: The Internet's leading database of Paddle Steamers past and present

PS Maid of the Loch  :     Balloch, Loch Lomond, United Kingdom.

maid of the Loch 2011.jpg

Above : Maid of the Loch on July 9th 2011.

Built in 1953 by A & J Inglis of Pointhouse, Glasgow

Engines : Compound Diagonal ( 24 and 48 inch x 51 inch) by Rankin and Blackmore of Greenock.

Dimensions: 191 feet (208 ft overall) x 28.1 ft

555 Gross Registered Tonnes

Loch Lomond, one of the iconic tourist destinations of Scotland, with worldwide renown, has been without a large passenger ship offering full-lake cruises since Maid of the Loch was withdrawn from service in 1981. Although one company, Sweeney's, provides a number of services from Balloch at the foot of the lake (and has done so for well over a century) and Cruise Loch Lomond a number of cruises in the northern part, their boats are relatively small and offer relatively short cruises in restricted areas. The absence of a large paddle steamer would be remarkable to visitors familiar with the leading Swiss or Italian lakes, and indeed, there is no operational paddle steamer on any lake in the UK.

On 18th August 2015 it was announced that the Loch Lomond Steamship company, a preservationist charity which had owned and maintained the vessel since 1995, had won approval from the UK's National Lottery Heritage Fund for the first stage of its application for funding to restore the ship to operational condition and make the necessary improvements to Balloch pier to allow her to sail from there commercially. A grant of 230,400 was made to allow the company to complete the necessary plans for the ship in order to submit to the lottery fund grant awarding committee for final approval of the 5.5 million project. The fund has provisionally approved a grant of 3.8 million with the proviso that if finally approved, matching funding of 1.7 million is provided by the ship's owners. 


Leading members of the team involved in the Maid's restoration celebrate the news of the Heritage Lottery Fund's support.  Photo by kind courtesy of John Beveridge (third from left), Director of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company.

Click here for the official press release  (MS Word download)

Click here to see a copy of the Maid of the Loch's publicity leaflet for 2013 (the format has been a tried and tested one for many years)

An appeal was launched in 2013 on the occasion of the Maid's 60th birthday for funds to restore her to service in advance of a lottery funding application (the first of which was rejected on the grounds that the project would require certain amendments and improvements). The appeal only raised a modest amount of money. Details of the appeal on this link.

However, the backing of the Heritage Lottery Fund now puts the matter into sharp focus and gives a realistic opportunity for the ship to be restored to operation and the confidence that a business plan has been produced which demonstrates future sustainable operation

Status : Free public access to look around and visit the cafe and shop. Work progressing towards restoring her for service on Loch Lomond
Areas of the ship are also available for hire for private functions. See website (link below) for the current opening times.

The "Maid" is the last of the long line of major paddlers built for cruising Britain's estuaries and lakes. Built by A & J Inglis of Pointhouse, Glasgow, builders of the famous PS Waverley, she was sent the short distance to her home port of Balloch on Loch Lomond in pieces by rail and reassembled on the slip on the outhern end of the UK's most famous lake.She was launched on 5th March, 1953 and made her first scheduled sailing on 25th May.

Replacing two smaller, older steamers, the Maid was the ultimate development of the paddler, although closely following the format of Clyde steamers designed in the 1930s. Due to her operation on inland waters, a two cylinder engine was specified; an engine more typical of Clyde steamers of the turn of the century.

Painted all white with an all-buff funnel and green boot-topping, her appearance reminded of the Swiss lake steamers as she plied from Balloch to the northern head of the Loch. In later years, calls were limited to Inversnaid, for a bus connection to Stronachlachar on Loch Katrine to meet SS Sir Walter Scott, and Tarbet. At Tarbet passengers were collected for the Loch Lomond leg of the Three Lochs Tour, having disembarked a Clyde steamer, usually PS Waverley, at Arrochar at the head of Loch Long and reaching Tarbet by a short bus ride or brisk walk.

