Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Maid of the Lock slip seems to have generated another spurious headline (or clickbait?)

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed an apparent trend for media articles to state one thing in their headline, then report a lesser story in their text.

I’m almost tempted to start posting these as I spot them, to see if I am imagining it, or if news editors (or their army of hacks, desperate to get earn a wee bonus) have issued an instruction that articles must be given a headline that will attract readers/clicks.

Most recent was a follow-up to yesterday’s incident involving the Maid of the Loch, when something broke/failed as she was being winched up the old slip at Balloch, and she slid back into the water.

While this could have been dramatic, the video I saw showed a fairly leisurely incident, and no real haste by those nearby to run for their lives.

That said, I acknowledge my observation could be entirely in error, and a different viewpoint may have shown many people were lucky not to be killed or injured.

I don’t know.

However, today we have this headline…

HSE probe after Maid of the Loch breaks free

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, that wording implies that the HSE initiated a probe into the incident.

But…

When I looked at the small print in the article, I learned that…

“The Board of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company met this morning and have agreed to commission an independent inquiry into the cause of the incident.

“Appropriate consultants are being contacted and the incident has been reported to the HSE.”

So there is not actually any HSE probe into the incident at this stage, and it may ultimately choose not even to look into it.

Source: HSE probe after Maid of the Loch breaks free

Maid of the Loch 2017

Maid of the Loch 2017

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Jan 11, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Oops – Maid of the Loch slips on slip

A perfect opportunity for the Armchair Experts and the We Told You So society to have a joint meeting and celebration, as the Maid of the Loch suffered a very public mishap during her trip up the old slipway at Balloch.

As usual, there were plenty of people on hand who knew better than those who were actually carrying out the work.

One always wonder why they never come forward BEFORE such events, take over, and prevent their occurrence.

Bystanders suggested the problem was with the cradle at the front and they questioned whether the ship had been put up correctly.

Whoops! Maid of Loch falls back in water in winching fail

Maybe they’re not as smart as they often make out, and just smug people equipped with perfect 20/20 hindsight!

Sadly, although the BBC offers and embeddable video of the incident (which seems to be a lot slower and uneventful than some reports seem to suggest), WordPress kills it when I include it, so you’ll have to click on the links below to see it.

Maid of the Loch slips back into water

Workers flee as Maid of the Loch paddle steamer slides back into water

Some more…

Watch as attempt to haul Maid of the Loch out of the water fails

In pictures: An attempt to bring the Maid of the Loch out of the water fails

Hopefully it was something as simple as the failure of an old or little used part on the old slipway (itself a historic relic) which will be nothing more than an inconvenience to repair or replace, and nothing valuable was damaged.

Maid of the Loch - undergoing slipping

Maid of the Loch – undergoing slipping back in 2006

Jan 10, 2019 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

No slacking in Maid of the Loch restoration

After I hinted that suggestions of Gloom and Doom for the project to restore the Maid of the Loch to steam were unduly negative following a Heritage Lottery Funding rejection, the project has not only carried on, but is apparently picking up speed without the massive cash injection which had some feeling so glum.

The last paddle steamer built in Britain will undergo a historic slipping this week.

The Maid of the Loch will be subject to a massive refurbishment from Thursday – only the second time the ship has been slipped in almost 40 years.

Mackay Boatbuilders Ltd will haul the 191-foot-long, 555-ton vessel out of the water by the original winchhouse and onto the Balloch Steam Slipway, a Category A listed building on the banks of Loch Lomond.

Once on the slipway, a full ultrasound survey, overseen by classification society Bureau Veritas, will be carried out on the ship’s hull to provide a definitive report on its current condition, before the major refurbishment takes place.

Work set to take place includes the restoration of the aft deck saloon to 1950’s style, the creation of an education suite and total rebuild of the main saloon aft to 1950’s style with replica wood panelling and central heating.

A complete overhaul of the original engines and machinery will also be carried out to restore them to working condition, with steam set to be supplied by a package boiler on the pier.

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.

