Basingstoke Canal Conservation Area

Basingstoke Canal Conservation Areas (designated on 10 October 1985.)

The Basingstoke Canal was conceived as a link between Basingstoke and the River Thames via the River Wey, at a time when the country's waterways were being improved as an alternative to the costly use of highways for the import and export trade. Work on the canal started at Woodham (in Runnymede) in 1788, and was to take four years to complete, although due to a number of delays the canal was not opened to traffic until September 1794. During construction, brick fields and brick works were set up in the vicinity of the proposed line of the canal to supply the necessary materials for constructing walls, bridges and wharves.

In 1949 the canal was sold and commercial traffic ceased, partly due to the fact that the navigable length of the canal had reduced over the years. At many points along the canal its character is considerably enhanced by woodland areas which are indicative of its original construction through woodlands.

The Surrey part of the Basingstoke Canal enters the County from Hampshire at Ash Vale (Borough of Guildford) and passes through the boroughs of Surrey Heath and Woking before terminating at the junction of the Basingstoke Canal with the River Wey Navigation at New Haw (in Runnymede).

To save the canal from dereliction, Hampshire and Surrey County Councils acquired their lengths of canal and began to carry out restoration works. Mindful of the historic nature of the canal and the need to protect its industrial archaeology and landscape, Surrey County Council designated its length of canal together with appropriate adjoining areas as a Conservation Area.  This was done to encourage public appreciation of its unique qualities and ensure a sensitive approach to opportunities for preservation and enhancement.

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