PS Maid of the Loch

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Coordinates: 56°00′31″N 4°35′31″W / 56.008663°N 4.591872°W / 56.008663; -4.591872

PS Maid of the Loch 2004.jpg
PS Maid of the Loch at the pier at Balloch, Loch Lomond where she is undergoing restoration.
United Kingdom
NameMaid of the Loch
OperatorCaledonian Steam Packet Company
RouteLoch Lomond
BuilderA. & J. Inglis of Pointhouse, Glasgow[2]
Yard number1474P
Launched5 March 1953
In service25 May 1953
Out of service31 August 1981
IdentificationIMO number5217567
  • UK Designated Vessels List
  • Static exhibit; under restoration
NotesLast paddle steamer built in a Clyde shipyard[1]
General characteristics
Class and typePassenger paddle steamer
Tonnage555 GRT
Length208 feet (63 m)[3]
Beam51 feet (16 m)[3]
Draught4 ft 6 in (1.37 m)
Installed power900 ihp (670 kW)[1]
PropulsionSteam, compound diagonal engines by Rankin & Blackmore, Greenock[1]
Speed13.75 knots (25.47 km/h; 15.82 mph)
CapacityPassengers: 1,000

PS Maid of the Loch is the last paddle steamer built in the United Kingdom. She operated on Loch Lomond for 29 years and as of 2021 is being restored at Balloch pier.

The Maid of the Loch is open to the public every day Easter to October, and weekends only through the winter. She has a new livery of red, white and black, the funnel now red with a black top.


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 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 the sections were reassembled on a purpose built slipway. The tonnage measures 555 gross register tons (GRT), and the length is 208 feet (63 m). The two-cylinder compound diagonal steam engine is less advanced than had the more usual type installed 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.


Maid of the Loch at Balloch Pier.

Maid of the Loch 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 return the vessel to service under a succession of owners was unsuccessful, and she presented a sad sight gradually deteriorating at the side of the loch.[4]


Maid of the Loch Children's Club badge 1970

In 1992 Dumbarton District Council bought the 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,[5] to take over ownership and carry on restoration. She became ready for static operation with a cafe/bar and function suite in autumn 2000.[6]

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 Scottish Enterprise Dunbartonshire, and West Dunbartonshire Council.[7] This enabled the paddle steamer to be lifted out of the water on 27 June 2006.[7]

Fundraising continues for the next stages of the restoration including donations from the Wolfson Foundation,[8] the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society and £950,000 from the Scottish Government's Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, amongst others.[9][10] There had been the suggestion that if Loch Lomond Steamship Company raised £1.7 million by June 2018, that the Heritage Lottery Fund would donate £3.8 million towards the restoration,[11] however in September 2018 it was announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund had decided against this donation.[10]

In January 2019 an unsuccessful attempt was made to winch the Maid of the Loch out of the water onto her slipway but the ship snapped its ties and slid back into the loch,[12] however a second attempt in July 2021 with a new carriage was successful.[13] Restoration work continues on the ship, with her interiors being returned to their original 1950s appearance while adding modern conveniences like a lift between decks, and also enabling her engines and paddles to turn slowly fed by a package boiler mounted on the pier.[14][15]

In 2019 the project was set back due to a failed bid to the National Lottery Fund. However, it received £950k from the Scottish Government with the intention of contributing to the regeneration of Balloch and Haldane. The charity is now in the process of revising its position in order to make it worthy of an additional £3.5m of public funding.


  1. ^ a b c "Database of ships built on the Clyde: PS Maid of the Loch". Archived from the original on 29 August 2016. Retrieved 25 September 2008.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ "Maid of the Loch". Undiscovered Scotland. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Maid of the Loch". Caledonian Maritime Research Trust. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  4. ^ Hand, Graham (June 1993). "Maid in peril". Old Glory. 40: 16–20.
  5. ^ "Loch Lomond Steamship Company, Registered Charity no. SC024062". Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
  6. ^ Robertson, G. Barclay (February 2002). "The paddle steamer that beat the scrapman". Old Glory. 144: 68–71.
  7. ^ a b "'Maid' rises out of Loch Lomond". BBC News. 27 June 2006. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  8. ^ "Full Steam Ahead for Maid of the Loch with New Funding". Loch Lomond Steamship Company. 30 August 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  9. ^ "Scottish Government £1m Grant Keeps Maid of the Loch Afloat". Loch Lomond Steamship Company. 6 December 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  10. ^ a b "Lottery funding blow jeopardises paddle steamer project". BBC News. 27 September 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  11. ^ "New film launches Crowdfunding Campaign to restore "Heart" of the Maid of the Loch". Loch Lomond Steamship Company. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  12. ^ "Maid of the Loch slips back into water". BBC News. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Maid of the Loch: Watch as iconic paddle steamer is pulled out of Loch Lomond". Glasgow Live. 15 July 2021.
  14. ^ "Work begins on million-pound refurbishment of historic Maid of the Loch". Press and Journal. 7 January 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  15. ^ "Restoration Work Begins on Loch Lomond Paddle Steamer". Scottish Field. 6 March 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2019.


  • 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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