Martin Leech

Mar 082018

The Society representatives, from left: Ken Sankey, Kevin Redway, Cheryl Richards, Martin Leech, Philip Riley, Jenny Pateman, Roger Cansdale

Representatives of The Basingstoke Canal Society recently attended a reception hosted by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux at Loseley Park, near Guildford. We were one of a number of invited voluntary organisations from the Surrey area, all of which have been nominated this year for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Other groups present included The Surrey Wildlife Trust, The Swan Sanctuary, the British Heart Foundation (Guildford and Godalming branch), Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, and, well known to many of us, Surrey Care Trust, which operates the Swingbridge Community Boats.

This national award, equivalent to an MBE for voluntary organisations, was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and recognises outstanding work done in the community.

The Society team with Michael More-Molyneux (Lord-Lieutenant) first left, Bill Biddell DL (Vice Lord-Lieutenant) fourth from left, and Robert Napier CBE DL (High Sheriff), right.

Each team was invited to put on a small exhibition of their work (see above and left), which provided a focus for discussion with the hosts, other QAVS representatives and several Surrey mayors.

There are around 400 QAVS nominations this year nationwide, and the announcement of the successful candidates will be made in early June.

Feb 182018

The John Pinkerton II passing under the Barley Mow bridge at Winchfield.

This season’s schedules of cruises aboard the Society’s two trip boats, the John Pinkerton II in Hampshire, and Kitty in Woking  have now been announced.

John Pinkerton II

Details about the JP II can be found on the Public and Theme Trips and Charter Cruises web pages, and there is a printed brochure available. The popular theme trips during 2017 are to be repeated this year, with a few new additions, including a Quiz and Curry night, Sea Shanties and Ale, and Wines and Food of France cruises.

Public and Special trips can be booked on-line using our secure booking system. Trips can be selected and paid for with a just few clicks of a mouse. Just click on the button below (which can be seen elsewhere on the website).


In addition, you can now buy Public and Theme Cruise Vouchers as gifts to others for them to use on the booking site above towards trips of their choosing. Ideal for Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions. Find the voucher link at the bottom of the Public and Theme trips web page.

Please Note: Charter trips will continue to be booked directly with our Booking Team, on 01256-765889 (10am-8pm). They will also help with public and theme trips booking, and with the purchase and redemption of vouchers by those without access to on-line facilities.

Kitty moored at Woking Town Wharf, from where trips will depart.


The Society’s second trip boat Kitty will be providing trips in Woking from 31 March until the end of September.

Operating under the John Pinkerton Canal Cruises banner, the boat accommodates up to 12 people, including up to 2 wheelchair users.

Following a successful first year of operation last year, it has been decided that there will be more opportunities to book trips at weekends in high season.

For more details about the boat itself, see the About Our Boats page. There is a printed leaflet available. For more information on when trips will take place and how to book, see the Kitty website. Most trips can be booked online, via our secure booking system.

Gift vouchers are also available for trips on Kitty, a link to which can be found at the bottom of the Kitty web page.


Feb 172018

NOTICE is hereby given that the 40th Annual General Meeting of the Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society Ltd., (aka The Basingstoke Canal Society) will be held on Saturday 19th May 2018 in the Deepcut Village Centre, Swordsman Road, Deepcut GU16 6TB, commencing at 2pm.

The formal Agenda for the meeting is as follows:-

  • To hear apologies for absence.
  • To confirm the minutes of the Thirty Ninth AGM held on 20th May 2017.
  • To approve the Annual Accounts for the year ending 31st December 2017.
  • To appoint the Independent Accountants.
  • To elect or confirm the appointment of the members of the Board of Directors (Executive Committee).
  • To transact any other business relative to the Annual General Meeting of the Society.

By order of the Board of Directors,

Terry Inskip, Honorary Secretary, February 2018.

Following the formal business of the AGM there will be reports from the Chairmen of the Canal Society and Boat Company, the presentation of the Robin Higgs Award and a talk by Richard Davenport of the Maidenhead Waterways Restoration Group.

AGM Notes:

  • The Society’s formal and correspondence address is: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham, HP5 1WA
  • Every member of the Society who is entitled to vote at a General Meeting is entitled to appoint a proxy, who need not be a member, to attend and vote in his/her stead. Forms of Proxy can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary.
  • Only paid-up members are entitled to attend and vote at the meeting.
  • Copies of the Accounts can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary prior to the AGM by email request, or upon receipt of an SAE. In accordance with normal practice the Accounts, when approved, will be published in summary in the Basingstoke Canal News.
  • Nomination forms for the election of the Board of Directors can be obtained from the Honorary Secretary.
Dec 152017

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is closer than you realise, and you still have lots of shopping to do.  If you cannot think what to give a friend, relative or work colleague for Christmas then consider this: why not give them a voucher towards a boat trip on the Basingstoke Canal next year?

