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Clipper CITY OF ADELAIDE To Return To Her Namesake Port

Posted on Saturday, August 24, 2013 by

The world’s oldest clipper and the only surviving purpose-built sailing ship to bring migrants from Europe to Australia is being readied in Scotland for her voyage back to Adelaide. The 1864-built CITY OF ADELAIDE has been saved from destruction.

When I last wrote about this ship in MaritimeMatters it was August 2010, the City of Adelaide Preservation Trust had been announced as the preferred bidder by Scotland’s Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop beating out a rival bid from Sunderland where she was built.

Painting by Ed Walker of CITY OF ADELAIDE, courtesy Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Limited

Painting by Ed Walker of CITY OF ADELAIDE, courtesy Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Limited

A news release today spells out a dramatic plan to move the ship from her slipway at Irvine, Scotland where she has been since 1992 to a new home in Australia.

The CITY OF ADELAIDE‘s journey will begin with her delicate transfer on to a barge, she will then be towed to her original homeport of London for a major celebration and formal farewell as soon as October.  Moored on the Thames at Greenwich, CITY OF ADELAIDE will “visit” her young sister – the world famous CUTTY SARK.

The voyage will continue via “a quarantine and preparation stop in Europe” and then continue on her 22,000 km (13,670 mile) journey from Scotland to Adelaide, arriving in Port Adelaide between February and April 2014.

The voyage will end an extraordinary 14-year campaign by engineers, maritime historians, ship enthusiasts, descendants of the ship’s migrants and supporters.

CITY OF ADELAIDE on her slip at Irvine, Scotland, courtesy Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Limited

CITY OF ADELAIDE on her slip at Irvine, Scotland, courtesy Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Limited

Engineering firms from across South Australia worked together to create a prefabricated steel cradle that would allow the ship to be rolled across a temporary bridge over river mudflats and onto a low-draft barge. Weighing 100 tonnes and worth more than AU$1.2million, the cradle was shipped to Scotland in five shipping containers, before being assembled and tested, and then disassembled again for installation beneath the 450 tonne clipper piece by piece.

CITY OF ADELAIDE, B. MacDonald November 14 2009, courtesy Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Limited

CITY OF ADELAIDE, B. MacDonald November 14 2009, courtesy Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Limited

“We have had great support from the Australian and Scottish governments and local councils, but nearly a third of the money required to get her back has come from public donations and a similar amount from South Australian industry”, said Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd. (CSCOAL) director and spokesperson Peter Christopher.

“Once she is safely in South Australia we will be establishing her as the flagship of a non-profit Seaport Village in Port Adelaide.

Lithograph of CITY OF ADELAIDE, courtesy Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Limited

Lithograph of CITY OF ADELAIDE, courtesy Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Limited

Some background: The world’s oldest clipper ship came very close to destruction. The CITY OF ADELAIDE was built by William Pile, Hay and Co. in Sunderland, England, and was launched on the 7th May 1864. From 1864 – 1886, CITY OF ADELAIDE made 23 voyages to South Australia carrying passengers south and cargo north. Approximately a quarter of a million Australians are descended from the passengers who sailed on the CITY OF ADELAIDE.

In 1887, she was laid up, then returned to service as a collier between Tyne and Dover in England. She then was sold to T. Dixon and Son of Belfast, Ireland who re-rigged her as a barque for the North Atlantic timber trade. In 1893, the Southampton Corporation purchased her for £1,750 and converted her into a hospital isolation ship on the River Test, moored off Millbrook in Southampton. In 1923, CITY OF ADELAIDE was sold to the British Admiralty for £2,500,  re-named HMS CARRICK, moored in the Firth of Clyde and converted into a training ship for the Clyde division of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. By 1949, she was moved to Greenock for use as a Navy Drill Ship. Finally, she was deemed past her usefulness and the British Admiralty presented her to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Club who used the ship as a meeting room and club house until 1990 when she was sold to the Clyde Ship Trust for £1 while still moored at the Glasgow Customs House Quay.

In 1992, she was identified as part of the National (UK) Historic Ships Core Collection and was given an ‘A’ class heritage listing. At that time, she was claimed to be the only 19th century sailing ship in Britain still able to float. CITY OF ADELAIDE became the property of the Scottish National Maritime Museum, after the Clyde Ship Trust was dissolved. Partially restored to her clipper ship design, she was moved to her present location, a slipway at Irvine, Scotland. Lack of funds to maintain the restoration program and the on-going cost of slipway rental forced the Scottish Maritime Museum into a difficult position to appeal for funds. In 2000, the Museum offered the clipper ship for sale to maritime and preservation organizations and museums but no bids were tendered. The slip owner eventually needed the land cleared and the Trustees of the Scottish Maritime Museum applied to have her ‘A’ class heritage listing removed to allow them to demolish her.

