Gov­ern­ment grant saves Maid of the Loch pro­ject

The Herald - - NEWS - RUS­SELL LEAD­BET­TER

JUST over two months ago, the char­ity aim­ing to re­float the his­toric Loch Lomond pad­dle-steamer, Maid of the Loch, was “dev­as­tated” to learn that its bid for £3.7 mil­lion of Her­itage Lot­tery fund­ing had been re­jected.

“It is go­ing to take some time to ab­sorb this news and the rea­sons be­hind it”, said John Bev­eridge, chair­man of Loch Lomond Steamship Com­pany, which has been restor­ing the ves­sel since 1996.

The char­ity, how­ever, promised that the de­ci­sion “is not the end of the road” and said it still firmly be­lieved in the pro­ject.

Now it learned that a £950,000 cap­i­tal grant fund­ing award by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment had been con­firmed, mean­ing that the goal of re­turn­ing the ship to sail­ing lives on.

The pack­age from the Re­gen­er­a­tion Cap­i­tal Grant Fund (RCGF), awarded ear­lier this year, hung in the bal­ance fol­low­ing the “dis­ap­point­ing” news from Her­itage Lot­tery Fund (HLF).

The char­ity said the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment an­nounce­ment meant that the Maid could look for­ward to 2019 “with a re­newed fo­cus, with work al­ready con­firmed in­clud­ing re­pairs to the ship’s hull, cre­ation of an on-board ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­ity, re­fur­bish­ing the main func­tion suite, and over­haul­ing the en­gines to en­able them to turn with steam.”

Mr Bev­eridge said: “This is a huge boost to the pro­ject and will trans­form the Maid’s at­trac­tion to vis­i­tors. Af­ter the shock of HLF re­ject­ing our bid, this gives the char­ity real hope to con­tinue with our ef­forts.

“Our next step will see the ship brought out of the wa­ter in Jan­uary to al­low us to carry out an es­sen­tial ul­tra­sound test of the en­tire hull to check its con­di­tion. Any re­pairs will be car­ried out, in­clud­ing re­plac­ing the ship’s port side belt­ing, the wooden fender that pro­tects the hull at the pier.

“Slip­ping the ship will be a ‘must­see’ spec­ta­cle and a ma­jor un­der­tak­ing for us all. It will be the first time any work has been done on the hull since 1981, so there is great ex­cite­ment among our vol­un­teers who can’t wait to help”. The big­gest trans­for­ma­tion to the ship next year will see the en­gines turn­ing un­der steam power. Work will in­clude hav­ing the en­gines pro­fes­sion­ally over­hauled, new pipework in­stalled, and a mo­bile boiler plant sited on the pier pro­duc­ing enough steam to al­low the pad­dles to turn.

The en­gine room last month re­ceived two feed boiler pumps, a crit­i­cal com­po­nent in get­ting the ship sail­ing once again, from Coat­bridge’s Sum­mer­lee Her­itage Mu­seum.

Mr Bev­eridge added: “Ev­ery­one who has vis­ited the Maid over the years have said we must get this beau­ti­ful ship sail­ing again. Get­ting her in steam and with her pad­dles turn­ing again is the next best thing.”

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