coopsy 23.6.22 Narrowboat |

Solar Electric Narrowboat

Introducing the Mothership Solar Electric Narrowboat. She is the first of her kind, a purpose built solar powered boat with an electric motor and back-up generator. Her steel hull offers the strength and toughness needed for life on canals. 

Road Test

Between the end of May and July 2019 ‘Shine’ was thoroughly tested on her maiden voyage. In total she travelled nearly 500 miles through a wide variety of different waters from the scenic but often restricted waters of the Oxford Canal to the fast flowing Tidal Thames.

River Nene – There is a wide variety of water on the charming Nene. Wide and deep to narrow and shallow and all in between. We travelled against a slight head current at about 4mph using 1kW of power to push us along in near silence.

Grand Union – Up the endless locks from Northampton to Gayton. It’s not a lot of fun but at least we did it without unpleasant diesel fumes. It’s hard to go fast on the way up to Crick as there are so many moored boats. We used between 1kW and 0.7kW to make way and surprised a lot of people. Them not having heard us on approach.

Oxford Canal – Very beautiful countryside but a very constrained canal in places. We used between 1.3kW and 0.5kW to progress. The generator came on for the first time as the weather was so apalling. Hot showers were called for.

River Thames (non tidal) – Wide and deep, a gentle and favourable current, lock keepers and sunshine. It’s why southerners live in the south. We could move along at 4mph using 0.5kW with the battery monitor indicating an infinite range.

River Thames (tidal) – ‘Shine’ performed beautifully. We started at Teddington with batteries showing 96% and finished in Limehouse Basin with 54% having battled a strong tidal flow and a strict schedule set by the lock keeper. Waterways World were along for the trip – read their account here.

The importance of a good night’s sleep

Being ‘Green’ means you can sleep well at night. During the day an electric actuator pushes the bed into a stored position. Under the beds is storage.

Up to 2 kW of solar real estate

The Mothership Narrowboat carries more solar panels than many houses. 

Having the solar panels recessed within the roof panel is very practical and helps protect the panels from damage. It is also very aesthetically pleasing. Good design that is practical and nice to look at.


Working with Morris & Co. Mothership has developed an interior that celebrates the Arts and Crafts Movement of the 19th century whilst resonating modern day chic. There is a real meeting of minds between the Arts and Crafts Movement and modern day conservationists. Both celebrate the natural world and wish to preserve and protect it.

William Morris

William Morris

William Morris was a designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Arts and Crafts Movement. His legacy and work lives on today through the company Morris & Co. Inspired by nature his designs have adorned houses all around the globe. Much of his works’ appeal comes from the fact that prints are produced from hand crafted wooden blocks. And like nature, they are all fractionally different bringing real warmth to the work.

At Mothership we are embracing these design principles and incorporating them on our narrowboats to bring a real sense of authenticity to the build. Morris was a true innovator and we would hope that he would approve of the innovations found on the Mothership Narrowboat.

The sound of the countryside

Good advertising copy always tries to convey the sizzle and not the sausage. Here the sausage is our electric motor and the sizzle is the sound it makes, or lack of it. In its place you’ll hear the sound of the countryside. Bird song, rippling water and the wind in the willow trees. We think you’ll like it.

The sizzle extends to conversation and the glug of wine as it descends from the bottle. Gone too is the vibration and the clawing smell of diesel fumes. If your aim is to get away from a technology stuffed modern day life, the irony is that you’ll be doing it with the aid of an innovative, technologically advanced electric motor rather than its more ‘traditional’ diesel predecessor.

The importance of individuality

At Mothership we recognise the need for Narrowboaters to express themselves. There are no real hard and fast designs but we’d like to help you explore a range of designs and colour pallets that you might not have ordinarily chosen. Like a painting by a master, we’d like to help you create a narrowboat that you are extraordinarily proud of and never tire of looking at.

Please talk to us about the style and effect that you are wanting to achieve and we’ll do all we can to help. We recognise that most people  are really brimming with ideas but often struggle to table these thoughts. Our design skills are at your disposal and we will do all we can to make the process both successful and fun.