Maid of the Loch paddle steamer set for £5.5m restoration

THE Maid of the Loch paddle steamer is set to be restored to its former glory.

The Maid of the Loch paddle steamer in Balloch. Picture: TSPL

A £5.5 million restoration programme has been announced by the Loch Lomond Steamship Company (LLSC) to bring the vessel back into working order with a view to completing the necessary works by summer 2018.

The vessel - the last paddle steamer to be built in Britain - has been under the ownership of the charity for the last 20 years. It will finally be able to bring the ship into operation.

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It is hoped the steamer will attract an additional 100,000 visitors to Loch Lomond when it once again plies up and down the waterway.

It already welcomes 15,000 visitors a year at its berth in Balloch but its condition has deteriorated since its last voyage in 1981.

Dr Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the project to rebuild the historic ‘Maid of the Loch’ can now go full steam ahead; it is fantastic news for tourism in the region.

“As the last paddle steamer built in Britain, as well as the last in a long line of Loch Lomond steamers, the ship is an important part of Scotland’s maritime heritage.”

The ship, which was built in 1953, has in the past ferried such illustrious guests such as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Salote of Tonga.