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'Cutty Sark' Fire
The devastating fire on the 'Cutty Sark' has renewed the focus on saving the historic clipper ship the 'City of Adelaide' from demolition. The 'Cutty Sark' and the 'City of Adelaide' are practically sister ships: they are the last two surviving composite clippers in the world. While the 'Cutty Sark' is a little larger than the 'City of Adelaide', the 'City of Adelaide' is five years older, built in 1864.
Media Release21 May 2007
The devastating fire on the Cutty Sark has renewed the focus on saving the historic clipper ship the City of Adelaide from demolition. The Cutty Sark and the City of Adelaide are practically sister ships – they are the last two surviving composite clippers in the world. While the Cutty Sark is a little larger than the City of Adelaide, the em>City of Adelaide is five years older, built in 1864.
The City of Adelaide is presently located on a slipway on private land in Irvine Scotland. Although the ship is owned by the Scottish Maritime Museum, the owners of the slipway have served notice on the Trustees of the Scottish Maritime Museum to quit the site by 2007 and terminated their lease.
The Save the Clipper 'City of Adelaide' Action Group, based in Adelaide, is working towards saving the City of Adelaide. The Group aims to bring the City of Adelaide back to South Australia to preserve and display this world-heritage ship.
Group convenor Peter Christopher said on Monday, “We were stunned to hear of the shocking fire on the Cutty Sark. We hope that this sends a message to the authorities in the United Kingdom to reconsider the situation with respect to the City of Adelaide. If they were to demolish the City of Adelaide and the Cutty Sark is unable to be saved, the world would have lost the only two remaining composite clippers from that bygone era.”
The Scottish Maritime Museum does not have the funds to move, restore nor display the ship and, with the demand to vacate the site, applied to the local North Ayrshire Council to deconstruct the ship.
On 18 April 2007, the North Ayrshire Council reluctantly consented to the clipper’s deconstruction. An urgent race against time is now back on to secure the world heritage clipper ship City of Adelaide.
The City of Adelaide is of particular importance to South Australia as it brought hundreds of migrants from the UK and Europe in the early years of South Australia and played a large part in early commercial shipping trade between England and South Australia. Some of the South Australian companies for whom she transported goods still exist today – The Advertiser, Michel Wool, Bank SA, ANZ Bank, Elders, Harris Scarfe, Fauldings, Bickfords, E.S. Wigg and Son, and Holdens. The Government of the then colony of South Australia also used the ship to send government goods and papers to London.
The City of Adelaide is significant for being part of South Australia's heritage but she is also the world’s only remaining migrant sailing ship, and the only remaining international sailing merchant ship to serve South Australia. She is the last survivor of the wool clippers that carried South Australian wool from Port Adelaide and Port Augusta to the London Markets.
The local Action Group's proposal to rescue the clipper has had the support of the Federal Government. "It is an important part of our history and should be preserved," former Senator Robert Hill said. Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has made a commitment to seek funding from Cabinet for transporting the clipper to Australia (The Advertiser, 4 October 2001).
Mr. Downer said that he was impressed with the work undertaken by the group, and would take a proposal for funding to the Federal Cabinet as well as discuss the project with UK Authorities.
When serving as the Federal Environment and Heritage Minister, former Senator Robert Hill indicated that the Federal Government was willing to fund 10% of the restoration costs (The Advertiser, 9 August 2000, The Australian Financial Review, 19-20 May 2001).
The City of Adelaide’s hull is in relatively sound condition, said Mr Christopher, and every effort must be made to save what may be the only remaining wooden hulled clipper ship in the world. The devastating fire of the Cutty Sark highlights the historic value of these two vessels and it would be an act of vandalism for the authorities to “deconstruct” the City of Adelaide as is currently proposed.
For further information please contact:
Peter Christopher, Convenor
Phone: 08 8337 5645
Peter Roberts, Naval Architect
Mobile: 0419 773 332