Key fundraiser to return historic paddle steamer Maid of the Loch to Loch Lomond nets nearly twice target

A fundraising campaign to restore key parts of a historic Loch Lomond paddle steamer prior to its return to the water has raised nearly twice its target.

The online Crowdfunder initiative which sought to bring in £25,000 for Maid of the Loch has netted a total of £43,000 for the “significant and challenging refurbishment” of its paddles and hull.

Loch Lomond Steamship Company (LLSC), which cares for the vessel, hopes to return it to service in three years’ time.

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The steamer, which will be 70 years old next year, is last ship of its type to be built in Britain and the largest built for inland waterways.

Maid of the Loch carried more than 3 million passengers over her 28-year sailing career on Loch Lomond. Picture: Loch Lomond Steamship Company

The Glasgow-built vessel has been a static attraction at Balloch pier at the south end of the loch for the last 16 years after being rescued from dereliction following the end of her sailing days in 1981, having carried more than 3 million passengers.

The money raised included £15,000 from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS).

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Jim Mitchell, LLSC’s industrial heritage director, said: "We are delighted that PSPS has granted us £15,000.

"This will allow us to finish restoration of the paddles this year and means that when the ship is returned to the loch in 2023, all the below-waterline

work will be completed, including, paddles, hull repairs and rudder work, up to the standard required for passenger certification in due course.

“We are hoping that this will give other funders the confidence to invest in the Maid so that we can be sailing by 2025.

"The repair work is being undertaken by the dedicated team of volunteers involved at the ship.”

Bakery firm Tunnock’s owner Sir Boyd Tunnock, one of the company’s patrons, also donated to the appeal in addition to providing Caramel Wafers for its volunteers’ tea breaks.

The long-running efforts to restore the Maid have had their ups and downs, with an attempt to haul the 430-tonne ship out of the loch failing two years ago when the slipway carriage she was sitting on was damaged and she slipped back into the water.

A second attempt was completed successfully last July.

The vessel, which began her 28-year sailing life in 1953, was licensed to carry 1,000 passengers – the largest on Loch Lomond – with members of the Royal Family among the daytrippers carried.

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