It is the last paddle steamer constructed in Britain but has been languishing out of service for nearly 40 years.

But now an engineer has started restoration work on the vessel, 70 years after his father help to build it. 

Eddie Van der Stighelen, 67, has helped restore the Maid of the Loch steamer, which has laid out of service on the banks of Loch Lomond in Balloch, West Dunbartonshire since 1981.

The dad-of-two, who runs his own engineering company, Vantech Engineering, got involved with the £1million restoration project last year, nearly 70 years after his father Jan began working on the ship in 1951.

Jan, a marine engineer, worked for shipbuilding firm A&J Inglis for nearly 10 years, where he helped work on the Maid of the Loch, which was launched in 1953.
Eddie’s older brother Henri, 70, has memories of being taken to see the steamer in Balloch with his dad as a child.

Eddie, who helped restore the Maid of the Loch’s windlass, a heavy-duty winch, said it is special to have worked on it given the family connection.

Eddie, whose business is based in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, said: “My dad was the foreman in what was called the engineer shop.

“My brother and sister have memories of being down at Balloch and driving with my dad from where we lived in Scotstoun.

“My brother helped me take the windlass to East Kilbride and when we were driving we passed the old A&J Inglis yard, which is now the Riverside Museum, so there have been some poignant moments.

“It’s special to me to have worked on it, given the family connection.”
Eddie’s father Jan Van der Stighelen, was a Belgian national who served in the Belgian Merchant Navy during the Second World War.

Jan and his wife Violet met during the war and were married in Glasgow in 1943, but they later returned to Belgium where their first two children were born. In 1951, the family moved from Belgium to Glasgow and Jan started working for the shipyard A&J Inglis at Pointhouse.

Eddie, who got involved in the project last year, has finished work on the windlass and hopes to be able to return it to the ship soon.

He said as an engineer it’s rare to be able to work on such a unique bit of equipment.
Eddie said: “I wanted to help because of the connection to my family. It’s not often you get the opportunity to work on equipment of that age.

“The Maid of the Loch is in a class of its own now and there is not another one like it so it becomes so much more special.

The Maid of the Loch was constructed at the Glasgow shipyard, but was dismantled and brought to Balloch where her sections were reassembled.

The ship is the last paddle steamer to be built in Britain and sailed the waters of Loch Lomond for 29 years before going out of service in 1981.

A £1.1 million refit last year refurbished two of her public rooms back to her 1950s style, and restored her engines back into steam operation for the first time since 1981.

The Loch Lomond Steamship Company, the charity which owns the vessel, said the repair of the original piece of equipment is another step forward in its aim of returning the historic ship to full sailing condition.

A spokesman said: “The Maid has benefitted from the skills of this amazing engineering family with Jan the father as the shipbuilder and Eddie his son, the renovator.”