Another 9 hours sleep last night – I just can’t believe it!
We have decided to stay at Parvis Wharf for a couple of days to keep Dot and Gordon company – our timings are now completely messed up so we are not in any hurry.
I went to Tesco with Dot and Gordon and got a taxi back as a) it’s a long way and b) I seemed to have a lot to carry!
It was a quiet afternoon so I did some research into the Basingstoke Canal. (The photos today are some odd ones I have taken recently)
The first route to be surveyed in 1769 was a line northwards to the Thames at Monkey Island, Bray, but the engineering problems proved it would be too costly. In 1776 a 44-mile route eastwards from Basingstoke, to link with the River Wey Navigation and the Thames at Weybridge, was considered. The route included a loop round Greywell Hill that took the canal up to Rotherwick, with a short arm going to Turgis Green, but this met with opposition from the owner of nearby Tylney Hall. As a result, a decision was made to tunnel through Greywell Hill rather than go round it, and this route, reduced to 37 miles, was approved by an Act of Parliament in 1778. However work did not commence until nine years later owing to financial restraints as a result of the costly War of American Independence.
From the River Wey the canal was built to rise 195ft by 29 locks to Aldershot. The mile-long cutting at Deepcut, the 1,000-yard long Ash Embankment crossing the Blackwater Valley on the Surrey/Hampshire border, and Greywell Tunnel, 1,230 yards long, are the major engineering features.
The canal was completed in 1794 at a cost of £154,463 – almost twice the estimated cost.
By the mid-1960s the locks were decaying, the channel was silted up and choked by weed and rubbish and much of the towpath had become overgrown.
Unable to negotiate with the owner, Mr SE Cooke, who had his own plans for abandonment of the navigation, the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society, formed in 1966, embarked on a 7-year campaign for public ownership and a policy of restoration. A successful outcome was signalled late in 1973 when Hampshire County Council acquired their 15-mile length, giving the go-ahead for the first official working party. Surrey County Council bought the Surrey length for £40,000 in March 1976.
Over the next 17 years the two county councils funded a programme of restoration actively supported by the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society, the Inland Waterways Association and other canal restoration groups who organised voluntary working parties along the 32 miles of the waterway. The period generated a number of innovative practices, such as the operation of the steam powered dredger Perseverance in Hampshire, manned by volunteers, narrow gauge railway lines supplying work sites, summer voluntary work camps and youth employment training schemes.
The protracted project was completed in 1990 and the canal was formally re-opened on 10th May 1991 by HRH the Duke of Kent at Frimley Lodge Park, followed by a weekend of civic celebrations along the entire length of the canal.