  • Campaign for the responsible ownership of the Canal (this includes long-term sustainable funding, maintenance, water supply)
  • Support the managing authority (this includes fundraising, organising voluntary work groups etc)
  • Protect and conserve the Canal for the benefit of all
  • Seek opportunities for development and improvement of the Canal

The Society decided to re-name itself as the Basingstoke Canal Society last year to clarify its interests. Its original name was the result of a desire to avoid confusion with the New Basingstoke Canal Company that it was in conflict with in the 1960s over the Company’s intention to close the canal. Happily, the Society is on much better terms with the current owners, the Surrey and Hampshire County Councils, and both share a common aim for the future of the canal as a navigation and much appreciated local amenity.