Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Walking the waterways (28) : Basingstoke Canal

The Basingstoke Canal was built to connect Basingstoke, and surrounding areas, with the river Thames via the Wey Navigation passing through Hampshire and Surrey including places like Woking and Aldershot. Construction began in 1788 and completed in 1794. However, the canal was not a financial success even though it carried trade such as timber from Basingstoke. Even by the mid-19th century parts of the canal were falling into disuse. Commercial traffic ended in 1910.

By 1913 the canal was no longer fully navigable. However, during the First World War it was used by the government to transport supplies from London. After the war the canal was used for some pleasure cruising but by the 1960s the canal was essentially derelict. Volunteers have restored much of the canal though ironically the canal does no longer reach Basingstoke due to a collapsed tunnel. The last eight kilometres of canal from Greywell Tunnel to Basingstoke is now unlikely to ever be restored any time soon.