Norfolk Broads Cruiser - Shaft of Light

The Shaft of Light is an ex Norfolk Broads, hire fleet cruiser from the 1940s. She's still afloat, is in private ownership, and is beautifully maintained by the Moorhouse family. The family hired the boat for holidays in the 1950s and eventually bought her in 1974. She is now moored at Horning, and is still used regularly for family holidays.

The photographs and text below were kindly submitted by Jane Sutherland

In January 2005. Jane e-mailed me to say "I just wanted to update you on the Shaft of Light ownership. Sadly, she is no longer owned by my family but has been sold on to a very enthusiastic owner who has moved her to the South Broads and is lavishing her with money and attention to ensure that she continues to sail for many more years. It was a hard decision for my family to make and we miss sailing her."

Click the pictures for an enlarged view

Shaft of Light is a 6-berth, purpose built Norfolk Broads cruiser, built of solid mahogany, and weighs 11 tons. My grandparents bought the Shaft of Light in 1974 from Herbert Woods Ltd. (Potter Heigham) at a time when Woods were selling off the old wooden hire fleet. I understand that the keel was laid in 1939 but that she wasn't finished until 1946 because the war interrupted production. She produces virtually no wash when cruising, unlike a lot of modern boats, but she does take a little handling!

Herbert Woods Yard, Potter Heigham (circa 1980 )

The Anchor Moorings, Coltishall (August 2002)

When my grandparents bought her, they renamed her Lady Edith (after my grandmother), and she stayed moored in Woods Yard, by the swing-bridge in the main area, for many, many years. Sadly, that gave all of us the opportunity to watch the slow winding-down of the boatyard and it went from being noisy and full of men building and repairing boats in the huge sheds to something of a ghost town. Most of the sheds were pulled down or used for undercover car parking.

In the 1970s I can remember the Broads being full of boats and visitors all summer long, and on Saturdays the boatyard was very busy with cleaners working on the boats, visitors arriving and departing, and the day trippers arriving in their coaches and getting on the huge day boats. My grandparents passed the boat on to my mother about 15 years ago, and after the yard changed hands it became necessary to moor her elsewhere. So my mother moved her to South Quays Marina, Horning, and Lady Edith's been there ever since.

The Anchor Moorings, Coltishall (August 2002)

South Quays Marina, Horning (July 2000)

Over the years we have had rails fitted round the deck, and navigation lights installed. (Night navigation was never an option when she was a hire craft). Other refinements include davits, a small dinghy on the back, and cream canopies that cover the whole of the aft cabin area and the saloon. Very useful during bad weather! The rudder was replaced in 1984 after it had dropped off during a particularly tricky 360 degree turn just outside Wroxham. I was steering at the time. It made life very interesting!

Internally, there is a sea toilet in the rear of the boat and a shower at the front, where there was originally another toilet. The galley area has been refitted over the years to try and maximize the space, but she still retains virtually all the original brasswork, woodwork, the original mattresses (oh yes!) and so on. We still have, and still use, the original gearlever (3'6" long) that comes out of the floor of the wheelhouse/bridge. We have tried very hard to maintain the original look and feel of the boat, whilst keeping her up to date with legislation and practical requirements. We feel very honoured to have her, as there are so few of the old boats left.

Over the years the boat has seen 4 generations holiday on her, not to mention 12 dogs and a hamster! We have, in the past, spent whole fortnights with 4 adults, 4 children and 2 dogs on board, and we have had many very happy, giggly, holiday times.

| The history of Monarch and Star Supreme 1, former Norfolk Broads hire cruisers |
| Other wooden Norfolk Broads boats from the 1950s |
| 1960s Broads boats - page 1 and page 2 |
| Norfolk Broads - Blakes Holidays Afloat 1947 | | Canals - Main page |

In March 2004 - The owner of Glint of Light contacted me to say that he's in the process of restoring her. He adds that Queen of Light, a similar hull from  the 50s, but with a different layout, was up for sale at Shepperton Marina.