HOPES are high for the restoration of one of Britain's most historic Clydebuilt ships ahead of its 150th anniversary. 

The MV Kyles, the oldest floating vessel built on the River Clyde, has unusually kept the same name for nearly 150 years despite being used for a multitude of purposes.

Built in Paisley in 1872, started out as a cargo coaster but served as a fishing tender, a sand dredger and a tanker, during its working days.

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The original steam-engine boat plied the waters of the west coast of Scotland, as well as Newcastle upon Tyne, South Wales and the Bristol Channel.

But the vessel, kept at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine, North Ayrshire since the early 1980s, is now in need of urgent repairs.

A fundraising appeal has been launched to raise £15,000 to repaint the ship and refit its cabins to allow visitors to see what life was like onboard.

Matthew Bellhouse Moran, curator at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine, said: “We have a great privilege to look after many historically important vessels at this museum.

“One of the most important we look after is the Kyles.

“The Kyles is the oldest surviving floating Clyde-built vessel that we know of.

“It was built in 1872 and is coming up to 150 years old.

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“We’re looking for your help to maintain and repair this vessel so that it has the best chance of surviving the next 150 years.

Recognised as one of Britain’s most important historic vessels, Kyles is also included in the Designated Vessels list of the National Historic Ships Committee.

Kyles has an iron and steel hull, much of which is in original condition, and a steel deck, and despite having 24 different owners, the name never changed.

The boat’s upper works underwent restorations in 1945 and 1998.

Mr Bellhouse Moran added: “Built in 1872 in Paisley in the west of Scotland, Kyles is unusual in that the name never changed, even after going through 24 owners.

“Starting out as a cargo coaster, Kyles has been a fishing tender, a sand dredger and a tanker all across the UK - sailing out from the Firth of Clyde, Newcastle upon Tyne, South Wales and the Bristol Channel, and is now enjoying retirement here in Irvine, back in the west of Scotland.

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“Kyles has survived by adapting and changing and now we want to ensure the future of this vessel by carrying out essential maintenance work, allowing Kyles to bring joy to our visitors for years to come.

“Your support will allow us to repaint Kyles inside and out, do essential repairs and reinterpret the vessel and restore the cabins to how they would have looked before the vessel arrived at the Maritime Museum in the early 80s.

“We would be able to give visitors and schools a real show of how life was inside an old iron-hulled coaster - a hard life of storms, sea biscuits and sea sickness.”

Donations can be made at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/keepthekylesafloat