It is one of the most iconic vessels in Scottish maritime history.
And this week, the paddle steamer, Maid of the Loch, is set to undergo a historic process to allow significant refurbishment works to be carried out on the ship – only the second time it has been removed from the water in almost 40 years.
The procedure will be carried out by Mackay Boatbuilders Ltd, and will see the 191-foot-long, 555-ton paddle steamer hauled out of the water by the original winchhouse and onto the Balloch Steam slipway, which is an A-listed building.
The Maid will then undergo a full ultrasound survey to provide a definitive report on its current condition, before the million-pound renovation work takes place.
This will include the restoration of the aft deck saloon to classic 1950s style, the creation of an education suite and a total rebuild of the main saloon area with replica wood panelling and central heating.
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A complete overhaul of the original engines and machinery will restore them to working condition, with steam set to be supplied by a package boiler on the pier.
John Beveridge, chairman of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, said: “The Maid coming out of the water will be a terrific start to the New Year.
“The procedure is expected to take up to four hours to complete, and really is a ‘must-see’ spectacle that the charity’s volunteers have worked tirelessly to see happen.
“The ship will dwarf everything around her, and the ingenuity behind pulling a 555-ton paddle steamer out of the water is an ‘impossible engineering’ feat requiring great care.
“This is a huge step forward for us; to be able to spend £1m awarded by The Scottish Government is fantastic and will transform her into an exciting visitor experience. We will be able to recreate her original 1950’s Elizabethan style, and to be able to see her engines turning again after 38 years will be magical”.
The campaign to restore the Maid and return her to a fully operational steamship was boosted last month after the confirmation of a £950,000 capital grant by the Scottish Government, along with £50,000 from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, taking the work package to £1 million.
The vessel currently operates as a static tourist attraction, but is expected to entice visitors from all over the world once it returns to the water.