No. 190 Summer 2001
I thought that this year's AGM went off rather well, largely due to Andy Stumpf's excellent talk. It's not going to be easy to follow this next year, but we do have some ideas. There are plenty of exciting things happening this side of Hadrian's Wall which would be good to hear about.
Despite the success of the guest speaker, there are still some aspects of the AGM which could be improved. This year we were rather caught on the hop by Edwin Chappell's resignation, since he had organised the previous meetings. With this in mind, Kathryn Dodington has volunteered to sort out next year's proceedings.
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Although everyone enjoyed Andy's talk at the
AGM, I have heard the comment that the rest
was a bit flat and one has to accept that there is
some truth in this. Equally, Michael Handford has a point about the need for a big new objective to inject some new life into the Society. Unfortunately, what the Canal needs at the moment is not grandiose schemes but the more mundane job of making what we've got work properly.
This is not just a question of water supplies, but also proper funding and management. The BCA is seriously underfunded compared to BW canals and currently, following Tony Harmsworth's retirement, is without a full-time manager. I suspect that Tony did the job because it was the family business rather than because it was a good career move and I hear that it is proving difficult to find anyone else with appropriate experience to take a similar view.
I think it will be very hard to persuade anyone in BW to abandon the greater career opportunities in that organisation to manage a comparative backwater like the Basingstoke, delightful though we find it.
We can only hope that the need for a proper waterways man is fully recognised and that we do not end up with a country park manager as a compromise. Such a move would be disastrous for the future of the navigation.
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Talking of the Basingstoke being a backwater, I was chatting to Nancy Larcombe at the Canal Centre the other day and was delighted when she came up with the same idea that I had been mulling over for a while, namely that rather than bang our heads against the improbable and not very useful restoration of the link to Basingstoke, what we
should be doing is resurrecting the idea of a link to the K&A.; This was first suggested in the 1820s.
It's just over 12 miles as the crow flies from North Warnborough to the arc of the Kennet between Aldermaston and Reading, so we would probably be looking at something like 16 to 18 miles of new canal. Whilst this is clearly more than would be required to get to Basingstoke, the idea of creating a through route direct to the canal system and with it a Surrey, Hants and Berks ring would be much more likely to catch people's imagination (even better if we did not need 4 licences to do it!).
Perhaps someone would like to do a preliminary study that we could put up for comment in the Newsletter? It may only be a pipe-dream, but it's a more interesting one than just going to Basingstoke.
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Kathryn Dodington's letter inside highlights the need to maintain not only the fabric of the canal but also its appearance. With this in mind, I hope that someone from the "conservation" bodies is keeping an eye on the area that has been cleared at Eelmoor Flash, because currently it looks like a tempting target for what Michael Flanders and Donald Swan called the League of British Bedstead Men. I had a walk round the other week and noted a few bits of rubbish, but I fear that it will be only a matter of time before something bigger arrives and someone has the job of removing a burnt-out motor car or something similar.
I am also curious to know whether anything is being done to ensure that the area does indeed become the desired heathland. At the moment it shows every sign of turning into the biggest bramble patch in the south, interspersed with some rather smelly stagnant pools.
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Since we have just passed the 10th anniversary of the re≠opening of the Canal, I had been thinking about having a nostalgic wallow in photos and recollections of the great days of the Royal opening and the Pinkerton's first trip to the River Wey. However, looking back, I find that Dieter Jebens published all the best photos in the Summer 1991 newsletter, and I have also got far too much current news to fit in to allow much space for nostalgia. I think I have already got enough material to fill the next edition, so apologies to anyone whose contribution has been held over.
This does look like being one of the most eventful years since the re-opening and I hope that this bodes well for the future.
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FRONT COVER PICTURE info
Shades of 1789 - Tim & Liz Dodwell's square-rigged winkle brig at the Odiham Rally Photo: Dieter Jebens
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This was the 24th AGM since the Society became a limited company and it was good to see attendance 25% up on last year's disappointing total. Although a strong turn-out of ex-dredger crew members drawn by the presence of Andy Stumpf contributed to this and may make it hard to repeat, it does suggest that the principle of having a guest speaker is a good one. All we've got to do is find another as good!
Following a suggestion from last year, the offer of a pre-AGM buffet supper was taken up by about half of those attending, and the opportunity was taken to auction the books which had been donated by Dick and Alison Snell. Although the auction as such didn't really seem to take off, the sale realised nearly £70. Those left unsold will go on the Sales stand.
Annual General Meeting
As usual, the actual AGM began with the formal company proceedings. Presenting the accounts for the tenth year in succession, Jonathan Wade remarked
that in this time he had signed over a quarter of a million pounds worth of cheques. He then went on to report a profit for the year of nearly £10,000. He noted that the basic Society transactions lost over £12,000 and that it was the Boat Company's profits which kept the Society going. It was perhaps this comment which led to a suggestion from the floor that Group Accounts should be presented, covering both the Society and its subsidiary company, Surrey & Hants Canal Cruises. The Treasurer promised to discuss this with the auditors. The accounts were approved unanimously and Hilton & Co re-appointed as auditors.
With only nine nominations for the Committee (Peter Redway, Philip Riley, Jonathan Wade, Dieter Jebens, Roger Cansdale, Kathryn Dodington, David Lloydlangston, John Ross & Verna Smith) there was no need foran election and the Committee was returned unopposed.
It was noted that Lord Onslow of Woking, one of the Society's Vice Presidents and a staunch champion of both it and the Canal, had died. The Society would be sending its condolences.
Pablo Haworth reported that 154 people had contributed £7800 to the Water Appeal, which together with the £2500 from last year's Bridge Barn event, should give a total of over £12,000 when Gift Aid tax was recovered. He thanked all concerned.
The formal business finished on time at 7.30 and we then moved on to the presentation of awards. Robin Higgs did the honours and presented his eponymous trophy to Mike Hammersley for acting as organiser of day-time crews for the John Pinkerton ever since it started operating in 1978. Robin noted that Mike had also filmed many of the Society's early activities. Ron McLaughlin received the trophy on Mike's behalf as he was too busy lambing to attend the AGM.
