AN ambitious call has been made for a new museum dedicated to the Comet replica to be established in Port Glasgow.

The sorry state of the local maritime landmark has been highlighted recently after it emerged that she is now beyond repair following a decade of neglect.

Now the SNP's Chris Curley and Jim MacLeod say there should be investment in a visitor attraction explaining Comet's rich history, as well as a replacement.

Cllr Curley, SNP environment and regeneration spokesperson, said: “The SNP group within Inverclyde Council have been considering a number of proposals that can be developed as part of a strategy of wider regeneration and economic development.

"The heritage of Inverclyde is a key component of this strategy, with the PS Comet being front and centre in both further developing the tourist potential of the area and the regeneration of Port Glasgow town centre.

“There is a legitimate challenge to be made on how the PS Comet Replica has ended up in this condition.

"The original plan was for a Comet Museum in Port Glasgow, which would have enabled the replica to be better protected.

“The Comet is part of the story of Port Glasgow but this is a story that we have been in the most part content to keep to ourselves.

"As a community we must develop a museum in Port Glasgow to bring all aspects of the Comet story, and its effect on global commerce, together."

The cost of replacing the crumbling replica of the famous paddle steamer will be significant and has been put as high as £750,000.

Two shipyards approached in the wake of a marine architect inspection of the derelict vessel have provided individual estimates.

Comet was refurbished for around £180,000 at Ferguson's shipyard in 2010, but a plan to protect her from the elements with a £165,000 canopy was later scrapped.

A financial package of £50,000 was earmarked by the council 18 months ago for the Comet but the only money spent out of that fund has been £5,000 on the naval architect report.

Local authority officials plan to work with the Port Glasgow Regeneration Forum to 'explore cost options' and report back early next year.

Cllr MacLeod says the time is right to give Comet the treatment she deserves.

He said: "The Comet is the centrepiece of Port Glasgow and is celebrated every year with a festival which thousands of Portonians attend every year.

"The replica was given two very expensive refurbishments in the past 20 years, first in Glasgow then 11 years ago at Ferguson's shipyard.

"Sadly on each occasion it was then not given the kind of protection the iconic vessel merited and now it looks like it is too far gone and unrepairable.

"The council must pull out all the stops to find the funding to build a new Comet and give this vessel the protection it would require.

"If £500,000 can be found for the new metal statue coming to the Coronation Park in Port Glasgow then that sum and more must be found to replace the existing Comet."

The pair's idea is backed by local MSP Stuart McMillan.

He said: “There is an opportunity to deliver a tourism offer that will bring people and money into the town.

"Our history and culture needs to be told and the importance of the PS Comet in changing sea-faring travel cannot be lost on future generations.”