Friday 29 November 2013

Old waterway Photograph (1)

Collecting postcards, or Deltiology as it is known, is a fascinating hobby. Our recent history has to a point been documented by postcards. It's curious in a way even with all the wonderful advances in technology. It's hard to believe that the good old picture postcard is still with us and still going strong. I did a posting on collecting old photographic postcards. Which gives some simple background information about what is an interesting hobby.  Click Here
The old waterways postcards can be interesting in their own way and also act as a spur to do some research to identify the photograph location. This is the first in a series of postings about old canal photographs and postcards. The postcard image below is only identified as being of the Basingstoke Canal at Frimley circa 1916. Identification number WHA 392. 


The Basingstoke Canal was completed in 1794. Built to connect Basingstoke with the River Thames at Weybridge via the Wey Navigation. Its intended purpose was to allow boats to travel from the docks in East London to Basingstoke. From Basingstoke, the canal connects to the Wey Navigation. This, in turn, leads to the River Thames at Weybridge. 

The photograph above is identified as being Frimley, the canal and new boathouse. There are tiny changes between the photographs. Such as the missing landing stage in the lower photograph. A search on the web provided some information that said that the new wooden boathouse, was constructed in 1906 by one-time canal owner Alec Harmsworth. The man in the punt is William Harmsworth his brother.

This photograph above is from 'The Frances Frith Collection' and pre dates the boathouse being built in 1906. The Frith collection has several other photographs from around this location and prints can be purchased. What is apparent is that the line of the canal is at this point was still being maintained with the fitting of revetment boards. However, this may only have been a precursor to the construction of the boathouse and intended to provide improved moorings.

The Basingstoke Canal was never a commercial success and, from 1950, lack of maintenance allowed the canal to become increasingly derelict. After many years of neglect, restoration commenced in 1974. The Basingstoke Canal Society was formed to carry out the restoration and on 10 May 1991 the canal was reopened as a fully navigable waterway from the River Wey to almost as far as the Greywell Tunnel. The trials and tribulations of the canal society restoration make good reading on their website and act as a spur to other restoration societies.

This is the same view today taken from the same spot on the Guildford Road bridge at Frimley Green. The trees have in the last 100 years matured and in places overgrown the canal. The location of the old 'new boathouse' is now lost from view.

Now new technology in the shape of a satellite image can still reveal some detail about the same location. The canopy of the trees is doing its best to hide what remains of the boathouse from above.

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