There are lots of ways to get involved with the Basingtoke Canal as a volunteer:
Volunteer work parties
A variety of jobs are tackled by volunteers on the Canal, which include relatively light duties or more heavy duty work, providing a range of interest.
The Basingstoke Canal Authority run a weekly work party (usually all day on Tuesdays), led by one of the BCA rangers, which undertakes jobs like bank clearance, tidying up around the locks, painting lock balance beams and winding gear, and other light tasks. If this looks as if it might interest you, please refer to the BCA website for more information.
The regular Society work party meets two weekends each month and undertakes a variety improvement works and maintenance jobs on the Canal, some requiring skills, for example driving dumpers, for which training can be given. The type of works this work party has recently completed include tow path repairs and paving, lock refurbishment, installation of landing stages, and bank and overhanging tree clearance. Click here to see more about what the Society work party, and visiting groups that we have hosted, have achieved over the last few years.
If you are interested, then see the Society work party page for more information. We are always looking out for potential work party leaders.
We need people to act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Society on the ground, and report any problems on the Canal. A lengthsman is a person who looks after a “length” of Canal, and performs a valuable role which assists the BCA in their management of the waterway. If you live nearby and are a regular walker or cyclist along the Canal, then this role may appeal to you. When you are out and about we ask that you look out anything that spoils the Canal environment (for example, rubbish dumping, vandalism, pollution etc), or any damage (such as leakage or flooding, fallen trees and branches, and landslides) and report these to the senior lengthsman, who will take the appropriate action. To find out more, go to the lengthsmen web page.
We need people who would be willing to drive the boat, staff the galley and look after the passengers. We also have a boat maintenance crew, but currently do not have a maintenance team leader – if you might be interested in taking on this role, please contact boat company chairman Dick King. Trips usually last about 2-3 hours, and occur up to around 8 times a week in high season. Suitable training will be given. See the John Pinkerton website for more about this.
Helping on the sales stand
The Society has a sales stand for assorted merchandise, including books and pamplets about the Canal and “canalia”, which is taken to many public events in the area. This is an important way to introduce people to the Canal as well as raising funds for the Society. If you feel you could help occasionally, then please contact our sales manager Denise Smith for more information.
Currently we do not have an events manager. In the past we have organised major public events near the Canal, for example the 3-day Canal Jubilee event at Frimley Lodge Park, which in 2012 celebrated the Royal diamond jubilee as well as the 21st anniversary of the Canal re-opening after restoration. Clearly this requires commitment and good organisational skills. If you think you might be interested in helping with Canal events in future, or indeed becoming our events organiser, please contact Verna Smith for more information.
As a charitable organisation the Society is in a good position to raise funding to finance improvements to the Canal. These could range from additional mooring facilities to the possibility of a new visitors centre and the upgrading of our trip boat
base in Odiham. Although we make a good income from the John Pinkerton trip boat operation, we will need a fund raiser to identify and tap significant sources of income to bring these projects to fruition. If you think you could help here, please contact the Society chairman Philip Riley to discuss this further.
Publicity and Public Relations
Occasionally, there is a need to publicise Society events through the media, and to build up publicity campaigns. We are looking for one or more individuals with flair and who have links with the press and TV in Surrey and Hampshire, and who would be willing to help with defining and putting over the Society’s messages. For more information, please contact our press officer Roger Cansdale.
There is also a need to put on exhibitions about the Canal from time to time. These take place at various locations, though are typically held in libraries, museums and village halls. We already have the services of a Society member who designs the display materials, however we need an individual who would be prepared to organise and manage these exhibits. If you think this would suit you, then please contact our press officer Roger Cansdale.
Running the Society involves various administrative work, such as organising insurance, editing our newsletter and bulletin, maintaining an asset register etc, helping with records archiving. If you could help here, then please contact our secretary Terry Inskip.
We often need help with the furtherance of the Society’s charitable aims from individuals with particular specialist skills or knowledge.
At present, we urgently need the help of one or more individuals with detailed knowledge of the planning system to enable us to keep abreast of the development of land adjacent to the Canal, and to apply pressure to ensure that the development is appropriate to the Canal environment. This is to ensure that the Canal is not adversely affected by unsuitable new building and that rural landscapes are protected and preserved. We are also working to ensure that the Canal receives direct benefits from the premiums obtained by developers from canal-side sites. The Canal runs through 6 borough or district council areas and 2 counties, and so there are many plans to keep an eye on. If you feel you have the necessary skills, please contact the Society’s chairman, Philip Riley for more information about this role.