Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Canal barn restoration celebrated by volunteers

Friday, 16 May 2014

Over 200 years ago it was a transhipment warehouse where cargoes were received or dispatched by horse and cart and then loaded on to barges that travelled hundreds of miles on the connected waterways.

Today, after more than 1,000 hours of restoration work by volunteers, the eighteenth century barn at Colt Hill, Odiham, is used as a base for the passenger boat that transports thousands of visitors on the Basingstoke Canal.

Since it was sold to them by Hampshire County Council in 2012, volunteers from the Basingstoke Canal Society have made tremendous efforts to replace the historic barn's rotted woodwork, rebuild part of a wall and repair the roof.

They have also done some work to improve land adjoining the barn and recently completed a sheet steel piled berth for their volunteer-run trip boat, John Pinkerton II. Fencing has been erected and the area is being landscaped.

And on 9 May, the Society invited the Chairman of the County Council, Councillor Ken Thornber, to unveil a plaque to celebrate the completion of their restoration project.

The society's Chairman Philip Riley said:

"We were delighted to welcome Cllr Thornber and his colleagues to celebrate the re-opening. Odiham is the base for our volunteer-run trip boat, John Pinkerton II, which provides visitors to North Hampshire and local people with an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the Basingstoke Canal. "

"We are very grateful to our partner Hampshire County Council for its support in enabling us to secure the future of the barn as an important component of the infrastructure and heritage of the Canal and as an operating base for our boat, which contributes more than £30,000 each year to the funding of the canal," he added.

Councillor Thornber said it was a great pleasure to see the results of so many hours of volunteering and to unveil a plaque to commemorate that work. "I congratulate all that were involved and on their improvements to what will be an increasingly valued part of Hampshire's heritage" he said.

Photograph shows Councillor Thornber (left) with Philip Riley.

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