Basingstoke Canal

The Basingstoke Canal is a British canal, completed in 1794, built to connect Basingstoke with the River Thames at Weybridge via the Wey Navigation. From Basingstoke, the canal passes through or near Greywell, North Warnborough, Dogmersfield, Farnborough Airfield, Mytchett, Brookwood and Woking, its eastern end is at Byfleet. This, in turn, leads to the River Thames at Weybridge, its intended purpose was to allow boats to travel from the docks in East London to Basingstoke. It was never a commercial success and, from 1950, lack of maintenance allowed the canal to become derelict. After many years of neglect, restoration commenced in 1977 and on 10 May 1991 the canal was reopened as a navigable waterway from the River Wey to as far as the Greywell Tunnel; however its usage is still limited by low water supply and conservation issues. The canal was conceived as a way to stimulate agricultural development in Hampshire. Following a Parliamentary Bill in 1778, problems raising the necessary capital funding meant that construction did not begin until 10 years in October 1788 and was completed on 4 September 1794.

Engineer John Smeaton and his assistant William Jessop worked on the canal, along with Benjamin Henry Latrobe. One of the main cargoes carried from Basingstoke was timber. In 1831 when plans for a railway from London to Southampton were again being developed the Basingstoke Canal company suggested instead that a link be built between the canal and the Itchen Navigation; the suggestion was rejected by those working on the plans and the canal company agreed not to oppose the railway. The canal was never a commercial success and fell into disuse before the construction of the London and South Western Railway, which runs parallel to the canal along much of its length. Commercial use ended in 1910 but low-level use of the canal continued. In 1913, Alec Harmsworth tried to navigate the canal in a boat called Basingstoke; the journey was motivated by a desire to keep the canal open since the Canal Act of 1778 specified that if the canal was not used for 5 years the land the canal was built on would be returned to the original owners.

It is thought that it proved impossible to navigate the entire canal but despite this the canal was not abandoned. During World War I the Royal Engineers took over the running of the canal and used it to transport supplies from Woolwich; the canal was used to train soldiers in boat handling Harmsworth purchased the canal and ran a number of boats on it for a mixture of limited commercial carrying and pleasure cruising. The canal was sold upon his death in 1947 and by 1950 was in the hands of the New Basingstoke Canal Co Ltd; this company continued the restoration of the canal but there was a serious setback in 1957 and a major breach in 1968. By the late-1960s it was derelict despite volunteer efforts to improve the situation. In 1966, the Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society was formed by a group of local canal enthusiasts, with a view to reopening the derelict canal, they were instrumental in running a campaign that culminated in 1976 with the purchase of the canal by the County Councils of Hampshire and Surrey.

In February 1977 a job creation project started with the aim of carrying out restoration work on the Deepcut flight of locks. The work was coordinated with the work of the canal society who organised work parties at weekends while the job creation team worked on weekdays. After about 18 years of restoration, 32 miles of the canal were formally re-opened on 10 May 1991; the western section from North Warnborough to Basingstoke remains un-navigable from the point at which it enters the Greywell Tunnel. The tunnel collapsed in 1932 where it passes from chalk into clay geology, is now inhabited by a protected bat colony making it unlikely that the tunnel will be restored; some of the former canal basin at the western end has been lost to modern development in and around Basingstoke. The canal is now managed by the Basingstoke Canal Authority and is open to navigation throughout the year. Lock opening times are restricted due to the limited water supply in an attempt to postpone summer closures which have plagued the canal since construction.

Boat numbers are limited to 1300 per year due to the fact that most of the canal has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. From the midpoint heading east large areas of heathland surrounds the canal which are habitats for reptilian species, such as vipers and lizards, birds such as nightjars and Dartford warblers. Much of this heath survives today due to its use since the late 19th century as military training areas. There is an visitor centre for the canal at Mytchett. Two sections of the canal totalling 101.3 hectares are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Nature Conservation Review site. These are the main length between Greywell and Brookwood Lye and a short stretch between Monument Bridge and Scotland Bridge in Woking, it is the most botanically rich aquatic area in England and flora include the nationally scarce hairlike pondweed and the nationally scarce tasteless water-pepper. The site is nationally important for its invertebrates. There are 24 species of dragonfly and other species include two nationally rare Red Data Book insects.

