Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The Maid of the Loch will open to visitors at Easter

Nice to see the Maid of the Loch continues to progress toward the ultimate goal of sailing on Loch Lomond once more.

Following a cash injection from the Scottish Government, the tearoom will be opening with guided tours of the ship and nearby Balloch Steam Slipway will be available.

Seems the work in hand will see the addition of a lift!

That will help in getting between decks – they never had things like that when the paddle steamer was originally in service.

From Easter weekend onwards, the Maid of the Loch will open every day until the end of October. Opening hours and any closures due to works on the ship will be posted online.

Some people like to be glum, but I’ve always held out for this restoration to have a successful conclusion, no matter how slow progress may seem at times.

I sailed on the Maid as a kid, only a few years before the paddle steamer was taken out of service and disappeared, so never even got the chance to go back.

Then I was wandering around a park somewhere at the bottom of the loch, near Balloch, and came across what seemed to be little more than the abandoned hull one day.

No Internet or easy way to ask about it then, so I’m afraid I forgot about the find (I didn’t even get a pic), and it was years later, as the recovery project was made public and an appeal was made for ‘scavenged’ parts to be returned to help with the restoration, that I learned it had not been scrapped.

  • Maid of the Loch was the last paddle steamer built in Britain.
  • It was built by A. & J. Inglis of Glasgow and was launched on March 5, 1953. It entered service later that year.
  • The ship operated on Loch Lomond for 29 years, and as with other steamers, cost pressures led to the ship being laid up after a last commercial sailing on August 31, 1981.
  • A series of attempts to bring the boat back into service under a succession of owners were unsuccessful, to which it gradually deteriorated at the side of the loch.
  • Since 2016, it has been undergoing restoration work at Balloch Pier thanks to The Loch Lomond Steamship Company.

Maid of the Loch set to open its doors on Easter weekend

I intend to make a serious attempt at a revisit to see the steamer. Last time I did it things went very badly, as I was able to drive, but my car’s battery decided to expire without warning in the car park near the Maid. Rather than a nice visit, I ended up spending the rest of the day getting buses, trains, other vehicles, and long walks in order to get a new battery and rescue my car.

This time I’ll either cycle (I did just over half the trip last year, and it was easy) – even though the Glasgow/Balloch is reputedly one many try, but never finish 🙂

Alternatively, I’ve been looking at alternate transport I can afford (ie free) and found that the same route that can me to Helensburgh also goes to Balloch, so might be a nice day out.

I need a decent pic.

When I last visited and actually took a digital pic, the camera I used was so down-market (at the time, a 1 MP Olympus cost around £560 – I know because I had to buy one for work) that it only pretended to take a 640×480 pixel image. In reality, the resolution was about half of that, and it interpolated the capture to scale it to that number.

I don’t even have those image, or I do, but the barely used hard drive they were stored on failed, and fixing/recovering is a job I need to get around to one day. Before you ask, IT was the backup, and only had a few hours use before going wonky. Of course, it was also the only backup drive I’ve ever really needed , as the source did fail.

Typical.

Was there ever any follow-up to the incident that occurred during the slipping of the vessel some months back?

I don’t recall seeing anything in the news after the initial report, and the media had looked as if it was going to feed well on it.

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16/04/2019 Posted by | council, Maritime, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

People’s Palace looks set to reopen as planned during Easter 2019

Having done a lot of jumping up and down when closure of the People’s Palace (temporary, while works were carried out to provide emergency exits), and Winter Garden (effectively permanent until something in the order of £7 million can be raised for restoration) was first announced, the media and those looking for some free publicity by making a lot of noise about the closure, but not actually doing anything to help other than make stupid, time-wasting claims/comments, seemed to dry up and disappear.

It has now been announced that the People’s Palace will reopen during the Easter holidays, with some £350,000 of work being carried out to make it safe, and replace facilities that were previously located in the Winter Garden.

Following a £350,000 programme of works, the city’s social history museum will open independently of the Winter Gardens during the school holidays.

The Winter Gardens requires window replacement costing up to £7m.

The People’s Palace has seen several alterations during the works, including the addition of a new cafe and shop on its ground floor, access to public toilets and a new fire escape, which was previously located within the Winter Gardens.

School groups will be able to access a new purpose-built packed lunch area on the top floor of the museum, replacing the former space available within the glasshouse.

The museum reopens with a new photography exhibition, which captures daily life in the city in 1955.

Recent view of the Winter Gardens open while work was being carried out.

Peoples Palace Winter Garden

Peoples Palace Winter Garden

Councillor David McDonald, chairman of Glasgow Life, said: ‘The People’s Palace is just that; it’s the official residence of the stories, the images, and the memories of the people of our great city, entertaining and informing Glaswegians with displays of how we lived, worked and played in years gone by.

“There was an understandably strong reaction to the suggestions of the possible closure of the People’s Palace, a clear demonstrations of its affection amongst the Glasgow public. So I’m pleased that it is now scheduled to reopen and vindicates our pledge that we would undertake the work to allow it to remain open while a long term solution is found to the challenges of the Winter Gardens. The People’s Palace collection belongs to Glaswegians and we’re glad they will continue to enjoy access to it.”
‘End of its life cycle’

The Winter Gardens will remain closed indefinitely.

The structure is in need of repairs.