Robin also made a presentation to George and Janet Hedger, who had finally stepped down as organisers of the Newsletter distribution after some 27 years in the job (Left. Photo R Cansdale)
(We are looking for a replacement, preferably in the Fleet area, so if you could spare a couple of evenings four times a year, please let us know).
Ron McLaughlin led off to report a very good season for the Boat Company, which included the launch of a second boat, Dragonfly. A number of marketing enterprises had lifted the number of charters, but public trips were less well supported and so would only be advertised this season on the Sundays and Mondays of Bank Holiday weekends and the first and third Sundays of each month. This would free up slots for charters and seemed to have worked well over Easter, when over £1000 was taken.
Ron felt that Dragonfly had had a successful season, although it had made a loss. Valuable lessons had been learnt and it was good PR for the Society at the Woking end of the Canal. This season it would only be doing public trips on Sundays and would be available for charter at other times. It had been busy at the Bridge Barn and had taken over £400.
Ron noted that £1184 of the Boat Company's profits had come from the Sales stand. He thanked everyone concerned with running, crewing and maintaining the boats and reminded us that they could still do with more crew volunteers. Finally, he mentioned that they had set up their own web site www.s-h-c-c.co.uk with all the details that appear in their usual leaflet plus other information, and it might be developed further.
A trio of ex-Dredger Managers Brian Bane, Andy Stumpf, Roger Flitter
Peter Redway gave his Chairman's review of last year's events and activities.
This year marked the 101h anniversary of the Canal's re≠opening and he felt that at last we were beginning to get to grips with the water supply problems that had led to its closure every summer. Despite terrible weather over the winter, the basic civil engineering works at Woodham were complete and ready for the installation of the back-pumping pumps themselves. The Society had received very good co≠operation from the BW Project Manager and Clerk of Works to enable volunteers to restore the towpath and do other work which contributed to the matching funding needed for the Heritage Lottery grant. He thought that the response to the Water Appeal had been wonderful and was looking to make a start this year on a second back-pumping scheme at St.John's. Support from visiting groups had already been pledged for this.
2001 had seen a number of organisational changes in the Society, with a new Membership Secretary and Administration and Gift Aid Organisers already appointed and replacements being sought for the Hedgers as Newsletter distribution organisers - Peter thanked all the Chappell family and George and Janet for their efforts over the years.
To mark the 101h anniversary of the Canal's re-opening an extra event was being organised at Odiham on the late May Bank Holiday in conjunction with the BCBC, BCA and Galleon Marine. As well as a boat gathering, there would be on-shore activities, although foot and mouth precautions looked likely to put the canal west of Colt Hill out of bounds.
The Bridge Barn event at Easter had attracted a good number of boats and visitors and he congratulated Verna Smith and her team of organisers. Later in the year there would be the usual Cavalcade of Transport at the Canal Centre and Fox & Hounds rally in Fleet.
Peter then moved on to re≠cap the activities of the Working Parties over the last year. Although there had
been bankside clearance and lock repair work elsewhere on the Canal, the main activities had centred on Woodham. Some 3km [?] of towpath were being reinstated and on an average weekend about 120 tonnes of stone were being laid.
Volunteers had put in some 862 man-days, worth £25,860, which put us well on track to met our pledge of £29,000 in matching funding for the back-pumping scheme.
Peter noted with gratitude the support from the BCA, who trusted him to organise much of the volunteer work on the Canal without continual reference to them, from Hart DC, who had the faith to let the Christmas WRG camp use the brand new Elvetham Community Centre, and from Woking DC for their continued assistance. He also thanked the Work Party volunteers and team leaders without whom there would be no work, the Committee, especially Jonathan Wade, for their support, and finally his wife and family for their continued tolerance and help.
Lesley Richards, the new Membership Secretary, introduced herself and also gave thanks to Edwin Chappell and his family for doing the job for about 15 years.
Current membership stood at about 1675 and all the renewal reminders had been sent out. This had resulted in about 40 cheques a day coming in and there were now only 175 unpaid subscriptions outstanding. Gift Aid certificates had been sent out with the last Newsletter and she appealed for everyone to complete and return one to enable the Society to benefit fully from the tax refund.
New membership forms would be available soon, which would include her e-mail address and telephone number, and she appealed for all members to recruit at least one
new member this year.
Andy Stumpf proved the ideal choice as guest speaker, because as well as being well known to most people, he displayed a great depth of knowledge and enormous enthusiasm for his subject - the canals of Scotland and in particular, the Forth & Clyde and its remarkable "Millennium Link".
He gave a very professional talk (of which more elsewhere), complete with computer animated simulation of the amazing boat lift which would not look out of
place in Star Wars, and followed it with a video of the
Dieter Jebens gave a very well deserved vote of thanks.
In answer to a question about the trip boat franchise in Woking, it was explained that after due consideration, it had been decided not to apply for it, but that Dragonfly could, and would, operate there for particular events.
A question was raised about how access to the Canal might change when the back-pumping was operational. The Chairman pointed out that a BCA licence was required and had to be checked, but he hoped that the necessity for rangers to escort boats through the locks would be reduced. The members present were asked for their views on the suggestion made in a letter from Michael Handford that the Society needed an exciting objective to rejuvenate it and that restoration of the line to Basingstoke would provide it.
Jill Haworth expressed what appeared to be a common view that it was a brilliant idea for the next generation, but that there were other things that needed doing first.
Robin Higgs agreed that the prime objective must be to make the current extent of the Canal fully operational. We should keep the interest in the Western End as something for the future.
Stan Meller suggested that creating a reservoir at the Brickworks Arm might be a first step and Mike Tomlinson thought that the Greywell Tunnel should be restored and a winding hole dug at its far end. Peter Redway mentioned that Mary Smith, who had allowed the Society to use her garage during the work on the Western End, had died last year and had left a piece of land adjacent to the Canal near Slade's Bridge in trust for the Society. This would provide an ideal base for future work.