The canal used to start from the centre of Basingstoke, but the last 5 miles of the canal route have now been lost. This section of the canal fell into disuse after the closure of the Greywell Tunnel due to a lack of boat traffic, general neglect and a lack of water. There were no locks on this part of the

Francis Hindes Groome

Francis Hindes Groome, son of Robert Hindes Groome Archdeacon of Suffolk. A writer and foremost commentator of his time on the Romani people, their language, history, customs and lore. Groome was born at his father's rectory of Monk Soham on 30 August 1851, he was educated at Ipswich School, where his lifelong interest in Romanies was sparked, continued at Oxford University. He left Oxford without taking a degree, spent some time at Göttingen, for 6 years lived with Romani at home and abroad, he married a woman of Romani blood, Esmeralda Locke, in 1876 and settled down to regular literary work in Edinburgh. Groome contributed generously and on a variety of subjects to such publications as the Encyclopædia Britannica, the Dictionary of National Biography, Blackwood's Magazine, the Athenaeum, Johnson's Universal Cyclopedia, The Bookman, Chambers' Biographical Dictionary, the Ordinance Gazetteer of Scotland, as joint editor, with his father and poet Edward Fitzgerald, of "Suffolk Notes and Queries" for the Ipswich Journal.

His article on'Gipsies', in the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, made him known to the world as a "gypsyologist". In 1899 he published his most significant book for Gypsy Folk-Tales; these well-annotated collections are a significant addition to the comparative study of the world's folktales. He co-edited the first three volumes of Gypsy Lore Society's Journal, wrote nineteen brief articles and collections of folktales for it, he wrote a number of books including a novel of Romani life, an English-Scottish border history, a sketch of his father and Fitzgerald, an autobiographical account of his six years with the Romani. F. H. Groome was a sub-editor of Chambers's Encyclopaedia, he is well remembered for his six volume Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland which appears in full at the Gazetteer of Scotland website. It appears as part of The Gazetteer for Scotland, produced by the University of Edinburgh, is directly searchable within "A Vision of Britain through Time". A singularly alert and eager intellect, he was unwearied in research, impatient of anything less than precision, a frank and fearless critic.

He was nicknamed the “Tarno Rye”. Groome died on 24 January 1902, was buried at Monk Soham, Suffolk. In October 1901, Francis Hindes Groome's library of books and manuscripts bearing upon the study of the Romani was purchased by the Boston Athenæum; the collection comprises over one hundred volumes, some which are rare, others contain rare tracts and magazine articles. There are Mr. Groome's own books with his marginal additions, over thirty volumes of manuscript notes and his correspondence with M. Paul Bataillard, the eminent French student of the Romani, covering the years 1872-1880. Books and articles written on the Romani People: The Gipsies: Reminiscences and Social Life of this Extraordinary Race Google Books In Gipsy Tents Google Books Gipsy folk-tales: A Missing Link Athenaeum catalog The Influence of the Gypsies on the Superstitions of the English folk. Boston Athenaeum catalog Tobit and Jack the Giant-Killer Boston Athenaeum catalog Gypsy Folk-tales Google Books Antonio de Solario Boston Athenaeum catalogOther Non-Fiction: The Only Darter: a Suffolk clergyman's reminiscence Boston Athenaeum catalog Two Suffolk Friends Google Books Edward FitzGerald: an Aftermath Google Books A Short Border History 1887 Google BooksFiction: Kriegspiel: The War Game Google BooksEditor: Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: a Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical and Historical Lavengro Gypsy Lore Society Journal Volume 1-3 Chamber's Dictionary of Biography 1897 edition This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cousin, John William.

A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons – via Wikisource. Patrick, David. "Groome, Francis Hindes". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. Media related to Francis Hindes Groome at Wikimedia Commons Biography at the Gazetteer for Scotland Works by Francis Hindes Groome at Project Gutenberg Works by or about Francis Hindes Groome at Internet Archive


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