American billionaire pays for 'oldest Scottish coastal steamer' restoration

An American billionaire has parted with a five-figure sum of cash to help keep a historic Scottish ship’s hull above water for generations to come.

Hair products entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria has donated £15,000 to the Scottish Maritime Museum for the restoration of the MV Kyles, the oldest Clyde-built vessel still afloat.

The donation announcement follows a fundraising effort by the Scottish Maritime Museum seeking to carry out essential repairs on the 149-year-old cargo coaster, which is moored at Irvine Harbourside.

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Mr De Joria, who is worth an estimated $3.1bn (£2.3bn), gifted the money on Tuesday, just 48 hours after reading an article in Florida-based maritime industry magazine the Maritime Executive about the Scottish Maritime Museum’s campaign.

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The Texas-based businessman, who owns 16th century Taymouth Castle, near Kenmore in Perthshire and Kinross, contacted David Mann, Director of the Scottish Maritime Museum to offer his donation, allowing the restoration to go ahead.

In a short statement, Mr DeJoria said it was “important to support efforts to retain the visual reminders of our heritage – so important for adults to share with children and for children to have the opportunity to see, feel, and touch history”.

The MV Kyles dates back to 1872 but is in dire need of repair.

Best known for co-founding two multi-billion dollar brands, Paul Mitchell and Patron, Mr DeJoria has been a keen supporter of preservation efforts in the past in his native US. In 1992 he acquired and restored a 1927 85-foot private railroad carriage, whose guests once included President Franklin D. Roosevelt and actor Clark Gable.

David Mann, Director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, said: “We are thrilled to receive such a generous donation from Mr DeJoria.

"His donation, along with the many other generous donations made to the Crowdfunder campaign, ensures we can make essential repairs to our 1872 cargo coaster MV Kyles, a rare and nationally important survivor from a formative period in shipbuilding on the Clyde.

“With such a terrific response, we can be more ambitious. Our Crowdfunder runs until 22 December and, if we can attract enough new donations, we can get the engine serviced, a major job on this 122 tonne vessel.

The MV Kyles has been owned by the Scottish Maritime Museum since 1984.

“Kyles had a long, hard working life, being adapted for different roles across the UK by 24 different owners. It would be a fantastic achievement to complete as much preservation work as we can in time for the vessel’s 150th anniversary in 2022 and ensure that this historic vessel remains part of Scotland’s living maritime heritage for decades to come.”

Launched in 1872 in Paisley, the MV Kyles is believed to be the oldest surviving example of a Scottish coastal steamer.

According to the Scottish Maritime Museum, which has owned the Kyles since 1984, she represents a key time in maritime history as the shipbuilders along Scotland’s River Clyde began to embrace steam power.

The museum’s goal is to complete essential repairs to preserve the Kyles, repaint the vessel inside and out, and restore the cabins to how they would have looked when she was a working vessel.

The MV Kyles is unique in that it has never changed its name despite having had a large number of previous owners.

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