A NEW crowdfunding campaign has been launched to help repair a 19th century ship moored at Irvine Harbourside.

The MV Kyles is thought to be the oldest floating Clyde-built ship in the UK, pre-dating the Falls of Clyde, the Glenlee and the Sir Walter Scott.

After 148 years of use by 24 different owners, the vessel needs essential repairs if it is to remain part of Scotland’s living maritime heritage.

The Keep the Kyles Afloat campaign, run by the Scottish Maritime Museum, hopes to raise £15,000 to help with this work.

Museum curator Matthew Bellhouse Moran said: “If we are to ensure Kyles survives another 150 years, we need to repair and adapt it once again, using the craftsmanship 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.

“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.”

The 1872 cargo coaster is a rare survivor from the transitional period which saw Glasgow’s River Clyde become one of the most important shipbuilding centres in the world.

The boat originally served as a trader for the Clyde fishing fleet before being sold to to a new owner in 1881.

Matthew added: “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.

“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.”

Donors will be able to choose from a range of pledge benefits, including having their name on a permanent plaque on the ship.

The campaign runs until December 22 and donations can be made here.