Since 1900, SIR WALTER SCOTT has graced the inland waters of Loch Katrine and still has her original triple-expansion steam engine. She was ordered from Matthew Paul, Dumbarton, who built the engine and sub-contracted construction of the hull to William Denny Bros Ltd., also of Dumbarton.
The hull was transported in sections by barge up Loch Lomond, and then dragged by horse-drawn cart up from Inversnaid and overland to Stronachlachar on Loch Katrine, where she was reassembled and launched in 1899.
Her first owners were Robert Blair of Hotel Trossacks, Perthshire and Donald Ferguson of the Stonachlachan Hotel, Stirling, (the latter was later bought out by the Duke of Montrose) who formed the Loch Katrine Steamboat Co. In 1902, the wheel, which had been on deck level forward of the funnel, was raised on a platform to give the helmsman better visibility, and a bridge was later added. In the late 1940s, a wheelhouse was added.
In December 1952, ownership passed to the Water Department, City of Glasgow Corporation (Loch Katrine being a source of drinking water for Glasgow). She was re-boilered in 1955 and the square saloon windows were replaced by portholes, which enhanced her appearance. In 1969, her owners became the Lower Clyde Water Board and her yellow funnel was repainted white. In 1997, she was re-boilered, and ownership transferred to West of Scotland Water. From 2002, she was operated by Scottish Water.
In 2005, The Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trust was formed to own, operate and preserve the vessel. A major conservation and restoration programme was embarked upon, which was staged over several years and involved replacement of about 85 per cent of the steelwork in the hull. In the winter of 2006-7, a bow thruster was fitted. Until the end of the 2007 season, she was coal-fired, but the overhaul included the complete renovation of the engine and the installation of two new boilers to run on biofuel from the start of the 2008 season. In the winter of 2008-9, the superstructure was rebuilt to include an enclosed lounge on the foredeck. She continues to be a pleasure steamer on Loch Katrine.
Update, July 2021: A new £400,000 appeal has been launched to help restore SIR WALTER SCOTT: https://www.saveoursteamship.com/
Source: Paul Brown, Historic Ships The Survivors (Amberley, 2010), updated Feb 2011.
Brouwer, Norman J, International Register of Historic Ships, Anthony Nelson, pp172, Edition 2, 1993
Sullivan, Dick, Old Ships, Boats and Maritime Museums, Coracle Books, 1978
Steamboat Register: An illustrated Register of surviving steam vessels in the British Isles, Steam Boat Association of Great Britain, Edition 6, May 1994
Plummer, Russell, Ships Monthly: UK Excursion Guide 2000, pp42-45, August 2000
Ships Monthly, August, 1979
SS Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine Strathclyde Water & Jarrold Publishing, 1994
Engine built by Matthew Paul of Dumbarton and hull construction sub-contracted to William Denny Bros Ltd
Loch Katrine Steamboat Company formed by the Duke of Montrose
Ownership passed to the Water Department, City of Glasgow Corporation
Re-boilered and square saloon windows replaced by portholes
Bought by the Lower Clyde Water Board and yellow funnel repainted white
Re-boilered and ownership transferred to West of Scotland Water
Operated by Scottish Water
The Sir Walter Scott Trust formed to own, operate and preserve vessel
A bow thruster fitted and two new boilers installed running on biofuel
Superstructure rebuilt to include an enclosed lounge on the foredeck
Trust invited tourism businesses and stakeholders for a celebratory lunch and cruise
Given a new Four Star rating by VisitScotland
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