CITY OF ADELAIDE remained on the verge of demolition until 2010.

Special thanks to the Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Limited, and my grand mother Adelaide Minnie Hall for first telling me about this ship.

8 Responses to Clipper CITY OF ADELAIDE To Return To Her Namesake Port

  1. Greg Ludlum

    August 24, 2013 at 11:41 am

    This is Fantasic news to see another fine piece of history trying to be be saved. As has has been done with the sailing vessels at the San Francisco Maritime Museum CA Thayer and Balclutha that has restored. Have a safe tow

    great article.

  2. Martin Cox

    August 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Thanks Greg, I was thrilled to read that such an ambitious preservation project was being undertaken and I wish them all the best, when I last wrote about her she was very close to demolition – Martin

  3. Kenneth Eden

    August 24, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    This is indeed great news.

    One thing, there is a big difference between an old sailing ship and a cruise ship, or liner or anything new and has electrical plant, engines and plumbing, not to mention asbestos and a myriad of other ghastly costly things to be ripped out and updated – and, then there is décor and oh my word, preserve it and still, nobody will come. Safer bet, tall ships and old sailing vessels, they always seem to draw a crowd, I for one am one of the crowd, I love ‘em.

    There it is, the why and the can not do for preserving. And, the MONEY FACTOR>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Don’t overlook the “Clipper” sailing cruise ship – she gives a modern perspective on what it is like in todays world of sail.

  4. paul jones

    August 26, 2013 at 1:24 am

    As an Australian and lifetime resident of Port Adelaide, to which she is to come home to, I say that this is great news for the Port Adelaide community.

    This will be the jewel in a crown that the State Government here will hopefully, finally build for the citizens of the Port and all South Australians and indeed all Australians.

    Well done to all associated with this project and hopefully the community and State will support in the way of donations to the cause of the revitalisation of our Port area.

  5. Kevin Conlan

    August 26, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Let’s not forget the Star of India still afloat at the San Diego Maritime Museum. A fine example of a restored clipper ship.

  6. Jack Crawford

    August 26, 2013 at 9:44 am

    This all sounds super great, but pardon my scepticism, An original plan for a seaport village as Cruickshanks corner is no longer possible. The master plan for the regeneration of Port Adelaide is under review with a final version overdue but apparently no consideration is being given to the provision for a site for the ship as a component of it. Assuming all the major engineering work required to remove the ship can be completed from scratch in the next three weeks, including an expensive decontamination job to meet Oz import regulations, and that the £4 million transportation costs have been raised? How will all the consequential high cost of conserving her after 20 years neglect be financed? Where exactly will she be located on arrival in 2014 for temporary storage, and ultimately preservation and display.

    When and where can we come to see her restored to her full glory as a fitting example to her younger sister the Cutty Sark?

  7. Jj Iruka Saitoh-Car'ee

    February 14, 2014 at 2:57 am

    Ahoy Passionate, and Compassionate Clipper-Lovers, Indeed- More and more Clipper Ships, just what this fast-pace, “I No Care”- world needs. Please rebuild City of Adelaide, for the sake of prosperity and acknowledgment unto classic-goodness, for generations yet to come…

    It is a shame of utmost proportions that there exsist not even one American Clipper still alive after the reigning period of the Golden Age of Sail 1848-1857 with All America’s finest Greyhounds of the Sea that over whelmingly proved all the fastest passage Records.

    We prayer and have the most power of Best-Wishes for the Success of Resurrecting The City of Adelaide dialed-in an Complete like new as she was launched with her 1864 thru 1886 Glory and “Service”- Gambatte and Imua for her Life to be Restored, and made Robust, and Fullfilling; May She Inspire and Instill the Hearts and Minds of that Child of Wonder yet to be born- GOD-Speed for the over-abundance of $$$$, and the Gracious Powers-to-Be for perpetuating Her historical, and future make-a-difference Legacy of Hope and Faith… Keep Pulling the Apparent, and Have a “Surfilicious-Day” (rks) aloha nui

  8. Deborah Shoniker

    May 11, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    It’s wonderful to hear about the preservation of a real piece of sailing history! Too many have been dismantled cut up etc…..Bravo to everyone involved! Keep up the good fight! Our children need to know and learn about our historical past and actually will be able to experience it up close! Thank you all for your tremendous efforts. Here’s to the Clipper City of Adelaide, may she bring many smiles and Awe to her followers!

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