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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Death and disappointment.

I was up to make the tea at 0630 as neither of us was asleep. We were going to get to the bottom of the lock for 0900 but changed our minds as there wasn't very far to go today. I went to get the paper up the St. John's locks. I met Matt who was opening up the gates. He still didn't know what was happening with the broken lock 12 on the Brookwood flight, but he said that they would ring us and let us know what is happening later. There was another boat moored opposite us at the pub and about 15 mins before we were ready to go he was off. We were going to ask if they wanted to share, but they were off without a word. I finished the washing up when another boat came up from the Woking moorings. As they passed I asked if they would share and they agreed so off we set to catch them up. There is no speeding on this section of the canal as you are so close to the bottom.

We were very disappointed to see that they were in the lock with the gate shut!!! We were mollified when we realised that the first boat had waited in the lock to share.

The locks aren't too fierce and there aren't a big list of regulations like on the Wey so by opening the same side paddle the boat sat nicely on the side. There is no hurrying though with these locks.

We swapped over at Lock 9, not before Helen had the bottom offside gate paddle drop out of the lifting gear. I assume it became detached from the paddle itself. We were going up so continued and called Matt the Lockie to let him know. I hope that it isn't a problem that takes too long to fix.

At the top lock of the St. John's flight, No.11 we thought we had done our work for the day as we passed under Kiln Bridge. There is a mooring just past the bridge and the first boat had stopped there. As we needed water we pushed on to the Brookwood Country Park mooring.

On the way we passed this 'Bantam Tug'. Looking it up it's construction was started in September 1955 and completed in January 1956 so it is roughly the same age as me. 91 of them were built by E.C. Jones and Sons of Brentford. They originally had 30 BHP Lister JP2 engines. This one was built for Marley Tiles at Riverhead. It is down as owned now by the Surrey and Hants. Canal Society.

The railway line to Waterloo runs close to the canal at this point and these buttresses are holding the line up.

As it runs through the Country Park it looks like you are miles away from a town but the street noises are not far away and there are plenty of folk on the tow paths. We got to the mooring and just about got alongside and quickly filled with water. This is where the disappointment comes in as we had a phone call from the Basingstoke Canal Authority to say that the problem at the Brookwood locks would require the area being pumped out and we wouldn't be able to get up them until Wednesday. Unfortuantley that doesn't leave us enough time to get to the end and back again with the locks only being open on certain days. We have therefore decided to turn round and head back down the canal as we must be at Pryford as I have to go home next Saturday.

After lunch and filling with water we went for a walk as the sun had come out. Helen had seen that the 'largest Cemetery in the World' was just up the road! That is the death bit in the title! We walked up the tow path and then along the road a little to find the walled gardens on both sides of a road called Cemetery Pales. Due to overcrowding in London burial spaces was at a premium and the London Necropolis Company bought the land here in 1847. There were two sites, the one to the north of the road was for non conformists and to the south Anglicans. There was a special train for funerals. The London Terminus was next to Waterloo Station and I think there is still evidence of it there. At Brookwood Station there was a special siding that ran through both the north and south cemeteries with a station at each

The train was set up with three classes for the passengers, and the coffins! Burials were the same. A first Class burial cost £2-10s and for this you could choose any plot on the site and a plot 9 x 4 ft. You were allowed to raise a permanent monument at a later date. Second Class cost £1 and you were restricted in your choice of site. It cost an extra 10s to erect a headstone but if you didn't the cemetery had the right to reuse the plot. Third class was a paupers burial and was paid for by the parish of the deceased. Still they were lucky to be buried here as normally At other places they just had a mass grave. 80% of all burials were paupers.

With the development of London over the years 21 old burial sites have been removed and the remains brought here. There have been over 235,000 burials here and in 1854 it was the largest cemetery in the world. The very first crematorium in Britain was built on the site in 1879. Areas were set aside for groups, societies, guilds, religious bodies etc and still today every religion and group you can think of has a section here. There appears to be plenty of land available, or it is areas of paupers graves that could be 'resused'. When they laid out the site they planted giant sequoias which are still in evidence. The whole site has a very peaceful and special feel about it and worth a visit on a good day I should say. I want to find Horatio Nelson's grave. They do walks on the first Sunday of every month to November.

We walked back down the locks and I was amused to see the adverts for Guinness at every lock! They really look like glasses of beer but they are the concrete bollards.

This is our mooring in the Country Park. There is room for only two boats here, with a water tap.

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