The Basingstoke Canal Society runs two trip boats; the 50-seater John Pinkerton II  (right, above) in Hampshire and the 12-seater Kitty in Woking (right, below). For more details about our boats and trips, see the John Pinkerton Canal Cruises web page. Note that at the time of writing, details of next year’s trips are still being finalised, but you can still buy the vouchers.

Very simply, all the recipient has to do is to click on the Book Your Trip link at some time next year, select the trip of their choice, follow the instructions on the voucher to book, and just insert the voucher number! The cost of the trip will be reduced by up to the value of the voucher.

Follow these links to buy your voucher:

Voucher for a trip on the John Pinkerton II in Hampshire during 2018 (up to the value of £100)

Voucher for a trip on Kitty in Woking during 2018 (up to the value of £60)

These pages give more details on how to purchase vouchers, and terms and conditions.

Upon purchase, you will receive both an email containing details of the voucher (which you can forward to the recipient), and a voucher PDF file which you can print and include in a Christmas card.  So, Christmas present problem solved….

Note: Vouchers for the two boats are not interchangeable – they must be used on the boat for which they were purchased.



Oct 132017

Those curious in how the Basingstoke Canal could have played a part in halting Hitler’s forces in 1940 had an invasion taken place, will find this republished booklet by Tim Denton of interest.

This booklet has sold steadily to a wide audience since 2009, when it first appeared. This new-look version has been updated to include additional information, plans and images, many of which have not been available before.

To order your copy, go to the Society publications page, or purchase it from the Basingstoke Canal Centre.

Other Basingstoke Canal Society publications that have been published recently include an updated Rambles booklet, a 50th Anniversary history of the Canal, and an updated Guide to the Canal. Details about all of these can be found on the Society publications page.

May 192017

Kitty moored at Woking Town Wharf, from where trips will depart

Following its introduction to the Canal at the Woking Canal Festival last year, the Society’s second trip boat Kitty is gearing up to provide trips in Woking from the end of May.

Kitty was acquired by the Society last year with the intent of raising awareness of and interest in the Canal at its eastern end. Operating under the John Pinkerton Canal Cruises banner,  the boat accommodates up to 12 people, including up to 2 wheelchair users.

For more details about Kitty see the About Our Boats page.  For more information on when trips will take place and how to book, see the new Kitty website.

Do come along and support this new venture!

Sep 132016
Society co-president Liz Dodwell performing the naming of nb Kitty at the Woking Canal Festival

Society co-president Liz Dodwell performing the naming of nb Kitty at the Woking Canal Festival

Here is a re-issue of an article by Roger Cansdale in the latest Basingstoke Canal News regarding the use, and naming, of our new trip boat Kitty at the Woking Canal Festival.

“As reported in the last BCN, the Society has bought a 12-seat passenger boat from the Chichester Canal Society. After delivery by road to the River Wey, the boat, then named Egremont, went to TLC at Byfleet, where it was craned out for hull inspection, minor welding and blacking. After a few days, it was back in the water and up the Basingstoke to Ash Lock, where painting of the upper works and general tidying up was done in time to go back down to Woking for the Canal festival.

There our Co-President Liz Dodwell renamed the boat Kitty (above right) after a horse that worked on the canal in the 1940s and ’50s and also used to draw their family caravan. nb Kitty ran public trips over the Festival weekend (below) and raised £170 in fares (£1 for adults, kids free).

Kitty will be going back to Ash Lock for the winter for further work before, hopefully, starting regular public trips in Woking next Easter. However, this will depend on a number of factors.
A suitable mooring needs to be identified with somewhere for crews to park their cars. This isn’t easy to find in Woking but we have offers and ideas.

The main thing we need though is people to set up a group to operate the boat. Again, we have had quite a few expressions of interest, but more would be very welcome. Please contact Martin Leech ( 01276-452754).”

