The Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust is embarking on an exciting new project which could provide a very significant boost to Derby’s regeneration. For decades Derby has been criticised for not making the most of its beautiful river, but we are about to help the city make the first step towards changing that. We will be introducing a passenger boat to the river Derwent!

Towards the end of 2018 Derby City Council arranged the provision of a grant from the Local Enterprise Partnership (D2N2). The grant will be released to us in chunks through a gated process but the funds will be used to pay for the construction of a brand new, purpose built narrow boat and the construction of a boarding platform by Exeter Bridge.

The boat will have a state-of-the-art electric drive system with the very latest battery technology meaning that the vessel will be completely zero emission. The electric drive will also make passage up the river ultra-quiet ensuring that the local wildlife (which we wish to draw public attention to) is not disturbed. During spring, summer and autumn months it will pick up passengers from the Brewery Tap near Exeter Bridge and take them on a leisurely trip up to Darley Abbey and back. It is our ambition to build a boat that allows all passengers to travel in comfort whilst educating people of all ages about the history and promising future of Derby. We are also determined to educate our passengers on matters of local environmental conservation, but above all the objective is for people to have fun and relax in a safe environment.

In early January 2019, Chris Madge and Mike Wingfield went to visit Tooleys Boatyard. Tooleys operate “The Dancing Duck” trip boat from their base in Banbury. This boat is a similar size and layout to the boat needed for the Derwent so it was a good place to start developing the design concept. Since then the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust has developed its own design for the boat on the Derwent which addresses the requirements which have been carefully developed over the last year. The new design includes wheelchair access and an accessible toilet as well as a galley for serving refreshments, a display area and comfortable seating. The layout allows space for children to play and learn in safety whilst their parents can relax and enjoy the trip.

Derby City Council share our view that reconnecting the people of Derby with their river is an essential part of regenerating the riverside; so we are confident that once we have demonstrated the benefits of using the river in this way we can look at expanding the service further downstream. In 2020 we’d like to start discussions with the council for putting a lock into the river that would allow boats to travel from Pride Park up to the Silk Mill.  The step after that would then be the construction of the Derby Arm Boat Lift which would transfer boats to the canal and out to the UK canal network.