Basingstoke Canal – Fleet & Crookham
The full 37 and half miles from the Wey to Basingstoke
Pondtail Bridges. The older bridge is actually the second one on the site, whilst the newer one was built in 1967. Perseverance the dregder ended its days here, and is now at the Boat Museum in Ellesmere Port. The plaque is found on the older of the Pondtail bridges.
Canal scene west of the Pondtail Bridges. Almost every along the canal property is 1960’s onwards and many have boats at the end of their gardens
Reading Road Bridge & wharf
The bridge that bites the biscuit! Reading Road bridge in Fleet. It links the town of Fleet with the village of Church Crookham. Whilst it looks just like any other bridge, when it was built in 1953 few people must have ever envisaged the canal being used for boats again – certainly if any trading boats had passed this bridge they would have hopefully been laden to keep the ‘gunwhales’ down. But with the advent of pleasure boating it has presented a problem. The photograph below shows the cyclist bent down almost double. The available headroom for walkers? At the most a breathtaking four foot seven inches! For boats the official height is five foot ten.
Stoop – to conquer the Reading Road Bridge. I measure the height from towpath to be just over 4 feet!
Reading Road bridge again- with a boat this time – how little headroom there is – steerers just about manage to see over the top of the boat to see where they are going. Perseverance had to navigate this bridge several times and only just managed to scrape though with a hairbreadth’s width. Note: This was a wet November (2002) and the water levels were quite high
The Basingstoke Canal meets the road from Fleet to Crookham briefly by the Fox and Hounds, so offically this is Crookham, even though the Fox and Hounds is nearer to the centre of Fleet than Crookham. The Fox and Hounds does not really have a waterways link, but they’ve managed to provide moorings which are much better than those at Reading Road wharf
The Fox and Hounds, Crookham
Below: The first of four bridges on the Crookham stretch. Its known as Coxheath Bridge and despite its modern appearance, was built around 1900! (bridge dating sources are from the Basingstoke Canal Towpath Walks Guide published in the 1970’s but now out of print.) This must be the only ‘modern’ bridge on the entire canal that can claim to have been used by boats (and horses!) going all the way to Basingstoke.
Coxheath Bridge, Crookham
Zebon Copse – The canal crosses an embankment here and houses are well below the level of the canal. There is a swing bridge (built 1951 but unamed on the Basingstoke Towpath guide of the 1970’s. However it is actually known as Crookham Swing Bridge.) It is very unusual to find a new swing bridge built at a time when canals were in great decline. Joan Marshall’s New Basingstoke Canal Company actually made a profit in the early 1950’s and these were used to repair and build new lock gates and other general improvements. Mrs Marshall, being a local resident herself, obviously felt that the canal through her own locale looked its very best. Crookham Swing bridge has the distinction of being the only swing bridge left out of six that existed on the canal’s Hampshire pound. There were no swing bridges on the Surrey length – but that has now changed with the small one installed adjacent to the Basingstoke Canal Centre.
Scenes around, Crookham, in Jubilee Year 2002. On the left is Zebon Copse swing bridge. Below is Poulters Bridge.This was one of the earlier bridges to be restored on the canal, in the previous Jubilee Year of 1977. The large country house makes an attractive reflection in the canal.
Chequers Bridge and Crookham Wharf. Its the only brick lined wharf left on the canal, and its a quiet mooring spot before or after Fleet
The Basingstoke Canal skirts Crookham Village and Chequers bridge is the last of four in the vicinity. From Chequers Bridge all the way to Tundry Pond the canal is littered with very unusual military relics, as we will see in the next sections (Chequers Bridge – Double Birgde – Tundry Pond.)
Just past Crookham Wharf is the first of the tank traps and information board
WOODHAM JUNCTION TO GREYWELL
Intro / Byfleet – Woodham Locks / Woodham – St. Johns / St. Johns – Hermitage / Brookwood – Pirbright / Deepcut Flight / Deepcut – Frimley / Basingstoke Canal Centre / Great Bottom – Ash / Ash lock – Norris Hill / Fleet – Crookham / Chequers – Barley Mow / Barley Mow – Odiham / Odiham – Greywell