Dick Elder said that what potential visitors to the Canal wanted to know was that access was guaranteed at all times and that they were not worried about the lost bit to Basingstoke. He felt that there were never likely to be enough boats using the Canal to justify the cost of extending it.
The discussions were reluctantly closed at about 10.30, bringing to an end what was generally agreed to have been one of the best AGMs of recent years.
Going Down Memory Lane - David Gerry's talk to the Woking Group
The varied programme of speakers at the Society's well attended Woking social evenings over the winter months, ably organised by Arthur Dungate, ended on an appropriate note to mark the tenth anniversary year of the canal's re≠opening with a talk by Dave Gerry, a founder member and the Society's first chairman, who went on to become manager first of the Hampshire pound and then of the whole canal.
With the aid of slides, Dave traced the Society's formation in 1966, the campaign for public ownership, the restoration years and the exciting finale when the Duke of Kent arrived at Frimley Lodge Park by helicopter on a beautiful spring day in May 1991, the start of a memorable weekend of civic celebrations along the length of the canal from Basingstoke to Byfleet.
His illustrated trip down memory lane reminded older members and revealed to new ones, just how influential the Society was in restoring the canal as we know it today. Seeing pictures of the canal in its forlorn, semi-derelict state choked by weed, crumbling lock chambers and decaying gates, the 7-year long campaign for public ownership - a roller coaster of disappointments and successes - and the daunting task of restoration by volunteers in partnership with the local authorities, served to show that although the canal, often starved of water, remains something of a
backwater today, the transformation from derelict ditch to clear water, has been a major achievement.
While Hampshire tackled such major tasks as replacing the Whitewater culvert under the canal at Odiham Castle and stabilising the landslip at Dogmersfield with a gabion wall, Society volunteers cleared the towpath and dredged the canal from the Whitewater winding hole to Pondtail Bridge with the celebrated steam powered dredger, aptly named Perseverance.
An innovation introduced under Robin Higgs' chairmanship was the Job Creation Scheme, followed by several other youth employment and training schemes managed by Frank Jones and supported by Surrey CC, which undertook the task of restoring locks and building new gates. Then there were the summer work camps organised by Mike Fellows and managed by Ken Parrish which were forerunners of the national canal camp movement organised by Waterway Recovery Group today.
Both in the Society's campaigning years and as Canal Manager, we have much to thank Dave Gerry and others for the part they played in entering uncharted waters without foundering, driven on by their determination to succeed.
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CANALS of SCOTLAND - by Andy Stumpf
Andy spoke briefly about the two currently operational Scottish canals, the Caledonian, cutting across from Fort William to Inverness, and the Crinan, whose modest but beautiful 9 miles saves a 100 mile trip round the Mull of Kintyre when going from the Sound of Jura to Loch Fyne. Most of his talk though was devoted to the work being done on Europe's largest canal restoration project, the Forth & Clyde Canal linking Dumbarton on the West coast to Grangemouth on the east, plus the Union Canal joining these to Edinburgh - the so-called Millennium Link.
The scale of this enterprise is staggering - 220 kms of canal (of which half is currently open), 83 locks and 117 bridges, plus the removal or circumvention of many obstacles to navigation that have arisen since the waterway was closed in the 1960s. The most spectacular of these will be the replacement of 11 locks by the Falkirk Wheel boat lift.
Needless to say, the cost of all this is pretty staggering as well and
Andy emphasised the "Success through Partnership" aspect of the
project. It is being financed in part by the European Union, with the rest coming from British Waterways themselves, the Scottish Enterprise Network,
Millennium Commission, and all the City and District Councils along the canal.
The benefits they are looking for are not just the increased tourism but more
importantly regeneration of depressed areas and a heightened sense of communal pride.
The three aspects that BW have attempted to address are firstly preservation of the environment and heritage of the waterway, secondly "social inclusion" - people have to feel that the waterway belongs to them, and finally and inevitably, the economic and commercial side.
They hope to get about a third of their income from boating, but more from some rather sharp property development that they are doing. Andy emphasised though that this would not work without the attraction of boats on the canal. Other income will come from communication cables and masts and water sales.
The great thing that came across from Andy's talk was his
enormous enthusiasm for the project and I'm sure that many of those present will be inspired to make the trek north to see the Millennium Link for themselves. The Forth & Clyde is due to open on 26th May this year and the Wheel will turn in September and is due to open formally in April or May 2002.
If you want to know more about all this and the other canals of Scotland, there is an excellent web site www.scotishcanals.co.uk. which even includes Skipper's Guides for each waterway that can be downloaded free.
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MIKRON THEATRE COMPANY
Date: Sunday 15th July 2001 Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Canalside at the Basingstoke Canal Visitors Centre, Mytchett Place Road, Mytchett. Outdoor show with
indoor backup in case of rain. Bar and BBQ by Richard Hatherley of the Canal Tea Rooms.
Show: 'Warehouse Hill' - the story of the Huddersfield Narrow - a unique Pennine canal.
The Society is again sponsoring a performance by the Mikron Theatre Company, this year at the Canal Visitors Centre,
as the Fox and Hounds in Fleet is due to undergo a major rebuilding after Ron Kettle retires in a few months time.
This show is very topical as the Huddersfield Narrow Canal reopened on the 1st May and it is a magnificent tribute to all those people who had vision and believed that this was not an 'impossible restoration'. The Huddersfield Narrow took eighteen long hard years to build. When it opened in 1811, it was the highest canal in the country with the longest tunnel burrowing 3" miles under the Pennines. The show delves beneath the facts and figures, the tonnages and dividends, the Millennium Commission and the meandering maze of bureaucracy to focus on people's personal stories - the navies, the entrepreneurs and engineers, the canal enthusiasts, and the local communities, whose lives are connected to this extraordinary Pennine waterway.
Come along by foot, car or boat (the more boats the better to add to the atmosphere) and have an enjoyable evening. There will be a collection at the end.
