About "The City of Adelaide"
The City of Adelaide at 144 years old is the oldest of only three composite constructed (iron and teak) clipper ships to survive anywhere in the world. Some experts say she is in fact more important to our maritime history than the Cutty Sark- and five years older. The National Historic Ships committee included the City of Adelaide in the core collection list of nationally significant vessels in the UK. In fact the NHS have placed her in the top ten alongside other vessels such as HMS Victory, SS Great Britain and the Cutty Sark.
She was built on the river Wear in Sunderland, England, at the
William Pile and Hay shipyard in 1864 to an order from merchants Devitt
and Moore of London and was designed particularly to carry immigrant
passengers and cargo mainly to and from Adelaide, South Australia. She
is 54 metres long, 10 metres wide with a draft of 5.64 metres and
weighing 860 tons. After her first four voyages, she was profitable
enough for her owners to order a larger composite sailing ship from the
same yard - her sister ship "The South Australian"
The "City of Adelaide"over 23 years, completed some 23 trips to Adelaide South Australia and was fundamental in the development of the colony, carrying British and German immigrants and returning with cargoes of wool, wheat,and copper to the London markets. At the time she was noted and claimed to be the fastest passenger clipper, making the trip to Australia in only 64 days. Her passage took her out via South Africa and often returning around the Cape Horn, which saved time but was much more hazardous.
Her poop deck accommodated 14 first class cabin passengers, with
every comfort including bathrooms, saloon/dining area with grand piano.
She also offered facilities for a few second class passengers and some
basic facilities for steerage passengers. She also carried a qualified
In 1887 she was sold for the trade in bulk cargo, carrying firstly coal from Newcastle upon Tyne to Dover and then sailing on the North Atlantic timber runs. 1893 saw the end of her days under sail having been bought by Southampton Corporation and used as an isolation hospital during the outbreak of cholera.
In 1923 she was bought by the Admiralty and served as a drill training ship in Greenock with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and renamed HMS Carrick. Later she went on to serve as merchant ship gunner training during World War 2 and a detention centre for deserters.
The vessel in 1947 was presented by the Admiralty to the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve Club (Scotland) and berthed on the Clyde in central Glasgow, where it served as a gentleman's club for a further 44 years. She was refurbished in 1978 after being partially flooded and renamed with the club until she accidentally sank again in 1989 after which event the RNVR could no longer afford to maintain her. After a short time under the care of the Clyde Ships Trust in the Prince's Dock, Govan, she sank again in 1991. She was eventually handed over to the Scottish Maritime Museum and moved to her present berth on a slipway in Irvine,where it was planned to preserve and eventually restore her.
The initial funding eventually ran out and SMM struggled to make any progress with the preservation and eventually applied in 2000 to have the ship dismantled. This was rejected by North Ayshire Council, considering her importance to the maritime heritage and following world wide objections. Further applications were made in 2007 to have the ship deconstructed and this time North Ayshire council agreed.
A committee of experts under the guidance of National Historic Ships and Historic Scotland intervened and are presently considering a feasibility study on her condition, with the possibility of moving her from her present site. Options at present include returning her to Sunderland where she was built under a campaign proposal by SCARF (Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Foundation) headed up by local Councillor Peter Maddison or to a campaign to return her to Adelaide, South Australia.