Sunday, 5 July 2009

"It's All About Steam"

What do you mean, it's all about steam ? was what I thought to myself when considering how to write this post. So let's STEAM on to the post itself.

But before we do, here's a cracking live version of a related song by Peter Gabriel et al to set the scene (sorry, I'm a Muso by trade):-

Yesterday, about 35 invited guests spent a most enjoyable afternoon on the Maid Of The Loch, Loch Lomond’s Paddle Steamer. Many of us (McDawg included) incorrectly assumed that we would be setting sail on her, but alas, whilst she's in the water, she ain't sailing at the moment. But there are plans well underway to change that. Read on.

(Photo c/o The Maid's website)

The Maid Of The Loch website can be found here. This page on Wikipedia is also quite informative.

Before alighting The Maid, guests were welcomed by a very special guest "Wedgie" who was parked up just next to The Maid:-

This event was a triple birthday celebration. "Wedgie" has just turned 50 and it's owners, both 70. See this related previous McBlawg post.

As per the invitation, all attendees were aware that aside from all the celebtrations, there was a fundraising for a good cause aspect to the days proceedings, and they gave generously, I am reliably informed.

After a rather superb lunch, McDawg nipped off to explore all three decks of The Maid, taking photos suitable for both private and public viewing. My favourite for public viewing is this shot of The Queen's Restaurant on the lower deck:-

Prior to everyone leaving The Maid, I caught up and introduced myself to Marie, who was our tip-top catering assistant for the afternoon. I explained that I was a blogger and would blogging about The Maid and tagging the post to highlight her (The Maid, not Marie - LOL) in the blogosphere. "Every little helps", as we discussed. The Maid whilst aquired by Dumbarton District Council in 1992, is very much in the hands of "a charitable organisation, the Loch Lomond Steamship Company (LLSC), to take over ownership and carry on restoration".

From this page, "Directors and volunteers are unpaid and LLSC has no staff. Yet this dedicated group have turned the Maid from a hulk in danger of sinking at the pier in 1992, into a successful business by 2001. Fortunately the Maid is in fresh water, so her hull is sound. Her steam machinery is also in good condition, and with further work can be made to operate for another 50 years. The original boiler was in a very poor condition, and had to be removed. Her wooden promenade and upper decks were so badly rotten they were replaced in 1996/7 with steel and aluminium respectively".

Oh yeah, the STEAM bit.

Just prior to departure from the car park, McDawg's Uncle Robbie (let's call him McRobbie) spotted something McDawg hadn't seen the last time he was here. (A drum-roll please - this is usually appropriate) The Balloch Steam Slipway Winchhouse !!

From here:- "Come and see us! You will be amazed at the engineering. The Winchhouse has not ever been opened to the public before, and our display panels will tell you everything you need to know. Parking is just 100 metres away and is also free".

McDawg & McRobbie entered the building JUST after it was due to close for the day. Whilst the machinery had just been powered down for the day, man it was rather hot in there.

"The rebuilding of the Balloch Steam Slipway is a major success for LLSC. Firstly, the project was completed to budget (at £620,000, and LLSC has no staff – we are all volunteers). Secondly, we were honoured to have a Royal visit; and thirdly it means that we can now seriously plan for the Maid to be overhauled ready for being brought back into sailing condition again. Without the slipway, this would not have been possible as any survey must include inspection to the hull, paddles, etc".

Whilst I didn't realise it at the time, the following shot (taken from the upper deck of The Maid) captures the steamhouse and slipway rather nicely even though I had zoomed in on the foreground activities.

All in all, a smashing day out and I think it's rather fitting to end on this note (from here):-

Maid To Sail Again!

"2008 was our best year so far: We secured MCA approval for the maid to sail again. An independent economic study demonstrated that an operational Maid would be viable; and we put two new aluminium masts on the ship. We also completed the renovation of the engine room with new lighting, and the complete refurbishment of the lower bar. Photos of both achievments are on the ‘Restoration’ page.

This year’s targets include concluding our plans for a public appeal for funds to get the Maid sailing again, adaptation of the Balloch Steam Slipway to take private boats out of the water for overhaul, renovation of the ship’s old crew accomodation, and painting the hull from bow to stern".

++Just spotted++. This is a superb piece of computer generated animation/graphics uploaded by Maxmodeller in Jan 2008

"The Maid of the Loch is currently undergoing a complete renovation and this sequence was produced as an educational aid whilst the engine is rebuilt". Maxmodeller, Jan. 2008.

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