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INVITATION TO NEW MEMBERS
The Committee extends a warm invitation to members who have joined the Society in the last two or three
years to a New Members Evening and Barbecue at the Canal Centre, Mytchett, on Saturday 15th
September, starting at 7.00pm. This is an opportunity to meet the Committee and ask any questions you
may have about the Society and the Basingstoke Canal.
The Canal Centre Exhibition will be open and the Meeting Room has been booked in case the weather
is not suitable for eating outdoors. Subject to availability, we hope to have the 'John Pinkerton' at Mytchett
for a short cruise and for any member who may be interested in training to crew the Society's trip boat.
Family members especially welcome and if you know someone who may be interested in joining the
Society bring your friend along too.
The cost of the barbecue is £5 including a drink. RSVP with your cheque to Lesley Richards, the
Membership Secretary (address on the back page).
Thursford Collection Christmas Show 2001
How about a pre-Christmas trip to what are almost certainly the finest Christmas concerts in the country? We have been successful in obtaining tickets for one of the Thursford Collection Christmas concerts on the evening of Saturday 8th December. The 2 hour concert features a wide selection of quality Christmas music, performers, military bandsmen, choirs, orchestra and of course the Thursford Wurlitzer organ.
We have arranged travel in an executive type coach with hot drinks, toilet and video facilities on board, and will leave the Fleet/Farnborough/Woking area atabout mid-day with a stop for a break at Fakenham. We expect to arrive at Thursford well before the performance to allow visits to the various gift shops there. The evening show is due to begin at 7.00pm and, with a brief interval is expected to end at 10:30. We expect to leave promptly afterwards and reach home by about 1:00am.
Cost will be about £22 to include travel, admission to Thursford and the concert itself. Places are limited and the event is popular. Although some months away, those wanting to join us should register an interest as soon as possible please by contacting the Treasurer, Jonathan Wade, at the address on the rear of the magazine.
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BRIDGE BARN and ODIHAM RALLIES
Bridge Barn Easter Rally
The annual Easter event at the Bridge Barn in Woking again went very well, with record numbers of boats. Despite weather which could have been brighter, a good time was had by all and thanks are due to Verna Smith, who took over the organiser's job from Peter Coxhead this year, and her team of helpers, which of course still included Peter!
Some 30 boats attended the rally at Colt Hill, Odiham, over the late May Bank Holiday weekend to celebrate the 10th anniversary of an equally warm and sunny weekend in May 1991 when HRH the Duke of Kent formally reopened the canal at Frimley Lodge Park. While the anniversary boat rally was without the formalities of ten years ago, visitors viewed the variety of boats and activities with equal interest, and a few who recalled the day back in 1974 when a water space was dredged and weed removed to float the pontoons of the steam dredger 'Perseverance', reflected on the tremendous undertaking to restore the canal back to life. The rally was organised by David Venn, chairman of the Basingstoke Canal Boating Club, with the support of the Society and the Basingstoke Canal Authority who provided a marquee and toilets while canal ranger Andy Foster prepared the site and the new promotions manager Andy Howard helped publicise the event.
Among the visiting boats were 13 members of the Wilderness Boat Owners Club who swapped Bodiam Castle on the Sussex Rother, the scheduled venue for this year's IWA National Trailboat Rally, cancelled because of the Foot and Mouth outbreak, for the less imposing but equally historic Odiham Castle. A flotilla of steam launches, owned by members of the Steam Boat Association of Great Britain, added to the festive occasion. Among their number Bill Findlay and J. Burberry won the boat handling competition with a dextrous display aboard 'Serena' (Page 9, A).
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10th Anniversary Rally, Odiham
On Saturday evening a group of Austrian brass band musicians gave an impromptu concert while boaters prepared their craft for a colourful illuminated boat procession won by Mr & Mrs J. Bell's Wilderness Beaver'Mary Alice', while David Venn, chairman of the Basingstoke Canal Boating Club, harbourmaster and organiser of the event, found time to decorate his narrowboat 'Daizy V' to be judged by the Society's chairman Peter Redway, the best static illuminated boat.
Among the visitors Tim and Liz Dodwell expressed their delight with two commemorative seats, donated by members of the family, and installed by Society members David Junkison and Janet Greenfield, in memory of Liz's mother Joan Marshall who was general manger of the canal, and foreman Dave Gregory, from 1949 to 1964, when it was owned by the New Basingstoke Canal Company (B above).
The 'John Pinkerton' took over £1,000 over the weekend and proved so popular that skipper Trevor Winterbottom put on an extra trip on Bank Holiday Monday. Society sales manager Verna Smith and her sister Denise also did some good business on the sales stand and signed up two life members among others. The anniversary event would not have been complete without Tony Davis who masterminded the memorable reopening celebrations at Frimley, this time showing he was equally proficient as an IWA competition stall holder raising money for the canal's backpumping scheme.
Photos: Dieter Jebens, Roger Cansdale
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From Michael Handford
Thank you for printing my letter in the last BCN. I hope this provokes comments, criticisms and controversy!
In the meantime may I respond to Dieter Jebens' and Stan Meller's comments? I think both gentlemen have missed the point.
While Dieter Jebens Is right to suggest the current priority is to get the canal operating successfully, this is at best a short to medium term not a long term vision. Perhaps SHCS doesn't have a long term vision or has one it has no intention of pursuing.
Is the proposal in the constitution for restoring the Western End unrealistic? What is it doing in the constitution if it is? And aren't we lucky the old Kennet & Avon Canal Society didn't take that view in the 1950's. We could also have been daunted by the massive cost and huge obstacles on the Rochdale - over thirty miles, over ninety locks, two motorways and a supermarket to move plus a mile and a half of solid concrete. That's what I call a really unrealistic project! It reopens in 2002 by the way.
Anyone can think of dozens of schemes much more daunting than the Western End which are proceeding successfully. How about the Forth & Clyde/Union Canals (£78m, reopens 2001), Huddersfield (reopens 2001), Montgomery, Monmouthshire, Derby and Sandacre for a start?
So why is this all so impossible in Basingstoke? Are members right to tell me it is poverty of imagination in short supply not feasibility? Not being local, I don't know.
