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Issue 482 - March 2013

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March Meeting

This evening we offer a very warm welcome to fellow IWA Members and visitors as we welcome John Dodwell, Trustee of the Canal & River Trust.

John will update us about the Trust, plus give us the opportunity for Question & Answers.

Thank you to all for your support this evening.

Note: If we experience extra visitors we may limit the raffle tickets to one per person @ £1 each. This will save time on our normal re-draw situations.

April Meeting

Please note the date of this meeting is Thursday 11th April (second Thursday of the month). The Committee decided that due to the first Thursday being in Easter Week and as in previous years members have been away for various reasons, we would try a week later.

Our Speaker is Chris Humby, of The Bishopstoke History Society, with his talk on the “Itchen Navigation”- an unseen & unheard history of the River, and is most decidedly not to be missed. Hence we changed the date.

Society Library

Alan Howarth has asked if anyone could volunteer to take over the Society Library. It entails bringing along an assortment of books & other publications, that the Society has accumulated, to the meeting and making a note of who wishes to take a book away with them.

No pressure, just a service that members would appreciate.

Proposed Boat Gathering

An informal gathering for boaters in the Napton/Braunston area has been suggested.

2010 was our last informal gathering at Flecknoe and Braunston held over the weekend of the early May bank holiday. Providing there is enough interest the event could be repeated this year.

This is not an organised event, just a small number of boat owners joining up for a casual get-together. If any members with boats moored in that area would like to join in, could they please contact me as soon as possible so that I can ascertain interest.

Alan Rose

Basingstoke Canal Society

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Basingstoke Canal Society logo

The Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society changed its working name from the beginning of the year, and is now to be known as The Basingstoke Canal Society, largely to reflect the particular canal which we support. This was intended to be the name of the Society when it was originally founded in the 1960’s, but that was deemed to be too similar to the name of the company that owned the Canal at the time. For legal purposes however, and to maintain the connection with the past, “Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society Ltd” will continue to be the Society’s formal name.

In addition, the name of the company that runs our trip boat operation has become John Pinkerton Canal Cruises.

To reflect these changes, the Society now has new “livery” including logo, and you will be seeing a steady transition over the next few months to the new house style in all their publications and materials.

The formal inauguration of the Basingstoke Canal Society will take place later in the year, with the launch of the Society’s brand new John Pinkerton trip boat

John Pinkerton II

The new trip boat on the Basingstoke Canal is due to be delivered from the builders, Lambons, at the end of February or the first half of March.

However even when the boat is in the Basingstoke Canal water there is still a bit of work to do with Lambons and the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) to prove that the ballast and stability of the boat is as good as the calculations say it will be, along with proving the boat and its system work OK. With that done there is then quite a bit of crew training to do before they can start operating with passengers, but they are working hard on this so that all the manuals, check lists, crew training etc are ready for the final MCA inspection.

Further Cash Pledged for the Canal

It was announced recently that Hampshire and Surrey County Councils have each pledged an additional £2m towards the Basingstoke Canal. Surrey’s money is to be spent over the next 4 years from 2013/14; as yet it is not known the terms of the Hampshire contribution. This new money comes on top of their combined £1.6m injection that was made in 2010 towards the structural works that have been going on in various locations over the last 18 months or so.

Canal Looks Set to Open Fully by Easter

Ignore what the boating press are saying. The County Councils have been working behind the scenes to get the Canal open to full navigation by this Easter, and we should commend their efforts. The term contractor Dyer and Butler are under no illusions about what is required, and are in the process of finishing off a list of jobs that will hopefully result in the Canal being navigable from end to end once again after a break of nearly 5 years.

Planned works on Deepcut are now largely completed, and both sets of gates on Brookwood Lock 13 have been removed and replacements are being manufactured. Works at Pondtail bridge are now complete following delay by the heavy rain (see below), and the Coxheath Bridge stop plank grooves are scheduled to be installed by mid-March. Yes, it is likely that the contractors will be working right up to the wire, and yes, nothing is guaranteed as unexpected problems or delays could arise at any time. But an Easter opening looks to be a real possibility, and if that happens then it represents a significant achievement.

Basingstoke Canal Bulletin January/February 2013

Annual Subscriptions / Your Newsletter

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Just to remind members that membership subscriptions for the year 2013/2014 become due on 1 April. Joint membership costs £25.00 whilst individual membership is £15.00

If you are unable to attend meetings in the next few months can you please send me a cheque, my address is at the top of the last page of this Newsletter. Thank you.

Gill Herbert, Treasurer & Membership Secretary

Following on from Gill’s note, may I also remind members that in these days of rising costs, that it is possible to help peg the cost of membership subscriptions. By receiving your monthly Newsletter via email rather than as a printed document, you help reduce the Society’s costs. In addition to the cost of printing, if the Society posts the Newsletter to you when you are unable to attend a meeting the cost is 50p for a stamp plus a few pence for the envelope. Emailing a copy to you costs the Society nothing.

