Stately Broads cruiser ready to hit the waterways again

Herbert Woods' restored boat Spark of Light. Left to right, John Packman (The Broads Authority chief

Herbert Woods' restored boat Spark of Light. Left to right, John Packman (The Broads Authority chief executive), Michael Whitaker (partner at Herbert Woods) and Amanda Walker (Herbert Woods marketing director). Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Spark of Light, an original wooden motor cruiser built by Herbert Woods in 1927, underwent an extensive restoration over the winter and is now available for hire to the general public.

Herbert Woods' restored boat Spark of Light.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Herbert Woods' restored boat Spark of Light. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

After having gone through numerous name changes and changes of ownership since it was built, Spark of Light returned to the company named after its creator in 2011. Michael Whitaker, a partner at Herbert Woods, said it was one of the oldest boatyards on the Broads and Spark of Light formed part of its history.

'The whole purpose of the restoration exercise was about heritage,' he said. 'It's difficult to say just how much we have spent on her over the years but it's probably in the region of £50,000.'

A decision to hire the 36ft cruiser out was only made last year and work undertaken has included a full rewire and new headlining and upholstery.

Every effort has been made to preserve or replicate the interior in its original style, although modern features have been added which include warm air heating and an electric fridge. A rear cabin features twin beds with en-suite while a further two single berths are located upfront.

Herbert Woods' restored boat Spark of Light.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Herbert Woods' restored boat Spark of Light. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant


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Mr Whitaker said for the most part Spark of Light had always remained structurally sound. 'I've known her since 1971 and we've only had to do one bit of planking after a water drip from the inside.' He said the boat was powered by a Perkins 44bhp diesel engine, which was fitted in 1955, while the wood in the hull used to the waterline is Siberian redwood and Russian archangel pine for the rest.

The cost of hiring the piece of Broads history starts from £879 for seven nights and a £500 refundable deposit is required. 'It's a special boat. Anyone wanting to hire it will need to have previous experience,' he said.

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Broads Authority chief executive John Packman, who took a trip on the Spark of Light along the River Thurne, said it represented an important piece of history. 'This is where holidays afloat started,' he said.

Herbert Woods' restored boat Spark of Light.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Herbert Woods' restored boat Spark of Light. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Many names, same Spark of Light

Originally christened Spark of Light in 1927, the stately wooden motor cruiser built by Herbert Woods has undergone several name changes over the years. At some point before April 1934 her name was changed to 'Spot of Light' and in 1947 she once again underwent a name change, this time to 'Shimmer of Light'.

After Herbert Woods died in 1954, new chairman Lindsay Cutler took ownership. She underwent significant refurbishment, including a refit that made her seaworthy. When Cutler died the boat, now known as Cherrie, was sold in 1971 to John Whitaker, the father of current Herbert Woods partner Michael.

In 1999 Cherrie was again sold but an accident in which a tree fell across her front deck led to lengthy repairs and modifications. Cherrie was not seen afloat again until 2005, where she was renamed 'Shimmer of Light'. She was relocated to Broads Edge Marina in Stalham and it was here that in 2011 she was reunited with Herbert Woods.

Spark of Light arriving at the Herbert Woods boatyard in 2011 Picture: Herbert Woods

Spark of Light arriving at the Herbert Woods boatyard in 2011 Picture: Herbert Woods - Credit: Herbert Woods

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