PS Maid of the Loch
|Name:||PS Maid of the Loch|
|Owner:||British Transport Commission|
|Operator:||Caledonian Steam Packet Company|
|Builder:||A. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse, Glasgow|
|Launched:||5 March 1953|
|In service:||25 May 1953|
|Out of service:||31 August 1981|
|Last paddle steamer to be built in a Clyde shipyard|
|Name:||PS Maid of the Loch|
|Owner:||Loch Lomond Steamship Company|
|Homeport:||Balloch, Loch Lomond|
|Class & type:||Passenger|
|Length:||191 feet (58.2 m)|
|Beam:||28.1 feet (8.6 m)|
|Draught:||4 ft 6 in|
|Propulsion:||Steam, compound diagonal engines by Rankin & Blackmore, Greenock|
|Speed:||13.75 knots (25.5 km/h)|
PS Maid of the Loch is the last of a long line of Loch Lomond steamers that began about 1816, within four years of Henry Bell's pioneering passenger steamboat service on the River Clyde. In 1950 the British Transport Commission, owner of the newly nationalised railways, made the decision to replace the Princess May and Prince Edward with a new paddle steamer, to be the largest inland waterway vessel ever in Britain.
Maid of the Loch was built by A. & J. Inglis of Glasgow, launched on Thursday 5 March 1953, and entered service later that year. She is a "knock down" ship: that is, after assembly at the shipyard she was dismantled, and shipped to the loch (by rail to Balloch at the south end of the loch), and there her sections were reassembled on a purpose built slipway. Her tonnage measures 555 grt, and the length is 208 ft (63 m). Her two cylinder compound diagonal steam engine is less advanced than had become usual on steamers such as the PS Waverley, but was considered suitable for the limited area of operations.
Maid of the Loch was painted white with a buff funnel. She was operated by the Caledonian Steam Packet Company.
She provided a service from Balloch pier, initially to Ardlui at the north end of the loch, but later her last call was a few miles short of this at Inversnaid and she would cruise to the head of the loch. She was transferred to the Scottish Transport Group in 1969; then in 1973 to Caledonian MacBrayne.
As with other steamers, cost pressures led to her being laid up after a last commercial sailing on 31 August 1981. One problem was that some of the piers on the loch would become unusable, either because of poor state of repair, or silting making the area around them too shallow; some of these piers had not been built to take a vessel as large as the Maid of the Loch. A series of attempts to bring her back into service under a succession of owners was unsuccessful, and she presented a sad sight gradually deteriorating at the side of the loch.
In 1992 Dumbarton District Council bought Maid of the Loch and restoration work started. In 1995 the Council supported a group of local enthusiasts in setting up a charitable organisation, the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, to take over ownership and carry on restoration. She became ready for static operation with a cafe/bar and function suite in autumn 2000.
The key to the restoration was the repair and refurbishment of the slipway adjacent to the pier at Balloch. There not being any connection to the sea it was not possible to take the ship to a dry dock for repairs to the hull so a slipway with a steam-operated cable-hauled cradle had been built. This had fallen into disrepair by the 1990s and eventually a Heritage Lottery Fund grant was awarded along with assistance from local and Scottish governmental organisations. This enabled the paddle steamer to be lifted out of the water on 27 June 2006.
The Maid of the Loch is open to the public every day Easter to October, and weekends only through the Winter. Volunteers are working to bring her back into steam operation. She has a new livery of red, white and black, the funnel now red with a black top. Repairs and servicing are now earnestly underway to ensure that she will soon be providing a steam paddleship service on Loch Lomond again.
- "Maid of the Loch: History". Loch Lomond Steamship Company. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
- "Database of ships built on the Clyde: PS Maid of the Loch". clydesite.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
- Hand, Graham (June 1993). "Maid in peril". Old Glory 40: 16–20.
- Robertson, G. Barclay (February 2002). "The paddle steamer that beat the scrapman". Old Glory 144: 68–71.
- Dougherty, Hugh (January 2007). "Steam returns to the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond". Old Glory 203: 10–11.
- Cleary, Robert (1979). Maid of the Loch. Gourock: Caledonian MacBrayne.
- Loch Lomond Steamship Company (2003). Maid of the Loch. Balloch: Loch Lomond Steamship Co.
- Plummer, Russell (August 1978). "Maid of the Loch". Ships Monthly 13 (8): 20–22.
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