The Maid currently operates as a static tourist attraction and hopes to gain industrial museum status for the ship and steam slipway as a growing number of artefacts are collected and restored to working condition.

Massive Maid of the Loch refurbishment set to begin this week

Pity I’m so far away, it would have been nice to see.

The shared pic below has the following text…

dThe paddle steamer Maid of the Loch is seen here undergoing a historic slipping on the 27th of June, 2006; in other words, it was slowly winched out of the water, and pulled onto a rebuilt slipway. This was the first time it had been out of the water, or indeed moved, since being withdrawn from active service in 1981. With the exception of this slipping, the steamer has been moored at nearby Balloch pier continuously since 1981 (at the time of writing, it is still there).

The slipping was performed as a test of the rebuilt slipway, with the longer-term goal of returning the Maid of the Loch to service (I am one of many who travelled the Loch on this steamer in the old days).

The Maid was drawn up onto the slipway by means of a steam-powered winch. This was a fairly slow process, although most of the day was taken up with carefully manoeuvring it into position using ropes; see: NS3882 : Maid of the Loch – preparations for slipping.

Maid of the Loch - undergoing slipping

Maid of the Loch – undergoing slipping

Jan 8, 2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Maid of the Loch gains £950 k after missing out on £3.7 million

I told you so (and hoped I would be right, of course) – not to worry about the gloom and doom spread after the HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) rejection.

This project has simply gone on for far too long to let something like that derail, it might slow it down, but I could not believe those behind it would ever give up.

Paddle steamer Maid of the Loch could be set to sail again after the group behind the ship’s restoration said it is to receive a Scottish Government grant of almost £1 million.

The Loch Lomond Steamship Company said the £950,000 capital grant award has been confirmed after a £3.7 million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was rejected earlier this year.

The charity, which has been working to restore the static tourist attraction on the banks of the loch since 1996, said the cash means work to repair the ship’s hull and overhaul its engines can go ahead.

“Our next step will see the ship brought out of the water in January on to the Balloch Steam Slipway to allow us to carry out an essential ultrasound test of the entire hull to check its condition. Any repairs will then be carried out.

“It will be the first time any work has been done on the hull since 1981, so there is great excitement among our volunteers, who can’t wait to help.”

He added: “Everyone who has visited the Maid over the years has said we must get this beautiful ship sailing again.

“Getting her in steam and with her paddles turning again is the next best thing, and we anticipate great interest next year as people come to watch her majestic engines moving for the first time in 37 years.”

The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society has also confirmed a grant of £50,000 towards restoring the ship.

Full steam ahead for Maid of the Loch after £950,000 award

Lifeline for ailing Loch Lomond paddle steamer

Maid of the Loch 2017

Maid of the Loch 2017

I really do have to find out how to get there, since I’ve been priced off the road, which ended my jaunts there whenever I felt like it.

I saw someone write a ‘funny’ about cycling there (from Glasgow), and how everybody thinks they can, tries it, then finds themselves stuck in Balloch, too sore to cycle back home 🙂

So far, I’ve done half the trip (turned at Clydebank) and didn’t feel a single twinge.

Maybe that’s some sort of cunning trap, designed to lure you in, so you collapse somewhere on the way back!

Dec 7, 2018 Posted by | council, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Skylark IX – The Little Ship that survived will become a floating museum on the Clyde

It’s a pity the place I had some long discussion over various wartime relics found in Scotland isn’t really available now, since the original find and recovery of this ‘Little Ship’ was quite extended.

The good news is that it is to be restored and turned into a floating museum.

It had been used for cruises on Loch Lomond, for something like 30 years, but eventually fell into disrepair, and sank.

A few years ago, it was raised by the Royal Navy after a campaign to rescue/recover it, by veterans supporting the Skylark IX Recovery Trust, and was moved to the Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine.

A Dunkirk Little Ship, which rescued 600 Allied troops during World War Two, is to be restored and turned into a floating museum on the River Clyde.

Skylark IX will be saved thanks to £404,000 of funding from The National Lottery.

