By Hugh Dougherty
Hopes that the United Kingdom’s last railway-built paddle steamer would sail again next year have been dashed after the Heritage Lottery Fund rejected a bid by the Loch Lomond Steamship Company for £3.7 million to restore Maid of the Loch. Company chairman John Beveridge
said that everyone involved was “absolutely devastated” by the news, especially as HLF had encouraged the charity to lodge the bid with the grant-funding body.
“It is going to take some time to absorb this news and the reasons behind it,” said John. “It was the HLF that encouraged us to apply.
The West Dunbartonshire area was a top priority for them and we really felt that we put forward a strong case for the funding. Unfortunately, this decision jeopardises the whole project and our vision for refurbishing the ship now hangs in the balance.
“Our team of dedicated volunteers, tour guides, maintenance, and many more hard-working individuals, have worked incredibly hard over the last 22 years to protect and preserve our much-loved paddle steamer.
To have to explain to them that we won’t be sailing next year, after all, is extremely tough. It is a very sad day indeed and does not augur well for the future of our industrial heritage.”
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