Stan Meller's reply is simply limp and, at the same time, shocking. Restoration is not feasible because only one person replied to a newspaper article! And the proposal that 'we have no alternative but to forget the possibility of restoration to a terminus in Basingstoke' does not (I hope) represent a majority defeatist and negative view in the general membership.
Successful restoration groups know public interest doesn't just materialise. It has to be created. Ashby Canal Society calls this process 'spontaneous' manufacture and organisation. ACS continues to do that very well - witness the near local riot by locals when the restoration was delayed by one selfish farmer. This predominant local view has been created by decades of hard work by ACS - If did not exist beforehand and would not exist without it.
If members want to abandon the Western End, then change your constitution and admit you have failed to achieve a key objective or aren't prepared to try and achieve it which amounts to the same thing.
The little boy seeing Queen Victoria in a carriage asked his parents 'What's she for?' So, I ask you, once good water supplies are achieved, what is SHCS for? If you don't have a clear strategic objective then the usual route is for trusts to moulder and decay.
Is your committee - is your membership - resigned to that? Best wishes.
Dieter Jebens, the Society's Vice Chairman replies:
Nobody is suggesting that restoration of the western end of the Basingstoke Canal is unrealistic but it can only remain an ambition until we can achieve official backing for it to materialise, such as that of Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council who actively investigated the scheme, found it to be feasible, but failed to get financial support from the Lottery Fund such as the Kennet & Avon Canal managed to obtain.
We are well aware there are more technically involved schemes, like the Forth & Clyde and the Huddersfield Narrow, which have been successfully completed but they would not have been realised without the agreement and huge Government and European financial backing which was forthcoming because of the need to regenerate depressed areas as much as restoring the waterways per se.
As explained in my previous response to Michael Handford's original letter (BC News No 189), the Society's committee has given restoration of the 5-mile western end our best shot in the form of the widely publicised feasibility study and engineering reports which triggered off Basingstoke & Deane Council's interest. Furthermore volunteers have done extensive work along the length from the western end of Greywell Tunnel to Penney Bridge, Up Nately, clearing and re-surfacing the towpath, installing a new footbridge over Brickwork's Arm and renovating Brick Kiln Bridge as well as supporting Basingstoke Heritage Society's efforts to establish a footpath along the line of the canal from Basingstoke.
There is no "poverty of imagination" on the part of the Society and, yes, we (and the local authority) have proved restoration is perfectly feasible but there is the small problem of finding about £25 million to achieve our aim.
In the meantime we have a water starved restored 32 miles of canal to make accessible and navigable throughout all the year round. Whether that proves to be a short, medium or long term project remains to be seen, but it is our top priority at present which will involve the Society in substantial fundraising for backpumping and practical involvement to achieve these water conservation schemes.
To this end we need the continued support of our members and new ones as much as ever before.
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From Michael R Speak
There are too many obstacles in using the original route of the canal to reach Basingstoke, but has anyone considered a scheme of extending the canal by running it south of the M3/A30 and perhaps forming a basin at a point adjoining the A339; whilst this is only on the outskirts of the town, it could be considered near enough to say that Basingstoke had been reached.
I have to admit that I do not know the terrain west of Hatch, but this route would seem to exclude expensive (relatively) engineering works and also avoid villages, although the outskirts of Mapledurwell may have to be passed - Part of the old bed (including Little Tunnel Bridge) could be used between Penney Bridge and Hatch, though naturally after this a new cut would have to be made. Several bridges over minor roads would also be needed.
I have not mentioned Greywell Tunnel, but I would suggest that until (or if ever) this is restored, the new length is entirely used by unpowered craft. Not only would this require less water (in a notoriously dry area) but it might also help to keep the locals on side.
When I joined the Canal Society 30 years or so ago, there were exciting times ahead with the proposed restoration about to go ahead. Now that this has taken place (or nearly so), it is obvious that interest would wane, especially so as every other concern has jumped on the bandwagon and wishes to run the canal in their own way.
I therefore agree that we need a new focus and this is why I have made this suggestion.
Friends of Gill & Dave Freeman will be delighted to see Xanth afloat again, on Lake Rideau in Canada. They have also at last stopped shovelling snow from their drive!
From Kathryn Dodington
I have just returned from an Easter Monday walk with friends from Brookwood to the start of the Deepcut flight of locks at Pirbright.
I was extremely saddened to see the hulk of a narrow boat still in the flash above Lock 15, almost completely sunken now. My memory leads me to believe this hulk has lain in this position for some two years now. It must not only be a hazard to passing boats, as its rudder arm is exactly in line with the centre of the upper lock gates, but it is also an eyesore at the start of a walk up the beautiful Deepcut flight.
Not only is the hulk lying there, in places only just above the water, but also pieces of superstructure, which appear to have been hacked from the corpse of the boat, lie strewn on the far side of the towpath. This is surely not a good advertisement for the canal.
I was even more saddened to see, in the old car park, Canal Authority signs dumped, presumably awaiting some other fate. Identical signs were still standing close by so one must assume that these dumped signs had been brought to the old car park at Lock 15 from another part of the canal and dumped. Along with the old Canal Authority signs were some old trees, a fibreglass boat, some old cupboards and to cap it all a bath in the old Canal Authority colour scheme!
In between the hulk of the now sunken narrow boat and the other dumped rubbish is, believe it or not, a canal ranger's cottage.
It is high time the Canal Authority took stock of itself and tidied up its own back yard before spending time running wildlife walks around the Canal Centre.
Leigh Thornton replied:
"Unfortunately the BCA are well aware of the problems with the sunken boat at Lock 15. This is a former houseboat which we had to dispose of. The Army diving school offered to cut it up and remove it for free as a training exercise. However it has now become one of those awkward situations where something offered for free is not getting done.
I have held discussions with the army who are to continue to work on cutting up the boat 2 days per month until is is done. They will winch it in closer to the bank to lessen the navigational hazard and will remove all materials as they cut them up. Much of the junk at Lock 15 has come from the boat (including the bath!) and part of the deal is that this is all removed as well. I personally noticed the pile of rubbish last week and we will get it skipped away as soon as possible.
