The restoration of an historic Scottish steamship will not only secure the future of the much loved vessel it could also mark a turning point in delivering cleaner, more sustainable steam power.
The plans to restore the 122-year-old Sir Walter Scott and get her back plying the waters of Loch Katrine, in the heart of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, have taken a major step forward with the announcement of a £130,000 grant award from The National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland.
This award, along with the substantial sum raised from an ongoing public appeal and a series of smaller grant awards from The Hugh Fraser Foundation and Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust, will enable work to begin in earnest to replace decking and the two cracked boilers on the historic Steamship.
In the interim bands of enthusiastic volunteers from the Steamboat Association of Great Britain have been busy skilfully stripping out old decking and rubbing down the wheelhouse, handrails, and seats as part of the preparatory work for the fuller £500,000 restoration programme which is anticipated to take three months to complete.
The funding will ensure the steamship can greatly reduce its carbon emissions with the use of a revolutionary hydrogen and vegetable oil fuel. It will also support enhancements to cater for a wider range of mobility and sensory needs.
An exhibition on the story of early tourism and steamships on Loch Katrine and a programme for skills trainees recruited locally in the restoration work and operation of the steamship are also planned.
James Fraser, CEO and Trustee of the Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trust said: “We were delighted to receive confirmation of support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland to help restore this important maritime heritage asset which has brought so much pleasure to millions of people for over 120 years. As a charitable trust we are responsible for protecting and caring for the Steamship for the nation and to ensure current and future generations can continue to enjoy the scenic splendours of Loch Katrine onboard this unique historic vessel.
He added: “The Steamship carries the name of one of Scotland’s most famous writers who was inspired to write his blockbuster poem ‘Lady of the Lake’ which was published in 1810 and is credited with the birth of Scottish tourism leading to the popularisation of the Trossachs as a tourist destination and the introduction of pleasure boat trips on the loch. It is important we continue to nurture and celebrate this rich cultural heritage and combine it with enabling people to enjoy the natural wonders of Loch Katrine on the steamship which is a national treasure.”
Caroline Clark, Director of The Heritage Fund in Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be backing this project, which not only secures the Sir Walter Scott as a valuable and much-loved heritage asset it also supports it as it charts a course to modern, cleaner steam sailing thanks to the investment in hydrogen and vegetable oil fuel.
“Tremendous community support both locally and from steam enthusiasts across the country has helped this project on its voyage and The Heritage Fund is delighted to be on board.”
Local Councillor. Martin Earl commented: ”This is a huge project, one that will secure the future of this iconic vessel, make it more accessible and environmentally friendly. This award is well deserved. Everyone involved in the Steamship Trust and this project have helped secure it with their continued commitment and hard work. The Loch Katrine location is a cornerstone of the visitor economy and with the steamship central to that success it is essential it is restored.”
Whilst the grant award from The National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland has been crucial for the appeal donations are still welcome as the campaign is still to reach its target of £500,000. Donation to the appeal can be made online at www.saveoursteamship.com or by post, send a cheque payable to Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trust, SOS Appeal, Trossachs Pier, Loch Katrine, Callander, FK17 8HZ.
With the summer season upon us Sir Walter Scott’s sister ships The Lady of the Lake and Rob Roy III will ensure that visitors can continue to enjoy the scenic splendour of a Loch Katrine cruise while the renovation project is underway. Online Booking is open. (www.lochkatrine.com)