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The Basingstoke Canal was built towards the end of the 'great canal mania' in the eighteenth century. It was intended to provide a transport route to and from London via the Wey and the Thames, but the expectations of its promoters were never realized; no dividends were ever paid to the shareholders and in 1866 the Canal Company declared itself bankrupt. After this the canal had numerous unsuccessful owners, including the New Basingstoke Canal Company, formed in 1947, which ran the canal for twenty years. However, by the late 1960s, the company was proposing to close the uneconomical navigation and sell off parts for building land. The Surrey & Hampshire Canal Society was formed to campaign for its restoration and persuaded the county councils to buy it. A partnership with the Canal Society and other voluntary bodies succeeded in reopening the canal in 1991. The Basingstoke Canal has always enjoyed the affection of the local population and still provides a green corridor for the crowded towns of south-east England through which it now passes, as well as being a haven for wildlife.