2 days later, a further e-mail:
"The rubbish and dumped bath etc. at Lock 15 have now
gone and site tidied".
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From George & Janet Hedger
At the recent AGM we were presented with a gift of a decorated Galley lamp in recognition of our 27 years organising the collation and distribution of the SHCS Newsletter. We thank the Canal Society for this and at the same time would like to mention our stalwart band of helpers, who regularly helped us collate and stuff the newsletters into envelopes, often at very short notice and late into the night in order to complete the job, namely Peter and Ray Fethney, Clive and Barbara Durley, David and Rosemary Wimpenny, David and Judith Gerry and David and Rosemary Millett, but not forgetting the many other SHCS members and friends who were press-ganged into helping on odd occasions. They have all given very generously of their time, and without them we could not have continued for so long.
We would also like to mention the main distributors of the newsletter, who receive large boxes of envelopes to distribute to their "postmen" in the larger towns:- David Bowman (Woking), Tony Rozelaar (St John's), David Gay (Hersham), Peter & Margaret Bond (Camberley/Frimley), Betty & Andrew Scammell (Ash), Bill Bristow, Bert Savill & currently John McGarry (Fleet), David Pettle (Basingstoke) and John McCluskey (Farnborough).
We have enjoyed our years of 'folding & stuffing' newsletters and thank all those who have helped us over the years.
I would like to add my thanks to all these people, who save the Society hundreds of pounds a year in postage. I would also like to say that as Editor I will do my best to ensure that whoever takes over from George and Janet does not have to work late into the night to cope with short notice deliveries. We are also thinking of going to larger envelopes so that they will only have to do 'stuffing', without the folding.
I wonder how many newsletters the Hedgers have been
responsible for dispatching in those 27 years and how
many bottles of George's home brew have been consumed
in the process? RC
I received a couple of letters pointing out spelling mistakes in the last issue, for which I apologise. However, I must share the blame for one of these with Bill Gates, because Word's spell checker did not recognise the word "waling" in Millett's Musings and corrected it to whaling.|
Personally, I find the image of David Millett as Captain
Ahab, shouting "Thar she blows" across Mytchett
Lake rather appealing. RC
A letter from two new Life Members:
Dear Mrs Richards,
Please find our cheque for £200 for 2 Life Memberships to SHCS. My wife and I have walked the Basingstoke Canal for a few years, but much more over the last 2 years since we moved to Crookham Village. We can walk to Crookham Wharf from here in 3 or 4 minutes, so we have used it much more frequently! We have seen a lot of the very good influences of your Society, so when we saw your leaflet, we thought we must support your endeavours. We also got a copy of your Spring 2001 B. Canal News which we think is excellent. If you have any back copies of the last year we would be pleased to receive them.
John Coles passed away on 215t May, aged 64, after some years of illness. He was manager of the Pension Ombudsman's Office in London and then joined Woking Council's internal postal department - John was above all a caring person, particularly in respect of his local environment in Woking. He formed the Grove Group in 1983, which is still going strong alongside the Horsell Residents Association, of which he was Chairman, between them looking after the interests of those living north of the canal in Woking. Both he and his wife Margaret seem to me to have spent half of their 38 years of marriage sitting in the public gallery of Woking Council, listening and taking notes at every major meeting, with any snippet of information likely to affect the canal quickly passed to me.
John has for many years been closely associated with Margaret Gammon's Woking Recreational Boating for the Handicapped and he will be sadly missed by them. He has been a very loyal member of the Canal Society for some 20 years, being a regular attendee at the Woking Social evenings. His house backed onto the canal.
It is a measure of the esteem in which he was held that the Mayor and Mayoress of Woking and other senior members of Woking Council offices attended his funeral.
I for one will miss his quiet, cheerful and honest approach to all matters concerning Woking Town and the Basingstoke Canal. Luckily for all of us, Margaret will, I am sure, continue and maintain the standards set by John.
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HISTORY - (Memories of the Dredger - 1) by Ron Jesse
Memories of the dredger "Perseverance" in
its spell of duty with the Surrey & Hants
In the early days of the Surrey & Hants Canal Society, we all recognised that one of the major problems associated with the restoration of the canal was dredging. The upper pound in particular was very badly silted - in places islands of mud and weed blocked the channel. Whatever the solution, it had to be within the Society's power to afford and manage, and it had to be kind to the environment.
At Pyestock (the National Gas Turbine Establishment), engineering colleagues and I conducted many desk studies (in our tea breaks of course) involving Heath Robinson schemes of pumps and bucket machines and mud throwers - all quite impractical.
Then, one day in 1970, word got round that there was a dredging machine of some sort lying idle on the River Kennet to the west of Reading.
So....One Sunday afternoon, I suggested to my wife that I should take her out for an outing, as she hadn't been well! I drove to the location and we found the 'dredger' lying against the river bank, behind a scrap yard.
Our first impressions were that it was
Rusty and neglected
Pretty well complete (although one of its grabs was lying abandoned on the bank)
We took some measurements (I just happened to have taken a tape along, and I needed my wife to hold the other end!) and I confirmed that the hull would pass through the locks on the 'Basingstoke', should this be necessary. Reading Road Bridge in Fleet could just be negotiated,'if we let the tyres down a bit'.
There were two buckets, one a ring grab, which gathers loose material, and a piston operated steam grab, used for digging harder material - this was the one lying on the bank. Each would raise about a ton of mud.
The dredger belonged to the Kennet & Avon Canal Society and a Fleet man, Ian Cripps, had been working for them. I contacted Ian, who told me that it had failed its boiler inspection and for this reason was out of use. He also said that there was not much enthusiasm in the Kennet & Avon society to operate the machine to its full potential.
The Surrey & Hants Canal Society appointed Ian, another chap (whose name I forget) and myself to conduct a feasibility study, whose terms of reference were
1. Should the Society put in a bid for the dredger?
2. How could it be transferred to the Canal?
3. How could it be used if transferred?
We soon realised that the dredger was exactly right for the Basingstoke top pound.
