THESE pictures show the dramatic moment the wooden restraints holding the Maid of the Loch snapped today as a mission to lift her out of the water ended in failure.

Workers who were underneath the paddle steamer during the historic slipping quickly scrambled away from the 555-tonne boat as she crashed back into the loch.

The Maid of the Loch was due to be hauled out by its original winch house at the Balloch Steam Slipway to allow refurbishment work to be carried out.

The four-hour process began at 10am but, just after 1.30pm, a problem arose and the cradle supporting the 191ft vessel snapped.

With only a few hours of daylight left, a decision was made to return the Maid to her usual berth while crew members examine what went wrong.

Bystanders suggested the problem was with the cradle at the front - and they questioned whether the ship had been put up correctly.

A spokeswoman for the Maid said: “An incident occurred, believed to be the carriage.

“The ship is being taken back to the pier at the moment while we assess the situation.

“There are only a couple of hours left of daylight so it won't be going back up today.”