The sealant used to secure thousands of windows in the glasshouse has reached the end of its life cycle and requires wholesale replacement.

Glasgow’s People’s Palace prepares to reopen after works

Winter Gardens’ future unclear as People’s Palace reopens

People’s Palace set to reopen after £350k repair works

I took a run past at the weekend, and the place was tight shut, with no new notices attached.

But the Doulton Fountain, in front, was back on and in full flow.

People's Palace and Doulton Fountain

People’s Palace and Doulton Fountain

Obviously not a current pic, as the lights are on!

01/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Nice follow-up to Rose Street Foundry mural (mosaic) story from 2013

I first came across this mosaic (inaccurately referred to as a mural back then) when looking at some info relating to PLUTO, World War II’s famous ‘pipeline under the ocean’ which allowed fuel to be pumped across the Channel from England to France to support D-Day invasion operations.

Surprising connection to PLUTO revealed in Inverness

What I didn’t spot in the intervening years was any mention of a project to restore those mosaics, which were noted to be decaying in the original post.

Mosaics returned to former Inverness foundry building

That project is now complete.

A set of mosaics celebrating Inverness’ industrial past have been reinstalled following restoration work.

The panels are now back in place at Rose Street Foundry, also known as AI Welders, in Academy Street.

Inverness Townscape Heritage Project has been leading the efforts to revamp the vacant site.

Owner Cairngorm Taverns Limited was awarded a grant of £960,000 by the project last year to bring the building back into use.

Piece of history restored as mosaics return to foundry

 

 

29/03/2019 Posted by | Transport, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Nice to see progress reported with TS Queen Mary

Having mentioned the depressing lack of interest with regard to some maritime projects and vessel rescues (which I won’t divert into here), it’s actually quite nice to be able to mention positive progress with regard to the TS Queen Mary, now permanently berthed on the River Clyde next to the Glasgow Science Centre.

I even managed some pics (in better weather than we have now – I haven’t been down there for ages, and only passed quickly a few weeks ago, during the ‘warm’ spell). Still there 🙂

TS Queen Mary

TS Queen Mary

It makes a nice change not to be mentioning some bad news about one such project.

The Princess Royal has backed efforts to restore a historic steamship, which is berthed in Glasgow.

The TS Queen Mary, which is undergoing a multimillion pound refurbishment, returned to the city for the first time since 1977 in November 2016.

Friends of TS Queen Mary said Princess Anne’s decision to become the ship’s royal patron was a “huge honour” which would boost the restoration work.

The steamer was named after her great-grandmother Queen Mary.

Chairman of TS Friends of Queen Mary Iain Sim said: ‘We are delighted and deeply honoured that Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has agreed to become our Royal Patron.

“This is a great boost for our ongoing work to restore this British icon to her former glory and to preserve her for future generations.”

The TS Queen Mary was built in 1933 and was affectionately called “The Glasgow Boat”, having sailed daily from Broomielaw.

Trustees say that once restoration works are complete, the TS Queen Mary will offer educational experiences for school pupils.

It will also be offered as a venue for functions.

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander said: “I’m incredibly proud to support this multi-faceted project to refurbish and promote this iconic steamer as an exciting visitor attraction as well as an educational, interactive maritime experience.

“Its permanent berth at Glasgow Science Centre is the perfect location for what was once the world’s largest and most luxurious Clyde pleasure steamer.”

Princess Royal backs Glasgow’s TS Queen Mary restoration

12/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Maritime, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Central Station tour venue set to be restored

I didn’t realise it was as long as four years since tours started beneath Central Station – I’m sure I noted them, but can’t find the mention (I have a recollection of moaning about the cost, now £13, or maybe the need to book, rather than just drop in).

It seems that the success is leading to fame, as it features on TV, and to expansion, with plans apparent for more restoration

Plans to restore a hidden derelict platform beneath Glasgow Central are “on the right track”, Network Rail has revealed as Scotland’s busiest station prepares to star in a new BBC series.

The platform – which closed 55 years ago – has been a highlight of the popular behind-the-scenes tours of the station.

Now, it could be returned to how it looked when the low-level section opened in 1896, complete with a steam train on re-laid rails.

Station manager Susan Holden said a museum of artefacts found at the station was also proposed.

Souvenirs would also be produced for those taking the tours, which have attracted 44,000 people in four years.

Plans to restore hidden platform beneath Glasgow Central ‘on right track’, say Network Rail

I can almost hear fans of other derelicts (such as the Botanic Gardens) complaining “But why not OUR favourite station?”

As regards Central, I used to visit the car park area there quite often (years before the aforementioned tours began, or were even being considered, almost before ‘UrbEx’ was a thing. One of the fascinating aspects of such a visit was departing the station from the car park area on the upper platform, and descending to the lower level. This route (then at lest, I don’t know about today) went through a series of apparently derelict tunnel, fenced off to prevent access, but also with light evident in the distance. Too far to see anything though, other than a glow.

I always wondered if they were accessible, having heard of ‘interesting’ things to be found down there, ever since a temporary exhibit called Glasgow’s Glasgow was held in the same space some years before (1990, when Glasgow was European city of Culture), but had been cleared away when it ended, and the place apparently sealed up again, at least as far as public access was concerned.

02/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, 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

10/01/2019 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

08/01/2019 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!

07/12/2018 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.

12/11/2018 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

03/10/2018 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

05/09/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

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