Major funding for Balloch-based Maid of the Loch

Image caption, The ship has not sailed since 1981

A project to renovate the 1950s Loch Lomond paddle steamer the Maid of the Loch has been awarded funding of £950,000.

The Maid has not sailed since 1981 and has been moored at Balloch Pier for more than two decades.

The funding from the Scottish government's Regeneration Capital Grant Fund takes the project closer to its £5.5m target.

It is hoped the ship can be used for cruises and functions.

The Loch Lomond Steamship Company, which owns the paddle steamer and is leading the regeneration project, has described the funding as a "major milestone".

Chairman John Beveridge said: "It is absolutely wonderful news and a complete game changer for The Maid's full restoration.

"This takes us significantly closer to reaching our £5.5m target, but we still have a way to go."

Artefacts disappeared

The 63m (208ft) ship entered service in 1953, the same year as the Queen's coronation.

The ship was built in Glasgow in sections by A&J Inglis before being transported by rail to the slipway at Balloch to be reassembled.

The ship navigated the waters of the loch for a number of different commercial operators until passenger numbers dwindled and it was eventually mothballed in 1981.

The steamer remained watertight while moored at Balloch but much of the interior, such as copper piping and artefacts disappeared.

The Loch Lomond Steam Ship Company took over in 1996 and set about renovating it.

After 22 years of constant fundraising and repairs, investing about £2m, the company is almost ready for the final attempt to make the steamer fit to take to the water again.

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