All-electric community boat gets the ‘green light’


Credit: Gill Prince Photography

Following the relaxation of the government’s COVID-19 restrictions and successful ‘sea trials’, Electra is now open for business.

Lead Cabin Host, James Clifton said: “Guests may now choose from several public trip and private charter options, cruising along the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes. These include Family Cruises in the school holidays, Cream Tea Cruises on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, Friday afternoon ‘Relax on the Art Trail’ Cruises, plus a Friday night Fish & Bubbles Cruise. Two-hour morning or afternoon Private Charters are available on Thursdays and Saturdays.”

“Now that our crews are fully trained and qualified, we are excited by the prospect of launching our first public cruises in early August.”

“ Electra is well-ventilated and designed for up to 12 guests on board, but we accept government advice to ‘proceed with caution’ with regard to COVID-19, and will start by taking a maximum of 8 guests per cruise” James explained.

Electra is a brand-new fully-electric, 54-foot narrowboat, crewed by trained volunteers from the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust. It is accessible, with a lift and lavatory that can accommodate a standard size wheelchair.

Cruises depart from Campbell Wharf and last between 1 -2 hours during August. Full details, including booking instructions, can be found at

Cruises include:

  • Relax on the Art Trail, Cream Tea, and Fish & Bubbles Public Trips are two-hour cruises from Campbell Wharf to Linford Wharf and return. Fish & Bubbles tickets are Adult only.
  • Family Eye-Spy Cruises last 75 minutes and run from Campbell Wharf to Milton Keynes Marina and return.
  • Family WOW (Walk One Way) Cruises are run in conjunction with the Canal & River Trust and combine a 60-minute cruise with an easy 90-minute guided walk along the towpath.
  • Two-hour Private Charters are from Campbell Wharf to Linford Wharf and return.

For more information:

Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust

Media contact: James Clifton, B&MK Waterway Trust; mobile: 07710-175410;

The boat can carry up to 12 guests and is accessible, with lavatory provision and access lift for users of standard size wheelchairs, and is fully Covid-19 compliant.

Cruises are currently planned to run from August to October in 2021. These will offer ‘something for everyone’ – from short ‘eye-spy’ family cruises to Friday night ‘Fish & Bubbles, relaxing days out in nature, and walkers’ one-way cruises. Eventually, Electra could carry up to 4,000 passengers a year.

Electra is the first all-electric trip boat to be built by Warwickshire-based boatbuilders Colecraft Engineering, run by Gary Cole along with a team of 20 supporting steelwork, carpentry, engineering and sales staff. They have built more than 30 trip boats built since 2010, including two for Longleat Safari Park and twelve for the Olympic Games in 2012. The narrowboat will use an all-electric propulsion unit from Fischer Panda. The electric propulsion batteries with be capable of being charged from both mains power and on-board solar panels.

The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust has funded the construction of the boat, with generous contributions from Crest Nicholson, via Milton Keynes Council s106 funding for the Campbell Wharf development, the Milton Keynes Community Foundation, and donations from Trust members. 

Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust

The Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterway Trust was established in 1995 to promote a new 16-mile Waterway Park, incorporating a new broad canal connecting the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes to the River Great Ouse in Bedford.

Running trip boats is a key activity for the Trust, raising funds and awareness. Its cruises let thousands of local people enjoy being on their local waterway in Bedford, and soon in Milton Keynes, demonstrating the value that Waterway Parks can bring.

Having designed a route, now protected by local authority policies in three Local Plans, the Trust is currently lobbying for its inclusion as part of the Oxford-Cambridge Arc infrastructure. The Trust works with a range of partners to ensure opportunities to integrate the Waterway into development and thereby maximise delivery of local benefits. The Trust is a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity.