Pledge to ensure historic steamship stays afloat

Lady of the loch

The 120 year old steamship that sails on Loch Katrine in the Trossachs has been taken out of service due to serious cracks being found in its boilers

18th February 2020 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

The future of an historic steamship is up in the air after extensive damage was discovered.

The 120 year old steamship that sails on Loch Katrine in the Trossachs has been taken out of service due to serious cracks being found in its boilers.

Over the past month, as part of a rigorous annual inspection programme, extensive cracks were found in both the steamship's boilers and the trustees have recently concluded after specialist surveys that they are beyond repair which means the iconic vessel will not be sailing this season.

Sir Walter Scott Steamship Ltd manager director, Gordon Allan said:'' This is a major setback as we were looking forward to a special anniversary year celebrating 120 years of the steamship sailing. This follows on from a downturn in business linked to major landslides on the lochside last August and we were well on the road to recovery with the prospects of a bumper season ahead.

“The immediate priorities now are taking steps to safeguard the 55 direct jobs and many indirect jobs dependent on our Loch Katrine operations, and ensuring we are in a position to honour existing group business contracts as well as independent travel and walk up business this season. We are fortunate that we have other boats available so I am confident with the goodwill of the general public and the commitment and enthusiasm of our staff we should be able to continue to trade successfully and offer a high quality visitor experience while we consider ways to bring the Sir Walter Scott Steamship back into service as quickly as possible.''

James Fraser, chief executive and trustee of the Steamship Trust, said:'' Our trustees are determined to ensure the historic steamship, which is an important and unique Scottish heritage asset, continues to have a future operating on Loch Katrine and immediate steps have been taken to explore costed options to bring the steamship back into service which are both realistic and sustainable. We are anxious to ensure we are not faced with a similar situation again in a few years due to steam boiler unreliability issues which have a striking resemblance to what happened to the PS Waverley boilers last year.

“Once we have more details on future options, likely costs and our funding strategy, which may well include a public funding appeal, we will issue an update but in the meantime we would urge members of the public to support our existing operation by visiting Loch Katrine which continues to be a very special destination in the heart of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.''

Loch Katrine and the Trossachs was the birthplace of Scottish tourism following the publication of the blockbuster poem Lady of the Lake in 1810 by Sir Walter Scott. The rapid growth in tourism led to the introduction of passenger ferryboats and a number of passenger steamships in the 1800s and eventually the Steamship Sir Walter Scott was commissioned and the steamship first came into service in the spring of 1900 after trials on the Clyde in 1899. Ownership of the steamship transferred from Scottish Water to a charitable trust in 2007 and in 2008 the steamship moved from being powered by coal to more environmentally friendly bio diesel.