Restoration work begins on Loch Lomond paddle steamer

Work on the iconic paddle steamer berthed in Loch Lomond has taken significant steps forward, in a bid to get the historic Maid of the Loch fully restored to her former glory.

Following a £950,000 cash injection from The Scottish Government, the Loch Lomond Steamship Company (LLSC) has contracted out vital structural work to naval architects, Marine Design International Ltd. This particular stage is necessary for meeting the required safety standards and will place a strong focus on the vessel’s current state by surveying, calculating and designing any adjustments which may have to take place.

The ship will also see the installation of two-boiler feed pumps, which were last year donated by Summerlee Heritage Museum, along with new pipework and valves being manufactured by Stevenson-based McEvoy

Engineering Ltd. Once the £1 million refit is completed, visitors to the Maid will be able to enjoy the ship ‘in steam’ again and watch her majestic engines and paddles slowly turning.

Work has also begun to restore the Maid’s appearance back to the original 1950s style. This will be carried out by Dumbarton company, Ferguson Flooring, who will source the appropriate materials for refurbishing the promenade aft deck saloon, originally known as the deck bar, and the main deck saloon aft. Once complete, this will house an education facility for hosting school visits and a main room for holding functions and events. A lift will also be fitted to provide assistance between decks.

As part of the Maid’s long-term strategy, the paddle steamer has created five job opportunities within West Dunbartonshire, and LLSC has successfully filled the roles of an office and events manager, an operations assistant, a heritage engineer and two fitters. The fitters will work onboard to carry out a variety of tasks from maintaining and installing fixtures and fittings, servicing equipment and machinery.

John Beveridge, chairman of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, said: ‘This week we’re celebrating 66 years since the Maid of the Loch first launched, and with the refit work well underway our visitors should expect to see big changes over the coming months. They will be able to view the work taking place during this exciting time and get a glimpse into her former glory, when we open again at Easter.

‘Despite an unfortunate set-back with her slipping in January, we are more determined than ever to succeed in the restoration of this iconic steamer, and it’s been a major achievement for us to be able to employ five people full time. With the help of The Scottish Government and other valuable funders, we will not only create more jobs and training opportunities but also help the local economy.’

The Maid currently operates as a static tourist attraction and hopes to gain industrial museum status for the ship and steam slipway as a growing number of artefacts are collected and restored to working condition.

Charity Loch Lomond Steamship Company (LLSC) have worked tirelessly since 1996 to transform and restore the ship, with the aim of bringing her ‘back to life’ and fully operational once again.

Donations to return the Maid back to sail can be made through their dedicated website with the aim of offering cruises from Easter to October and being open for events and function hire the rest of the year.

Funders for Maid of the Loch include The Scottish Government, The Robertson Trust, Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, The Hugh Fraser Foundation, Forth Valley & Lomond LEADER, Scottish Enterprise, The Wolfson Foundation, Historic Environment Scotland and The Swire Charitable Trust.

News story written by Kenny Smith and first published in the Scottish Field magazine

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