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'Old Loading Place' Some hundred yards from New Haw Lock, on the non-towpath side, is
the residential area which gets
its name from Bates Timber Yard which was previously here.
Also called Windle Brook and Hale Bourne. It partly
defines the area in which Woking lies.
Watercress Beds between
Coxes and New Haw locks, where the Navigation bends first one way and then the
other, there are traces of former watercress beds. The sluice which let water
through under the towpath into
them is still there. In the late 1940s the grower, Mr Hershey, was still to be
seen and heard in the district as he pedalled his carrier bicycle with its
basket of green stuff and called out 'Morning gathered!' The enterprise closed
when the water was declared unfit.
Addlestone Swimming Club the waterway widens slightly and this, on the non-towpath side, was
once the site of the local swimming club complete with a diving platform. Later
it became the headquarters of
the Addlestone Canoe Club.
New Haw Lock most of the locks of
the Wey Navigation were formerly turf sided. At either end were walls of
timber, substantial enough to support massive lock gates which had to bear
considerable pressure of water. But, between the gates, in the lock itself, it was sufficient
if it didn't leak. The sides did not need to be vertical so earth banks were
good enough. Half-height timber walls were usually built from end to end to
keep barges in line with the gates but
above these the sides were sloping earth. The conventional vertical-sided lock
uses less water, which is an important consideration on most canals, but water
economy had seldom to be considered on the Wey. New Haw Lock was one of the
last to exhibit a trace of this feature. Most of it had been rebuilt in
concrete and with vertical walls but in the 1980s the towpath side of the lock
still had a half-height wall of concrete with the top section just sloping
earth. Now it, too, conforms to the standard pattern. Elimination of this
ancient and unique feature is said to have been required in the interests of
safety. When regular bargemen were the only users they knew what to expect. But
users new to the Wey expect, when in a
full lock, to be able to step off their craft on to firm ground.
New Haw Wharf From
early days there was an 'official' wharf at New Haw, a place provided by the
Navigation at which goods could be loaded, unloaded or stored. Barges would deliver to and collect from
anywhere along the waterway but at the Navigation's wharves there was usually
an employee responsible for the site. Here the wharf extended some way
downstream from the bridge which carries Byfleet Road over the lock. No trace
of New Haw wharf remains and it may be that it lost its importance when the
Basingstoke Canal opened in 1793.
New Haw Reach The
straight stretch of waterway upstream from New Haw lock is notable in that it
is not so much a cut as an embankment. When it was made in the early 1650s this
must have been quite an ambitious
undertaking with nothing but the weight of earth to hold the high bank together
on the non-towpath side. Even today, when it is reinforced with steel piling,
it is regarded as one of the danger spots of the Navigation. A breach here
could have serious consequences for the residents of Common Lane which runs
alongside. The bank itself has been at the centre of controversy at least
twice. When the National Trust took over in 1964 they found that many of the
occupiers of adjacent properties had, for years, been using the bank to tip rubbish
and light bonfires. The first Trust manager tried to bring some order to this
chaos and had a set of photographs taken showing the shacks, tyres, bins,
buckets and other rubbish littering the site. He ran into strong opposition
which even sought the help of the local Member of Parliament. By the 1980s the
situation was little better. The Trust's neighbours, licensed only to have
access to the bank, were still using it as a dump or gardening on it.
Eventually the Trust cleared the entire bank, forbade any further activity
there and declared it a wildlife habitat.