The lost section from Greywell to Basingstoke
The Basingstoke Canal’s lost section officially begins at Penny Bridge where the jurdiscion of the Canal Authority ends. Since the section of canal from Greywell westwards is in no way navigable, we begin the ‘lost section’ at Greywell itself. No boats have been through the tunnel since 1913, and although the tunnel collapsed in 1932, it was still passable by canoeists until further falls in the 1950’s. The tunnel was not directly responsible for the demise of the section westwards, although its collapse did accelerate that process. Despite concerns in 1911 after the last regular boats to Basingstoke ceased, that the canal would be filled in and the land used for other purposes, the first part of the canal to ‘end’ was in the 1920’s when the short section of canal along the wall at Basing House was infilled. In 1927 further losses occured when Eastrop Bridge in Basingstoke was demolished. The wharf area was sold off in 1936 when Greywell’s collapse made it clear no boats would never reach Basingstoke
The lost section, having been dry since 1910 (except for a few weeks in late 1913 when Alfred Harmsworth’s attempt was made) was sold off beyond Penny Bridge for farmland, and used as a local cycle track from Swing Bridge Cottages (near Basing) to Basingstoke. The section from Greywell Road to the Hatch was cut by the M3 motorway. Other sections, by nature of being in substantial cuttings survived, such as the sections west of both tunnels, and the lengthy (but almost inaccessbile) section that encircles modern day Basing
Property demand in Basing has obliterated remains of the canal as sections are infilled and made level for estate. The section from Crown lane, approaching Basing House, was one of the earliest to be turned over to property and Musket Copse’s driveway is the canal’s alignment. The short section of cutting and overbridge in the grounds of Basing House remain, being part of that heritage site. Further properties have been built where the Broad Water was, and Red Bridge (or Slaughter bridge – after a local battle) remains, but is almost buried, whilst bunglows and gardens sit atop the former canal route.
Beyond Redbridge and Basingstoke’s Ringway East a good trace remains, including a culvert that takes the River Loddon under the canal embankment. However it is almost impossible to view this section because of undergrowth – apart from a short length which the Basingstoke Canal Heritage trail uses. When one views the canal alignment along the north side of Redbridge Lane, it must be remembered the road in fact encroaches upon part of the former canal alignment and what one is looking at is simply a narrower strip used as a route for eletricity poles.
The canal in Basingstoke itself is now Eastrop Way, having been previoulsy a cycle track to Basing. The town’s wharf frontage on Wote Street survived until the 1960’s when the New Market Square development saw it swept away. The wharf site had become a depot for the local omnibus company post-1936, and so it became the location for the first modern bus station in Basingstoke in the 1960’s. This has now in turn gone and been replaced by yet another new bus station completed in October 2002
From Penny Bridge eastwards to the site of the Greywell Tunnel west portal, the canal’s route is in good condition and has been restored to an extent, along with the Brickworks Arm, and the final few complete bridges remain along this section, being Eastrop Bridge (same name as the other in Basingstoke!) Slade Bridge and Brick Kiln Bridge
It must be pointed out that it is not really possible to walk on any of the former canal route beyond Penny Bridge, except for a short stretch to Little Tunnel (however it is on private property and the access road to it is not technically a right of way.) It can also be walked where it forms the new Greywell Road, in Basing House grounds, on Redbridge lane itself, and the section known as Eastrop Way in Basingstoke. Especially around Basing much has now disappeared under property. The canal remains at the rear of the properties fronting Cavalier Road but its difficult to see any of it. Its course however can be seen from the A30 at Basing at the rear of the car showrooms and then along the edge of a field before it turns westwards away out of sight.
Little Tunnel Bridge is now a listed structure and has been restored, but there are problems accessing the site. Basingstoke and Deane Council have created a heritage trail between Basing and Basingstoke, but their recommended walk takes one through Eastrop park itself – that is NOT the canal’s route.
Hopefully this photo guide to the lost section will suffice in lieu of the real thing. We begin the lost section with a walk Over Greywell Hill
Eastrop Bridge, Basingstoke. Demolished 1927 because it was being used as a dump for dead animals
WOODHAM JUNCTION TO GREYWELL
Introduction / Byfleet – Woodham Locks / Woodham – St. Johns / St. Johns – Hermitage / Brookwood – Pirbright / Deepcut Flight / Deepcut – Frimley / Basingstoke Canal Centre / Great Bottom Flash – Ash Vale / Ash lock – Norris Hill / Fleet – Crookham / Chequers – Barley Mow / Barley Mow – Odiham / Odiham – Greywell
GREYWELL TUNNEL TO BASINGSTOKE