In the words of L.P Hartley, the past is a foreign country where things are done differently. At BLUE, we recently had the fantastic opportunity to do something a little bit different and support a prestigious restoration project, which will rebuild and preserve an iconic piece of the past.
Shipping would be nothing without its long and proud history, and that is why when a press release announcing a £5.5 million project to rebuild the Maid of the Loch – the last paddle steamer built in Britain – landed on our desks, we leapt at the chance to tell the world all about it.
The Loch Lomond Steamship Company, the charity that owns the vessel, is pioneering this important heritage project and has been working for some twenty years to keep the Maid preserved and see her restored to her former glory. Last year the charity was awarded a Stage 1 pass by the Heritage Lottery Fund worth £230,400, with the promise of an additional £3.8 million if it can meet its £1.7 million fundraising target.
Built in 1953, the Maid plied the waters of Loch Lomond for nearly thirty years, carrying notable passengers like Queen Elizabeth II – twice, no less – and Queen Salote of Tonga. The vessel, last in a long line of Lomond steamers, lay neglected and deteriorating at Balloch on the shores of the Loch until she was rescued by the charity in 1996. The final goal of the project is to see the Maid returned to her former glory as an operational paddle steamer for future generations of visitors to enjoy.
For many, the Maid is more than a historical relic. She represents jobs, training, added value for customers, and an icon of Loch Lomand and Scottish history. Once refurbished, she’ll embody 21st century safety and comfort, with 20th century Scottish engineering, using 19th century technology – a true legacy of British maritime history.
It has been a pleasure to support this project, and we look forward to 2018 when the Maid of the Loch will take to the waters operationally once more.