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Above : Maid of the Loch at Balloch Pier on July 9th 2011.
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.
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
Maid to Sail ? : 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 GBP 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 GBP 5.5 million project. The fund then approved a grant of GBP 3.8 million with the proviso that matching funding of GBP 1.7 million is provided by the ship's owners, who are appealing to funding bodies and the general public to trigger the grant.
The important issue is that the future operating plan, developed with the assistance of external consultants, has been accepted, under intense scrutiny, by the Heritage Lottery Fund as demonstrating that the ship can be operated as a sustainable business once the set-up finance is obtained.
In March 2018 it was announced that a grant of £ 950 k had been agreed by the Scottish Government's RegenerationCapital Grant Fund. Coming on top of the existing public fund-raising campaign and approaches to other grant-awarding bodies, it would appear that the ship's charitable owners are now very close to gathering the amount required to trigger the Heritage Lottery Fund's own major grant and the prospects for a return to service now appear much more secure.
The existing providers of boat trips on the loch (Sweeneys based at Balloch and Cruise Loch Lomond at Tarbet) offer short round trips in much smaller vessels with a limited number of services linking piers on either side and private group charter opportunities. The Maid would offer a completely different experience : longer trips covering more of the lake, a chance to experience a larger ship in 1950s style with her steam engines as a particular feature, plus opportunities for dining aboard on scheduled cruises..
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 southern 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 last traditional paddle steamer built for use in the UK. A two cylinder compound engine was specified as she did not need the power and speed of the ships which had been built for the nearby Firth of Clyde in the 1930s, for which three-cylinder trip expansion machinery was the norm.
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 and in this period a number of fixtures and brass fittings were removed from the ship.
The local Dumbarton District Council became the next owners when they took control of the land associated with the Maid in December 1992. Countess Fiona was scrapped as no buyer could be found for her, despite initial interest, as the slipway she had been on collapsed making her return to the water problematic and expensive.
Backed by the efforts of local enthusiasts, 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 from an what once was extremely delapidated condition as resources permit. She is open to visitors as a static attraction with an on-board tearoom and with plans for an expanded dining service. She is available for hire for functions, weddings, concerts and such like.
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.
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
MAID OF THE LOCH IN THE LATE 1970s - by Ian Stewart
Below : Maid of the Loch arriving at, berthed at and leaving Inversnaid. Observation deck, main deck, and tied up at Balloch for the evening
dereliction to restoration : 1982 - 2004
Maid of the Loch in 2004 : 2009 : 2011
Contributed photos of Maid of the Loch : Click here
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. The
hull was found to be in excellent condition.
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. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
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