A LANDSLIDE has taken the shine off celebrations to mark the re-opening of the Basingstoke Canal after three years.
More than 20 boats celebrated the canal’s reopening by travelling from the River Thames through the newly-refurbished locks at Deepcut, Surrey.
But the canal barges could only get as far as Dogmersfield, where a 30-yard part of the canal’s bank had slipped into the water only a few days before.
The canal has been closed to traffic for three years while the locks, mainly in the Surrey section of the canal, were either replaced or refurbished, at a cost of £1.7million.
The 200-year-old canal runs from Greywell near Odiham to the village of Woodham in Surrey, and enthusiasts claim it attracts one million visitors a year.
Roger Cansdale, who edits the Basingstoke Canal Society magazine, said: “It is lucky the bank slip happened when it did because if it happened when the boats were up at Odiham they would have been stuck there.”
He said a similar slippage happened 30 years ago and required a major project to install a wall along the towpath. The partial blockage could cause a problem for the society, which runs canal pleasure trips from Odiham.
As reported in The Gazette, the society is replacing the John Pinkerton, the current passenger boat, with a new one, called the John Pinkerton II, which cost £150,000.
The new boat was supposed to arrive by the end of this month, travelling up the canal, but the new blockage means the boat will have to be lifted on to the water at from dry land.
Mr Cansdale said the society is appealing for help from Hamp-shire County Council and Surrey County Council, which jointly oversee and fund management of the canal.
Jan Peile, who runs Galleon Marine holiday boating firm from Colt Hill, said the company’s narrowboats could not get past Dogmersfield but their day hire boats could.