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…

The long neglected clipper ship City of Adelaide prepares to travel to Australia


Preparations are being made to take the oldest surviving clipper ship in the world, the City of Adelaide, to Australia, following a decision by the Scottish Government.

The Australian’s interest in the City of Adelaide is her historically important role in carrying emigrants to a new life in the country in a series of 29 regular voyages.

There have been competing attempts to keep her in the UK, including one from from Sunderland, where she was built. However, the Australian bid was identified as the winner.

The piece of steel in the photo may not look like much – but it’s part of a 100-ton A$1M cradle being assembled close to the City of Adelaide herself – she’s currently on a slipway at Irvine in Scotland, where she has stood for many years, slowly rusting away.

The cradle is to be used to transport the famous old ship to Adelaide, where it will be placed on land provided by the Australian Government. Once assembled and following technical load lifting certification, the cradle will be re-assembled under the ship in preparation for lifting and weighing – the final weight will determine which ship is to be booked to take the City of Adelaide on her last long voyage.

The task is being undertaken by two closely-connected Australian bodies working together: the Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd (CSCOAL), a volunteer-run company set up to manage the ship’s transportation to Adelaide, South Australia; and the fund-raising City of Adelaide Preservation Trust. A CSCOAL team of qualified volunteers is on-site managing the project.

A brochure describing the project is available here, and there’s an interesting Wikipedia page here.