Suffolk: John Constable lighter to return to the waters

A SCENE that would have been familiar to artist John Constable will soon become a reality thanks to the restoration of a River Stour “lighter”.

The project, which University Campus Suffolk (UCS) is a partner of, is part of the Heritage Lottery funded Managing a Masterpiece programme.

It will see the lighter – a type of horse-drawn cargo barge – used for the first time since it was scuttled at Sudbury in 1914 but instead of carrying coal, bricks or corn, the lighter will be used as a fare-paying vessel for interpretative trips along the River Stour.

David Gill, professor of archaeological heritage at UCS, said: “The restored Stour lighter is a tangible reminder of the heritage of East Anglia and it draws together the strands of art and history.” The Pioneer Sailing Trust carried out the restoration work and the vessel, named after Dedham Vale and Stour Valley painter John Constable, was on display at UCS Ipswich on Wednesday. It will now return to Great Cornard to be prepared for service next spring.

James Hasall, chairman of the Managing a Masterpiece board, said: “For over a hundred years or so River Stour lighters were an important feature on the river, immortalised in paintings such as John Constable’s Boat building near Flatford Mill. Thanks to the Managing a Masterpiece programme and the dedicated and skilled restoration work carried out by the Pioneer Sailing Trust, the restored lighter will once more be a feature of the river”.


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