Sunday , 23 October 2016
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Derby Arm

The Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust’s iconic concept proposal for a Boat Lift is called the Derby Arm.

Watch the animation

The animation is a great help in explaining the Derby Arm concept.

In conjunction with the restoration of much of the Derby Canal from Swarkestone to Sandiacre the Trust proposes to run a passenger boat service from the Canal Route at Pride Park along the River Derwent into the City Centre. In its way, using the River, will restore the type of navigation which historically used to serve the wharf at the Silk Mill.

A Boat Lift will be provided from the reconstructed canal down to the Derwent. The elegant mechanical ‘Derby Arm’ will be a spectacular piece of engineering which will be innovative in its use of low energy piston technology. A different type of boat lift was constructed in Falkirk for the Millenium and attracts income from about 400,000 visitors each year. There is well established and growing interest in Derby as a leisure destination and the Derby Arm will stand alongside the Football Stadium and the Velodrome venue.

The proposal is to run passenger boats, at least at the weekends, as an outward and separate return service so that visitors can spend time in the City Centre with among the destinations – the Silk Mill, the Museum and Art Gallery, Quad and the Market Place. It is also intended to allow privately operated or holiday hire canal boats up to the basin at the Council House steps.

There will be an opportunity for canal interpretation at a Visitor Centre, which will directly face the ‘Arm’ for viewing purposes. The visitor centre will chronicle the history of the Derby Canal and its restoration and may also exploit a theme of transportation to include car, rail, and aerospace development appropriate for the City.

Mike Wood, consultant architect to the Trust says:

“With this animation we will now be able to showcase the Trust’s vision of what will be an awesome tourist attraction. We also hope that it will spark the imagination of suitable commercial investors.”

Although the animation depicts a narrow beam boat the design brief for the boat lift will be that it accommodates broad beam or two narrow boats.

For more information please contact:

Mike Wood, Consultant Architect to Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust: 07932 021559 or email  or

Chris Madge, Director, The Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust: 07827 946444 or email


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  1. The derby arm will look fantastic….if the funds are available what time scale are we looking at to completion

    • From a position of confirmed funding available we would envisage a period of 12 to 36 months to construct the Derby Arm and Visitor Centre. There would be another key dependency that the site developer had initiated construction of the access roads.

      Emma Keeling
      Social Media/Web Guru

  2. Looking at the animation the level difference looks to be slight. Would not an inclined plane with 2 counter balanced caissons be a much easier cheaper and less difficult to maintain solution?

    • You are quite correct that an inclined plane would be effective in the location and may provide cost benefits. At present we believe that the current design is more attractive to the public and a key aim of this project – and a reason for support from local authorities, etc – is the potential for tourist traffic. The benefit to the local area of larger numbers of tourists could be immense and would dwarf any maintenance cost differential. We are currently progressing the project through evaluation and will of course look at alternative models as part of that process.

      Chris Madge

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