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Historic boat gets new lease of life after 98 years
4:00pm Sunday 23rd September 2012 in News
A HISTORIC barge which has been out of service since 1914 is set to be brought back into use after being restored in Brightlingsea.
The Lighter, which was last used in Sudbury, was historically used in the Stour Valley to carry coal, bricks and corn.
But now plans are in place for it to be relaunched to provide tourist trips along the River Stour.
The vessel, named the John Constable, has been restored using money from the Managing a Masterpiece fund.
Spokesman James Hasall 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 in 1815.
“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.”
The River Stour Trust rescued the barge in the 1970s but it remained in Sudbury until June 2010, when it was raised out of the silt at Great Cornard Lock.
It was then taken to Brightlingsea to be restored by the Pioneering Sailing Trust.
Work is now complete and the barge will be on show at the University of Suffolk’s Ipswich campus on September 26.
It will be formally launched on the River Stour next spring Historically, the lighters, which operated in pairs, travelled between Sudbury and Mistley Quay.
Each boat could hold 13 tonnes and was towed by a single horse.