She was the last paddle steamship built in the UK but has not sailed in over three decades. Now a campaign has been launched to complete the restoration of the Maid of the Loch with the aim of seeing her sail on Loch Lomond once more.
Launched on the Clyde in 1953 at the A&J Inglis yard at Pointhouse, ‘the Maid’ was the largest inland waterway vessel ever seen in Britain.
From her home port of Balloch, the steamer sailed the length of Loch Lomond for the next 29 years. A trip on board became a favourite activity of the thousands of tourists who visited the area.
But a decline in passenger numbers and various other cost pressures saw her laid up in 1981.
Restoration efforts soon began and in 1992 she was bought by the local council before a charitable trust was formed to oversee the project.
Now a major online fundraiser had been launched to pay for the installation of a specialised steam boiler that will power the ship’s engine.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has pledged to donate £3.8 million if volunteers can raise the same amount by June 2018.
“We now have only £1 million to raise to reach our target of £5.5 million to fully restore the ship and get her sailing again,” the Maid’s restoration group said in a statement.
“We are very close to raising this money, but some of the pledges that have been made depend on us installing the steam boiler now. Buying and installing this specialised boiler is pivotal to the project in levering further funding to reach our overall target.
“The Maid has a genuine, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity right now to sail again - if we can raise the funds for the boiler.”
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They continued: “The Maid is a magnificent example of Clyde-built ship engineering with a stunning art deco inspired interior. Our vision is to bring this cherished, UK asset back into productive public and operational use and return paddle steamer cruising to Loch Lomond, bringing pleasure and joy to millions more visitors for generations to come.
“By safeguarding this vessel we wish to open up further the country’s industrial engineering heritage, to educate and increase interest and awareness of the Maid’s place within this central area of conservation in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and to create employment and training opportunities for the local economy.
“A successful fundraising campaign can return this beautiful steamer to the waters of Loch Lomond and to her former glory, renovating and reinstating her 1950s fittings and creating a wonderful asset for public pleasure and international interest.”
The Maid’s fundraising page can be found online, with further details of the restoration campaign.