Last full trip along the Basingstoke Canal remembered

Basingstoke Gazette: Alex Harmsworth on the Basingstoke Canal at Fleet Alex Harmsworth on the Basingstoke Canal at Fleet

THE last recorded attempt at travelling the full length of the Basingstoke Canal will form part of a new exhibition.

Alex Harmsworth took a narrowboat called Basingstoke as far as Old Basing in 1913, where the canal ran out of water.

Pictures from the trip will form part of a new exhibition on the Basingstoke Canal at Milestones Museum, in Basingstoke this year.

The exhibition has been created by members of the Basingstoke Canal Society, a group of volunteers who help to maintain the 32-mile-long waterway.

The canal runs from Byfleet, in Surrey, to Greywell, near Odiham, but in the past it went all the way to where the bus station is in Festival Place.

Roger Cansdale, a Basingstoke Canal Society member, said Mr Harmsworth started his journey on November 16, 1913, to prevent the route from being officially abandoned.

Mr Harmsworth set off from Ash Vale in Surrey, carrying five tons of sand to deliver to Basingstoke firm Wallis and Steevens, but progress slowed once he got past the Greywell Tunnel.

Mr Cansdale said: “It would have been tough going. They got as far as Penney Bridge at Up Nately, where the canal stops now, and then they would have had to remove the stop planks to flood the next section of the canal.”

But eventually the canal water ran out at Old Basing and the boat was left stranded until January, when heavy rain meant it could return to Ash Vale.

Mr Harmsworth bought the canal in 1923 and ran it until his death in 1947. The construction of the M3 in the 1960s made travelling along the full length of the canal impossible.

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