Whilst some 30 memberships already receive their Newsletter this way, could I ask the rest of you to consider this method of delivery? A further benefit is that you will normally receive your copy several days before the meeting. For further information or to request email delivery, contact me on

Peter Oates, Editor

February Meeting

Chichester Ship Canal Trust

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Adge Roberts,from the Sussex Industrial Archaeology Society began the presentation about the canal and its Trust.

1585 saw the first proposal to link Chichester to the sea, but the plans came to nothing. Later there were various proposals in the 1780s, 1803 and 1810 for an inland waterway joining London to Portsmouth.

However, with the planning and construction of the Wey & Arun Canal between 1813 and 1817, a plan was drawn up for a waterway between Ford on the tidal River Arun and Portsmouth. Work on the Portsmouth and Arundel Canal was begun in 1818 by John Rennie.

1822 saw a section opened between Birdham and Chichester which had been enlarged to take 100-ton sea-going vessels. The remainder of the main line from Hunston to Ford opened the next year 1823.

However, with the end of the Napoleonic wars, there was no longer any threat to shipping from the French. No tolls were payable for a passage along the English Channel and Thames Estuary so the canal traffic never really developed. Later, Portsmouth was connected to the capital by railway.

The Portsmouth & Arundel Canal Company struggled on but was finally liquidated in 1888. Chichester Corporation by means of an Act of Parliament acquired the assets of the Chichester to Birdham section in 1892. They made a valiant attempt to run the canal as a business, but the last cargo passed in 1906 and the canal finally closed in 1928.

Adge showed pictures of the 1903 power station, the history of Padwick Bridge removed in World War II and Poyntz Bridge then and now. There were also photographs of the old sailing barges built in Coombes Yard, Bosham. We were brought up to date with views of a number of the old lock walls and entrances to the sea, which most of us could recognise from the A27. Some of these had been photographed by Adge from a small motor boat in choppy weather.

Linda Wilkinson, the Chairman of the Trust, presented an update on all the renovation and upkeep of the banks, etc. carried out by volunteers, and their latest acquisition, the Old Stable Block close to the Canal Basin.

A film of the activities around the basin and of the trip boats concluded the evening which was attended by 22 members and 5 visitors.

Angela Rose

Itchen Navigation Project Ends

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Looking back at the past five years

Building upon several years of project planning and development, the five year ‘delivery phase’ (Winter 07/08 - 12/13) of this partnership project to improve conditions for people and for wildlife along the Itchen Navigation has now come to an end.

From the 1700’s, the Navigation provided an important trade route between Winchester and Southampton, but when commercial use ceased around 150 years ago, the banks began to crumble. Erosion threatened the survival of the Navigation and the wildlife that depended upon it.

As part of the River Itchen system, the Navigation is a chalk river, providing ideal conditions for wildlife like salmon and trout, the elusive otter, and the much-loved water vole.

Thus, the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail project was established, and its ambitious target of ‘saving the Navigation’ meant that work needed to be undertaken to stabilise the watercourse’s embankments, and to improve conditions for the aquatic plants, insects, birds and mammals that make their home there.

Specialist contractors were employed to use wildlife friendly ‘bioengineering’, transplanting native vegetation to the water’s edge to protect repaired sections of bank. The plants are initially held in place by hazel ‘faggots’, which naturally degrade away as the plants’ root systems establish. Planting is nature’s answer to bank erosion; vegetation stops flows eroding the banks, and also provides a habitat for nesting birds, water vole and insects.

Working along rivers is a logistical challenge, as getting materials delivered to site along crumbling riverbanks or across sensitive wet meadows is not easy! A variety of techniques were used to make works possible. At Brambridge, a small boat was used to deliver chalk and gravels to rebuild crumbling banks, 300Kg at a time. (A larger craft would have disturbed the gravel bed of the river, which is important habitat for fish and aquatic insects). At Twyford, a low ground pressure excavator was used to source material from a silted-up ditch, without churning up the water-meadow through which it ran. The peaty soil from the ditch formed an excellent substrate into which wetland plants could be planted along the Navigation’s fringes. And at Hockley, a monorail was used to deliver the materials needed to repair the embankment. It was a safe and efficient way of moving the large quantities needed to stabilise a kilometre of bank, and left no trace behind to indicate where it had been.

These bioengineering works will ensure that the river survives into the future and will benefit much of the special wildlife that lives along it. The Itchen Way footpath running along the length of the river has also been repaired at many points, maintaining access for walkers. At these key locations it is now resilient to erosion, preventing bank materials from washing away into the channel. The accompanying interpretation and way-marking help visitors to find out more about the Navigation’s special wildlife & interesting history, increasing appreciation for this special site.

The Navigation’s heritage has not been neglected either. Several of the historic locks along its length have been stabilised by specialist contractors, preventing their collapse and ensuring that they remain for future visitors to discover.

