LOCH Lomond’s historic paddle steamer, Maid of the Loch, has been reunited with its original buoyancy benches.

The seats were part of the ship’s original lifesaving apparatus and were designed to float if the boat were to sink, giving passengers something to grab onto until help arrived.

Because of the impact of years of continuous exposure to the weather, the benches were determined to be in need of restoration as part of the Maid’s extensive refurbishment project. They were taken to the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine where they were fully transformed.

The seats have been put back on board the Maid alongside a "lost" seat that was discovered by a diver in 2014 and restored by a Maid volunteer. They are joined together on the rooftop deck, where they can seat up to eight people.

John Beveridge, director of the Loch Lomond Steamship Company charity, said: “We’re thrilled to have our buoyancy seats back onboard. They’re part of Maid legacy and it has come just in time for our guests to enjoy the rest of the summer while enjoying the scenic views.

“The Scottish Maritime Museum did a fantastic job of restoring the seats to their original state. Everyone who has contributed to the Maid, whether it be financially or through hard labour, significantly helps us reach our end goal to get her sailing again.”

David Mann, Director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, said: “It has been a joy and privilege to watch our boat building team of apprentices and trainees work on the buoyancy seat. The Scottish Maritime Museum has been supportive of the herculean task the team at the Maid have undertaken and hope that we can continue to do so as they start work on the refit of this wonderful old vessel.”

The Maid currently operates as a static tourist attraction and has received a number of its original historic treasures back after issuing an amnesty appeal earlier this year, including the builder’s plaque and passenger-counter ‘clicker’.

The Loch Lomond Steamship Company has worked since 1996 to transform and restore the ship, with the aim of making her fully operational once again.

The charity is currently just £150,000 short of a £5.5 million appeal target, which will enable it to refit the Maid and get it sailing again on Loch Lomond. The current total of £5.35m includes £3.7m promised in funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund.