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It seems there is always building work going on somewhere in Woking at the moment, from the Victoria Square development and its fast-rising towers beginning to loom above the town, to the Albion Square facelift that has involved the removal of the short-lived Canopy – a fiasco that will not be forgotten in a hurry by Woking’s council taxpayers. Even along the “tranquil” Basingstoke canal, beside the WWF HQ and the Lightbox art gallery, construction work is taking place this summer.

It is hoped that such work should prove beneficial to boat users – and also enhance the townscape for the benefit of all. The Town Wharf beside the World Wildlife Fund’s UK headquarters and opposite the Lightbox art gallery – from where the Basingstoke Canal Society currently runs its hire boat excursions, pictured above – is being extended so that eventually up to 15 boats can moor there. This raises the prospect of a host of colourful boats moored along the canal in the centre of Woking.

It can be argued – it has been – that Woking has failed to appreciate what the canal can offer the town, in softening its concrete profile and making it more attractive to visitors. Soaring new towers may offer hard economic benefits, but are maybe not so good for the soul. The “softer” appeal of an enhanced canalside beside undoubted visitor attractions such as the Lightbox, and, to a lesser extent, the WWF,  can provide something else – a place to escape? It is understood that talks are to take place involving the council that will be aimed at examining the chances of dusting down a shelved proposal to build a canal marina in Woking at Brookhouse Common, the site of a recent canal festival in 2016. That is a really exciting prospect. Let’s hope the funds can be found for that, one day soon.

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