Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust are developing plans to launch boat trips on the River Derwent from Derby city centre.
Initially the trips would run between the Council House steps and the picturesque weir at Darley Abbey.
Moving forward, the full trip would ultimately travel through a new lock in the weir alongside the Council House and stretch to the Derby Arm boat lift that the Trust is planning to build on Pride Park.
The Trust recently enlisted the help of the Midland Canoe Club, based at Darley Abbey, to test the depths of the River Derwent.
It is now discussing plans with Derby City Council with a view to creating a new visitor attraction for the city and particularly Cathedral Green.
The 2½ mile stretch of the River Derwent is integral to the Trust’s plans to bring boat traffic back to Derby and the restoration of a 13 mile stretch of canal from Derby to Swarkestone and Sandiacre.
The Derby Canal was completed in 1796 but was abandoned in the 1960s and filled in during the 1970s.
The Trust’s ultimate aim is to bring the waterway back into use and connect it to the Trent and Mersey and Erewash Canals – creating a 25 mile cruising ring with then access to more than 2,000 miles of navigable waterways across the UK.
Chris Madge, chair of Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust’s Restoration Committee, explained: “We have already had some very constructive conversations with key officers and cabinet members at Derby City Council about the restoration and particularly about running river boat trips along this stretch of the River Derwent.
“Thanks to the Midland Canoe Club, we now have a much better idea of the overall river depths, which prove that trip boats on the Derwent can become a practical reality.
“We do not a target timeframe yet but hopefully discussions will move on apace with the depths having been tested.
“As well as creating a wonderful new visitor attraction for the city, it will help to raise the profile of our overall plans to restore the full Derby Canal to Sandiacre and Swarkestone.
“It would be fantastic if we were able to get boats back on the River Derwent and show more people just what a wonderful resource we have right on our doorstep.”
Dr John Chamberlin, President of Midland Canoe Club added: “Having been established at our Darley Abbey site for the past 45 years, we were delighted to support Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust in this work.
“We look forward to more people being able to appreciate the River Derwent over its whole length, and especially on the Trust’s planned boat trips.”
Chris Madge continued that, after many years of surveys, planning and environmental works, the pace of overall project is increasing and a first stretch of water is getting close at the ‘Golden Mile’ in Draycott.
For that stretch, the Trust needs to demonstrate public support and is appealing for pledges totalling £100,000. This will enable the Trust to then apply for grant funding to complete the £352,000 canal project.
Once completed, the ‘Golden Mile’ will have a slipway to allow canoes and boats access to the water with mooring points at each end and angling facilities.
The Trust has also bought six cottages at the start of the ‘Golden Mile’ which is plans to convert into a multi-use development including an information centre about the history of and future plans for the canal.
The Trust is looking for public donations in the form of pledges for the Draycott ‘Golden Mile’. The Trust will take details from any supporter and only call for the money when the balance has been raised. Pledge forms are available from http://derbycanal.org.uk/activities/the-draycott-project