Clydebank’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has branded the rejection of a multi-million pound funding package for the Maid of the Loch restoration project as “devastating” and “baffling”.

Last week, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s board of trustees announced their decision on the second stage of the paddle steamer’s grant application and declined to give the go-ahead on an overall funding request of £3,640,000.

The money should have seen the start of a £6million refurbishment to restore the vessel as an operating steamship before the end of this year, but failure to secure the grant has now left the whole project hanging in the balance after years of hard work and effort by enthusiastic volunteers.

The MP has been a strong supporter of the bid to get the paddler steamer sailing again during his time in office.

Last December he met with some of the volunteers who have poured their heart and soul into the project, after a crowdfunding appeal for a new steam boiler raised tens of thousands of pounds of in donations.

The MP also and put forward a motion in parliament earlier this year congratulating the Loch Lomond Steamship Company, which owns the vessel, on being awarded £950,000 from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund.

Mr Docherty-Hughes told the Post: “The Maid of the Loch is an important part of West Dunbartonshire’s cultural heritage, enjoyed by many people from across Scotland and all over the world.

“It’s devastating news that the HLF has not approved the funding needed to get this iconic paddle steamer sailing again.

“I will be offering my full support to ensure the ambitious efforts to restore the Maid to her former glory are not derailed as a result of this baffling decision.”