THERE’s something about inland rivers and waterways that many people find fascinating.

One of those people is Peeps into the Past reader Alan Fairlie, who supplies this week's lookback at years gone past. He has some lovely 
memories of his youth, when he 
enjoyed being on the River Wey 
Navigation in the Byfleet area.

Last week’s Peeps article featured his 
memories of his family’s canoe in the 1940s, the local boathouses and the commercial barges.

This week, Alan continues looking back on those days on the water.

“Flushed with the success of building the aforementioned canoe, my father built a second one,” he said.

“This enabled us, one day, to have a family outing on the water, with my younger sister, Laura, and I in one canoe, and my father and my 
non-swimmer mother in the second.

“We had an enjoyable day going downstream as far as and through the lock at Weybridge, where the canal rejoins the River Wey before 
connecting with the River Thames via Thames Lock.

Looking downstream towards Thames Lock on the River Wey Navigation in about the 1930s. (Picture supplied)

“Once through the lock at Weybridge, we decided that there was not enough time to go as far as the Thames, so we turned round to return to Byfleet.

“Upon our entering the lock again, my father got out of his canoe to climb the ladder at the side of the lock to go and operate the sluices and paddles to raise the water level, and us in the canoes, to the same level as the upstream side, thus enabling us to continue our return journey.

“All went well with the water rising, as my sister and I in our canoe and my mother in hers clung to the side of the lock.

“What we failed to notice was that the stern of my mother’s canoe had become embedded in some loose brickwork at the side of the lock.

“It prevented that part of the canoe from joining the rest of the boat, in an upward movement, at its intended new level.

“This had the effect of the canoe gradually tilting upwards, which would have eventually resulted in my mother being tipped over into the water.

“Fortunately, we had a number of spectators who noticed my mother’s predicament and yelled at my father to quickly close the sluice gates and stop any more water getting into the lock.

“He then managed to dislodge the canoe’s stern, enabling him to continue in his lock operating duties and for us to complete our journey home without any further drama.

“I now live a couple of hundred yards from Lock Three – Woodham – on the Basingstoke Canal and regularly walk the towpath in that area. I am a member of the Basingstoke Canal Society.

“So I continue my childhood interest in the local waterways and have 
accumulated a good collection of 
photographs of the wildlife during my strolls.”

IF you have memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area and its people which you would like to contribute to this page, call David Rose on 01483 838960, or write to the News & Mail.

 David gives talks to groups and societies – for enquiries and bookings, email [email protected].