An eagerly awaited solar-powered, zero-emission riverboat service along the River Derwent in Derby is scheduled to finally set sail in 2022.
After delays caused by the pandemic, the fully accessible, electrically powered leisure cruiser has been launched into the river and will remain moored in the city over the winter while more trials are carried out and volunteer crew members trained.
And from spring 2022, Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust aims to begin offering scenic tours along the River Derwent through the city and a World Heritage Site.
Stretching 15 miles from Derby to Matlock Bath, the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site contains a fascinating series of historic mill complexes, with one of the site’s most significant being The Silk Mill in Derby, now home to the Museum of Making, which opened in September 2022 after a multi-million-pound transformation.
Developed by Derby Museums, the new attraction is an award-winning contemporary space telling Derby’s 300-year history of innovation and ‘making’. A new inspirational gateway to the ‘city of making’, as well as to the World Heritage Site, the historic Mill has been designed from the floor up as a place to not only celebrate past and present but encourage the makers of tomorrow through ‘hands-on’ experiences and immersive displays (www.derbymuseums.org/museum-of-making/).
Setting sail upstream from Exeter Bridge, just a short distance away from the Mill, the new Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust riverboat service will run from spring to autumn, taking 12 passengers at a time on a 45-minute return trip up the river, past the Silk Mill, to Darley Abbey.
The boat – named the Outram after Derbyshire engineer, Benjamin Outram, who built the Derby Canal – has been designed to make it as environmentally friendly as possible, as well as accessible to all.
An electric lift will allow passengers in wheelchairs to use the boat, and the craft has been widened to accommodate wheelchair access throughout and provide a smoother ride, while Outram’s propulsion system is fully electric, with the batteries being topped up by on board solar panels.
Passengers using the boat will be able to listen to an audio commentary by Sir David Suchet on the way up the river, which is crammed with facts about Derby’s place in history and its plans for the future. There will also be on-board refreshments, and educational entertainment for children.
Derby is also among the eight successful bids through to the longlist of places in the running to be UK City of Culture 2025, with the winner to be revealed in early 2022.
For more details about the new boat service, see www.derbycanal.org.uk/derby-riverboat/
For tourist information about Derby, see www.visitderby.co.uk