The work will be carried out by a specialist boatbuilding team working with recovering drug addicts.

The boat, built as a passenger cruiser in 1927, become part of the Dunkirk Little Ships fleet of 850 boats.

Dunkirk Little Ship to be floating museum on River Clyde

See also:

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships

As seen back in 2012. Not long after being raised

Skylark IX

Skylark IX

Dec 6, 2018 Posted by | Maritime, Transport, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sad to see – Maid of the Loch hits major funding hiccup

It’s been odd watching the slow but relatively steady restoration of Loch Lomond’s Maid of the Loch paddle steamer over the years.

I still have the image of my first discovery the rotting hull abandoned at the side of the loch many years ago, some time after retiral.

All I knew then was that the paddle steamer fallen out of service a few years after I’d been on board, and could have been scrapped.

As it was, the image of the white, but rusty, remains was burned into my memory by shock and surprise.

Sadly, I don’t think I even owned a camera back then, and it never even occurred to be to take pics, or take a closer look.

In fact, I forgot all about the find.

Then I spotter news of the restoration, and have tried to follow (from a distance) ever since.

I did manage a trip back during an early Doors Open Day, but not long after that, let’s just say things did not go well, and I ‘forgot’ about this subject again.

Restoration isn’t cheap, but over the years, despite slow progress, there has been steady progress – until, it seems, the biggest hurdle was reached, restoring the boilers and getting the steamer underway.

As an observation (as opposed to a criticism), like nuclear fusion, this always seems to have been just “A few years away”.

I’m concerned about the future of the project, and the suitability of those in charge now, as their failure to secure Lottery funding is being treated as a failure by the Lottery to come up with expected funds, as if it was somehow guaranteed.

Unfortunately, there are many other seeking substantial handouts from HLF (Heritage Lottery Funding), so there will ALWAYS be winners and losers at every round.

That any group should base its future on such success, especially of substantial and critical, is unwise, and even if creaking and slow, should have a Plan B (C, D, and more) in abeyance.

To say that any funding application failure pits a whole project in ‘jeopardy’ – that’s just not good enough.

I’d normally give a quote, just to spark interest and not be the sole source of content, but in this case, I’d have to copy both the chairman’s statement, and the HLF response, and that’s just too much. Excerpts or clips could be taken out of context, and I dislike that too.

Read them in full here:

Lottery funding blow jeopardises paddle steamer project

Maid of Loch in ‘jeopardy’ after £3.6m funding refused

Maid of the Loch 2017

Maid of the Loch 2017

Oct 3, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Another small step in the Maid of the Loch’s return to steam

There’s now extreme danger of me surviving long enough to sail on the Maid of the Loch before I pop my clogs!

I’m beginning to really appreciate just how young I was when I managed a trip on her before her working life came to an end.

And I wish her home had been a little closer, rather than an ‘Away day’, which is what a trip to Balloch or Loch Lomond means for me.

Still, if I don’t drop dead first, I might be able to ‘Get on my bike’ and get there for free by the time the restoration is complete.

Don’t laugh, my normal daily (at least when it’s not raining) is half the round trip distance – so I guess I could at least get there.

The Maid of the Loch – Loch Lomond’s famous paddle steamer – is set to benefit from two bumper five-figure donations.

The Clyde-built ship has since 1981 been moored at Balloch Pier and is currently used as a tourist attraction, with a tea room and a host of children’s activities on offer.

However for decades a fundraising campaign to restore the ship and enable her to set sail once more has been running.

And it will now be boosted by donations of £40,000 courtesy of charity The Wolfson Foundation and £20,000 from The Swire Charitable Trust.

This cash brings the campaign nearer to its £5.5million goal and also edges closer to the £3.8 million target required for Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) match-funding.

Campaign to have Maid of the Loch sailing again receives fresh cash boost

Aug 28, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Nice little boost for Maid of the Loch fund raising

I was going to make a post about the Maid of the Loch receiving an award of £950,000 from the Scottish government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund towards the goal of £5.5 million needed to complete the paddle steamer’s return to operation.