Kitty Operation Update

kittyA lot of thought and preparation has gone into how a trip boat operation in Woking might operate. There are a number of issues still to overcome, but this is the status so far

  • Though we have been kindly offered the use of  a mooring at the end of Pablo and Jill Haworth’s garden in Sheerwater, this is some 35 minutes cruising from the centre of town, which would add a considerable time to the crew’s working day, fetching and returning the boat. We are therefore searching for a mooring closer to the Woking Wharf (near the WWF building), from where trips would probably run. We are following up lines of enquiry.
  • Wherever the boat is moored, parking for the crew could be a problem because of the extensive restrictions in the area, which we are trying to address. We have had a positive response for help in this respect from Woking Borough Council, though have still to have a conversation about the details.
  • We think that circular trips will run from (probably) Woking Wharf, turning at Bridge Barn and Monument Bridge, which would last about an hour each. Since nb Kitty is part of the John Pinkerton Canal Cruises “fleet”, bookings for trips would be handled in an extension to the JP trip booking website.
  • There are many jobs still to be done on the boat itself, which are not likely to be completed during this winter. However, maintenance work will continue probably from the beginning of October when the boat is returned to Ash Lock (reopening of lock flight closures permitting).

Can I thank all those who have come forward showing interest in the Kitty operation and offering to helm, crew, undertake maintenance or provide administrative support. My hope is to hold an open meeting towards the end of September to go over the plans as they stand at the time, by which time I hope some of the outstanding questions above will have been answered.

Anybody else who would be interested in being involved, please contact me, Martin Leech by email or on 01276-452754.

We need to identify a group of people who would be willing to take on the management of the Kitty operation, dealing with both day-to-day matters (eg creating a trip schedule, downloading passenger details for each trip, rostering crew, and organising refueling etc) and making “strategic” decisions about how the operation is adapted or expanded according to demand. This would entail many of the aspects of the JP operation, so there is a blue-print to follow.  I hope such individuals will make themselves known to me before or at the meeting.

Sep 062016
326. Approaching Barley Mow Bri.

Barley Mow bridge (photo: Michael Lidstone)

Retired local government officer Mike Lidstone from Woking decided, having walked the length of the Canal some 15 year ago, to do so again this year. This time he kept notes about his journey, which took place between February and July 2016, and took many photographs.

Here is his account: A trip down memory canal.

Aug 142016


Here is a sample of the feedback we have found regarding the Woking Canal Festival that took place recently. The fact that the event and the many historic boats were enjoyed by so many is encouraging to all of us involved with the promotion of the Basingstoke Canal. It also confirms that we are custodians of a much appreciated and attractive amenity. Prospective boaters, please note the first comment below! – Ed.

Verbal comments:
… the most friendly canal we have ever visited. The BCA rangers were brilliant, and very helpful.
The Deepcut flight is one of the most attractive in the country.
HNBC boaters

I very much enjoyed the time I spent at the festival and was very impressed with the whole mood and spirit surrounding the event.
Richard Parry (Chief Executive, Canal & River Trust)

Boats moored near Chertsey Road Bridge

Some comments appearing on the Woking Streetlife website:

Another 12 boats due to come up the Woodham locks on Friday heading to join the 30 already in Woking for the festival this weekend.
Paul and Susan

It’s wonderful to see and have such life colour and movement on the canal. We’re loving it, we back onto where all the boats are moored and have front row seats!
Claire S

Saturday has been a perfect idyllic English quaint day, absolutely delightful, the boats, the stalls, the music, the entertainment the sunshine, just lovely all round.
Paul and Susan

Today was lovely. We had a stall for the Hospice and people were all in such high spirits. A lovely atmosphere so well done to all of the organisers !
Wendy D

Great day out, lovely friendly atmosphere and well organised. Thanks to the people who put the event on in an idea location for parking etc.
Chrissie E

Historic boats on moorings at the Festival site.

Historic boats on moorings at the Festival site.

I went along to the Bedser bridge to see the parade of narrow boats come along. Lovely sight. What made it even better was seeing a heron fishing in the canal only feet away from pedestrians and just across from the busy road and town centre. Also saw a young moorhen swimming along with a fish in its beak which it then swallowed.
Mary B

We really enjoyed our day thank you to all the organisers. Beautiful boats, friendly and informative folk, wonderfully relaxing finishing off at the Light box.
Caron B

What a fabulous two days of Canal activity, even the weather was superb. Thank you to all the people involved, so many smiles around and lots of banter. The location was perfect and things like this should happen more often. It felt like a perfect old-fashioned English weekend. Thank you again and hope all the boats get home safely.
Paul and Susan