After her last public cruise on August 30th 1981, the Maid was put up for sale. The offer of the Alloa Brewery Company in association with the local motor launch and marina operators Verigen Ltd, which had plans to restore her to service was accepted. For varying reasons these plans failed and between 1982 and 1989, services were provided by the MV Countess Fiona, the former Clyde motor vessel Countess of Bredalbane.

New owners for the Maid and the Countess in 1989 were the Australian Sea Management Corporation in association with the shipowners James Fisher & Sons, whose ambitious plans to restore the Maid and bring an Australian-built catamaran to the Loch were cut short when Sea management went into liquidation before the start of the 1990 season. Maid of the Loch Ltd was the name of the subsidiary which operated Countess Fiona during the 1989 season

The Francis Hotel Group based in Newcastle, UK purchased the Maid, the Countess and Balloch Pier from the receivers. Planning to develop the tourist potential of the Balloch site, it was unclear whether the Maid featured in the new owner's plans. Little progress was made and this company also went into liquidation in early 1992.

The local Dumbarton District Council became the next owners, taking control in December 1992.

Backed by the efforts of local enthusiasts, whose efforts had helped ensure that the vessel had not deteriorated beyond repair, the Maid was, in 1995, transferred to the ownership of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, a charitable organisation who now look after the vessel, restoring her fabric as resources permit. 

Maid of the Loch party 2011 KW.jpg

Maid of the Loch is generating revenues by opening up for parties, discos and gigs by local bands. This was put in doubt because of exit arrangements from the ship, but for 2011, a second gangway has been installed and other arrangements made to satisfy the licensing authorities. Thanks for Kenny Whyte for this photograph.

Maid of the Loch back in service on Loch Lomond ?
It will depend on sufficient funds being raised to complete the final stages of restoration. The formal appeal is now under way and success will lead to the return of a paddle steamer service for the first time since 1981.

Maid of the Loch at Luss K Whyte.jpg

This is a scene which, it is hoped, will be once more available to enthusiasts and the public. Maid of the Loch at Luss. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Whyte

maid of the Loch Rowardennan KW.jpg

Will Maid of the Loch ever return to Rowardennan ?  It would seem unlikely, even if the Maid's restoration does succeed. Photo by kind courtesy of Kenneth Whyte

MOL Balloch 310856 GF.jpg

Maid of the Loch at Balloch on 31st August 1956.  By kind courtesy of Gillon Ferguson

MOL Ardlui 310856 GF.jpg

Maid of the Loch at Ardlui on 31st August 1956 - another pier which will surely never see the Maid again.  By kind courtesy of Gillon Ferguson
MOL Tarbet 030760 GF.jpg

Maid of the Loch leaving Tarbet on 3rd July 1960.  By kind courtesy of Gillon Ferguson
MOL GF.jpg

Maid of the Loch at Rowardennan in the mid 1970s by kind courtesy of Gillon Ferguson


Maid of the Loch in service in her later years

From dereliction to restoration : 1982 - 2004

Maid of the Loch in 2004  :  2009  :  2011

27th June 2006 : An important day

With the slipway alongside the pier at Balloch and its steam machinery renovated and returned to operational condition, Maid of the Loch was winched out of the water for a few hours to test the slipway and inspect the hull. This photo by Lairich Rig was posted on the geograph website and shows her on the historic day. It is reproduced here with thanks as it has been made available under the following Creative Commons licence.
The hull was found to be in excellent condition. 

Associated attraction alongside :
Balloch Steam Slipway and Winding Gear Steam Engine : taken on 27th September 2009

The renovation of the slipway, apart from creating a major local attraction in its own right, now allows the Maid of the Loch to be slipped for attention in the future - an essential element of bringing her back into service

More information at the ship's official website :
Return to
Caledonian Steam Packet Company
Loch Lomond
Paddle Steamer Reactivation Projects
British Paddle Steamer Index