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The Scottish Maritime Museum has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for vital repairs to, what is believed to be, the oldest floating Clyde-built vessel in the UK.

The 1872 cargo coaster MV Kyles is a rare and nationally important survivor from the 19th century, a transformational period on the River Clyde when shipyards embraced the possibilities of steam power to become one of the most important shipbuilding centres in the world.

Kyles, which is moored on Irvine Harbourside at the Scottish Maritime Museum’s main site, reaches a staggering 150 year milestone in 2022. However, a long, hard working life, being adapted for different roles across the UK by 24 different owners, has taken a huge toll.

Essential repairs are needed now if this historic vessel is to remain part of Scotland’s living maritime heritage for decades to come.

The Scottish Maritime Museum hopes to raise £15,000 through the Keep the Kyles Afloat campaign on Crowdfunder, which has provided the platform free in conjunction with the Museums Association.

Funds raised will enable the Scottish Maritime Museum’s Scottish Boat Building School and Curatorial teams to preserve Kyles by undertaking essential repairs.

Support given during the Crowdfunder campaign, which runs until Tuesday 22 December, will also allow the team to repaint Kyles inside and out and restore the cabins to how they would have looked whilst it was a working vessel.

The Scottish Maritime Museum will also be able to create vibrant new interpretation for Kyles to engage and excite visitors and schoolchildren.

Supporters can choose from a range of unique pledge benefits on the Crowdfunder Keep the Kyles Afloat campaign page, from hosting their own private maritime movie evening to their name on a small, permanent plaque on Kyles for larger donations.

Matthew Bellhouse MoranCurator at the Scottish Maritime Museum, explains:

At 148 years, Kyles is older than the Falls of Clyde, tall ship Glenlee and the Sir Walter Scott.

Kyles has survived such a long and hard working life by being continually adapted for different uses as a multitude of owners moved it around the UK. It was a cargo coaster, fishing tender, sand dredger and even a sludge tanker over the course of more than a hundred years before being retired to the Scottish Maritime Museum in 1984.

“If we are to ensure Kyles survives another 150 years, we need to repair and adapt it once again, using the craftmanship and skills of the young boatbuilders here at our Scottish Boatbuilding School. With support, as well as repairs, we can take the cabins back to how they looked when Kyles was a working vessel and create new interpretation.

“A mark of the magic of Kyles is that, unusually for a vessel, it has retained the same name despite such a long and varied working life. With new interpretation we can bring to life the many stories this old iron hulled coaster hauled aboard over a hundred years and engage visitors and schoolchildren with this significant example of our shipbuilding history for decades to come.”

MV Kyles was built by John Fullerton & Co. at Paisley in 1872 and served first as a tender for the Clyde fishing fleet up until 1881 when it moved on to 23 further owners across the UK.

To contribute to the Keep the Kyles Afloat campaign or find out more, please visit: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/keepthekylesafloat

 Issued on behalf of the Scottish Maritime Museum by 

Joanna Harrison, Mobile: 07884 187404.

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