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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January, 2005, 13:03 GMT
Rescue deal for historic steamer
Sir Walter Scott: courtesy Scottish Water
Scottish Executive funding means it is full steam ahead for the boat
One of Scotland's best known tourist attractions has been thrown a financial lifeline by the Scottish Executive.

The steamship Sir Walter Scott, which has sailed on Loch Katrine in the Trossachs since 1899, is being given 85,000 for emergency repairs.

In addition, a grant of 200,000 will be available to help with the running costs for the next two years.

The boat's owner, Scottish Water, is handing the vessel over to a charitable trust.

It will be headed by industrialist Sir William McAlpine, a steam enthusiast who once owned the Flying Scotsman. He is also the great grandson of the legendary Scottish engineer Sir Robert McAlpine.

Bosses at Scottish Water will provide half the 2m needed for refurbishment of the boat, which is 110ft long, weighs 155 tons and has a crew of five.

This vital funding will safeguard the future of one of the most important tourism attractions in the region
Stuart Ogg
Scottish Enterprise Forth Valley

The rescue deal involved talks with Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority, Scottish Enterprise Forth Valley, Stirling Council and the Argyll, the Isles, Loch Lomond, Stirling and the Trossachs Tourist Board.

A Scottish Water spokesman said: "Using customers' money to subsidise the running of the steamship and tourism complex is inconsistent with Scottish Water's responsibility to deliver water and waste water services to its customers."

Chairman Alan Alexander added: "As a boy brought up in Glasgow, visits to Loch Katrine and trips on the Sir Walter Scott were magical to me.

"This substantial investment from the executive and the formation of a trust is the best of ensuring that youngsters continue to enjoy that experience in the future."

Stuart Ogg, of Scottish Enterprise Forth Valley, said: "The Sir Walter Scott is integral to the tourism offering for both Forth Valley and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

"This vital funding from the Scottish Executive will safeguard the future of one of the most important tourism attractions in the region."

He continued: "We are committed to working with our partners to ensure the long-term sustainability of tourism projects and are delighted that the Sir Walter Scott and Loch Katrine will be able to welcome tourists and support local jobs for the foreseeable future."

Unique steamer

The Loch Katrine tourist centre, which boosts the local economy by about 1m per year and provides nearly 30 full-time jobs, made a loss last year.

The shortfall was despite figures which show that around 80,000 visitors sail on the steamship each season, while a further 170,000 just visit the loch, which supplies much of Glasgow's water.

Officials estimate that of the one million tourist days spent in the Trossachs each year, almost a quarter involve a visit to Loch Katrine and the Sir Walter Scott.

The vessel, which is only slightly modified from its original design, was built at a cost of 4,250 - nearly 300,000 in today's money. It is the only surviving screw-driven steamer in Scotland.

The boat was transported in pieces up Loch Lomond by barge then overland from Inversnaid to Stronachlachar, where she was reassembled ready for the launching ceremony in October 1899.


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