First look at new Milton Keynes community boat ahead summer launch

Here's the new Milton Keynes community boat, currently undertaking 'sea trials'.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 10:34 am

Electra, the all-electric community boat scheduled to welcome passengers later this year, was craned into the Grand Union Canal.

Just south of Milton Keynes the 16-tonne boat was carefully lowered into the water. Passing one of the last challenges it faced before it can welcome guests aboard. Currently, the boat is scheduled to debut in July this year and the trust have organised trips on Electra up to December 2021.

The boat was commissioned by Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Trust last year and will run public trips and private charter cruises along the Grand Union Canal once operational.

Electra being lowered

Once fully-tested and provided Covid restrictions continue to be eased throughout the UK, Electra, will be based at Campbell Wharf, with trust volunteers overseeing cruises across Milton Keynes.

The trust hope to offer both short 'eye-spy trips' across the city and ‘bubbles and bites’ days on the water as well.

James Clifton from the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Waterway Trust said: “Now that Electra is safely afloat, we can commence ‘sea trials’, so the crew can get used to handling her, followed by cruises for ‘friends and family’, before she begins fare-paying cruises in July.”

Colecraft Engineering Ltd, a boat building company based in Warwickshire, was tasked with constructing Electra. Owner, Gary Cole, said: “Although we have built over 30 trip boats since 2010, including two for Longleat Safari Park and twelve for the London Olympic Games, this is our very first all-electric boat.

Electra courtesy of Gill Prince Photography

“The demand for electrically propelled boats is definitely growing. With the government’s commitment to ensuring all inland waterway vessels meet zero emissions by 2050, this is definitely the right way forward."

Stephen Goosey, who manages the marina, commented: “Lifting a 16-tonne boat is not a simple matter; there are a lot of technical issues to consider and, costing over £150,000, we took our time to ensure she was lowered carefully and safely into the water.”

At 54-feet long the boat is both twice as long and twice as heavy as a typical London double decker bus.

The trust is appealing for more volunteers to get involved with the project. To fund this all -electric boat, the trust received support from the Milton Keynes Council, Crest Nicholson, the Milton Keynes Community Foundation, and donations from trust members.

Electra at Grand Union
electric propulsion motor drive