Hire boats give boost to tourism in Sudbury

District and town councillor Simon Barrett with Gordon Hardy trying out one of the new hire boats on the River Stour at Sudbury. ANL-160426-124125001

District and town councillor Simon Barrett with Gordon Hardy trying out one of the new hire boats on the River Stour at Sudbury. ANL-160426-124125001

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The return of hire boats on a picturesque stretch of a Suffolk river is set to trigger a ‘significant’ boost to the local economy.

It is estimated the return of rowing boats, kayaks and canoes for hire on the River Stour in Sudbury will generate up to £200,000 in ancillary tourist spend by the end of the summer.

Historically, rowing boats were available for hire from the Boathouse Restaurant site.

However, both the boats and the restaurant ceased to trade more than 15 years ago when Ballingdon Bridge was being rebuilt.

The bridge work was completed in 2002 but the Boathouse Restaurant remained closed until it was reopened as part of the Rare Cow franchise in 2015.

Following a successful trial period last summer, which attracted hundreds of visitors, the boats have now returned.

Simon Barrett, portfolio holder for growth and local economy at Babergh District Council, said: “The return of the hire boats from the Boathouse site is great news for Sudbury.

“We are confident from the trial last year that the boats will stimulate a significant economy boost from the tourism spend, which is good news for local businesses and residents alike.

“For many years these boats were an important feature of Sudbury life, popular with both tourists and local residents and it is fabulous to have them back after such a long absence.

“Sudbury is already a great tourist destination and having the boats available again adds another string to its bow.”

The boats will now be available for hire every weekend and during holiday times up until the end of September.

People have the choice of a gentle row upstream, longer paddles to local restaurants in Henny and Nayland or going all the to the sea at Cattawade.

Gordon Hardy, director of the Outdoor Hire Centre, which is running the hire scheme, said: “We are delighted to have brought the boats back to Sudbury.

“This stretch of the river is a treasured and tranquil place immortalised by the works of Constable and Gainsborough.

“It is a great experience to see this part of the landscape from the water. We will limit the amount of hires on each day to protect the tranquillity of the area, which is what makes it so special.

“During the trial last year 80 per cent of our custom was via tourists, which is great news for the local economy. Tourists will generate an ancillary spend at local amenities such as restaurants, hotels, cafés, gift shops and other attractions.”

He added: “The boats are not just available for tourists, we would like to encourage more local people to come along and enjoy this beautiful stretch of river, which goes through a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is right on their doorstep.”

For more information on the hire boats from the Boathouse site go to www.outdoorhirecentres.com or telephone 01206 700707.

Reservations can be made by emailing reservations@outdoorhirecentre.co.uk.