Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

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

‘Falls of Clyde’ story brings a surprise

Browsing through some apparently local media stories I was surprised to see a story about the Falls of Clyde came up with pics not of the waterfalls to which I was once a regular visitor, but a sailing ship.

Despite having searched for info about the actual Falls of Clyde in Lanark over the years, I never noticed any references to this ship.

Notably, Falls of Clyde is described as the last surviving iron-hulled, four-masted full-rigged ship, and the only remaining sail-driven oil tanker.

Built in 1878 in Port Glasgow, the Falls of Clyde is currently moored in Honolulu harbour.

A group campaigning to bring the ship back to Scotland said it had agreed a deal with a Dutch company to collect it in February next year.

The plan is to restore the Falls of Clyde and use it as an education and training vessel.

The Save Falls of Clyde campaign hopes a mooring can be secured in Greenock near to where it was built.

The Falls of Clyde transported sugar from Hawaii to America’s west coast during the early part of its life before being converted into a bulk oil tanker.

Historic sailing ship to return home

The plan is for the Falls of Clyde to be transported by a heavy lift ship, leaving Honolulu in February and arriving back in the Clyde in April where it will be greeted by a flotilla of small boats.

Does that sound familiar?

City of Adelaide Departs from Irvine in 2013, bound for… Adelaide!

I have my fingers crossed now, as I’d hate Glasgow to end up looking as sad and pathetic as Sunderland, after some deranged and delusional nutter decided that City of Adelaide should have gone there, and kept on mounting insane objections and mad protests in various attempts to prevent the move to Australia. He even said he would bring the clipper BACK from Australia to Sunderland, despite not even being able to raise either the funds or interest to move the hull from Irvine to Sunderland. Maybe he read about ‘quantum teleportation’, and thinks that can be used.

Back in the real world, it seems the group behind the Falls of Clyde move is having more success.

It the late 1960s the ship returned to Hawaii where it had spent much of its working life, and where it was hoped it would be fully restored.

However, it is now in a poor state of repair, and in 2008 it was suggested the ship might have to be scuttled.

Later that year, the ship’s long-time owner, the Bishop Museum, agreed to sell it to a non-profit group which wanted to restore it.

The Save Falls of Clyde campaign to return the ship to Scotland was formally launched in 2016.

Sadly, I can’t really tell you much more about the specifics, as they don’t have a ‘real’ web site, but reside on Facecrook Facebook, which is a creepy pile of toxic crap I will not touch. (Find them by searching online).

You can, however, read a little more on the excellent ‘The Old Salt Blog’.

Falls of Clyde Heading Toward Scotland in 2019?

It will be interesting to watch this project develop, if the media chooses to watch (or it gets a proper web site I can look at).

The City of Adelaide project has come under repeated fire for not having ALL the money needed to carry out work to preserve the hull (note it was never intended to be a RESTORATION project returning the hull to its original sailing condition), as if ANY such project ever did.

It will be interesting to see if the Falls of Clyde folk come under similar fire for not having EVERYTHING in place, down to the last penny, before starting. Or if they are allowed to get on with fund-raising on an ongoing basis (like the City of Adelaide folk have) without being harassed and negatively criticised (by some).

I note the words “The Save Falls of Clyde campaign hopes a mooring can be secured in Greenock“.

Anyone who had followed City of Adelaide’s progress will be aware that the team has been subject to regular abuse (from some) as it also did not have a permanent mooring secured for the hull, and have had to move as plans to develop the surrounding area have changed.

This is the Fall of Clyde fund-raiser.

Nov 12, 2018 Posted by | Appeal, Maritime, Transport | , , , | 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

Peter Pan project at Moat House almost complete

I’ll soon be able to stop watching for developments at Moat Brae House in Dumfries, as the long-running project looks set to reach completion in 2019.

Unintentionally, I think this became the longest-running single issue item I mentioned, and then (made the mistake of) following up whenever it appeared in the news.

I think the first post about it was made back in 2008.

I’d really only meant to include the story about the house hopefully being saved from the attention of vandals, then it developed into a major project to create a visitor centre to remember the inspiration of the author’s story of Peter Pan.

Contractors have completed an 18-month restoration project on a Dumfries building that helped to inspire JM Barrie to write Peter Pan.

It paves the way for Moat Brae to open as a national centre for children’s literature next year.

Balfour Beatty has handed back the keys to the Georgian house to the Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust. (PPMBT).

Electrical and minor interior work will be completed before a full public opening planned for spring 2019.

Key moment for Peter Pan project in Dumfries

Moat Brae

Moat Brae © Copyright Darrin Antrobus

Sep 5, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | 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

Mackintosh at The Willow visited

When the news told of the reopening of The Willow Tearooms in Sauchiehall Street at the start of July, I couldn’t make it in for quick look and pic, so promise/threatened to make up for this when I could.

I could, so I did.

It was a little irritating too, as there’s a tree blocking most of the few of the restored facade, so you can’t get a nice clear, square-on view of the building, and get both horizontal and vertical perspective distortion in the same shot.

