A charitable trust hopes that this Sunday’s 250th anniversary of the birth of Sir Walter Scott will boost their appeal to restore their historic steamship named after the famous Scot’s novelist and poet.
The SOS appeal to ‘Save our Steamship’ seeks to raise £500,000 to restore the 121-year-old steamer, which requires new boilers, decking and other major restoration works before she deteriorates further. The aim is to have her back in back in full service by next summer if the fundraising efforts go well.
Scott’s Lady of the Lake poem, published in 1810, put Loch Katrine and the Trossachs on the map, becoming the ‘Birthplace of Scottish Tourism’. Launched in 1900, she is a much-loved heritage attraction in the heart of the Trossachs and hundreds of thousands of people have sailed on her during her impressive 121 years of service.
Gordon Allan, boat master of Sir Walter Scott Steamship, said: ‘Sir Walter Scott made an important contribution to Scotland, and this special 250th anniversary will be much celebrated across the nation and beyond. We especially feel the strong presence of Scott here at Loch Katrine, and it is no exaggeration that our whole cruise and leisure operation is only here because of his outstanding literary work which led to the popularisation of the area in the 1800s.
‘The Sir Walter Scott Steamship has brought pleasure to many generations and can continue to do so in the future once she is fully restored. We hope that this special anniversary will help promote our SOS appeal and bring it to the attention of many of the people who may wish to donate. This national treasure must be restored to ensure that this fantastic tribute to Sir Walter Scott is not lost.’
Sir Walter Scott was launched in 1900. She was Loch Katrine’s fourth steamer. The first being Gypsy, introduced in 1843, providing competition to Water Witch, an eight-oared wooden galley. Gypsy was to sink under mysterious circumstances just a week later, allegedly by the ferrymen who thought the steamer’s arrival threatened their jobs. Rob Roy and then Rob Roy II steamers followed until 1900, when Sir Walter Scott was introduced.
Sir Walter Scott was commissioned to replace the Rob Roy II, which was reaching its end life. She was built at Denny’s Yard in Dumbarton on the River Clyde. After completing her trials on the Clyde, she was dismantled for transportation to Loch Katrine.
Nearly half of the £4,269 purchase price was the delivery charge. This is understandable considering that she was transported in sections by barge up the River Leven and Loch Lomond to Inversnaid. From there, teams of horses lugged the steamship up the steep hills to Stronachlachar; there she was reconstructed and launched for the first time into Loch Katrine in 1900.
Financial support is urgently needed to help save this important national maritime heritage asset which brings so much pleasure to so many people and can be made on-site at Loch Katrine, via the SOS appeal website www.saveoursteamship.com or by sending cheques to SOS Appeal, Trossachs Pier, Loch Katrine, Callander, FK17 8HZ.