14th June 2009, 10:22
Anyone know the latest with the clipper ADELAIDE the hull of which is in Scotland I think?? was talk of returning her to her city namesake in australia.

14th June 2009, 11:25
Unhappily, she is still lying in her Irvine (Ayrshire, Scotland) berth, deteriorating at an increasing pace. She will never leave there whole, things have been left too late for that and she is well beyond practicable restoration without major sectional replacement of her framework and all timber. That is, she could not be regarded the original SV 'City of Adelaide' once that extent of work was implemented.

It is nothing short of tragic that this important link with the world's maritime historical past has been allowed to go this way. She is every bit as important as the Cutty Sark, being a fast compositie-construction clipper of the 19th century that set records in her day for fast runs down to Australia. Also, her place in history is marked by the many thousands of people in Australia today, and in particular the Adelaide area, descended from emigrants who arrived in the new world of opportunity on board that beautiful vessel.

She was not in the best of condition when brought to Irvine from the River Clyde where she had lain for many years as the landmark 'Carrick' - a social floating club house of the RNVR. However, at that stage she was without any doubt a viable restoration project and indeed that was the intention.

Sadly the lack of vision, funding and a deplorable apathy ensured that unless some well-heeled enthusiast with 10-15 million pounds happened along she was destined never to leave her current berth.

The last I heard, some time ago, was an altruistic plan for 'constructive deconstruction'. This amounts to breaking her up in a controlled manner with sections of her iron framing and inner/outer planking and sheathing being 'carefully' cut away, preserved, photographed, measured and recorded for posterity. This for the purpose and benefit of future generations, naval architects and students of the way things were done in these days.

There was talk at one time of some affluent individual (I forget who now) putting up the funds to have her taken down to Adelaide where, with funds raised partially through descendants of her emigrants, she would be restored to her original glory. However, I think the reality of what such an operation would cost blew that idea out of the water.

I live within a few miles of where she lies, and it is sad to drive past and see that great hull that once pounded its way through the oceans lying there high and dry and 'out of her depth'.


Burned Toast
14th June 2009, 12:12
There are a group of enthusiasts who are trying to rise the funds to bring the City of Adelaide back to her birthplace Sunderland, And to rebuild her to her former glory.


18th June 2009, 14:30
Like almost every preservation/restoration project in the UK, it'll never happen.

18th June 2009, 14:42
Another tragedy and a piece of our history lost.

Why is it that in the UK where people will not only spend millions restoring steam locos but actually build a new one (Tornado), support and love to own classic cars and restore/fly old aircraft we fail so miserably with our historic ships?

I have nothing against the railway buffs (and have worked on steam locos myself) and own a classic car now as well. I can see that the logistics are easier with a car but the lack of interest from private individuals and public bodies for some historic and famous ships beggars belief.


18th June 2009, 16:26
Considering the great maritime history of the British Isles and, as an Island, the importance of the maritime industry to our country over the centuries, it is difficult to work out the apathy factor when examples of how it could and should be done have been demonstrated so well by the USA, Canda, Australia, Germany, Holland and the Scandanavian countries. As you say - it beggars belief how indifferent we are as a nation.

18th June 2009, 18:27
You will see some recent pics of her that I posted on this site under Preserved Vessels, the Sunderland people interested in her were there in the first weeks of May looking at her , but heard nothing of the outcome, I honestly cannot see her ever moving from the site in one piece.....

18th June 2009, 18:54
I think that the biggest deterrent to the successful restoration of historic ships is not the lack of enthusiasm but the trade know how.
Engineers and support machinery is so often readily available to rebuild or repair a steam engine or the like but when it comes to wooden ships the labour pool of capable skilled shipwrights is now so thin on the ground that there are not the skills available.
In NZ and around the world there is many an old rotting hull worthy of preservation and surrounded by willingness but when it comes to the shaping, fitting, adzeing, steaming, caulking and riveting of a wooden hull plank or such there are few left that can do it.
I have attended more than one working bee aimed at getting such restoration work under way and it was obvious from the start that the hands on shipwright trade experience was thin on the ground.
When a maritime nation such as Britain, once the world's biggest, cannot muster enough funding or skill to rebuild the Cutty Sark and is prepared to see her patched up as some sort of entertainment centre well what show has the rest. Even the Duke of Edinburgh as patron cannot galvanize the project.
Replica construction from the ground up has been more successful ,
Bligh's Bounty, Cook's Endeavour are examples afloat and well but it's not the same as the real deal.


19th June 2009, 06:07
I have just realised that I have burst forth on this Adelaide subject some time ago and now take the liberty of re-posting here

Cutty Sark and Pamir

Thanks Shipbuilder for your clip of the "City of Adelaide" she certainly looks a forlorn and hopeless sight . I understand that a demolition order had been sought by the present trustees but this has been refused following the Cutty Sark fire which sees both ships revered as heirlooms of the British Merchant Navy.
Go to to see what the Australian City's support plan is. They intend to load the hulk on to a submersible loading heavy lift ship to bring her "home" to Adelaide and eventually start a true restoration but what comes home to me is perhaps not the money, not the massive amount of English Oak and teak needed for hull and superstructure repairs (Adelaide would at least have the resources of Tasmanian Hoop Pine as a timber) but the artisan labour needed. Any country today would be hard pressed to assemble enough skilled shipwrights to made any real progress unless perhaps this was singularly directed to one specific project
When I served my apprenticeship at the Devonport (NZ) Dockyard in the 1950's a shipwright/boat building apprentice had to craft a clinker built Navy Dinghy or Whaler as passing out proof of his skills but those men are now in their seventies and the later craftsmen in this field were leaning toward composite hulls and a vastly different range of skills. There is still a lot of willingness out there at grass roots level but the task is enormous and beyond working bee volunteer levels
Perhaps the "Lords" of the British Merchant Navy, if there are such people, should press for unity to achieve at least one restoration project, the obvious one being the Cutty Sark as she represents the Merchant Navy in one of their finest hours when sail ruled and the merchant ships made Britain the international trading power that she once was while the Royal Navy played only the game of wicket or gate keeper.
Take a look at HMS Victory's pristine upkeep, take a look at the Tudor "Mary Rose" museum, countless millions have been found for these projects and probably the majority of the funding comes from the British Admiralty and Government.
I am not British born but being from British parents I am anglophile enough to feel strongly about this subject to the extent of suggesting that the present Cutty Sark Preservation Trust is perhaps too long in the tooth to galvanise into a new mode of action and that Britain needs an upswelling from all you Mariners out there, old and young to crank up public awareness of the need to properly preserve this obvious Icon.

Where there is a will there is a way

Bob Jenkins.

And so we rave on but with a feeling of pushing a very heavy barrow up a very steep hill, Rather the feeling, I imagine, that a trimmer on an old coal fired steamship would have had as the vessel rolled the wrong way when he was delivering a barrow of coal to the boiler plates.


19th June 2009, 10:23
I agree with Bob that skills are becoming (or indeed are) a problem. It is not however only in the field of timber shipbuilding and timber working. On the last FPSO project I was on which has just finished, apart from the locally employed technicians I would have to say that all of the commissioning emngineers and construction supervisory people from Europe were at least in their 50s.

Now I know that compared to some of the gentlemen here we are mere youngsters but there does not seem to be anybody younger coming through the system.

This may be because younger people today do not want to do this work and study at college for what appears to them to be more lucrative and more exciting work.

You would think however that in this recession some form of sponsorship to train young people in these traditional skills would be welcomed. When Warrior was restored at Hartlepool I seem to remember that the project was funded this way.