The River Navigation

The business opportunities presenting themselves at the Derby Arm boat lift don’t end at Pride Park. Successful completion of the Derby Arm would connect the River Derwent with the UK National Canal network meaning that the centre of Derby can step up to the next level of regeneration by introducing a vibrant waterfront that pulls in visitors.

This would follow the well tested recipe demonstrated in other cities such as Gloucester, Birmingham and Bristol.

Derby Waterfront

Just outside the city centre and downstream of the Bass Recreation Ground lies an unused piece of land that would be the ideal location for a large canal basin, and potentially a marina.

A canal basin in this location would have excellent boat, pedestrian and cycling links with both Derby railway station and the city centre. It is envisaged that the canal basin could host some exciting new venues including an iconic 5 star hotel, short term family apartments, family entertainment venues such as aquariums and activity centres as well as additional bars and restaurants. This location is naturally shielded from major roads at the same time as having good transport links, this would create a tranquil, leafy waterside zone ideal for hotels, exclusive apartments and relaxed waterside dining.

On the 14th November 2019, Marketing Derby Bondholder hosted a Bondholder Breakfast for the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust. The event was to allow Bondholders to learn about the Trust’s plans to reconnect the river and canal systems using the revolutionary Derby Arm as well as the new river Trip Boat planned for the new year, and promote interest in the projects for future investment. The Trust is being supported by Derby City Council on this project.

The full presentation is available here. Note that the embedded videos in the presentation won’t work, so i’ve made the available below.

Derby Silk Mill

Boats sailing on, upriver from the marina would be able to travel as far as the Silk Mill by means of a river lock opposite the Council House.

By 2020 the Silk Mill will have completed its £20million restoration work and will be drawing an elevated number of visitors into the city. Having boats on the river would naturally complement the vision for the enhanced offering of the Silk Mill, especially if visitors had the option of travelling to the Silk Mill via an electric passenger river ferry. The stretch of river from the Bass Recreation Ground to the Silk Mill would also be the perfect location for restaurant boats as well as enhancing the amenity of existing waterside venues and residences.

Derby Trip Boat

There are a number of different options for a passenger ferry. It could be used as a park and ride scheme so that passengers (assuming they are not working to tight timescales) could park further out and travel in to the city centre.  It could also be used as a shuttle service between the City centre, Pride Park, Derby Stadium, the canal basin and the boat lift.

To this end, the Derby River Boat will be launched on the river Derwent in spring 2020 by the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust. After the launch, the river boat service will run each year between Spring and Autumn taking 12 passengers at a time on regular trips up and down the river.

Passengers will board the boat at Exeter Bridge before setting off on a 45 minute return trip up the river to Darley Abbey. An electric lift will allow passengers in wheel chairs to use the boat. Initially there will only be one boarding / disembarking point but this could be expanded in subsequent years.

Customers using the boat will be able to listen to an audio commentary on the way up the river which is crammed with facts about Derby’s fascinating history and it’s exciting plans for the future. There will be on board refreshments and educational entertainment for children of all ages.

Over a years worth of design work has gone into the boat and great attention has been made to making the boat as environmentally friendly as possible. The boat’s propulsion system is fully electric with the batteries being partially charged using on board solar panels. The Trust hopes that this will inspire local people to adopt electric vehicles and encourage local boat owners to convert to zero emission propulsion.

The Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust aim to improve the customer offering year after year adding new features each season. In year 2 or 3 the Trust would like to install a river lock into the weir outside the council house, this will allow boats to travel between the city centre and Pride Park.

The following two images show the current status of the River Boat hull (it’s early days) and an artist’s impression of the River Boat (altered with permission from Grantham Canal Society).