THE historic Maid of the Loch paddle steamer will be hauled out of the waters of Loch Lomond next week for the first full survey of the ship's hull in almost 40 years.

The 191-foot ship, which weighs 555 tons, will be pulled out of the water by the original winch-house, and on to the Balloch Steam Slipway, on Thursday, January 10 at 12 noon – and members of the public are being invited to come along and see it all happen.

The 'slipping' operation will pave the way for a full ultrasound survey of the ship's hull, in order to provide a comprehensive report on its condition, ahead of a £1 million refurbishment.

The Maid was previously hauled out of the water in 2006, to test the slipway itself, though on that occasion she was returned to the loch after only an hour.

A spokeswoman for the Maid campaign said: "We would love for the locals to know so they can come along and watch."

The area around the slipway itself will be restricted to authorised personnel, but there will be plenty of places nearby, such as the Loch Lomond Shores complex, from where onlookers can capture pictures and footage of the slipping operation.

It's expected that it will take at least four hours for the famous ship to be fully removed from the water.

The campaign to restore the Maid and return her to a fully operational steamship was last month boosted after the £950,000 capital grant awarded by the Scottish Government was confirmed along with £50,000 from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, taking the work package to £1 million.

December's funding announcement followed a major blow in October when the Heritage Lottery Fund turned down a bid from the Maid campaign team for £3.6 million to help return the ship to steam for the first time since 1981.