Friends, supporters and volunteers joined the directors of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company last week to celebrate 70 years since the Maid of the Loch paddle steamer was launched into the waters of Loch Lomond.

The busy event included a presentation of talks and sharing of great stories and memories from the Maid’s 70 years – including her time sailing on the loch from 1953 to 1981, as well as the remarkable efforts to save the ship from the scrapheap and the ongoing work to return her to service once more.

Attendees ended the occasion by raising their glasses for a toast after the birthday cake was cut by two of the Maid’s longest serving volunteers, Hamish Teaze and Charles Inglis.

Built on the Clyde by A & J Inglis – the same company that built the world-famous Waverley – the Maid carried day trippers on Loch Lomond cruises for 28 years until being withdrawn from service in 1981 due to falling passenger numbers.

After several years languishing at her berth at Balloch Pier, and falling into increasing disrepair, the ship was rescued from an increasingly uncertain future when she was bought first by the local council and then by the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, whose volunteers are currently carrying out major restoration work on the ship after it was hauled out of the water in July 2021 and on to a specially-built cradle next to the pier.

The charity’s chairman, Iain Robertson, told Monday’s gathering: “Today is a tribute to all the volunteers past and present who have contributed to saving and restoring the Paddle Steamer Maid of the Loch.

“The wonderful memories shared today reinforce the importance of preserving her unique heritage for future generations and we look forward to the day when she sails again on Loch Lomond.”

The Maid of the Loch will be open to the public every weekend from Easter until late October – and the charity’s volunteers are planning a 1950s themed event in May. Details to follow.

They are also looking for new volunteers to join their team as weekend guides for the new season – to find out more details, email or call 01389 711865.