As well as the works described above, bank, footpath, and habitat enhancements have also been undertaken at Winchester, Shawford, Otterbourne, Allbrook, Bishopstoke, Itchen Valley Country Park, and Mansbridge.

Altogether, we’ve used nearly 3000T of chalk and 2000T of gravels to stabilise the embankments and repair the towpath. Nearly 4.5km of footpath has been improved. Five historic structures have been preserved. And best of all, we’ve created over 2km of new bankside habitat along the margins of the channel, which will protect the bank from erosion and benefit wildlife.

Thanks to the efforts of the project partners, contractors, volunteers and landowners, the future is now looking much rosier for the plants, aquatic insects, fish, water birds, and mammals that make the Navigation their home.

A big thank you also goes out to our readers for their interest in the project by subscribing to this newsletter, now in its ninth year, and to all of those who have volunteered their time and skills to help the project in any way. Special thanks also go to Diane Allen who has helped to put this newsletter together over the last few years.

What next for the Itchen Navigation?

Although much has been achieved, the end of the project doesn’t mark the end of work along the Itchen Navigation. There are a number of initiatives put in place by the project or project partners which will ensure that the improvements made through the project are not where involvement ends.

The bioengineering works undertaken were designed to require minimal maintenance, making it easier for landowners to continue to care for the Navigation into the future. Maintenance guidelines have been provided to landowners in areas where works have been carried out, detailing measures required to keep the Navigation in good condition into the future.

The Water Level Management Plan, being implemented by Natural England and the Environment Agency, sees the agencies working with landowners, fishing clubs and other stakeholders to agree protocols for the sustainable management of water throughout the River Itchen system. This will ensure that areas important for wildlife are protected from particularly high or low flows, and will see an end to the frequent overtopping and bank erosion which has been a problem for the Navigation.

With the help of Natural England, several landowners along the Navigation have entered into agri-environment schemes over the period of the project, and are now receiving payments which enable environmentally sensitive management to be undertaken across their holdings. This benefits the Itchen’s wildlife in many ways, such as preventing nutrient input which is detrimental to the aquatic plants and insects, and improving habitat in the floodplain to provide ‘stepping stones’ allowing wetland species like the southern damselfly to move more easily to new sites.

There is also a legacy for the people who value the Navigation. The interpretation panels, waymarking, website, circular walks packs and other publications all provide information to allow visitors to the site to learn more about the wildlife and heritage of the Navigation. Education packs have been produced for local schools, and ‘story walks’ will enable groups or families to help even the youngest visitors learn about the great barges that once ruled the Navigation’s waters, or how Lutra the otter became the King of the River.

But perhaps one of the most important legacies of the project is the formation of ‘The Friends of the Itchen Navigation’, or ‘FIN’. A subset of the near 200 volunteers who have been involved over the life of the project, the 40 members of FIN will continue to help monitor, maintain and enhance the Navigation into the future.

Experienced in spotting problems along the Navigation, they will report issues such as bank erosion or blocked sluices, enabling the landowners or others whose responsibility it is to maintain the Navigation, to take action. They will continue to help landowners with habitat management work, working to a management plan designed to ensure ongoing improvements to the wildlife habitat. And with the help of volunteers, the Wildlife Trust will continue to monitor the Navigation’s wildlife to record the longer-term effects of the habitat improvements undertaken.

So in all, although the project funding has come to an end, the work of the landowners, project partners and volunteers along the Navigation certainly has not…

Other News

Work has recently been undertaken to create a new section of National Cycle Network route 23 between Winchester and Hockley. This work, funded by Winchester City Council, Hampshire County Council and the transport charity Sustrans, involved widening the bridleway between Garnier Road and Five Bridges Road to 2.5m, clearing vegetation from it and repairing the surface.

The work, which began in September, has at times necessitated the temporary closure of the footpath along this part of the Navigation, but the work is now complete and the path reopened.

Significant repairs to the historic Hockley Viaduct were also undertaken, bringing this local landmark back into use nearly 50 years since the last train crossed it, and after decades of campaigning by Friends of Hockley Viaduct.

It is hoped that with enough promotion this new cycle route will help ease the pressure of commuter cyclists upon the Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail south of Five Bridges Road, on which cycling is not permitted.

Contact us

Even though the project has come to an end, you may still contact members of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust staff if you would like to ask any questions, air any views or share any relevant photographs:

For general enquiries related to the Itchen Navigation please contact: Ali Morse, Itchen Navigation Project Manager, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Beechcroft House, Vicarage Lane, Curdridge, Hampshire, SO32 2DP. Email: Telephone: 01489 774415

For enquiries related to the Friends of the Itchen Navigation please contact: Alex Hogg, Volunteer Co-ordinator – Winchester, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Bradbury House, Durngate Place, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 8DX. Email: Telephone: 07867 330669

Itchen Navigation News - Winter 2012/2013

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Page created 8 March 2013 - last updated 18 April 2013.

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