The City of Adelaide calls in to the Thames on its way to Australia

City of Adelaide at Gillingham

My thanks to River Thames Photos for this shot of the clipper ship City of Adelaide arriving at Gillingham on her historic voyage to Australia.

For many years the 1864 clipper has stood rusting on a slipway at Irvine in Scotland – a neglect that seems incredible, but after years of wrangling she’s now to be looked after on the other side of the world. I hope they make a wonderful job of it!

The Australians’ interest in the City of Adelaide is that she carried so many emigrants from the British Isles to a new life in the country in a series of 29 regular voyages. Huge numbers of Australians are said to be descended from her passengers.

National Historic Ships UK and the weblog The Liquid Highway both have more information on the ship.

Buckingham Palace has announced that before the City of Adelaide leaves, she will take part in a celebration ceremony on the 18th October at Greenwich with the Duke of Edinburgh, close by that other clipper ship, the Cutty Sark. Details of the event, which is also a renaming ceremony (from Carrick back to City of Adelaide) are here.

The Duke has long had an interest in such things – we don’t have to be great fans of royalty to think it is worth remembering that in 1951 the Cutty Sark Preservation Trust was formed by the Duke and the then-director of the National Maritime Museum, Frank Carr. Here’s a clip of him visiting the Cutty Sark in 1953.

While I’m delighted that she is to be cared for by the Australians who have so much reason to venerate her, I think we should have very mixed feelings about the whole issue. It’s obviously sad to see her leave the country that built her but I can’t help reflecting on all those years of shameful neglect here in the UK. No doubt the Duke will have a salty remark or two to make about the issue…

3 thoughts on “The City of Adelaide calls in to the Thames on its way to Australia”

  1. Ah well……….another important boat leaves the country watched by government. Oh, of course, I forget, we have the Cutty Sark……….that £X-million ‘restoration’ hanging in the air for all to see……..maybe someone will build a replica clipper one day to add to the growing collection of replicas! Whoever said Britain is a proud maritime country was a ….

  2. could not have said it better myself . sad – but at least the Australians are likely to do a proper job. poor old Cutty Sark has been vandalised at a cost of 50 million

  3. Can’t agree more, I remember seeing The City of Adelaide in the 80’s in Glasgow when she was The Carrick and being used as a club house. At least she was afloat then although she sank at least once. If she hadn’t gone to Australia she would have been cut up as no-one was prepared to invest any money in her, so good luck to the Aussies. When a ship has reached the end of her useful life she should be scrapped and a replacement built.

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