On Friday 22nd May 1953 Maid of the Loch was named alongside at Balloch Pier by Lady Watson, wife of one of the senior members of the Railway Executive, before the ship set off with invited guests for a cruise down the loch to Ardlui with lunch served aboard.
Maid of the Loch was a very well appointed paddle steamer with plenty of undercover accommodation for her passengers. She was never fitted with a capstan back aft. The technique for coming into the piers was to put a rope ashore from the forward end of the sponson at promenade deck level leading ahead and a stern rope, fired ashore from the aft end of the sponson at promenade deck level, but leading to the stern. Both were hauled in by hand and made fast. Then the engine was set slow astern and that power translated through these two ropes gently brought her alongside. Generally speaking she did not use a head rope in the bow at her pier calls up and down the loch but held herself in place alongside the piers by keeping the engine running slow astern although she did put a head rope out when alongside for any time at Balloch. I was hugely impressed watching this technique the first time I sailed on Maid of the Loch in 1974
Kingswear Castle returned to service in 2023 after the first part of a major rebuild which is designed to set her up for the next 25 years running on the River Dart. The Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle Trust is now fund raising for the second phase of the rebuild. You can read more about the rebuilds and how you can help if you can here.
This article was first published on 22nd May 2021.