HLF Funding not viable for UK Solution - 16-Dec-09

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The Director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, Jim Tildesley, advises that it was determined at the meeting held in Newcastle on Monday 14th December 2009 that the Heritage Lottery Fund in the UK is unable to provide any financial support that meets the timescale for the removal of the vessel. The Trustees of the Scottish Maritime Museum will be considering what actions remain open to them during the course of the next week.

In an article in the London Times newspaper on Monday, Mr. Tildesley was quoted as saying that the cost of cutting off the bow and stern and destroying the rest of the historic clipper would cost ₤700,000 (officially termed Tender A), the cost of outright destruction of the ship would cost ₤400,000 (officially termed Tender B).

At approximately ₤350,000, the South Australian bid now looms as being the most viable and expedient solution for the 'City of Adelaide'.  In addition to being less expensive  than the cost of demolition, the South Australian solution can be accomplished in the timeframe specified in the Scottish Maritime Museum's tender documents, and would result in the rescue of the historic clipper and her return to the city of which her history is a very significant part.

The South Australian bid also offered to move and protect the old cradle that the ‘City of Adelaide’ sits on, and that the Scottish Maritime Museum wants to retain, for an additional ₤65,000.

The low price of the South Australian bid was enabled by donations from the public of Australia, Britain, USA and Germany, and also due to some very generous offers of in-kind support from South Australian engineering companies who will design and build a transportation cradle in Adelaide, South Australia, and ship it to Glasgow to be used in the rescue operation to support the 145 year old clipper ship.

The South Australian bid is also approximately equal to the amount of reserved funds that the Scottish Maritime Museum holds in a trust for the preservation of the ship – the residual of a donation of ₤430,000 from Mike Edwards, the founder of Travelsphere holiday company.

The problem for the Scottish Maritime Museum is that they will not have any funds remaining for paying off back rental due to the owners of a slipway being used by the Scottish Maritime Museum. This has purportedly been amassed over the last eight years or so until this point where the museum has applied for Heritage Lottery Funds to pay for the demolition of the historic ship. Jim Tildesley has suggested that these debts will bankrupt the Scottish Maritime Museum placing all of the museum’s collections in peril. No doubt this perilous situation will weigh heavily on the museum trustee’s minds as they consider what to do this week.

It may be that the Scottish Executive or UK Government will need to come to the aid of the Scottish Maritime Museum to to help the museum to negotiate and acquit themselves of the debt to the slipway owners.  British citizens have alread petitioned Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the Number 10 Downing Street website calling on the UK Government to gift the world heritage clipper ship ‘City of Adelaide’ to the people of South Australia for the State's 175th birthday in 2011. 

The South Australian bidders, Clipper Ship "City of Adelaide' limited is seeking additional in-kind support and donations to make their offer even more affordable to the Scottish Maritime Museum. The in-kind support most sought by the Adelaide group are:

  • additional offers of steel fabrication help in Adelaide, South Australia;
  • earth moving works in Irvine, Scotland;
  • heavy-lift multi-wheel trailers in Irvine for moving the 800 tonne ship;
  • use of a nominal 60m x 16m semi-submersible barge in Irvine;
  • UK heavy-engineering firms able to contribute one or more skilled tradespersons to the gang of six required for five weeks in Irvine;

The Adelaide group also welcomes offers for assistance with some of the other important logistics, materials and minor equipment needed too.  For example:

  • 2,200 square metres of vinyl membrane;
  • airfares and accommodation for the Aussies in the Glasgow/Irvine region;
  • container shipping services Adelaide to Glasgow;
  • 800off M20x50 bolts (SS, Galv. or black steel); and
  • many other smaller items – details can be found on http://cityofadelaide.org.au/help-wanted.html.

With the current attention on the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference – we also hope that British and Australian leaders will recognise that these last two remaining composite clipper ships, ‘Cutty Sark’ and ‘City of Adelaide’, were the pinnacle of sailing ship design and of sustainable energy. One of Britain’s largest windpower turbine and wind farm companies is called Clipper Windpower!

Of course, as the only surviving sailing ship built to give regular passenger and cargo service between Europe and Australia, the ‘City of Adelaide’ represents a whole foundation era of Australian economic and social history. It is difficult to imagine a more vital icon of the making of modern Australia, and of the relationship between Britain and the Australian colonies. We wish to see the ‘City of Adelaide’ returned to South Australia in time for our 175th Jubilee in 2011.

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