Shipping & Shipbuilding News -  21 May 2007 - The Brightest Maritime Daily

sv CARRICK, ex CITY OF ADELAIDE, photo by Frank Parsons

Another clipper that needs attention
CUTTY SARK is not the only veteran sailing ship that requires considerable attention

With the tragic fire that has damaged one of the world's last composite sailing ships, the CUTTY SARK, holding the attention of the world, it is perhaps fitting to also turn our thoughts to another similar vessel.

In many ways she shares the same heritage. Scotland, England and Australia all have a claim on this vessel. The former because she spent so long there, England for that was where she was constructed and the latter because she was so much a part of the maritime fabric of that fledgling nation.

The vessel in question is the CITY OF ADELAIDE, built in Sunderland five years before CUTTY SARK in 1864.

Like the Greenwich-based vessel she is of a composite structure, and one of the last three remaining. (Composite means having an iron frame with timber hull). She also has the distinction of being the earliest surviving clipper.

She was launched at the Sunderland yard of W. Pile, Hay & Co and was built as a passenger and cargo vessel. It is astonishing, but true, that 60% (according to Australian researchers) of the population of the State of South Australia can trace their family roots to their ancestors arriving on this ship. This makes her an incredibly important ship in terms of the part she played in populating the then colony.

After 1887 she was used mainly for transporting bulk cargoes, firstly coal from the Tyne to Dover and then timber across the Atlantic. In 1893 she was withdrawn from cargo service after being bought by Southampton Corporation and used as a floating hospital in the Hampshire port for thirty years.

Thereafter she came to Scotland, to the Clyde, first as a training ship and then to her berth on the Broomielaw in Glasgow where for forty-four years she was a well-kent sight to Glaswegians as the club of the RNVR(Scotland). By now her name was CARRICK.

Tragedy befell her when she ceased to be the RNVR club. After being purchased by a trust in Glasgow she was moved to Princes Dock in Govan where she sank. In 1991 she was re-floated and taken to Irvine, on the Ayrshire coast of the Clyde and became the centrepiece for the Scottish Maritime Museum.

Despite best efforts the ship has since deteriorated to the point where the Museum felt they had no option but to demolish the ship. Protests and initiatives have come from both Sunderland and Australia, but so far, not enough money has been generated to save the ship from destruction.

This year it was announced the ship would have to be 'deconstructed'. In brutal language that really means broken up, albeit every piece will be recorded.

So here we have in Great Britain two historic vessels of monumental importance as maritime and national treasures. One in England that was built in Scotland, one in Scotland that was built in England and both have extreme importance to Australia.

Next week experts are to meet to discuss the 'deconstruction'.

Surely there is a case for both CARRICK and CUTTY SARK to be saved, and between Scotland, England and Australia, some form of co-operation to ensure they are?


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