While I first saw this listed in the total award summary, the BBC was kind enough to prepare an article summarising the project.

After some 22 years of constant fundraising and repairs, investments of around £2 million over that time, the company is almost ready for the final attempt to get the steamer fit to sail the waters again.

The Maid has not sailed since 1981 and has been moored at Balloch Pier for more than two decades.
The funding from the Scottish government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund takes the project closer to its £5.5m target.

It is hoped the ship can be used for cruises and functions.

The Loch Lomond Steamship Company, which owns the paddle steamer and is leading the regeneration project, has described the funding as a “major milestone”.

Chairman John Beveridge said: “It is absolutely wonderful news and a complete game changer for The Maid’s full restoration.

“This takes us significantly closer to reaching our £5.5m target, but we still have a way to go.”

Via Major funding for Balloch-based Maid of the Loch

It’s so long since I’ve been able to go there, but it might be worth the effort of using public transport to get there soon.

My last visit was ages ago, during a ‘Doors Open Day’, when visitors could wander around.

I was also lucky enough, by chance, to sail on the loch not long before the Maid was taken out of service.

Some years later, when I assumed the paddle steamer was lost and gone, I was walking somewhere out of Balloch towards the loch and got a shock/surprise to find the derelict vessel parked somewhere on the shore.

Maid of the Loch 2017

Maid of the Loch 2017

Mar 20, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Sailing on the Maid of the Loch gets closer and closer

While I’ve been following the gentle progress of restoring the Maid of the Loch to sailing condition, over the years I’ve learned that media stories which suggest such sailing might be seen within any timescale that could be interpreted as ‘Next year’ are best read lightly.

While another of those has just appeared, given the fate of all those that have gone before, and the amount of work yet to be completed – I think any suggestion that the sound of a paddle steamer slapping its merry way up and down Loch Lomond are best given a rating of ‘Hopeful’ rather than practical.

Far from being construed as a negative thought, that the steamer has arrived at the position it has now reached is a credit to all concerned, and I only wish I had been closer to where the work is being carried out.

The Maid of the Loch has not sailed since 1981 and has been moored at Balloch Pier on Loch Lomond for more than two decades.

Campaigners need to raise another £1m by the summer to release £3.8m from the National Lottery.

If the cash is raised, the steamer could take to the loch again next year.

John Beveridge, chairman of the Loch Lomond Steam Ship Company, said the whole project would cost £5.5m but £4.5m had already been raised, including £3.8m from the lottery fund which will be released if they can find the final £1m.

Via Stars sing the praises of the Maid of the Loch

The steamer ended up being moored at Balloch, but sad to say, much of the interior (anything that could be stolen and sold) disappeared, then current owners The Loch Lomond Steam Ship Company took it over in 1996, and began renovating it. ‘Disappeared’ items were even returned over the years.

Maid of the Loch 2017

Maid of the Loch 2017

Jan 27, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Maritime | , , | Leave a comment

Could Flamingo Land land in Balloch?

I was intrigued to see the apparently hostile response to proposals for proposals (yes, I did MEAN to say that) for a theme park and development located near Balloch and operated by the existing Flamingo Land owners.

While I’m not a theme park fan in the sense of visiting them to take part, I have always enjoyed wandering around them and seeing people enjoying them and the rides. I used to enjoy a run down to Morecambe for the day, which included a wander around Frontier Land, but that was closed and razed some years ago, when the town also gave up its illuminations in deference to Blackpool. This unfortunately coincided with personal problems which meant I was unable to visit during the years this happened, and when I did eventually manage a return trip can only say that the town was a sad and dead place without those features.

While I don’t claim that’s equivalent to Balloch, I’m left wondering if the apparently massive negative reaction to the proposal is from the sort of people who just like to say ‘NO!’ to anything.

Flamingo Land chiefs have unveiled plans for a public consultation as they seek to progress their proposals for a £30 million leisure resort at Balloch.

The Yorkshire-based firm is in the process of creating a website showcasing the proposals in a bid to win over local residents.