It would have to be carried overland and launched near the top end of the summit pound, as the canal is a cul-de-sac connecting only with the River Wey at Weybridge. Its water supply is from springs near the top end of the summit pound. Once on the top pound there was a 15 mile stretch of quiet countryside through which the machine could work with very little bank side disturbance.
To be continued
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Inglis Bridge, Aldershot
The above picture shows an army bridge that carries a pipe across the Basingstoke Canal, 150 yards upstream of Farnborough Rd. Bridge. It was the First World War equivalent of the Bailey Bridge used in the Second World War, but this was designed by Sir Charles Edward Inglis (pronounced ingels) for the use of Infantry in 1915. He was then a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, later becoming a Major. He used 8 foot long tubes to produce a footbridge of triangular cross-section, using 12 foot long tubes he designed a medium traffic bridge with vertical sides. The bridge across the canal is a heavy duty version of the footbridge using 12 foot long tubes. In 1898 he attended Kings College at Cambridge, doing Mathematics and Engineering, following which he worked on bridges over the Metropolitan Railway. After the First World War he went back to Kings and was Head of Department of Engineering from 1919 to 1943; he died in 1952. He was much admired by Sir Donald Bailey of the Experimental Bridge Establishment at Chistchurch, designer of the bridge used by allied armies in the Second World War.
L E (Pablo) Haworth
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MILLETT'S MUSINGS - David Millett
# At long last there are signs of improvements taking place at Colt Hill Wharf which is Hampshire's main visitor access point to the canal. Two new seats have been erected, one in memory of the late former General Manager of the canal, Joan Marshall and one in memory of her canal foreman Dave Gregory.
# Also the Basingstoke and Deane Canoe Club have, at long last, started clearing the eyesore on the land opposite Galleon Marine. However urgent attention is needed to do something about the mess next to Colt Hill bridge on the non-towpath side where the broken fence lies around at all angles and the whole area is overgrown. This must be improved after discussions with the site owners, the Buckland family.
# What a transformation to the offside of the canal either side of the old Coxmoor bridge site between Crookham Village and Dogmersfield. The English Nature paid for tree clearance has let much light into this section and the primroses are the first to benefit. This spring also, the flowers on the towpath along the west Hart embankment site have to be seen to be believed. A wonderful variety grow here.
# Good to see that HCC acted quickly to repair the parapet wall at Malthouse Bridge, Crookham Village knocked down by a truck around the Christmas
period. After pressure by the Society and others, HCC are proposing to replace this bridge during the financial year 2002/2003. The unsightly sewerage and gas pipes will be incorporated in the roadway and the bridge will be designed so that it replicates the original canal appearance with 100ft. line curves.
# What a mess. The after effect of the clearance on both sides of the canal on MOD land at Eelmoor opposite the end of the main runway at Farnborough airfield is to leave the site looking like the Somme after the famous battle. Was the amount of the clearance really needed to obtain a CAA licence?
# Congratulations are due to the Wey and Arun Canal Trust for the successful completion of the project to construct the Drungewick Lane bridge near Loxwood. However, due to the foot and mouth outbreak the official opening has been put back to 13th. September.
# Congratulations are also due to the Huddersfield Canal Society and all concerned with the "impossible" restoration of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, which re-opened on 1st. May. Rather emulating our proposals for an electric tunnel tug if the Greywell Tunnel was re-opened, one is being used to tow boats through the Standedge tunnel at £35 a time for the 3 miles.
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Lord Onslow of Woking
Throughout the lifetime of the Canal Society, we have, as a campaigning body, sought the involvement and support of our riparian Members of Parliament. They could, and did, bring both weight and credibility to our cause.
Thus support has to a greater or lesser degree, been available to us over the years, but from none so fully or so willingly given as by the late Lord Onslow of Woking. As Cranley, later Sir Cranley Onslow, he was the MP for Woking from 1964 to 1997, very much the period of restoration of the Basingstoke Canal.
During his period in the House, he held many high offices, was a Front Bench Spokesman on Health, Social Security and Defence, was Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office during the Falklands crisis, and held what was generally believed to be the most powerful job for a Conservative back bencher, the Chairmanship of the 1922 Committee.
But important for us was his well known commitment to supporting local good causes, always being prepared to do this in a quiet and unassuming way, not wanting publicity for himself. It was his steady influence behind the scenes that brought the help and answers that we sought.
He undertook research for us in the House of Commons library, and certainly at the time of the controversial designation of most of the Canal as an SSSI, he shared our concerns about the effect that this could have on the navigable use of the Canal.
Cranley's interest in the Canal meant he would do things like turning up to speak to people at St John's top lock on one of our sponsored walks, despite at the time having a bad hip which meant he required the use of sticks for walking.
And on another memorable day in the summer of 1975, he joined a group of us at RAF Odiham to be briefed for an exciting flight in a Puma helicopter along the length of the Canal. With Frank Jones in the co-pilot's seat and the use of an Ordnance Survey map to follow the line of the Canal, we got as far as Brookwood before Heathrow decided that that was far enough, and we had to turn back; a fascinating day.
In so many ways was Lord Onslow a friend of the Canal Society and committed to the cause of the Basingstoke Canal. To Lady June and the family, whom I had the opportunity to get to know a bit as they lived in Chobham for a while, we extend our heartfelt sympathy and sincere best wishes for the future.
Robin Higgs Vice-President
Cranley Onslow, MP (as he then was) with Robin Higgs on a wet sponsored walk.
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(From Society Newsletters No.39 July 1971 and No.40 September-October 1971)
* The late Lord Onslow (then Mr.Cranley Onslow, MP for Woking) asked the Minister of State for Defence in the House of Commons whether he intended to institute proceedings for Ihe recovery from the New Basingstoke Canal Company of the cost to public funds resulting from the breach in the canal bank at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, in September 1968. The Minister answered yes.
