Registration number 1948
Status Registered
a12admin

Details

Function Cargo Vessel
Subfunction Lighter
Location Heybridge Basin
Vessel type Canal Boat
Current use Ongoing conservation
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No

Construction

Builder Prior, R & J, Burnham on Crouch
Built in 1953
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None

Dimensions

Breadth: Beam
14.60 feet (4.45m)
Depth
2.30 feet (0.70m)
Length: Overall
59.00 feet (18.00m)
Tonnage: Gross
30.00

History

SUSAN is the only surviving wooden lighter purpose built for the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. She was built for Brown and Son Ltd, timber merchants of Chelmsford who used her for transporting timber from Heybridge Basin in Maldon to Springfield Basin in Chelmsford.

The design of SUSAN closely resembles that of the traditional horse-drawn lighters which worked on the Navigation from 1797. The Navigation is very shallow and all large boats were built to a special design with a flat bottom. The propeller is set in a tunnel formed in the hull to ensure that it does not protrude below the bottom of the boat. Twin rudders are provided, one each side of the tunnel. Commercial traffic on the Navigation ceased in 1972 and Susan was then taken over by the Navigation Company for use as a maintenance boat. In 1976, the Inland Waterways Association purchased Susan to prevent her from being broken up. In 1979, the Chelmer Lighter Preservation Society purchased Susan and restored her to working order in 1981.

The ownership of SUSAN was transferred to the Passmore Edwards Museum in 1984 and to Chelmsford Museums in 1991.

In 2006, SUSAN was donated to The Susan Trust, a registered charity, established to restore, maintain and operate her on the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. Chelmsford Borough Council provide a secure mooring for SUSAN on the River Chelmer at their Industrial Museum and Education Centre at Sandford Mill. In May 2010, SUSAN was towed to St Osyth on the Blackwater / Colne Estuary for restoration.

The restoration was carried out in 6 Stages. Stages 1 to 4 were completed early in 2019. The main and sub keels (keelsons) were replaced, the framework was rebuilt and the hull completely re-planked, at a total cost of £160,000.  Work then progressed on Stage 5 which involved the provision of new cappings on the gunwales and the provision of a new floor.  

In July 2024, Susan was towed back to Heybridge Basin and the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation where the original Thornycroft engine will be refitted as part of Stage 6 - the final stage - of a fourteen year restoration project.  As well as the refitting of the engine, Stage 6 will also provide a cover for Susan once funding has been secured. On completion of the restoration work, Susan will return to her base at Sandford Mill and will be operated for public trips by volunteers on the Navigation for which she was built.   

Grants

  • 2021

     A grant of £1,000 from Essex County Council for re-installation of engine and stern gear  

  • 2021

     A grant of £5,000 from Garfield Weston Foundation for re-installation of engine and stern gear  

  • 2019

     A grant of £5,000 from Essex Heritage Trust for restoration of gunwhales and superstructure and re-installation of engine and stern gear  

  • 2019

     A grant of £10,000 from Association for Industrial Archaeology for restoration of gunwhales and superstructure and re-installation of engine and stern gear  

  • 2019

     A grant of £10,000 from Garfield Weston Foundation for restoration of gunwhales and superstructure and re-installation of engine and stern gear

     

  • 2018

     A grant of £9,000 from Essex County Council for re-planking of bottom and restoration of gunwhales and superstructure 

  • 2017

     A grant of £1,000 from Co-operative Bank for re-planking of bottom and restoration of gunwhales and superstructure 

  • 2017

     A grant of £10,000 from Pilgrim Trust for re-planking of bottom and restoration of gunwhales and superstructure 

  • 2015-2016

    £20,000 awarded to The Susan Trust from the PRISM Fund towards the cost of restoration

     

     

     

  • 2014

     A grant of £5,000 from Essex County Council for shear strakes and re-planking of hull sides 

  • 2014

     A grant of £5,000 from Essex County Council for Chine planks and propeller tunnel frame and shear strakes and re-planking of hull sides 

  • 2012

     A grant of £5,000 from Essex County Council for Chine planks and propeller tunnel frame 

  • April - January 2011

    A Sustainability Grant of £1000 towards the cost of hull repairs was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships. Source: current owners

  • 2008

     A grant of £500 from Augustine Courtauld Trust for repairs/replacement to ribs and upstands as necessary 

  • 2007

     A grant of £3,000 from Essex Heritage Trust for replacement of the main keel (keelson) and repairs/replacement to ribs and upstands as necessary 

  • 2007

     A grant of £9,500 from Essex County  Council for replacement of the main keel (keelson) and repairs/replacement to ribs and upstands as necessary 

  • 2006

     A grant of £25,000 from Chelmsford Borough Council for replacement of the main keel (keelson) and repairs/replacement to ribs and upstands as necessary 

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk

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