Tyne & Wear

Concerns over future of historic City of Adelaide ship

The Carrick
Image caption The vessel was built in Sunderland in 1864

Heritage campaigners have called for an urgent rethink of plans to move the world's oldest surviving clipper to Australia.

The Sunderland-built City of Adelaide is due to be transported from Irvine, North Ayrshire, after an Australian group was named preferred bidder.

Rescue: The British Archaeological Trust said it had concerns over the funding to secure the clipper's future.

Heritage Scotland said it believed the plans would mean a sustainable future.

The announcement in 2010 that Clipper Ship City of Adelaide (CSCoAL) Ltd was the preferred bidder came after a report commissioned by Historic Scotland into a number of options.

Ship occupied

The Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Fund (Scarf) has mounted a long-running campaign to bring the clipper back to the city where it was built.

Scarf chairman Peter Maddison is currently on board the vessel in protest at the plans to move it to Australia.

Image caption Peter Maddison (right) is currently on board and wants the ship to be returned to Sunderland

The archaeological trust's Rescue News editor Pam Irving challenged Historic Scotland to prove it had evaluated CSCoAL was financially capable of giving the ship a sustainable future and claimed it had not met a series of conditions.

She said she would like to see the full justification for the Australian team acquiring the ship to be made public.

She said: "CSCoAL is being put under pressure to deliver something they can't do. They have to be let off the hook.

"This is being rushed through to a deadline. That has to be scrapped."

Mrs Irving said her fear was the ship would be moved but then left in a situation similar to that in Scotland and would continue to deteriorate.

"I think we need to have one last go to see if we can't rise to the challenge of preserving the ship in the UK where it belongs", she said.

'Part of fabric'

Historic Scotland said the report it commissioned ahead of the 2010 decision found the CSCoAL scheme was the most viable.

A spokeswoman said: "Historic Scotland is content that plans are progressing well for the City of Adelaide to begin her journey to Australia and that the Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd will provide a sustainable future for the historic vessel."

Director of the City of Adelaide project in Australia, Peter Christopher, said: "The South Australian-based City of Adelaide Preservation Trust is the only organisation with the financial and technical capacity to save the ship.

"This has been substantiated through independent assessment.

"The substantiation which we have provided includes a very extensive conservation plan. We may be volunteers, but we are not amateurs."

Mr Christopher said a site had been provided for the clipper in Port Adelaide by the government of South Australia and there was support from business and the community.

He said it was on track to raise all the necessary funds to return the clipper to Port Adelaide.

He said: "The City of Adelaide is part of the fabric of our social history and we propose to look after it properly."

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