The then Ministry of Technology spent £5000 on repairing the breach (mainly with parts of an old aircraft) which led to serious flooding at the airfield - and washed out the first day of the Farnborough Air Show.
* The Woking and Camberley papers reported that the police were warning children and dog owners to steer clear of the canal because of the danger of picking up an organism which could lead to jaundice in humans and a liver complaint in dogs.
* Members are lobbying all the members of Surrey County Council's planning committee. Preliminary reports indicated negotiations to purchase the canal are continuing and SCC will not lose heart or back down. Progress is being made on the complex legal issues and they would like the negotiations to remain unpublicised. In 1969 the Canal Company had valued their land at £100,000.
* The Society's founder Jim Woolgar has tendered his resignation from the Society's Executive Committee, giving as his reasons his feeling that the Society is too
keen on protecting its image and not promoting the canal as a priority. This was refuted by the Executive Committee who stated that the current situation with County Council negotiations was very delicate and they did not wish to rock the boat.
* Canal Bargee Alf Rogers recalled his years as a bargee on the Basingstoke Canal from his time as a cabin boy in about 1907 or 1908 until he left to join the Royal Flying Corps in 1915. During his time as a bargee he skippered the Dauntless, Redjacket, Bluejacket and the Aldershot. His wife joined him on the barges and the pay was 35s.a week.
* John Peart appointed the Society's rambles organiser. Rambles will be held at eight weekly intervals with shorter ones at 5-8 miles and occasional 15 mile rambles for the "hard cases".
* Two official working parties are to take place just off Basingstoke Canal land however, one on the feeder stream at Cowshott at Pirbright and one on the public section of the towpath at Greywell.
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WANTED URGENTLY - COLLATORS FOR BC NEWS
After 27 years of dedicated service Janet and George Hedger have stepped down from their volunteer role in charge
of the Newsletter collation and distribution to the main postmen in the urban areas. Thank you.
We are now looking urgently to replace them and, ideally, it would suit a couple, preferably from the Fleet and Crookham
area where the Editor, Membership Secretary, and the existing volunteers helping with the collation live.
The Spring and the current edition of BC News have been put into envelopes by a team organized by David and Rosemary
Millett who will be prepared to assist initially the new volunteers. Full details of the system are held by them to whom any
enquiries or volunteers should be made.
This is your chance to help the Society in a vital administrative capacity.
Please phone David and Rosemary Millett on 01252 617364
IWA National Rally
Verna Smith will be taking the Society's Sales stand to the IWA National Rally at Milton Keynes over the August Bank Holiday weekend. We feel that it is very important that we have a strong presence there, given that it is the 10th anniversary of the re-opening and that we are trying to promote the Water Appeal, so we shall also be having a display in the covered accommodation that we are hiring, which will include John Ross and his boat Elizabeth Rose.
Verna is appealing for assistance to man the Society stand. If you are planning to attend the rally, could you please give her a ring and arrange to lend a hand, even if only for an hour or two. This will at least enable her to see some of the show, not to mention feeding etc! The bribe is that she has a limited number of concessionary tickets for the rally. Her phone number is 01252-517622 and you can also get her on e-mail at email@example.com.
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Date for next copy 10th August 2001
Published by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Ltd., a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered as a Charity. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the Society. Executive members of the Committee are shown in bold type and Directors of the Society
have an asterisk (*) after their name.
Editorial Team: Editor:
Roger Cansdale* 79 Gally Hill Road, Church Crookham, Hants GU52 6RU 01252-616964
Photos: Dieter Jebens* 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3NJ 01252-715230
President: The Earl of Onslow
Chairman: Peter Redway* 1 Redway Cottages, St John's Lye, Woking, Surrey GU21 1SL 01483-721710
Vice-Chairman: Dieter Jebens* 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3NJ 01252-715230
Hon. Secretary: Philip Riley* Wincombe Cottage, Broad Oak, Odiham, Hants. RG291AH 01256-702109
Hon. Treasurer: Jonathan Wade* 30 Hanover Gardens, Cove, Farnborough, Hants GU14 9DT 01252-524690
Membership Secretary: Lesley Richards 9 Denning Close, Fleet, Hants GU52 7SP 01252-684112
Working Party Information: Peter Redway* 1 Redway Cottages, St John's Lye, Woking, Surrey GU21 1SL 01483-721710
Trip Boat Manager: Ron McLaughlin 94 Guildford Road, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants GU12 6BT 01252-672189
Trip Boat Bookings: Marion Gough St Catherines, Hurdle Way, Compton Down, Winchester, Hants SO21 2AN 01962-713564
Sales Manager: Verna Smith* 63 Avondale, Ash Vale, Aldershot, Hants GU12 5NE 01252-517622
Mail Order Sales: Alec Gosling, 12 Mole Road, Hersham, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey KT12 4LV 01932-224950
Exhibitions Manager: David Junkison 4 Thames Meadow, West Molesey, Surrey KT6 1TQ 0208 941 0685
Website Manager: Arthur Dungate 39 Sian Close, Church Crookham, Fleet, Hants GU52 6BT 01252-622101
Talks Organiser: Arthur Dungate 39 Sian Close, Church Crookham, Fleet, Hants GU52 6BT 01252-622101
Press Officer: Dieter Jebens* 60 Middle Bourne Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 3NJ 01252-715230
Archivist: Jill Haworth Sheerwood, 501 Woodham Lane, Woking, Surrey GU21 5SR 01932-342081
Woking Organiser: Peter Coxhead 17 Abbey Close, Pyrford, Woking, Surrey GU22 8RY 01932-344564
Director: Kathryn Dodington* 8 Sheets Heath Lane, Brookwood, Woking, Surrey GU24 0EH 01483-473630
Director: David Lloyd-Langston* 7 Fernhill Close, Upper Hale, Farnham, Surrey GU9 OJL 01252-723309
Director: John Ross* 14 Heathcote Road, Ash, Aldershot, Hants GU12 5BH 01252-330311
Canal Society Internet Website: www.basingstoke-canal.org.uk
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