Tens of thousands of individuals have already signed a petition opposing the plans, while a number of locals staged a demonstration against the proposals by gathering in Drumkinnon Woods – part of the land which could be affected by the development if it gets the green light.

Via: Flamingo Land at Balloch a step closer with public consultation

While some would also look at the handful of negative responses in the comments after the story, sadly, I’ve come to realise that most of the commenters on Scotsman stories are sad and miserable, or just out to make political capital.

Hopefully the media will follow this, as I’ll be more interested in the result of the public consultation, than the potentially biased response of a few noisy activists.

As the proposer says:

However, in September last year, Mr Gibb admitted that the plans would not go ahead if they weren’t supported by ‘most of the people in Scotland’.

He said: “Flamingo Land totally understands some of the local concerns about our proposed leisure resort in Balloch and we are committed to engaging with all parties involved to fully explain our ideas.

“Our bid was successful due to the sensitive way in which we have considered the site in question and we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the consultation group.

“To be frank, if our plans are not welcomed by most of the people in Scotland then we will not proceed further but I do not trust the results of the petition and we have not yet been given the chance to fully explain our plans.”

Amusement Park

Amusement Park

Just to be clear, I am merely mentioning this, although I expect to be misrepresented and said to be in favour of the development – merely because I have not suffered an immediate knee-jerk reaction stating I am against it.

For what it’s worth, I still think the theme park in Strathclyde Country Park looks out of place as a permanent installation. I originally thought it was just visiting when it first appeared.

I’m more interested in seeing how the National Park Authority plays its part, as I see it as a body that like to make rules to keep itself in a comfy well-paid job, has introduced rules that would probably have Tom Weir spinning in his grave given the restriction it has brought in for wanderers, yet seems happy to allow development and housed to be built within the park it is supposed to be preserving.

These links might help keep some folk’s blood pressure down:

Flamingo Land proposals are opposed by thousands

Our view on Flamingo Land’s Loch Lomond proposal

The LLTNPA’s involvement in the Flamingo Land proposals

The potential impact of Flamingo Land’s proposals on the National Park

 

Jul 17, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could the Maid of the Loch sail again in 2018

Predictions that the paddle steamer Maid of the Loch could sail again in 2018 are probably the most realistic I have seen for the historic steamer since restoration began. Ambitious plans gave a number of earlier dates, but without being critical (just practical) I never expected them to be delivered, mainly due to the cost of the project (funded by donations, grants etc) and the huge amount of work required, which all has to be completed to standards set by outside certification bodies.

Thankfully, the volunteers have never given up, and despite the economic climate being less that favourable over the years, neither did the arrival of funds, even if they were slow.

It’s one I’d love to have had a hand it, but time, and the distance, just ruled it out for me when this restoration began.

Of the 2018 sailing date, this was said:

The summer of 2018 could see the last paddle steamer built in Britain sailing once more.

The Maid of the Loch has been out of use for 35 years.

But enthusiasts working towards a multi-million pound restoration of the vessel believe it could be cruising Loch Lomond again.

They are aiming to raise £1.7m by the autumn which, they believe, could release twice as much again in lottery funding.

If the fundraising drive over the spring and summer is successful, that would release £3.8m of heritage lottery cash.

If all goes to plan, the Maid could be sailing by late summer next year.

Via Old Maid prepares for new lease of life

This promotional video from 2015 is described as having been key in securing backing from Heritage Lottery – it’s also a pretty good summary to, with some nice period footage from the Maid’s first life on the loch (probably from about time  I managed a trip, or maybe two, but I can’t remember).

It’s years (think of the word ‘decade’ and add some) since I last walked on the Maid’s deck and wandered down to the engine room and saw the paddles through the handy observation window provided, during a Doors Open Day opportunity.

Not that I would have forgotten that day, but things got more interesting after I parked in Glasgow, only to find my car battery (which had given no advance warning) suddenly decided to die, totally and completely. Let’s just say I had busy hour or two after that, since I was on my own.

Feb 18, 2017 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, Transport | , , | 3 Comments

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