AN HISTORIC Clyde-built steamship is returning home after a campaign raised £300,000 to save her.

Friends of TS Queen Mary, with Scots actor Robbie Coltrane as patron, raised the cash in under a year to make her return voyage possible.

She left her berth at Tilbury, in Essex, shortly before 3pm on Wednesday and is expected to be back on the Clyde by Monday.

Charity trustee Iain Sim said: “I was really quite emotional seeing her set sail, it’s caught me by surprise.

"This is a proud moment in the charity’s history and in the history of this fantastic and most beautiful vessel. She’s finally coming home.”

Built in 1933, TS Queen Mary is the last remaining turbine steamship to be built on the Clyde at the William Denny shipyard at Dumbarton.

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne, who once owned the vessel, made the final donation that made it possible to bring her home.

In her hay day she was the pride of the Clyde sailing passengers Doon the Watter from Glasgow to destinations such as Dunoon, Rothesay, Millport and Arran.

The vessel is expected to arrive in Scotland on Monday, subject to good sailing conditions and no technical issues.

Once safely back in Scottish waters, the charity will launch a fundraising appeal, expected to be worth around £2 million, to restore her to her 1930s splendour.

The restoration effort will be aided by apprentices.

The charity behind her return has been supported by a number of prominent organisations such as Caledonian MacBrayne, Forth Ports, V Ships, Ferguson Marine and The RHS Charitable Foundation run by Lord Smith of Kelvin.

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