We had a lovely time too, really appreciated the thought gone in to it, great family atmosphere, kid’s entertainment etc. Delightful.
Kaz G

We on the stalls thought was a great event too. A great location, great weather and well attended. The Mikron theatre show Pure was a wonderful finale. Well done and thanks to the organisers.
Robin & Amanda

Our family went and really enjoyed it .
Trudi C

We had a great day on the Saturday, beautiful weather, great rides on the canal looking at all the boats and lots of great stalls.
Sheila D

Parade of historic boats viewed from Bedser Bridge

Parade of historic boats viewed from Bedser Bridge

Some comments on Facebook:

Enjoyed looking at the beautifully decorated canal boats in the sunshine today and then a delicious lunch of chips and ice cream. Interesting stalls too – I bought a beautifully decorated crochet jug cover
Maureen Bird

Although I prefer rail transport I spent an enjoyable couple of hours today at the Woking Canal Festival. I also enjoyed a pint of Thurstons, local brewery – very refreshing.
Roger Manley

Yesterday we were at the Woking Canal Festival. An amazing day – brilliant weather, large and good-natured crowd, good beer tent – we should do this every weekend.
Thames Valley Morris Men

Lovely afternoon looking at historic narrowboats at Woking Canal Festival.
Cllr Ann-Marie Barker

Lovely walk to work this morning past “WOKING CANAL FESTIVAL”
David Donoghue

Some comments on Twitter:

Great to see so many boats on the canal – beer, burgers and entertainment for the kids come on down @BasingstokeCS
Cllr Colin Kemp

It’s good to see so many boats on the Basingstoke Canal @TheBCATeam #flickr
Paul Appleyard

@BoxcarJames @TheBCATeam It has just passed by our garden at Pondtail, Fleet. It’s lovely to see the canal being well used as it should be.
Anne Pickett

#Woking Canal Festival all on again tomorrow. Nice to see land at Brookhouse Common being used for public event.
Cllr Ann-Marie Barker

Happy 50th anniversary to the Historic Narrow Boat Club! Having a fantastic weekend in Woking thanks @BasingstokeCS
@TheBCATeam we all wish we could have stayed longer! Thanks for a great time on your lovely canal!
The Historic Narrow Boat Club

Boats in central Woking this weekend #wokingcanalfestival – if only they could stay! @basingstokecs @thebcateam
Claire Cockett

#Woking Canal Festival brilliant day – juggler and magician hilarious and awesome @BasingstokeCS
Chris Bore

Finally, a comment by Society Chairman, Philip Riley:

I think we can all be very pleased with the outstanding success of the Woking Canal Festival. Everyone I talked to (and there were a lot) including the boat owners, stall holders, BCA and visitors all said that they had really enjoyed the event which had a very friendly and informal atmosphere.

I’m sure the Festival will create a legacy of support both in Woking and throughout the length of the canal so we must capitalise on the tremendous good will that emerged from the event.

My sincere thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make the event a memorable occasion.

Philip Riley (Chairman)


Aug 142016

Boats moored near Chertsey Road Bridge

Here is a press release from the Historic Narrow Boat Club about their recent visit to the Woking Canal Festival – prospective visitors to the Basingstoke please note! – Ed

The Historic Narrow Boat Club is dedicated to preserving the working heritage of UK canals, and on the 6th & 7th August the Club celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gathering of boats and a programme of events, joining in with the fantastic Woking Canal Festival at Brookhouse Common. This was also a campaigning rally to encourage more boats onto the Basingstoke Canal.

Parade of historic boats viewed from Bedser Bridge

Parade of historic boats viewed from Bedser Bridge and, left, the Society’s recently acquired trip boat nb Kitty.

In total, 32 historic narrow boats made the journey to Woking to celebrate the occasion, with the furthest distance travelled being the 340 mile trip of NB Beatty, who set off in June from Liverpool! Everyone was full of praise for the help they received from the Basingstoke Canal Society and the Basingstoke Canal Authority, who were on hand to help the boats through the lock flights and even donned drysuits at a moment’s notice to clear debris from behind a gate.

We were delighted by the reaction of the public, who showed a great interest in the boats both as they travelled and during the weekend’s festivities – the traditional cabin of NB Beatty received over 500 visitors throughout the weekend. We hope that we helped people come away enthused about their beautiful local canal.

Amy-Alys Tillson, Historic Narrow Boat Club (Press Officer)
Midsummer Common, Cambridge Tel: 07828 763885