The Scottish Government has announced that it has awarded a £950,000 capital grant to the bid to restore the Maid of the Loch paddle steamer.

The cash injection offers hope after the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) turned down the Maid's £3.64million funding application in September.

The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society has also confirmed that a grant of £50,000 will still be granted, taking this work package to £1million.

The £950,000 package from the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund announced today (6 December), had hung in the balance following the HLF's shock rejection, but it now means that the Maid can look to 2019 with a renewed focus with work already confirmed.

This includes work to the ship's hull, creation of an education facility on board, refurbishing the main function suite and overhauling the engines to enable them to turn with steam.

John Beveridge, Chairman of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, 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 onto the Balloch Steam Slipway to allow us to carry out an essential ultrasound test of the entire hull to check its condition.

"Any repairs will then 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 'must-see' 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 on the pier producing enough steam to allow the paddles to turn.

John added: "Everyone who has visited the Maid over the years has said we must get this beautiful ship sailing again."

This news item was taken from the Dumbarton Reporter.