Sudbury: Historic cargo boat ship shape after �100k project

AN HISTORIC 150-year-old cargo boat that has undergone more than �100,000 worth of restoration work arrived at its final destination last week.

The River Stour Trust took delivery of the John Constable lighter at its headquarters in Great Cornard. The charity plans to use the boat for river cruises along the Stour, between Cornard and Great Henny, from spring of next year.

The six-tonne, 47 feet-long lighter was restored thanks to an initiative called Managing a Masterpiece set up by the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley AONB. The scheme used Heritage Lottery money to fund a number of projects in the area.

The lighter was originally rescued by the River Stour Trust in the 1970s but remained in the river at Great Cornard Lock until June 2010 when it was restored by the Pioneer Sailing Trust.

The trust used all traditional methods during the restoration of the John Constable lighter, which, fittingly, has been named after the painter who did more than anyone to capture the special beauty of the Dedham Vale and River Stour valley.

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River Stour lighters were a common sight in the 19th Century as they worked their way along the River Stour from Sudbury to Mistley Quay, carrying coal up river and bricks and corn on the return trip.

The vessels were immortalised in paintings such as John Constable’s ‘Boat building near Flatford Mill’ (1815).

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Among the first visitors to the lighter were a group of year nine pupils from nearby Thomas Gainsborough School, who came to learn about its history.

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