It’s quite extreme, and can’t be tweaked out by editing, or the view becomes very unnatural due to the ‘impossible’ angles some corners take on, and the parts that would not be seen from the revised, or non-existent, viewpoint.

But I’ve mellowed down the correction, and applied it lightly, just to make the distortion less extreme.

Mackintosh At The Willow Facade

Mackintosh At The Willow Facade

There’s a sort of ‘Visitor Centre’ beside the restored tearooms.

Mackintosh At The Willow

Mackintosh At The Willow

And, unlike the original post, I now have my own pics of the signs.

Pity I messed this up, and missed parts. Careless – I didn’t even notice this slip until later.

Note the extensions above the sign, at least visible in the rear example.

Mackintosh At The Willow Signs

Mackintosh At The Willow Signs


I didn’t see this coming!

After this post was published, I came in and looked at my various news feeds – and found the BBC had published a feature-length article on the tea rooms of Glasgow.

The original 1903 Willow Tea Rooms were designed in their entirety by Mackintosh and he had total control inside and out.

He remodelled the exterior of the 1860s tenement block and oversaw the interior decorative elements, right down to the design of the cutlery and the uniform of the waitresses.

However, Glasgow was largely indifferent to the genius in its midst and it was businesswoman Kate Cranston, the tea room queen, who received the plaudits.

The tea rooms that brought Mackintosh back to life

Mackintosh’s Tea Room

Mackintosh’s Tea Rooms will be shown on BBC Two Scotland at 21:00 on Tuesday 07 August 2018.

Aug 6, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Hill House rescue works release Mackintosh items for Lighthouse display

Work to help preserve Mackintosh’s Hill House in Helensburgh have provided the opportunity to display some of the contents in Glasgow’s Lighthouse.

Good old Scottish weather (and Helensburgh doesn’t help by being beside the sea, and having a nice salty atmosphere) means that while Mackintosh may have been a revolutionary designer, what were cutting-edge materials and building techniques of 1902 have not stood the test of time, and The National Trust for Scotland is currently carrying out an extraordinary conservation project which involves enclosing the house in a mesh box, in order to protect it from the weather and allow it to dry out.

Since this has required the contents to be moved out of the house, it has allowed them to be moved into The Lighthouse as a temporary exhibition, so you can see them even if you can’t get to Helensburgh.

Working with his wife, Margaret Macdonald, Mackintosh designed the rooms and interior features of the house including those most well-known: the entrance hall, drawing room and main bedroom. Items from all these spaces are represented in this exhibition of more than 30 objects from the house, including chairs, light fittings, beds, mirrors, and tables.

Emma Inglis, curator (Glasgow and West), the National Trust for Scotland, said: “The Hill House is the most complete surviving example of Mackintosh’s whole-house approach to design. He designed the architecture of the building, interior decoration, and household furnishings to work in unison, creating rooms rich in interest and colour. Fundraising is still ongoing to save the Hill House and this exhibition is an opportunity to display objects which represent the heart and style of the Hill House.

Find The Hill House at The Lighthouse between 04 August and 23 September 2018 in Gallery One.

This is the drawing room of Hill House, as seen in 2017.

Click the image to see the huge original by Tony Hisgett on Flickr, shared under a Creative Commons licence.

It’s actually one of a number of photographs you will find with it, taken inside the house.

Hill House Drawing Room by Tony Hisgett on Flickr by Creative Commons

Hill House Drawing Room by Tony Hisgett on Flickr by Creative Commons

Aug 6, 2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Project Bluebird – It Works!

So, the media finally caught up with this one.

I still prefer the local touch from Zak, who must have been up early to get more goodies. If you can’t be there, it must be the next best thing 🙂

I liked this one (click for larger original).

Bluebird First Trial on Loch Fad - Courtesy o Zak

Bluebird First Trial on Loch Fad – Courtesy of Zak

There’s a growing gallery of images.

Bluebird on Bute

With even larger versions being added to the Flickr collection.

And even some video.


Aug 6, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Bluebird goes to Bute

I really have ‘dropped out’ in recent years, and lost touch with lots of projects and stories I used to be up to speed on before most ‘normals’.

It was a case of ‘shock surprise’ last night, and I have to thank Zak’s shared pics of Bute for bringing me up to date with the Bluebird Project. While I’d seen news of the craft’s recovery in the past, and hopes for its future, I simply had no idea how this was progressing, or even if it was progressing.

Zak’z pic catches the marquee prepared to receive Bluebird prior to testing on Loch Fad this week.

The team will carry out low-speed testing there in order to determine the craft’s handling characteristics, before beginning to increase speeds. This is a two-ton hydroplane which has not been on the water for about fifty years, so nobody knows how it will handle. One thing is sure, at speed, things happen quickly.

Click the image for the original.

Bluebird Test Preparation Loch Fad Courtesy Zak

Bluebird Test Preparation Loch Fad Courtesy Zak

Find the full gallery here…

Bluebird on Bute

You can find out more about the project here…

The Bluebird Project

And you know I’m going to tell you that you can get a daily dose of Bute here…

Daily Bute

Aug 2, 2018 Posted by | Maritime, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

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